Anger over the U.A.E. list of terror organisations

The inclusion by the United Arab Emirates of some of the most respected Islamic organizations established within Nordic states and the UK on a list of groups – including al-Qaeda and the ISIL- suspected of having links to terrorism has triggered a wave of protest.

In the UK, the Muslim Association of Britain expressed its “total and utter condemnation” at the move. The President of the organization, Omer el-Hamdoon, said from its north London headquarters: “We openly question the basis under which this list has been compiled and we call on the UAE to explain why this questionable and objectionable decision has been taken. The action places the lives of ordinary Muslim people in danger as they may be targeted and treated as terrorists or become the victims of hate crimes.”

Issued by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the list included major terror groups such as al-Qaeda as well as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as regional and local affiliates and smaller regional groups.

Jihad, justice and the American way: is this a model for fair terrorism trials?

The government stokes fear and fails to understand the Muslim world. But inside at least one courtroom remains an unusual precedent: context can be served

July 17, 2014

Sitting and waiting in US District Court here on Wednesday, you got the undeniable sense that something unusual was about to happen.

Here was the end of a terrorism trial with two men who had already pled guilty – the British citizen Babar Ahmad to providing material support for terrorism by way of administering a website that called on Muslims to devote themselves to jihad, which he did, and the British-born Talha Ahsan to helping him, despite being a mailman for the site for five months in 2001 – but both of whom still looked nervous in that familiar shackle-and-jumpsuit uniform of so many Muslim foreigners in this country over the past 13 years.

Here was the final hearing for two men who had already spent two years in a US supermax prison – under the kind of no-contact conditions Edward Snowden refuses to come home for, in what Ahsan’s brother described to me as “solitary confinement torture” – before they even got a fair trial. By the time they arrived for sentencing on Wednesday, Ahmad and Ahsan had already sat and waited in prison for 10 and eight years, respectively.

Yet here was a terrorism trial about non-operational terrorism – about a website, and Ahmad’s visit to an Afghan training camp in 1999, and ultimately about over-aggressive prosecutors seeking 25 and 15 years, respectively – and here it was coming to a close not under the specter of xenophobia so much as all-American common sense.

No, Judge Janet Hall was not willing to entertain the Fox News-ification of terrorism. “There is no way to rationalize the sentences” the government had recommended, she said, at least not based on claims that two men promoted “violent jihad” and provided what is known as “material support” for terrorists. “In my view,” the judge said, “jihad does not equal terrorism. In a perversion of what Islam teaches, terrorists have misappropriated the concept of jihad from its true meaning – struggle. But jihad is not what happened on 9/11.”

But allegations of terrorist activity almost always lead to perceptions of guilt rather than even partial innocence, and too often it’s the government stoking that perversion of such a basic principle of justice. In this case, the judge found that extensive research by government lawyers ultimately led them to make little more than connections that didn’t exist. She gave Ahmad 12 years and handed Ahsan eight years, for time served.

“I’ve had to witness the agony in my mother’s voice every day,” Ahsan’s brother, Hamja, told me moments after learning the verdict, which will leave Talha in the custody of US immigration officials with the prospect of returning home to Tooting in London. (With time served and good-time credits, Ahmad has approximately 13 more months left on his sentence, at least some of which he will serve back in the UK. ) “I’m going to fight for the rest of my life to ensure that no other family goes through what we have gone through.”

I’ve written about the grueling extradition process of these two men and the uniquely American extreme conditions of detention they faced once they arrived, two years ago, at Connecticut’s Northern Correctional Institute, the notoriously harsh facility that also houses death-row inmates. On Wednesday, after a decade of incomplete justice and what Ahsen called “the best possible outcome”, context was served.

Of course, Dick Cheney and lawmakers like Congressman Peter King would rather forget, but in the mid- to late ’90s, around the time a 19-year-old Ahsan made his pilgrimage to Afghanistan, thousands of British Muslims were making similar journeys to fulfill religious obligations. Those obligations were made more urgent by the Bosnian War, and so an 18-year-old Ahmad traveled to Bosnia to assist Muslims who were being slaughtered in Srebenica while the international community looked the other way.

