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Islamist attacks

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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2011 04

German police arrested three suspected al-Qaeda members whom they believed posed an imminent threat.


A Hamburg mosque frequented by the 9/11 plotters was eventually closed in 2010, because it was allegedly still hosting extremists. The al-Qaeda cell blamed for 9/11 was based in Hamburg.

Alleged Plot Foiled

The included simultaneous attacks on hotels in London, as well as cities in France and Germany, was in an "advanced but not imminent stage," Sky News reported. The plotters are purportedly of Pakistani or Algerian origin and have been trained in Pakistan's tribal areas. A leading concern is that the plotters were modeling their European assault on the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, in which armed gunman killed more than 200 people in coordinated attacks at hotels and other easily accessed venues, current and former officials said.

The Central Intelligence Agency had stepped up drone strikes in Pakistan in an effort to help thwart the plot. The more than 20 strikes this month represent a monthly record, according to a tally by the New America Foundation. "We know [Al Qaeda] wants to attack Europe and the United States," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement late Tuesday. "We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including Al Qaeda." Without speaking directly of the European plot, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned last week such attacks on publicly accessible areas are a major concern.

European governments have not commented on what plots may have been disrupted, though security officials in Britain have said that the Obama administration's stepped-up attacks in Pakistan has disrupted the ability of Al Qaeda in Pakistan to plan terrorist strikes on the west. (link)

Bin Laden

18 03 2010

There have been no confirmed sightings of bin Laden since he escaped from Tora Bora in Afghanistan in December 2001. While the working assumption of Western intelligence agencies is that he is somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, it is thought few al Qaeda members know his location. Last week, Belgian terror suspect Malika el Aroud said during testimony in her trial that her husband --Moez Garsallaoui, who is wanted on terror charges -- met bin Laden in the summer of 2008.

Iraq Branch's Manual

18 03 2010

The Islamic State of Iraq released a new 55-page strategic manual outlining plans to reformulate the insurgency in post-war Iraq, analysts said.

ISI, an al-Qaida affiliation in Iraq, outlined in its Strategic Plan to Improve the Political Position of the Islamic State of Iraq as lessons-learned approach to the insurgency, notes Marc Lynch, an Iraq analyst writing for Foreign Policy magazine.

The manual, Lynch says, reflects on its perceived setbacks during the so-called surge in Iraq when U.S. forces launched a "psychological" campaign to convince Sunni militants to turn their backs on al-Qaida.

The document describes an effort to advance its agenda beyond military force, outlining a process to unite insurgents, conserve resources and enhance its media operations. The media plan, Lynch writes, is designed to refute challenges to ISI's political strategy.

The most troubling aspect, he writes, is a plan for creating a so-called Jihadist Awakening that is modeled after the U.S. counterinsurgency that brought the Sunni tribes into the U.S. military fray.

Lynch cautions that the plans outlined by the insurgent group are "easier said than done," but is a reminder that it is capable of adapting as the post-war situation in Iraq evolves. (link)

Americans Charged

17 03 2010

Five Northern Virginia men arrested in Pakistan in December were charged Wednesday with six counts of violating state and anti-terror laws, two of which carry potential sentences of life in prison.

The arrested men are Muslims from the Alexandria area who left the United States shortly after Thanksgiving without telling their parents, triggering an international missing persons case. They were arrested Dec. 8 at the family home of Khalid Farooq Chaudhry, the father of one of the men, Umar Chaudhry.

The men -- Chaudhry, 24; Ramy Zamzam, 22; Ahmad A. Minni, 20; Waqar Khan, 22; and Aman Hassan Yemer, 18 -- have told the Pakistani court that they neither sought nor established contact with extremist groups and traveled to the region only to help other Muslims. They have also said they were being tortured in jail, and Zamzam told reporters before an earlier hearing that the men were jihadists, "not terrorists . . . and jihad is not terrorism."

