Saturday, March 12, 2005

A new Atttack?

03/03/2005 - By Michael Scheuer

DCI Porter Goss's testimony before Congress on February 16 that Soviet nuclear material could be in al-Qaeda's hands is a troubling coda to speeches by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in late 2004. Bin Laden's October 30 speech was treated by the media as an attempt to influence the election. Most post-speech commentary also claimed the speech moved bin Laden away from war and toward political discourse. That the speech was directed to the American people is clear. What received little notice, however, is that the speech - and Zawahiri's in November 2004 - completed a cycle of statements warning Americans, and preparing the Muslim world, for an al-Qaeda attack more severe than 9/11.

After 9/11, bin Laden received sharp criticisms from Islamist scholars that dealt with the al-Qaeda chief's failure to satisfy several religious requirements pertinent to waging war. The critique focused on three items: (1) insufficient warning; (2) failure to offer Americans a chance to convert to Islam; and (3) inadequate religious authorization to kill so many people. Bin Laden accepted these criticisms and in mid-2002 began a series of speeches and actions to remedy the shortcomings and satisfy his Islamist critics before again attacking in the United States.

Bin Laden devoted most attention to warning Americans that, to prevent another 9/11-type attack, they had to elect leaders who would change U.S. policies toward the Islamic world. He focused especially on the U.S. presence in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and Afghanistan, unqualified support for Israel, as well as support for Muslim tyrannies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Animosity toward these policies had long been a staple of bin Laden's statements, but since 2002 he has spoken directly to Americans about what they - not their leaders - must do to avoid another attack.

In America's democratic system, bin Laden said, U.S. leaders are elected by the people and stay in office only if the people support their policies. Arguing that the U.S. policies perceived by Muslims as attacks on Islam have been in place for decades, bin Laden said it is clear that the American people as a whole approve of anti-Islamic policies. "The American people have the ability and choice to refuse the policies of their Government and even to change their Government," bin Laden said in October 2002, "yet time and again polls show that the American people support the policies of the elected Government." On this basis, bin Laden warned Americans on four occasions between mid-2002 and October 2004 that they would be responsible for any military disaster that befell them if they did not elect leaders who would change the policy status quo. Indeed, bin Laden's speech of 30 October 2004 appears to be an exceptionally explicit warning. It was largely devoid of the religious and historical allusions usually present in his speeches, as if he wanted to ensure that translators would get his warning to Americans quickly and clearly. (Al-Jazeera, 30 October, 12 Nov 02;, 26 Oct 02)

Parallel to the warnings, bin Laden on two occasions since 2002 asked Americans to convert to Islam as the means of terminating the war al-Qaeda is waging against the United States. "We call you to Islam," bin Laden said on both occasions, addressing himself to President Bush - as the leader of the American people - and asking him to lead his countrymen to Islam. He also offered to serve as guide and teacher for the American people, urging them to "follow the right path" to Islam. "I am an honest adviser to you." bin Laden concluded, "I urge you to seek the joy of life and the after life.... I urge you to become Muslims...." (Al-Jazeera 6 Oct 02;, 26 Oct 02)

To remedy the criticism of inadequate religious authorization for mass American casualties, bin Laden received the necessary sanction from a young, radical Saudi Shaykh named Hamid bin al-Fahd. In May 2003, al-Fahd published a fatwa on his website entitled "A Treatise on the Legal Status of Using Weapons of Mass Destruction Against Infidels." (FBIS, May 23 2003) In this lengthy work, al-Fahd affirmatively answered the question of whether it was permissible under the four schools of Sunni Islam for the mujahideen to use nuclear weapons against the United States. Bin al-Fahd concluded that each school did permit the use of such weapons and that the mujahideen would be justified in inflicting millions of casualties in the United States. "Anyone who considers America's aggression against Muslims and their lands during the last decade," al-Fahd maintained, "will conclude that striking her is permissible merely on the rule of treating one as one has been treated. Some brothers have totaled the number of Muslims killed directly or indirectly by their [America's] weapons and come up with the figure of nearly ten million."

Thus, when bin Laden spoke to Americans in October 2004, he was tying up loose ends leftover from 9/11 and telling Americans again that changing the "policy of the White House ... [is] the ideal way to prevent another Manhattan...." (Al-Jazeera 30 Oct 04) By then he had repeatedly warned Americans that al-Qaeda would attack unless U.S. policies were changed. Strange and even comic sounding to American and Western ears, bin Laden's warnings and invitation to conversion are meant to satisfy Islamic scholars, and Muslims generally, that al-Qaeda has abided by the Prophet Muhammad's instructions of offering a warning to the enemy before launching an attack. Likewise, Shaykh al-Fahd's treatise attempts to overcome the lack of religious grounding for mass casualties for which Islamic scholars criticized the 9/11 attack, and will be used by bin Laden as such after his next attack against the United States.

In this overall context, the November 28 2004 speech by deputy al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri seems to have brought closure to the warning cycle begun by bin Laden in 2002. In his speech, Zawahiri spoke more in sorrow than anger when he gave Americans "a final piece of advice." He said that Americans had again elected leaders who would keep the status quo in U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world. Noting that al-Qaeda had repeatedly warned against this course of action, Zawahiri implied that Americans would get no more warnings and that they would have only themselves to blame for future disasters. "The results of your elections don't concern us," Zawahiri said about the policy status quo, "What matters to us is the way in which the United States behaves toward Muslims." (AFP, 30 November 2004)

Since November 2004, Zawahiri and bin Laden each have made two statements. They focused on Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the continuing threat of "The Crusaders"; none warned Americans or even specifically addressed the United States. These recent statements mirror the non-specific statements that were issued by bin Laden and Zawahiri before earlier attacks -such as 9/11 (2001), The USS Cole (2000), and the East Africa Embassy bombings (1998)- and suggest that bin Laden believes he has satisfied his post-9/11 critics. If Zawahiri's November 28 speech did conclude al-Qaeda's warning cycle, it probably means the group is ready to attack in the United States, a situation that makes DCI Goss's statement that Soviet nuclear materials may be held by al-Qaeda all the more troubling.

Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004. He served as the Chief of the bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999. He is the once anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.

Posted By: Jamestown

Rice Warns of Terrorists Entering U.S. via Mexico

- Knight Ridder News Service

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that al Qaeda terrorists may be trying to sneak into the United States through Mexico and Canada and promised a ''robust'' effort to strengthen border security.

''There's no secret that al Qaeda will try to get into this country and into other countries by any means that they possibly can,'' Rice told reporters. ``That's how they managed to do it before, and they will do everything that they can to cross borders.''

The top U.S. diplomat met with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez in high-level talks that focused heavily on border security, immigration and improving economic ties between the United States and Mexico.


Rice announced a $10 million grant to help nurture development of small business in Mexico, particularly those involving women, and joined Mexican officials in resolving a lingering water dispute between Mexico and South Texas farmers. Mexico agreed to repay most -- but not all -- of Rio Grande water owed to Texas under a 1944 treaty.

The daylong trip was Rice's first visit to Mexico since become secretary of state five weeks ago.

