Damon Smith guilty of planting ball-bearing Tube bomb

May 3, 2017

Damon Smith put his homemade device into a rucksack and left it on a Jubilee line train in October.

The 20-year-old had admitted perpetrating a bomb hoax but claimed it was a prank.

Had it worked, the bomb would have exploded just as commuters were leaving the North Greenwich station platform.

Former altar boy Smith built the device with shrapnel and a £2 clock from Tesco after Googling an al-Qaeda article on bomb-making.

The Old Bailey was told the student, who has an autistic spectrum disorder, had a keen interest in guns, bombs and other weapons, which may have been a function of the condition.

His lawyer told the trial he was no "hate-filled jihadi" and never meant to harm anyone.

However, the jury convicted him of making or possessing an explosive substance with intent to endanger life after two hours of deliberations.

The Met said he was not charged under the Terrorism Act because there was not enough evidence that his crime was politically motivated.

On 20 October, the defendant - then aged 19 - left the rucksack containing the bomb on the train.

Passengers handed it to the driver who then realised as he was approaching the station it contained explosives.

Smith then went to university and when he returned home that evening, checked the internet for news reports about what he had done.

When he was arrested, he admitted making the bomb, but said he had meant for it to have been a Halloween prank and that he had been inspired by a YouTube video.

Jurors were also told Smith had professed an interest in Islam as he felt it was "more true" than Christianity.

He "did not really practise Islam, although he read the Koran and sometimes prayed in the morning when it was convenient but did not hold extreme views", lawyers said.

Jurors heard he had posed next to an image of the Brussels-born Islamic terrorist alleged to have masterminded the attacks in Paris in November 2015, but had denied being an extremist.

His lawyer, Richard Carey-Hughes QC, said there was "no evidence that he changed from clinging to his mother's apron strings to a soldier of Islam and a would-be soldier".

The court heard Smith had been interested in making bombs since the age of 10 and said it was "something to do when he was bored".

He was also shown the Anarchist Cookbook at 14 by a friend.

During a search of his home in Rotherhithe, south London, officers found a shredded article on how to build a bomb and a "shopping list" of bomb materials was found on his iPad.

A blank firing pistol, a BB gun, a knife and knuckleduster were also discovered.

Cdr Dean Haydon, from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "It is hard to believe that leaving what has been described as an improvised explosive device on a Tube train, on a weekday morning, can be construed as anything but an attempt to endanger life.

"It is fortunate that the device failed to work and that no-one was injured."

Smith will be sentenced on 26 May.

Islamic Terrorists not Poor and Illiterate, but Rich and Educated

by Giulio Meotti

Gatestone Institute
November 19, 2016

▪    "The better young people are integrated, the greater the chance is that they radicalize. This hypothesis is supported by a lot of evidence". — From a report by researchers at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

▪    "The proportions of [Islamic State] administrators but also of suicide fighters increase with education," according to a World Bank report. "Moreover, those offering to become suicide bombers ranked on average in the more educated group."
▪    Britain's MI5 revealed that "two-thirds of the British suspects have a middle-class profile and those who want to become suicide bombers are often the most educated".
▪    Researchers have discovered that "the richer the countries are the more likely will provide foreign recruits to the terrorist group [ISIS]."
▪    The West seems to have trouble accepting that terrorists are not driven by inequality, but by hatred for Western civilization and the Judeo-Christian values of the West.
▪    For the Nazis, the "inferior race" (the Jews) did not deserve to exist; for the Stalinists, the "enemies of the people" were not entitled to continue living; for the Islamists, it is the West itself that does not deserve to exist.

It is anti-Semitism, not poverty, that led the Palestinian Authority to name a school after Abu Daoud, mastermind of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

"There is a stereotype that young people from Europe who leave for Syria are victims of a society that does not accept them and does not offer them sufficient opportunities... Another common stereotype in the debate in Belgium is that, despite research which refutes this, radicalization is still far too often misunderstood as a process resulting from failed integration... I therefore dare say that the better young people are integrated, the greater the chance is that they radicalize. This hypothesis is supported by a lot of evidence."

That was the result of extremely important Dutch research, led by a group of academics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Terrorists seem to be models of successful integration: for instance, Mohammed Bouyeri, the Moroccan-Dutch terrorist who shot the filmmaker Theo van Gogh to death, then stabbed him and slit his throat in 2004. "He [Bouyeri] was a well-educated guy with good prospects," said Job Cohen, the Labor Party mayor of Amsterdam.

The Dutch research was followed by research from France, adding more evidence to the thesis that goes against the liberal belief that to defeat terrorism, Europe must invest in economic opportunities and social integration. Dounia Bouzar, director of the Center for Prevention, Deradicalization and Individual Monitoring (CPDSI), a French organization dealing with Islamic radicalism, studied the cases of 160 families whose children had left France to fight in Syria. Two-thirds were members of the middle class.

These findings dismantle the myth of the proletariat of terror. According to a new World Bank report, "Islamic State's recruits are better educated than their fellow countrymen".

Poverty and deprivation are not, as John Kerry said, "the root cause of terrorism." Studying the profiles of 331 recruits from an Islamic State database, the World Bank found that 69% have at least a high school education, while a quarter of them graduated from college. The vast majority of these terrorists had a job or profession before joining the Islamist organization. "The proportions of administrators but also of suicide fighters increase with education," according to the World Bank report. "Moreover, those offering to become suicide bombers ranked on average in the more educated group."

Less than 2% of the terrorists are illiterate. The study also points to the countries that supply ISIS with more recruits: Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt. Examining the economic situation of these countries, researchers have discovered that "the richer the countries are the more likely will provide foreign recruits to the terrorist group."

Another report explained that "the poorest countries in the world don't have exceptional levels of terrorism".

Despite the evidence, a progressive mantra repeats that Islamic terrorism is the result of injustice, poverty, economic depression and social unrest. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The thesis that poverty breeds terrorism is pervasive today in the West, from French economist Thomas Piketty to Pope Francis. It is probably so popular because it plays on Western collective guilt, seeking to rationalize what the West seems to have trouble accepting: that terrorists are not driven by inequality, but by hatred for Western civilization and the Judeo-Christian values of the West. For Israel, this means: What are Jews doing on land that -- even though for 3,000 years it has been called Judea -- we think should be given to Palestinian terrorists? And these terrorists most likely wonder why they should negotiate, if instead they can be handed everything they want.

For the Nazis, the "inferior race" (the Jews) did not deserve to exist but must be gassed; for the Stalinists, the "enemies of the people" were not entitled to continue living, and had to die of forced labor and cold in the Gulag; for the Islamists, it is the West itself that does not deserve to exist and has to be blown up.

It is anti-Semitism, not poverty, that led the Palestinian Authority to name a school after Abu Daoud, mastermind of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

The Paris bombings, the anniversary of which France will commemorate in a few days, was a blow unleashed by an ideology that does not seek to fight poverty, but to gain power through terror. It is the same Islamist ideology that murdered the Charlie Hebdo journalists and the policemen on duty to protect them; that forced British writer Salman Rushdie into hiding for a decade; that slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel; that butchered commuters in London, Brussels and Madrid; that assassinated hundreds of Israeli Jews on buses and restaurants; that killed 3,000 people in the United States on September 11; that assassinated Theo Van Gogh on an Amsterdam street for making a film; that committed mass rapes in Europe and massacres in the cities and deserts of Syria and Iraq; that blew up 132 children in Peshawar; and that regularly kills so many Nigerians that no one now pays any attention to it.

It is the Islamist ideology that drives terrorism, not poverty, corruption or despair. It is them, not us.

The whole history of political terror is marked by fanatics with advanced education who have declared war on their own societies. Khmer Rouge's Communist genocide in Cambodia came out from the classrooms of the Sorbonne in Paris, where their leader, Pol Pot, studied writings of European Communists. The Red Brigades in Italy was the scheme of wealthy privileged boys and girls from the middle class. Between 1969 and 1985, terrorism in Italy killed 428 people. Fusako Shigenobu, the leader of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group, was a highly-educated specialist in literature. Abimael Guzman, founder of the Shining Path in Peru, one of the most ruthless guerrilla groups in history, taught at the University of Ayacucho, where he conceived of a war against "the democracy of empty bellies." "Carlos the Jackal," the most infamous terrorist in the 1970s, was the son of one of the richest lawyers in Venezuela, Jose Altagracia Ramirez. Mikel Albizu Iriarte, a leader of the Basque ETA terrorists, came from a wealthy family in San Sebastián. Sabri al-Banna, the Palestinian terrorist known to the world as "Abu Nidal," was the son of a wealthy merchant born in Jaffa.

Some of the British terrorists who have joined the Islamic State come from wealthy families and attended the most prestigious schools in the UK. Abdul Waheed Majid made the long journey from the English town of Crawley to Aleppo, Syria, where he blew himself up. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the mastermind of the kidnapping and killing of the American journalist Daniel Pearl, graduated from the London School of Economics. Kafeel Ahmed, who drove a jeep full of explosives into the Glasgow airport, had been president of the Islamic Society at Queen's University. Faisal Shahzad, the failed terrorist of Times Square in New York, was the son of a high official in the Pakistani military. Zacarias Moussaoui, the twentieth man of the 9/11 attacks, had a PhD in International Economics from the London's South Bank University. Saajid Badat, who wanted to blow up a commercial flight, studied optometry at London University. Azahari Husin, the terrorist who prepared the bombs in Bali, studied at the University of Reading.

Britain's MI5 revealed that "two-thirds of the British suspects have a middle-class profile and those who want to become suicide bombers are often the most educated." Most British terrorists also had a wife and children, debunking another myth, that of terrorists as social losers. Mohammad Sidique Khan, one of the suicide bombers of July 7, 2005, studied at Leeds Metropolitan University. Omar Khan Sharif had a scholarship at King's College before carrying out a suicide bombing on Tel Aviv's seafront promenade in 2003. Sharif was not looking for economic redemption, but to slaughter as many Jews as possible.

Virtually all the heads of international terror groups are children of privilege, who led gilded lives before joining the terror ranks. 15 of the 19 suicide bombers of September 11 came from prominent Middle Eastern families. Mohammed Atta was the son of a lawyer in Cairo. Ziad Jarrah, who crashed Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, belonged to one of the most affluent Lebanese families in Lebanon.

Nasra Hassan, who wrote an informed profile of Palestinian suicide bombers for The New Yorker, explained that, "of 250 suicide bombers, not one was illiterate, poor or depressed." The unemployed, it seems, are always the least likely to support terror attacks.

Europe and America gave everything to these terrorists: educational and employment opportunities, popular entertainment and sexual pleasures, salaries and welfare, and religious freedom. These terrorists, such as the "underwear bomber," Umar Farouk Abulmutallab, the son of a banker, have not seen a day of poverty in their life. Paris's terrorists rejected the secularist values of liberté, egalité, fraternité; British jihadists who bombed London and now fight for the Caliphate rejected multiculturalism; the Islamist who killed Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam repudiated Dutch relativism, and ISIS's soldier, Omar Mateen, who turned Orlando's Pulse Club into a slaughterhouse, said he wanted to purge it from what he perceived as libertine licentiousness and apparently his own homophilic wishes.

If the West does not understand the real source of this hatred, but instead indulges in false excuses such as poverty, it will not win this war being waged against us.

Islamic State recruits are above average when it comes to education, according to World Bank report

The data shows clearly, the report said, that “poverty is not a driver of radicalization into violent extremism”

South China Morning Post

Thursday, 06 October, 2016

Recruits to Islamic State (IS) are better educated than their average countryman, contrary to popular belief, according to a new World Bank study.

Moreover, those offering to become suicide bombers ranked on average in the more educated group, said the newly released study titled “Economic and Social Inclusion to Prevent Violent Extremism”.

The study, which aimed to identify socioeconomic traits that might explain why some are drawn to the Syria-based extremist group, made clear that poverty and deprivation were not at the root of support for the group.

Almost without exception, fighters joining IS’s Syria and Iraq-based forces had several more years of education in their home countries – whether in Europe, Africa or elsewhere in the Middle East – than the average citizen. The data shows clearly, the report said, that “poverty is not a driver of radicalization into violent extremism”.

Out of 331 recruits described in a leaked IS database, only 17 per cent did not finish high school, while a quarter had university-level educations. Only those from Eastern Europe were below the average, and only marginally so, according to the study.

“Foreign recruits from the Middle East, North Africa and South and East Asia are significantly more educated than what is typical in their region,” the Bank report said.

About 30 per cent of the recruits told the extremist group what positions in the force they wanted. About one in nine volunteered for suicide operations, and their educational levels were on par with those who sought to be administrators, the report said.

“The proportions of administrators but also of suicide fighters increase with education,” it said.

Most of the 331 recruits also reported having a job before travelling to join IS, also known as Daesh, according to the study.

However, it noted that a significant number of those choosing “suicide fighter” as their preferred option when enlisting said that they had not been employed back in their home country, or that they were in the military before joining the group.

“An important finding is that these individuals are far from being uneducated or illiterate. Most claim to have attended secondary school and a large fraction have gone on to study at university,” the report said.

“We find that Daesh did not recruit its foreign workforce among the poor and less educated, but rather the opposite. Instead, the lack of economic inclusion seems to explain the extent of radicalization into violent extremism.”

The ISIS Files: What Leaked Documents Reveal About Terror Recruits

NBC News

A trove of ISIS personnel records obtained by NBC News has now been analyzed by experts at West Point, who say it's the largest and "most significant" document cache of its kind, providing new insight into the terror group's grand ambitions and diverse recruits.

