Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Band of Fanatics--Part 1 of 2

The cooperation among several Islamist terrorist groups is known in the intelligence community but certain special interests groups and factions within the U.S government don't want the connections to be too visible yet. I predict you will see evidence of this cooperation presented after the next strikes within the U.S.

By William Webb

“On that basis, and in compliance with Allah’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, ‘and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,’ and ‘fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah.’ We—with Allah’s help—call on every Muslim who believes in Allah and wishes to be rewarded to comply with Allah’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan’s U.S. troops and the devil’s supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.”[i] The February 1998 declaration of war against Jews and Crusaders signed by The World Islamic Front Leaders.

There are hundreds of terrorist groups in the world today, motivated by a myriad of causes and grievances that would take books to truly investigate. This article presents a space-conscious, high-level overview of the Muslim terror and liberation groups recognized by the U.S. Department of State.

Some would argue that many on this list pose no immediate threat to the United States or other Western countries. Up to now, this has been the case. While Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad actively conducted fund-raising, operations[ii]and recruitment in the United States prior to 9/11, they have so far, gone out of their way to make it clear their operations are conducted against Israel, not other Western nations, and particularly not the United States.
This is not completely true of course. Hezbollah has been tied to the American embassy bombing in Beirut, the slaughter of 241 marines and sailors while they slept in 1983, the kidnapping and killing of CIA station chief William Buckley and marine Lt. Col. Richard Higgins, and most recently, many suggest, the Khobar Tower bombings of American military personnel in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
Up to now, common wisdom has suggested these groups do not work together. However, now with the global jihad against America and the West waged openly, the groups have indeed started collaborating.

PRAVDA reported that a meeting of “Islamic fundamentalists” from more than 50 countries occurred in the Bosnian town of Travnik in the summer of 2002. On the guest list were terrorists from Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Muslim Brotherhood, Active Islamic Youth, and Al-Qaida. “In Travnik, Islamic delegates reached an agreement on the ‘full consolidation’ of religious and political movements in the battle against ‘American aggression.’”[iii]
Some analysts and “terrorism experts” in the Western media stated that Al-Qaida Sunni group, and Hezbollah, a Shia group would not work together due to the differences between the two.
But investigations as early as 1996, initiated when Al-Qaida insider Jamal Al-Fadl defected, and subsequent 9/11 investigations found an interconnecting trail of training, money, and logistical support among all the organizations.
Al Fadl told FBI agents that Al-Qaida sent agents to the “Bekaa valley in Lebanon to cross train terrorists and learn how to make ‘big bombs.’”[iv]
Mike Boetthcher reported in November 2002 that “CNN learned from coalition intelligence sources that several top terrorist operatives met recently in the area—where the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay intersect—to plan attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets in the Western hemisphere.
“Sources said the meetings, which took place in and around Ciudad del Este, were attended by representatives of Hezbollah and other groups sympathetic to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida terrorist network.”[v]
The fact that these terrorist groups are working together now has significant implications for your safety. As Boaz Ganor, executive director of the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism, ICT, said, “I believe that the international community, in the wake of the September 11 attacks, finds itself in unprecedented peril. The danger is based on a combination of three main factors inherent in modern international terrorism: the very extreme ideology inherent in the Islamic radical worldview, the deadly methods used, and the possibility that these radicals will turn to non-conventional means. This is a scale of danger that humanity has not been accustomed to facing on a daily basis, and with which we do not yet have the tools to deal adequately.”[vi]

