Counterterrorism efforts have crippled al-Qaida, world overreacts to Abdulmutallab plot

Extensive training and resources such as US bank accounts, access to flight schools, and low flight security levels all gave al-Qaida an edge before 9/11 and fostered the 9/11 attacks. But counterterrorism efforts and scrutiny of finance and air travel systems have seen to it that much of what was once available to al-Qaida now is not.

While a terrorist attack was attempted on Christmas Day, its scale and sophistication pale in comparison to 9/11. This article argues that al-Qaida has been weakened as a result of security efforts, and the public as well as the government has overreacted.

US Homegrown terrorism still a small threat, study says

Homegrown terrorism is not a significant threat in the US, according to Professor Charles Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina and co-author of “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-American Communities.”

The study reveals that the number of individuals involved in terrorism in the US was only 139 since 2001, not enough of an increase to label it a trend, even after the Fort Hood and Christmas Day incidents.

Abdulmutallab’s time in Yemen: was Arabic course a cover?

Abdulmutallab is said to have spend six months in Yemen, but officials at the San’a Institute for the Arabic Language claim he was only enrolled during the month of Ramadan which began in late August. One of his teachers said Abdulmutallab spent the last 10 days of Ramadan in a mosque, attending the 20-hour course for about 4 hours.

The question of exactly what he did during the rest of his time remains unanswered, although he has told authorities he received training and instructions from al-Qaida in Yemen.

Abdulmutallab is also said to have already had Arabic skills upon enrollment. School director Muhammed al-Anisi believes he may have used the school as a formal pretext to legally enter Yemen after being recruited by al-Qaida. He believes al-Qaida may have organized his time at the school in order to train him.

After the course was finished, an exit visa was arranged for Abdulmutallab as well as a cab to the airport. But he never left Yemen. Experts think he may have gone straight to Yemen’s al-Qaida training grounds, emerging on an aircraft Christmas Day with a bomb.

The incident raises concerns about Yemen, largely lawless and rapidly become an al-Qaida haven.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula, the Yemei branch of the group who claims responsibility for the attack, formed in January when Saudi and Yemeni members joined forces.

The US and Yemen are researching possible retaliation targets in Yemen, should President Obama order them.

More full body scanners will be installed at airports this year, privacy debate ensues

After Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a jetliner en route to the US on Christmas Day, American airports plan to triple the number of full body scanners from 40 to 150. The machines have led a debate on where the line should be drawn on security measures to preserve the privacy of citizens.

Analysts call the scans virtual strip searches, as they can see through passenger clothing, creating naked images of passengers. ACLU Washington Legislative Office policy counsel Michael German says they will not detect explosives hidden in body cavities, making them both ineffective, inconvenient, and personally invasive.

Naked images could be shared through the internet, but measures are being taken to prevent this.

They are also expensive. At a cost of $150,000 each, aviation and business experts say there will be a rise in air travel costs in order to pay for the machines. Increasing costs concern not only passengers but also airlines, who have struggled to stay in business.

Lord Ahmed to be charged over fatal ‘text message’ crash

A Labour Peer is to be prosecuted after he allegedly sent a text message from his mobile telephone shortly before a fatal motorway crash, it was reported. Lord Ahmed, 51, was driving his Jaguar X-type on the M1 on Christmas Day last year when it hit an Audi A4 which had stopped in the outside lane.

The driver of the other car, Martyn Gombar, 28, was killed instantly. South Yorkshire Police are said to have confirmed that Lord Ahmed is to be summoned to appear in court in connection with dangerous driving. The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years in jail. The maximum sentence for dangerous driving is two years. The police investigation has centred on reports that Lord Ahmed’s mobile telephone had been used to send a text message to a journalist shortly before the crash. It is claimed the message was sent about three minutes before the same telephone was used to call 999. Lord Ahmed said he had not been informed of the decision to prosecute him and refused to comment on claims that he had sent a text message shortly before the accident. “Obviously I am still denying anything to do with any dangerous driving and I will speak to my lawyer,” he said. The Pakistan-born politician suffered cuts and bruises in the accident. His wife, Sakina, 49, and his mother, Rashim, suffered minor injuries. Shortly after the incident Lord Ahmed confirmed that he had been behind the wheel at the time of the crash.

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UK Remembers Islamic Heritage

CAIRO – To prove that the European country has a century-old Islamic heritage, British Muslims are championing a drive to renovate Britain’s first and oldest mosque, finding help from the local church. “Repairing…(the) mosque with British money, either from the government or the Muslim community, would act as a powerful symbol of British Islam,” Mohammad Akbar Ali, chairman of the Abdullah Quilliam Society, told The Independent on Thursday, August 2. “It is a religious heritage that all British Muslims can be proud of.” Founded by British revert William Quilliam (later Abdullah), the mosque was officially opened on Christmas Day in 1889 on Number 8 Brougham Terrace in Liverpool. “Quilliam is proof that Britain has its own Islamic heritage,” said Ali. Years of neglect have left its toll on the Muslim place of worship.