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Aug 6 10 4:43 PM
New al-Qaida leader knows U.S. well
By CURT ANDERSON, AP Legal Affairs Writer
Aug 6, 2010.
MIAMI – A suspected al-Qaida operative who lived for more than 15 years in the U.S. has become chief of the terror network's global operations, the FBI says, marking the first time a leader so intimately familiar with American society has been placed in charge of planning attacks.
Adnan Shukrijumah, 35, has taken over a position once held by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured in 2003, Miami-based FBI counterterrorism agent Brian LeBlanc told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview. That puts him in regular contact with al-Qaida's senior leadership, including Osama bin Laden, LeBlanc said.
Shukrijumah (SHOOK'-ree joohm-HAH') and two other leaders were part of an "external operations council" that designed and approved terrorism plots and recruits, but his two counterparts were killed in U.S. drone attacks, leaving Shukrijumah as the de facto chief and successor to Mohammed — his former boss.
"He's making operational decisions is the best way to put it," said LeBlanc, the FBI's lead Shukrijumah investigator. "He's looking at attacking the U.S. and other Western countries. Basically through attrition, he has become his old boss."
The FBI has been searching for Shukrijumah since 2003. He is thought to be the only al-Qaida leader to have once held permanent U.S. resident status, or a green card.
Shukrijumah was named earlier this year in a federal indictment as a conspirator in the case against three men accused of plotting suicide bomb attacks on New York's subway system in 2009. The indictment marked the first criminal charges against Shukrijumah, who previously had been sought only as a witness.
Shukrijumah is also suspected of playing a role in plotting of potential al-Qaida bomb attacks in Norway and a never-executed attack on subways in the United Kingdom, but LeBlanc said no direct link has yet emerged. Travel records and other evidence also indicate Shukrijumah did research and surveillance in spring 2001 for a never-attempted plot to disrupt commerce in the Panama Canal by sinking a freighter there, LeBlanc said.
Shukrijumah, who trained at al-Qaida's Afghanistan camps in the late 1990s, was labeled a "clear and present danger" to the U.S. in 2004 by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. The U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture and the FBI also is releasing an age-enhanced photo of what he may look like today.
It's natural he would focus on attacking on the U.S, LeBlanc said.
"He knows how the system works. He knows how to get a driver's license. He knows how to get a passport," LeBlanc said.
Shukrijumah's mother, Zurah Adbu Ahmed, said Thursday on the front stoop of her small home in suburban Miramar, Fla., that her son frequently talked about what he considered the excesses of American society — such as alcohol and drug abuse and women wearing skimpy clothes — but that he did not condone violence. She also said she has not had contact with her son for several years.
"This boy would never do evil stuff. He is not an evil person," she said. "He loved this country. He never had a problem with the United States."
LeBlanc said the new charges were brought after the New York subway bomb suspects identified him to investigators as their al-Qaida superior. The New York suspects provided other key information about his al-Qaida status.
"It was basically Adnan who convinced them to come back to the United States and do this attack," LeBlanc said. "His ability to manipulate someone like that and direct that, I think it speaks volumes."
Before turning to radical strains of Islam, Shukrijumah lived in Miramar with his mother and five siblings, excelling at computer science and chemistry courses while studying at community college. He had come to South Florida in 1995 when his father, a Muslim cleric and missionary trained in Saudi Arabia, decided to take a post at a Florida mosque after several years at a mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y.
At some point in the late 1990s, according to the FBI, Shukrijumah became convinced that he must participate in "jihad," or holy war, to fight perceived persecution against Muslims in places like Chechnya and Bosnia.
That led to training camps in Afghanistan, where he underwent basic and advanced training in the use of automatic weapons, explosives, battle tactics, surveillance and camouflage.
"What's dangerous about an individual that understands the U.S. is he may have a better sense of our security vulnerabilities and insights into how to terrify the American people using smaller attacks for large, political impact," said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation. "This increases the risk of attacks outside traditional places we normally worry about like New York and Washington."
Shukrijumah was born in Saudi Arabia. He is a citizen of Guyana, a small South American country where his father was born. His father died in 2004.
While still in Afghanistan, he met another young recruit — Jose Padilla, an American citizen once suspected of plotting to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" and now imprisoned on a 2007 terrorism material support conviction in Miami. At one point, according to interrogations of Padilla and other al-Qaida detainees, Shukrijumah and Padilla were paired in a plot to fill apartments in several high-rise apartment buildings with natural gas and blow them up, but they had a falling out.
"They just couldn't get along. It's like two guys that could not work together," LeBlanc said.
The FBI is still hoping to bring charges in South Florida against Shukrijumah, but key information about him was provided by Guantanamo Bay detainees such as Mohammed, whose use as a witness would be difficult.
"For us, it's never been a dry hole. It's always been an active investigation and it's global in nature," LeBlanc said. "We have never stopped working it." http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...s_al_qaida_attack_leader
Aug 17 10 12:55 PM
A wounded army recruit is transferred to a hospital after a bomb attack occurred in Baghdad August 17, 2010.
By LARA JAKES, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD – Young men from some of Iraq's poorest areas waited all night outside an army recruitment center, only to become easy prey Tuesday for a suicide bomber who killed 61 of them. Desperate for jobs, dazed survivors rushed to get back in line after the attack.
Officials quickly blamed al-Qaida for the deadliest single act of violence in the capital in months. Police said 125 people were wounded.
