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.

British jihadist warns life is hard in Syria and hundreds return to UK

February 17, 2014

 

A British fanatic in Syria has warned would-be jihadists that fighting in the war-torn country is “more difficult than people think”. The unidentified man said being a Muslim warrior was more than just putting on a “tactical vest and grab a Kalashnikov and get a big beard”.

He also attacked the image that Syria was a “five star jihad” following reports by other fanatics that boasted of staying in villas and mansions. The warning raises the prospect that hundreds of Britons who are believed to have returned to the UK may have found it too hard in Syria and now plan to carry out attacks here instead. It is feared as many as 250 British jihadists are now back in the UK having fought in Syria.

It is feared that up to 500 Britons have travelled to Syria to fight, many with extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and other terror organisations. A significant part of MI5’s works is now taken up dealing with threat posed by those travelling to or returning from Syria and presenting a risk here. MI5 and police had stopped one serious plot last autumn involving a cell of “returnee” jihadists planning a “Mumbai – style” gun attack in central London.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10644586/British-jihadist-warns-life-is-hard-in-Syria-and-hundreds-return-to-UK.html

Lee Rigby killing: two British Muslim converts convicted of murder

The first Islamist terrorists to carry out their plan to murder on British soil without killing themselves in the process have been convicted of mutilating and attempting to behead a soldier, as the prime minister vowed to step up efforts to defeat the al-Qaida ideology of violence.

British-born Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (Adebolajo has asked to be known as Mujahid Abu Hamza in court, and Adebowale has asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah) were convicted of murdering Lee Rigby last May, after scouring an area around the Woolwich barracks hunting for a soldier to kill. One was set on the path to murder by a deluded belief that 9/11 was a Western conspiracy. The other told of his disgust at watching television in 2003 as Western missiles rained down on Baghdad in the battle to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The savagery of the murder, in which Rigby, 25, was repeatedly stabbed and hacked at the neck by a cleaver, shattered community relations when mosques were attacked. It was the first murderous attack in Britain by those motivated by the al-Qaida ideology of violence since the 7 July 2005 bombings of London’s transport system by four suicide bombers.

While convicting them of murder, the jury accepted their defence to a charge of attempting to murder armed officers who turned up to arrest them. Adebolajo and Adebowale claimed they charged at the armed officers clutching a machete and unloaded gun, not because they wanted to kill them but because they wanted to be shot dead and achieve martyrdom. The brother of one of the men convicted on Thursday of murdering Lee Rigby has told the Guardian that he believes the killing of the soldier in the street was justified by their Islamic faith. In remarks that a majority of British Muslims would regard as an extremist mutation of their religion, Jeremiah Adebolajo claimed his brother Michael had sought to “please Allah by fighting in his cause” in the barbarous attack in Woolwich, south London.

Witness Amanda Donnelly Martin was passed a warped handwritten note by one of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s murderers. Ms Donnelly Martin was at the soldier’s side, attempting to comfort him as he lay in the road when Michael Adebolajo handed her the note. It appears to be an attempt at explaining or justifying the barbaric murder – urging the removal of “so-called politicians” and making bizarre references to “international armed robbery” and “bewitching tongues”.

In full it read:

“To my beloved children, know that to fight Allah’s enemies is an obligation. The proofs of which are so numerous that but a handful of any of them cuts out the bewitching tongues of the Munafiqeen (hypocrites). Do not spend your days in endless dispute with the cowardly and foolish, if it means it will delay you meeting Allah’s enemies on the battle field. Sometimes the cowardly and foolish could be those dearest to you so be prepared to turn away from them. When you set out on this path do not look left or right. Seek Shaheed Ala oh my sons, so that you might be raised together and if it is Allah’s decree that you’re not to be in the hearts of green birds then be ready for to enter the university of Joosuf Sijn (sic) be patient there and be firm there and Inshallah you will meet your lord with him pleased with you. Verily Allah is with those who are patient. If I live beyond this day and you find me talking other than this then know that perhaps Allah has left me to stray. If you find yourself curious as to why carnage is reaching your own towns then know it’s simply retaliation for your oppression in our towns. Many of your people are aristocrats that directly benefit from invasion of our lands without material loss. Whereas the average Joe Bloggs working class man loses his sons when they’re killed by our brothers, when the heat of battle reaches your local street it’s unlikely that any of your so-called politicians will be at risk or caught in crossfire so I suggest you remove them. Remove them and replace them with who will secure your safety by immediate withdrawal from the affairs of Muslims. Muslims will trade with you on fair terms but understand that the days of your international armed robbery is (sic) drawing to a close. To humble yourselves willingly is better for you. May Allah guide your nation to the truth.