The files reveal that the jihadists who joined the Islamic State in 2013 and 2014 were largely uninterested in suicide missions, better educated than expected and, to the alarm of those trying to stop the export of terror, very well-traveled.

NBC News received the dossiers from a Syrian man who said he stole the information, stored on a flash drive, from a senior ISIS commander. Over the last month, NBC News has worked with the Combating Terrorism Center at the elite military academy to transform them into a database of more than 4,000 foreign fighters from 71 countries.

The analysts believe the documents, which were also given to a British media outlet, are genuine and the details in them revelatory. They show the bureaucracy behind ISIS' enlistment operation and a surprisingly varied fighting force captivated by the promise of a global Muslim caliphate.

"The largest takeaway from these documents is the massive diversity of the population," Brian Dodwell, deputy director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, told NBC News.

"We are talking an average age of around 26, 27 years old but we're talking about everywhere from teenagers up until men in their 60s," Dodwell added. "We're talking about very diverse backgrounds from an education perspective — individuals who list their education as none up to those who listed their educations as Ph.D.s, masters degrees, MBAs … Everything from laborers to doctors and lawyers."

The papers, written in Arabic and fully translated by NBC and West Point for the first time, provide a snapshot of each fighter — from nom de guerre and blood type to travel history and contact numbers for next of kin.

Among the key findings:

Most don't want to be martyrs

Each candidate was asked if he wanted to be a regular fighter or a suicide bomber or suicide fighter, but only 12 percent ticked the box for martyrdom.

That ratio stands in stark contrast to another set of foreign fighters, those who joined Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, more than half of whom volunteered to blow themselves up, according to West Point. And analysts say the disparity reflects how ISIS marketed itself to the world and the kind of future it envisioned.

"While they do need some suicide bombers, if all of their troops selected into the suicide category who would be left to fill that conventional army? Who would be left to serve as the Sharia officials, the police or the administrative?" Dodwell said.

"They're selling this narrative of victory and sustaining... Many of these individuals it would seem are buying into that message and are going into there to live — not die."

They cover the generation gap

Nearly two-thirds of the enlistees were in the 21-30 age group, but the other ends of the spectrum were also well-represented. Some 40 recruits were under age 15 and about 400 were under 21. Almost a quarter fell between ages 31 and 40. About 4 percent were between 41 and 50 and there were even 42 men over the age of 50.

The oldest person in the database was nearly 70, a married father of five from Kyrgystan who wanted to be a fighter and not a suicide volunteer.

Many have families

While six out of 10 fighters were single, 30 percent reported being married — and they had more 2,000 children between them. The notes on some of the applications show that some showed up with hopes of bringing their families along later if they could get the money needed for travel.

The Caliphate called to them

The dates on the records give a sense of what might have propelled some these men to join ISIS. One peak came in November 2013, a few months after the militants split off from the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and rebranded themselves as the Islamic State or ISIS.

But the biggest recruitment period was July 2014, following some of ISIS' most significant territorial seizures and the announcement that it was establishing a caliphate with dominion over the world's Muslims.

They were schooled

"They are perhaps more educated than we would expect," Dodwell said.

A third went to high school and a quarter had a college education; only 17 percent said they stopped their schooling after elementary or middle school. That level of education was higher than the average for many of the countries the men called home.

While the stats might suggest that the fighters had prospects in their homeland, the West Point experts noted that many of them had more menial jobs than their education might suggest — a possible source of frustration that could have played into their decision to join up.

The group was less educated on Islam than might be predicted. Seventy percent said they had only a basic understanding of sharia. And in an unexpected turn, those with a deeper understanding of Islamic law were actually less likely to choose to be suicide bombers or fighters, despite the religious justification for suicide attacks.

They're jacks of all trades

The applicants came from all job sectors. Listed occupations included beekeeper, perfume salesman, airline steward, Saudi intelligence worker, soldier in the Tunisian army. One reported he was in "counter-narcotics," another that he was a hashish dealer. "May God forgive him and us!" that file added. There was someone who worked at a Starbucks in London, and another who boasted of being a mixed-martial arts trainer with gold medals to his name.

Overall, though, the fighters were more likely to have worked in low-skilled jobs. Only 104 had high-skilled or white-collar positions. There were 700 laborers, roughly 10 times the number of teachers, IT employees, or those in the military or police. But the vast majority were employed before they joined: Only 255 said they were jobless. Another big group had yet to enter the labor force: 656 students.

They span the globe

The three biggest feeder countries were Saudia Arabia (797 fighters), Tunisia (640) and Morocco (260), although Tunisia has the highest per capita rate. But they came from all corners of the world — from China (167) to Iceland (1) and Australia (13) to Trinidad and Tobago (2).

About 10 percent hailed from Western nations, including the United Kingdom (57) and the United States (14). In Europe, France (128) and Germany (80) had the highest numbers.

The international nature of the group is cause for concern, giving a glimpse of the ease with which ISIS members might be able to move around and blend in across the globe. Fifty-eight cited the U.S. as a country they had visited.

"They were from all over the world and the individuals had traveled all over the world," Dodwell said. "I wouldn't say a majority of them, but a good number of them were heavily traveled. One individual said he had been to 38 countries around the world. So some of them certainly have international experience and significant experience moving throughout the region and throughout the world."

Each record contained a field where the person processing the paperwork could make notes. The miscellaneous entries were both haphazard and telling. They detailed issues with forged or lost passports, criminal records, health problems, and special family situations.

"Important, he has expertise in chemistry," one notation said. Another: "He has experience in making explosives. He refused to provide his mother's name out of concern for her safety."

The dossiers contain the names of those supposedly vouching for the recruits, and it's clear connections were important.

"His brother executed the metro operations in Madrid," one note said, apparently referring to the 2004 commuter train bombings by an Al Qaeda cell that killed 191 people. A different applicant "tried to join the State through Abu-Ayman al Iraqi [a top ISIS commander killed in 2014] but they refused for lack of recommendation," the file said.

Problems with vision or hearing were duly recorded, along with other medical conditions. "His right leg is amputated," one file said. "He wears a prosthetic."

There were contact numbers for family members and also instructions on whether they were to be contacted. One Spanish fighter left this directive: "He does not want anyone to know."

A college student from Libya who volunteered to be an inghimasi, a type of fighter who plans to die on the battlefield, left a message for those at home: "Tell my mother and my father to forgive me."

The cache included more than 400 exit forms for members who were leaving ISIS territory — the majority were allowed to take a leave of absence for medical treatment, mainly in Turkey, while others were permitted to take care of family issues or bring their families back. But those weren't the only reasons. Two forms contained the word "LIED" in red letters with the ominous warning that the person would be arrested if they returned. In some other cases, ideological differences were noted.

To validate the documents, the West Point center cross-referenced them against a repository of ISIS records maintained by the Defense Department and corroborated about 98 percent.

Dodwell said that while much of the material confirmed the center's understanding of who joins ISIS and why, the "massive amount of diversity" was the biggest eye-opener and poses a challenge for those researching how to counter radical extremism at the root level.

"What it shows us is that it's very difficult to determine who exactly these types of programs should be targeted towards because they come from all walks of life," he said.

What motivates a Canadian jihadist?

A study stresses real religious zeal, not loners seeking a way out

John Geddes
August 15, 2016

A new study based on interviews conducted over social media with foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria raises doubts about the commonly held notion that young men in North America and Europe who are drawn to violent Islamic extremism must be marginalized loners looking for an alternative to their dead-end lives.

Three university researchers who contacted dozens of jihadists from abroad in Iraq and Syria, including some Canadians, say they seemed to be drawn mainly by the religious ideas—“no matter how ill-informed or unorthodox”—behind jihadism. Rather than being isolated individuals who self-radicalized in front of their computer screens, the report says they usually found mentors and, at least in the case of the Canadians, joined the fighting in “clusters.”

In the working paper entitled Talking to Foreign Fighters: Socio-Economic Push versus Existential Pull Factors, the researchers caution against assuming that radical Islam appeals only young men on the edges of society, those without good job prospects or supportive family and friends.

They suggest previous academic studies have put too much weight on those “push” factors—the problems and frustrations in the lives of young men who turn to extremist Islam and, ultimately, terrorist violence. “Based on what we are hearing in interviews with foreign fighters—more interviews than anyone has yet to report on—we think more attention and significance should be given to the repeated affirmations of the positive benefits of being jihadists,” they say.

From mid-December 2015 to Feb. 29, 2016, the researchers put questions to 40 foreign fighters, 60 family members, friends and associates, and 30 online fans, recruiters, and potential fighters. (Among the Canadians the interviewed was Aaron Driver, the would-be terrorist killed last week in a confrontation with police in Strathroy, Ont.) Those fighting in Syria and Iraq were interviewed through “extended social media dialogues.” But their working paper, posted recently on the website of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, is based on an initial analysis of just 20 interviews with foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq.

The researchers are Lorne Dawson of University of Waterloo’s sociology and legal studies department, Amarnath Amarasingam of George Washington University’s program on extremism, and Alexandra Bain of St. Thomas University’s religious studies department. Dawson told Maclean’s by email that they plan to eventually publish a more complete paper on their research in a peer-reviewed journal, and are also “being pressed to write a book in short order.”

In the working paper, they write that the foreign fighters they contacted “run the gamut from troubled youth with personal problems to accomplished young men and women from stable backgrounds.” In the 20 interviews they analyzed, not one of their subjects suggested “directly or indirectly” that being marginalized socially or economically pushed them onto such an extreme path. “Anger and frustration have their role to play in the process, but it is the positive investment in an alternate world-saving role that matters most, no matter how strange it may appear to outsiders,” they say.

As well, the paper points to the importance of influential radical voices who carry some form of religious authority. “In most cases, we would say the help and encouragement of some other outside mentors is required to complete the process of radicalization, to turn wannabe terrorists into deployable agents or independent martyrs for the cause. The process of self-radicalization needs to be legitimated to be complete.”

To probe the views of radicalized young men directly, the researchers had to assure them that they were not seeking “operational information” that would put them at risk. The questions focused on personal and family background, their sense of identity, and how they became fighters.

Along with information about the individuals, the researchers assembled a sort of group portrait of the Canadians fighting for various terrorist and radical factions in Iraq and Syria. “It is extremely difficult to verify any of this information, however, and for the most part we are merely reporting what one or more individuals have told us,” they admit. Still, the outline they sketch is intriguing.

They say Canadians tend to be radicalized in “clusters” and travel to the conflict zone in small groups. Of those who have made the journey, at least 19 Canadian men have died fighting in Syria and Iraq, five or them converts to Islam, the rest from Muslim backgrounds. Eight were from Ontario, eight from Alberta, and three from Quebec. The researchers say they “have good reason to believe” most of the radicalized Canadians in the war-torn region have joined ISIS, but others are fighting for less well-known groups, like Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar as-Sham, while at least 15 have fought with Kurdish or Christian militias.

The paper estimates that between 10 and 15 women have gone from Canada to Iraq and Syria to back ISIS, often marrying terrorists. “We know that three have given birth to babies as a result of their marriages to ISIS fighters, who are usually other foreign fighters,” they say.

Throughout the report, the authors repeatedly note that they are summarizing only preliminary findings. “Things may change as more of our existing interviews are analyzed and more interviews are undertaken,” they say. Still, they assert that their interviews with actual fighters have been more extensive than those relied on for previously published scholarly studies.

The report repeatedly stresses the finding that, based on what fighters themselves say, they are “pulled” to Iraq and Syria by religious ideas, rather than being “pushed” by the realities of their lives in the West. “None of our sample indicated coming from familial situations of poverty or marginality,” they say. “On the contrary, many indicated they had fairly happy and privileged, or at least comfortable, childhoods. In general, there was almost no discussion of the economic situation of their families.”

Dawson said today’s Associated Press report on the low level of knowledge about Islam among ISIS recruits might seem to contradict the Talking to Foreign Fighters report, but doesn’t really. He said the sincerity of the religious commitment of newly radicalized individuals “has nothing to do with orthodoxy or depth of knowledge.” In fact, he added, “Converts in general are usually among the least informed practitioners of any religion—they are new. But, as is common knowledge, they are usually the most enthusiastic and fervent in their faith and behaviour.”

Dawson and his co-authors admit that interpreting what Muslim radicals say in social media exchanges is tricky. “The fighters are justifying their actions and that of the groups with which they are affiliated,” they say. Yet the interview subjects turned again and again to religious explanations for what they are doing. “Consequently,” the researchers conclude, “we think their religiosity is pivotal to understanding their motivations, no matter how murky our attempts, as outsiders, to grasp these motivations.”

New Jersey Man Who Tried to Help Organize 'Small Army' of ISIS Fighters Pleads Guilty

By ARTICLE IN BLOGLAND Jonathan Dienst and Erin Petenko
NBC New York

A 24 year-old New Jersey man who tried to help organize a "small army" of ISIS fighters in the Garden State and New York pleaded guilty Thursday to terror-related charges.

Alaa Saadeh was part of a group of men who were trying to support the ISIS terror group. Saadeh admitted he gave money and credit cards to other members of the group to try to help them travel to Syria. He and others in the group watched ISIS propaganda including beheadings and other killings by the terror group. His brother, Nader Saadeh, was among the group charged in the scheme.

Saadeh pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS in Newark federal court before Judge Sarah Wigenton.

He is set to be sentenced Feb. 16 and could face up to 15 years in prison.

His defense attorney said Saadeh does not plan to cooperate with prosecutors as part of his plea deal.

