Archive for January, 2010

Another piece on the Al Muhajiroun ban, this time for Jamestown looking in some detail at the rationale behind the ban and a bit of history about the group. Title a little long, though I have a feeling this will be a piece that I can reuse in a few years when we go through this process again…[tt_news]=35936

Ban on U.K. Radical Islamist Group al-Muhajiroun Raises Free Speech Questions

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 3
January 21, 2010 02:53 PM Age: 3 hrs
Category: Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, Home Page, Terrorism, Europe, Featured
Members of Islam4UK at a press conference in London after it was announced that the group would be banned.

The British Home Office finally proscribed the radical Islamist organization al-Muhajiroun (The Emigrants) and a number of its successor organizations on January 14. The ban included the best-known offshoot of al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK. Described by the Home Office as a sort of “cleaning up” following the proscription in July 2006 of two predecessor organizations, al-Ghurabaa (The Strangers) and the Saved Sect, the order awakened a heated debate in the United Kingdom about whether the government was taking responsible security measures or criminalizing dissent and persecuting Muslims. U.K. Home Secretary Alan Johnston cited al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect in his defense of the proscription of al-Muhajiroun in a letter to the Guardian, which had been critical of the move:

“Prior to its proscription in 2006, those two organizations called for readers of its websites to “kill those who insult the prophet,” praised the terrorist actions of Osama bin Laden, and advised that it was forbidden to visit Palestine “unless you engage in the main duty of that place, i.e. jihad.” These are not views that are merely provocative – they are designed to encourage violence and legitimize violent acts in the name of religion. They are vehemently opposed by the vast majority of Muslims.”

More about the Western-Somali connection for Jamestown, this time exploring the Denmark-Somalia connection in some detail. I have touched upon this briefly before, and more generally on Shabaab’s internationalization for ASPI and a couple for Jamestown (the Melbourne group, Operation Neath; and the Minneapolis group). Separately, am working on something with some friends trying to understand the phenomenon globally, so would welcome any other thoughts or stories people come across on this topic. (oh and to those who don’t know it, Esther’s blog is an excellent resource for translated material).[tt_news]=35909

East African Terrorism Comes to Scandinavia

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 2
January 14, 2010 02:09 PM Age: 3 hrs
Category: Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, Home Page, Terrorism, Africa, Europe
The Somali man who attacked Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard is carried to court on a stretcher.

In a scene right out of the cinema, a young Somali man armed with an axe and a knife came crashing through the door of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard’s Aarhus house late on January 1. Hitting a panic button specially installed in the house, Mr Westergaard was barely able to scramble with his five-year old granddaughter to his safe room while security services raced to the scene. Hearing police arrive, the young man turned to confront them, bellowing “I’ll be back” in broken Danish before being shot in the arm and leg by police.

This is the first time that Islamists seeking revenge for the infamous “Muhammad cartoons” have been able to take revenge in the West. Previous bombing plots were broken up in Denmark in September 2006 and September 2007, with convictions resulting in both cases, and prosecutors claiming that the cartoons were definitely the motivation for the plotters in the second of the two cases (AP, August 11, 2008). In July 2008, two Tunisian men were picked up by Danish police in Aarhus as part of an alleged plot targeting Westergaard, though charges did not stick. In the end, one man was deported and the other released (AP, January 2). Late last year, the FBI arrested David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana on charges (amongst others) that they were planning a terror attack on the “facilities and employees of Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.” [1] Jyllands-Posten was the newspaper that first published the cartoons while Kurt Westergaard is the most prominent of a group of 12 cartoonists who accepted the editor’s challenge to depict images they associated with the Prophet Muhammad. In hiding until last year, Mr Westergaard announced that he was emerging from seclusion as he was “too old to be afraid” and he wanted to play his part in defending “democratic values” (BBC, April 5, 2009).

A quick blogpost at FreeRad!cals about the decision, which should be officially handed down tomorrow, that adds Al Muhajiroun and her successor organizations to the proscribed terror list. I am unsure of whether this will have the desired effect of making them go away, and have a pretty strong feeling this is not the last we shall see of Anjem Chaudhury. For those interested in hearing more about the article I reference at the end, afraid you are going to have to wait a few weeks yet….