Michael Adebolajo “slayed” the soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight in an attack meant to wreak carnage , a jury has been told. The jury went out shortly after 11am yesterday, returning to deliver unanimous verdicts which were greeted by sobs. Rigby’s stepfather, Ian, wiped away tears and put his arm around the soldier’s mother, Lyn, who was crying.

The mother of Michael Adebowale, one of the two men convicted of hacking soldier Lee Rigby to death has blamed “the evil ones” of Islam for luring her son into a world of fanaticism. Juliet Adebowale also spoke of her sorrow for the fusilier’s family, saying: “That poor, poor family have lost a son – but so have I”. His brother’s defence contrasts with the stance taken by their parents – of Nigerian Christian heritage – who have condemned their son’s attack. Jeremiah said he was close to his brother, and that their upbringing in Romford had not been deprived and there was a strong family focus on education. He dismissed claims Michael Adebolajo might have had a troubled family life.

They were “polite, nice guys” from strict Christian families. Michael Adebolajo’s passions were “music and football and girls”. Michael Adebowale was a “lovable, quiet boy” who enjoyed cooking Jamie Oliver recipes. Yet, during their teens, these two east London boys descended into a life of petty street crime and drugs, before converting to Islamic extremism which drove them to commit the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.

Jeremiah also sought to argue that the brutal murder of a young man was motivated by anger at western foreign policy – but dismissed the possibility that MI5 could be blamed because the security service had repeatedly tried to recruit his brother as an informant. The attack raised questions for MI5 and police, who had known of the men for eight years. Adebolajo has told those who have seen him since his arrest that repeated alleged attempts by MI5 to turn him into an informant had not played a part in the murder, which he blames purely on anger at western foreign policy. In 2010 Adebolajo had been arrested in Kenya, a gateway to terrorist areas in Somalia and it was claimed he was ill-treated with British complicity.

In the interview, Jeremiah – who says he was converted to Islam by Michael – adopted many of the views his brother expressed when he gave evidence at the Old Bailey. Asked if he was proud of his brother, Jeremiah said: “In that he is a Muslim and that he sought to please Allah by fighting in his cause and dying in his cause, then to this extent yes.”

Interviewed by the Guardian before the jury returned its guilty verdict on Michael, Jeremiah said he loved his brother more than he did a year ago, despite the Woolwich events. Counterterrorism officials continue to assess 2,000 individuals in the UK as posing a terrorist threat, a number that they say has remained roughly constant since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

Adebolajo became more extreme and took part in numerous Islamist protests in London. He also fathered six children, one born just four days before Mr Rigby’s murder. In 2006 he was arrested during a violent demonstration outside the Old Bailey, where fellow fanatics were on trial accused of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred following the publication of a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. In 2007 he was filmed by the BBC protesting outside Paddington Green police station after the arrest of another fanatic. He was holding a placard which complained of a “Crusade Against Muslims”. In 2008 he spent three months in custody after assaulting a police officer. The following year a video showed him ranting on a platform in front of young Muslims outside north London mosque. He told them: “Do not be scared of the filthy kuffar [non-believers]. They are pigs.”

Jeremiah argued that his brother’s act of murder was a “military strike” by a “soldier”, and in keeping with the teachings of the Qur’an. It is a claim British Muslims dispute, but he mocked them too, saying Muslims in the rest of the world regard Britain as having “blood on its hands”. He claimed his brother had been forcibly brought back to Britain from Kenya in 2010 after he tried to reach areas of Somalia controlled by extremist groups affiliated to the al-Qaida ideology. Jeremiah said: “My brother left to Kenya, to go and live in Somalia under the sharia. This was his choice. What the British government did is brought him back.”

The security services face questions over whether they underestimated the threat posed. The intelligence and security committee is investigating how much MI5 knew of the men’s activities. The men are believed to have acted alone. Adebolajo told jurors that he was a “soldier of Allah” and was obliged to obey the command of Allah. He described how he held the soldier’s hair as he hacked at his neck in a motion described by one witness as like a “butcher attacking a joint of meat”. Adebowale did not testify in his own defence and his police interviews were not heard by the court. Adebolajo’s barrister, David Gottlieb, began his closing speech by complaining that his client had been demonised as a “total monster” by the press and politicians. “I suggest to you this background of religion, race, class and politics has been a toxic mix and when you add in the word terrorism, as we have in this case, it made it impossible for rational people to think straight,” he told the jury.