Saadeh is the second man to plead guilty in connection with this New Jersey cell. In September, Samuel Topaz admitted he wanted to join ISIS. His lawyer said if members of the group had failed to get to Syria or Iraq on their own, they had discussed an alternate plan of buying guns inside the US and targeting the White House and other landmarks for an attack.

In the past year, the FBI has arrested 7 men in all from New York and New Jersey for their alleged ties to this homegrown, ISIS-inspired terror cell. Officials have said the investigation is ongoing.

Officials have said the parents of Alaa and Nader Saadeh were deported more than a decade ago in connection with an alleged credit card fraud case. The Saadeh children were allowed to stay with custodians in New Jersey because they were US citizens, officials said.

ISIS jihadist dubbed 'Mrs Terror' who wants to BEHEAD Christians lived on church aid in UK

BRITISH terror recruiter Sally Jones - who once told of her desire to BEHEAD Christians - lived on church handouts in the UK before she fled Britain to join the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

PUBLISHED: 01:09, Wed, Aug 19, 2015

The mother-of-two, from Chatham in Kent, was handed grocery parcels from a church-run food bank in Borough Green, near Sevenoaks - just weeks before joining the bloodthirsty terror group with her 10-year-old son Jojo.

The 45-year-old is married to fellow ISIS recruiter and computer hacker Junaid Hussain, 21, from Birmingham, with the pair dubbed 'Mr and Mrs Terror'.

Jones once told of her desire to behead Christians with a "blunt knife" after arriving in war-torn Syria in 2013 at the same time as Hussain, with the pair having fled Britain to join the depraved ISIS terror group.

But it has now emerged that the former punk was receiving hand-outs at the Church of the Good Shepherd in early 2013 and continued to receive support even when she converted to Islam in around May of that year, according to the Sunday Times.

Earlier this week it was revealed Jones had told undercover reporters she had recruited a female terrorist who is currently in Glasgow and primed to launch a terror catastrophic attack.

During online conversations, Jones – who has changed her name to 'Umm Hussain al-Britani' after marrying – encouraged undercover investigators, who were posing as jihadists, to conduct atrocities in the UK and sent them guidebooks on how to make bombs.

Her husband helps runs the ISIS recruitment arm in the brutal terror group's stronghold of Raqqa, Syria.

Jones soon gained infamy for leading the all-female al-Khanssaa Brigade, a militia set up by ISIS in their self-declared capital.

The religious police force punishes other women in the region for 'un-Islamic' behaviour.

Last week Special Branch officers were on full alert after she was allegedly spotted in Birmingham with two other suspected jihadists.

Chattanooga shooter changed after Mideast visit, friend says

By Ralph Ellis, Ben Brumfield and Scott Zamost, CNN
Sat July 18, 2015

Chattanooga, Tennessee (CNN) The man who killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee, had changed after spending time in the Middle East and "distanced himself" for the first few months after returning, a friend says.

"Something happened over there," Abdulrazzak Brizada said of Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, adding that "he never became close to me like he was before he went overseas. ... I'm sure he had something that happened to him overseas."

Jordanian sources said Abdulazeez had been in Jordan as recently as 2014 visiting an uncle. He visited Kuwait and Jordan in 2010, Kuwait's Interior Ministry said.

Abdulazeez had guns, Brizada said, and would go shooting as a hobby. When the childhood friends saw each other last weekend at the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, Abdulazeez was his normal self and was positive, Brizada said.

Brizada, a Chattanooga resident, was shaken and holding back tears as he spoke to CNN, saying his friend was "the coolest guy" who "was always so positive about people."

"Whatever caused this to happen, it's not him, it's not normal. That's not how he is," Brizada said.
People who knew Abdulazeez were stunned to hear he was the man who sprayed a military recruiting center at a strip mall with bullets, then drove seven miles to assault Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga. He killed a sailor and four Marines, and wounded two more people, before being killed by police.

Friends described Abdulazeez as a once-devoted, disciplined mixed-martial-arts fighter; a top student known for smarts, charm and humor; and a devout Muslim who kept in touch with his roots in the Middle East.

The FBI hasn't released much information on Abdulazeez, saying it doesn't yet know what motivated the bloodshed but it is working on an assumption. "We will treat this as a terrorism investigation until it can be determined that it is not," FBI Special Agent Edward Reinhold said.

Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait in September 1990, during the Iraqi invasion of that country, Kuwait's Interior Ministry said. The ministry didn't explain how Abdulazeez came to be born there but said he holds Jordanian citizenship.

Jordanian sources, however, denied that he was a Jordanian citizen, but rather a Palestinian who carried a Jordanian travel document. The sources said he was born Mohammad Youssuf Saeed Hajj Ali on September 5, 1990, but that his father changed his name that year to Abdulazeez.

U.S. law enforcement officials said he was a naturalized U.S. citizen.

His former coach in mixed martial arts, Scott Schraeder, thought of him as "all-American."

"There were tears in my eyes," Schraeder said of the moment he heard the news. "He was one of the nicest kids we trained."

Next to his senior yearbook photo from 2008, Abdulazeez added a quip he attributed to "Hijabman." "My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?" it said.

Wagner said she believes he was making a joke, and never thought he could do anything like what happened in Chattanooga.

"It was funny at the time," she said, "and now, it's a little morbidly ironic."

The two classmates lost touch after graduation. Abdulazeez went to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 2012.

Abdulazeez previously worked as an engineer with FirstEnergy nuclear power plant in Perry, Ohio, but was dismissed after 10 days in 2013.

According to FirstEnergy spokesperson Todd Schneider, it was determined that Abdulazeez did not meet minimum requirements for ongoing employment.

His employment with the plant was first reported by the Associated Press.

Abdulazeez most recently worked at the Franklin, Tennessee, location of wire and cable manufacturing firm Superior Essex Inc., the company confirmed in a letter distributed to employees.

He had worked there for three months, the company said, without offering any details about what he did or how he performed.

CNN affiliate WKRN-TV, citing an unnamed Superior Essex employee, reported Abdulazeez had called in sick Monday and Tuesday and was scheduled to be off Wednesday and Thursday.

People who knew Abdulazeez described him as religious.

"He was a devout Muslim and used to talk about his families' prayer habits, and that always interested me to hear about his culture," said Samantha Barnette, another former classmate.

He at times interrupted training sessions with fighting coach Schraeder to pray.

"I wouldn't call it overly religious," Schraeder said. "He followed his religion; he would pray at 6 o'clock. He'd go into our office and pray." But he would skip prayers at times, he said.

Abdulazeez also once trained as a fighter under coach Almir Dizdarevic. They knew each other from mosques they attended, even after the training relationship ended. They would bump into each other and chat, or Dizdarevic would speak with his family.

He had heard his former athlete moved to the Middle East a year or so ago.

"He went back home and he stayed overseas," Dizdarevic said. "And I asked his dad about, you know, where's Mohammad? I haven't seen him in a while, and he said, 'He moved back home.'"

Jordanian authorities say an individual with the same name as Abdulazeez traveled in and out of Jordan several times over the years. However, the traveler used a U.S. passport, not a Jordanian one, Jordanian government officials told CNN.

Jordanian officials are struggling to gather information because, "the name is very vague. It is a three-part name, so we are facing difficulty in getting to the bottom of it," one government source said. Investigators in Jordan are working closely with U.S. authorities to match the three-part name to people born in 1990, government officials added.

Dizdarevic can't believe Abdulazeez was radicalized through anyone in Chattanooga. Any extremism influence would have had to come from somewhere else, he said.

Investigators have not mentioned finding any social media activity by Abdulazeez -- unusual for a man in his 20s. Investigators are examining a blog authored by a user designated as "myabdulazeez," but they have not confirmed that it belonged to the gunman.

Only two posts appear on it, both dated three days before the shooting. One compares life on Earth with being in a pleasant prison. The other encourages readers to follow historic Islamic figures, who the writer said fought in jihadi wars.

Abdulazeez was not in any U.S. databases of suspected terrorists, a U.S. official said.

His only reported prior trouble with the law was a DUI arrest in April. His court hearing was scheduled for July 30.

A police officer stopped Abdulazeez for failing to maintain his lane, driving slowly and stopping at green lights. According to a police affidavit, the officer "noticed an odor commonly associated with an alcoholic beverage and the odor of burnt marijuana" coming from Abdulazeez.

He was unsteady, with droopy eyelids and slurred speech, and had a white powdery residue under his nose, police wrote, adding that Abdulazeez said the white substance was crushed caffeine pills.

New York man attacks FBI agent in Islamic State-tied probe

Jun 17, 2015

A New York City man was arrested on Wednesday after authorities said he tried to stab an FBI agent executing a search warrant in connection with an alleged plot to carry out an attack in support of the militant group Islamic State.

Fareed Mumuni, 21, was charged with attempting to murder a federal officer after authorities came to his residence in the borough of Staten Island, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn.

His arrest was the third so far in an investigation that came to light on Tuesday when authorities unveiled charges against a college student from the borough of Queens whom they called a "fervent supporter" of Islamic State militants.

Munther Omar Saleh, the student, was arrested on Saturday after he and another man ran toward a surveillance vehicle that had been tracking their movements, according to court papers.

The other man, who was also arrested, has not yet been publicly identified.

Mumuni appeared briefly in federal court in Brooklyn, wearing a religious robe and flip-flops, and was ordered held without bail.

Authorities have said Saleh spent hours online researching how to build a pressure-cooker bomb and reading accounts of the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

According to the complaint filed on Wednesday, Mumuni had assisted Saleh, at one point discussing the prospect of attacking law enforcement with a bomb.

When authorities arrived at Mumuni's residence Wednesday morning to execute a search warrant, he ignored commands to move to a couch and instead lunged at officers with a kitchen knife, the complaint said.

An FBI agent wearing body armor suffered only minor injuries after Mumuni repeatedly tried to stab him, the complaint said.

Following his arrest, Mumuni told FBI agents he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, according to authorities. He said he intended to travel overseas to join the group and, if he could not, would attack law enforcement officers.

Anthony Ricco, Mumuni’s court-appointed defense lawyer, told reporters Mumuni was a “quiet, soft-spoken, very bright young man” and that his relatives, some of whom attended the hearing, were surprised by the charges.

Mumuni, a U.S. citizen, grew up in Staten Island and studied social work at the College of Staten Island, Ricco said.

Ricco acknowledged Mumuni and Saleh know each other but declined to comment further on the allegations.

Drone-like toy planes in bomb plot

Michael P. Mayko
Published 6:17 pm, Monday, April 7, 2014

BRIDGEPORT -- A Moroccan national who allegedly plotted to turn a radio-controlled model airplane into a drone-like flying bomb and crash it into a school and a Connecticut federal building was arrested Monday by FBI agents.

Wires and tools were found in the High Ridge Drive apartment where El Mehdi Semlali Fahti, 27, had been living since January with an individual he met while incarcerated in Virginia, according to the FBI. It was not known if any explosives were found.

Fahti told an undercover agent in five recorded conversations that he studied the bomb attack operation for months, and had made a chemical bomb while in high school in Morocco, court documents charge. The recordings additionally claim he could obtain whatever else he needed for his plans in "Southern California on the border."

He said funding would come from "secret accounts" comprised of money-laundered cash and drug dealing profits, the FBI said.

An affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Anabela Sharp does not specifically identify either building that Fahti allegedly targeted, except to say one was an out-of-state school and the other a federal building in Connecticut.

Fahti does not face federal terrorism charges at this time; those could come later when Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna Patel takes the evidence to a federal grand jury while seeking an indictment.

Fahti is accused of making a false statement, falsely swearing under oath and falsifying declarations to a federal Immigration judge. Those actions allowed him to stay in the U.S. for seven years after his student visa expired and he flunked out of Virginia International University.

Since then, Fahti has traveled across the U.S. He was briefly arrested on a trespassing charge in Virginia, which was later dropped and he was incarcerated in California on a theft charge. He only moved to Bridgeport recently.

On Monday, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel, who granted Patel's request to detain Fahti without bond as a danger to the community and a risk to flee. He was taken to the Wyatt Detention Center in Rhode Island.

Fahti, who is represented by Assistant U.S. Public Defender Paul Thomas, made the false statements seeking political asylum while facing deportation to his native Morocco.

He told the undercover agent he went to the library, researched issues in Morocco and learned about abuses allegedly committed by the Moroccan government on individuals involved with the Jamaat Ansar El-Mehdi and the Western Sahara freedom movement.

He falsely claimed in Immigration Court that he was the victim of arrests, imprisonment and beatings by Moroccan police.
"Everything he wrote in his refugee application coincided with the actual events," Sharp wrote in her affidavit.

In one recording, Fahti says "the more he thinks about the case, he laughs because he cannot believe the judge believed him" in allowing him to seek refuge in the U.S. for political reasons.

FBI Arrests 4 Suspected Terrorists in California

Published November 20, 2012
Fox News

LOS ANGELES –  A 21-year-old Mexican immigrant was among  four men arrested by the FBI for allegedly plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in "violent jihad," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release. The suspects allegedly tried to join al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al-Qaida leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two — 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland — converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

Authorities allege that in Skype calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists. Kabir added the would-be jihadists could sleep in mosques or the homes of fellow jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.

The trio made plans to depart in mid-November to carry out plots in Afghanistan, primarily, and Yemen, after they sold off belongings to scrape together enough cash to buy plane tickets and made passport arrangements.

In one online conversation, Santana told an FBI undercover agent that he wanted to commit jihad and expressed interest in a jihadist training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The complaint also alleges the men went to a shooting range several times, including a Sept. 10 trip in which Deleon told a confidential FBI source that he wanted to be on the front lines overseas and use C-4, an explosive, in an attack. Santana agreed.

