Archive for the ‘Terrorism Monitor’ Category

My latest for the Jamestown Foundation which somewhat builds on previous work I have done for them about Abu Qatada. For those interested, I would naturally commend you to read my previous post looking at his “Comfortable British Jihad” (, and I am sure he will be a topic for future writing given the fact that I see no resolution to his current incarceration status (again, sorry for the links, still abroad).

British Hostage Threatened with Death Unless Abu Qatada is Released from British Prison

Raffaello Pantucci

Warnings continue to come from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that time is running out for the British government if it wants to obtain the release of a kidnapped British tourist by freeing imprisoned al-Qaeda ideologue Abu Qatada al-Filistini (Ennahar [Algiers], May 2). While Austrian and Canadian hostages were recently released, AQIM issued a statement on April 27 giving the UK government 20 days to release Abu Qatada before their British captive is killed (Guardian, April 27; BBC, April 27). Abu Qatada is currently awaiting possible deportation to Jordan, where he faces a variety of terrorism-related charges (see Terrorism Monitor, July 11, 2008).

It has been a while since i last posted and apologies for regular visitors. I have moved to a new part of the globe and am taking on something which is occupying rather a lot of my time and where posting is actually proving quite hard, so apologies for the long post all in one gulp. Additionally, I have been writing longer pieces for various journals which are still in the academic pipeline. No matter, here is my latest for Jamestown, which explores the debate in the UK about whether to engage or not with extremists and goes into a little bit of detail about the newly “refreshed” counterterrorism strategy. I had some shorter things written on this which I never managed to find a home for. No matter, any thoughts or comments would be most welcome.

British Government Debates Engagement with Radical Islam in New Counterterrorism Strategy
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 10
April 24, 2009 11:10 AM Age: 13 hrs
Category: Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, Home Page, Military/Security, Europe
By: Raffaello Pantucci

Britain’s much vaunted “Contest” counterterrorism strategy underwent what has been described as a “refresh” in March 2009. Building on the British government’s experiences on the front-line of terrorism both at home and abroad, the re-vamped strategy was referred to as a “reworking rather than a fundamental overhaul” (BBC, March 24). Elsewhere in the British media, the Guardian declared the new strategy was “in disarray” even before it had been launched, while the Times focused on the elevated emphasis put upon the threat from “dirty bombs” (Guardian, March 26; Times, March 25). A core ideological debate that has occupied the airwaves and that was deftly avoided in the final text, however, was the question of whether the British government should engage or confront non-violent Islamists in order to effectively prevent terrorism.


Been away for a while somewhere I cannot access this, so have been remiss in posting. I have also been working on some longer pieces that means that they are still out for soundings and have not yet actually been published yet. One has through my Institute, but will have to tell you to write to me if you want to see it, and I can send over a copy.

Amusingly, I see that my Qatada piece attracted a lot of hits in the wake of the Law Lords decision on him, maybe this hints that I should do something longer again about his situation. Anyway, in the meantime, here is my latest for Jamestown, it looks at the case of Christian Ganczarski the German-Polish convert who was jailed recently in France.

Polish-Born Muslim Convert Sentenced for Leading Role in Tunisian Synagogue Bombing

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 6 Issue: 6
February 25, 2009 05:33 PM Age: 4 days
Category: Terrorism Focus, Global Terrorism Analysis, Home Page, Europe, Terrorism

A French court has sentenced Christian Ganczarski, a Polish-born German national and convert to Islam, to 18 years in prison for his role in the 2002 bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia. Though Ganczarski has been under suspicion for years, it was only the recent intervention of a shadowy Paris-based counterterrorism center that allowed the long-time al-Qaeda associate to be brought to trial.

My latest for Jamestown, looking at Al Qaeda’s new focus on Germany – am also shopping some other piece around about this, but no bites yet. Interesting topic, but hard to know what exactly is going to happen – is this all going to lead to something? Or is it simply hot air? I am also very interested in the parallels between the situation in Germany and that in the UK – happy to expand if anyone is interested.

Afghanistan Deployment puts Germany in al-Qaeda’s Crosshairs

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 6 Issue: 3
January 28, 2009 03:41 PM Age: 14 hrs
Category: Terrorism Focus, Home Page, Featured, Global Terrorism Analysis, Afghanistan, Terrorism

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier tours a German ISAF contingent in Afghanistan (German Federal Foreign Office photo)

Speaking in accented but fluent German, Abu Talha al-Alamani made al-Qaeda’s most direct threat to the German nation yet in a recent video, saying that Germans were “naive and gullible” if they thought they could “emerge unscathed” from being the third-largest troop provider in the NATO alliance in Afghanistan (, January 19). The video, released by al-Qaeda’s al-Sahab media wing and entitled “Das Rettungspaket Fuer Deutschland” (The Rescue Package for Germany), first emerged on jihadi websites on January 17 (though it is dated October 2008). The video showed a turbaned individual identified as Abu Talha al-Alamani (Abu Talha the German) brandishing weapons in a rocky environment, before switching to a direct picture of him preaching to the camera. In the half-hour video, Abu Talha declares that it has been his “wish to blow myself up for Allah since 1993,” and provides a nuanced overview of the German political environment highlighting the nation’s involvement in Afghanistan. [1] Germany currently provides over 3,300 troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and has agreed to increase the size of its deployment to 4,500 troops.