Until recently Woolwich and nearby Plumstead hosted extreme Islamist preachers, such as Omar Bakri Mohammed, the self-styled sheikh responsible for Adebowale’s conversion to Islam, and Anjem Choudary, the founder of Al Muhajiroun who once counted Adebolajo in his following. The crossroads where Drummer Rigby was slain is also a five-minute drive from HMP Belmarsh, the high-security prison where many of Britain’s most committed Islamist terrorists are housed.

Killing to make a political point, to frighten the public and put pressure on the government of the day or as an expression of anger is murder and remains murder whether the government is a good one, a bad one or a dreadful one. What happened was designed to tear apart the oneness of Woolwich. It didn’t happen – people were brought closer, regardless of race or creed. And the reason that happened was because of what pre-existed this attack. People were disconcerted by what might happen afterwards but we had the links and the structures in place to show unity between Muslims, Christians, Sikhs – everybody. The community can remember [Lee Rigby] but it can also move on. Work by police and community leaders has indeed outwardly smoothed the troubled waters created by the murder. Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Muslim communities then, as now, were united in their condemnation of this crime. This was a dishonourable act and no cause justifies cold-blooded murder.”

Mr Justice Sweeney, the trial judge, said he would pass sentence after a key ruling by the court of appeal in January on the use of whole-life terms. He is considering sentencing the men to die in jail. In two recent cases he rejected crown demands for whole-life sentences, including a terrorist case where a Muslim man was murdered by a Ukrainian man who also staged a bombing campaign, who received a minimum term of 40 years.

 

The Independent:

The Telegraph:

The Guardian:

From Acton to Aleppo: how one British Muslim’s quest to Syria ended in death

Ali Almanasfi, who was killed along with a US woman and third westerner, hoped to atone for a wrong by fighting with rebels. After five months fighting in Syria with the rebels, Ali Almanasfi’s luck finally ran out. On Wednesday the 22-year-old Briton took a wrong turn and drove into a government checkpoint near the city of Idlib. Syrian soldiers immediately opened fire. They killed Almanasfi together with his two fellow passengers: an American woman and Islamic convert, Nicole Mansfield from Michigan, and a third, so far unidentified man, possibly Canadian.

 

Syrian TV showed the bloody aftermath of this one-sided encounter: a black VW Golf riddled with bullets and a haul of Kalashnikovs. Also visible was Almanasfi’s maroon British passport. It gave his place of birth – London – and date of birth, June 1990.

 

Almanasfi’s family were conservative Sunnis from Damascus, Syria’s capital. But he grew up in west London, the son of a bus driver, who later split stormily with Almanasfi’s mother and remarried twice. As a teenager, according to his friend Tam Hussein, Almanasfi drifted into trouble. He got involved in street fights with other Acton gangs and petty crime: drugs, stealing, booze. In 2008 his father sent him to Syria to cool down. Apparently this didn’t work. A year later he did something he would bitterly regret: drunk, he attacked an older man. The details are hazy. But he was caught, sentenced to four or five years in jail, and initially imprisoned in Feltham young offenders institute. In Arabic culture it is shameful to disrespect an elder, to beat up an old man an act of terrible dishonour. Almanasfi appeared haunted by this ghost. He looked at fighting for the rebel cause “almost like a redemptive act”, Hussein said.

 

It was in prison that he became interested in religion. He discovered an identity. He grew a beard. Hussein recalled: “He became increasingly religious; the ghetto talk, the accent, the slang slowly disappeared.

 

It was at this point that Britain’s secret services appeared on the scene. Almanasfi had begun attending a radical mosque in west London. He popped up on MI5’s radar, intelligence sources made clear on Friday.

 

In January Almanasfi went over, despite MI5 warnings: he left the third-floor Acton flat he shared with his mum and disappeared. He sent a valedictory text to his half-brother Safwan in Halifax. It read: “I’m off. I love you.” He seemed aware of the risks but also confident that he would survive his idealistic adventure unscathed. “He told me about some guys who were killed there. He said these guys were hotheads who didn’t know what they were doing,” Hussein said.

 

Almanasfi’s final five months in Syria are a mystery. In west London his family reported him missing; police called round at his flat, but found no trace. Like other foreign volunteers – at least 600 have gone to Syria since 2011 from at least 14 European countries including the UK.

