Friday, January 21, 2005


Jan. 12-18, 2005
The Big Picture
By Avi Jorisch, Jonathan L. Snow

A report released this week by the National Security Council, the CIA's in-house think tank, argues that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of terrorists. While Iraq clearly provides terrorist recruits with live training situations, it is important to note key differences. The al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan operated freely and openly with the support of the Taliban regime; the Iraqi training grounds are hidden amongst the civilian population and enjoy no formal protection. And, terrorists went to Afghanistan to train for attacks in other countries; terrorists now go to Iraq to stage attacks (drawing Jihadis from around the world who might otherwise focus their efforts elsewhere).

Regional Briefs

North America, Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Europe, Australia

North America
Limousine Terror? (TIME Magazine) - As Washington gears up for the first Inaugural of the post-9/11 era, one potential security threat has emerged as a particular focus of concern: vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDS, possibly disguised as limousines. The fears were prompted in part, say U.S. intelligence sources, by a 39-page document seized from al-Qaeda last year, titled "Rough Presentation for Gas Limo Project."

As Jan. 20 Nears, Terror Warnings Drop (Washington Post) - In April, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced that al-Qaeda terrorists might strike during this week's presidential inauguration festivities in Washington. The warning was part of a drumbeat sounded by U.S. officials throughout 2004 that terrorists were seeking to launch attacks both during and after the election season. Nine months later, the threat level has been lowered, and Ridge, speaking at a news conference last week, said there is no evidence of a plot to disrupt President Bush's inauguration.

Funeral for Murdered NJ Family (WABC) - Four family members were killed, their throats slashed, in a crime being investigated by the FBI for possible links to terrorism. A cousin of the slain family has been a translator working for the prosecution in the trial of Lynne Stewart, the radical lawyer accused of smuggling messages from imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, to terrorist cell members and associates.

Supreme Court Sidesteps Guantanamo Bay Case (Associated Press) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday (1/18) dodged a dispute over the government's plans to conduct military trials for Osama bin Laden's former driver and other foreign terror suspects, avoiding another clash over the president's powers. Justices were asked to decide if the Bush administration is trying to shortcut the rights of non-Americans facing trials at the Guantanamo Bay Navy base in Cuba. They declined, without comment.

Terror Cop: al-Qaeda 'Heavily Damaged' (New York Daily News) - Al-Qaeda is "heavily damaged," constantly on the run and so financially strapped that it is having trouble making payments to the families of its dead fighters, according to a report in the New York Daily News. The terror group remains determined, however, to attack the U.S.

Middle East
Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground (Washington Post) - Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank. Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills," said David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats. "There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries."

Iraqi Insurgents Fear bin Laden's Moves (Associated Press) - Osama bin Laden has vowed to turn Iraq into the front line of his war against the United States, but Iraqi insurgents seem worried that he's out to hijack their rebellion, according to the Associated Press. "We have concrete information that a sharp division is now broiling between" Iraqis waging a nationalist war and foreign Arabs spurred by militant Islam, said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi government's national security adviser.

81 Suspected Insurgents Detained in Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. troops detained 81 suspected insurgents and seized several weapons caches in Iraq's volatile Anbar province, the U.S. military said Monday (1/17). A statement said the crackdown, ahead of Jan. 30 elections that guerrillas are expected to target, netted mortars, bomb-making equipment and grenades in the militant stronghold.

6 Arrested in Killing of Baghdad Governor (MSNBC) - U.S. troops have arrested six suspects in the assassination of Baghdad's provincial governor, the highest-ranking official hit so far in attacks to sabotage a Jan. 30 election, the U.S. military said on Wednesday (1/12).

Gunmen Kill Three Iraqi Candidates (Associated Press) - Gunmen shot and killed three candidates running in Iraq's Jan. 30 elections, officials said Tuesday (1/18), as a suicide bombing killed two people outside the offices of a leading Shiite political party. With insurgents trying to ruin the election, officials announced that Iraq will seal its borders, extend a curfew and restrict movement to protect voters during the balloting. Two of the slain candidates belonged to interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's political coalition, the Iraqi National Accord, a member of the group said.

At Least 22 Die in Iraq in Pre-Election Violence (Reuters) - Insurgents bent on sabotaging Iraq's Jan. 30 elections unleashed mortars and bombs and opened fire in several cities Monday, killing at least 22 policemen and soldiers and targeting polling stations.

Video Shows 8 Chinese Held in Iraq (CNN) - A video of eight Chinese construction workers taken hostage in Iraq surfaced Tuesday (1/18), just as the Vatican confirmed a Catholic archbishop had been released a day after he was kidnapped in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The video shows the men holding opened passports as an Arabic speaker demanded that the Chinese government declare it would not allow its citizens to work for Americans in Iraq.

Iraq Rebels in Video Taunt (Reuters) - Departing from fiery Islamic slogans, Iraqi guerrillas have launched a propaganda campaign with an English-language video urging U.S. troops to lay down their weapons and seek refuge in mosques and homes. The video, narrated in fluent English by what sounded like an Iraqi educated in the United States or Britain, also mocked the U.S. president's challenge to rebels in the early days of the insurgency to 'bring it on'.

Car Bomb Outside Mosque Kills Seven (CNN) - A car bomb was detonated outside a Shia mosque Thursday (1/13) night, killing four Iraqi police officers and three civilians and wounding 30 others, a U.S. military spokesman said.

