Ex-al-Qaida spokesman recalls 9/11 with bin Laden

March 19, 2014


NEW YORK — Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law offered a rare glimpse of the al-Qaida leader in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, recounting during surprise testimony Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom how the two met that night in a cave in Afghanistan.

“Did you learn about what happened … the attacks on the United States?” the son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, recalled bin Laden asking him.

The testimony came as Abu Ghaith’s trial on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group took a dramatic turn. His decision to take the witness stand was announced by his lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who surprised a nearly empty courtroom that quickly filled with spectators as word spread.

Abu Ghaith testified that bin Laden seemed worried that night and asked what he thought would happen next. Abu Ghaith said he predicted America “will not settle until it accomplishes two things: to kill you and topple the state of the Taliban.”

Bin Laden responded: “’You’re being too pessimistic,’” Abu Ghaith recalled.

Abu Ghaith said he wasn’t involved in recruiting aspiring terrorists and denied allegations that he had prior knowledge of the failed shoe-bomb airline attack by Richard Reid in December 2001.

His lawyers said they were hopeful that another part of Abu Ghaith’s testimony, that he had met self-professed Sept. 11 architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed, would cause the federal judge overseeing the trial to reconsider his decision to exclude Mohammed from testifying via videotape from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Washington Post.com: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ex-al-qaida-spokesman-to-testify-at-new-york-trial/2014/03/19/2b2b3a5a-af71-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html

Young British Muslim converts need support to prevent another Woolwich

As a Muslim convert, I set up a project to counter radicalisation among young urban men. But our funding was cut by the government and now there’s a vacuum. The former chairman of Brixton mosque in south London saw the challenges facing new converts to Islam.


Since 2005, there have been 148 teenage murders in London; 100 are knife related and 27 have been gun related. In 2011, the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark recorded the highest number of knife crimes in London. Add to this dynamic, youths who try to escape this lifestyle – not through education or employment (due to these avenues either failing or rejecting them) – but through religion; Islam in particular, due to its ability to transfer their focus towards personal and spiritual empowerment, no matter what adverse circumstances they face. The young urban Muslim convert feels this sense of empowerment reducing the sense of helplessness, frustration and anger towards the marginalisation he has faced throughout his young life. However, he is at a “founding” idealistic stage of his new faith and, particularly if he had a propensity for violence and criminality before he converted, his vulnerability is clearly evident for all to see – especially extremist propagandists seeking “foot soldiers”.


The author argues that, although psychological and social mosaics are clearly influencing factors to how we initially develop as new Muslims, there are defining catalysts that propel an individual from being radical or non-violent to violent. “Cycle of violence” theories refer to a “tipping point” – when an individual reaches a point of no return due to an incident or event which pushes them across the threshold to commit a violent or terrorist act. Richard Reid – the shoe bomber’s – tipping point was when the “war on terror” was launched against the Taliban in Afghanistan shortly after the events of 9/11.


As former chairman of Brixton mosque, in south London, I saw the challenges facing new converts to Islam. The mosque was able to provide the spiritual and familial support often required at the most formative “founding” stage of their lives. The over-zealousness that usually accompanied this stage led converts on a quest to learn more about the religion from various sources.


For this reason, youth intervention programmes such as Street UK (Strategy to Reach Empower and Educate Teenagers) were established. More than 4,500 young men participated in Street activities in 2010, the penultimate year before funding was withdrawn by the coalition government. We still operate voluntarily, but at a much reduced capacity. So there is a vacuum. Young men are no longer actively engaged or challenged ideologically by those most qualified, both socially and religiously, to do so; extremist narratives proliferate unchallenged and are no longer deconstructed to susceptible converts at the grassroots where such messages are most potent. In light of this, there is an uncomfortable realisation that those behind the Woolwich attack are unlikely to be the last to be violently radicalised.