Bodies of bloodied young men, some still clutching job applications in their hands, were scattered on the ground outside the headquarters' gate. Soldiers collected bits of flesh and stray hands and legs as frantic Iraqis showed up to search for relatives.
The early morning bombing in central Baghdad starkly displayed Iraqi forces' failure to plug even the most obvious holes in their security two weeks before the formal end of the U.S. combat role in Iraq.
Army and police recruitment centers have been frequent targets for militants, underscoring the determination of the applicants to risk their lives for work in a country with an unemployment rate estimated as high as 30 percent.
"I have to get this job at any cost in order to feed my family," said Ali Ahmed, 34, a father of two who returned to the bloody street after taking a friend to the hospital. "I have no option but to come back to the line. If there were other job opportunities, I would not be here in the first place."
Ali Ibrahim, 21, who suffered minor shrapnel wounds in the blast, returned to the line after his release from the hospital.
"I came back with my friend to try to get in. We are forced to come back for the sake of earning a living by securing the job," said Ibrahim, who had been waiting since 3 a.m.
Yasir Ali, a 29-year-old recruit, washed blood off his body at a nearby police station and then went back to the line outside the Iraqi army's 11th Division headquarters and recruiting center.
The men waited in vain. The recruitment center was shut down after the attack, and the military said it would not reopen. Even so, some applicants remained there until mid-afternoon.
On the last of a nine-day recruitment drive, Iraqi officials provided only scant security for the estimated 1,000 men hoping to get hired, hundreds of whom had stayed outside the headquarters overnight for a first shot at handing in their job applications.
The recruits were from three poor Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad and the impoverished Babil and Muthanna provinces in Iraq's Shiite-dominated south.
The suicide bomber sat patiently with them through dawn before launching his attack, Ali said.
Ali said he watched the bomber, whom he described as a young man, walk up to an Iraqi army officer and detonate the nail-packed explosives strapped to his legs about 7:30 a.m.
"Severed hands and legs were falling over me," Ali said. "I was soaked with blood from the body parts and wounded and dead people falling over and beside me."
The body of the suicide bomber was found with his legs blown off, said Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi.
Two police officials put the death toll at 61 with 125 others wounded. Officials at four Baghdad hospitals confirmed the body count. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Al-Moussawi said there were 39 killed and 57 wounded. Varying casualty counts are common in the confusion after attacks.
Elsewhere in Baghdad, a bomb attached to a fuel truck detonated in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of Ur on Tuesday night, killing eight people, wounding 44 and causing a nearby gas station to catch fire, according to police and hospital officials. Military recruiting stations and security checkpoints continue to be easy targets for insurgents who have killed 454 soldiers, policemen and government-backed local militias so far this year, according to an Associated Press count.
The repeated bombings show that despite at least $22 billion in U.S. funding since 2004 for training and equipment, security forces are little better at protecting themselves than the population.
The looming departure of the U.S. military has turned Iraqi forces into even more attractive victims for insurgents looking to prove their might by exploiting security gaps.
The White House said the bombing will not halt either Iraq's transition to democracy or the U.S. troop withdrawal.
"There obviously are still people who want to derail the advances that the Iraqi people have made toward democracy," Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said. "But they are firmly on track."
Al-Moussawi said the Iraqi military would shut down all recruiting centers in urban areas. Although police protect their own recruits by having them wait inside fortified buildings and closing off nearby roads, al-Moussawi said that was not always possible for the army because of the sheer number of job applicants.
"We couldn't get another place for the recruits," al-Moussawi said — despite describing the dearth of protections as "a mistake."
"It was difficult to control the area because it's an open area and because of the large number of recruits," he said.
Despite the risks, many Iraqis are lured by the prospect of a steady paycheck to join the security forces. After years of war, there are few jobs to be had, leaving Iraq's estimated unemployment rate at between 15 and 30 percent.
Adding to Iraq's economic stress is the political uncertainty that has dragged on for more than five months, since March parliamentary elections failed to produce a clear winner. That has left competing political parties bickering over how to share power and whether to replace Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — instead of creating a stable government to rebuild industries and economic development.
"Factories are being closed and farms are being deserted, and nobody cares in the government," said Baghdad political analyst Hadi Jalo. "This situation has forced thousands of young people to risk their lives working in the security forces." http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...7/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq
Sep 18 10 5:50 PM
Sep 23 10 6:55 AM
Mahamane Laouali Dan Dah, right, Niger's minister of higher education and research serves as government spokesman at a press conference, in Niamey, Niger, Sept. 21, 2010.
Sep 28 10 11:24 PM
By PAISLEY DODD
LONDON – Intelligence officials have intercepted a credible terror plot against Britain and France, raising security fears at the Eiffel Tower on Tuesday, but failing to raise the overall threat level in either country.
The Eiffel Tower was briefly evacuated Tuesday evening after officials received a bomb threat called in from a telephone booth. It was the second such alert at the monument in two weeks.
The warning came as French officials were put on alert for possible terror attacks. British officials, too, have been aware of a possible attack but the terror threat warning has not changed from "severe."
"There have been a succession of terror operations we've been dealing with over recent weeks but one to two that have preoccupied us," said one British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work. "Still, it hasn't been to the degree that we have raised the threat level."
