French police criticized for dressing as Muslims during drug raid

Police in Marseille have been criticized over the arrest of a suspected drug dealer made by two officers dressed in traditional Muslim attire. The suspect was detained on Wednesday in La Bricarde neighborhood in the north of the city, along with two other alleged members of his crew in an operation in which 1.2 kilograms of cannabis and 300 euros in cash were seized. An otherwise unremarkable arrest, were it not for the fact that two of the officers were dressed in a qamis and jilbab, long tunics typically worn by conservative Muslims. The arrest was caught on camera and quickly spread through social media.

 

The arrest was part of an operation by a special brigade within the national police, a spokesperson of the Regional Directorate of Public Security [DDSP] confirmed.

Many were angered that the police were dressed specifically as Muslims when other civilian clothing could just as well have been used.

“It’s normal that banlieusards feel stigmatized when the police use these kind of procedures, which speaks volumes about the city conditions,” wrote a person who originally posted the video on Twitter.

This is the first time that I’ve heard of the police using this strategy. I don’t think it’s right for the police to pretend to be Muslim just in order to arrest someone, even if the rules do go out of the window in this game of cat-and-mouse,” “Wassim,” a local resident, told France 24. “They could have simply been in mufti, without having to pretend to be Muslim.”

But others have not been so quick to criticize, saying it was necessary for the officers to blend into an area that’s deeply suspicious of police.

“In the neighborhoods, there are people who act as lookouts and immediately alert the dealers when the police are coming,” said “Clara,” another local resident. “So, I think that trying to blend into the crowd in order not to attract attention is a good way of catching traffickers.”

Frenchman ‘planned attacks during euro 2016’

Source: http://www.liberation.fr/france/2016/06/06/un-francais-interpelle-avec-un-arsenal-en-ukraine_1457616

June 6, 2016

 

A Frenchman detained last month with a large cache of arms was planning mass attacks during the Euro 2016 football tournament, which starts on Friday, Ukrainian officials say.

 

The man, identified by French media as Gregoire Moutaux, 25, was arrested on the Ukrainian border with Poland.

Intelligence chief Vasyl Hrytsak said the man had planned 15 attacks and was driven by ultra-nationalist views.

 

He had amassed guns, detonators and 125kg of TNT, Hrytsak said.

 

Hrytsak listed bridges, motorways, a mosque and a synagogue among the suspect’s potential targets. He was being prosecuted for arms smuggling and terrorism, he said.

It was not clear if the tournament itself was being targeted and Paris police prefect Michel Cadot told reporters there was “no specific threat against any [Euro 2016] site.”

 

News of the man’s arrest on 21 May first emerged in a recent report. The suspect was described as a worker at a farming co-operative from the Lorraine area of eastern France. He had no previous criminal record, reports said. French authorities have been on high security alert ahead of the European championships, amid fears that the tournament could be targeted by Islamist militants.

 

President Francois Hollande said on Sunday that “the threat exists” but that France should not be daunted. Ukraine’s SBU security service said it had been watching the suspect since December last year and that he had picked up five Kalashnikovs, two anti-tank grenade launchers, some 5,000 rounds of ammunition and 100 detonators, as well as a large quantity of explosives.

 

An SBU video was shown of the dramatic moment of the suspect’s arrest along with the weapons that intelligence officials said they had found. The arrest was said to have taken place at a border crossing close to the Ukrainian town of Yahodyn.

 

The footage also revealed a second person being wrestled to the ground on the passenger side of the car.

 

The SBU chief said the French suspect had been in touch “with military units fighting in Donbass”, a reference to the eastern areas of Luhansk and Donetsk, where pro-Russian rebels have seized large areas of Ukrainian territory.

 

“The Frenchman spoke negatively of the activities of his government on mass migration of foreigners to France, the spread of Islam and globalization. He also said he wished to stage a number of terrorist attacks in protest,” Hrytsak said.

 

A search was carried out at the suspect’s home in the tiny village of Nant-le-Petit and police sources told French media that explosive material and balaclavas were recovered.

