Wednesday, December 29, 2004

GlobalJihadWatch

By Avi Jorisch, Jonathan L. Snow FDD

Terrorists succeeded in major attacks against U.S. and Iraqi targets in Iraq, resulting in heavy casualties. These attacks are an attempt to disrupt the January elections. Successful elections in Iraq would be a major blow to the terrorists and to anti-democratic forces in the region, just as they were in Afghanistan. If these attacks continue and succeed in disrupting the democratic process, the terrorists will have won a major victory.

There was, however, notable progress in the war on terrorism:

An important victory came when the U.S. State Department labeled Hezbollah's al-Manar television a terrorist organization, a key first step in limiting al-Manar's reach. Immediately following the designation, GlobeCast, a French-owned satellite provider, and Intelsat, a Barbados-based company, removed al-Manar from U.S. airwaves. This follows action by France to ban al-Manar. There are still additional steps that can be made to limit al-Manar's reach to millions of viewers daily around the world (for more information, please visit www.defenddemocracy.org).

Several arrests of significant terrorist suspects were made in Pakistan and Europe. Those arrests included terrorists believed to have been involved in the Madrid train attacks and others accused of masterminding repeated assassination attempts on Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.

Regional Briefs

North America, Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand

North America
U.S. Designates al-Manar TV as 'Terrorist' (Reuters) - The United States on Friday (12/17) designated al-Manar television -- the mouthpiece of Hezbollah -- a terrorist organization, a move Lebanon's ambassador called unacceptable censorship. The designation came less than a week after France banned broadcasts of al-Manar's satellite channel following accusations that its programs were anti-Semitic and could incite hatred. Placing al-Manar on the State Department's "Terrorist Exclusion List" means foreigners providing support to or associated with the organization may be prevented from entering the United States or may be deported.

Next Steps Key in Arab Fight Against Terror Cash-US (Reuters) - The United States welcomes the new Arab task force to fight terror financing and will be watching what concrete steps it takes over the next year to help choke off illicit funds. Fourteen Arab countries set up the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force in Bahrain at the end of November, pledging to fight the flow of dirty money in a region that has provided al-Qaeda with most of its funds as well as its top leaders.

Pentagon Tells Detainees About Their Right to Go to Court (Washington Post) - Six months after a landmark Supreme Court ruling, the military has begun to formally notify some detainees held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that they have the right to challenge their imprisonment in an American court. Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the military informally told detainees of their rights this summer, and that the new notice is meant to provide clear, practical information.

Ex-Terror Defendants Face Fraud Charges (Associated Press) - Two men whose convictions in the first terrorism trial after Sept. 11 were thrown out because of misconduct by prosecutors were charged Wednesday (12/15) with insurance and mail fraud. The new charges are part of a long-running legal saga involving the defendants, Karim Koubriti and Ahmed Hannan, who were once accused of being part of a terror cell.

Bail Review Delayed for Man Held under Anti-terrorism Law (Canadian Broadcast Company) - An Ottawa-area man accused of involvement in an al-Qaeda plot to bomb targets in the United Kingdom had his bail review hearing postponed Monday (12/20). Mohammad Momin Khawaja, 25, is the first person arrested under Canada's new anti-terrorism act. The Orleans man is charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group and facilitating a terrorist activity.

CIA's Prison Within a Prison at Gitmo (Washington Post) - Within the heavily guarded perimeters of the Defense Department's much-discussed Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, the CIA has maintained a detention facility for valuable al-Qaeda captives that has never been mentioned in public, according to military officials and several current and former intelligence officers. The facility has housed detainees from Pakistan, West Africa, Yemen and other countries under the strictest secrecy, the sources said. It is unclear whether the facility is still in operation today.

Middle East
24 Dead in Attack on U.S. Base in Iraq (CNN) - A lunchtime attack on a U.S. military mess hall in northern Iraq on Tuesday (12/21) killed 24 people, including Americans and Iraqis, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings at Camp Marez. The dead include U.S. military personnel, U.S. contractors, foreign contractors and members of the Iraqi army. Islamist Web sites posted a claim of responsibility from a group calling itself Jaish Ansar Al-Sunnah for an attack on "a joint US-Iraqi Ghazlani camp near Mosul at 12 noon Tuesday 21/12/2004." The Associated Press said local Iraqis refer to the camp similarly.

60 Killed, 120 Wounded in Iraq Car Blasts (Associated Press) - Car bombs tore through a Najaf funeral procession and Karbala's main bus station Sunday (12/19), killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 120 in the two Shiite holy cities. In Baghdad, gunmen launched a bold ambush, executing three election officials, in their campaign to disrupt next month's parliamentary ballot. The bombings in Najaf and Karbala, which Shiite officials suspected were coordinated, were the deadliest attacks since July.

Police Arrest 50 in Iraq after Bombings (CNN) - Iraqi police said Monday (12/20) they had arrested 50 people and set up checkpoints and roadblocks a day after car bombings in two of the holiest Shiite Muslim cities killed nearly 70 people.