Another British official, who spoke on the same terms, would not confirm the plot was "al-Qaida inspired" but said there was an "Islamist connection" and that the plots were in an early stage. No other details were given.
Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States nine years ago, the terror group has moved outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan to other countries such as Somalia and Yemen.
German officials denied Tuesday they had intercepted threats, saying there had been no change to their threat level.
In Washington, a Western counterterrorism official said some missile strikes in a recent surge of attacks by unmanned U.S. drones in Pakistan were aimed at disrupting suspected terrorist plots aimed at Europe.
It wasn't known whether the drone attacks were related specifically to the plot that European authorities said they had intercepted.
The counterterrorism official said the targeted strikes were aimed at al-Qaida and other militant groups arrayed in Pakistan's tribal region near the Afghanistan border. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the terror plot remain sensitive.
The Obama administration has intensified the use of drone-fired missiles in Pakistan's border area but this month there have been at least 21 attacks, more than double the highest number fired in any other single month.
A suspected U.S. missile strike on Tuesday killed four militants in northwest Pakistan's South Waziristan region, just across the border from Afghanistan, intelligence officials said. There was no word on the identities of those killed in the attack.
The counterterrorism official, who is familiar with the drone strikes and the details of the Europe terror plots, said Tuesday that the missile strikes in Pakistan are "a product of precise intelligence and precise weapons. We've been hitting targets that pose a threat to our troops in Afghanistan and terrorists plotting attacks in South Asia and beyond."
In Paris, French police on Tuesday closed off the surroundings of the Eiffel Tower, France's most visited monument. Officers pulled red-and-white police tape across a bridge leading over the Seine River to the monument. Officers stood guard.
Bomb experts combed through the 324-meter (1,063-foot) tower and found nothing unusual, the Paris police headquarters said. Tourists were let back inside about two hours after the structure was emptied.
Jean Dupeu, a 74-year-old Paris retiree, had planned to go to dinner in the tower but found himself looking for another restaurant.
"It's surely a bad joke," he said of the threat, adding, "Now is not a good time."
National Police Chief Frederic Pechenard said last week that authorities suspect al-Qaida's North African branch of plotting a bomb attack on a crowded location in France. His warning came after al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, claimed responsibility for the Sept. 16 abduction of five French nationals and two Africans in northern Niger.
The French parliament voted this month to ban burqa-style Islamic veils in France, a subject that has prompted warnings by AQIM. Counterterrorism officials say that is just one of several factors contributing to the heightened threat.
At the Eiffel Tower, an anonymous caller called in a warning to firefighters, the Paris police headquarters said. The company that runs the monument asked police to evacuate it.
Police responded to a similar false alert at the tower on Sept. 14, also following a phone threat. On Monday, the bustling Saint Lazare train station in Paris was briefly evacuated and searched.
As soon as the latest bomb alert ended, huge lines of eager tourists immediately formed under the tower.
Mike Yore, 43, of Orlando, Florida, was among those waiting in line at the 121-year-old iron monument.
"There's no bomb that can blow this thing up," he said. http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...europe_terror_plot;_ylt=--
Oct 1 10 6:59 AM
By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI
CAIRO – Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden called for the creation of a new relief body to help Muslims in an audiotape released Friday, seeking to exploit discontent following this summer's devastating floods in Pakistan by depicting the region's governments as uncaring.
It was the third message in recent weeks from al-Qaida figures concerning the massive floods that affected around 20 million people in Pakistan, signaling a concentrated campaign by the terror group to tap into anger over the flooding to rally support.
But while the earlier messages by subordinates were angry, urging followers to rise up, bin Laden took a softer, even humanitarian tone — apparently trying to broaden al-Qaida's appeal by presenting his group as a problem-solving protector of the poor.
"What governments spend on relief work is secondary to what they spend on armies," bin Laden says on the 11-minute tape titled "Reflections on the Method of Relief Work."
"If governments spent (on relief) only one percent of what is spent on armies, they would change the face of the world for poor people," he said.
The top al-Qaida leader said a new "well-funded" relief organization should be created to study Muslim regions near bodies of water to prevent future flooding, to create development projects in impoverished regions and to work on farming and agriculture to guarantee food security.
"The famine and drought in Africa that we see, and the flooding in Pakistan and other parts of the world, with thousands dead along with millions of refugees, that's why people with hearts should move quickly to save their brothers and sisters," he said.
He urged Muslim businessmen to develop unused agricultural land in Sudan — where bin Laden was based in the 1990s — to boost food security in case of disaster.
The audiotape was posted on Islamic militant websites, according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi forums and provided a copy of the message. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed, though the voice resembled that of bin Laden in confirmed messages by him. The tape is aired over a still photograph of a smiling bin Laden superimposed over a picture of a man distributing aid.
The United States and Pakistani officials have often expressed fears that militant groups in Pakistan could drum up support by exploiting frustration among Pakistanis who feel aid has not reached them quickly following the floods that swept through the country starting in late July.
International donors have pledged more than $800 million for flood relief in Pakistan, the bulk of it coming from the United States which has donated nearly $350 million. The United Nations last month hiked up its call for aid, seeking to raise $2 billion for Pakistan's flood victims, its largest humanitarian appeal ever.
Two earlier al-Qaida videos about the floods took a sharply militant tone.
In a video released last week, a U.S.-born al-Qaida spokesman, Adam Gadahn, urged Muslims in Pakistan to join Islamist militants fighting their nation's rulers, saying that Islamabad's "sluggish and halfhearted" response to recent floods showed it did not care for them.