 

7/7 Inquest: Debate about whether the Bombers Could’ve Been Stopped

07.05.2011

Following the 7/7 bombings, many of the victims’ families had called for a public inquiry into the bombings to establish whether the attacks could have been prevented by the police and MI5. Debate especially arose about the fact that the MI5 largely ignored the appearance of Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer on their terrorism radar a year earlier. Khan and Tanweer had been caught on surveillance cameras in 2004; however, to disguise the origin of the photograph before showing it to an Al Qaeda informant in the US, the image was cut in halves and cropped, making Tanweer unrecognizable. The picture of Khan was discarded entirely.

The coroner Lady Justice Hallett was critical of the Security Services’ procedures and the decision to crop the image. While she believed that MI5 had held important clues to identify the 7/7 bombers before the attacks, she ruled that Security Services could not have prevented the bombings. However, she pointed out flaws in MI5’s decision-making and recommended reviews of and improvements to their techniques as well as the recording and assessment of targets to prevent events like 7/7 from happening again.

Sweden Suicide Bomber: Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly was living in Britain

12 December 2010

Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly tried to set off a car bomb packed with gas canisters in a busy shopping street in Stockholm. The car caught fire and the bomber fled the scene before blowing himself up 300yd away 15 minutes later, injuring two bystanders.
It emerged last night that Abdulwahab, who was due to turn 29 yesterday, is a former physical therapy student at Bedfordshire University in Luton, and that his wife and three young children still live in the town.
MI5 is now investigating possible links with extremists in Luton, whether the bomber was radicalised at the university and claims that he was helped by an extremist group in Yemen, the base for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

UK extremists are travelling to Somalia to train, says MI5 chief

17 September 2010

British Muslim extremists are increasingly switching from Pakistan to Somalia to receive training in militant camps with the aim of carrying out attacks in this country, according to the head of MI5.

Jonathan Evans said yesterday there was deep concern that “it is only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside Al Shabaab, an Islamist militia in Somalia.”

While it has been known for some time that members of the Somali diaspora in the UK had been back to their homelands to join insurgents, others including those of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and North African extraction are now taking the same route. Some have been killed in the fighting there, but others have returned to Britain following lessons from the Al Shabaab group which is believed to have links with Osama bin Laden.

Iraq war turned British Muslims against their country, former spy chief says

The invasion of Iraq “substantially” increased the terror threat to Britain and turned British Muslims against their own country, says the former head of the MI5 spy agency. Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, controller of the domestic intelligence agency between 2002 and 2007, said yesterday that her agency “didn’t anticipate the degree to which British citizens would become involved” in al-Qaida-linked terror plots and that the Iraq war provided a “highly significant” source of motivation for British-born terrorists.

Giving evidence at the Chilcott inquiry, she said MI5 was “pretty well swamped” with intelligence suggesting a radicalisation of young Muslims in Britain after the 2003 invasion. She said British involvement in Iraq “radicalised” some British citizens, “not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who saw our involvement in Iraq on top of our involvement in Afghanistan as an attack on Islam”.

Asked what specific proof there was of a direct correlation between the Iraq invasion and the growth in Muslim terror plots in Britain she said: “I think we can produce evidence because of the numerical evidence of the number of plots, the number of leads, the number of people identified and the correlation of that to Iraq and the statements of people as to why they were involved. What Iraq did was to produce a fresh impetus of people prepared to engage in terrorism.”

High number of British Muslims has allegedly been tortured overseas

A growing number of young British Muslims say they have been tortured overseas with the apparent complicity of MI5 or MI6 officers. Not all are still considered terrorism suspects — many were released without charge — but the intelligence and security committee has never sought to interview any of them, or their lawyers.

Trial on British MI5’s involvement in torture of Binyam Mohamed

This week’s appeal court ruling disclosed CIA-based intelligence showing that MI5 knew that British resident Binyam Mohamed had been subjected to treatment “at the very least cruel, inhuman, and degrading”. Mohamed is a former Guantánamo detainee who claims to have been tortured by US authorities with the knowledge or even support of MI5.

The appeal court, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, also referred to a recent US court case where the judge vindicated Mohamed’s claims that “UK authorities” had been “involved in and facilitated the ill-treatment and torture” to which he was subjected while under the control of the US. A particular document refers to MI5 officers having “deliberately misled” parliament and sharing a “culture of suppression”.