An inquiry has been launched by France’s organized crime agency, OCLCO, and by regional authorities in Nancy.

 

However, French police sources told AFP news agency that Ukrainian officials had yet to send them any details. There was some skepticism that the suspect could have been anything more than an arms trafficker.

Call to arms in France amid hunt for Belgian suspect in Paris attacks

President Francois Hollande of France called on Monday for constitutional amendments to fight potential terrorists at home and for an aggressive effort to “eradicate” the Islamic State abroad.

 

His call to arms — “France is at war,” he said at the opening of his remarks to a joint session of Parliament — came as security forces in France and Belgium zeroed in on a suspect they said was the architect of the assault that killed 129 people Friday night in Paris. The suspect, a 27-year-old Belgian, has fought for the Islamic State in Syria and has been linked to other terrorist attacks.

 

Mr. Hollande spoke after the French police raided homes and other sites across the country in an effort to head off possible further attacks and as the authorities in Belgium hunted for a suspected assailant in Friday’s attacks. Mr. Hollande called for quick action by Parliament on new legislation that would give the government more flexibility to conduct police raids without a warrant and place people under house arrest. He said he would seek court advice on broader surveillance powers. And he called for amendments that would enable the state to take exceptional security measures without having to resort to the most drastic options currently in the Constitution. r. Hollande is also seeking to extend the current state of emergency for three months and let the government strip the citizenship of French natives who are convicted of terrorism and hold a second passport.

“Our democracy has prevailed over much more formidable opponents than these cowardly assassins,” Mr. Hollande said a day after France conducted airstrikes against the Syrian city of Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State. It was the country’s most intense military strike yet against the radical group, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris.

 

The French leader said he would meet soon with President Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in an effort to settle on a united campaign to wipe out the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

 

“Terrorism will not destroy the republic, because it is the republic that will destroy it,” he said. Three days after the attacks on a soccer stadium, a concert hall and numerous bars and cafes, French and Belgian security services were focused on the radical jihadist they believe was the leader of the plot, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. He is among the most prominent Islamic State fighters to have come out of Belgium. A French official briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss operational details, said Mr. Abaaoud had mentioned plans to attack “a concert hall” to a French citizen who returned from Syria.

 

Mr. Abaaoud, this official said, had also been in contact with Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, one of the Paris attackers. Mr. Abaaoud also knew another attacker, Ibrahim Abdeslam; they were tried together in 2010 in Belgium for a minor offense.

 

Mr. Hollande said the attacks had been “planned in Syria, organized in Belgium, perpetrated on our soil with French complicity.” The French authorities said Monday that they had conducted 168 raids across the country in an effort to root out possible terrorist threats. The raids extended from the Paris region to the major cities of Lille, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse, they said. They also said they had arrested 23 people and detained 104 others under house arrest.

 

But a Frenchman believed to be involved in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, 26, a brother of Ibrahim Abdeslam, remained at large, eluding a series of raids conducted by the authorities in Molenbeek, the working-class Brussels neighborhood where the brothers lived.

 

A third brother, Mohamed, and four other men who had been detained in Belgium were released on Monday. At a news conference in Brussels, Mohamed said he did not know Salah’s whereabouts and added, “My parents are under shock and have not yet grasped what has happened.” The man believed to be the architect of the plot, Mr. Abaaoud, who traveled to Syria last year and even persuaded his 13-year-old brother to join him there, is from the same neighborhood, Molenbeek, as the Abdeslam brothers. Mr. Abaaoud was already a suspect, according to officials and local news reports, in a failed terrorist plot in Belgium in January and an attempt in August to gun down passengers on a high-speed train to Paris from Brussels. An intelligence official said the authorities feared he might be in Europe.

 

In Washington, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said some American officials suspected that Mr. Abaaoud might still be in Syria. Mr. Abaaoud was most likely part of an Islamic State cell that has developed over the past year to help plan, organize and execute terrorist attacks in Europe, particularly in France, Mr. Schiff said in a telephone interview.

 

The cell is believed to be led by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, who serves as an official spokesman for the Islamic State, a Defense Department official said Monday.