Thirty-six groups made the State Department’s “Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations” list for 2002.
Fifteen of the groups are not motivated by Muslim religious ideology. These include; Aum Shinrikyo, Spain’s ETA, Communist Party of the Philippines, Kahane Chai, Kurdistan Workers Party, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Mujahedin-e Khalq, Colombia’s ELN, Revolutionary Armed Forces and United Self Defense Forces/Group, Real IRA, Greece’s 17 November and Nuclei, Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front, and Sendero Luminoso.
Of the remaining 21 groups, eleven appear to be geographically centered. These include: Abu Nidal, whose namesake died in Iraq in November 2002; Abu Sayyef; Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade; Armed Islamic Group; Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; Lash Kar - e Tayyiba; Lashkar I Jhangv; Palestine Liberation Front; Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; PFLP-GC; and the Salafist Group for the Call and Combat.
While it would appear none of these groups are actively targeting the continental United States, it should be noted that several have had contacts with jihadists and ‘Afghan Alumni,’ and could turn up in future terrorist operations. They pose enormous dangers to western civilians traveling through their area of operations. Abu Sayyef, Armed Islamic Group, Salafist Group for the Call and Combat and others not included on this particular list are known to have known Al-Qaida ties.
The remaining ten pose varying degrees of threats to the United States and other Western democracies.
These include: Al-Qaida and partners Asbat al-Ansar, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Jaish-e Mohammed, Jemaah Islamiya, and Al-Jihad. The remaining three, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are the largest and deadliest groups in the Middle East.
We will begin with the group a 2003 CBS report called “the A-Team of terrorism.” A group that Florida Senator Bob Graham said “has a significant presence of its trained operatives inside the United States waiting for the call to action.”[vii]
The group is Hezbollah.

Hezbollah—The Party of God

While Al-Qaida may be the rock stars of the current Muslim terrorist movement, many say the most dangerous is Hezbollah, a group that arose in the Bekaa Valley during the early 1980s to oppose the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. The “Party of God” has brought the world two leading terrorist inventions, mega-truck bombs, and suicide bombers. Until 9/11, they could claim killing more Americans than any other terrorist group.
Hezbollah is supported by both Iran and Syria, and it is the heavy connection to Iran that worries many Western observers. A high-ranking government official told me that, “when the Iranians finally get the bomb, Israel and the United States will face a far greater danger than the U.S. faced during the Cold War. Because, at least the Russians were sane.”
Hezbollah’s leader, the charismatic Sheik Hasan Nasrallah, is not well known outside the Shia Muslim community, but according to Vince Cannistraro, CIA Director George Tenet, and other intelligence professionals is a much more formidable opponent than bin Laden. His intelligence and charisma make him extremely loved and revered among the Shia population. Besides turning Hezbollah into a formidable fighting force, Nasrallah has turned the group into a potent political force as well.
According to Michael Donavon of the Center for Defense Information (CDI), “Hezbollah holds seats in the Lebanese parliament and runs a variety of social institutions, including schools and hospitals. Both the Lebanese government and people view its attacks on Israeli settlements as acts of legitimate resistance…. The group’s spiritual leadership quickly condemned the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, stressing that it did not share Osama bin Laden’s goal of a clash of civilizations.”[viii]

Nasrallah is a great orator and you don’t have to understand Arabic to appreciate his speeches that are regularly featured on the Hezbollah web site and radio station.[ix] He dismisses any suggestion that Hezbollah currently poses a threat to Americans. “I believe the Americans are just saying what the Israelis want them to say. I consider this to be an Israeli accusation coming out of an American mouth and nothing more,” Nasrallah told CBS news.[x]
While there is no doubt that the Israelis have a vested interest in the United States viewing Hezbollah as a sanctioned terrorist organization, there is little doubt within the intelligence community that Hezbollah hasn’t been dormant in attacks against the United States.
Former CIA operative Bob Baer outlined the progression in his book See No Evil. According to Baer, the CIA found evidence that members of Saudi Hezbollah traveled to Iran in 1991.[xi] The next year, the Iranian Pasdaran opened a training base in the Bekaa Valley to train Hezbollah terrorist cadres. Following a fatwa issued by an Iranian cleric, the Saudi National Guard facility in Riyadh was bombed on November 1995, killing five Americans. According to Baer, it was elements of Hezbollah that blew up the Khobar barracks on June 25, 1996 killing 19 Americans.
The Saudis conveniently executed all the Khobar participants they captured and the administration and State Department swept the Hezbollah and Iranian involvement under the diplomatic carpet.
There is also growing evidence of Hezbollah involvement in the jihad against American forces in Iraq.
Nasrallah spoke before a group of more than 150,000 in Beirut in March 2003 and said, “We say to the American administration ‘Don’t expect the people of this region to receive you with flowers and perfume. The people of this region will receive you with rifles, blood, arms, and martyrdom operations.’ In the past, when the Marines were in Beirut and their fleets were in the Mediterranean Sea, we screamed in the southern suburbs ‘Death to America.’ Today, the region is being filled with hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and fleets and ‘Death to America’ was, is, and will stay our slogan.”[xii]
More links between Al-Qaida and Hezbollah are reported each day.
According to Avi Davis of the Freemen Center for Strategic Studies, “Western intelligence has now revealed a high level of cooperation between bin Laden and Imad Muganiyeh, the terrorist who masterminded some of Hezbollah’s most spectacular atrocities and kidnappings in Lebanon. According to reports, Muganiyeh first met with bin Laden as early as 1995 and those meetings have continued.
“More than this, since Al-Qaida fled Afghanistan at the end of last year,” the Sunday Telegraph reports, “between 80 and 100 Al-Qaida fighters were provided with false passports by Hezbollah before being relocated to southern Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. The same report acknowledges that Hezbollah, working hand in hand with Al-Qaida, has set up cells in the Far East including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.”[xiii]

