Twitter-loving American jihadi faces death threat from Somali militants after fallout

JOHANNESBURG — An Alabama native who moved to Somalia to wage jihad alongside al-Shabab militants faces a Saturday deadline to surrender to the insurgents or be killed, according to his Internet posting.

Omar Hammami — whom the FBI named as one of its most-wanted terrorists in November — has engaged in a public fight with al-Shabab over the last year, and a Twitter account that terrorism analysts believe is run by Hammami or his associates announced Jan. 4 that al-Shabab fighters had given him 15 days to surrender, or else.

“Shabab make (an) announcement in front of amriki: drop ur weapon b4 15 days or be killed. Its on,” the tweet from the Twitter handle (at)abumamerican said. Hammami’s nom de guerre is Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, or “the American.”

The killing of an American foreign fighter would likely harm al-Shabab’s efforts to recruit Westerners, but Hammami has felt in danger for many months. Hammami first expressed fear for his life in an extraordinary web video last March that publicized his rift with the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab slapped Hammami publicly in an Internet statement last month, saying his video releases are the result of personal grievances that stem from a “narcissistic pursuit of fame.” The statement said al-Shabab was morally obligated to out his “obstinacy.”

Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who runs the website, thinks Hammami’s recent outbursts — on Twitter, and a short Arabic-language video — have been a way for the American to rally protective support for himself. Hammami has sought out al-Qaida central, the al-Qaida branch in Yemen and Islamic scholars to take his side, but he has largely been given the cold shoulder.

American activists, CODEPINK, visit Pakistan to join anti-drone march as reports of Taliban threats loom

A group of American anti-war activists are in Pakistan to join a march into the country’s tribal belt to protest U.S. drone strikes in the rugged northwest territory. Their presence has energized organizers behind the protest but also added to concerns that Islamist militants will target the weekend event.

The two-day march — in reality a long convoy — is to be led by Imran Khan, the former cricket star-turned-politician who has become a top critic of the American drone strikes in Pakistan.

It is to start Saturday in Islamabad and end in a town in South Waziristan, a tribal region that has been a major focus of drone strikes as well as the scene of a Pakistani army offensive against militants.

The American activists — around three dozen representatives of the U.S.-based activist group CODEPINK — along with Clive Stafford Smith, founder of the London-based legal advocacy organization Reprieve, want to march with Khan and publicize the plight of communities affected by the U.S. drones.

France arrests suspected Islamic militants

News Agencies – March 30, 2012

Police commandos arrested 19 suspected Islamic militants in raids in several French cities including Toulouse, where seven people were killed by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman this month. President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose firm handling of the response to the shooting spree may have improved his odds in an election race he has lagged in, said more raids would follow to get rid of “people who have no business in the country”.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant said those arrested had paramilitary-type training although he did not say if they were planning an actual attack. Television channels showed images of the early morning raids, with agents from the RAID police commando unit and anti-terrorist specialists bashing down doors, and smashing windows.

In Alaska, becoming the militants next door

Paul Rockwood Jr. and his wife were well-liked neighbors, until the FBI accused them of drafting a list of terrorist attack targets. In an interview from prison, he tells his story, beginning with Sept. 11 and his Muslim conversion.
Reporting from Fairton, N.J.—

A little more than a year ago, he was a weather forecaster at a remote outpost in King Salmon, Alaska, population 442. He and his wife — he with his close-trimmed red beard and shy smile, she with her rosebud cheeks and sweet English accent — lived in a two-story frame house strewn with toys. They were popular dinner companions and regulars at community theater productions.

Now Paul Rockwood Jr. is a convicted terrorist, serving eight years in a federal prison. His wife, Nadia, is exiled on probation in England after her own criminal conviction. Since their arrest in 2010 — accused by the FBI of drafting and delivering a list of targets for terrorist attacks — friends and neighbors have been left in confusion, wondering how the nice young couple could have turned into the terrorists next door.
The possible answer, provided in Rockwood’s first interview since his arrest, opens a window on one man’s uncertain spiritual journey and radicalization after the Sept. 11 attacks. It also offers a look at the government’s increasingly deep dragnet for suspected domestic terrorists.

To federal authorities, Rockwood, 36, is a man who turned from hard-partying bartender and ex-Navy seaman to Muslim militant committed to killing fellow Americans.

To Rockwood, the plot involving targeted assassinations and bombs was a “pure fantasy” created by a government agent he thought was his friend, a common refrain in the nation’s burgeoning number of “home-grown” terrorism plots prosecuted since the Sept. 11 attacks. “But as time went on, I started needing to know why somebody would kill themselves, flying a plane into a building.”