Mr. Schiff warned that much was still unknown about how much of the plot had been directed from Syria and how much autonomy had been left to conspirators.

Continue reading the main story

 

At noon, France observed a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the attack, which wounded about 350 people, in addition to the 129 killed. The Métro and cars stopped and crowds gathered at a makeshift memorial at the Place de la République and at the Eiffel Tower. Mr. Hollande stood with students at the Sorbonne. Many recited the national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” after the moment passed. In other cities — Delhi; Doha, Qatar; and Dublin — crowds gathered at French embassies to pay their respects.

As France observed its second of three days of national mourning, the authorities in France and Belgium raced to track down suspects and chase leads.

 

At one house in the Rhône department in the southeast, around Lyon, the police found a Kalashnikov rifle, three pistols, ammunition and bulletproof vests. Officers then obtained a warrant to search the home of the parents of a man who lived in the house, where they found several automatic pistols, ammunition, police armbands, military clothing and a rocket launcher.

 

Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve promised to keep up the search. “We are using all the possibilities given to us by the state of emergency, that is to say administrative raids, 24 hours a day,” Mr. Valls said. He vowed to keep intense pressure on “radical Islamism, Salafist groups, all those who preach hatred of the Republic.” The authorities also confirmed on Monday that one of the attackers entered Europe through Greece on a Syrian passport last month, posing as a migrant. The man was identified on his passport — found at the soccer stadium north of Paris where he blew himself up Friday night — as Ahmad al-Mohammad, 25, a native of Idlib, Syria. The holder of the passport passed through the Greek island of Leros on Oct. 3 and the Serbian border town of Presovo on Oct. 7, according to Greek and Serbian officials. It remained unclear whether the passport was authentic.

 

All told, at least four French citizens were among the seven attackers: Ibrahim Abdeslam; Mr. Mostefaï, who met with the man suspected of planning the attacks; and two men identified on Monday as Samy Amimour, 28, a Paris native who lived in the suburb of Drancy, and Bilal Hadfi, 20, who lived in Brussels.

 

Mr. Amimour was known to the French authorities, having been charged in October 2012 with terrorist conspiracy, according to the authorities. He was placed under judicial supervision but violated the terms of that supervision in 2013, prompting the authorities to put out an international arrest warrant. Last December, the French newspaper Le Monde interviewed Mr. Amimour’s father — it did not identify him by name at the time — who had gone to Syria to try to bring back his son. Three members of the Amimour family were detained on Monday.

 

Turkey confirmed on Monday that Mr. Mostefaï, 29, entered Turkey in 2013, but it said that “there is no record of him leaving the country.”

 

A Turkish official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the government flagged Mr. Mostefaï twice — in December and in June — but that “we have, however, not heard back from France on the matter.”

 

He continued, “It was only after the Paris attacks that the Turkish authorities received an information request about Ismaël Omar Mostefaï from France.” The official added that “this is not a time to play the blame game,” but that governments needed to do better at sharing intelligence to prevent terrorism. The United States has provided logistical support for the French airstrikes in Syria, but Mr. Obama on Monday again ruled out a ground intervention.

 

“Let’s assume that we were to send 50,000 troops into Syria,” he said at a gathering of leaders of the Group of 20 industrial and emerging-market economies in Antalya, Turkey. “What happens when there’s a terrorist attack generated from Yemen? Do we then send troops into there? Or Libya, perhaps?”

 

Elsewhere in Europe, the authorities tightened security. Britain announced Monday that it would pay for an additional 1,900 intelligence officers, and review aviation security.

In Washington, John O. Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said Monday that the Paris attacks and the crash of a Russian jet over the Sinai Peninsula bore the “hallmarks” of the Islamic State.

 

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. Brennan called the group an “association of murderous sociopaths” that is “not going to content itself with violence inside the Syrian and Iraqi borders.”

 

Wading into the debate over surveillance, privacy and encryption, Mr. Brennan said he hoped the Paris attacks would be a “wake-up call,” adding that “hand-wringing” had weakened the ability of Western intelligence services to prevent attacks.