"I wanna do C-4s if I could put one of these trucks right here with my, with that. Just drive into, like, the baddest military base," Santana said, according to the complaint.

Santana added he wanted to use a large quantity of the explosive. "If I'm gonna do that, I'm gonna take out a whole base. Might as well make it, like, big, ya know," he said.

According to the complaint, at the shooting range that day both Santana and Deleon told a confidential FBI source they were excited about the rewards from becoming a shaheed, which is Arabic for martyr.

Ten days later, during another trip to the shooting range to fire assault-style rifles, Santana told the source he had been around gangs and had no problem taking a life.

On Sept. 30, Gojali was recruited to the plot after he was asked if he had it in him to kill in jihad. Gojali answered, "Yeah, of course."

"I watch videos on the Internet, and I see what they are doing to our brothers and sisters. ... It makes me cry, and it gets like I'm, like, so angered with them," Gojali said, according to the complaint.

The men wiped their Facebook pages of radical Islamist content and photos of themselves in traditional Muslim attire, and devised a cover story that they were going to Afghanistan to attend Kabir's wedding.

Federal authorities said the trio and the FBI's confidential source bought airplane tickets last week for a Sunday flight from Mexico City to Istanbul, with plans to later continue to Kabul.

After Kabir began talking to him about Islam, Santana said he "accepted Islam without knowing anything about it besides it being the truth" and that he believed the religion would help him "fit in and actually be able to fight for something that's right," according to the complaint.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.
Kabir is being detained in Afghanistan. The other three appeared for a detention hearing Monday in Riverside, and all but Gojali were remanded to federal custody with no bail. His detention hearing was delayed.

After-hours calls left for the men's attorneys were not immediately returned Monday.
A preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 3, and an arraignment is set for Dec. 5.

Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Santana was born in Mexico, while Deleon was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents. Gojali is a U.S. citizen.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

NYC man convicted in thwarted subway bomb plot

By TOM HAYS, Associated Press
MAY 1, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — In what authorities called the most serious terror threat since the Sept. 11 attacks, a New York City man was convicted Tuesday of plotting with two of his former classmates at a Queens high school to attack the subways as suicide bombers.

A jury deliberated less than two days before finding Adis Medunjanin guilty of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, attempting to commit an act of terrorism and other terrorism charges. At trial, the jurors had heard the first-time testimony from admitted homegrown terrorists about al-Qaida's determination to strike America on its home turf.

The former classmates, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, testified that the three men sought terror training after falling under the influence of inflammatory recordings of U.S.-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki that they downloaded and listened to on their iPods.

Medunjanin's "journey of radicalization led him from Flushing, Queens to Peshawar, Pakistan, to the brink of a terrorist attack in New York City," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "As this case has proved, working against sophisticated terrorist organizations and against the clock, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies can detect, disrupt and destroy terrorist cells before they strike, saving countless innocent lives."

Medunjanin, 27, showed no emotion as the jury foreman announced the verdict in federal court in Brooklyn. Afterward, the former security guard asked defense attorney Robert Gottlieb to "tell his family to be strong," the lawyer said.
Gottlieb said there would be an appeal. His client faces a possible life term at sentencing on Sept. 7.

The government's case was built on the testimony of Zazi, Ahmedzay and two other men: a British would-be shoe bomber and a man originally from Long Island who gave al-Qaida pointers on how best to attack a Walmart store.
Zazi and Ahmedzay, who testified as part of plea deal, told jurors that the scheme unfolded after the trio traveled to Pakistan in 2008 to avenge the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

While receiving terror training at outposts in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan, al-Qaida operatives encouraged the American recruits to return home for a suicide-bombing mission intended to spread panic and cripple the economy. Among the targets considered were New York Stock Exchange, Times Square and Grand Central Terminal, the men testified.

In a later meeting in New York, the plotters decided to strap on bombs and blow themselves up at rush hour on Manhattan subway lines because the transit system is "the heart of everything in New York City," Zazi said.

Zazi told jurors how he learned to extract explosives ingredients from nail polish remover, hydrogen peroxide and other products sold at beauty supply stores. When leaving Pakistan, he relocated to Colorado, where he perfected a homemade detonator in a hotel room and set out for New York City by car around the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The plot — financed in part by $50,000 in credit card charges — was abandoned after Zazi noticed that everywhere he drove in New York, a car followed.

"I think law enforcement is on us," he recalled telling Ahmedzay. Later, he said he told Medunjanin in a text message, "We are done."

Defense attorneys had admitted that the Bosnian-born Medunjanin wanted to fight for the Taliban, but they insisted he never agreed to spread death and destruction in the city where his family put down roots.

Medunjanin went overseas to fulfill a "romantic version of jihad. ... His plan and intent was to join the Taliban and stand up for what he believes in," Gottlieb said in his closing. "That was his purpose."

Before trial, the defense had failed to get a judge to bar incriminating post-arrest statements by Medunjanin that his lawyers said were coerced.

According to FBI reports, Medunjanin recounted telling his al-Qaida handlers that "he had prayed but still wasn't sure he was ready to be a martyr," the reports said. He later was sent home on his own, the reports said, to "provide financial support" for the terror network.

He told the agents who interviewed him that they "were like enemy combatants to him," the reports added.

Aside from Zazi and Ahmedzay, two other convicted terrorists were called as witnesses to give a rare glimpse into al-Qaida's training methods and the mindset of its leadership.

In a videotaped deposition made public for the first time during the trial, Saajid Badat recounted a clandestine meeting where Osama bin Laden explained the rationale behind the failed plot for Badat and Richard Reid to attack trans-Atlantic flights with bombs hidden in shoes.

Bin Laden "said the American economy is like a chain," the British man said. "If you break one — one link of the chain — the whole economy will be brought down. So after Sept. 11 attacks, this operation will ruin the aviation industry and in turn the whole economy will come down."

Bryant Neal Vinas, of Patchogue on Long Island, testified that he went to Pakistan in 2007 and later joined al-Qaida forces in an attack against American soldiers.

Vinas described how he suggested to others in al-Qaida in the summer of 2008 that they could plant explosives in suitcase aboard a Long Island Rail Road train or hide them inside a television that was being returned to a Walmart.

An attack on the popular retail outlet "would cause a very big economy hit," he said.

Muslim convert pleads guilty in US bomb plot
(AFP) – January 26, 2012

WASHINGTON — A young Muslim-American man who tried to blow up a US military recruiting station pleaded guilty Thursday and faces 25 years in prison for the scheme, justice officials said.Antonio Martinez, 22, who changed his name to Muhammad Hussain when he converted to Islam, pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property in connection with a plot to bomb an armed forces recruiting station outside of Baltimore, Maryland, the US Justice Department said in a statement."

We are catching dangerous suspects before they strike, and we are investigating them in a way that maximizes the liberty and security of law-abiding citizens," US Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein, said in a statement announcing the guilty plea."

That is what the American people expect of the Justice Department, and that is what we aim to deliver."

FBI agents in December 2010 arrested Martinez, a recent convert to Islam whom they said dreamed of jihad, for plotting to carry out a personal strike against US forces.Martinez was arrested as he attempted to set off what he believed was a car bomb at the military recruitment facility, but which was in fact a government-supplied fake.

The targeted recruitment post is in a shopping center in Catonsville, Maryland, south of Baltimore and a short drive northeast of the capital Washington.An affidavit at the time of his arrest said Martinez had publicly posted on his Facebook account a statement calling for violence to stop the oppression of Muslims.If the judge in the case accepts the plea deal, Martinez will be sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to US officials. A hearing has been set for April 6 in US District Court.

Three U.S. Muslims convicted in terrorism case

The North Carolina men are found guilty in what prosecutors have called a case of 'homegrown terrorism.' They are convicted of plotting an attack on a Marine base in Quantico, Va., among other things.

By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times
October 13, 2011, 4:45 p.m.

Reporting from New Bern, N.C.— A federal jury has convicted three Muslim men from North Carolina of plotting to attack unspecified targets overseas, as well as the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., in what prosecutors called a case of "homegrown terrorism."

After two days of deliberations, Omar Aly Hassan, 22, Ziyad Yaghi, 21, and Hysen Sherifi, 24, were convicted Thursday of providing material support for terrorists. Yaghi and Sherifi were also convicted of conspiring to kill, kidnap or maim unspecified people overseas; Hassan was acquitted on the conspiracy charge.

Prosecutors in the three-week trial said the men traveled overseas, raised money and trained with weapons to support a jihadist plot to kill perceived enemies of Islam. Defense lawyers said audio and video recordings played in court did not show the defendants discussing or agreeing to any specific attack.

At issue in the case was the extent to which someone in the U.S. can discuss violent jihad and spread radical propaganda in the post-Sept. 11 era, even while committing no violent acts.

Like many other federal terrorism cases since 2001, the prosecution was preemptive. The suspects were arrested as the terrorist plot unfolded — but before they could commit violence.

The government amassed 750 hours of audio and video that included conversations between the defendants and three paid FBI informants; in those conversations, the defendants discussed jihad and their hatred for non-Muslims.

Friends and family members who attended parts of the trial complained of selective prosecution of Muslims. Hassan's father, Aly Hassan, said after the verdict that the trial had been "a long nightmare."

"Every single witness came out and said they never conspired with my son," Hassan said. "Conspiracy is a very elastic word."

Outside the courtroom, Sherifi's mother shouted, "Racist vultures!"

Mauri Saalakhan, director of an Islamic organization called the Peace Thru Justice Foundation in Silver Spring, Md., who attended parts of the trial, said the convicted men were victims of guilt by association. He called the undercover informants "provocateurs" who entrapped them.

Eight men were indicted in the case in 2009. The accused ringleader, U.S.-born Daniel Boyd, a Muslim convert, testified for the government in a plea deal. So did his sons, Daniel Boyd, 24, and Zakariya Boyd, 21. They are to be sentenced later.

A trial for the seventh defendant, Anes Subasic, has not been scheduled. The eighth defendant, Jude Kenan Mohammad, is a fugitive.

Prosecutors named no targeted victims. Nor did they specify places, times or dates of attacks, except for a potential attack on the Marine base in Quantico. The elder Daniel Boyd had visited the base, and he and Sherifi had discussed its vulnerability to an attack on Marines and their families.

Sherifi was also convicted of conspiring to kill members of the U.S. military and weapons violations.

In court, prosecutors displayed a stockpile of nearly two dozen guns and 27,000 rounds of ammunition seized from a bunker under Daniel Boyd's home; they also played tapes of the defendants praising jihadist publications.

Defense lawyers said the defendants were foolish young men who made "stupid'' and offensive comments but committed no crimes.

Hassan and Yaghi are U.S. citizens. Sherifi, a Kosovo native, is a legal permanent U.S. resident. All lived in the Raleigh, N.C., area.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place in 90 days.

American Muslim pleads guilty to using the Internet to solicit terrorism

Emerson Winfield Begolly pleaded guilty on Tuesday to using the Internet to urge others to commit 'real terrorism, but on a small scale.' He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

By Warren Richey, Staff writer / August 9, 2011
Christian Science Monitor

A 22-year-old American Muslim from New Bethlehem, Pa., pleaded guilty on Tuesday to using an Internet website to urge Muslim radicals within the US to engage in a wide range of terror attacks.

Emerson Winfield Begolly pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh to a single charge of solicitation to commit a crime of violence.

The solicitations including urging like-minded individuals in the US to sabotage train tracks; destroy phone lines, power lines, and cell phone towers; start forest fires; and engage in isolated attacks against Americans civilians, police, and military officials.

“Real terrorism, but on a small scale,” he wrote in one of his posts. “Best as single shot, drive by, hit and run, beat down. Who are the best targets? Off duty police, off duty soldiers, gang member, family members of soldiers, government agents, workers at ammunition factory, white supremacists or black supremacists.”

He added: “It is best if targeting soldiers or police that they are off duty and out of uniform simply because [their] investigations will look usually for ‘robbery gone wrong’ or ‘revenge’ [rather than] as act of terrorism [or] revolt.”

Mr. Begolly was an active moderator on the English-language version of the militant Islamic web discussion forum, Ansar al-Mujahideen Forum.

He allegedly posted items on the forum under the names “Asadullah al-Shishani,” “Abu Nancy,” and “Goatly.”

The second count of Begolly’s indictment charges that he posted and distributed on the Internet a 101-page explosives course written by a professor who was once Al-Qaeda’s top chemical and biological weapons expert.

Begolly warned anyone downloading the document to use “anonymizing software.” He also advised downloading it to a flash drive rather than an individual’s computer hard drive.

“Begolly placed a number of postings … encouraging attacks within the United States,” the indictment says. “He suggested the use of firearms, explosives, and propane tanks against targets such as police stations, post offices, synagogues, military facilities, train lines, bridges, cell phone towers, and water plants.”

According to the indictment, he used the forum to express his approval of the 9/11 attacks, the 2004 killing of 334 hostages – including 186 children – in Beslan, Russia by Chechen fighters, the kidnapping and beheading of American businessman Nick Berg in Iraq in 2004, and the kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002.

Begolly suggested militant Muslims in the US should attack civilian aircraft, banks, military installations, Jewish schools, and Jewish and daycare centers, according to the indictment.

“Peaceful protests do not work,” he posted in July 2010. “The [non-Muslim unbelievers] see war as [the] solution to their problems, so we must see war as the solution to our[s]. No peace. But bullets, bombs, and martyrdom operations.”