“Germany Must Do More to Combat Homegrown Terrorism”

6 October 2010
The deaths of up to eight German militants in a US drone strike in Pakistan on Monday is a further indication that Germany has emerged as a recruiting ground for Islamic extremists, say media commentators. Authorities need to step up efforts to counter the problem, they say.
Up to eight German Islamic militants were killed in a US drone strike in northwest Pakistan on Monday, according to unconfirmed reports that have thrown a spotlight on the rising number of young Islamists who are travelling from Germany to receive training in terrorist camps.
The deaths coincided with alerts issued by authorities in the US, Britain and other nations about possible terrorist attacks on targets in Europe. While the German government has insisted there is no cause for alarm, police and intelligence authorities say over 100 Muslims who grew up in Germany have travelled to terrorism training camps in the tribal border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent years, and that many of them have returned.
The head of Germany’s police federation, Konrad Freiberg, said there were some 40 militants living in Germany who had received explosives training. “An increasing number of people have traveled from Germany to the training camps there — and many of them returned and are now living here,” Mr Freiberg told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper. “We have to expect attacks.” He said the police didn’t have the means to keep them under 24-hour surveillance.

Sarkozy Condemns Killing of Michel Germaneau Suspected al-Qaeda Militants in Mali

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed the death of a French hostage killed by suspected al-Qaeda militants in north-west Africa. Sarkozy condemned the killing of 78-year-old Michel Germaneau as “odious”, saying it would not go unpunished. The leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had earlier said Mr Germaneau was killed in revenge for a failed rescue raid in Mali.

Mr Germaneau was kidnapped in Niger in April. A retired engineer, he was in the region as a volunteer aid worker. AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel said in a statement broadcast by al-Jazeera that Mr Germaneau had been killed in revenge for a raid in which six militants died.

Yemeni government takes out local al-Qaida members

Two al-Qaida militants who have allegedly been threatening the US and British Embassies in Yemen were killed by government forces on Jan. 4. The embassies were closed to the public for the second day.

The Yemeni forces were tracking Nazih al-Hanq of the group al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula.

Increases in security were apparent on the streets of Sana’a, in the airport, and around embassies on Monday.

Bomb plot suspects in Germany confess: lawyers

Four Islamic militants standing trial for planning big bomb attacks on U.S. targets in Germany have confessed to the charges, defense lawyers said on Thursday. The planned attacks were designed to be as destructive as the September 11, 2001 strikes in the United States, prosecutors said, adding that the defendants had identified bars, discos and the U.S. Ramstein air base as possible targets. Johannes Pausch, the lawyer representing defendant Daniel Schneider, said all four militants were making confessions. “My client is currently doing so; yesterday, today and tomorrow at the Federal Crime Office,” he told Reuters.”The others are also in the process of doing so. The whole thing should be concluded this week.” The charges against the four men include preparing bomb attacks and being members of a terrorist organization. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in jail. Lawyer Pausch said his client was hoping to get a reduced sentence by confessing. Two defendants, Schneider and Fritz Gelowicz, are German converts to Islam, while Atilla Selek is a German citizen of Turkish origin, and Adem Yilmaz is a Turkish citizen. Schneider would plead guilty in court to planning the attacks, Pausch said. Matthias Inverardi Reports.

Police arrest 13 suspected militants linked to Al-Qaeda’s North African branch

Police in northern Spain have arrested 13 suspected Islamic militants linked to Al-Qaeda’s branch in North Africa. Searches have been conducted in the homes of the arrested, as part of the night operation launched in the Basque city of Bilbao. “The 13 formed a group dedicated to robbery and drug trafficking. “The police are investigating if the suspects diverted funds they obtained from criminal activities to finance Islamic terrorism in Algeria,” said a statement released by Spain’s interior Ministry. Receipts of money transfers, stolen passport, stolen gold and solver, computers, mobile phones, and knives were among the seized evidence. Police said that the operation was “linked to Al-Qaeda,” but gave no further operation – the investigation is ongoing. According to reports, those held are primarily of Algerian and Moroccan background.

The significance of this turn of events and article points to the deeply intertwined motivations of suspected terror linkages, and state investigations. Spain, in recent years, has been known to make sweeps of arrests with a primary charge (forgery, robbery, for example), with an addendum of possible connection to terror activity; and frequently, later altering accusations of suspects. As such, this investigation provides an important look into not only the transnationalism of possible terror activity, but poses questions about Spanish security investigations, and their level of veracity.

Appears unlikely Taliban militants will kill Canadian hostage

Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal region have opted to delay plans to kill Canadian hostage Beverly Giesbrecht, but her captors are apparently still holding out for a ransom before releasing her. The abduction of Giesbrecht, 53, has become a sensitive issue, and tribesmen of the embattled area are reluctant to speak on the matter openly. However, some locals said that while there is no hard information about her release, it could come at any time.

In a video released last month, the West Vancouver resident said her captors warned that they would behead her if their demands for $375,000 USD weren’t met by the end of March. That deadline was later extended to April 6. The Canadian embassy in Islamabad has been working behind the scenes with Pakistani authorities to help secure her release.