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Heavily armed British cops are now sweeping London searching for suspects involved in Jihad plots.
Heavily armed British cops are now sweeping London searching for suspects involved in Jihad plots..

Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Officers (CTOs) continued on Tuesday to search suspected addresses of terrorists following a pre-planned intelligence operation that began on Sunday evening in Great Britain's city of London, according to officials with the Metropolitan Police Service.

On Sunday, four Muslim men were arrested on suspicion of commission, preparation or instigation of terrorists acts as covered by the United Kingdom's Terrorism Act 2000. Some of the police officers were armed with 12-gauge shotguns that used "Hatton rounds" against the suspected Islamists fleeing in an automobile.

The suspects were all taken to a south London police station and they remain in police custody. Officers from the elite MPS Firearms Unit were involved in the capture of the suspected terrorists.

MPS officials said that the alleged Jihadist plot was "serious" and the terrorists planned to use firearms in their United Kingdom attacks.

But police said the plot was not as extensive as earlier major plots, such as the airline liquid bomb plot or the Birmingham rucksack (backpack) bomb plot, which resulted in the convictions of the Jihadists.

Two suspects, both aged 25, were arrested in an automobile in Whitechapel, in east London, after police officers fired "Hatton rounds" -- ammunition designed to blow out the car's tires and blow open its doors.

According to elite UK forces, these special 12-gauge shotgun rounds are designed for door-breaching operations. The Special Air Service (SAS) special forces units, Britain's version of the Navy SEALs, use Hatton rounds to shoot hinges and locks off of locked doors. The Hatton round is a mixture of compressed gun or zinc powder and wax and is formulated to cause only localized damage without passing through the door and hitting a hostage.

One of the suspects was of Turkish origin and the second was of Algerian origin, police said.

A 28-year-old suspect of Azerbaijani origin was arrested at premises in west London, and the fourth man, a 30-year-old Pakistani, was arrested in southeast London.

Scotland Yard officials would not discuss the actual terrorist plot or the targets selected for the attack or attacks, but they are continuing the counterterrorism operation.

While the British Security Service MI5 states they do not discuss intelligence and security matters with the news media its director general, Andrew Parker, gave a speech last week at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on the continuing threat of terrorism and how the Security Service and its sister agencies are adapting to respond.

Parker highlighted the enduring and diversifying threat from al-Qaeda and its imitators. MI5 noted that:

"... the work of MI5, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the police in countering the threat of terrorism and emphasized the extent to which the [MI5] is accountable. In concluding his speech, he commented on a number of challenges that MI5 will face in the future, including rapid changes in technology and the growth of new electronic means of communications."

"In addition to day-to-day criminal activity, the Metropolitan Police must deal with unique challenges that other cities in the UK do not face to the same degree, including public order events, as well as the threats posed by organized [crime] and terrorists. The reputation of London as a safe city and a stable place to invest and grow depends upon an effective response to the whole host of crime and disorder challenges that we encounter," said London Mayor Boris Johnson

The Examiner
Jim Kouri
October 16, 2013
 
The original FBI Most Wanted Terrorist poster naming Anas al-Libi as an al-Qaeda operative.

An alleged al-Qaeda leader detained for interrogation aboard a U.S. warship is now in New York City and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday in federal court for a number of terrorism charges, according to former NYPD official Iris Aquino.

The al-Qaeda suspect, Abu Anas al-Libi, has been under federal indictment in New York for more than ten-years. He's accused of aiding in planning and conducting surveillance for the terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, during the Clinton Administration.

While he was supposed to be held for interrogation for a longer period of time, according to Fox News Channel, al-Libi suffers from an advanced-stage of Hepatitis "C" that is affecting his liver function.

Al-Libi will be the latest in an increasing long-line of defendants to face civilian trials under President Barack Obama, who refuses to have suspected terrorists detained at the Guantanamo Military Detention Center (Gitmo) and tried within the military justice system.

In his first term, Obama reneged on his original order for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be tried in New York in a federal courtroom. After being slammed by members of the GOP and counterterrorism experts, Obama rescinded his decision and allowed Mohammed to be transferred to Gitmo for a military trial, according to a report by Accuracy in Media.

Al-Libi was a prominent fixture on the FBI's most wanted terrorists lists, but his friends and family claim he was not a member of al-Qaeda, much less a leader of that terrorist group.

U.S. special forces had nabbed al-Libi in a surprise raid in Tripoli, Libya, last week, but he was temporarily held onboard a Navy warship for preliminary questioning before being transferred to the United States for prosecution in the federal criminal justice system, according to an Examiner news story.

Republican lawmakers and numerous counterterrorism experts claim President Barack Obama is allowing national security to take a backseat to the liberal-left, political-correctness orthodoxy by refusing to allow the captured an al-Qaeda leader to be detained at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. military detention center, according to the Examiner story.

Last week, an Islamist who served 12-years in custody after being arrested by police in Belgium is now in Washington, D.C., to face terrorism charges within the U.S. federal court system, according to a news story appearing in the Examiner.

Nizar Trabelsi of Tunisian, after serving 12-years in prison in Belgium, where he served time for terrorist acts, Trabelsi was extradited and arrived on Thursday to answer to terrorism charges in the United States.

The 43-year-old Trabelsi allegedly received his orders directly from Osama bin Laden, the iconic leader of al-Qaeda, according to the Examiner story.

Also, last week U.S. special forces captured a senior commander with the Pakistani Taliban, Latif Mehsud, in a covert operation, the U.S. Department of State said on Friday.

"I can confirm that U.S. forces did capture a Pakistani Taliban (the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) terrorist leader Latif Mehsud in a military operation," said State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf in a daily briefing. "[But] I don’t have further details to share about the operation for you at this time," she added.

The Examiner
Jim Kouri
October 15, 2013

 

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
 

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