Before that, al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, made a thinly veiled call on Pakistanis to rise up against their government over what he said was the "failure" of authorities there to provide relief to flood victims.
Bin Laden often takes a more elevated, philosophical stance than his deputies, aiming to present himself as a sort of elder statesman — opining, for example, on global warming in past messages. Still, in his last audiotape — released in March — he threatened retaliation if the U.S. executes Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed architect of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.http://news.yahoo.com/s/a..._mi_ea/ml_bin_laden_tape
Oct 3 10 12:14 PM
By KATHY GANNON
ISLAMABAD – Dozens of Muslim militants with European citizenship are believed to be hiding out in the lawless tribal area of northwestern Pakistan, Pakistani and Western intelligence officials say, training for missions that could include terror attacks in European capitals.
Officials have used phone intercepts and voice tracking software to track militants with ties to Britain and other European countries to areas along the Afghan border. Al-Qaida would likely turn to such extremists for a European plot because they can move freely in and out of Western cities.
Fear that such an attack is in the planning stage has prompted the U.S. State Department to advise Americans traveling in Europe to be vigilant. American and European security experts have been concerned that terrorists based in Pakistan may be plotting attacks in Europe with assault weapons, similar to the deadly 2008 shooting spree in Mumbai, India. U.S. intelligence officials believe Osama bin Laden is behind the plots.
A senior official of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, told The Associated Press that there are believed to be "several dozen" people with European citizenship - many of Pakistani origin - among the Islamic extremists operating in the lawless border area.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to talk about classified information to the media, said foreigners in the area also include Chechens, Uzbeks, Arabs and Turks, one of whom was a former F-16 pilot in the Turkish air force.
"That shows you that some of the people who are coming are very well educated," he said. "It was very surprising for us but they come thinking this is the pure (Islamic) ideology that they are seeking."
Britain's communications monitoring agency, the Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ, estimates there are as many as 20 British-born militants in the border area, especially in the North Waziristan district that has been the focus of recent missile strikes carried out by unmanned aircraft operated by the CIA.
Mobile phone communications have been tracked from the border area to points in Britain, particularly England's Midlands, where there is a heavy Pakistani immigrant population, according to a British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the terror plot investigation is ongoing.
Voice-printing software enables British intelligence to identify and track specific individuals believed connected to terror plots, he said.
In addition, a spokeswoman with Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office said last week that there is "concrete evidence" that 70 people have traveled from Germany to Pakistan and Afghanistan for paramilitary training, and that about a third of them have returned to Germany.
The presence in the border areas of Islamic militants with Western connections has been known for years.
Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who confessed to the May 1 failed car-bombing in New York's Times Square, said the Pakistani Taliban trained him for the mission. Shahzad is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in a U.S. court.
During an operation last year, Pakistani soldiers discovered a passport in the name of Said Bahaji, which matches the name of a member of the Hamburg, Germany, cell that conceived the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. Bahaji is believed to have fled Germany shortly before the attacks in New York and Washington.
A Spanish passport found by the Pakistani military during the same operation bore the name of Raquel Burgos Garcia. Spanish media reported that a woman with the same name was married to Amer Azizi, an alleged al-Qaida member from Morocco suspected in both the 9/11 attacks and the Madrid train bombings in 2004.
Concern over the pool of Europeans capable of carrying out attacks abroad rose about a month ago when U.S. intelligence heard of a European plot and began monitoring the people involved, according to two U.S. officials. The CIA recently stepped up airstrikes from unmanned aircraft in northwestern Pakistan, in part to disrupt the plot. In September there were at least 21 attacks - more than double the highest number fired in any other single month.
A Pakistani official said some information about the plot came from a suspect who had been interrogated at the military prison at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, the main U.S. and NATO base in Afghanistan. A U.S. official identified him as Ahmed Siddiqui, a German citizen of Afghan origin who was captured in Afghanistan in July.
The plot apparently called for several gunmen to fan out across Germany, Britain and France in hopes of launching attacks similar not only to the Mumbai assault but also to so-called "swarm attacks" that extremists have mounted in Kabul and other Afghan cities. The tactic calls for small teams with automatic rifles, grenade launchers and suicide vests to strike simultaneously at several targets in a city and cause as much havoc as possible before they can be killed or captured.
Reports of the alleged plot again cast the spotlight on the Pakistani district of North Waziristan, where Washington believes al-Qaida and its allies plan attacks against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan as well as targets abroad.
Although the Pakistani military has mounted ground operations elsewhere in the border region, it has been reluctant to do so in North Waziristan, saying its forces are stretched too thin. Some within Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment privately say an escalation in drone attacks in North Waziristan and recent cross-border incursions by NATO helicopter gunships are aimed at forcing the army into an operation.
However, the incursions have frayed relations between Pakistan and the U.S. and NATO. Pakistan has blocked its main border crossing to NATO supply trucks for the past four days in response to alleged incursions last week by NATO helicopters, including firing that shot dead three Pakistani paramilitary soldiers who had fired warning shots at the choppers. http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...RASgCF216t2wNH2ocA;_ylu=
Oct 6 10 7:30 AM
By Mohamed Sudam Mohamed Sudam
SANAA (Reuters) – Suspected al Qaeda militants attacked two Western targets in Yemen on Wednesday, firing a rocket at a senior British diplomat's car and killing a Frenchman at a gas and oil installation.