After posting the “Explosives Course” online in late December 2010, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation sought to question him. When two agents approached Begolly on Jan. 4, the encounter turned into a physical struggle.

During a scuffle, Begolly allegedly bit both agents, drawing blood, as he attempted to retrieve a loaded 9 mm handgun from his jacket pocket.

Officials said his reaction to the agents was consistent with his advice to other Muslim militants on the forum. They said he had urged his readers to always carry a loaded firearm, to resist any law enforcement encounter – by biting if necessary, and to never be taken alive.

“Today’s guilty plea underscores the need for continued vigilance against homegrown extremism and use of the Internet to incite violence,” said Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco in a statement.

“Too often, prosecutions arise only after a perpetrator commits actions ending in tragedy,” said David Hickton, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “On this occasion, I commend the FBI for taking proactive steps to protect the people of the United States before any such tragedy could occur.”

Senior US District Judge Maurice Cohill set sentencing for Nov. 29. Begolly faces up to 10 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

Your Black Muslim Bakery leader guilty of murder

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, June 10, 2011
San Francisco Choncile

The former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery was convicted Thursday of three counts of first-degree murder for ordering the 2007 slayings of Oakland newspaper editor Chauncey Bailey and two other men, capping a trial that was watched closely by journalists and First Amendment advocates.

An Alameda County Superior Court jury convicted Yusuf Bey IV, 25, after deliberating in Oakland since May 23.

A second defendant, former bakery associate Antoine Mackey, 25, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Bailey and Michael Wills, 36. The jury split on a third count involving the slaying of Odell Roberson Jr., 31, and Judge Thomas Reardon declared a mistrial on that charge.

Both Bey and Mackey face life terms in prison without the possibility of parole when they are sentenced July 8 because they were convicted of the special circumstance of multiple murder. Neither showed any reaction when the verdicts were read.

Relatives of Bailey, however, bowed their heads and hugged each other when they learned that Bey had been convicted of murdering the journalist by ordering bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard to pull the trigger.

Broussard reached a plea bargain with prosecutors and testified against Bey, saying the leader of the black empowerment group wanted Bailey dead because the Oakland Post editor was working on unflattering stories about the bakery.

'A long journey'

Wendy Ashley-Johnson, a cousin of Bailey's, said, "It's been a long journey, but justice has finally been done, and it's over. The family's just so thankful - thankful to God, thankful to the jury, thankful to the D.A."

She added, "Journalists have a job to do, and they should not be squashed in what they do."

District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said the verdicts "have brought to an end the unbelievable violence, the aggressive behavior and the terror that Yusuf Bey, Antoine Mackey and Devaughndre Broussard have inflicted on the community of Oakland. What may have been once a productive organization in Oakland became nothing more than a criminal street gang engaging in senseless violence and unyielding terror."

Trial prosecutor Melissa Krum agreed, saying, "They're nothing but a group of thugs."

She said the verdicts send the message that "the First Amendment is not going to be murdered by murdering journalists. You cannot kill the man and expect the message to be killed."

Bey's mother weeps

Bey's mother, Daulet Bey, wept in court before hearing the jury's decision and expressed frustration when she ended up missing the verdicts. "I believe in my son's innocence, I do," she said.

Bey's attorney, Gene Peretti, said, "Devastating verdict, and we're very disappointed." He said his client is "a little bit stunned."

Peretti and Mackey's attorney, Gary Sirbu, both said they would appeal.

"He's taking it well," Sirbu said of Mackey. "I think he's a courageous young guy. Personally, he's extremely likable. It's been my pleasure to work with him. He's been respectful of the criminal justice system at all times, and now his attention goes to the appeal process."

Jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse.


Prosecutors said they would decide whether to retry Mackey for the killing of Roberson.

Picture of vengeance

Krum had portrayed Bey as a charismatic but unhinged leader of a financially ailing organization. She told jurors he would stop at nothing to terrorize those he believed had wronged him or the bakery founded in the late 1960s by his father, Yusuf Bey Sr., to give African Americans who worked there responsibility and authority and to provide healthful food to the community.

Prosecutors said Bey IV had targeted Bailey because the editor was working on stories about the now-defunct bakery's financial problems and internal turmoil. Bailey was shot dead as he walked to work in downtown Oakland on Aug. 2, 2007.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders, a media organization, said it hopes that "lessons will be drawn from this case and that journalists will be able to perform their job as they have a right to."

The other killings were less political in nature. Roberson was the uncle of a man who had killed Bey's brother in a botched 2005 carjacking in North Oakland, and Wills was slain simply because he was white, the prosecution said.

Shells matched

Spent shotgun shells found at the scene of Bailey's slaying matched one found in Bey's bedroom and seven located on the roof of the Oakland bakery when it was raided a day after the journalist was killed, according to testimony at the trial.

Defense attorneys had focused their efforts on discrediting Broussard, a former bakery handyman who pleaded guilty in 2009 to two counts of voluntary manslaughter for killing Roberson near the San Pablo Avenue bakery in July 2007 and Bailey the following month near 14th and Alice streets in downtown Oakland.

Defense attorneys sought to portray Broussard to jurors as a lying, "stone-cold murderer" whose testimony could not be trusted.

Broussard, 23, was the prosecution's star witness. In exchange for testifying, he will be sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Broussard testified that he had killed Bailey with three shotgun blasts after he and Mackey staked out the journalist's home. He eventually told investigators that Bey had ordered the murder and had demanded that Broussard be a "good soldier" and take sole responsibility.

Bakery's crimes

Prosecutors say Broussard used the SKS assault rifle to kill Roberson on July 7, 2007, and that Mackey used it five days later to kill Wills.

Jurors heard testimony about a litany of crimes involving bakery members, They included shootings, the kidnapping of two women and the torture of one of them, the vandalism of two liquor stores to curb alcohol sales, and a sexual-assault case against Bey Sr., the bakery's late founder, that Bailey had covered.

Broussard said Bey was angry at Bailey for having somehow contributed to his father's 2003 death from cancer. But foremost on Bey's mind, Broussard testified, was the research that Bailey was doing on the financial collapse of the bakery, which had been racked by turmoil since the elder Bey's death.

Bey IV did not testify. Mackey took the stand near the end of the trial and denied any involvement in the killings.

Arrest in Attempted Bombing of Recruiting Office

The New York Times
Published: December 8, 2010

WASHINGTON — A Baltimore man was arrested on Wednesday and is expected to be charged with attempting to blow up a military recruiting station in Catonsville, Md., law enforcement officials said.

As in a similar situation last month in Portland, Ore., the man is said to have left what he believed was a car bomb outside the station, and authorities said he was motivated by a desire to become an Islamist terrorist.

But in fact, the device was harmless, and had been supplied by undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who had been playing along with him for months, a Justice Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, said in a statement.

“There was no actual danger to the public, as the explosives were inert and the suspect had been carefully monitored by law enforcement for months,” Mr. Boyd said.

The Justice Department did not immediately release the man’s name, because the charging documents were not yet complete. He was expected to make an initial appearance before Magistrate Judge James K. Bredar in the federal courthouse in Baltimore at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

According to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation, before the man’s attempt to attack the recruiting station, he tried to recruit at least three people to a terrorist cause. But in each instance, the man was rebuffed, the official said.

The official also said the investigation played out in a similar fashion to the arrest last month in Oregon, after a complex sting operation, of a Somali-born teenager who thought he was detonating a car bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

The Baltimore suspect was told by undercover agents that he did not have to go through with the plan, but the man insisted on moving ahead, the official said — just as in Portland.

The official said the Baltimore suspect first came to the attention of the authorities several months ago, after somebody reported suspicious postings on his Facebook page to the authorities.

The Justice Department said there was no evidence that the man had any connection to recent shootings at military-related sites in the Washington area.


Man arrested in plot to attack DC metro stations

Wed Oct 27, 2010
By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON Oct 27 (Reuters) - A Virginia man who believed he was trying to help al Qaeda plan bombings at Washington area Metrorail stations was arrested on Wednesday, the Justice Department said.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, was taken into custody early in the morning.

"Officials emphasized that at no time was the public in danger during this investigation and that the FBI was aware of Ahmed's activities from before the alleged attempt began and closely monitored his activities until his arrest," the Justice Department said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the United States and Britain warned of an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Europe, with Washington saying al Qaeda might target transport infrastructure.

A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on Tuesday against Ahmed, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, the Justice Department said.

"Farooque Ahmed is accused of plotting with individuals he believed were terrorists to bomb our transit system, but a coordinated law enforcement and intelligence effort was able to thwart his plans," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

"It's chilling that a man from Ashburn is accused of casing rail stations with the goal of killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks," said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride.

Ahmed was charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to help carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties at D.C.-area Metrorail stations.

If convicted, Ahmed faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison, the Justice Department said. (Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Vicki Allen)

Pakistan neuroscientist given 86 years for shooting at US agents

The Guardian
September 23, 2010

Aafia Siddiqui grabbed gun from American captors who she says falsely imprisoned her as an al-Qaida agent in Afghanistan

A New York court has sentenced to 86 years in prison Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist trained at an American university who was named as one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists. The case has prompted outrage in her native country.

Siddiqui, 38, was convicted earlier this year of two charges of attempted murder after she shot at US soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan in 2008 as she tried to escape from custody. Her case has drawn pleas from the Pakistani government for her release and divided legal opinion after Siddiqui claimed that she was abducted by US agents and held incommunicado in Afghanistan for five years.

Although the FBI accused her of supporting al-Qaida she was not charged with terrorism. However prosecutors alleged that when she was arrested in Afghanistan two years ago she was found with instructions on how to assemble bombs and weapons and a list of New York city landmarks.

Siddiqui was convicted over an incident in an Afghan police station. Prosecutors said that as US agents were about to interrogate her she grabbed an assault rifle and opened fire while shouting: "Death to Americans." None of the Americans were injured but Siddiqui was shot. After she recovered she was brought to New York for trial.

Before the sentence Siddiqui repeated the assertion she made at her trial that she was abducted and held at a "secret prison" for several years. In a rambling statement Siddiqui said she only wanted peace in the world. "I do not want any bloodshed. I do not want any misunderstanding. I really want to make peace and end the wars," she said.

Siddiqui said she was upset at false reports overseas that she was being tortured in the US. "I am not sad. I am not distressed … they are not torturing me," she said. "This is a myth and lie and it's being spread among the Muslims."

Defence lawyers had asked the judge for a sentence of about 12 years, arguing that her seizing the gun and opening fire was a spontaneous "freak out" that had more to do with mental illness than al-Qaida. "Mentally ill and caught in the crossfire of a war that is no longer fought on conventional battlegrounds, Dr Siddiqui's self destructive behaviour got her shot once in the abdomen, charged with attempted murder and … convicted of the same," the defence said.

The defence claims were reinforced by Siddiqui's conduct during the trial when she made rambling denunciations of the US and Israel. She was ejected from the court on several occasions.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence of life, arguing that Siddiqui was an al-Qaida supporter and a danger to the US. "Her conduct was not senseless or thoughtless," prosecutors said. "It was deliberate and premeditated. Siddiqui should be punished accordingly."

The judge, Richard Berman, said "significant incarceration is appropriate" as he sentenced her.

Siddiqui responded by calling on her supporters to remain calm. "Don't get angry," she said. "Forgive Judge Berman."

Siddiqui trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University in the early 1990s. US authorities claim she returned to Pakistan in 2003 after marrying an al-Qaida operative related to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Siddiqui's conviction in February prompted protests in Pakistan where the process has been denounced as unjust. Siddiqui's disappearance for five years has never been adequately explained but there is a widespread belief in Pakistan that its government handed her over to the Americans in 2003 and that she was tortured and interrogated.

Last week Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, Hussain Haqqani, wrote to the US attorney general, Eric Holder, to ask that Siddiqui be deported instead of imprisoned.

NYC car bomb suspect pleads guilty, calls it 'war'

By TOM HAYS, Associated Press Writer
June 21, 2010

NEW YORK – Calling himself a Muslim soldier, a defiant Pakistan-born U.S. citizen pleaded guilty Monday to carrying out the failed Times Square car bombing and left a sinister warning that unless the U.S. leaves Muslim lands alone, "we will be attacking U.S."

Wearing a white skull cap, prison smocks and a dark beard, Faisal Shahzad entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan just days after a federal grand jury indicted him on 10 terrorism and weapons counts, some of which carried mandatory life prison sentences. He pleaded guilty to them all.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum challenged Shahzad repeatedly with questions such as whether he had worried about killing children in Times Square.

"One has to understand where I'm coming from," Shahzad calmly replied. "I consider myself ... a Muslim soldier."

The 30-year-old described his effort to set off a bomb in an SUV he parked in Times Square on May 1, saying he chose the warm Saturday night because it would be crowded with people he could injure or kill. He said he conspired with the Pakistan Taliban, which provided more than $15,000 to fund his operation.

He explained that he packed his vehicle with three separate bomb components, hoping to set off a fertilizer-fueled bomb packed in a gun cabinet, a set of propane tanks and gas canisters rigged with fireworks to explode into a fireball. He also revealed he was carrying a folding assault rifle for "self-defense."

Shahzad said he lit a fuse and waited 2 1/2 to five minutes for the bomb to erupt.

"I was waiting to hear a sound but I didn't hear a sound. ... So I walked to Grand Central and went home," he said.

Shahzad dismissed the judge's question about the children by saying the U.S. didn't care when children were killed in Muslim countries.