There is at least one direct connection between the United States and Hezbollah cells. In 2002, two Muslim men were convicted of a running a multi-million dollar cigarette smuggling ring out of North Carolina with portions of the funds going directly to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The apparent growth of Hezbollah operatives around the globe has led CIA director George Tenet and Senator Richard Shelby to make public statements concerning the danger posed by Hezbollah to Americans.
It appears the conflict between people in the State Department who don’t want to bring heavy pressure down on both Iran and Syria for their patronage of Hezbollah, and hawks in the administration who would like to prosecute the war against terror to places like the two countries, will continue for time to come.
Last September, one of the few State Department hawks, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage sent a not-so-diplomatic warning to Hezbollah that once the U.S. finishes with Al-Qaida there will be a score to settle with Hezbollah. “They have a blood debt to us and we’re not going to forget it,” Armitage said.
.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad—The South Florida Connection

Palestinian Islamic Jihad—PIJ—is an international organization with cells or units located worldwide. It exists for the creation of a Palestinian state and according to its published manifesto, the destruction of the nation of Israel and the end to all Western influence of the Great Satan—America—in the Middle East regardless of the cost to the inhabitants. It is a jihadist organization nowhere near the size of Hezbollah or Hamas, but similarly supported by Iran and Syria.
PIJ was formed in 1979 by Islamic fundamentalist Fathi Shaqaqi and other radical Palestinian students in Egypt who had split from the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood in the Gaza Strip, which they deemed too moderate. The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran influenced the group’s founder, Shaqaqi, who believed the liberation of Palestine would unite the Arab and Muslim world into a single great Islamic state.
The PIJ began its terrorist campaign against Israel in the 1980s. In 1987, prior to the Intifada, it carried out several terrorist attacks in the Gaza Strip. In August 1988, the faction’s leaders, Shaqaqi and ’Abd al-’Aziz ’Odah, were expelled to Lebanon where Shaqaqi reorganized the faction, maintaining close contacts with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards unit stationed in Lebanon and with Hezbollah.
Although several other factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad were formed in the 1980s, the main faction remains the group founded by Shaqaqi. After the 1993Oslo Peace Accords between Israeli and the Palestinians, Shaqaqi expanded the political connections of the organization to become a member of the new Syrian influenced Rejection Front.
It has carried out numerous suicide bombings in efforts to liberate Palestine from the “rivers to the sea.”

PIJ has been responsible for the death of Americans visiting Israel, however inadvertently:

April 9, 1995, Kfar Darom and Netzarim, Gaza Strip. Two suicide attacks were carried out within a few hours of each other in Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. In the first attack a suicide bomber crashed an explosive-rigged van into an Israeli bus in Netzarim, killing eight, including U.S. citizen Alisa Flatow, 20, of West Orange, NJ. More than 30 others were injured. In the second attack, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb in the midst of a convoy of cars in Kfar Darom, injuring 12. The PIJ Shaqaqi Faction claimed responsibility for the attacks. U.S. citizens Chava Levine and Seth Klein were injured.
March 4, 1996, Tel Aviv, Israel. A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device outside the Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv’s largest shopping mall, killing 20 people and injuring 75 others, including two U.S. citizens. Both Hamas and the PIJ claimed responsibility for the bombing. U.S. citizens injured included Julie K. Negrin of Seattle, WA.[xiv]