In testimony before Congress last month, Admiral James Loy, who at the time was deputy secretary of Homeland Security, said intelligence strongly suggested that ''al Qaeda has considered using the southwest border to infiltrate the United States,'' possibly with the help of criminal gangs.

Estimates of immigrants crossing the Mexican border each year into the U.S. range from hundreds of thousands to millions. Increasingly they transit Mexico from other countries, and often elude outnumbered border patrolmen.

Rice said that border security will be a top priority of new Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff and will be high on the agenda of a summit of President Bush, Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin March 23 at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Mexican officials have been testy about recent U.S. administration remarks about security problems in Mexico.

Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha said Thursday in Madrid that there were no terrorists in Mexico.

''Mexico considers that terrorism must be confronted head-on, but never to the detriment of violating the rights of citizens,'' he said.

Rice, conducting her first one-on-one meeting with the Mexican president, met with Fox at Los Pinos, the equivalent of Mexico's White House, and then held talks with Derbez. Afterward, she and the foreign affairs secretary had a working lunch with academics and opinion leaders. A handful of protesters outside the foreign ministry brandished anti-U.S. placards denouncing U.S. involvement in Iraq.


Addressing a top priority for the Fox administration, Rice reiterated Bush's commitment to revamping U.S. immigration policy to deal with millions of Mexican immigrants believed to be living in the United States illegally, but stressed that the administration wants to make sure ``it's done right.''

Bush is proposing a temporary guest worker program that would enable qualified immigrants, including those now in the country illegally, to stay in the United States for up to six years in jobs that Americans don't want.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Steven Emerson Interview: Militant Islam Misleads and Endangers Europe, U.S.

This from the Counterterrorism Blog

In November, Investigative Project Executive Director Steven Emerson spent a week in Berlin as the guest of the American Academy and gave briefings to German policy and government officials. Mr. Emerson was interviewed by the German newspaper "Die Welt" about the terrorist threat posed by radical Islam in the West, and in particular the problems the West has in confronting it. In it he noted that Western countries have acted against the threat only after a violent act, such as the 9-11 attacks in the U.S., the Madrid train bombings, or the Van Gogh murder in the Netherlands. He stressed that the conflict is "not necessarily with Islam as a whole - but with the militant Islam." He called for a multi-step process for defeating Islamic terrorism, including "academic centers for the moderate Islam," and he predicted a long war against the enemy. The full text is below.

"The West needs blood on its streets"!
Not until then will they comprehend the danger from militant Islamists, according to terror expert Emerson

By Dietrich Alexander and Jacques Schuster
Die Welt
November 26, 2004

DIE WELT: Are there differences between the US and Europe in how they treat terrorism?

Emerson: My experience is that the German secret service knows of the danger the terror organizations and especially the militant Islamic groups' cause. They also know that several groups are trying to mislead the secret service by claiming to be moderate, but in reality are following their radical agenda. In the US you won't find radical groups operating openly - they propagate Jihad (holy war) secretly. Therefore, society is not aware of the problem, their militant ideology that dominates in certain institutions. The debate revolves around the same problem: Who is really a moderate Muslim, what is a militant Islamist, what should the balance be between a free expression of opinion and a gag order.

DIE WELT: Do the Europeans need their own 9/11 in order to understand the dangers they are exposed to?

Emerson: The western society needs blood on its streets before they will recognize the problem. The attack in Madrid and the assault on the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh caused a significant reaction. The mood in the last 3 weeks has changed. There is no doubt that every country that becomes a victim of an attack is more aware and mobilized. I have noticed a distinct discrepancy between the political establishment and the criminal prosecution by the secret police. The French, Scotland Yard, the BND know the threat. But the politicians are still idle or think they can sweep it under the rug. They trust that they can negotiate matters; but you cannot negotiate with these people.

DIE WELT: Is the Huntington's thesis of "Collision of Civilizations" already reality? Is this the European front of the conflict?

Emerson: Huntington's thesis is vehemently criticized, especially by American politicians who would never admit that there is a conflict with Islam. The fact is, the conflict is here, not necessarily with Islam as a whole - but with the militant Islam. This conflict did not start with the attacks on 9/11, but started in the mid 90's with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. We are dealing with a group of people who believe in violence.

DIE WELT: Is that the Islam in general or just the Arab mentality?

Emerson: There are authentic moderate clerics, but there is a problem in the West in dealing with the issues of the militant Islamists or the militant Islamic fundamentalists. They hide behind the contention that it does not exist and therefore circumvent the moral responsibility to condemn it. How can one proceed against the militant Islam without giving the impression to the Muslims that one is going to war against Islam? The Iraq war is viewed as a war against Islam. The extremists interpret everything as an attack on Islam. I am not sure that we can change the public opinion in the Muslim world. We must get the Muslims in the western world to the point where they will adhere to our rules.

DIE WELT: Are you expecting more involvement of the moderate Muslims?

Emerson: The European governments and the American government should encourage the moderates to come forward and to punish the militant clerics - instead of legitimizing them. The British government had recently invited a well-known radical Muslim cleric (Yousef Al Qardawi) to London; the mayor of London gave a reception in his honor. That is an outrage. This man propagates suicide missions, legitimizes the beating of women by their husbands, has condoned the death penalty for homosexuals, is against secularism and claims that the Jews and crusaders are their enemies. In the same breath he affirms to be moderate and is looking for a dialogue. The west is being deceived.

DIE WELT: You wrote about the Jihad in America. How concrete is an attack on Europe - on Germany?

Emerson: I don't doubt that Germany should fear an attack. What happened in Madrid and in the Netherlands was not specific to these countries. There is a European fundamental Islamic movement, imbedded for years, some in second and third generations, that is very dangerous. The Europeans have thought for years the Islamic groups collect money, recruit members and commit their attacks somewhere else. That is coming back to bite them now. If there are no significant changes made and the Islamic schools remain without any supervision, then Europe will have serious security issues within the next 20 years that they cannot handle unless they resort to anti-democratic political means.

DIE WELT: So the multi-cultural society is ruined?

Emerson: Multiculturalism was originally the recognition of other cultures as part of pluralism. According to our understanding western values should dominate a multi-cultural society. Some people in the US call this racism. That is ridiculous. The Dutch who are known to be tolerant against intolerance now realize the shortcomings of the social discourse. Multiculturalism has absolutely failed. If every other culture is like your own - there are no divisions.

DIE WELT: What is the alternative?

Emerson: First one has to hunt down those who broke the laws - terrorists. Then we need better central intelligence work and exchange of information. Thirdly a "sugar coating" and "whip" politics. Encouragement and reward for the moderates; political punishment for the radicals. These are short-term solutions. In the long-term we need academic centers for the moderate Islam.

DIE WELT: Has the Iraq war deactivated the situation or is the danger of terror attacks heightened?

Emerson: The threats to the US and the western targets would not have decreased if the Iraq war had not happened. Anger and hate toward the US are deep rooted and are the backside of colonialism in a religious garb. The Muslims consider themselves victims and that feeling is being used politically. It is a modern day battle that produces and supports hate.

DIE WELT: Is Osama Bin Laden playing a role or are the terror cells autonomous?