"It's a war. I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people," he said. "On behalf of that, I'm revenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their people, but they don't care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die."

Cedarbaum also asked Shahzad if he understood that the people in Times Square might not have anything to do with what happened overseas.

"The people select the government. We consider them all the same," Shahzad said during the hour-long hearing.

Shahzad made the plea and an accompanying statement as Cedarbaum began asking him a lengthy series of questions to ensure he understood his rights.

She asked him if he understood some charges carried mandatory life sentences and that he might spend the rest of his life in prison. He said he did.

At one point, she asked him if he was sure he wanted to plead guilty.

He said he wanted "to plead guilty and 100 times more" to let the U.S. know that if it did not get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, halt drone attacks and stop meddling in Muslim lands, "we will be attacking U.S."

Sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 5.

The Bridgeport, Conn., resident was arrested trying to leave the country May 3, two days after the bomb failed to ignite near a Broadway theater.

Authorities said Shahzad immediately cooperated, delaying his initial court appearance for two weeks as he spilled details of a plot meant to sow terror in the world-famous Times Square on a warm Saturday night when it was packed with thousands of potential victims.

The bomb apparently sputtered, emitting smoke that attracted the attention of an alert street vendor, who notified police, setting in motion a rapid evacuation of blocks of a city still healing from the shock of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

According to the indictment issued last week, Shahzad received a total of $12,000 prior to the attack from the Pakistani Taliban through cash drop-offs in Massachusetts and Long Island.

Attorney General Eric Holder said after the plea: "Faisal Shahzad plotted and launched an attack that could have led to serious loss of life, and today the American criminal justice system ensured that he will pay the price for his actions."

FBI New York Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos called the plea "right on the mark" and praised the work of "ordinary citizens who alerted law enforcement of suspicious activity."

Shahzad was accused in the indictment of receiving explosives training in Waziristan, Pakistan, during a five-week trip to that country. He returned to the United States in February.

The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on Feb. 25 from a co-conspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, allegedly sent at the co-conspirator's direction. Shahzad said in court Monday that the Pakistan Taliban gave him more than $4,000 when he left training camp.

Shahzad, born in Pakistan, moved to the United States when he was 18.

Pakistan has arrested at least 11 people since the attempted attack. An intelligence official has alleged two of them played a role in the plot. No one has been charged.

Three men in Massachusetts and Maine suspected of supplying money to Shahzad have been detained on immigration charges; one was recently transferred to New York.

Federal authorities have said they believe money was channeled through an underground money transfer network known as "hawala," but they have said they doubt anyone in the U.S. who provided money knew what it was for.


Bomb Suspect from Elite Family, Schools

Former Associates Describe Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as Being So Pious, He Was Called "The Pope"

 LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 27, 2009

(CBS/AP)  As a member of an uppercrust Nigerian family, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab received the best schooling, from the elite British International School in West Africa to the vaunted University College London.

But the education he sought was of a different sort: Nigerian officials say his interest in extremist Islam prompted his father, the former CEO of one of Nigeria's largest banks, to warn U.S. authorities. As Abdulmutallab was being escorted in handcuffs off the Detroit-bound airliner he attempted to blow up on Christmas Day, he told U.S. officials that he had sought extremist education at an Islamist hotbed in Yemen.

A portrait emerged Sunday of a serious young man who led a privileged life as the son of a prominent banker, but became estranged from his family as an adult. Devoutly religious, he was nicknamed "The Pope" for his saintly aura and gave few clues in his youth that he would turn radical, friends and family said.

"In all the time I taught him we never had cross words," said Michael Rimmer, a Briton who taught history at the British International School in Lome, Togo. "Somewhere along the line he must have met some sort of fanatics, and they must have turned his mind."

Abdulmutallab would seem to be the latest in a growing list of well educated, and well-to-do young men who have turned to radical Islam and then terrorism, reports CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar.

"People have been working for a long time to try to understand the process of radicalization, why it happens, why people at certain times in their lives suddenly find themselves attracted into extremist circles leading on sometimes to violent extremism," said Peter Clarke, a CBS News consultant and former head of counterterrorism at London Metropolitan Police

Abdulmutallab has been charged with trying to destroy a Northwest flight on Christmas Day with 278 passengers and 11 crew members on board. The detonator on his explosive apparently malfunctioned and he was subdued by other passengers.

Ken Wainstein, who became the first Assistant Attorney General for Homeland Security in 2006, told CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller that Abdulmutallab represents the kind of operative who could be "a goldmine" for al Qaeda.

Wainstein points out that Abdulmutallab speaks English, is Westernized, has multiple entry visa to the U.S. and can "fly under the radar."

Through an official, Abdulmutallab's father "expressed deep shock and regret over his son's actions."

His family home sits in the city of Funtua, in the heart of Nigeria's Islamic culture. Religion figured into the family's life: His father, Alhaji Umar Mutallab, who had a successful career in commercial banking, also joined the board of an Islamic bank - one that avoids the kind of interest payments banned by the Quran.

The large house, surrounded by a wall and a metal fence just off the main road running through the city, stood empty, a common occurrence for a jet-set family that sought an education abroad for Abdulmutallab. Family members told The Associated Press they could not comment but expected the family to issue a statement.

Mutallab was working with the FBI and not expected to grant media interviews, Information Minister Dora Akunyili said.

The elder Mutallab was "a responsible and respected Nigerian, with a true Nigerian spirit," she said. He had been estranged from his son for several months and alerted U.S. officials last month about the youth's growing hard-line Islamic religious beliefs.

A close neighbor told the AP he believed Abdulmutallab did not get his extremist ideas from his family or from within Nigeria.

Basiru Sani Hamza, 35, said Abdulmutallab was a "very religious" and a "very obedient" to his parents as a boy in the well-to-do banking family.

"I believe he must have been lured where he is schooling to carry out this attack," Hamza said. "Really, the boy has betrayed his father because he has been taking care of all their needs."

Rimmer, a teacher at his high school in West Africa, said Abdulmutallab had been well-respected.

"At one stage, his nickname was 'The Pope,"' Rimmer said from London in a telephone interview. "In one way it's totally unsuitable because he's Muslim, but he did have this saintly aura."

But Abdulmutallab also showed signs of inflexibility, Rimmer said.

In a discussion in 2001, Abdulmutallab was the only one to defend the actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Rimmer said. At the time, Rimmer thought the boy was just playing the devil's advocate.

He also noted that during a school trip to London, Abdulmutallab became upset when the teacher took students to a pub and said it wasn't right to be in a place where alcohol was served.

Rimmer also remembered the youngster choosing to give 50 pounds to an orphanage rather than spend it on souvenirs in London.

Rimmer described the institution - an elite college preparatory school, attended by children of diplomats and wealthy Africans - as "lovely, lovely environment" where Christians often joined in Islamic feasts and where some of the best Christmas carolers were Muslims.

Abdulmutallab showed no signs of intolerance toward other students, Rimmer said, explaining that "lots of his mates were Christians."

The Briton noted that he has not seen or heard from his former pupil since 2003 when he was still a teenager.

Abdulmutallab went on to study engineering and business finance at the University College London, where he graduated last year, the college confirmed.

Students at his prestigious university in London, where Abdulmutallab lived in a smart white stone apartment block in an exclusive area of central London, said Abdulmutallab showed no signs of radicalization and painted him as a lax student with deep religious views.

"We worked on projects together," Fabrizio Cavallo Marincola, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student at University College, told The Independent newspaper. "He always did the bare minimum of work and would just show up to classes. When we were studying, he always would go off to pray.

"He was pretty quiet and didn't socialize much or have a girlfriend that I knew of. I didn't get to talk to him much on a personal level. I was really shocked when I saw the reports. You would never imagine him pulling off something like this."

Marincola declined further comment when contacted by the AP. 

Dutch teenager seeks new acquittal for attack plan

31 Oct 2005


AMSTERDAM, Oct 31 (Reuters) - A Dutch-Moroccan man who was acquitted in April of charges he planned attacks on government buildings said on Monday he expected an appeal against his acquittal to fail.

Samir Azzouz's arrest last year sparked a national security alert after the authorities found machinegun ammunition, a bullet-proof vest, two mock explosive devices, a silencer, maps and sketches of prominent buildings at his home.

Azzouz, 19, was sentenced to three months in jail for illegal possession of weapons in April but acquitted of armed robbery and charges he planned to bomb governing buildings. Prosecutors launched an appeal against the acquittal on Monday.

"I still hate the Dutch judicial system but I do think the judges will do their work and that they will acquit me," Azzouz told judges in a high security court in Amsterdam. "I am saying that the evidence is not strong enough."

Azzouz was rearrested this month along with six other suspected Islamic militants on suspicion of a new plot for attacks against politicians and government buildings.

Since Azzouz's first arrest and trial, Dutch laws have been tightened to introduce a charge of "membership of a criminal organisation with terrorist intent" carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years.

In addition to maps, photographs, parts of weapons, electrical circuits and night-vision goggles, police found videos, discs and radical Islamist documents at his home, as well as chemicals that prosecutors said could be used in a bomb.

However, the Rotterdam court that acquitted him said items found at his home seemed to be intended for use in some crime but were not enough to prove the specific charges.

The defence had accused prosecutors of assuming their client planned an "al Qaeda-style attack" just because he was a Muslim.

Prosecutors have also, in a separate case, accused Azzouz of having links to a militant Islamist network that is suspected of plots to kill politicians, and of ties to the man charged with the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh a year ago.  


If the Problem is Muslim Terror

By Victor Davis Hanson

November 4, 2005

In September, federal prosecutors charged illegal alien Mahmoud Maawad, 29, with wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number. But their real worry was that the Egyptian student had just ordered $3,000 in aviation materials, including DVDs entitled “Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings,” “Mental Math for Pilots,” and “Mastering GPS Flying.” Shortly after this July’s London bombings, U.S. antiterrorism authorities arrested five Egyptian men—four of them illegal immigrants—in a Newark, New Jersey, apartment, which contained maps of the New York City subway system, train schedules, videos of city landmarks, and $8,000 in twenties and fifties.

A few weeks earlier, in the sleepy town of Lodi, California, about two hours north of where I live, the FBI arrested Umer and Hamid Hayat (father and son) on immigration charges and for lying to federal agents about ties with Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan. Officials allege that Hamid visited an al-Qaida camp in Pakistan during 2003 and 2004 for training in weapons, explosives, and hand-to-hand combat. Last autumn, authorities broke up a terrorist cell in Portland, Oregon, charging four with plotting to set up a terrorist training organization and with traveling to Afghanistan to aid al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Since September 11, the list of those arrested, and in a growing number of cases convicted, for Islamist terrorist activities in the U.S. has gotten longer and longer. Some arrestees have been U.S. citizens; more have been aliens, legal and illegal, living in out-of-the-way places on work or study visas. The list includes such abettors of evil as Mukhtar al-Bakri of Lackawanna, New York (ten years for providing support to al-Qaida), Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed of Brooklyn (45 years for providing support to al-Qaida and Hamas), and Ibrahim Admed Al-Hamdi of northern Virginia (15 years for firearm violations in connection with terrorist activities). The continued presence within our borders of so many who seek to destroy us suggests that we still haven’t squarely faced the problem that Islamic radicalism poses to our domestic security.

In fact, sometimes we have seemed to encourage actively the spread of such radicalism on our shores. On Halloween night 2001—just weeks after September 11 and with U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan—firebrand imams Abdul Alim Musa, Muhammad Asi, Abdel Razzag Al Raggad, and other Islamic radicals broadcast live from the National Press Club on C-SPAN2 a bold proclamation of empathy for the Taliban, hatred for Jews, and understanding for the murderers of 3,000 Americans. Asi, for example, spoke of the “grand strike against New York and Washington” and the “twin evils in this world . . . the decision makers in Washington and the decision makers in Tel Aviv.” Not only did we allow such a broadcast to tens of thousands—our government subsidized it.

Or consider the ease with which the now-deported Muhammed Adil Khan, a radical Islamic cleric associated with the two Lodi suspects, first arrived in America in the eighties, welcomed on a “religious worker” visa. Another Lodi extremist, Shabbir Ahmed, entered more recently on such a visa—despite having led demonstrations in Pakistan shortly after September 11 that called for jihad against America. At his immigration hearing, Ahmed successfully pleaded that his past anti-American agitation “was a requirement of all imams. If you don’t [agitate], people turn against you. They sort of force you to say something.”

That America has given Islamists such freedom has doubtless made it easier for them to seduce U.S. citizens to join jihadist groups and seek to kill their countrymen. We remember most vividly John Walker Lindh, who ventured from Marin County to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan. But even more sinister was former Chicago gangbanger José Padilla, who in 1991 converted to Islam, changed his name to Abdullah al-Muhajir, and went off to Egypt. By 2002, he had made his way to Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight at al-Qaida’s side. In early May 2002, just after his return from Pakistan, officials arrested him in Chicago for allegedly plotting to explode a dirty bomb in Washington, D.C. In these cases, we have yet to discover who the spiritual mentors of these homegrown jihadists were, or where in the U.S. they were indoctrinated.

The Islamist seduction also includes disturbed souls here in the U.S. who belong to no formal terrorist group but who emulate jihadists after exposure to their ideas. Such was the suicidal 15-year-old who in January 2002 crashed a light plane into a Florida bank, leaving behind a note praising bin Ladin: “First of all, Osama bin Laden is absolutely justified in the terror he has caused on 9/11. He has brought a mighty nation to its knees. God bless him and the others who helped make September 11th happen.” Another example may be green-card-holding Eshem Mohamed Hadayet, the Egyptian gunman who three years ago shot up the El Al counter at Los Angeles International Airport, killing two innocents and wounding three. Jihadist literature certainly influenced beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad.