The vast majority of these “holiday jihadists” did not become radicalized. They just got trained in the real meaning of jihad – “struggle”, not “holy war” – and returned home.

Now Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan finally face the prospect of going home earlier than jingoist prosecutors wanted them to – much earlier. Next time, let’s understand the broader context of the Muslim world – and the basics of our own justice system – much, much sooner than that.

Briton Babar Ahmad given 12-year US prison term for aiding Taliban

Ahmad, who could be freed in a year because of time served, pleaded guilty to providing material support to the Taliban

July 16, 2014

Babar Ahmad, the British citizen who was extradited to the US two years ago, has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for providing material support to the Taliban at a time when they were harbouring the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Ahmad, 40, will be returning to the UK to serve the remainder of his sentence, which was issued by a federal court in New Haven, Connecticut. The 150-month sentence was substantially less severe than the 25 years US prosecutors had been seeking for him.

Judge Janet Hall also gave the Briton credit for the eight years he already spent in detention without trial in the UK, and the additional two years he has been held in solitary confinement in Supermax facilities in the US. The reduction for time served means that with good behaviour he stands to be released in 13 months.

He will now be sent to the metropolitan correctional center in Manhattan, before being eventually sent back to the UK, from where he was extradited in 2012.

Stephen Reynolds, addressing the court on behalf of the US government, had tried to secure a lengthy prison term for the defendant, on the grounds that he might reoffend. He alleged that Ahmad, through jihadist websites, had actively supported Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, and had shown no remorse.

But the judge pushed back on the accusations, pointing out in earlier hearings that even the government’s main co-operating witness had denied that Ahmad had helped al-Qaida. “Your own witness doesn’t support that. Fighting against US forces doesn’t necessarily equate to support of al-Qaida,” Hall said last week.

Ahmad pleaded guilty last December to providing material support to the Taliban and Chechen mujahideen by using websites to raise money, recruit fighters and provide equipment for the movements.

But his defence lawyer, Terence Ward, told the judge that only a few of the 4,000 articles he had posted mentioned the al-Qaida leader. The defendant was “horrified” by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he said.

The case was heard in Connecticut because Ahmad, and his co-defendant Syed Talha Ahsan, who has been released into the custody of US immigration officials pending possible deportation, used an internet service provider in the state to base one of their websites.

The sentencing follows the protracted battle Ahmad fought to avoid extradition to the US. In an article in the Guardian in October 2012, he argued that “as a British citizen who has lived since birth in Britain, studied, worked full-time and paid taxes, if I am accused of any offence here in Britain I expect at the very least to face trial here in Britain.”

He was awarded £60,000 in March 2009 as compensation for having been physically abused by Metropolitan police officers at the time of his initial arrest in December 2003.

Dress like a jihadist: Isis and terror-related merchandise flogged online and in Indonesian stores

June 24, 2014

As Isis whips up a tsunami of violence, barrelling through Iraq capturing towns and borders on a daily basis in its quest to create an Islamic state, a few entrepreneurial businessmen are capitalising on the exposure by selling a range of “terror”-related merchandise. All publicity is good publicity, particularly in the sale of jihadist apparel, with baseball T-shirts, caps and hoodies being flogged online emblazoned with “ISIS” or supporting the insurgent cause.

A number of Facebook groups marketing the Islamic goods have since been taken offline, including pages such as the “Koas Islamic State of Iraq and Sham” or “Muzalzil production.” The t-shirts, stamped with the al-Qa’ida splinter group’s name and bordered by automatic weapons, have been available for at least a few months and originate from Indonesian vendors. Islamic clothing has also, however, been seen in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

One Facebook account that’s still live, Rezji Militant, has pictures of a store that it says is in Pabelan, central Java, and proudly displays items it sells including an “Always Fight Against Jews Zionism” poster, camouflage vests, and militant dolls-come piggy banks. Another website, Zirah Moslem, has computer game-style images of men with scarves wrapped around their faces illustrated on t-shirts with the words “Muslim Brotherhood,” Fight For Freedom Till Last Drop of Blood,” or “Mujahideen Around the World.” Zirah Moslem has almost 5,000 friends on Facebook and shows off merchandise supporting Hamas, the Taliban and the Free Syrian Army.

