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ISTANBUL (VOA) -- Growing numbers of young Turks are crossing into Syria to join jihadist groups fighting the Assad regime raising fears in Turkey of a future national security risk for Ankara.

Last month the U.S. and Turkey agreed to create a $200 million dollar fund to help local organizations develop programs to counter violent extremism among young people in places like Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. Now some are warning the threat might be closer to home because of a surge in recruitment of young Turks by al-Qaida affiliates.

Al-Qaida affiliates in Syria such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra are making headway in persuading Turkish Sunnis to cross the border into Syria for jihad, Turkish officials acknowledge.

Turkish officials said that jihadists have recruited several hundred young Turks from the southeast of the country to fight in the civil war raging next door. And independent analysts estimate that as many as 500 Turks have been recruited since al-Nusra was formed in January 2012. The larger Iraqi affiliate ISIS, which became active in Syria earlier this year, is also actively seeking Turkish recruits.

Syrian Kurds say Turkey is responsible

Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim said the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist AKP government are partly responsible for the jihadist success, arguing that Ankara has not done enough to combat jihadists using Turkey as a logistical base and has in effect colluded with them by allowing al-Nusra fighters safe passage. Jihadists and Syrian Kurds have been engaged in heavy fighting in recent weeks in competition for control of Syrian territory.

Muslim is a co-chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), an offshoot of the PKK, a separatist Kurdish group in Turkey. He alleged that Turkish authorities are willing to turn a blind-eye to the jihadists in Syria while they fight Kurds, arguing that Ankara hasn't done enough to block Gulf-supplied weapons earmarked for the Western-backed Free Syrian Army from falling into jihadist hands. He also said International aid agencies are being prevented from sending relief supplies across the border to Kurdish villages in northern Syria.

"Not a single assistance convoy crossed to our side in one month. Our people are living under difficult war conditions. We have acute shortages of electricity, water, fuel and medicines. There is an embargo against us," he told Turkey's Taraf newspaper.

In recent weeks, as fighting has intensified between jihadists and Kurds in northern Syria, observers said wounded al-Nusra fighters have been transported by Turkish ambulances to hospitals in Urfa.

But Turkey's Interior Minister Muammer Guler denied there has been any assistance offered to jihadists along the border. According to Guler in an October 4 press release, 129 suspected terrorists have been arrested in the past year. But the interior minister did not offer a breakdown of the allegiances of those detained.

In September, Turkish prosecutors indicted six jihadists -- five of them Turks -- for trying to acquire chemicals with the intent to produce the nerve agent Sarin. The suspects -- all al-Nusra members -- tried to secure two government-regulated military-grade chemical substances, according to the allegations contained in a 132-page federal indictment.

Southeast Turkey emerges as a recruitment magnet

Turkey's Radikal newspaper said a lengthy investigation it carried out suggests 200 young Turks have been recruited alone from Adiyaman, a town in the southeast of the country. A father of twin sons who had been recruited by al-Nusra told the newspaper that the radicalization process had taken about a year and that his sons disappeared on September 2.

After their disappearance, he tracked his sons down to the Syrian city of Aleppo. "I went to Aleppo with a guide and toured six camps in four days. There were young men from Adiyaman, Bitlis and Bingol in the camps. I found both my sons in a camp in Aleppo. When I told the gang leader that I had come to take them back, he replied: the boys are fighting for jihad here. Are you an infidel, since you are trying to stop them from jihad?"

The recruitment process back in Turkey sidetracks local mosques, presumably as a precaution against possible Turkish police surveillance. Likely recruits are encouraged to join small prayer groups where videos are shown of the fighting in Syria. Adiyaman isn't the only town that is seeing high levels of recruitment. A Turkish police source --who asked not to be identified -- said there is jihadist recruitment activity in Urfa and Diyarbakir. Once persuaded to join up Turkish recruits undergo 45 days of basic military training before joining a fighting unit, he said.