Emerson: I don't believe that he is involved operationally. Today, we have a Europe without borders. For instance, there is no pure Spanish terror cell, the terrorists can travel freely. Besides there is a new leadership that does not need orders from Aiman Al Zawahiri (Bin Laden's second in command and #2 of Al Qaida. Die Welt) in order to build new cells or perpetrate new acts of violence.

DIE WELT: Are we at the beginning of a war against Islamic terror? How long will it last?

Emerson: First of all it will get worse before it will get better, because we in the west have reached a "critical mass" of radicals. I suppose that this conflict will take a long time. It will slowly simmer, with long breaks and occasional outbursts.

Al-Qa'ida book on managing savagery

This from Jihad Watch

An intriguing new Al-Qaeda book on how to reestablish the caliphate by stages has appeared on the Internet. From Isralert, with thanks to Enzo:

On 2 March, "Irhabi3," a new member in Al-Ikhlas forum, posted a link to a new book "Managing Savagery - The Most Crucial Period to Be Faced by the Nation," by Abu-Bakr Naji. The 113-page book was published by the al-Qa'ida-affiliated Center for Islamic Studies and Research. In the book, Naji presented an elaborate plan for the recreation of an Islamic Nation, starting in limited areas, and spreading worldwide. He called for scattered small attacks against "enemy interests" to cause security disarray, seizure of power by the mujahidin, and establishment of the Islamic nation. In his introduction, the author said that the book discusses the subject of Savagery Management in general, and only goes into details when absolutely necessary. He said that the minute details will be left to the experts and to the actual leaders in the field....

The book opened with a description of the state of the world superpowers and the situation in the Muslim world and claimed that societies have faced fast moral deterioration. Naji argued that, according to God's intent for his creation, morality and social justice can only be restored through power and fighting, and not through peaceful means like the ones promoted by Gandhi. He stressed the importance of his plan, as explained in the book, to use citizens and the mujahidin's organized forces to restore the Muslim nation. He suggested applying his plan first to a small group of countries: Saudi Arabia, Northwest Africa, Nigeria, Pakistan, Jordan, and Yemen, before spreading worldwide. He presented the necessary three major phases to establish his proposed nation:

First: The Weakening and Wearing Down Phase - This is the phase during which jihadist groups, in various parts of the world, create security disarray by carrying out attacks against various targets. He urged smaller attacks as they do not require approval of "high command" and provide more flexibility to the groups. He said that such "attacks will attract the youth to jihad, free these areas from the existing apostate regimes, and prepare their forces for the next phase of Savagery Management."

Second: The Savagery Management Phase – The mujahidin will take control and manage the anarchy resulting form the previous phase. During this period, they will preserve the security of the area under their control, provide citizens with food and healthcare, strengthen their combat abilities, establish the legal system in the area under control, provide Shari'ah and jihad education, establish an intelligence system, sign treaties with groups in surrounding areas, and improve the administrative abilities in preparation for the establishment of the Islamic State.

Third: The Empowerment Phase [The Establishment of the State] - The author suggested that the 11 September attacks "caused the US to lose its grandeur and were planned to force the United States into the trap of revenge by invading Afghanistan and coming face to face with the people of the occupied lands." He suggested expanding attacks against the "Crusaders and Zionists" worldwide and urged concentrating on "economic targets especially oil" to weaken the "forces and economies." The author predicted that by the end of this phase the enemy would join the mujahidin so as to "die as martyrs instead of tyrant infidels . . . and the enemy might resort to peaceful means and settle to protecting their economy and wealth . . . security disarray follows . . . and the mujahidin will continue their progress." He added that the plan requires both military and media strategies to support it.

Ibrahim Hooper might be able to tell you something about those media strategies. Ibrahim?

Anyway, read it all.

Terror Conference--Block the Money

Madrid — Financial experts urged world leaders Wednesday to create a new international institution under UN auspices to study how terrorists raise money so ways can be found to cut the funds to al-Qaeda and other violent movements.

The draft recommendation, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press, and experts attending a terrorism conference said that some measures have been taken to curb terrorist financing but that they are not enough.

“Terrorist financing has not been recognized as a priority in the fight against terrorism,” said Loretta Napoleoni, an expert on terrorist financing. “It would be much more efficient if we blocked the money. And we haven't done that.”

World leaders and experts at the four-day summit on democracy, terrorism and security are grappling with ways to combat violence without jeopardizing human rights.


Fighting terrorism financing was seen as a possibility, but it is complicated, in part because terrorists raise funds by using legitimate businesses, besides kidnapping, drug dealing and credit-card fraud.

“We don't have a clear image of how the money of terrorists moves around,” said Petre Roman, a former prime minister of Romania. “We know that the most terrible acts have been committed with very little money.”

The train bombings in Madrid on March 11, 2004, cost as little as $1,300 (U.S.), Mr. Roman said, while the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States did not exceed $500,000. Islamic extremists said they were behind both events.

“Without an international effort, we cannot tackle this problem efficiently,” he said. “We need to know how to pursue this money, and this cannot be done within the current legal framework.”

Former French prime minister Lionel Jospin stressed that international co-operation must take place within “the rule of law and respecting civil rights, because they are the soul of democracy.”

Mr. Jospin, Roman and former Colombian president Andres Pastrana said the conference's draft recommendations will address the blocking of terrorists' financial networks.

The finance working group experts suggested that in addition to creating an independent finance centre under UN auspices, a judicial review process should be put into place to place anti-terrorism measures within a legal framework.

“Decisions taken by the international community to act against institutions and individuals must be subject to legal oversight,” the draft statement said. “This must be done through a mixture of co-operation between legal domestic tribunals and an international body, sanctioned by the (UN Security Council) or an international treaty.”

The Club de Madrid group of former heads of government organized the conference and timed it to coincide with the anniversary of the Madrid train bombing, an attack that killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,500.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was to present a special UN report on terrorism at the conference Thursday. Other world leaders to arrive Wednesday include Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

U.S. Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales will represent President George W. Bush.

Summit topics include terrorism financing, recruiting, and use of the Internet; and its impact on world business including tourism.

Experts and Club de Madrid officials said there are no quick solutions.

“This summit is convened to pool together our wisdom,” said Lee Hong Koo, the former prime minister of Korea. “In this process we will preserve our democracy

CSIS eyes mosques suspected in terror

Believed to be assisting with recruiting


OTTAWA—Canada's spy agency is monitoring certain mosques in the country that it suspects are raising funds for terrorist activities and recruiting terrorist sympathizers, a senior CSIS official says.

Under questioning by senators reviewing Canada's anti-terror laws, the former interim director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and now second-in-charge, corrected the new boss who denied knowledge of suspicious mosques in Canada.

Asked by Liberal Senator David Smith whether Canada has seen a repeat of the British experience where mosques are viewed as recruiting venues for sympathizers to go conduct terrorist activities in Iraq, CSIS director Jim Judd replied, "I know of nothing personally."

That prompted CSIS operations director Dale Neufeld, who was interim head of CSIS until Judd's November appointment, to intervene with a stunning admission.