 

Suspected Amsterdam-Paris train attacker spent seven years in Spain

A man armed with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, a handgun and a knife opened fire on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday before being overpowered by two passengers, both US soldiers. One of the soldiers, and another passenger, were both injured before the assailant was arrested. The attacker is believed to be Ayoub El Kahzzani – the name that French anti-terrorism authorities passed to their Spanish and other European counterparts on Friday night in order to carry out identity checks.

Spanish authorities described the suspect as “very radical and potentially dangerous”

Spain has information on this 26-year-old Moroccan national because he was legally resident in the country for seven years. Spanish anti-terrorism sources have told EL PAÍS that the suspect lived in Spain between 2007 and 2014, first in Madrid, then in the southern port city of Algeciras. He moved to France in March last year and from there traveled to Syria, allegedly to try to enlist with Islamic State. When he left Spain, Spanish authorities alerted the French intelligence services about his presence in France, describing him as “very radical and potentially dangerous.” He was also known to Belgian authorities.

El Kahzzani was legally resident in Spain, possessing a foreigner’s identification number, and his record shows that he was also arrested three times for drug trafficking, twice in Madrid and once in the Spanish north African exclave of Ceuta, the sources said.

For this Muslim scholar, the Chattanooga shooting brought a familiar sinking feeling

That was the first thought Omid Safi says went through his head when he saw news about the deadly shooting attack in Chattanooga on Thursday.

Mourners places flags at a growing memorial in front of the Armed Forces Career Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16, 2015. Four Marines were killed on Thursday by a gunman who opened fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before being fatally shot himself in an attack officials called a brazen, brutal act of domestic terrorism.  Credit: Tami Chappell/Reuters
Mourners places flags at a growing memorial in front of the Armed Forces Career Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16, 2015. Four Marines were killed on Thursday by a gunman who opened fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before being fatally shot himself in an attack officials called a brazen, brutal act of domestic terrorism. Credit: Tami Chappell/Reuters

Then came a familiar sinking feeling. “Not because the suspect is Muslim,” says Safi, who directs the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University. “When there is an act like this, it tends to undo all of the good work that has taken place in the community over the last years and months, and in particular in the month of Ramadan.”

Texas terror suspect planned mosque attack, officials say

April 4, 2014

 

Robert James Talbot Jr. considered himself a revolutionary seeking to create a different society by robbing an armored car, killing police and even blazing a bloody path though a service at a mosque where he would shoot men, women and children at prayer, officials said.

Talbot was ordered held without bond Wednesday at a hearing in Houston, Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for Kenneth Magidson, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Texas, said in an email. Talbot, 38, of Katy, Texas, was arrested last week, but government terror experts gave new details at Tuesday’s hearing on what they said were his plans.

When Talbot was taken into custody, prosecutors released documents outlining what they said was his effort to recruit five or six like-minded individuals “to blow up government buildings, rob banks and kill law enforcement officers. Talbot created a Facebook page titled “American Insurgent Movement,” the complaint alleged.

His goal as stated on Facebook, according to the complaint, was to create a “a Pre-Constitutionalist Community … [for] those who seek True patriotism and are looking for absolute Freedom by doing the Will of God. Who want to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.”

The complaint alleges that in a March 15 Facebook post, Talbot said: “In a few weeks me and my team are goin active for Operation Liberty…I will not be able to post no more. We will be the revolution, things will happen nation wide or in the states. They will call us many names and spin things around on media. Just remember we fight to stop Marxism, liberalism, Central banking Cartels and the New World Order.”

FBI special agent Renee Cline testified at the hearing that Talbot “wanted to go to a mosque on Friday and take women, children, men and shoot them,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Cline added that Talbot planned to hit the mosque during a prayer session when the most people would be there.

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-texas-terror-suspect-mosque-attack-20140402,0,2322303.story#axzz2yE3oOxsF

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect seeking family testimony, immigration records

November 7, 2013

 

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect seeking family testimony, immigration records
Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors should turn over all of the materials they have to give a full picture of Tsarnaev as Attorney General Eric Holder decides whether to seek the death penalty and possibly for a jury “to see Mr. Tsarnaev as a complete human being who should not be sentenced to death.”