The attacks bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda, which has threatened to strike against Western targets and the Yemeni government, which declared war on the group's local arm after it claimed a failed attack on a U.S.-bound airliner in December.
In London, the British Foreign Office said a British Embassy vehicle carrying the deputy chief of the British mission was attacked and that one British embassy staff member in the vehicle suffered a minor injury.
"The vehicle was on its way to the British embassy, with five embassy staff on board," a Foreign Office spokesman said.
"One member of staff suffered minor injuries and is undergoing treatment, all others were unhurt."
A security source in Yemen said three Yemeni bystanders were wounded in the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack. President Ali Abdullah Saleh met the British envoy to discuss the attack.
The Frenchman died in a shooting incident inside the compound of Austrian-owned oil and gas group OMV, France's Foreign Ministry said. A security source said a Yemeni guard working for a private security firm went on a shooting spree, and government forces subsequently disarmed him.
In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague called it a "shameful attack." He said the attack would only reinforce Britain's determination to help Yemen confront its challenges.
Both attacks followed tightened security in the capital of the embattled country whose conflicts with a resurgent al Qaeda, secessionists in the south and Shi'ite rebels in the north has raised Western and Gulf Arab fears it is on the verge of becoming a failed state.
Those fears worsened after the Yemen-based arm of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the botched bombing of the U.S.-bound airliner. The group also said it was behind a failed assassination attempt on the deputy interior minister of Saudi Arabia, Yemen's neighbor and the world's top oil exporter.
"These twin attacks reinforce the overall picture that the security situation in Yemen has been deteriorating since the start of the year, since the Yemeni government and the U.S. stepped up their fight against al Qaeda," said Nicole Stracke of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai.
"Al Qaeda has been reacting to this. But these attacks are not an escalation - it's clear they are under huge pressure and it shows in their operations. Shooting an RPG is not a complicated operation," she said.
Stracke also said the militants may have chosen to target the British embassy because it was easier to access than the heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Sanaa.
An al Qaeda suicide bomber attacked the British ambassador's convoy in April, killing himself and injuring three others. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said it was behind that attack, accusing the British envoy of leading a war on Muslims in the peninsula.
Yemen's population of unemployed youths are seen as potential recruits for Islamist fighters, and Western donor nations including Britain backed Yemen in its fight against al Qaeda at a United Nations meeting in New York last month.
More than 40 percent of Yemen's 23 million people live on less than $2 a day, and concerns about instability and corruption have hampered growth and made unemployment worse.
LINKS TO BIN LADEN
Yemen is the ancestral home of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, who is thought to be in hiding somewhere in the border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Analysts say Yemenis have long formed a significant body of al Qaeda footsoldiers abroad.
Al Qaeda in Yemen announced last year that Yemen was the base for its Saudi and other Gulf operations. It stepped up attacks this year in apparent reprisal for the government's increased collaboration with the United States.
Yemen's Western allies and Saudi Arabia have long feared a resurgent al Qaeda wing could take advantage of rising insecurity and weak central control to use Yemen as a base for attacks that would destabilize the region and beyond.
The failed airliner bombing prompted Washington to step up training, intelligence and military aid to Sanaa. Yemen cooperated with Washington after the September 11 attacks of 2001 to stamp out the group's presence.
Suspected U.S. drones -- unmanned aircraft also used against militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- have been criticized by rights watchdog Amnesty International as extrajudicial killings.
Al Qaeda and the Yemeni government have clashed for many years, but the group's operations have typically focused on Western targets.
An al Qaeda attack on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa in 2008 killed 16 people, including six attackers. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_yemen_attack;_ylt=--
Oct 11 10 1:23 PM
Iraqis kill clan members for informing on al Qaeda
By Muhanad Mohammed
Oct 11, 2010.
BAGHDAD – Gunmen in Iraqi military uniforms broke into the homes of their own clan members on Monday and killed four people for informing on al Qaeda.
Separately, a senior police officer was wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad, as daily violence continued to rattle a country struggling to form a new government seven months after an inconclusive election.
In the latest attack, nine gunmen stormed the homes of two families in al-Sila village south of Baghdad, seized five men and shot them execution-style on the shore of a nearby lake, said a security source. One survived and was hospitalized.
"This area was an al Qaeda stronghold before," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It is inhabited by one tribe, but it is divided into two parts, with one loyal to al Qaeda and the other against it."
The source said the gunmen walked into the village with a list of targets including the victims, who had been supplying authorities with information on al Qaeda.
"The attackers were from the same tribe," the source said.
Sunni insurgents frequently target those who have switched sides to support the authorities, including the Sahwa, a Sunni militia group credited with helping turn the tide of violence unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
An interior ministry official had earlier said that the victims belonged to Sahwa but the security official said an ensuing investigation established they were civilians.
The area was once controlled by Sunni insurgents who are now trying to reassert their influence. The region was an al Qaeda stronghold during sectarian carnage in 2006-2007.
Security has gradually improved but attacks on government officials, police, Sahwa and civilians still occur every day around the country.
Violence remains a big obstacle for foreign investors in Iraq, which has huge oil reserves. The prolonged wrangling over the formation of a new government is another worry.
In Baghdad, a roadside bomb struck a car carrying Major General Abdul Munim Saeed, head of the Interior Ministry's evidence department, wounding him and killing his driver.