Purported New bin Laden Tape Surfaces (CNN) - A new audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden and referencing the December 6 attack on the American consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, appeared on Arabic Web sites Thursday (12/16). The voice on the tape says the current instability in Saudi Arabia is due to the regime there and not the action of the jihadis there. Near the end of the approximately 70-minute tape, the speaker asks for God's blessings for "our brothers who stormed the American consulate in Jeddah."

Blasts Pepper Iraq Oil Network after al-Qaeda Sabotage Call (Agence France-Presse) - Iraq's oil infrastructure suffered five attacks in 24 hours after a voice identified as al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden ordered followers to sabotage the West's key supplies. There were two blasts on pipelines Saturday (12/18) and three late Friday, all of them in restive Sunni Arab areas around the capital or in north-central Iraq, officials said.

Saudi al-Qaeda Urges Attacks (Reuters) - An Internet statement purportedly from the Saudi wing of al-Qaeda has urged guerrillas to attack oil facilities in the world's biggest crude exporter. "We call on all the mujahideen in the Arabian Peninsula to unify their ranks... and target the oil supplies that do not serve the Islamic nation but the enemies of this nation," said the statement from the al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula, which was dated December 18. Its authenticity could not be immediately verified.

Al-Qaeda Shifts Its Strategy in Saudi Arabia (Washington Post) - Al-Qaeda forces in Saudi Arabia have shifted their strategy and are now almost exclusively searching for U.S. and other Western targets in the kingdom while avoiding attacks on domestic institutions in a bid to strengthen their flagging network, according to security officials and Saudi experts on radical groups.

Jailed Saudi Militants Make Televised Appeal to al-Qaeda Sympathizers to Surrender (Reuters) - Seven jailed Saudi militants have made a televised appeal to al-Qaeda sympathizers in the Kingdom to surrender, denying reports of torture in captivity and saying prison guards treated them like family. The apparently repentant militants appeared on state television to persuade the fighters behind an 18-month wave of violence they will not be mistreated if they turn themselves in.

U.S. Embassy Warns of Threat in Kuwait (Associated Press) - The U.S. Embassy on Wednesday (12/15) warned Americans in Kuwait of possible terror attacks and urged them to exercise caution. In a message e-mailed to American citizens, the embassy said it "has credible information that terrorist groups are developing near-term plans for attacks against unspecified targets in Kuwait."

Muslim Denies Plane Crash Plot (Associated Press) - Treason suspect Metin Kaplan has denied allegations at the opening of his trial that he masterminded a failed plot to crash an airplane into the mausoleum of the founder of secular Turkey. His group, the Caliphate State, calls for the overthrow of Turkey's secular government and its replacement with an Islamic state and is outlawed in Germany and Turkey.

Bin Laden's Dirty Bomb Quest Exposed (Sunday Times (London)) - New evidence of Osama Bin Laden's attempts to acquire radioactive material for a “dirty bomb” has been revealed by an aide to the al-Qaeda leader. In a book to be published shortly, the insider shows that Bin Laden bowed to pressure from hawks within the terror group's leadership to buy the material through supporters in Chechnya.

Afghanistan and Pakistan
Pakistan Arrests al-Qaeda Aide, Thwarts Major Attack (Agence France-Presse) - Pakistani police have thwarted a "major terrorist attack" in the eastern city of Lahore after arresting six suspected militants, including an aide of a wanted al-Qaeda operative, they said on Monday (12/20). Explosives, hand-grenades and ammunition were recovered during the weekend raids which netted an aide to Libyan al-Qaeda militant Abu Faraj al-Libbi, who is wanted for masterminding two attempts to kill President Pervez Musharraf.

Eight Killed in al-Qaeda Jailbreak (Reuters) - Afghan soldiers have killed two prisoners holed up in Kabul's Pul-i-Charki jail after a day-long siege that started when a group of inmates identified as al-Qaeda killed their guards in an attempted jailbreak. At least eight people, including four police and four prisoners, died in the fighting inside the sprawling Soviet-era prison complex on the outskirts of the capital, prison governor Abdul Salam Bakhshi told journalists.

Pakistan Puts Bounty on Militant (BBC) - Pakistani authorities have announced a five million rupee ($83,000) reward for help in the arrest of a militant wanted for kidnapping two Chinese engineers. Ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Abdullah Mehsud, 29, masterminded October's abduction in which one engineer died. The reward was announced after a meeting of military officials and Mehsud tribesmen in the South Waziristan region on Thursday (12/16).

Afghan Warlord's Assets Frozen (BBC) - Iran has frozen bank accounts belonging to a former Afghan warlord suspected of joining forces with Taliban and al-Qaeda militants, the UN says. The chairman of one of the UN's sanction committees says Iran has frozen "considerable assets" under the control of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar whose Hezb-e-Islami group is suspected of carrying out attacks on foreign and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.