"There certainly are mosques in this country — again I wouldn't say they're representative of the Muslim faith — but there are a couple that we believe have that role of facilitating fundraising and perhaps talent-spotting individuals to go for training."

Neufeld was not pressed further by Smith, nor did he offer further details.

Judd, in his opening remarks, had said "the ranks of trained terrorist fighters in Iraq are bolstered by individuals from around the world, including from Europe and Canada." He mentioned only an unnamed Canadian citizen who is "believed to be a member of a group affiliated with Al Qaeda and Abdul Jabbar, a landed immigrant, is believed to be a key commander and ideologue with that same organization in Iraq."

Judd went on to outline an emerging and "surprising" threat from "second-generation Canadians" who sympathize with "homeland" causes and are getting caught up in terrorist activities.

He said "the type of persons attracted to terrorist networks is changing in worrisome ways."

That prompted Senator Mobina Jaffer to chide him not to look "at second generation as homeland people or from immigrant communities because we are not."

"My children are not immigrants; they were born in this country. Bill C36 has already started creating an us-and-them, and that is a concern to me."

The appearance of Canada's two top spymasters yesterday revealed several other aspects of CSIS activities:

Judd said Canada's spy agency has never exported or aided another country to ship abroad suspected terrorists for tough interrogations or torture.

Judd denied CSIS had any role in the decision by the United States to deport Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, to his native country where Arar says he was tortured.

But in doing so, he acknowledged there was communication "after" that deportation occurred.

He revealed the service is actively considering whether to recommend the Tamil Tigers be blacklisted as a terrorist organization, but admitted the government does not want to adversely affect the peace process in Sri Lanka.

He disclosed that the intelligence agency's internal list of terror or espionage suspects contains a list of individuals "in the triple digits," although he would not say if it was closer to one thousand or one hundred names.

He revealed that, despite passage of a law last year in response to "urgent" appeals for access to more airline passenger information, CSIS has not yet begun to use airline information to try to cross-reference it and identify terrorist suspects. The explanation? The "technical" aspects of the computer system that would do the work have not been finalized, and "privacy concerns."

"We want to be absolutely scrupulous in how we would proceed with this provision," he said.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Neo-Conservative's Caution

by Daniel Pipes

[NYS title: "Good News Could End In Mideast"]

I have never quite figured out what views define a neo-conservative, and whether I am one or not, but others long ago decided this matter for me. Journalists use "neo-conservative" to describe me, editors include my writings in a neo-conservative anthology, critics plumb my views for insight into neo-conservative thinking, and event hosts invite me to represent the neo-conservative viewpoint.

As some of my oldest friends and closest allies are called neo-conservative, I happily accept this appellation. Indeed, it has a certain cachet, given that no more than 50 Americans have been called neoconservative, yet we allegedly drive American foreign policy.

I mention all this because neoconservative policies in the Middle East have been looking pretty good the past two months, as Max Boot amplifies in a column titled "Neocons May Get the Last Laugh":

On January 9, Palestinian Arab voters trooped to the polls and chose Mahmoud Abbas, who proclaims his intent to end the armed struggle against Israel.
On January 30, 8 million Iraqi voters braved bombs and bullets to cast their ballots.
On February 10, Saudi Arabia held its first-ever municipal elections, a crack in the royal family's absolute authority.
On February 26, Egypt's president Husni Mubarak suddenly announced that the forthcoming presidential election will involve candidates other than himself.
On February 28, tens of thousands of demonstrators in Beirut forced the resignation of the pro-Syrian government of Prime Minister Omar Karami.
If the Lebanese succeed in winning their independence, it could spell the end of Bashar Assad and the Baathist regime in Damascus.
These developments find some neo-conservatives in a state of near-euphoria. Rich Lowry of the National Review calls them "a marvelous thing." Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post writes that "We are at the dawn of a glorious, delicate, revolutionary moment in the Middle East."

I too welcome these developments, but more warily. Having been trained in Middle Eastern history makes me perhaps more aware of what can go wrong:

Yes, Mahmoud Abbas wishes to end the armed struggle against Israel but his call for a greater jihad against the "Zionist enemy" points to his intending another form of war to destroy Israel.
The Iraqi elections are bringing Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a pro-Iranian Islamist, to power.
Likewise, the Saudi elections proved a boon for the Islamist candidates.
Mubarak's promise is purely cosmetic; but should real presidential elections one day come to Egypt, Islamists will probably prevail there too.
Removing Syrian control in Lebanon could well lead to Hezbollah, a terrorist group, becoming the dominant power there.
Eliminating the hideous Assad dynasty could well bring in its wake an Islamist government in Damascus.
Note a pattern? Other than the sui generis Palestinian case, one main danger threatens to undo the good news: that a too-quick removal of tyranny unleashes Islamist ideologues and opens their way to power. Sadly, Islamists uniquely have what it takes to win elections: the talent to develop a compelling ideology, the energy to found parties, the devotion to win supporters, the money to spend on electoral campaigns, the honesty to appeal to voters, and the will to intimidate rivals.

This drive to power is nothing new. In 1979, Islamists exploited the shah's fall to take power in Iran. In 1992, they were on their way to win elections in Algeria. In 2002, they democratically took over in Turkey and Bangladesh. Removing Saddam Hussein, Husni Mubarak, Bashar Assad, and the Saudi princes is easier than convincing Middle Eastern Muslim peoples not to replace them with virulent Islamist ideologues.

The Middle East today is not alone in its attraction to a totalitarian movement – think Germany in 1933 or Chile in 1970 – but it is unique in the extent and persistence of this allure. I worry that my fellow neo-conservatives are insufficiently focused on its implications.

President Bush deserves high praise for his steadfast vision of a free Middle East; but his administration should proceed slowly and very carefully about transferring power from autocrats to democrats. The Middle East's totalitarian temptation, with its deep questions of history and identity, needs first to be confronted and managed. To skip these steps could leave the region even worse off than during the era of unelected tyrants.


Hon. Solomon P. Ortiz
Oversight Hearing on "The Immigration Enforcement Resources Authorized in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004."

MARCH 3, 2005

Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Jackson Lee, and Members of the Committee.

Thank you for your timely hearing about dangers in U.S. border security.

Before I begin, let me state that I am not an immigrant-basher. My mother was an immigrant and I am part of a rich tradition of immigrants in the U.S.

Before coming to Congress, I was a sheriff in South Texas, which keeps me in close touch with the people who protect our safety and property along the southern border.

I want to address a growing, dangerous national security problem originating on the southern border with 3 major components:

1. The release of OTMs (other than Mexicans) by the U.S. government. Border law enforcement officers routinely release illegal immigrants into the general population of the U.S. because they do not have sufficient funds and space to detain them at detention facilities. Captured OTMs are released on their own recognizance and are ordered to appear at a deportation hearing weeks after their release. The number of “absconders” – those who never appear for deportation – varies widely, but is said to be 90% of those released, a number now approaching 75,000.

2. The growing number of Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gangs, the bloody, violent Central American gangs that are now a serious criminal element in major cities and in states around the country. These gangs are entering the country as OTMs, and gaining easy release.

3. A recent warning to Americans by the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico illustrating the danger of narcotrafficking gangs along the U.S. border directed against Americans in the border area, including kidnapping of American citizens.