Pakistani police officials have identified Zamzam, a Howard University dental student, as the ringleader of the five men, and sources familiar with the investigation have said he is the man in a video that the men left behind in the U.S. A prominent Muslim leader said the video had a disturbing farewell tone. (link)

Germans, Turks convicted

04 03 2010

Four men convicted in a foiled terrorist plot against Western targets. The men had begun mixing a huge amount of explosive material that could have resulted in a strong blast, bigger than attacks in 2005 on London's public transport network and the 2004 Madrid railway bombings. Germans Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider (sentenced to 12 years) and Turkish citizen Adam Yilmaz (sentenced to 11 years) were arrested in September 2007 and convicted of being members of a terrorist organization, among other convictions. They were members of the Islamic Jihad Union from mid-2006 until their arrest. They had trained at camps in northern Pakistan with a group tied to al-Aqeda. German citizen Attila Selek (of Turkish decent) was convicted only of supported the Islamic Jihad Union and received five years. (link)

Airline Plot

2009 09

Three Britons were found guilty in September 2009 of plotting to kill thousands by blowing up transatlantic airliners bound for North America in mid-flight suicide attacks using bombs made from liquid explosives. The bombers intended to simultaneously destroy at least seven planes carrying over 200 passengers each between London's Heathrow airport and the United States and Canada in August 2006 using explosives hidden in soft drink bottles, prosecutors said. The plot was hatched in Pakistan just months before the men were arrested in August 2006. Police suspected al Qaeda planner, Egyptian Abu Obaidah al Masri, who some media reports have cited as the inspiration for the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings in London, was the mastermind.

Northern England Plot

2009 04

Pakistanis Abid Naseer and Ahmad Faraz Khan were among 12 men arrested in raids across northwest England in April 2009. Britain believed the men were part of a plot to carry out a "mass casualty" attack that month but there was not enough evidence to charge them and they were ordered to be deported. Naseer and Khan won appeals against their deportation in May 2010 because of concern for their safety in Pakistan. But the Special Immigration Appeals Commission said it was satisfied Naseer was an al Qaeda operative.

Barcelona Plot

2008 01 18-20

Spain's high court on December 14, 2009 jailed 11 men for up to 14 and a half years for attempted suicide bombings on Barcelona's metro in 2008. The group, including 10 Pakistanis and one Indian, were very close to developing explosives to be used in the attacks planned for January 18-20, 2008, according to the ruling. The group followed the "violent principals of jihad" of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud (killed August 2009).


Belgian officials said they had foiled a plot to free a Tunisian al-Qaeda member jailed in Belgium. Fourteen alleged militants were arrested.

London Bombings

2005 07 07

Four suicide bomb blasts on London transport during the morning rush hour on July 7, 2005 killed 52 people and injured about 700 in the first Islamist suicide bombing attacks in western Europe. On July 21, four men made a failed attempt to carry out a second wave of attacks on three London underground stations and a bus.

Madrid Bombings

2004 03 11

Ten bombs hidden in sports bags exploded on four packed commuter trains at the height of the morning rush hour in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding 1,700. The bombings were Europe's deadliest Islamist militant attack. Fernando Reinares, a leading expert on militant Islamist violence in Spain, says they probably were instigated by militants hiding in north Waziristan, a region of northwest Pakistan believed to harbor al Qaeda leaders. Courts convicted 21 people in 2007 of the attacks. Four of the 21 had their convictions overturned in 2008. Three weeks after the blasts, seven men including two suspected bombing ringleaders blew themselves up in an apartment after police closed in on them. The blast killed a policeman.

Shoe Bomber

2001 12 22

Richard Reid, a British-born follower of Osama bin Laden, was sentenced to life in prison in January 2003 for trying to blow up a transatlantic flight with explosives stuffed in his shoes. Reid tried to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 on December 22, 2001, as it flew to Miami from Paris. He was unapologetic for his actions and said he was "at war" with the United States because it sponsored "rape and torture."

Ballots and Bullets



Islamist movements began using the ballot as well as the bullet to integrate into politics. Hezbollah came out from underground for the first time, and its members ran for Parliament. This also happened with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Islah in Yemen, and the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. What all three of these phases have in common is that they were reactive, whether to autocratic leaders, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or foreign intervention.

Rise of Extremism



The next phase was the rise of extremism in the 1980s. In Beirut the first suicide bombs went off against American targets at two embassies and the U.S. Marine compound. Although the use of suicide bombs began with the Shiites, it had extended to the Sunnis by the end of the 1980s.

Middle East War



Islam became an effective tool for mobilizing people.