Later in the day, a group of gunmen opened fire on a currency exchange office in central Baghdad, killing five people and escaping with money, an interior ministry source said.
In Falluja, west of Baghdad, three gunmen stormed the house of a policeman and killed him in a pre-dawn attack, police said.
And in Qaim, also west of Baghdad, a roadside bomb wounded four policemen, police said.http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_iraq_security;_ylt=-
Oct 23 10 11:22 AM
A few weeks ago, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released the second edition of its online magazine, Inspire. As with the first edition, Inspire seeks to garner new recruits in the West who are willing to carry out acts of jihad. Much of the publication is devoted to wooing would-be terrorists willing to emulate the acts of Major Nidal Malik Hassan (aka the Fort Hood shooter) and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (who tried to blow up Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009). Both Hassan and Abdulmutallab had significant ties to AQAP prior to their respective days of terror.
Hassan received, at a minimum, spiritual guidance via email from Anwar al Awlaki, who is a top AQAP cleric. Abdulmutallab was convinced to join AQAP’s jihad by listening to al Awlaki’s lectures and even traveled to Yemen to receive training at an AQAP-run camp. Abdulmutallab was even able to meet Awlaki in person. U.S. counterterrorism officials have directly implicated Awlaki in the Christmas Day plot.
So, Inspire’s message is deadly serious. It is also at times comical.
One page, for instance, lists “Questions We Should Be Asking.” The first one is this:
If a long time journalist and reporter like Helen Thomas was thrown out for truthful words on the Israeli occupation, doesn’t that hint to everyone who’s really in control of America?
If a long time journalist and reporter like Helen Thomas was thrown out for truthful words on the Israeli occupation, doesn’t that hint to everyone who’s really in control of America?
The authors of Inspire are referring, of course, to the kerfuffle over Helen Thomas’s unhinged remarks concerning Israel and the Jews. AQAP’s question could be considered a throwaway line, but in reality it demonstrates two important aspects of al Qaeda’s propaganda.
First, al Qaeda plays fairly close attention to the headlines coming out of the U.S., looking to seize on anything it can.
Oct 30 10 6:09 PM
SAN'A, Yemen—Yemeni police arrested a woman on suspicion of mailing a pair of bombs powerful enough to take down airplanes, officials said Saturday as details emerged about a terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. that exploited security gaps in the worldwide shipping system.
Investigators were hunting Yemen for more suspects tied to al-Qaida and several U.S. officials identified the terrorist group's top explosives expert in Yemen as the most likely bombmaker.
The explosives, addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, were pulled off airplanes in England and the United Arab Emirates early Friday morning, touching off a tense search for other devices.
It still wasn't clear whether the bombs, which officials said were wired to cell phones, timers and power supplies, could have been detonated remotely while the planes were in the air, or when the packages were halfway around the world in the U.S. But the fact that they made it onto airplanes showed that nearly a decade since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, terrorists continue to probe and find security vulnerabilities.
The packages were addressed to two synagogues in the Chicago area. But British Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday that he believes the explosive device found at the East Midlands Airport in central England was intended to detonate aboard the plane.
British Home Secretary Theresa May added that the bomb was powerful enough to take down the plane. A U.S. official said authorities believe a second device found in Dubai was similarly potent.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told reporters that the United States and United Arab Emirates had provided intelligence that helped identify the woman suspected of mailing the packages.
A Yemeni security official said the young woman was a medical student and that her mother also was detained.
The police action was part of a widening manhunt for suspects believed to have used forged documents and ID cards, Yemeni officials said. One member of Yemen's anti-terrorism unit said the other suspects had been tied to al-Qaida.
The officials, like many in the U.S., spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation unfolding on three continents.
Al-Qaida's Yemen branch, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, took credit for a failed bombing aboard a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas. The bomb used in that attack contained PETN, an industrial explosive that was also used in the mail bombs found Friday.
The suspected bombmaker behind the Christmas Day attack, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, is also the prime suspect in the mail bomb plot, several U.S. officials said. Al-Asiri also helped make another PETN device for a failed suicide attempt against a top Saudi counterterrorism official last year. The official survived, but his attacker died in the blast.
"The forensic analysis is under way," Obama's counterterror chief John Brennan said Friday. "Clearly from the initial observation, the initial analysis that was done, the materials that were found in the device that was uncovered was intended to do harm."
Officials said the plot was discovered thanks to intelligence passed from Saudi Arabia. Without that tip, it's unclear whether anyone would have discovered the bombs before they were airborne -- or on U.S. soil.
U.S. authorities then acted quickly after receiving a tip "that suspicious packages may be en route to the U.S" -- specifically Chicago -- the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
Currently, American officials do not get details about the contents of a U.S.-bound cargo plane until four hours before it's scheduled to land. In the case of long distance flights, those planes would already be airborne. Once a plane lands, officials screen packages that they feel warrant a closer look.
The failed attack should be a "wake up call" that the U.S. needs to step up security on cargo planes, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kit Bond, said.
U.S. officials were still cobbling together details about the packages but one official briefed on the investigation said authorities believed the plotters may have been associated with two institutions called "Yemen American Institute (for) Languages-Computer-Management" or the "American Center for Training and Development."
It was not immediately clear whether those institutions even exist or whether that information came from false documents or fake addresses.