The Southern Border is literally under siege, and there is a real possibility that terrorists – particularly al Qaida forces – could exploit this series of holes in our law enforcement system along the southern border.

There has been a 137% increase in OTMs in this fiscal year alone – translating to roughly 6,000 OTMs. Of those, 40% pass through the McAllen Sector alone in south Texas.

However, this problem is not just in South Texas. Boston-area police have arrested a number of MS 13 gang members who are tearing through their community, one of which was reported to be an OTM, released by border law enforcement.

Central American law enforcement and news reports note that al Qaida is trying to get the ruthless MS 13 gangs to move high value al Qaida operatives across the border for a large sum of money, we’ve heard about $250,000.

Admiral James Loy from the Department of Homeland Security recently noted in testimony before the Intelligence Committee that there is reason to believe al Qaida is attempting to exploit the southern border to enter the U.S.

This is what we know.

The Intelligence Reform bill passed by Congress, and signed by the President, mandated 10,000 Border Patrol agents over 10 years, 2,000 annually. The budget received by Congress in early February only funded 210 BP agents. The Border Patrol will lose more than 210 agents to attrition – the strength of the Border Patrol is dwindling. Just this week, 24 more Border Patrol agents were mobilized with the National Guard to the war in Iraq from the McAllen sector alone.

Intelligence Reform mandated an increase of 8,000 beds in detention facilities annually for the next 5 years, still not nearly enough to hold all those coming in to the U.S. Yet, our budget proposal provides for only about 1,900 new detention space beds – over 6,000 beds short of the congressional mandate passed in December 2004.

This is a clear and present danger inside the United States, and the number of released illegal immigrants not returning for deportation grows by the hundreds each week.

This willfully ignores a complex problem undermining our national objective: to take the war to the enemy so we do not have to fight the war on terror inside our country, yet we could very well be letting people in our own backyard.

Not only do we not know who we are releasing, we don’t know where they are going. The entire system depends upon the information given to us by the immigrants. Without ID, agents simply have to trust they are getting accurate information.

Local ranchers found clothing that is native to the Middle East and Sudanese money – countries of special interest – and those OTMs are being released. They are showing up in taxis at Border Patrol stations to get their walking papers.

The more OTMs we release, the more we encourage their crossing in the first place. Until we have the resources we need – the border patrol agents, the detention facilities and the appropriate technology – to accurately screen these immigrants, they are going to continue to enter the country. We must send a clear signal that they will be apprehended and put through the legal process in order for these OTMs to stop infiltrating our borders.

Our borders are crossed illegally in waves – the first wave of 10 or so are captured, processed and nearly always released, but while the agents are processing the first wave, the next several waves come in uncontested.

Again, let’s be clear – this is not anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Most immigrants crossing our borders merely seek a better life. In FY03, 95% of illegal immigrants were Mexicans; the remaining 5% (49,545) were OTMs.

Before 9-11, concerns about illegal immigrants focused entirely on the cost to local communities and the fear that Americans could lose jobs to immigrants willing to work cheaper. That is not the case today.

Once again, the OTM issue is not just a concern for border communities, but more importantly for all of us. It is a dire matter of our national security in this dangerous new age.

I am introducing a border security bill shortly that will address some of the issues we have discussed here today. I hope all of you will consider co-sponsoring it and I invite you to my district to see all this for yourselves.

My recommendations – many of which are included in my bill – are on many levels:

• Providing more security clearances to agents so more can access the database – presently only a few have the abilities – or providing more training for our agents

• More piloted aircraft, fewer UAVs – those who utilize it say our air ops is outdated

• In the McAllen sector, we need remote video cameras – they need cameras on both sides of the checkpoints

• More personnel to man the checkpoints and cameras

• More immigration judges

• Some type of roving collection facility to gather up illegal immigrants to keep agents on their post

• Work with Mexico to prevent OTMs from crossing in the first place

• Exchange criminal data with Central American countries to know who’s crossing the border

• Agencies need to talk to each other and stop denying the magnitude of this problem.

We can’t just talk about it, or authorize it. We must fund every single penny of it now, in the supplemental coming before Congress in the next few weeks.

I asked those who stand on our front lines what they would want to say to the U.S. Congress; here’s what they said:
- “Our borders are not secure.”
- “What’s our mission here? We’re spinning our wheels.”
- “The whole system is broken.”
- “We’re releasing OTMs without proper checks due to lack of time and info.”

I want to thank the Majority and the Minority members of the Subcommittee – and their staff – for their concern on this issue and for inviting me to testify.

I wish to submit for the record a number of new stories about these things, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Monday, March 07, 2005

From Gloucester to Afghanistan: the making of a shoe bomber

Saajid Badat this week pleaded guilty to plotting to blow up a plane. What drove this quiet football fan to thoughts of terror?

Mark Honigsbaum and Vikram Dodd
The Guardian

He seemed the model British Muslim citizen - a poster boy for integration whose knowledge of the Qu'ran and achievement at grammar school made Gloucester's close-knit Islamic community proud.
When in November 2003 anti-terrorist police turned up at the terraced house in the Barton and Tredworth district of the city that Saajid Badat shared with his parents, Muhammed and Zubeida, his father never suspected a thing.

Seeing officers at the end of his road, he invited them in for tea only to be told it was his house they were raiding, and his son they were after. Even when police found plastic explosive, a specially adapted shoe and a length of detonating cord hidden in a green case under Saajid's bed, his family and neighbours could not believe the charges.

Badat, 25, was a Hafiz - a person who could recite by heart all 30 chapters of Islam's holy book. Now with his guilty plea on Monday he admitted that he had signed up for a plot of mass murder - the most significant terrorist conviction of an al-Qaida inspired conspirator in Britain since the September 11 attacks.

"He knew better than anyone that the Qu'ran forbids the killing of innocent people," said Usman Bhaima, a Liberal Democrat councillor and friend of the family. "There was not the slightest doubt in his parents' or the community's mind that he was innocent.'

But following Badat's surprise guilty plea at the Old Bailey on charges of terrorist conspiracy, the Muslim community in the cathedral city were having to come to terms with the fact that "Hafiz" Saajid Badat was a master of deception.

Terror camp

Forensic tests found the detonation cord on his device was an exact match for the one carried by Reid - it had simply been cut in two. Intelligence sources believe that, like Reid, Badat had collected the cord and explosive at a terror training camp in Afghanistan and smuggled it into Britain with the intention of blowing up a transatlantic airliner.

But on December 14 2001, three days before he was due to board a flight for United States, Mr Badat emailed his controller to say he had had a change of heart and backed out. "His mother is inconsolable and his father is heartbroken," said Mr Bhaima. "They had no idea he was about to change his plea. They had no idea what happened when Saajid was overseas.'

But as his parents come to terms with the fact that their son was a would-be suicide bomber, the bigger question is this: was Badat a one-off or are the prime minister and the Metropolitan police commissioner Ian Blair right when they claimed last week that there are "hundreds" of other Saajids plotting terrorist acts? Just as pertinent is what turned this ordinary Gloucester grammar school boy into a willing terrorist recruit and why, in the end, did he back away from the murderous plot?

