Archive for October, 2009

Well, for those of you who are avid followers, good news! I will now be producing more regularly over at the FreeRad!cals website run by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (tidily abbreviated to ICSR) – in fact, I have now already gotten started, here is a brief bio/introductory piece and below is my first article. I am hoping to regularly cross post between the two, and welcome any thoughts on either site.

(One final comment, I am hoping that Lone Wolf Pack will become part of the canon of radicalization-speak – anyone see it anywhere else, please give me a heads-up!)

Lone Wolves Pack stalks Milan

View more articles by Raff Pantucci

Filed under: Europe, Radicalisation

A couple of weeks have passed since 35-year old Libyan Mohamed Game attempted, in an alleged  revenge for Italian involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, to carry out a suicide attack on the Santa Barbara army barracks in Milan, where forces going to Afghanistan are based.

Using a fertilizer-based explosive concealed in a tool box, Game detonated his bomb in the morning of October 12, apparently as a reference to 12 November 2003 when a suicide bomber blew up an Italian military police base in Iraq killing 19 Italians. The bomb failed to completely explode, mutilating Game (his hand was amputated, he was blinded by shrapnel and remains on life support), while only injuring one guard at the base.

A short policy paper for an Australian think tank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which explores the Western al-Shabaab networks – in other words tries to understand the actual meaning of all these increasing links people see between the Somali group and others abroad. My own sense is that the immediate external threat is unclear and we run the risk of overblowing it, but I understand that this might evolve over time. One group I have written about before that might merit a mention are omitted for sub judice concerns. Any thoughts or contradictions would be most appreciated – in particular any hints about other networks that might emerge over time.

Understanding the al-Shabaab networks

by Raffaello Pantucci

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Australian Government on 21 August 2009 officially listed the al-Shabaab group as a terrorist organisation. This paper examines the danger posed by the Somali-based group, and concludes that we are likely to see an increase in Westernised Muslims appearing on the battlefield in Somalia. Eventually we will see some of these men come home. It would not be surprising if there was an increase in localised targeting by these people of Western interests.

My latest for Jamestown, this time looking once again at the German Jihad and particularly its new rising star Bekkay Harrach. While the elections seem to have passed without a hitch, his threat still holds and we shall see if he has something to push through.

Still having to access this through awkward means, so apologies for the fact that this one and the last are both printed as one long text. Hoping to be able to fix this in the next week or so.

Bekkay Harrach: The Face of German Terror
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 30
October 1, 2009
By: Raffaello Pantucci

Germany’s federal elections passed without incident on September 27, though they took place against a backdrop of intense concern in the German security services about a growing number of increasingly pointed al-Qaeda videos threatening Germany over its military deployment in Afghanistan. These messages included a videotape from Osama bin Laden on September 25, entitled “To the Peoples of Europe.” The video had English and German subtitles along with footage of German cities and monuments (Al-Fajr Media Center, September 25). The message appeared only two days before the German elections. Germany has 4,200 troops in northern Afghanistan, where they have come under more frequent attack in the last year as the Taliban insurgency spreads.

While the message from bin Laden is alarming, it appeared to only incidentally target Germany, without the terrorist leader naming it specifically. A more direct threat came from a series of videos released by Bekkay Harrach (a.k.a. Abu Talha al-Alamani), a Moroccan-born German citizen who has joined al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier region.