Archive for the ‘HSToday’ Category

My latest for HSToday, this one looking specifically at the transatlantic tensions between the UK and U.S. as a result of the conclusion of the recent trial against the group who were plotting to bring down a series of planes flying from the UK to North America. This is not to overplay the tensions, but this was the specific angle being explored here, and there has been a great deal of coverage about the trial more generally.

The Plot ‘Bigger Than 9/11’ Causes Transatlantic Tensions

by Raffaello Pantucci
Tuesday, 22 September 2009

IEDs would have been enough to blow hole in hulls of pressurized passenger jets
Coinciding with the commemoration of the 8th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, a jury at Woolwich Crown Court in London found three British Muslims guilty of plotting to simultaneously bring down seven passenger planes on transatlantic routes.
However, while the British government has been keen to highlight success of the trial as a victory in the fight against international terrorism, tensions have been exposed in the transatlantic partnership against Al Qaeda.


It has been a while since anything has come out, but a couple of longer pieces in the pipeline and working on a tough thing in a foreign field have kept me from publishing much. But don’t worry avid followers, more is forthcoming to keep you sated…In the meantime, here is a shorter piece for HSToday about the downgrading of the threat in the UK.

UK recalibrates terror threat level
by Raffaello Pantucci
Thursday, 30 July 2009

Lowering of threat level by British authorities reflects increasing fragmentation of terror networks.

As the UK passed the fourth anniversary of the July 7, 2005 bombings, Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced that the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) had decided to lower “the UK threat level from international terrorism from severe to substantial.” He went on to clarify that this meant that in the government’s eyes, “a terrorist attack is a strong possibility” but “based on the very latest intelligence, considering factors such as capability, intent and timescale,” it was now lower than before.

This is a slightly older piece that I actually missed when it first ran, which I suppose is quite embarrassing. It was originally meant to run in the monthly magazine I write for Homeland Security today (, but in the end it got shunted to the website. It is in essence a counter-terrorism perspective from Europe on Obama’s first 100 days. Some of the information could do with a little updating, but frankly the things I would say probably appear in other things that I have written (or have coming up soon). I would be very grateful for any other thoughts on this one – especially from those who think I have left anything off.
European Views on the First 100 Days

by Raffaello Pantucci
Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Europeans view Obama’s change initiatives on counter-terror front with hopefulness, and caveats.

Prior to his election, European expectations of Barack Obama’s presidency were at almost stratospheric levels. Across the continent, European leaders and publics salivated in anticipation of the new president – and nowhere was this more true than in the United Kingdom, where celebrations of the Obama victory resonated on all sides of the political aisle.

My latest for HSToday, which I have not contributed to for a while, though as well as this one I now have another one coming up in the latest magazine as well. This one explores the connection between the UK and Al Qaeda in Pakistan, the second attempt at the trial against the airline plotters, and also touches upon the new stories to have emerged about Britons going to fight abroad. Not something new, but given what has happened in the past, potentially dangerous.

UK Jihadists’ Have Ties to Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Afghanistan

by Raffaello Pantucci Friday, 06 March 2009
Authorities are concerned hardened fighters may return to plot attacks in Britain

The conclusion last year in the British trial of jihadists who allegedly were planning to bring down as many as 18 eighteen passenger jets in transit from London to North America with liquid explosives was a disappointment to the British security services.


The UK Terror Threat

Posted: December 30, 2008 in HSToday
Tags: , ,

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.


Who Was Responsible for Mumbai?

Posted: December 3, 2008 in HSToday
Tags: ,

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.


Al Qaeda’s Seven Year Itch

Posted: October 30, 2008 in HSToday
Tags: ,

This could probably already do with a bit of updating, but the information remains interesting and valid and is part of ongoing thinking about AQ’s use of the internet. They still have that awful photo of me though.

Al Qaeda’s Seven Year Itch

By Raffaello Pantucci

Wednesday, 19 October 2008


Videos reach out to audience who believes terrorist group not weakenedLess than a month ago, after some delay, Al Qaeda’s media wing, As Sahab, finally released the terrorist group’s perennial anniversary 9/11 video. While it contained few surprises, it once again emphasized the utility of the Internet to Al Qaeda, and highlighted how the dark side of globalization has managed to harness its most useful tool.As it so often is with the online world of smoke and mirrors where Al Qaeda lurks, the reasons for the delayed release of the video are unclear. Preceeding the 9/11 anniversary, a number of the principal websites and chat forums where Al Qaeda videos and statements are usually posted were knocked offline (a few appear to have been reinstated)—an event that sparked considerable speculation about some sort of pre-planned attack, presumably by Western intelligence services. (more…)

Britain’s Threat Evolves

Posted: August 12, 2008 in HSToday
Tags: , ,

My latest in the HST magazine, have been travelling in a place where i couldn’t access this, so hence the delay in uploading it…..substantially shortened from what i had already written, but i think i will re-pitch the whole thing elsewhere. Also, am planning on expanding some of the ideas in some bigger articles for somewhere else.. 


Thursday, 31 July 2008

Since the July 7, 2005, public transport attacks in London, there has been an almost constant stream of attempts or foiled attempts on British soil, perpetrated for the most part by British nationals.

In the face of this diet of threat, it has become somewhat hard to discern whether there are any broad trends to be discerned about radical Islamists, aside from the broad generalization that they tend to be Muslims in their 20s and 30s. Even the old assumption that attackers would come from the United Kingdom’s second- or third-generation South Asian immigrant families appears to be increasingly challenged, with the exposure of two separate plots apparently conducted by white converts in April and May of this year. (See this author’s previous coverage of British homeland security in the HSToday archives at


My latest for HSToday’s website. The converts aspect is a theme i am currently expanding further in a bigger project, and any thoughts or ideas or pointers for others doing such work would be greatly appreciated. In fact, any comment or thoughts generally would  of course be appreciated. One small prob, this has possibly the worst picture of me in circulation on it.

Lone Jihadists: The New Face of UK Terror?

Monday, 16 June 2008

Is this the new face of terror that we can expect?

To surprisingly little fanfare, Britain recently faced a number of close-call domestic home-grown terrorist plots. First there was the case of Andrew Ibrahim, a 19 year old convert to Islam who was arrested on April 17 in possession of a suicide belt after a two week investigation set off by an intelligence tip-off. Then, just over a month later on May 23 in the western British city of Exeter, Nicky Reilly (aka, Mohammed Rasheed) attempted to detonate a series of bombs in a restaurant.


The UK Liquid Plot

Posted: April 25, 2008 in HSToday
Tags: ,

A new article for HSToday. Not quite my most eloquent, but oh well.

The UK Liquid Explosives Plot

by Raffaello Pantucci

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The plotters discussed bringing their wives, infant children on boardAs of August 2006, those of us traveling on airplanes have faced the new inconvenience of being unable to bring on large bottles containing liquid or other gel-like substances. The genesis of this new layer of protective security on our travel was a plot uncovered by the British Security Services in late July 2006 to blow up in mid flight some eight transatlantic airlines with liquid based explosive devices. 

It wasn’t until earlier this month that specific details of the conspiracy began to emerge as the trial for eight individuals at the heart of the plot got underway.

The eight were drawn from what is a depressing typical (though by no means universal) profile for British t (more…)