Badat refused to comment during police interviews so detectives have no answers to these questions - ones that also worry senior officers and government. Answers may come at his sentencing on March 18 when his lawyers will argue for leniency.Muhammed and Zubeida have avoided the media since their son's conviction.But according to Mr Bhaima, who has been acting as an unofficial spokesman for the family, they may be as much in the dark as anyone.

"No one can explain it," said Mr Bhaima. "I have known Saajid since he was a child. He is a very nice chap - very hard working, very industrious. If he saw someone doing something wrong he would tell them to go on the straight road."

Badat's own straight path should have begun in 1990 when, at the age of 11, he won a coveted place at Gloucester's historic Crypt grammar school for boys whose former alumni included Sir Robin Day.

Muhammed and Zubeida had arrived in Gloucester from Malawi in the early 1970s. While Muhammed found work in the local Wall's ice cream factory Zubeida, a part-time seamstress, concentrated on raising their four children. Though Saajid had an older sister, he was the first born male and his academic success made his father immensely proud, said Mr Bhaima.

By all accounts he had no trouble fitting in at the Church of England school. Former classmates and teachers recalled him as a friendly and popular student. "He was well motivated and hard-working - a credit to his family and to the school," said William Armiger, the then headmaster. In 1997 he graduated with 10 GCSEs and four A-levels and enrolled on a sociology course in London. A keen footballer he supported Liverpool, playing for the Asian Stars, a Sunday league team on weekends.

Although his strict religious beliefs forbade him watching Liverpool games on TV - it is a basic belief of Islam that images of living things should not be made - Badat found a solution: he listened to the games on radio. At this stage there was little sign of his disillusion with wider British society.

However, David Lamper, then a teacher at the Crypt and now headmaster, noticed that while Badat was always punctual and polite he took his religious beliefs seriously.

What his Christian contemporaries may not have realised is that throughout his schooldays Badat was also studying hard at the local Masjid-E-Noor mosque, and commiting the Qu'ran to memory. His father, who had made several pilgrimages to Mecca, was apparently eager for him to become a cleric.

Mr Bhaima denied newspaper reports this week that he and Saajid had clashed over Muhammed's desire that Saajid delay university to concentrate on his religious studies. Saajid simply continued his religious studies at the same time as attending university in London.

It was in London that Badat, who had been a worshipper at the controversial Finsbury Park mosque in north London, may have first come under the sway of fundamentalists.

In 1998, Mr Badat suddenly quit his degree course and began a three-year world tour, visiting India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Intelligence sources believe it was there that he became a fully-fledged terrorist recruit, learning the basics of explosives at a camp in Khalden, run by Osama bin Laden, before graduating to Daruntag camp to prepare for his suicide mission. His co-conspirator Reid was also trained at the camps, and both would be controlled by Nizar Trabelsi, who is now in prison for planning to attack a US base in Belgium.

Badat next returned to Europe via Saudi Arabia. On the very day of al-Qaida's attacks on September 11 2001, he was at the British embassy in Brussels claiming to have lost his passport and receiving a replacement - without the incriminating stamps from Afghanistan.

On December 10 he returned to Britain carrying the shoe bomb and explosives that could not be detected by airport screening. Reid, who had followed a near identical course, stopping at the embassy in Brussels to play the same lost-passport trick, boarded a flight from Paris to Miami on December 22 wearing his explosive footwear.

The shoe bomb was powerful enough to punch a hole in the plane and had passengers not overpowered Reid the crash would have killed all 200 people on board. Badat's bomb was equally viable.But on December 17 he emailed his handlers that he was pulling out and hid the explosives and detonator in his parents' house.

"He was on the devil's path but God stopped him," said Asam Hassanjee, a Halal butcher who counts Mrs Badat among his valued customers. "When it came time to plant the bomb Allah came into his mind straight away and reminded him that the Qu'ran forbids you to kill people.'

Mr Hassanjee said Badat's reversal was genuine - proof that he had not only learnt the Qu'ran by heart but had also taken its message to heart - and urged the judge show him leniency. 'There was no lose of life or limb or property," said Mr Bhaima, echoing widespread feeling in the community. " His strongest belief was that killing is unlawful."


That may be a charitable interpretation. Police point out he never got rid of the bomb, meaning he could have just been waiting for an opportunity to use it. After renouncing his part in the plot, Badat had enrolled at the moderate College of Islamic Knowledge and Guidance in Blackburn to train to become an imam.

It was a totally different ideological environment to the Afghan terror camps. Confined to the college grounds, he studied the sayings of the prophet Muhammad but also learnt about other religions and citizenship.His choice of college may indicate that Badat was backing away from extremism and returning to the Islamic mainstream.

"Everybody knew him as a quiet person, somebody dedicated to what he had to do. He was good at his studies," said college administrator Ahmad Talha.

But Badat did not stick the course. Instead he quit after two years, returning to his family and the Gloucester community. In the weeks and days leading up to his arrest on November 27 2003, Badat lead the traditional Ramadam recitals at the Masjid-E-Noor mosque. Dressed in flowing robes and sporting a long beard, he appeared concerned to set a good example to other young men in the community.

But many did not swallow his attempt to cultivate a pious image, whispering about his time in Pakistan - a well-known gateway to Afghanistan and the terror camps.

Ironically, Gloucester's Muslim community is one of the most integrated in Britain and one of the most progressive. Gloucester Muslims holiday in Europe, take trips to the nearby Forest of Dean, and see education as the key to betterment and success.

But sources in the community say that Badat is not the only intelligent youngster locally who sympathises with the idea of violence.

"There are small pockets of young people in the community who would be pro Saajid ... [thinking] that something needs to be done to correct the injustice, that they should do things to challenge what is going on," said a source.

He added that these sympathisers so distrust the authorities that some would not report terrorists in their midst.

In a week that has seen the first admission of guilt by a British terrorist plotting an al-Qaida-style atrocity, that is grim assessment - one that will alarm the security services and ministers.

However, Mr Bhaima argues that Badat is a simply a young man who was led astray. "He went overseas at an impressionable age and came under the sway of the wrong people. Thank Allah he came to his senses in time."

Up to 200 Al-Qaeda terrorists in Britain

Brendan Bourne

London Times

BRITAIN’s most senior police officer at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks has warned that there are at least 100 Al-Qaeda trained fighters “walking Britain’s streets”.

Sir John Stevens, who retired as Metropolitan police commissioner at the end of January, fears the true figure of those potentially able to carry out attacks is probably nearer 200.

“Though they haven’t yet subjected Britain to horrors such as 9/11 or the Madrid bombings, make no mistake they would if they could,” said Stevens. “If I heard on my car radio that they had pulled off a terrorist atrocity at last, I’d be horrified but not in the slightest bit surprised.”

Stevens’s latest assessment of the threat posed by fundamentalist adherents of Osama Bin Laden comes in a newspaper article in which he says the government’s prevention of terrorism bill is “vital” legislation.

“The main opposition to the bill is from people who simply haven’t understood the true horror of the terrorism we face.