Some say, reassuringly, that Islamic extremism has little appeal to America’s growing Muslim population. America prides itself on being unlike Europe in its powers of assimilation. Thanks to the melting pot and a vigorous economy, this argument goes, we have no Marseilles-like Muslim ghettos or Rotterdam-style “dish cities,” blighted Islamic suburbs where assimilation remains rare and terrorist sympathies widespread even after generations of living in the West. We certainly don’t have the difficulties in assimilating Muslims that England experiences. A chilling Daily Telegraph poll, for example, found that one in four British Muslims sympathized with the motives of July’s subway killers, about one in five voiced little loyalty toward Britain, and a third felt that Western culture was “decadent” and that they should help “to bring it to an end.”

Yet U.S. self-congratulation is premature. Before we condemn Britain as hopelessly retrograde, we need to recognize that we have no idea how much some American Muslims support jihadist causes—comprehensive polls don’t exist. Of the few surveys taken, the results aren’t encouraging. The Hamilton College Muslim America poll of April 2003 revealed that 44 percent of U.S. Muslims had no opinion on whether Usama bin Ladin was involved with the September 11 attacks. Only one out of three blamed al-Qaida.

Top U.S. Muslim organizations and spokesmen are no more reassuring when it comes to condemning Islamic terror. True, the Council on American Islamic Relations finally took out a national advertisement this summer repudiating terrorism in the name of Islam—four years after September 11. But examine the immediate reaction to the ad from San Antonio Express-News columnist Mansour El-Kikhia. “It is a rejection of U.S. and British policies in the Middle East, not Islam, that has promoted terrorism against America,” El-Kikhia writes. “More important, it was the British and the United States that drew first blood. The Middle East didn’t come to America or go to America or go to Britain; rather, America and Britain went to the Middle East.” El-Kikhia ends his rant by implying that the United States has a history of warring on imaginary threats, so American Muslims should feel no imperative to distinguish themselves from those terrorizing in Islam’s name.

More coherent—but, in its way, even more frightening—was “Time to Talk to al Qaeda,” a Boston Globe op-ed by Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou of Harvard’s Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. Mohamedou assures us that bin Ladin is a reasonable adversary with whom we can reach accommodation. “Al Qaeda is an industrious, committed, and power-wielding organization waging a political, limited, and evasive war of attrition—not a religious, open-ended, apocalyptic one,” he explains. “Over the past year, it has struck private and public alliances, offered truces, affected elections, and gained an international stature beyond a mere security threat.” Few Americans would want us to agree to terms with terrorists who murdered 3,000 people in New York and who behead and blow up democratic reformers in Iraq and across the Middle East. Yet that’s exactly what Mohamedou recommends. “Al Qaeda has been true to its word in announcing and implementing its strategy for over a decade,” he observes. “It is likely to be true to its word in the future and cease hostilities against the United States, and indeed bring an end to the war it declared in 1996 and in 1998, in return for some degree of satisfaction regarding its grievances”—the U.S. out of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, Israel out of the West Bank, and no more support for Arab dictators.

If we really are in a war against Muslim terror, our enemies and those who support or appease them pose a quandary on the home front unlike anything we have faced in past struggles.

First, unlike in previous wars, securing the homeland is absolutely central to the outcome of this conflict. In the war’s overseas fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq, no enemy possesses the conventional or other means to defeat the U.S. militarily. The only way America could lose abroad would be if it loses the will to fight—and that could only happen through a succession of terrorist attacks at home that petrified the citizenry, warped our political institutions, or disrupted the economy to such an extent that, Madrid-style, we granted concessions to radical Islamists. Terrorism is not the last desperate resort of this enemy; it is its first, deliberate attack. Domestic security becomes an even more essential concern because of the difficulties of deterring states that may have provided either money or sanctuary to Islamic terrorists in the past—an Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Syria—but that deny culpability and deplore terrorism publicly, making it almost impossible for us to justify a conventional military response against them.

Second, technology has made it easier for small numbers of individuals—even a single person—to inflict substantial damage on America’s social and economic fabric. While the amount of explosives that terrorists needed in the past to do substantial harm was completely unwieldy, these days a single dirty bomb strapped to a terrorist’s body could shut down the New York Stock Exchange for months, because of radioactive contamination. A few bags of anthrax emptied into the Washington subway could wreak enormous social and economic havoc.

Third, in an age of instantaneous communications and global travel, two oceans provide America with precious little security against such weapons. Back in June 1942, submarines had to drop eight German saboteurs, outfitted with clumsy radio communications equipment, off the Florida and Long Island coasts. Today, hundreds of jihadists from a Pakistan or a Yemen could fly to Lodi or Portland in less than 24 hours and communicate in real time with whomever they wish worldwide. Past experience proves that they might be involved with radical agitation back home, enter the U.S. under religious exemptions, and overstay their visas with little scrutiny.

Heightening our vulnerability further, contemporary Americans do not appear as a distinct class, ethnic group, or race. A Middle Easterner casing a subway might stand out in racially homogeneous Sweden or Nigeria; he wouldn’t be so easy to pick out in the multiracial U.S. And given the casualness of American fashion, a Wall Street banker running in Central Park in a jogging suit and sneakers might look identical to a suicide-vest-wearing Pakistani terrorist rushing to a subway station.

Without prior intelligence and infiltration of Islamist mosques and madrassas, it thus becomes very difficult to ensure our safety at the last line of defense: security checks at the crowded intersection, the mall, or the train station. Add politically correct bans on even rudimentary profiling (sex and age) and we wind up only burdening commuters and shoppers with such checks without any real gain in overall safety. The key, then, must be to keep suspects out rather than relying on tracking them down or preventing them from striking once they have blended into the general population.

From a national security standpoint, the prevention of another September 11 thus seems straightforward—in theory. Suspend most legal immigration from Middle Eastern countries known to subsidize or tolerate terrorism. Review all current visas and search out and deport violators. Continue to audit carefully the arrivals of Middle Eastern nationals. Tighten the Canadian and Mexican borders. Extend existing statutes on inflammatory speech and hate crimes to include radical Islamic doctrines that routinely denigrate Americans, Jews, homosexuals, and women. Hand down long sentences to those convicted of promulgating Islamic hatred and plotting terrorism, with special attention given to Saudi-sponsored charities, madrassas, and mosques. Renew the Patriot Act, and create a public culture that associates radical Islamicism with fascism.

European and American experiences both suggest that we can toughen our domestic security without violating constitutional custom. In Europe’s case, the examples are quite recent. The Netherlands is now handing down life sentences for Islamic killers, criminalizing the hate speech of the madrassas, curbing immigration from the Middle East, and deporting suspected Islamists—in some cases, Islamists with Dutch passports. France has gone even further. A radical new antiterrorism package unveiled by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has given the government the right to deport residents summarily and to strip radicals of their naturalized French citizenship. British prime minister Tony Blair in turn has introduced legislation that would criminalize association with radical Islamists and enable the government to deport suspected terrorist sympathizers swiftly. “Let no one be in any doubt that the rules of the game are changing,” Blair warned.

Here in the U.S., there’s no need to go back for guidance on securing the homeland to Abraham Lincoln’s regrettable suspension of habeas corpus, Woodrow Wilson’s questionable Sedition and Espionage acts that jailed hundreds during World War I for saying and writing things (even loosely) that officials felt helped the Central Powers, or Franklin Roosevelt’s military tribunals that tried, convicted, and executed German terrorist agents before they committed any damage. Instead, we should reexamine the cold war, when the threat of mutually assured destruction made conventional war between the Soviet Union and the Western democracies unlikely. The struggle against the Soviets and their minions thus became one of dirty operations, espionage, and terrorism.

In response to the communist threat, we blocked easy immigration from Soviet bloc countries. We did not demonize the citizens of Albania and Bulgaria, but we did not let them in, either. The United States generally tolerated membership in the Communist Party and expression of anti-American sentiments here at home, but we infiltrated hard-core Soviet-funded communist groups and jailed or deported their most dangerous operatives.

By analogy, just as no Czech citizens could easily fly to the U.S. from Prague in 1955, so should we be wary of travelers from Cairo or Riyadh. Critics will counter that Warsaw Pact governments were officially hostile to the U.S., while “allied” Egyptian, Pakistani, and Saudi authorities clamp down on terrorists. But this claim is dubious. Radical Islamists have thrived by following long-understood protocols of engagement: they do not attack the autocracies of the Middle East directly, and in return they receive from those autocracies virtual amnesty for targeting Westerners. When the Islamists break the rules and hit enclaves of foreigners inside Egypt or Saudi Arabia, the autocracies hound them for a bit. When they return to killing people on foreign soil, these dictatorships and monarchies again leave them in peace.

Four years after September 11, with the nature of our dilemma clearly before us, why do we still have terrorists operating freely in our midst? Why do we seem paralyzed over the proper course of action to prevent attacks from within?

Part of the problem is the legacy of our domestic history during wartime. Because most Americans view the U.S. internment of the Japanese during World War II as gratuitously punitive, unnecessary, and illegal, any proposal to monitor particular American subgroups today calls down swift denunciation as the moral equivalent of that internment. Moreover, though the McCarthy period was not, properly speaking, a witch hunt—no witches haunted Salem, but plenty of communists sympathetic to the Soviet Union moved in and out of the U.S. government during the fifties—it matters little. The abuses by anti-communist watchdogs have become enshrined in our collective memory as something we must never repeat. It is now a staple of our history books that the House Un-American Activities Committee was almost more pernicious than 7,000 Soviet nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. Consequently, we have since believed it better to err on the side of civil liberties than on the side of national security, should the two conflict—at least until September 11.

Our elite commitment to multiculturalism also hamstrings us from taking the needed security steps. For 30 years, our schools have pounded home the creed that all cultures are of equal merit—or, more accurately perhaps, that no culture is worse than the West’s. Millions of Americans consequently aren’t sure whether radical Islam is just another legitimate alternative to the dominant Western narrative. Typical of this mind-set, UCLA English professor Saree Makdisi, excusing the London subway terrorism, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that deliberately butchering commuters is no worse than accidentally killing civilians while targeting terrorists in a war zone. “American and British media have devoted hours to wondering what would drive a seemingly normal young Muslim to destroy himself and others,” Makdisi said. “No one has paused to ask what would cause a seemingly normal young Christian or Jew to strap himself into a warplane and drop bombs on a village, knowing full well his bombs will inevitably kill civilians (and, of course, soldiers).”

It is a tremendous historical irony that America’s liberal Left, embracing moral equivalence in this fashion, has all but refused to denounce the illiberal ideology of our enemies—an ideology that supports polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, hatred of homosexuals, and patriarchy. Sometimes, the terrorists even win outright praise: perhaps the most popular filmmaker of election year 2004 was Michael Moore, who celebrated the suicide bombers and terrorists of Iraq as “minutemen” akin to our own Founding Fathers.

If we are not sure as a nation that Islamists really are foes of Western values but instead see them as another persecuted group with legitimate gripes against us (occupied Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, colonialism, the Crusades), then it becomes increasingly hard to identify, let alone fight, the practitioners of Islamic fanaticism at home. Even the military bureaucracy seems to be having trouble naming the enemy: witness the rebranding by some Pentagon officials of “the war on terrorism” into the “global war against violent extremism.” While the original nomenclature was unsatisfactory—wars aren’t fought against a tactic but rather against those using it—the new name is even less helpful. Our fight against jihadists is different from our struggle with recalcitrant Serbian nationalists or Kim Jong-il’s crackpot extremism. We are at war with radical Islam, Islamic fascism, Islamism—the “radical Islamic polemic,” in the words of Sarkozy. We should never lose sight of this fact. President Bush’s October speech describing our struggle against Islamic terror—a first for the administration—is an encouraging, if belated, sign.

Practical considerations also get in the way of securing the homeland. Any radical change in our immigration laws—affecting entry into the U.S., systematic deportation of illegal aliens, or scrutiny of visa holders—requires comprehensive reform. And such transformation immediately raises the question of what to do with the 10 to 15 million illegal Mexican aliens residing here and with our vast, unsecured southern border. So far, sensitivity to Hispanic concerns, both here and in Mexico, coupled with employer lobbying, has precluded securing the border and insisting on legality for all new immigrants. Deporting illegal aliens from the Middle East will immediately lead to questions as to why we are not deporting millions of unlawful Mexican residents—a political hot potato.

Yet immigration control—as the Dutch and French have learned—may be the most powerful tool in the war against the jihadists. Not only does it help keep terrorists out, it also carries symbolic weight. In the Middle East, America is worshipped even as it is hated—constantly slurred even as it proves the Number One destination for thousands upon thousands of would-be immigrants from the Islamic world. Once we have deported the Islamists, and Middle Easterners and other Muslims find it much harder to enter the U.S. because of their governments’ tolerance for radical anti-Americanism, the message will resound all the more loudly in the Muslim world itself that terrorism is intolerable.

Such toughness opposes the current orthodoxy, which holds that curtailing immigration from the Arab and Muslim world will cost us a key opportunity to inculcate moderates and eventually send back emissaries of goodwill. Maybe; but so far, the profile of the Islamic terrorist is someone who has paid back our magnanimity with deadly contempt. Just as bin Ladin, Dr. Zawahiri, and the Pakistanis suspected of bombing the London subways were not poor, uneducated, or unfamiliar with the West, so too we find that those arrested for terrorist activities on our shores seem to hate us all the more because of our liberality.