Prior to the Syrian civil war, global jihadist groups had only limited success in recruiting in Turkey. In 2007, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad Union launched a Turkish-language website. Several Turks have been arrested in the past in foiled bomb plots in Europe. And there have been a handful of Turkish suicide bombers, the most notable Cüneyt Çiftçi, who attacked a NATO base in Afghanistan in March 2008, killing several Western soldiers.

But now after nearly three years of civil war in Syria and growing numbers of young radicalized Turks joining the fight fears are growing that radicalization will spread, and that one day young Turkish jihadists may bring the war home with devastating consequences.

Assyrian International News Agency
By: Jamie Dettmer
October 8, 2013

 
Al-Shabab commander Mukhtar Robow (AFP)

On October 5, 2013, American commandos raided a base of the Islamic militant group al-Shabab in southern Somalia. According to media reports, the target was Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, known as “Ikrimah” (or Ikrima), a commander said to be responsible for planning terrorist actions outside the country’s borders. The raid came two weeks after al-Shabab gunmen took over Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, killing 67 people and causing more than 100 injuries. The attack was only the latest for the group, which has a relatively brief but bloody history.

While al-Qaeda’s origins date back to the late 1980s, al-Shabab emerged in the mid-2000s. According to a 2009 paper in Middle East Quarterly by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross “The Strategic Challenge of Somalia’s Al-Shabab,” the militant group “rose from obscurity to international prominence in less than two years.” An outgrowth of the Islamic Union (IU) and Islamic Courts Union (ICU), both militant groups, al-Shabab split away in 2007. Unlike the IU and ICU, whose primary goals were to control Somalia and nearby ethnic Somali areas, al-Shabab had a global jihadist ideology. The group proclaimed its allegiance to al-Qaeda early on, with al-Qaeda only reciprocating later. The U.S. government declared al-Shabab to be a terrorist organization in 2008.

A 2012 article in Politics, Religion & Ideology by Oscar Gakuo Mwangi of the University of Lesotho, “State Collapse, Al-Shabab, Islamism, and Legitimacy in Somalia,” provides a useful overview of political Islam and the nature of failed states. While Somalia is 98% Muslim, religion was long an essential part of life but didn’t trump clan identity. Mwangi details how al-Shabab capitalized on Islam as a common identifier to become a serious force in Somalia.

al-Shabab in Somalia, 2013 (HSPI)

According to a 2013 report by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), since 2007 al-Shabab has “carried out nearly 550 terrorist attacks, killing more than 1,600 and wounding more than 2,100. The number of attacks attributed to al-Shabaab has increased rapidly from less than 10 in 2007 to more than 200 in 2012.” For example, in 2010 the group bombed a café in Kampala, killing more than 70 Ugandans who were gathered to watch the World Cup. The assault on the Westgate Mall was atypical for the group: It was their only known “hostage-barricade attack,” where victims are taken hostage rather than kidnapped. The longer the standoff, the longer the attention of the world community can be held — and the Westgate attack lasted four days.

Al-Shabab has also distinguished itself through its use of new media. According to a January 2013 START report, the group has been using Twitter since December 2011 to engage with English-speaking supporters. “At the time of this brief’s publication, the organization (@HSMPress) had more than 20,000 followers and had tweeted approximately 1,250 times, before its English-language account was suspended by Twitter Jan. 25, 2013.” In its tweets, the group is most concerned with promoting its version of events — that Somalia is under siege in the war on Islam.

Jonathan Masters’s September 2013 article for the Council on Foreign Relations, “Al-Shabab,” reviews information on al-Shabab’s origins, turning points in the group’s history, leadership and sources of funding:

Counterterrorism experts say al-Shabab has benefited from several different sources of income over the years, including revenue from other terrorist groups, state sponsors, the Somali diaspora, charities, piracy, kidnapping, and the extortion of local businesses. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Qatar, and Eritrea have been cited as prominent state backers — although most of these governments officially deny these claims.