“For the safety of the vast majority, occasionally we will have to accept the infringement of the human rights of high-risk individuals.”

Stevens’s comments follow Tony Blair’s assertion on the BBC last week that there are “several hundred engaged in plotting or trying to commit terrorist acts”.

The figures are thought to be based on the numbers of “graduates” who returned to Britain from Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan until they were destroyed by coalition forces during the war of 2001-02.

Senior security figures including Sir Ian Blair, Stevens’s successor as commissioner, believe the radicalising influence of such “jihadists” — some of whom have also fought for the Muslim cause in Bosnia, Chechnya and Kashmir — provide the core of the threat to Britain.

Stevens said the suspects held without trial at Belmarsh prison in southeast London remain a threat and should not be freed despite a ruling by the law lords in December that the men’s human rights had been infringed.

“I have read every word of the evidence and intelligence against them. I know that for the safety of innocent people they should remain under lock and key. They simply should not be at liberty in this country. It is madness,” Stevens wrote in the News of the World.

“I’ve heard opposing politicians say: ‘We didn’t need these new measures to fight the IRA when they were bombing our cities. Why do we need them against this lot?’ The difference is that no Provo ever strapped a bomb to their body, walked into somewhere like Trafalgar Square and blew themselves and 100 innocent passers-by to smithereens.

“We’ve never had to consider the prospect of the IRA flooding the London Underground with poison gas or exploding an anthrax bomb in Manchester.

He added: “Some of the reports that crossed my desk in the last few months alone made my hair stand on end.”

The former commissioner, who shared briefings with the prime minister from MI5, MI6 and Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch, said “huge amounts of intelligence” had been provided by Muslims themselves, appalled at atrocities committed in the name of Islam.

“That intelligence proves these fanatics must not walk our streets. They must be locked up — or kicked out of the country.”

CHARLES CLARKE, the home secretary, is preparing to keep the 10 terror suspects in Belmarsh jail without charge despite the law lords’ ruling that it would be illegal. The move is being proposed as a fall-back to prevent the suspects, including Abu Qatada, Al-Qaeda’s key “ambassador” in Europe, from walking free this week.
Home Office sources said the home secretary had drawn up plans for a statutory order in case the terrorism bill is defeated in parliament

Militants scour Europe for Iraq fighters



BERLIN -- Islamic terror groups are becoming increasingly active in Germany and coordinating with militants across Europe to recruit fighters to join the insurgency in Iraq, equipping them with fake passports, money and medical supplies, security officials say.

One of the best examples of the cross-continent cooperation involves an Algerian man arrested in Germany and now on trial in Italy for allegedly helping Muslims from Somalia, Egypt, Iraq and Morocco recruit some 200 militants from around Europe to fight in Iraq.

Many in Germany's Islamic communities have shown sympathy for Muslims fighting jihad, or holy war, in places like Chechnya or Bosnia, but authorities say a growing number of sympathizers are taking an active role themselves since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

"The war in Iraq has somehow mobilized this scene so that people who before just had some sort of contact or sympathies with extremist groups now think they have to do something," Manfred Murck, deputy head of the Hamburg government agency that tracks extremists, told The Associated Press.

"It's a main topic that brings people to action that they otherwise might not have taken. In past years they were talking about jihad, but not doing anything."

Ansar al-Islam, a group with links to al-Qaida and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is leading attacks on U.S. and Iraqi security forces in Iraq, has been under scrutiny for its efforts to channel money and fighters to Iraq from Germany and other European countries.

Though most German attention immediately following al-Qaida's Sept. 11 attacks was on Hamburg - where three of the four suicide hijackers had lived and studied - recent efforts have broadened across the country and continent.

In December, three suspected members of Ansar al-Islam were arrested in Berlin on charges of plotting to assassinate interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during a visit to Berlin in what authorities believe was a spontaneous plan based on opportunity.

Lokman Armin Mohammed, an Iraqi, was indicted last year in Munich on charges he provided logistical, financial and recruiting support for Ansar al-Islam, allegedly organizing medical equipment for insurgents and the passage of men to join the fight. Still awaiting trial after his 2003 arrest, Mohammed also is accused of being responsible for secretly bringing seriously injured insurgents back through Italy and across France for treatment in Britain.

"The Islamist scene in Germany is very well-connected, and not only in Germany," a senior German intelligence official told AP on condition of anonymity. "Muslim activities are more globalist - more pan-European - than Europeans are."

Murck, the Hamburg official, cited the example of Algerian Abderrazak Mahdjoub as an indication of cross-border connections at work within Ansar al-Islam. He was arrested in Hamburg in November 2003 on an Italian warrant and extradited to Milan in March 2004.

Mahdjoub went on trial in Milan in February on charges he collaborated with Somali Ciise Maxamed Cabdullaah, Egyptian El Ayashi Radi, Moroccan Housni Jamal and Iraqi Amin Mostafa Mohamed to recruit some 200 militants from around Europe to fight in Iraq for Ansar al-Islam.

Mahdjoub was arrested in Syria days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and deported back to Germany, where he was investigated. However, charges were never brought for lack of evidence.

"He tried to go to Iraq and we assumed he was intending to fight there, but then other investigations, especially in Italy, found out he was part of a structure recruiting for Iraq," Murck said.

Murck said he had no solid numbers for how many people might have gone from Germany to fight in Iraq, but added that it did not appear to be many.

"If you look at Hamburg, you can count them on two hands - those who have gone or who tried to go," he said.

European anti-terrorist officials have estimated that perhaps a few hundred militants have gone to Iraq as a result of recruiting efforts on the continent, mostly Muslims whose families immigrated from the Middle East or North Africa.

In another major German case, 15 suspects - some connected with Ansar al-Islam and Al-Tawhid, another terror group linked to al-Zarqawi - were picked up in nationwide raids in mid-January centering on the southern twin cities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm. The suspects included nationals of Germany, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Bulgaria.

Authorities alleged the network raised an unspecified amount of money, produced fake passports and recruited people for jihad.

At the end of January, two other suspected al-Qaida members were arrested in Mainz and Bonn on allegations they were plotting an attack in Iraq. The pair were identified only as Ibrahim Mohamed K., a 29-year-old Iraqi, and Yasser Abu S., a 31-year-old Palestinian.

The Iraqi allegedly trained at Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan and fought American forces there. He is accused of recruiting suicide attackers in Germany - including the Palestinian - and providing logistical help to al-Qaida.

"Germany is not the main target of militant Islamist operations - today's line goes from Germany or other European countries to Iraq," said Rolf Tophoven, an expert at the Essen-based Institute for Terrorism Research and Security Issues.

"They try to recruit and bring potential suiciders - potential terrorists - together and they will send them from Germany to Iraq to fight against the allied forces under the leadership of the United States."

There's only sketchy evidence that any of the recruited radicals have returned to Europe from fighting in Iraq, but that remains a top fear, Tophoven said.

"The big threat is that they will eventually come back to European countries and they will come back with an image, with a reputation as heroes who fought the unbelievers, as it was in the war against the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan," he said.