U.S. General to Zarqawi: Your Days Are Numbered (Reuters) - A U.S. commander warned al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a driving force behind escalating attacks in the buildup to Iraq's election, that American troops were on his trail and would capture or kill him sooner or later. Branding Zarqawi the "head of the snake," Brig.-Gen. Jeffrey Hammond said on Friday (1/14) that taking out the shadowy Jordanian Islamist leader, who tops America's wanted list, would deal a crippling blow to Iraq's insurgency.

Aramco Confident in Updated Security Measures Following al-Qaeda Threat (Agence France Presse) - Threats by al-Qaeda to attack Gulf oil installations sent jitters through international markets last year but employees at Saudi Arabia's oil giant Aramco are now confident their security measures are adequate. "We have a (security) system in place ... We also cooperate with the government," said a company representative standing on the largest oil tank-farm in the world, which with its adjacent refinery together have a total storage capacity of 52 million barrels.

Kuwait Links Militants to al-Qaeda after Detaining a Dozen, including Saudis (Agence France Presse) - Kuwaiti security forces have arrested at least 10 suspects, including Saudi nationals, after the latest clashes between police and Islamist militants, the interior minister said Monday (1/17) as a top military official linked the unrest to al-Qaeda. The interior minister said there was close security coordination with authorities in neighboring Saudi Arabia, which has been rocked by a spate of terror attacks by suspected al-Qaeda extremists since May 2003.

Israel Attacks Suspected Hezbollah Targets (Associated Press) - Israeli warplanes attacked suspected Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon on Monday (1/17) after the guerrillas detonated a bomb in an Israeli bulldozer in a disputed area near the border, Israel and the guerrillas said. The Israeli army confirmed that the air force responded against a Hezbollah target in Lebanon, but it would not give the location or any other details. The military said there were no casualties in the bulldozer bombing.

Afghanistan and Pakistan
Reconciliation Effort with Taliban Picks up Pace in Afghanistan (Agence France Presse) - The release of some 80 prisoners from US custody in Afghanistan heralds an intensified effort to bring former fighters from the Taliban militia back into mainstream society, officials said. The move could propel a wider amnesty offer aimed at Taliban foot soldiers, some of whom have waged an insurgency from the hills and caves of Afghanistan since the Islamic regime was ousted by a US-led operation in late 2001.

Pakistan Detains 17 Suspected Militants (Reuters) - Pakistani troops arrested 17 men suspected of links with al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies on Saturday (1/15) after a raid in a lawless tribal region near the Afghan border, intelligence officials said. The raid came as military officials said al-Qaeda-linked militants were seeking hideouts in North Waziristan after being driven out of South Waziristan. Officials say about 100 foreign militants, mainly from Central Asia, are still hiding in the rugged region, while hundreds of others have been killed or have fled to Afghanistan.

Pakistan Releases Detained Tribal Men (Reuters) - Pakistani troops have released 20 men detained at the weekend for suspected links to al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents after determining they were not militants, officials said on Monday (1/17). The group was detained on Saturday during raids by army commandos in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Petition Against Qari Saif's Arrest Dismissed (Daily Times (Pakistan)) - The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday (1/17) dismissed a petition against the arrest of alleged al-Qaeda operative Qari Saifullah Akhtar and directed the petitioner to first move the High Court by filing a habeas corpus writ petition. Qari Saif, a Pakistani citizen, was arrested in Dubai on August 6, 2004 for his alleged links with al-Qaeda and his possible involvement in the attack on President General Pervez Musharraf.

Germany Holds 22 Islamic Suspects (CNN) - Police have arrested 22 members of a suspected criminal Islamic extremist network thought to be involved in recruiting for jihad, Munich police said. The arrests capped an extended investigation of the group, suspected of helping terrorists and centered in the area of the southern German city of Ulm. There are signs the association has ties to the al-Thawid and Ansar al-Islam organizations, police said. One suspect apparently has attended an al-Qaeda camp in Pakistan.

8 Indicted in Spain for 9/11 Attacks (Associated Press) - A Spanish judge indicted eight people on terrorism charges Monday (1/17), saying they had provided logistical help and false documents for suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks, including Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be Sept. 11 hijacker who has been in U.S. custody since his 2002 capture in Pakistan. He is believed to have been the main contact between a group of Sept. 11 attackers in Hamburg, Germany, and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Extremist Cleric Urges Muslims via Internet to Join al-Qaeda (Agence France Presse) - An extremist London cleric is appealing to young British Muslims to join al-Qaeda in live broadcasts on the Internet, according to a British newspaper. The Times said cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, who is banned from many British mosques, says a "covenant of security" allowing Muslims to live peacefully in Britain had been "violated" by anti-terrorist legislation enacted after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

UK Embassy in Yemen Re-opens (Reuters) - The British embassy in Yemen has re-opened after a 10-day closure over security concerns, an embassy spokesman says. The spokesman declined to comment on Saturday (1/15) on any possible changes in the security situation in the Arab state. A January 7 warning that "there is specific information that terrorists are in the final stages of planning attacks against British targets and other Western interests" was still valid, the embassy's Web site said on Saturday.

Convicted al-Qaeda Plotter Loses Appeal Against Australian Jail Term (Agence France Presse) - A Muslim convert jailed in Australia for plotting with al-Qaeda to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra lost an appeal to have his nine-year sentence reduced. British-born Jack Roche was convicted last May in a test case for new anti-terrorism laws after pleading guilty mid-way through his trial to charges of conspiring to damage the embassy with explosives. Roche had appealed against the length of the sentence, arguing that it did not take into account his extensive cooperation with Australian authorities.

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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