 

TAGS: Radicalization, Security and Counterterrorism, Soldiers and Military Conflict, Public opinion and Islam in the media, and Issues in Politics and Immigration and Integration

Spy watchdog: UK under threat from jihadi bomb makers with ‘devilish technical skill’

July 5, 2014

Britain faces a new attack from jihadi bomb makers with the skill to make explosive devices concealed in mobile phones and tablet computers, parliament’s intelligence watchdog says today.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, warns that the British public has grown complacent about the threat of a terrorist attack on UK soil and that the lack of vigilance is “seriously disturbing”. The former Foreign Secretary, who received a secret intelligence briefing on the latest transatlantic airline bomb plot, says he has “no doubt” that extra security searches at airports are necessary.

Having occupied large swathes of Iraq, the Islamic State (Isis) is also now in a position to fund the research and development of more technologically advanced bomb-making equipment.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security in Washington will issue guidance to airports across Europe asking that new security checks on flights heading to the US are implemented. It is likely to lead to more stringent checks on passengers at British airports and longer queues, coinciding with the summer holiday getaway.

Writing in today’s Sunday Telegraph, Sir Malcolm says that in his position as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, the parliamentary committee which oversees the secret operations of MI5 and MI6, he has been shown the evidence gathered by intelligence agencies which underpin a series of new security measures being introduced at British airports and across Europe.

His comments coincide with a stark warning made by Lord Carlile, the government’s former reviewer of terror legislation, who told The Sunday Telegraph that the Islamic State (Isis) now had funding on a par with a “large multinational corporation”. Lord Carlile said: “There is evidence Isis and its followers are capable of making much more sophisticated bombs. The step-change now is that Isis is very well-funded. The public needs to be aware this is a major terrorist organisation with funding comparable to a large multinational corporation and that they have the capacity to do research and make sophisticated bombs.” Lt Gen Sir Graeme Lamb, the former head of Britain’s Special Forces, writing for the Telegraph website, said it was imperative that the Home Office begin funding “novel science and security technologies” to combat ever more sophisticated bomb-making capabilities.

While intelligence about a growing terror threat against civilian airliners has been growing for some time, the decision to order increased checks was made in the past week. The latest terror alert was sparked by US intelligence picking up signals that al-Qaeda’s Yemeni and Syrian branches were colluding to try to bring down an aircraft.

Visitors Fault Sept. 11 Museum’s Portrayal of Islam

June 1, 2014

After the vivid audio recordings, diagrams and personal artifacts that take visitors minute by minute through the Sept. 11 attacks, and before the images of recovery workers combing through rubble, a small section of the National September 11 Memorial Museum is devoted to explaining Al Qaeda and terrorism.

A seven-minute video installation narrates a summarized history of Al Qaeda, opposite a series of brief explanatory panels about the group’s ideology and its attacks. On a recent weekday, some visitors stopped to watch the film in its entirety, but others only paused briefly. Some read the text panels, one of which explains that Al Qaeda represents a tiny fraction of the world’s Muslims; many people did not.

In April, the video, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” became the center of a controversy over how the museum should talk about Islam in reference to the attacks. An interfaith group of New York clergy members argued the film failed to sufficiently differentiate between terrorism and Islam, and asked for changes. Now that the public has access to the museum, some visitors say they agree.

Last Thursday, among 20 people who had just gone through the museum, there was consensus that the museum did not come across as anti-Muslim. It provided them with basic information about Islam and Al Qaeda. But many said there was not enough explanation to enrich their perspective or teach them more than they already knew. Most worrisome, some said they thought a Muslim might feel uncomfortable visiting.