In 2008 al-Shabab seized the southern port city of Kismayo and used it as a base for an illicit trade in charcoal, earning the group $35 to $50 million a year, the CFR estimates. Al-Shabab’s control of the port has fluctuated — it was forced to retreat in September 2012 — but the group regained access to the charcoal trade this year. Al-Shabab also has a role in the illegal importation of sugar to Kenya, a trade worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the United Nations.

Despite the publicity gained by the Westgate Mall attack, al-Shabab has seen its fortunes suffer since 2011, according an August 2013 brief, “Somalia’s Al-Shabaab: Down But Not Out,” by George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute:

A three-pronged offensive led by government-allied African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), Kenyan and Ethiopian forces, combined with a famine in south and central Somalia, forced al-Shabaab to withdraw from Mogadishu and reassess its strategy. Over the next year, internal divisions, a loss of public support and continued offensives by government-allied  forces throughout the country significantly weakened the group. Although al-Shabaab remains a major threat to security in Somalia today, the group’s resources, territory and influence have diminished significantly.

The report also highlights al-Shabab’s internal strife, which has extracted a considerable toll. As the territory controlled by the group shrinks, issues such as strategy, treatment of foreign fighters, tactics and the long-term goal have become even more contentious. Some leaders and factions remain committed to a globalist mission — the unification of all Muslims under a single Islamic state — while others push for a nationalist agenda.

“Despite its setbacks, al-Shabaab still commands territory and fighters,” the report concludes. The group “remains a serious threat capable of destabilizing Somalia and the greater Horn of Africa region, and potentially inspiring attacks globally.”

Keywords: terrorism, Africa

- See more at: http://journalistsresource.org/studies/international/conflicts/al-shabab-somalia-terrorism#sthash.wfzkyXQy.dpuf
 

DRY RUNS: Internal Memo Reveals Terrorists Probing Flights



 

Cell phone video from a 2010 dry run shows suspects Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi and Hezem al Murisi being removed from plane. Al-Soofi was carrying $7,000 in cash and their luggage was found to contain mock bombs, box cutters, and long knives.

 

 

Click here to read the internal memo mentioning the dry runs and detailing the most recent one on Flight 1880 on September 2, 2013
 

Orlando, Florida -- It was a flight bound for Florida, and some airline pilots believe it also may have been a dry-run for terrorists. 

The 10 News Investigators have obtained an internal memo that details a frightening incident that brings back memories of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Since then, federal efforts have gone in place to prevent a similar attack, leading many to believe another attack what happened on 9/11 could never happen again.

Wolf Koch, who flies Boeing 767s for Delta Airlines and is the Aviation Security Committee Chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association International, says that belief "is very foolish."

Koch describes the events of 9/11 as "an incredible attack on us. It was very well orchestrated and they're going to try it again... 100 percent, no question in my mind. They're going to try it again."

According to  Koch,  many other flight crews are concerned the planning may already be underway.

A memo obtained by the 10 News investigators from the union that represents pilots for US Airways says that "there have been several cases recently throughout the (airline) industry of what appear to be probes, or dry-runs, to test our procedures and reaction to an in flight threat."

Koch says, "What most security experts will tell you that if a dry-run is occurring, the attack will shortly follow."

The pilots say the most recent dry-run occurred on Flight 1880 on September 2. The flight left Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. and headed to Orlando International.

Crew members say that shortly after takeoff, a group of four "Middle Eastern" men caused a commotion.

The witnesses claim one of the men ran from his seat in coach, toward the flight deck door. He made a hard left and entered the forward bathroom "for a considerable length of time."

While he was in there, the other three men proceeded to move about the cabin, changing seats, opening overhead bins, and "generally making a scene." They appeared to be trying to occupy and distract the flight attendants.

The 10 News Investigators contacted both US Airways and the Transportation Security Administration both confirmed the incident. US Airways says it won't discuss the details of security measures, but that it works closely with authorities. 

The TSA told us it takes all reports of suspicious activity aboard aircraft seriously, and the matter requires no further investigation  at this time.

However, a current Federal Air Marshal who works flights every week says of the TSA, "They're liars. They're flat out liars."