It also has the distinction of being partially run from the United States and many of its leaders were protected under the guise of academic freedom at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa. Eight Muslim men were indicted in early 2003 in the United States District Court, Tampa Division for a variety of charges, and according to the indictment, “did secretly establish cells or sections of the PIJ in different countries, and in the United States utilize the structure, facilities and academic environment of USF to conceal the activities of the PIJ.
“The enterprise members would and did commit acts of violence, intimidation, and threats against Israel, its inhabitants and others, including murders and suicide bombings, and solicit others to do so, with the intent to drive Israel out of the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and to end any influence of the United States in the Middle East.”[xv]
The eight conspirators, of which Sami Amin Al-Arian and Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, two former USF professors, are the most well known, are charged with using USF as the instrument to bring other PIJ members and associates into the United States under the guise of academic conferences and other meetings.
They set up the World and Islam Studies Enterprise, WISE, Islamic Concern Project, ICP, Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF)—all to raise money, recruit and legitimize the conspirators’ true purposes.
The PIJ saga is an object lesson in freedom you take for granted being misused for terrorist purposes under the protection of academic and religious freedom. The conspirators well understood the leeway American freedoms gave them and actually encouraged others at conferences not to worry about prosecution.
It is also a warning and lesson on the religious insurgency you now face. Finally, it as an example of the how international terrorist groups move and operate freely across borders, raising money in one country, recruiting in another, and carrying out violence in yet another.

Using freedom of speech and assembly, the conspirators traveled the country raising money and encouraging other terrorist groups operating within the United States.
Some of the examples of the speech listed in the Tampa indictment included:

§ Ghassan Zayed Ballut told a Chicago audience in 1991 that there was no logic but the logic of jihad. He said the rifles must be raised in one direction, the chest of the enemy, and then advised the crowd that the enemy was in the desert of Kuwait and that coalition forces were going to kill their babies in Iraq.
§ Sami Al-Arian told the same conference that Jews were damned; that Allah had made them monkeys and swine and damned in this world and in the afterworld.
§ In a another conference in Chicago in 1991, attended by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and several of the first World Trade Center bombers, Abd Al Aziz Awda advised participants to focus on the armed struggle and that they should not fear accusations of terrorism or extremism.
§ In a conference in Chicago in 1992, Shallah told the participants that the enemies were the United States, the Zionists, and the Arab governments. He said that Muslims should not be defensive or apologize for charges including those of terrorism, that jihad required Muslims to terrorize, devastate, humiliate, and degrade enemies, because they were enemies of Allah and that the Koran instructed Muslims to fight and kill those people.

Ramadan Abdullah Shallah came to the United States on an Egyptian passport in 1998. He arrived in Tampa in 1991, teaching politics and later Arabic classes at USF and joining the World and Islam Studies Enterprise, a think tank on Middle East issues affiliated with USF and founded by USF professor and co-conspirator Sami Al-Arian.
Steven Emerson’s 1994 PBS documentary “Jihad in America,” pointed out allegations of Shallah and Al-Arian’s involvement in PIJ. In May 1995, the Tampa Tribune ran a two-part article that questioned ties among USF, WISE, and the Islamic Committee for Palestine charity. Other media, academic, and Muslim groups within the United States savaged all the journalists involved in stories questioning Al-Arian’s activities.
Sometime in the spring of 1995, Shallah announced he was leaving Tampa to go home to be with family. His academic friends next saw him when he was announced as the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad after his predecessor, Fathi Shikaki, was assassinated in October 1995. Most believe that Israeli agents killed Shikaki, and Shallah now remains exclusively in Syria to avoid a similar fate.
Predictably, many were shocked to find the professor had duped them. “He did good scholarly work and there was never any evidence that he was active on the part of Islamic Jihad,” says professor Arthur Lowrie, a retired foreign service officer who helped coordinate academic conferences sponsored by USF and WISE.[xvi]

