Archive for December, 2009

A short piece for HSToday highlighting the apparent role of Kashmiri terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed as a connector for Westerners seeking jihad. I realize now that I didn’t highlight some of the other plots in which they have appeared – for example, the network around Aabid Khan and some previous American plots. None of this is very seasonal I know, but I hope of interest to those still reading out there – any further pointers for other linkages would of course be highly appreciated.

Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Western Appeal
by Raffaello Pantucci
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
South Asian group emerges as apparent pipeline for jihadists. The news that five American’s were picked up in Sargodha, Pakistan at a safe house operated by Jaish-e-Mohammed (the Army of Mohammed, JeM) highlights once again the apparent importance of the group as a pipeline for Western jihad enthusiasts seeking to fight in South Asia or seeking to connect with elements close to Al Qaeda in the region. The group was established in February 2000 in the wake of the hijacking of Indian Airlines 814 from Nepal to New Delhi, which resulted in the release from prison of the leader of the group, Maulana Masoud Azhar, in exchange for a planeload of passengers.

The hijacking was blamed upon Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen (Movement of Holy Warriors, HuM), who had launched a series of kidnappings in the mid-1990s in the wake of the arrest of a number of their senior leadership in 1993-1994. At the time a leader in the HuM, Azhar chose to break away and establish a separate group in the wake of his release in 1999 – the reasons for which are not entirely clear, though it caused a certain stir amongst the South Asian jihadi community which resulted in the Pakistani government announcing that it was inhibiting Azhar’s movements.



My latest for FreeRadicals about Shabaab its European recruits. The links at the end don’t work, but you can find the articles referred to elsewhere on this blog. Am planning more on this topic in the near future, so watch this space…

Somalia’s foreign legions

Filed under: Radicalisation, Somalia, al-Shabaab

Another week passes and more stories of young Westerners showing up on Somalia’s battlefields. Two distinct tales jump out this time – first, the recent bombing in Mogadishu was the work of a Danish-Somali suicide bomber; and second, an 18 year old Italian-Somali handed himself over to government forces claiming that he was sent over to fight by his father.

The first case appears to be what can increasingly be described to be the traditional model of recruitment for al-Shabaab. Drawn by a combination of religious zeal and nationalism, 25 year old Abdulrahman Ahmed Haji moved back to Somalia from his adopted home just outside Copenhagen with his pregnant wife, about 18 months ago. Friends described him as a gregarious young man who used to party and play football, but that recently he had started to withdraw into himself. A local leader in Copenhagen claimed that the young man had increasingly turned to religion.

More for Free Radicals on the Airlines Plot from August 2006, following the conviction of three more this week. This also is not quite the end yet of this plot though,  still another retrial to go..

Airlines Plot “Backroom Boys” guilty

Filed under: Radicalisation, Terrorism, UK

The conclusion of the trial against Adam Khatib, 22; Nabeel Hussain, 25; and Mohammed Shamim Udin, 39 marks further confirmation of the apparently very real plot that was being hatched back in the summer of 2006. The three, described by the prosecution as the “backroom team” were all linked to Abdulla Ahmed Ali, the man who appears to be at the centre of the UK end of the plotting. Ali was convicted in September of this year along with co-conspirators Tanweer Hussain and Assad Sarwar – all were given life sentences (Ali 40 years; Hussain 36 years; and Sarwar 32 years). Three other men who appeared in court with them are facing a third re-trial, sometime next year.


Posted: December 4, 2009 in Free Rad!cals
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Busy day today. Here is a second post, this time for FreeRad!cals, providing a book review of a rather fun piece of fiction I just finished. I used to read so much more fiction…


Filed under: Radicalisation, Terrorism, UK

I’ve just had the pleasure of finishing reading Heartland by Anthony Cartwright. It is what I have been allowing myself by way of a break as I continue to plough through mountains of information about extremism and radicalization in the UK.

The book is a work of fiction (hence the break I referred to above), that explores in a wonderfully nuanced and sensitive way the issues around the BNP’s rise in the British Midlands against a backdrop of inter-racial tensions in the immediate post-9/11 period. Set in the fictional ward of Cinderheath – which is in the real city of Dudley in the heart of the Black Country – the book follows Rob, a young man who briefly touched minor celebrity as a footballer, but who is settling into life as a school P.E. teacher/assistant. His uncle is the local Labour councilor who is fighting a seemingly losing battle against a slick BNP candidate and his army of football thugs, as the local Muslim community builds a large mosque and people worry about the precedent set by the revelation that three local lads are in Guantanamo Bay (the very real “Tipton Taliban”). In the front of everyone’s minds, however, is football – with England battling their way through the 2002 World Cup (to no avail), while the country’s press are fixated on a local league game which is pitting a local Muslim side against a non-Muslim side.


American Jihad

Posted: December 4, 2009 in Terrorism Monitor
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My latest for Jamestown, this time looking at the new revelations around the group in Minneapolis (and interestingly a parallel group that appears to be popping up in Canada). Am still trying to track down some of the court documents, so if anyone comes across any more, I would be hugely appreciative.

American Jihad: New Details Emerge About al-Shabaab Recruitment in North America

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 37
December 3, 2009
Mahmoud Said Omar, an arrested member of a group of Minneapolis natives that allegedly sent recruits to fight with al-Shabaab in Somalia.

On November 23, federal prosecutors in the United States unsealed indictments against members of a group of Minneapolis natives accused of being at the heart of a cell sending men and boys to fight with al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist movement in Somalia with close ties to al-Qaeda. [1] The unsealing of the documents came in the wake of the arrest of one of the members of the group, Mahamud Said Omar in the Netherlands, and the possible discovery of a similar cell operating out of Toronto (AP, November 10; National Post [Toronto], November 21).

Pathway to what?

Posted: December 1, 2009 in Free Rad!cals
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My latest on Free Radicals about the recently released report into Operation Pathway, back having difficulty with hyperlinking, so if you want to read the linked up version:

Pathway to what?

Filed under: UK, Operation Pathway

Much of the media attention into the publication of Lord Carlile’s review of the dramatic arrests back on April 8th of this year in Liverpool and Manchester has focused on the criticisms he levelled at the police, security services and government in their conduct of the case, known as Operation Pathway. However, there has not been much analysis of the details of the alleged terrorist plot that the report uncovered, something that has been made even more interesting by the later revelations that the thread for the unravelling of the alleged plot around Najibullah Zazi came from a British source, “after an email address that was being monitored as part of the abortive Operation Pathway was suddenly reactivated.” Zazi, you may recall, was the young Afghan arrested in the U.S. in September of this year who admitted to having trained at an Al Qaeda camp and who was building some sort of hydrogen peroxide device.