The Air Marshal, whose identity we are not revealing because agency rules prohibit him from talking to the media, says  the TSA doesn't want the flying public to be aware of the problems with terrorist probes.

Read more of the article here
 

 
Here's Why The Navy Is Holding A Terror Suspect At Sea

After seizing terror suspect Abu Anas al-Libi in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, U.S. forces took him to a ship in the Mediterranean where he could be interrogated for weeks or even months to come.

Why a ship?

In short, this allows the U.S. to hold and question al-Libi about his alleged role in a pair of 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa without putting him in the U.S. civilian court system, which could limit or halt efforts to interrogate him.

These "interrogations at sea" are part of the ongoing legal battles over how the U.S. should deal with terror suspects in the post-9/11 world.

The U.S. intelligence community sees al-Libi as an extremely important figure who's been part of al-Qaida for two decades and has extensive knowledge of the group.

Here's Why The Navy Is Holding A Terror Suspect At Sea

In addition to his alleged involvement in the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, al-Libi, 49, has been described as the man who handled al-Qaida's computer systems. He was on the FBI's Most Wanted list and had a $5 million bounty on his head.

The U.S. could send al-Libi to the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, where he could be questioned and held indefinitely while awaiting a military trial.

But President Obama wants to close the Guantanamo prison and therefore is unlikely to add to its population. The president has also barred the use of "extraordinary rendition," or sending suspects to secret prisons in third countries.

"Al-Libi ought to be brought to Guantanamo as an illegal enemy combatant and tried by military commission," The Wall Street Journal said in an editorial. "But it apparently offends the Obama Administration's political sensibilities less to keep captured killers on board a ship for weeks instead."

The Defense Department says that al-Libi was "lawfully detained under the law of war in a secure location outside of Libya," while multiple news organizations say he's being held on a U.S. Navy ship in the Mediterranean.

A Previous Detention At Sea

One precedent for this case was the April 2011 seizure of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame.

He's a Somali linked to al-Shabab and al-Qaida, who was captured by U.S. forces in the Gulf of Aden and kept aboard a U.S. Navy vessel for about two months before he was ultimately sent to New York City for prosecution. Warsame pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in December 2011 and has been cooperating with the government, according to U.S. officials.

Human rights groups say the shipboard detention is just another version of Guantanamo and the secret prisons that delay or prevent fair trials from taking place. But the intelligence agencies argue that they need to question suspects to break up terror networks and guard against future attacks.

There's no time limit for how long the U.S. could hold al-Libi on a ship outside the U.S.

However, Robert Chesney, an expert on national security law at the University of Texas, told NPR that by announcing al-Libi's detention, the U.S. government will come under pressure to bring him before a U.S. judge in the near future.

"If we go more than a few more days I would imagine you will hear from some quarter or another of an attempt to begin some kind of proceeding on his behalf," Chesney said. "Now that doesn't mean that a court is going to immediately get involved ... but it does mean that there will be legal friction to emerge."

Cully Stimson, who manages the National Security Law Program at the Heritage Foundation, said that the length of al-Libi's detention at sea is likely to be a barometer of how much he's talking to interrogators.

"The longer they have him on a ship, the more we know he's talking," said Stimson, who previously worked on detainee affairs at the Pentagon. "If he clams up, he'll probably be presented in a U.S. court pretty quickly."

The Obama administration has made clear its preference for putting suspects on trial in civilian court. However, once al-Libi is brought into the U.S. legal system, he will, among other things, be read his Miranda rights and receive an attorney who might discourage al-Libi from talking.

Al-Libi was captured Saturday in one of two raids carried out by U.S. forces in Africa. The other, on the coast of Somalia, resulted in a firefight and casualties, but no suspects were captured, U.S. officials said.

Such raids expose U.S. forces to much greater risks compared to drone strikes that have been widely used during Obama's presidency. Capturing a suspect offers the possibility of valuable intelligence, however.

NPR.org
By: Greg Myer
October 7, 2013

 

 

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