London bombs home-made from pharmacy ingredients

Explosives found by detectives investigating the London bombings were home-made using ingredients that can be found in high street chemists. The highly volatile explosive – acetone peroxide – has been discovered in a house in Leeds thought to have been used as a bomb-making factory. The discovery has raised fears of other British fanatics making their own explosives and following the example of the London suicide bombers. Instructions for making acetone peroxide are readily available on the internet. The home-made explosives found in Leeds are similar to those used in other al-Qaida-linked attacks. They were also used by shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Police are hunting an Egyptian chemistry student who has fled his Leeds home as well as the suspected mastermind behind the suicide attacks. A security source said: “The explosive that has been recovered at the house in Leeds – some of it is still in there – is in fact acetone peroxide. “It’s the same kind of explosive Richard Reid had in his shoes when he tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001. “This is a shocking development in the sense that earlier ideas about commercial or military grade explosive being used in the bombs themselves would therefore seem to be wrong.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=98C81ACB48DCF47163A02538&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Muslim Airport Workers Protest in France

PARIS (AP) — One was a security agent once praised for finding a weapon in a piece of luggage, another handled baggage and a third delivered mail. All are practicing Muslims who worked at the main Paris airport – until their security clearance was revoked. They are among 72 people who had security badges taken back – and lost their jobs – over the past 18 months, caught in a campaign by French authorities to guard Charles de Gaulle airport against the risk of terror. The three are among 11 people who have gone to court challenging the loss of their security clearance. A hearing in the case is set for Nov. 10. “What did we do? I want to know,” said Abdelhamid Kalai, who worked as a baggage handler for seven years before being suspended last month. “Sometimes they accuse people because they’re Muslims,” said the 40-year-old father of three, who left his native Algeria in 1992. “We pay for the others.” Daniel Saadat, a lawyer representing four of the former workers, said the case is a stark example of discrimination against innocent Muslims caught up in security fears. Authorities say the situation arises from the need for zero risk at Charles de Gaulle, where 90,000 people work. Security concerns since the Sept. 11 attacks were boosted after British officials in August foiled an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights. At Orly, the second-largest Paris airport, one or two workers have had their security badges rescinded in the past year, said Yvon Caratero, deputy chief of the Air and Border Police. The office of Jacques Lebrot, deputy prefect responsible for airport security, said 72 airport workers in all had lost security clearance since May 2005, a majority of them for having links to militant Islamic circles. Officials have not released specific details. An Aug. 17 letter reviewed by The Associated Press advised one airport worker at Charles de Gaulle of having an “attitude that could put airport security into question” and “behavior incompatible with obtaining (security) authorization.” An Oct. 5 follow-up letter said the employee’s security clearance was denied due to “elements of behavior and morality.” The decision said the person, who asked not to be identified, “presents a significant danger for airport security.” Saadat, the lawyer, said authorities had been asked for proof of wrongdoing. “So far, we have been shown nothing. The common ground is that they are Muslims.” Herve Bataille, 30, a security agent who converted to Islam 10 years ago, received a commendation letter in March 2005 for finding a weapon in hand luggage at his security checkpoint at Charles de Gaulle. A second letter praised his conduct during an airport visit by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy a month later. Today, he is out of work. Bataille freely talks of traveling to India, Bangladesh and Pakistan and being a member of the Tabligh missionary movement, which started in 1927 in India and is seen today as a potential source of radical Islam. Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 with explosives in his shoe, attended mosques run by Tabligh. The French newspaper Le Parisien on Wednesday quoted Lebrot, the deputy prefect, as saying one airport worker who lost security clearance had “continuous contact” with a person “in direct contact with Richard Reid.” Bataille denies any connection to the shoebomber, as does another Tabligh follower, Karim Kherfouche, 29, who lost his security clearance and job loading planes with mail for Chronopost, a French speed mail service. Bataille and others said they were questioned about their religion, how they practiced it, and whether they had made a pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam’s holy site. “If it’s because you put your foot in Pakistan and those countries, then they’re lumping everything together,” said Bataille, who sports a trimmed beard. For Caratero, the police official at Orly, the emphasis is on the “potential danger” a worker represents. Saadat, the lawyer, said no one questions that authorities must ensure airport security. But, he adds, none of the workers who lost their security clearance have been detained for questioning. “If they have something on them, it would be criminal not to follow up,” he said.