The U.S. temporarily banned all incoming cargo and mail from Yemen. A UPS employee in Yemen said the office has temporarily halted receiving any packages for delivery.
In Chicago, the leader of a North Side synagogue told members of his congregation at weekend services that a smaller congregation that uses their building was one of the targets of the plot.
Rabbi Michael Zedek of Emmanuel Congregation said he was told by a Jewish leader in Chicago that the smaller Or Chadash congregation was one of the targets. The FBI did not confirm that, and both Zedek and Chadash Rabbi Larry Edwards said they had not spoken to law enforcement.
Or Chadash members took the news calmly, Edwards said. The synagogue has about 100 members, and serves Jews in the gay community and their families.
The White House said Brennan called Yemen's president and made clear that the U.S. is ready to help the Yemeni government in the fight against al-Qaida. The U.S. already assists Yemen with airstrikes and other counterterrorism support.
Yemen's al-Qaida branch is the most active of the terrorist group's affiliates and has increasingly become the face of its recruitment efforts in the West. The country is home to radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He has been linked in the Christmas attack and has inspired other terrorists with his violent message.
Also hiding in Yemen is Samir Khan, an American who declared himself a traitor and helps produce al-Qaida propaganda.
The Homeland Security Department said it was stepping up airline security, but White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Americans did not need to change their travel plans.http://www.boston.com/bus...ne_more_packages/?page=1
Nov 3 10 7:16 PM
Nov 3, 2010.
BAGHDAD – Al-Qaida's front group in Iraq has threatened more attacks on Christians after a siege on a Baghdad church that left 58 people dead, linking the warning to claims that Egypt's Coptic Church is holding women captive for converting to Islam.
The Islamic State of Iraq, which has claimed responsibility for Sunday's assault on a Catholic church during Mass in downtown Baghdad, said its deadline for Egypt's Copts to release the women had expired and its fighters would attack Christians wherever they can be reached.
"We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood," the insurgent group said in a statement posted late Tuesday on militant websites.
The Islamic State of Iraq is an umbrella group that includes al-Qaida in Iraq and other allied Sunni insurgent factions.
It is unclear exactly what led the group to seize on the conversion disputes between Egypt's Muslims and its minority Christians, although the issue has become a rallying point for hard-line Islamists in Egypt.
In announcing its reasons for Sunday's attack, the group said it had given the Coptic Church 48 hours to release the women it says had converted to Islam. The group also demanded the release of al-Qaida-linked prisoners held in Iraq.
"All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them," it said.
The group specifically mentioned two Egyptian women married to Coptic priests it says are being held against their will. The church denies the allegation. Some believe the women converted to Islam to leave their husbands because divorce is banned by the church.
Over the past few years in Egypt, arguments over these kinds of alleged conversions have exacerbated Muslim-Christian tensions already high over issues like the construction of new churches. The two communities generally live in peace, though clashes have taken place.
The Baghdad church siege was the deadliest ever recorded against Iraq's Christians, whose numbers have plummeted since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as members of the community have fled to other countries to escape the violence.
The death toll in a series of attacks mainly targeting Shiites Tuesday in Baghdad, meanwhile, rose to 91, according to Iraqi police and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
Iraqi state TV aired footage Wednesday of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visiting victims of the blasts in Baghdad's hospitals. The televised trips to civilians wounded in attacks were a first for al-Maliki, who has been struggling to keep his job since his Shiite-dominated alliance was narrowly defeated by the Sunni-backed bloc of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in the March 7 parliamentary election.
Neither bloc won an outright majority, setting up a fight for allies that has left the government stalemated. There was a glimmer of hope for political progress Wednesday when parliament's acting speaker, Fouad Massoum, called the lawmakers to convene Monday and elect his successor.
However, the acting speaker only has the right to call parliament to session and can't necessarily force all the members to show so it was unclear whether the date would hold or that the announcement signified any progress in the political talks.
Last week, Iraq's highest court ordered the 325 lawmakers back to work after a virtual eight-month recess. The parliament has met only once since the March 7 vote for just 20 minutes to allow more time to choose a new leadership.
Under the constitution, parliament was required to meet within 15 days of final court approval of election results and choose a speaker, then a president. The appointments had to be put off because they are part of the negotiations over the rest of the new leadership — including a prime minister and top Cabinet officials.
Nov 4 10 6:43 AM
PARIS – One of two mail bombs sent from Yemen last week was disarmed just 17 minutes before it was set to go off, the French interior minister said Thursday.
Brice Hortefeux provided no other details in an interview on France's state-run France-2 television, or say where he got the information about the timing.
"One of the packages was defused only 17 minutes before the moment that it was set to explode," he said. The French Interior Ministry would not elaborate on Hortefeux's comment.
When investigators pulled the Chicago-bound packages off cargo planes in England and the United Arab Emirates Friday, they found the bombs wired to cell phones and hidden in the toner cartridges of computer printers. The communication cards had been removed and the phones could not receive calls, officials said, making it likely the terrorists intended the alarm or timer functions to detonate the bombs, U.S. officials have said.
They also that each bomb was attached to a syringe containing lead azide, a chemical initiator that would have detonated PETN explosives packed into each printer cartridge. Both PETN and a syringe were used in the failed bombing last Christmas of a Detroit-bound airliner.
