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:

Chicago man convicted of supporting terrorist group that attacked India sentenced to 14 years

CHICAGO — A Chicago businessman was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday for providing material support to overseas terrorism, including a Pakistani group whose 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, left more than 160 people dead.

Tahawwur Rana did not address the court before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber imposed the sentence and did not react afterward. But his defense attorneys said the judge was right to reject prosecutors’ arguments that Rana deserved a stiffer sentence because the charges were related to terrorism.

Jurors in 2011 convicted Rana of providing support for the Pakistani group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and for supporting a never-carried-out plot to attack a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. The cartoons angered many Muslims because pictures of the prophet are prohibited in Islam.

But jurors cleared Rana of the third and most serious charge of involvement in the three-day rampage in Mumbai, India’s largest city, which has often been called India’s 9/11.

The judge also rejected the government’s argument that the plot against the Danish newspaper was meant as a broader attack against the Danish government, amounting to an act of terrorism that should mean a harsher sentence. Leinenweber said it seemed clear the plot was solely targeting an independent newspaper on private property, and was likely intended to intimidate other media outlets that might defame Islam or its prophet.

The defense attorney, Blegen, also noted that there was no shortage of government targets in Copenhagen if they had wanted to strike at Denmark’s leaders.

He argued for a more lenient sentence for the 52-year-old Rana that would take into account his poor health and the emotional impact of his separation from his wife and children. He said the Pakistani-born Canadian citizen had suffered a heart attack while in the federal lockup. He also argued that Rana did not present a future risk.

Jury clears Chicago businessman in Mumbai attacks, convicts him in plot against Danish paper

CHICAGO — A federal jury convicted a Chicago businessman on Thursday of helping plot an attack against a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad but cleared him of the most serious terrorism charge accusing him of cooperating in the deadly 2008 rampage in Mumbai.

The jury reached its split verdict after two days of deliberations, finding Tahawwur Rana guilty of providing material support to terrorism in Denmark and to the Pakistani militant group that had claimed responsibility for the three-day siege in India’s largest city that left more than 160 people dead, including six Americans.

Before ’08 Mumbai Attacks, U.S. Was Warned Key Figure in Plot had Terror Ties

Federal officials acknowledged Saturday that David Coleman Headley, the U.S. businessman who confessed to being a terrorist scout in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was working as a Drug Enforcement Administration informant while training with terrorists in Pakistan.

Headley is the son of a Pakistani father and an American mother. He became an informant for the DEA in the late 1990s, after he was arrested on heroin charges. His U.S. wife told investigators that he told her he started training with Lashkar in early 2002 as part of a secret mission for the U.S. government.

The revelations came after a report Friday by ProPublica and The Washington Post that the FBI had been warned about Headley’s terrorist ties three years before the Mumbai attacks. Headley was arrested 11 months after those attacks.

On Saturday, the New York Times reported that another of Headley’s wives – he apparently was married to three women at the same time – also had warned U.S. officials about his terrorism involvement. In December 2007, the Moroccan woman met with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan and told them about Headley’s friendship with Lashkar members, his hatred of India and her trips with him to the Taj Mahal Hotel, a prime target of the Mumbai attacks, the Times reported.

Islamic groups in Europe condemn Mumbai attacks

The Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) condemned the “inexcusable and reprehensible” terror attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. “The Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe reminds of the vital importance of exercising self-restraint, and respect for the principle of peaceful coexistence and harmony in community relations in the multi-ethnic Indian society,” said a statement released by the Organization. The FIOE is an association that encompasses hundreds of Islamic organizations in Europe.

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Sindh Today

Look elsewhere for the enemy within

The devastation wreaked last week in Mumbai, India’s economic capital, has already been presented as India’s 9/11. Terrorism is far from uncommon in India; this event was given prominence because, for the first time, a significant minority of the victims was western. While Pakistan and Islamist terrorist networks allegedly harboured there were the focus of initial suspicion, it was not long before the media started to point a finger at Islamists with British roots; a link strongly denied by the British Foreign Office. The claims echoed the popular fears that escalated when it was discovered that the perpetrators of 7/7 were “homegrown” – a discovery which seemed to shock the country, proud of its multicultural heritage, to the core, particularly as those responsible seemed to be well-integrated and well-educated British Muslims.

Britain and other western countries undeniably contain within their boundaries minorities engaged in terrorist activity. However, the extent of this has been unjustifiably exaggerated as the press runs scare stories about British Muslims’ involvement in “madrasas” in Pakistan, (considered to be training camps for terrorists), or imams from overseas supposedly importing radicalism and infecting a suggestible cohort of disaffected youth in British mosques. The involvement of highly-educated Muslims in terrorist attacks has led to a perception of British Muslims, especially those at college or recently graduated, as an increasing threat to national security and social democracy, with the cases such as the Yorkshire-based Muslims involved in 7/7 and the Muslim doctors’ involvement in the attack on Glasgow airport, presented as evidence.