Emory political science professor Carrie Rosefsky Wickham who had recommended Shallah for another conference had her eyes opened when FBI agents called her. The agent asked, “What is your connection to Ramadan Abdullah?” she recalled. “I was actually quite disturbed,” she said—not so much that the FBI was calling, but because she just hadn’t considered that Shallah’s blunt criticisms of the United States and Israel would go that far beyond speech. “I felt deceived at some level,” she said. “He did not hide his very critical American policy perspective in the region, or what he viewed as Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land. I guess I had just failed to understand someone could be a serious intellectual counterpart and condone terrorist acts on civilians. I did not think of him as a committed terrorist.”[xvii]
With Shallah popping up on television all over the Middle East and taking credit for a growing list of violence against Israel it was hard for anyone not to admit there had been a terrorist among us.
Not so for Al-Arian, a North Carolina State graduate who became the cause celebre for various liberal media, academic, and Muslim organizations. Al-Arian’s troubles were exacerbated in September 2001 when he, already under suspicion and investigation for his connections with Shallah, appeared on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.
O’Reilly, armed with many statements Al-Arian had made during the good old days of not worrying about being called a terrorist or an extremist, faced the glare of the post 9/11 world and didn’t fare well. The predictable outrage following Al-Arian’s miserable performance hastened Al-Arian being put on administrative leave.
Journalists from The New York Times, Washington Post and other publications weighed in on the implications of the actions.
The American Association of University Professors wrote to USF saying they are interested in the case and whether it represented a violation of Dr. Al-Arian’s academic freedom.
Sami Al-Arian was finally arrested in February 2003, for charges in the words of his attorney Nicholas Matassini that are a “politically motivated” case against him. Matassini also called his client a “political prisoner”' and said al-Arian began an immediate hunger and medicine strike to protest his detention.[xviii]
This, by the way, is exactly the advice given in the Al-Qaida manual for detained operatives. This is not to suggest Al-Arian is connected to Al-Qaida—just that Muslim extremists understand who to manipulate the system.
The Council on American Islamic Relations, CAIR, called a news conference, and Ahmed Bedier, the Miami office’s communication director worried the arrest would bring repercussions. “It’s not about Sami as a person,” he said. “It’s about a situation that could set a precedent for other Muslims across the country.”[xix]
That precedent, that you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, is true, and Al-Arian sits in a jail in South Florida preparing his own defense as he unwisely fired his court-appointed attorneys. As of October 2003, he had not been convicted—only indicted.
[i] “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders,” World Islamic Front, February 23, 1998
[ii] Sami al Arian and several co-conspirators ran PIJ under cover of academic freedom in Tampa, Florida.
[iii] “Islamic Fundamentalists from Al-Qaida , Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad Meet in Bosnia,” PRAVDA, October 9, 2002
[iv] John Miller, Michael Stone, Chris Mitchell, “The Terrorist Who Came in From the Cold,” The Cell Chapter 10 page164, Hyperion, New York 2003
[v] Mike Boettcher, “South America’s ‘tri-border’ back on terrorism radar,” CNN, Friday, November 8 2002
[vi] Boaz Ganor, remarks from a lecture given at the Sydney Institute, Australia, August 2002.
[vii] Bob Graham in a CBS News 60 Minutes Story, “Hezbollah” A-Team of Terrorists, April 18, 2003
[viii] Michael Donavan “In the Spotlight: Hezbollah (Party of God),” CDI, February 25, 2002
[ix] The English website is http://www.hizbollah.org/english/frames/index_eg.htm. Al Manar -- the Arabic word for beacon -- is the official television station of Lebanon's Party of God.
[x] “Hezbollah” A-Team of Terrorists, CBS News 60 Minutes, April 18, 2003

[xi] Robert Baer, See No Evil, Page 250, Crown Publishers, New York, 2002
[xii] The speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the tenth day of Ashoura-13-3-2003, Hezbollah website and numerous media reports. March 13, 2003
[xiii] Avi Davis, “THE FRANCHISING OF HEZBOLLAH, Freeman Center for Strategic Studies. September 2003


[xiv] Sources: Chronology on Terrorist Incidents 1961-2001, State Department; "Patterns of Terrorism" reports 1995-2000; State Department Institute for Counter-Terrorism Database; Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya; Peacewatch, The Washington Institute for New East Policy; AIPAC; Ha'aretz, Republican Study Committee
[xv] United States of America V. Sami Amin Al-Arian, et al, Case Number 8:03-Cr, Section E. Overt Acts Article 5, United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, page 11
[xvi] Susan Aschoff, “Jihad leader emerged from shadows of USF,” St Petersburg Times, February 21, 2003
[xvii] Lee Shearer, “Panelist Becomes Terrorist,” Athens Georgia Banner Herald, October 21, 2001
[xviii] Phil Long and Gail Epstein Nieves, “professor Accused of Financing Terror,” The Miami Herald, February 23, 2003
[xix] Babita Persaud, “Local Muslims deny Al-Arian fits government description,” St Petersburg Times, February 21, 2003

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