A longer piece looking at the recently concluded trial into Rangzieb Ahmed and Habib Ahmed up North in Manchester. Some other details that I didn’t get to include in here as they didn’t impinge on the actual narrative, including looking into South Africa as a transit point or hub for terrorists moving from East to West. Something for a future article maybe. However, the links to Al Muhajiroun and Omar Saeed Sheikh are amongst the most interesting to emerge here, and I would welcome any further comments or information from anyone out there on either topic.

UK Trial Exposes al-Qaeda Terrorist Network with Connections to Pakistan

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 2
January 23, 2009 11:05 AM Age: 60 min
Category: Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, Europe, Terrorism

In a trial that passed with remarkably little fanfare last December, a jury in Manchester, England, convicted Rangzieb Ahmed and Habib Ahmed (no relation) on charges of being members of al-Qaeda. In a released statement, the Crown Prosecution Service described Rangzieb Ahmed as “an important member of al-Qaeda and in a position to direct some of its activities.” [1] Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter of the Greater Manchester Police went further, describing Rangzieb as “a very dangerous man,” whom he believed “was intent on masterminding terrorist attacks and would have considered mass murder part of his duty” (BBC, December 18, 2008).

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).


My latest for Jamestown looking at the current ongoing terrorist trial against the two individuals apparently behind the attempts in late June of 2007. I have a feeling that it is going to prove hard for the prosecution to charge one of them. The other I feel like is probably in trouble, as he was caught literally sitting on top of one of the two devices. As more emerges, I will probably write more about this plot.

“Doctor’s Plot” Trial Examines Unexpected Source for UK Terrorist Attacks

Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 36

October 23, 2008 01:01 AM Age: 36 days
Category: Terrorism Focus, Europe, Middle East

Londoners were awakened once again to the very real terrorist threat they faced late on the evening of June 29, 2007. In a callous move aimed at targeting revellers in a central London nightclub, terrorists left two improvised explosive devices in old Mercedes cars outside the Tiger Tiger bar just off London’s Trafalgar Square. Planted so that those fleeing the first bomb would run into the second, the devices were set to go off using mobile phones as remote detonators. However, the bombs failed to explode and staff members of the club called emergency services after noticing white vapour coming out of one of the cars, a strong smell of gasoline, and blankets covering objects in the back seat of the closest car (Guardian, October 10).


A short piece summarizing events in the UK around the Operation Overt trial for Jamestown Foundation. I have a more analytical piece coming up, but it is going to probably appear anonymously elsewhere, so am undecided whether I can really post it here. If interested in seeing it, contact me and i can send over.

Transatlantic Airline Bombing Case Collapses in the United Kingdom

Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 33

September 18, 2008 11:31 PM Age: 70 days
Category: Terrorism Focus, Europe

The stunning collapse of the case against a group of British citizens charged with plotting to blow up a number of passenger planes out of the sky has sent shock waves through counterterrorism and security services in both the UK and the United States. After a two-year trial and a ₤2 million investigation, British prosecutors must now seek a retrial.


My latest for Jamestown – the title was not actually of my choosing, though it does honestly reflect a lot of the coverage of this story in the British press. The real coup would be to get an interview with the chap, though this is likely rather tough proposition. I am also intrigued to see about maybe doing something looking at the trials process that is behind this decision in some more detail. How on earth is the UK going to resolve this question? Anyhoo – enough babbling. Enjoy!

Abu Qatada’s Comfortable British Jihad

Terrorism Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 14


Abu Qatada al-Filistini


July 11, 2008 12:23 AM Age: 140 days
Category: Terrorism Monitor, Europe

Abu Qatada al-Filistini

On June 17, amidst much furor, a British Special Immigration Appeals Committee (SIAC) allowed the release on bail of Abu Qatada al-Filistini, a radical preacher described by Spanish counter-terror judge Baltasar Garzon as “al-Qaeda’s spiritual ambassador to Europe.” Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling, adding that she would appeal it. In the meantime, Abu Qatada was released from Long Lartin prison to join his family at a £800,000 home in West London, where he is under virtual house arrest. Only allowed out for two hours a day, Qatada wears an electronic tag, is not allowed to use the internet, computers or mobile telephones. He is also forbidden to visit mosques, lead prayers or give religious instruction. Police have powers to search his home at their discretion, and he has a rather comical list of individuals who he is banned from meeting with, including Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and imprisoned preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri. Aside from his solicitors and family, all other visitors must be approved by the Home Secretary (BBC, June 18; Times, June 19).


My latest for the Jamestown Foundation on the three on trial for conspiring with the 7/7 bombers. Interesting and slightly creepy trial that has gotten remarkably little broad coverage – of course the day after this was published someone else did something about it (i will reserve comment).

London’s 7/7 Conspiracy Trial Offers Inside View of Terrorists’ Lives

Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 19

May 14, 2008 01:25 AM Age: 198 days
Category: Terrorism Focus, Europe

Like any major terrorist event, the July 7, 2005 (7/7) bombings of London’s public transportation system that killed 52 commuters and four suicide bombers had the immediate result of generating a number of wide-ranging and speculative conspiracy theories. One of the early unanswered questions concerned the fact that the four bombers left behind at least one viable explosive device in their car at Luton train station, raising the question of whether there was a “fifth bomber” (Guardian, May 19, 2007). Numerous other leads and stories have led to all manner of speculation, but thus far only one very concrete element of conspiracy has shown up in the British legal system, in the form of the ongoing trial against Mohammed Shakil, 31; Sadeer Saleem, 27; and Waheed Ali, 24; all originally of Beeston in West Yorkshire, the hometown of the 7/7 team (Telegraph, April 6, 2007; BBC, April 10).