Perhaps if the message does begin to be heard that America is as unpredictable as it is merciless toward the advocates and supporters of radical Islam, then the much praised but rarely heard moderates of the Muslim world will at last step forward and keep the few from ruining things for the many. Meantime, we should stop allowing illiberals into the United States—illiberals who either wish to undermine Western tolerance or won’t worry too much when others in their midst try.

London bomber's widow bares her soul

27 Jul 2007

The Times of India

Rashmee Roshan Lall,TNN

LONDON: The ethnic Indian origin widow of lead July 7 suicide bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan has spoken for the first time about the horror, shame and calumny of the life bequeathed by her dead husband and her complete ignorance of his dangerous radicalisation in the countdown to the multiple London blasts in 2005.

Hasina Patel, 29, the daughter of educated middle-class Indians, spoke to Britain's domestic satellite channel Sky TV in her first ever interview.

In an extended account of life with British Pakistani Khan, the days leading up to and after the 7/7 attacks, Patel described the haunting coincidence of losing her second unborn child on the very morning Khan was bombing London.

Patel's simple, plaintive account, along with her plea that her husband was a good, if misled man, is seen conclusively to make a nonsense of the belief that she had been estranged from Khan at the time of the bomb attacks. She insisted, "he is still my daughter's father".

Till Friday's interview, Patel and Khan had been thought to be living separate lives in the run-up to 7/7.

But on Friday, Patel described how her husband took her to hospital for a standard check on their second unborn child. She said, "I feel there was a good person in there ...yes I just hope and pray for him because I feel there was a good person in there but feel he was probably misled and brainwashed by the wrong people".

In her only angry outburst at the notoriety forever attached to her and their young daughter because of Khan's horrific actions, Patel said she felt her husband had uncaringly left her to bear the consequences.

In May, almost two years after the attacks, Patel became the first woman of Indian origin to be arrested and held anywhere in Europe on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Although she was released without charge, days later, the arrest "turned her life upside down", she said.

She said she felt desperately sorry that the arrest renewed the nightmare for her mother, who is known among Indians in their northern English hometown of Dewsbury as a morally-upright, law-abiding pillar of the community. Patel's mother Farida, who has received royal recognition for her charitable work, is understood to have played a stoutly supportive role to her daughter in the years since 7/7.

In the in-depth interview, Patel insisted on wearing a full veil that revealing nothing but dark, pain-filled, teary eyes and slender hands, unadorned with nothing but one simple ring. Though Patel, who works with disabled children, does not normally wear a full veil, she is said to want to preserve what little privacy she has as the widow of one of the UK's most notorious home-grown suicide bombers, who led a series of attacks seen as Britain's 9/11.

She said that hours before the 7/7 attacks, she desperately tried to phone her husband to tell him she was in the throes of a miscarriage.

She said she went to hospital that fateful morning only to find she had lost her baby and then got home to see news of the attacks on television. She said, in a simple, plaintive description of life as the wife and widow of a suicide bomber, "I kept trying to phone him leaving messages, saying...'I am still bleeding, something's up'. I went to the hospital with my mum and the midwife she told me that I'd lost the baby. I went back to my own house and put the TV on and I saw that the bombings ... were just all over the news."

Patel added that it was only much later that she realised her husband had never learnt their second child would never be born because his hand-written will, offering a small gift of £ 400 asked her to "buy toys for the children".

She said, "It was really sad because he mentioned 'children' and he obviously thought that the pregnancy had gone ahead and didn't know it would be just me and my daughter left alone."

She described Khan's last goodbye to her as very "normal", just a "see you later, I'm going out, I'll be back in a few hours."

She said her husband pleaded for forgiveness and understanding in his will and handwritten note. "You have tried to be a good wife, but I have deceived you," she quoted the letter as saying.

Patel said she "completely condemned" the July 7 blasts, had "full sympathy" with the victims and admitted she could hardly believe the man she was married to for eight years could have been so "cold and calculated" to have carried out attacks that killed 52 people and injured more than 700.

Padilla guilty on all counts in terror case

The verdict is a boost for the administration and may encourage prosecution of other enemy combatants.

By Richard A. Serrano
August 17, 2007

A federal jury in Miami on Thursday convicted Jose Padilla on charges of aiding terrorist operations abroad, a verdict that follows a long legal battle that pitted the Bush administration against civil liberties groups over how terrorism suspects are detained and should be prosecuted.

Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested with fanfare in 2002 on charges that he planned to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in this country, was never tried on those charges. Instead, his case was combined with that of two other defendants accused of, among other things, conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people abroad and providing material support for terrorism.

The conviction of Padilla, 36, and two codefendants was a boost for an administration that had received sharp criticism for holding Padilla as an "enemy combatant" for 3 1/2 years without due process until the courts insisted he be charged with a crime or set free.

The three men were found guilty of all criminal charges against them. They were accused of being part of a North American support cell that operated in U.S. cities and in Canada and was designed to send money, other assets and fighters to Islamic extremists overseas.

Key government evidence was a "mujahedin data form" that Padilla filled out to join a Muslim extremist organization, as well as a statement he made embracing Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.

"We are so pleased with the verdict," said acting Deputy Atty. Gen. Craig S. Morford. "Frankly, America is a better place today."

U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke set sentencing for Dec. 5. Padilla faces life in prison without parole.

Attorneys for Padilla, who maintained that the government did not prove its case, did not call any witnesses in his defense.

Padilla's mother, Estela Lebron, said he would appeal. "My son would not hurt anyone," she said. "He wanted to go there and learn his religion and the language. That is all."

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Padilla grew up in Chicago under difficult circumstances and had an arrest record as a youth. He eventually moved to Florida, where he served nearly a year in jail after a road-rage incident. He was married briefly, and, in 1992, began exploring Islam. He changed his name to Abdullah al Muhajir.

His trial on terrorism charges, begun under extraordinarily high security in April, was the first significant test of a terrorist case moved from behind the shadows of Bush's enemy combatant program and placed in the hands of a public jury. The government's success in the Padilla case could now encourage officials to bring other enemy combatants into federal courtrooms.

"This clearly shows that in some cases, yes, the process can handle it," Morford said. "You have to look at it on a case-by-case basis. And these particular charges did work in a regular criminal trial."

Donna Newman of New York, Padilla's initial attorney who fought for months just to get a lawyer-client meeting with him, agreed, saying the administration was wrong not to "trust the courts" for so long.

"I don't necessarily agree with the verdict," she said. But in the future, "the government should be hard-pressed to say the [criminal justice] system doesn't work. It shows you can bring forth the evidence and try someone in court."

But Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said the jury's decision was not a blanket approval of how the administration had dealt with terrorism defendants.

"This verdict, if it stands, cannot be seen as an endorsement of a regime of unreviewable executive detention," he said. "President Bush should not take today's ruling as permission to continue to hold Americans outside the law at his whim."

The White House did not signal how it might proceed on hundreds of enemy combatants, including some top Al Qaeda lieutenants housed at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Deputy White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe commended the jury and added, "Jose Padilla received a fair trial and a just verdict."

Padilla and codefendants Adham Amin Hassoun, formerly of San Diego, and Kifah Wael Jayyousi of South Florida were convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim individuals in foreign countries, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and of providing material support to terrorists.

Government testimony and evidence showed that the three raised money and provided manpower to extremist groups abroad, especially in places such as Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan where Muslims were engaged in conflicts.

A key piece of the prosecution's case was the application Padilla filled out in July 2000 to join extremists "in preparation for violent jihad training in Afghanistan."

The government also maintained that Padilla flew to Cairo in the late 1990s and confided to colleagues that he had "entered into the area of Usama," a presumed reference to Bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors said Padilla often conducted his recruiting efforts in code. They said he would say "fresh air" for action in a conflict area, "tourism" for travel and expenses, and "football" for combat.

"Jose Padilla became an Al Qaeda trainee who provided the ultimate support -- himself," Assistant U.S. Atty. Brian Frazier told the seven men and five women on the jury.

But Padilla's defense lawyers maintained that he traveled overseas merely in pursuit of his newfound religion.

And they said he was treated inhumanely in solitary confinement for years, tortured and abused, and could not adequately assist his defense by the time the government decided to seek a grand jury indictment.

The defense also complained that Padilla was never given a fair shake by the government from the moment in spring 2002 that then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft went on national television and identified him as a major terrorism suspect intent on causing great harm with a dirty bomb.

"Throughout our history there have been times of crisis, times when fears run high, when political convenience causes parts of our government to overreach," defense lawyer Anthony J. Natale told the jurors. He was referring to how Padilla was caught up in much of the anger and hysteria that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes on New York and the Pentagon.

"Now is one of those times of crisis, and this is one of those cases," Natale said.

Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Ashcroft and other top administration officials said that upon returning to the United States, Padilla had planned to scope out sites for detonating a radioactive device.

The Padilla case immediately became the government's signature front in the war on terrorism at home.

But those charges were dropped after lawyers fought for years over his legal rights, and the courts ultimately ruled that Padilla must be either granted a trial or set free.

In November 2006, Padilla was added to an indictment originally drawn up in South Florida in 2004. It was on those charges that he was convicted Thursday.


Skilled to kill: Textbooks to terror is a one-way street

The Times of India
8 Jul 2007

Indrani Bagchi,TNN

Sabeel, Kafeel and Haneef have blasted through the stereotype that terrorists are poor, desperate, single young men. As a matter of fact, the psycho-sociological profile of the modern terrorist indicates a far greater danger to society as we know it - far from our modern terrorists being mere victims of oppression or reacting to perceived political injustice like the Iraq war, Palestine etc, these merchants of death are increasingly using these events to mask a larger social engineering project at work.

Arab terrorists started out with a territorial goal: they wanted the Americans out of Arab lands, and they wanted to toss out their own corrupt regimes so they could make their Muslim countries into Islamist countries. Since 9/11, the politically correct elite have explained this phenomenon as a brain-washing exercise by the likes of Osama bin Laden, or that Islam had been hijacked by them out of ignorance or poverty.

That does not explain what these Indian Muslims were doing practising jihad in another country. India has had its own jihadis - even the 1857 revolt had a jihad element to it, but you could quantify the grouse - Kashmir on the boil, masjid torn down, pogroms in Gujarat.

The bigger trend that is sucking in Muslims from widely different countries is a global jihad ideology. The "cause", argue analysts, is a nebulously conceived "pure" Islamist society, which would recapture the documented glories of a previous golden age, practising the "authentic" faith, without the inequalities of the present world. Marc Sageman, author of Understanding Terror Networks, calls the new social movement the "global salafi jihad".

The components of this jihad are familiar: Over 60% of jihadis now come from middle-class, caring and intact families, well-educated professionals, psychologically stable, mildly religious and upright members of their communities. When they settled in foreign countries, they became lonely, homesick and embittered. They formed tight cliques with fellow Muslims and drifted into mosques more for companionship than for religion.

Between their new "friends" and radical preachers, these young men and women gradually move into a distorted world where it's easier for their new spiritual masters to propel them into unbelievably cruel acts. They are led to believe that their perceived social iniquities would find relief in an Islamist society and sacrifice is the way to go about getting it.

In Bangalore, therefore, the iniquities against Muslims may have been merely a sense of dissatisfaction. In the charged atmosphere of the minority society in the West, it is easy to move from this "orbit" of dissatisfaction to the "orbit" of violence.

"Indoctrination" or "brainwashing" does not come into it anymore. These jihadis are becoming the modern fulfilment of the controversial 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment where closed, highly monitored environs impose incredible role responsibilities on the participants. In this context, it means a non-jihadi, in a place like a radicalised mosque, for example, begins to accept and live the logic of jihad.

A more dangerous trend that is coming to light is the recruitment of jihadis almost unconnected to the immediate cause. Traditional terrorists targeted their home governments, often based in a foreign land. But the present crop is different - their origin, their residence, their terrorist acts and their cause are seemingly unconnected. As Sageman argues, "This imparts a very different dynamic to this terrorist social movement...Because the terrorists are completely disconnected from their target, they are not socially embedded in the society they target...These multiple bonds act as a limit to the damages the terrorists can bring to their environment. Lack of such bonds frees them from these responsibilities and local concerns. Unrestrained by any responsibility to their target, this free-floating network is free to follow the logic of its abstract ideology and escalate the scale of terror."

Evil, or the perpetration of evil thus becomes routine, or "normalised", as was argued by Hannah Arendt years ago. It leads to unbelievable acts of cruelty and terrorism by otherwise "normal" people, immunised from any empathy with the human cost of such terror.

None of this is really possible if the agents of terror are not educated or enlightened enough to feel the original sense of inadequacy, but be vulnerable enough to radical teaching that promises a better world in return for violence.

Former spymaster Ajit Doval points out that the growth of information technology and communication networks means that Islamist ideologies have a ready, approving and growing audience. "We cannot say Indian Muslims will not be affected." Doval says the shift in a person's mind from animus to terror depends on two things - the intensity of the stimulant and the "doability" quotient of the terrorist act.

The world, or India for that matter, has not yet figured out how to counter the spread of a social movement that believes violence against civil society is the answer to its ills. These numbers are steadily on the rise, says Doval. That is the danger, he says. If it also appears that America is quitting Iraq, it's an implicit victory for the global jihad movement.

A Gallup poll that came out earlier this year surveyed 10,000 Muslims through 2005 and 2006 from 10 predominantly Muslim countries. Its findings: richer and more educated Muslims are more likely to be radicalised. They are smart and men of the world. Contrary to liberal dogma, education does not stop terrorism.