Europe
French Court Jails 10 for al-Qaeda-Linked Plot in Strasbourg (Bloomberg) -- A Paris court gave 10 suspected Islamic terrorists jail terms of up to 10 years for a plot to bomb Strasbourg's cathedral and the city's Christmas market in December 2000, a clerk of the court said. The defendants, all North Africans or French nationals of North African origin aged between 29 and 55, were sentenced on charges of criminal association with a terrorist enterprise.

Four Arrested in Madrid Bombings Probe (Reuters) - Spanish police arrested four Moroccans on suspicion of belonging to an armed Islamic group, including one man believed linked to the March 11 train bombings that killed 191 people, the Interior Ministry said on Friday (12/17). All four are suspected of belonging to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, a shadowy organization once considered the prime suspect behind the Madrid train bombings, which struck three days before a general election.

Man Held in Madrid Thought to be Militant Group's Leader in Europe (Reuters) - A Moroccan held in the March 11 train attacks in Madrid may be the leader in Europe of a militant Islamist group accused of carrying out the Casablanca bombings in 2003, a source close to the investigation said. The shadowy Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, or MICG, is suspected of playing a role in the Madrid attacks, which killed 191 people, as well as the May 2003 bombings in Casablanca, in which 12 suicide bombers and 33 others were killed.

UK Court Rejects Terror Detentions (CNN) - Britain's highest court has ruled against the detention of foreign terrorism suspects without trial. The ruling on Thursday (12/16) by nine Law Lords was a major blow to the UK government, which argued that the detention of some suspects was a tough but essential measure to protect the country from potential attacks.

Al-Qaeda Planned to Hit Rally Dakar (Nettavisen (Norway)) - Intelligence officers discovered that al-Qaeda planned a terror attack against the famed Rally Dakar race in December. Mauritania's Minister of State Affairs Hamud Ould Abdi stated that the plan was discovered with the aid of a foreign intelligence service and one of the terrorists was arrested. The man arrested was recorded as he called other terrorists in Saudi Arabia, who are believed to be connected to al-Qaeda.

FSB Exposes al-Qaeda Network in Southern Russia - Chief (Itar-Tass (Russia)) - The chief of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said a network of the international terrorist organization al-Qaeda has been exposed in southern Russia. “About 10 representatives of al-Qaeda are staying in the North Caucasus,” FSB director said at a meeting with the heads of Russia's leading media outlets on Wednesday (12/15).

Asia
Jakarta Raises Alert on Terror Attacks (International Herald Tribune) - The Indonesian authorities ordered a nationwide security crackdown Thursday (12/16) after several foreign governments warned that terrorists were preparing to attack Western targets before Christmas. Australia's warning was unusually specific, saying it had "credible information" that terrorists could be targeting the Hilton hotels in the country. The United States, Britain, New Zealand and Japan also issued their own warnings but did not mention specific targets.

Guards of Japanese Film Crew Capture 2 Abu Sayyaf Men (Agence France-Presse) - Soldiers guarding a Japanese film crew in Tawi-Tawi captured two members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, military officials said. The Marine unit, which was guarding a group of Japanese shooting a documentary on ethnic Muslims on the island of Sitangkai, noticed a boat with the suspects aboard sailing close to the film crew, said Capt. Rommel Abrau, Marine spokesman.

Africa
South Africans were on al-Qaeda Mission (Sunday Times (Johannesburg)) - Two South Africans who returned home after five months in a Pakistani jail were on a training mission for al-Qaeda, according to a statement sent to the South African police by Pakistani authorities. The statement sent by the Pakistani authorities says the two men had been in contact with one of Pakistan's most senior al-Qaeda members.

Australia and New Zealand
Top Spy: New Zealand Safe Haven for Terror (Associated Press) - Islamic extremists with links to international terror groups are believed to be using New Zealand as a safe haven, the nation's top spy agency has warned. Security Intelligence Service Director Richard Woods said in his annual report to Parliament that "increased vigilance and effort" was needed to ensure the country was neither the victim nor source of international terrorism.



'Jihad Jack' Case Could Collapse, Court Told (The Age (Australia)) - The case against jailed Melbourne terror suspect "Jihad Jack" Thomas could collapse if an illegal interview by Australian Federal Police is thrown out of court. Thomas was interviewed without a lawyer present even though Australian authorities had been told almost two months earlier that he wanted one, Defense counsel Julian Burnside said.



This report was compiled by Jonathan L. Snow and edited by Avi Jorisch.

- Mr. Snow is the Manager of Research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies

- Avi Jorisch is an FDD Senior Fellow.



GlobalJihadWatch is a weekly publication that tracks developments in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), specifically focusing on militant groups that adhere to the ideology known as radical Islam. Such groups constitute a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, but their rhetoric and violence affords them disproportional influence in the Muslim world. Some of these groups are affiliated with al-Qaeda, while others are not. Indeed, such nomenclature is increasingly irrelevant, particularly as al-Qaeda evolves from a structured organization into an amorphous global movement. (This series will not cover the activities of militant Palestinian groups, which are covered at length in other publications.)



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