Archive for December, 2008

The UK Terror Threat

Posted: December 30, 2008 in HSToday
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My latest for HSToday, this time looking broadly at the terror threat in the UK – have a longer piece on one of the two trials referenced coming up in January, and have written previously about the other (fortunately, I didn’t say anything that was then disproven, hooray for me for being careful!). This was meant to run earlier, hence the reference to “last week” in the first line being inaccurate.

The UK Terror Threat

by Raffaello Pantucci   

Tuesday, 30 December 2008


Actual terrorists remain a rare breed, but they continue to threaten Britain

The separate convictions last week of Bilal Abdullah, Rangzieb Ahmed and Habib Ahmed should provide evidence to those who still doubt the severity and complexity of the terrorist threat to the United Kingdom. On the one hand, Rangzieb Ahmed and Habib Ahmed (who are unrelated but share the same surname) show that the threat from international Al Qaeda-linked terrorism is very real, while Bilal Abdullah’s conviction demonstrates the immediate threat to the UK from the grievances felt by many in the Muslim world.


Another epistolary contribution, this time in the Washington Post in reaction to an article in last week’s paper by Craig Whitlock on “Extradition of Terror Suspects Flounders” – I see they ran it after another letter by someone from Human Rights Watch so maybe I should’ve used my title. My original was a bit longer, but didn’t really say much more and editing probably did it some favours.

How to End an Extraditions Roadblock

Sunday, December 28, 2008; Page B06

The excellent article on extraditions highlighted an issue that quietly dogs the “special” Anglo-American relationship. But it missed a more atmospheric reason behind U.S. difficulties regarding extraditions.

In launching the “global war on terror,” the United States declared that the gloves were off and that the rules of the game were different. Yet it continued to expect its allies to adhere to the rules that applied before this new situation was declared. We may all agree that the current strain of terrorism poses a dangerous threat, but this disconnect provides lawyers with ample room for arguments that many European courts will permit.

This situation will fade in importance if the incoming Obama administration is able to live up to its many promises, including closing the Guantanamo Bay prison and realizing that the war on terrorism is a global criminal justice matter and one of many threats we face today, rather than the defining strategic threat.



Al Qaeda 2.0

Posted: December 12, 2008 in Survival
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This is possibly a bit of a mean post, as the article is not necessarily accessible to all and sundry. However, if you write to me, I can try to find some sort of accommodation (this will also help me see how many people actually read this). In any case, as a tempter, it is a journal article for Survival ( and is a review essay of three recent books on terrorism. Brynjar Lia’s Architect of Global Jihad, Johnny Ryan’s Countering Militant Islamist Radicalization on the Internet: A User Driven Strategy to Recover the Web, and Libicki, Gompert, Frelinger, and Smith’s Byting Back: Regaining Information Superiority Against 21st Century Insurgents. I pull them together to give an overarching narrative about Al Qaeda’s evolution from being a bunch of guys in caves in Afghanistan, to a 21st century terrorist network and affiliated groups.

A short piece on Rashid Rauf, the infamous British-Pakistani who was killed in a Predator missile strike in Waziristan. Lots of gaps in the knowledge about him and his role, in fact, not even his death is really confirmed – but an interesting case that I suspect will still have some as of yet unknown repercussions. One report i saw even said he may have been involved in the Mumbai attacks.[tt_news]=34210&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=e2c3aaa7d2

U.S. Missiles Target Suspect in Transatlantic Airliner Plot

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 41
December 3, 2008 01:10 PM Age: 14 hrs
Category: Global Terrorism Analysis, Featured, Terrorism Focus, Europe, Middle East, Home Page

Rashid Rauf, the alleged target of the strike (Times Online)

Late in the evening of November 21, a U.S. operated Predator drone struck a house in North Waziristan owned by local warlord Khaliq Noor. Among those allegedly killed were British-Pakistani militant Rashid Rauf and senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubair al-Masri (Dawn [Karachi], November 22; BBC, November 22). It was not immediately clear whether Rauf, wanted by British and American security services for his alleged role in masterminding the August 2006 transatlantic airlines plot, was the target of the attack, though Pakistani authorities later confirmed that Rauf was the main target. His location was determined after communications between Rauf and other militants in the area were intercepted (Times, November 24).


Who Was Responsible for Mumbai?

Posted: December 3, 2008 in HSToday
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Some musings on the Mumbai atrocity for HST. I see everyone else has expressed an opinion at this point…

Who Was Responsible for Mumbai?
by Rafaello Pantucci   
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

Violence on the scale of the Mumbai attacks is not unheard of in India.


LONDON, ENGLAND—It’s still unclear who directed last week’s grim terrorist attacks on Mumbai, India, even though for many blame logically rests inside Pakistan. The one captured terrorist, Azam Amir Qasab, who hails from Pakistan’s Punjab province, has apparently told interrogators that his orders came from Pakistan and that he was trained in a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) terrorist training camp.