“I think they should have talked about Islam more, just so people understand that there is a difference between Islam and people who do terrorist attacks but who also happen to be Islamic,” said Adrian Cabreros, 22, visiting with his mother from San Francisco. “They just sort of said that the people from Al Qaeda wanted to have a more Islamic state, but it was hard to distinguish, to separate Islam itself. It kind of gives Islam a bad vibe.”

At the museum itself, the controversy over the treatment of Islam has centered on the terminology used to describe Al Qaeda. The interfaith panel contended that using religion-related terms like Islamist and jihadist to describe the terrorists could lead people to believe that the group’s violent, radical beliefs were indicative of the wider religion.

Suicide Bomber in Syria Was U.S. Citizen, Officials Say

May 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — A United States citizen working in Syria with a militant group backed by Al Qaeda conducted a suicide bombing there Sunday, in what is believed to be the first time an American has been involved in such an attack, American officials said Wednesday.

The suicide attack first surfaced on Tuesday in Twitter messages from the Nusra Front, an Islamist extremist group in Syria aligned with Al Qaeda in the fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

American officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because intelligence matters were involved, declined to identify the American or provide any information about him. NBC News first reported that American government officials had confirmed the bomber was an American.

Syrian activists and jihadist social media sites reported that the American went by the name Abu Huraira al-Amriki and carried out the suicide truck bombing in the northern province of Idlib.

Islamic extremist groups in Syria with ties to Al Qaeda have been trying to identify, recruit and train Americans and other Westerners who have traveled there to get them to carry out attacks when they return home, according to senior American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

These efforts, which the officials say are in the early stages, are the latest challenge that the conflict in Syria has created, not just for Europe but for the United States. The civil war has become a magnet for Westerners seeking to fight with the rebels against the Assad government.

American intelligence and counterterrorism officials say more than 70 Americans have traveled to Syria, mainly to fight for one of the hundreds of rebel groups combating the Assad government. The F.B.I., C.I.A., National Counterterrorism Center and Homeland Security Department recently created a special team of analysts to try to prevent the American jihadists from returning home undetected.

An American suicide bomber in Syria is a “potential game changer,” said Seth Jones, a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation.

Last year, another American, Eric G. Harroun, a former Army soldier from Phoenix, was indicted in Virginia by a federal grand jury on charges related to allegations that he had fought alongside members of the Nusra Front. In September, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge involving conspiracy to transfer defense articles and services, and was released from custody.  Mr. Harroun’s family posted a notice on his Facebook page last month saying that he had died, apparently from an accidental overdose.

Other American citizens or residents have been detained before they arrived in Syria.  Basit Javed Sheikh, 29, of Cary, N.C., was arrested in November 2013 for trying to provide material support to the Nusra Front as he was trying to board a series of flights to join the group, American authorities said.

¡Matadlos! Quién estuvo detrás del 11-M y por qué se atentó en España’

February 18, 2014

 

Author: Fernando Reinaressobre_matadlos_web

Title: ¡Matadlos! Quién estuvo detrás del 11-M y por qué se atentó en España’

Publisher: Galaxia Gutenberg, S.L., Colección: Ensayo

ISBN: 978-84-16072-00-2

 

Ten years have passed since the 11M terrorist attacks in Madrid and finally, the whole truth is exposed in this book. After years of rigorous research, Fernando Reinares reveals when and where the decision to attack was made in Spain. He explains how the terrorist network of 11-M was formed, what were the main components, their international connections and funding.
Matadlos!Kill them! concludes that the killings in the commuter trains in Madrid were planned for reasons of revenge, and were prepared by the criteria of opportunity and were executed for strategic reasons. In fact, the author says that the reasons for revenge   have their roots in the dismantlement of an Al-Qaeda Spanish cell in 1997, and the general role of Spain in the anti-terrorist fight. Al-Qaeda supported and helped the execution of the 11-M attacks and profited from the context of the Iraq war to placed the in the strategy of the organization.