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Mumbai attacks: How young Britons are radicalised in Pakistan

Reports that some of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai were British has focused attention on the UK Muslims who receive military training at extremist madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this report, filed three years ago, Telegraph correspondents expose how young Britons travel to al-Qaeda camps to learn how to destroy the West: Deep inside an anonymous office building at the heart of the Pakistani Army’s sprawling Rawalpindi headquarters last week, a metal door swung open and two smartly dressed British officials stepped into a spartan, windowless room. Sitting before them at a bare table, clad in traditional attire of shalwar kamis, loose trousers and shirt, was a slight, bearded figure who was handcuffed and flanked by stern-faced armed guards. The visitors were members of MI5, Britain’s security service. Officers of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) assumed that their business suits, worn despite the sweltering heat, concealed pistols and recording devices.

One spoke fluent Urdu, the other was a veteran anti-terrorism specialist. They had flown into Pakistan’s main airport outside the capital, Islamabad, to interview two terror suspects who they believed could hold the key to preventing further deadly al-Qaeda attacks on London. The handcuffed man in front of them was Zeeshan Hyder Siddiqui, 25, who had been captured two months earlier in Peshawar, in the war-torn north-west Frontier Province. When interrogated by the ISI, he revealed that he had been involved in a failed plot to bomb pubs, restaurants and railway stations in London while he was living in Hounslow. Awaiting the MI5 officers in an adjoining questioning room was Naeem Noor Khan, alias Abu Talha, 26, who was arrested in Lahore a year ago. He had confessed to interrogators that his al-Qaeda cell had been planning to attack Heathrow and paralyse London by carrying out explosions across the Tube network. Although not a British citizen, he had visited the country several times, renting a flat in Reading in late 2003 beneath a main Heathrow flight path.

A note found in Siddiqui’s possession stated that one of his accomplices had been unwilling to proceed with the attack, which the terrorists had called Operation Wagon, and it had been called off. Now the MI5 officers were hoping Siddiqui might provide valuable information about the mission that probably replaced it: the dispatching of suicide bombers on to the streets of London that left 56 people dead on the morning of July 7, Almost all roads in the inquiry to track down the extended al-Qaeda network behind the 7/7 atrocities lead to Pakistan. The country has become, as one senior Pakistani intelligence official told The Sunday Telegraph last week, an “incubator where al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants continue to flourish and regroup”. Many of the young British-born Muslims who return to the land of their parents and grandparents come simply to visit relatives or to discover their roots. But some come to learn how to destroy the West. Toby Harnden and Massoud Ansari report.

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‘Terror Acts Belong to Daily Life in India’

On Friday, residents in Mumbai, India were still dealing with the aftermath of the terror attacks that left 143 dead. In Germany, commentators were wondering whether the incident puts India’s rising economy in jeopardy — and whether it was a harbinger of more violence to come. On Friday, the battle to regain control of the city of Mumbai was continuing as special forces regained control of one of the luxury hotels attacked by militants on Wednesday. Commando units stormed a Jewish center and are soldiers are deployed at another hotel, where at least one militant is still holed up. While most of the 143 killed in the coordinated attacks were Indians, there are some Europeans among the dead. On Friday France sent a special flight to Mumbai to bring back up to 150 Europeans caught up in the terror attacks. Ties between Europe and India have been increasingly close in recent years — a fact underscored by the presence of seven EU members of parliament who were in Mumbai on a trade delegation at the time of the attacks. On Friday some German commentators wonder whether this relationship needs to be reevaluated in the light of this week’s events. Some editorialists suggest treating India with more caution in the near future.

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Close Call for MEPS: Europe Strongly Condemns Attacks

European officials strongly condemned the attacks in Mumbai. Three members of European Parliament were among those trapped in the Taj Mahal hotel. They escaped unscathed, but will return to Brussels with harrowing memories. On Thursday morning, officials from the European Union and its member states strongly condemned the terror attacks in Mumbai. “Terrorism is never justified and is no means to achieve any goal. We stand by the Indian government in its fight against terrorism,” the European Commission said. The European Council, currently headed by France, said that “it joins in the mourning of the Indian nation and stands beside it during this distressing trial.” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the attacked “outrageous”; German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was personally “distraught” by the news. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent her condolences to Indian prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday. “The German government sharply condemns these crimes,” she wrote. “I would like to express my deeply felt sympathy to you and the citizens of your country. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families in this difficult hour.”

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US and UK Muslims condemn Mumbai killings

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) condemned unequivocally the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. “The brutal murder of Indians and foreign nationals is unacceptable, there is no excuse for such acts, whatever the cause may be,” said a statement from the MCB. “I condemn this heinous act and extend my sympathies and condolences to the bereaved. Many Britons have deep links with the city of Mumbai and India and I join them in this hour of sadness and anxiety,” said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the MCB. Federation of Indian Muslim Organizations Midlands, UK, also condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The Federation said it “condemned unequivocally the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that has resulted scores of deaths. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and injured.” They said “no cause or grievance can justify indiscriminate attacks against innocent” and urged the Indian Government to “instigate immediate investigation of all incidents and the perpetrators must be brought to justice swiftly.” The US based Muslim organisation, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) also condemned the Mumbai terror attacks. “Those responsible for these brutal and immoral attacks should be swiftly brought to justice. Islam considers the use of terrorism to be unacceptable for any purpose,” said MPAC statement.

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