In a memo filed in court last month, prosecutors said many of Tsarnaev’s requests for evidence are premature because a death penalty hearing in the case is not imminent. Prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz have not said whether they have recommended seeking the death penalty to Holder.

Tsarnaev is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and 29 other federal charges in the April 15 bombing. Authorities say Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, 26, built pressure cooker bombs and placed them near the finish line, killing three people and injured more than 260. Seventeen of the charges carry a possible death penalty.

The Tsarnaevs, ethnic Chechens from Russia, moved to the United States as children. Authorities have said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote about his motivation for the bombing on the inside of a boat he was found hiding in after the shootout with police.

“The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians” and “We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all,” he allegedly wrote.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors continue to withhold reports and testimony concerning Tsarnaev’s family, including immigration files they say contain information important to defend Tsarnaev and to argue mitigating factors during sentencing. They say that even after getting signed releases from certain Tsarnaev family members, immigration authorities have refused to release their files, citing the ongoing investigation.

His lawyers also said they believe numerous law enforcement interviews of teachers, neighbors, classmates and friends of Tsarnaev have not been turned over by prosecutors.

 

The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/lawyers-for-boston-marathon-bombing-suspect-seeking-family-testimony-to-give-full-picture/2013/11/07/c13e7114-47ee-11e3-95a9-3f15b5618ba8_story.html

Terror suspect Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed on the run after changing into burka on London mosque visit

November 3, 2013

 

A terror suspect who escaped surveillance by changing into a burka on a visit to a mosque was on the run on Sunday night. Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed was last seen at a west London mosque on Friday afternoon. The 27-year-old is “not considered at this time to represent a direct threat to the public”, Scotland Yard said, but urged anyone who sees him to call 999 immediately.

Somalia-born Mohamed, who is 5ft 8in tall and of medium build, arrived at the An-Noor Masjid and Community Centre in Church Road, Acton, at 10am on Friday and was last seen there at 3.15pm that day. He is subject to a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures notice (Tpim).

He is the second person to breach a Tpim since they were introduced to replace control orders early last year. In December, Ibrahim Magag, who is understood to have attended terror training camps in Somalia, absconded after ripping off his electronic tag. Police are still searching for him.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/terror-suspect-mohammed-ahmed-mohamed-on-the-run-after-changing-into-burka-on-london-mosque-visit-8920055.html

Al-Liby capture: Britain asked why America’s most wanted al-Qa’ida terror suspect was given UK asylum

Theresa May faces questions from MPs over why Britain granted asylum to one of the world’s most wanted al-Qa’ida terror suspects. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said he would be raising concerns with the Home Secretary over why Abu Anas al-Libi was given asylum ahead of his alleged involvement in the 1998 American embassy bombings in east Africa.

 

Al-Libi, who was captured by US special forces in Tripoli this weekend, reportedly arrived in Britain in the mid-1990s and lived in Manchester after being granted political asylum. Detectives are thought to have found an al-Qa’ida manual at al-Libi’s Manchester home which advised followers on how to execute terror plots.

 

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the case would be raised with the Home Secretary when she appears before MPs. Stating: “This case raises serious questions about the motives behind asylum and national security decisions in the UK.

 

Fort Hood shooting suspect releases statement to Fox News, saying US at war with Islam

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood mass shooting said in a statement to Fox News that the U.S. government is at war with Islam.
It’s the first statement Maj. Nidal Hasan has put out to the U.S. Fmedia. In the past, he has spoken via telephone with Al-Jazeera, the transcript of which is evidence in his upcoming trial.
“My complicity was on behalf of a government that openly acknowledges that it would hate for the law of Almighty Allah to be the supreme law of the land,” Hasan said in the lengthy statement released to Fox News (http://fxn.ws/1cafkA2 ) on Saturday. He then says in reference to a war on Islam, “I participated in it.”
Hasan also said in the statement that he regrets serving in the Army.