 

Galaxiagutenberg

http://www.galaxiagutenberg.com/libros/%C2%A1matadlos!.aspx

 

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The 11M attacks were approved by al-Qaeda

The 2004 Islamist attacks in Madrid were not the result of an “isolated cell ” but they had the “approval and facilitation ” of Al- Qaeda. This has been assured on Tuesday by Spanish expert, Fernando Reinares who has spent years researching the facts. In his new book, “Matadlos! Quien estuvo detras del 11-M y por que se atento en Espana” (‘Kill them! Who was behind the 11-M and why was Spain attacked”)he concludes that “the decision to attack Spain was made in December 2001 in Karachi”, Pakistan.
According with Reinares, “the initial decision to attack Spain was due to motives of revenge”. In fact, the author says that the motives  have their roots in the dismantlement of an Al-Qaeda Spanish cell in 1997, and the general role of Spain in the anti-terrorist fight.

 

Abc.es: http://www.abc.es/espana/20140218/rc-atentados-fueron-aprobados-qaida-201402182001.html

Al Andalus 2.0. La ciber-yihad contra España

This work analyzes the explosive combination of terrorism, new information technologies and historical grievances. The recovery of alandalusIslamic rule on the Iberian Peninsula remains an essential objective for Al Qaeda and their allies. The radicals found in the Internet an opportunity to enhance and reinterpret in harsh terms the myth of a paradise taken away by force. From abundant new information, the book explains the role that  Al Andalus plays in the jihadist universe is explained, details all corners of cyberspace where it is possible to find Spanish references as a vehicle to incite violence, traces back the role played by internet in the 11-M in Madrid, and delves into some of the major police operations against groups and individuals who have used cyberspace to wage jihad against Spain.

Divided into two parts, the first devoted to “Medium and Message” with the eternal justification for Al Qaeda and its franchises to hate the West as responsible for the assaults on Muslims.

The second part deals with cyber-jihadists arrested in Spain, which provides a comprehensive overview of police operations carried out against the people who have used the Internet as a means of radicalization.

This work analyzes the explosive combination of terrorism, new information technologies and historical grievances.

 

Manuel Ricardo Torres Soriano, Al Andalus 2.0. La ciber-yihad contra España (Granada: Biblioteca GESI). 210 pages. 2014. (ISBN: 978–84-616-7991-1)

The State Department’s Arabic outreach team spoofed an al-Qaeda video

In the war for Middle Eastern hearts and minds, the U.S. Digital Outreach Team is on the virtual front lines: debating America’s critics on Twitter, commenting on Arabic message boards and generally engaging with anyone they can reach. But that outreach appears to have crossed a new line: spoofing al-Qaeda propaganda videos on an official State Department YouTube channel.

The Digital Outreach Team is fairly transparent about its activities — as evidenced by that closing credit. According to an Associated Press article from April, a month before the Zawahiri spoof went online, the team consists of roughly 50 native Arabic, Punjabi, Somali and Urdu speakers. It’s grown considerably since January 2009, when a State Department bulletin listed only 10 team members; it’s been around, per the bulletin, since November 2006.

The team runs Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels, and it tangles with commenters on popular Arab news and discussion sites, always identifying themselves as State Department employees and using their real names. In 2012, they had 7,000 online engagements, reports the AP, up from 2,000 in 2009. The idea is to “explain U.S. foreign policy and to counter misinformation” through the power of Diplomacy 2.0, says the State Department bulletin.

The program’s success is difficult to gauge. A 2012 study of the program, published in The Middle East Journal, concluded that engagement did little to change the tone of anti-American conversations. In a sample of several hundred forum posts, users were more likely to ridicule or refute the Outreach Team than engage with it. Only 4 percent of posts expressed positive views of the team, and a sliver more — 4.8 percent — expressed positive views toward U.S. foreign policy.