Investigators have centered on the Yemeni al-Qaida faction's top bomb maker, who had previously designed a bomb that failed to go off on a crowded U.S.-bound passenger jetliner last Christmas.
This time, authorities believe that master bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri packed four times as much explosives into the bombs hidden last week on flights from Yemen. The two bombs contained 300 and 400 grams of the industrial explosive PETN, according to a German security official, who briefed reporters Monday in Berlin on condition of anonymity in line with department guidelines.
By comparison, the bomb stuffed into a terrorist suspect's underwear on the Detroit-bound plane last Christmas contained about 80 grams.
One of the explosive devices found inside a shipped printer cartridge in Dubai had flown on two airlines before it was seized, first on a Qatar Airways Airbus A320 jet to Doha and then on an as-yet-undisclosed flight from Doha to Dubai. The number of passengers on the flights were unknown, but the first flight had a 144-seat capacity and the second would have moved on one of a variety of planes with seating capacities ranging from 144 to 335.
The packages were addressed to two Chicago-area synagogues. Because the addresses were out of date and the names on the packages included references to the Crusades — the 200-year wars waged by Christians largely against Muslims — officials do not believe the synagogues were the targets.
There was no known connection between those mail bombs and France, though French authorities have been deeply concerned of a potential terror strike here since mid-September.
Osama bin Laden named France in an audio message made public last week that Hortefeux said on Thursday has been "99.9 percent authenticated."
France has been on heightened alert since mid-September and last month Hortefeux said that Saudi intelligence had advised of a heightened threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based al-Qaida affiliate, which was "doubtless active or envisioned being active" on the "European continent, notably France."http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/mail_bombs
Nov 5 10 4:56 PM
November 5, 2010.
Al- Qaeda's Yemen-based wing claimed responsiblity for the foiled plot to send explosive parcels to the United States in a statement that appeared on Islamist websites today.
The group claimed the attacks in a message posted on Islamist internet forums and translated by SITE Intelligence Group. It said it would continue to strike American and Western interests and would specifically target civilian and cargo aircraft.
"We say to Obama, we have struck your jets three times in one year and we will continue, God willing, to strike the interests of America and its allies," it continued.The cargo aircraft bombs were addressed to synagogues in Chicago, and one had been carried on two passenger flights before being intercepted by police. A number of western countries have suspended air freight from Yemen and tightened security of air cargo in the wake of the incidents.France intensified its airline security procedures this week in light of the cargo plane parcels, an audio threat against the country from Osama bin Laden and a series of letter bombs sent from Greece to European countries.In Athens yesterday, Greek police detonated a parcel bomb disguised as a book addressed to the French embassy. It was sent on Monday, when the first wave of devices was sent to foreign governments and embassies by what Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas described as “extreme left, anarchist groups”.Small bombs exploded at the Swiss and Russian embassies in Athens on Tuesday, a parcel with explosives was intercepted at the German chancellor’s office and another package addressed to Italy’s prime minister caught fire when it was checked. Police also intercepted a booby-trapped parcel addressed to French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday and found parcel bombs at the Chilean and Bulgarian embassies.http://www.irishtimes.com...010/1105/breaking65.html
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Dec 20 10 6:51 AM
By PAISLEY DODDS
LONDON – British police on Monday arrested a dozen men suspected of plotting a large-scale terror attack — the biggest anti-terrorist sweep since April 2009, when 12 men were detained over an alleged al-Qaida bomb plot in the northern city of Manchester.
Police who swooped in on the men's houses early in the morning were unarmed, suggesting any planned attack was not imminent.
The men were arrested in London, the Welsh city of Cardiff and the English cities of Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent.
The plot was directed at targets inside the United Kingdom but counterterrorism officials declined to give more details.
"The operation is in its early stages so we are unable to go into detail at this time," said John Yates, Britain's senior counterterrorism police officer.
Officers said the men range in age from 17 to 28. Police have up to 28 days to question them before they must be charged or released.
A British security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work, said the arrests were not thought to be part of any planned holiday season attack. Iraqi officials had claimed last week that captured insurgents believed a recent suicide bombing in Stockholm was part of a series of planned attacks during the Christmas season.
Those claims were rejected by both British and German officials, who insisted there are no specific threats to their countries over the festive period.
In October, the U.S. State Department advised American citizens living or traveling in Europe to be wary amid reports that terrorists were planning attacks on a European city.
Some of the details of a Mumbai-style shooting spree plot directed at cities in Britain, France or Germany came from Ahmed Siddiqui, a German citizen of Afghan descent who was captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in July. More than 170 people were killed during an attack in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.
Another government official on Monday downplayed reports that the latest raids in Britain were part of larger terror concerns across Europe.
"Although serious, we believe this raid may have been a one-off and not necessarily related to larger European terror plot concerns," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Europe has been the target of numerous terror plots by Islamist militants. The deadliest was the 2004 Madrid train bombings, when shrapnel-filled bombs exploded, killing 191 people and wounding about 1,800. A year later, suicide bombers killed 52 rush-hour commuters in London aboard three subway trains and a bus.
In 2006, U.S. and British intelligence officials thwarted one of the largest plots yet, a plan to explode nearly a dozen trans-Atlantic airliners.
British police said Monday's raids and the number of arrests across the U.K. showed that the suspects were planning something big.
"This is a large scale, pre-planned and intelligence-led operation involving several forces," Yates said.http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...u_britain_terror_arrests
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