Goodbye Al Muhajiroun?

Filed under: Radicalisation, UK, islam4uk

The decision to proscribe Al Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a cluster of their successor groups is not entirely surprising. The combination of a successful prosecution in Luton of five members (or individuals linked to Al Muhajiroun or one of its off-shoots) after their performance at a homecoming parade for troops from Iraq in March 2009 and the fact that the Prime Minister got dragged into the public debate over whether the group was going to make some sort of ceremonial march through Wootton Bassett, all pointed to things coming to some sort of a head. The question really is whether this time it might mean something final for the group?

The short answer is: no. It would seem highly unlikely that this is the last we shall hear of Omar Bakri Mohammed’s acolytes. Last time the Home Office went forwards with a decision to proscribe some of them in July 2006 (that time it was Al Ghurabaa (the strangers) and the Saved Sect), the decision was made in the months after a group of them had been picked up and charged by police for comments they made at a protest outside the Danish Embassy in which they crossed the line and “solicited murder.” In that instance four group members were given custodial sentences, while in April and May of 2007 another six group members were arrested on charges of “inciting terrorism overseas” and “terrorist fundraising.”

Another busy day – though in reality these have been percolating over the holiday period. This one instead for Comment is Free at the Guardian which is consequently already attracting some charming comments which appear to show evidence of having willfully ignored the article at hand and chosen instead to use the opportunity to vent off. Anyway, this is not the first time I have cited al Suri’s work – though it as ever remains hard to know how much people are actually using it as a guide. Any thoughts or pointers on this very welcome.

Extremism’s lone warriors

From Detroit to Denmark, terrorist strikes are increasingly the preserve of lone attackers inspired by jihadist groups
Raffaello Pantucci, Monday 4 January 2010 20.00 GMT

The year has begun with a jihadist splash. Aside from massacres in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, just before New Year, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to bring down an airliner over Detroit. Now a young Somali resident of Copenhagen appears to have attempted to take vengeance on Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist behind 2006’s infamous Muhammad cartoons. While information on the two attacks is far from complete, the signs increasingly point to lone attackers with links to regional jihadist groups.

This is not entirely surprising – terrorist groups have long targeted aircraft, and extremist Islamists have repeatedly demonstrated that they are determined to seek revenge for perceived slights by artists to their religion. Salman Rushdie, Theo van Gogh and Sherry Jones, author of the Jewel of Medina, have all been targeted, and this is merely the latest plot against those associated with the Danish cartoons. In late 2009 FBI agents arrested plotters planning to mount an assault on the headquarters of Jyllands Posten, the newspaper that first ran the cartoons.


A slightly late contribution on FreeRad!cals to the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab debate, trying to tamp down some of the hysteria there has been over his London links. It will be interesting to see how things play out with regards the “Londonistan” connection over the near future. One thing occurs to me now – when I say two of the Yemen bombers were “related” to Abu Hamza, I mean “related” rather than “connected”: one was his son and the other his son-in-law. Much of the broader group was also connected to him through his organization Supporters of Shariah (SoS).

Umar Farouk and Londonistan

Filed under: Terrorism, UK, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

The revelations that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab may have been in part radicalized in the United Kingdom are not entirely surprising. He was in the UK while he was a student, traditionally a young person’s most fecund period of political activism. Furthermore, there is the unfortunate reality that the while the more overt forms of extremism and training offered by individuals like Abu Hamza al-Masri, Abdullah el-Faisal or Abu Qatada may have died down (or gone beneath the radar), many elements of what has been termed “Londonistan” do remain active. Put simply, London remains a place where extreme elements and ideas are easy to find for anyone seeking them.

But nonetheless, we need to be wary of sparking off some sort of overreaction to this. That Abdulmutallab, like a number (according to the Times count, a further three) of previously convicted terrorists in the UK, may have been the President of the University Islamic Society and organized conferences on subjects related to Islam and the war on terror cannot in itself be read as some sort of marker of his later terrorist action. How many have been through these roles and gone on to nothing remotely related to terrorism? To watch all of these individuals would doubtless be tough for already stretched services, and to ban all such groups and conferences would merely drive them underground and raise all sorts of fearsome debates about freedom of speech.