"If they do, they come back from Iraq trained, they know how to fight, they know how to do an ambush, how to make a bomb, and so on, and intelligence is afraid of these developments

Terrorists at the Table

Islamic militants in Europe blend political sophistication and crude violence to influence events, as the bombings in Madrid showed.
By Sebastian Rotella
LA Times Staff Writer

MADRID — The Moroccan wanted to die as much as he wanted to kill.

When Abdenabi Kounjaa helped unleash Al Qaeda's jihad on Europe last March, the drug dealer-turned-holy warrior got both his wishes.

Traces of his DNA were found in a van that terrorists had used before planting backpack bombs that killed 191 people aboard four commuter trains here March 11. And four of his fingers were found in the rubble of a hide-out where seven barricaded fugitives immolated themselves three weeks later, capping a rampage that helped topple Spain's center-right government.

Almost a year later, European investigators are still sifting through the human debris and other evidence to better understand the enemy within. Their findings lead to locales as disparate as Casablanca, Morocco; Paris; Damascus, Syria; and Amsterdam. It traces the rise of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, or GICM, the organizing force for militants whom police have battled in the wake of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Europe's modern history.

Many of the extremists are either European-born or longtime residents who immigrated from North Africa. Police see this generation of militants as more improvised and violent, more tactically primitive and politically sophisticated than ever.

Rage filled a letter that Kounjaa, the thick-bearded, 29-year-old militant, wrote to his family in Morocco before the deadly showdown April 3.

"I ask you to have faith in God and that you follow your brother mujahedin in all the world and that perhaps you join them, since that is what I expect of you," Kounjaa told his daughters in the three-page letter found in an accomplice's gym bag, according to an Oct. 17 Spanish police report. "Religion has come with blood and dismembered [bodies]…. I cannot stand to live this life as a weak and humiliated person under the gaze of the infidels and the tyrants."

Some fundamental questions remain in the Madrid case, chiefly whether Kounjaa and his bosses followed direct orders or merely an ideological line from Al Qaeda masterminds. In either scenario, the attacks reflect an increasingly calculated political strategy, said Jean-Louis Bruguiere, France's top anti-terrorism magistrate.

"It's not the result of a command structure giving direct orders, but of people talking: scattered networks in which operatives talk and a strategy develops," Bruguiere said. "It focuses on political agendas of Western nations…. It was as if the terrorists kicked down the door and invited themselves to the table along with politicians and diplomats. It's a sophisticated approach. The paradox is that the methods and the suspects in the field were rustic."

The low-tech, high-impact bombings in Madrid are connected to the November ritualistic assassination of Theo van Gogh, an Amsterdam filmmaker who had denounced Islamic fundamentalism. The young suspects in that case also are charged with planning to assassinate Dutch politicians.

Their crime showed how even a single murder can trigger fitna, an Arabic word for strife, in the West. In the wake of Van Gogh's killing, Dutch society was convulsed by arson attacks on mosques and churches and angry debate about Islam and immigration.

European authorities have responded to the militant threat with unprecedented cooperation, carrying out roundups in half a dozen countries and intercepting a planned bomb attack on Spain's High Court last fall.

But despite political rhetoric, despite the realization that March 11 was a watershed comparable to Sept. 11 in the United States, conflict and fragmentation in Europe's law enforcement systems still exacerbate the region's vulnerabilities, top officials say.

And for better or for worse, Europe has largely refrained from the kind of legislative and security crackdowns that have transformed the U.S. during the last three years. European authorities still emphasize domestic spying and traditional prosecutions over fortifying borders or responses comparable to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Britain is struggling to pass a new law permitting house arrest of terrorist suspects without charges. Spain has approved an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, many of them from North Africa. Italian investigators are aggressively exploring an alleged abduction by U.S. spies of a suspected extremist in Milan.

Security services across the continent have been deeply involved in the Madrid case because of its wide-ranging links and implications. Looking in the mirror of Spain's misfortune, they see a frightening potential for the attack to be replicated elsewhere.

The bombers cobbled together a multiethnic alliance of recently radicalized drug traffickers, remnants of a longtime Al Qaeda cell in Madrid, and extremists linked to Morocco's GICM. Only a few of the 74 suspects, from accused bosses to peripheral accomplices, underwent "formal" training at Al Qaeda's Afghan camps. The four commuter trains from the working-class suburbs were targets that were difficult to predict or protect.

The plot required two key elements: the expertise to assemble remote-control bombs and, as one victim told police, an implacable will to slaughter random people face to face.

The victim, a female immigrant from Romania, boarded a crowded train bound for Madrid's Atocha station along with a fellow countrywoman, a senior Spanish investigator said. A young man with a backpack sat down near them. The women found him handsome; he exchanged flirtatious smiles with them, the investigator said.

A few minutes later, the man got off. He seemed not to hear when the women called to him that he had forgotten his backpack. At about 7:37 a.m., the first explosion erupted in another car, then a second one. Amid the bedlam, the women realized the backpack had contained a bomb. They bolted just as it exploded. The blast killed one of the women instantly; her body shielded her companion, who survived with serious wounds.

Days later, police showed the survivor pictures of suspects. She quickly picked out Basel Ghalyoun, 25, a Syrian immigrant now jailed here, the Spanish investigator said.

"She identified him right away," the investigator said. "She said she would never forget that face, that smile, as long as she lived."

The timing was highly calibrated: three days before national elections. The center-right government worsened public uproar by blaming Basque separatists while also hinting at the involvement of Muslim extremists. The Socialists won in an upset victory and quickly fulfilled their promise to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

It is inaccurate to paint the Spanish withdrawal from Iraq as a capitulation to terrorism, said Gijs de Vries, the European Union's counter-terrorism coordinator. "I want to dispel the myth that because the Spanish people elected a Socialist government, Europe is soft on terrorism," he said.

But investigators say events may have left that impression.

"I don't think the attack caused the pullout, but the message sent to public opinion was that a terrorist act can affect the political decisions of a country," said former anti-terrorism prosecutor Stefano Dambruoso, now Italy's judicial attache to the United Nations in Vienna.

It is hard to say whether the Madrid bombers intended or expected to have such an impact. Authorities have identified no mastermind, only jailed or slain field-level leaders of a quintessentially local group.

"A terrorist act is like a work of abstract art," said Spanish Sen. Ignacio Cosido, a former senior official of the paramilitary Guardia Civil. "Sometimes there is less to it than you might think. It might be more accidental, more haphazard. It's like Sept. 11: Did Bin Laden really expect to bring down both the twin towers?"

A possible ringleader is Amer Azizi, a Moroccan suspected to have ties to Abu Musab Zarqawi, a leader of Al Qaeda's faction in Iraq. Azizi fled to Iran in 2001 after being indicted on charges of being a member of a support cell of the Sept. 11 hijackers, but prosecutors think he may have returned secretly to oversee the Madrid bombings because of his "experience and technical preparation," according to court documents.

Another name in the case file: Karim Mejatti, a GICM leader on the run from Moroccan, European and U.S. agents. Mejatti could be "Abu Dujana al Afghani," the nom de guerre of a mysterious Al Qaeda chief in Europe invoked by the Madrid cell in communiques, a top French intelligence official said.

"The important thing is this: Madrid first seemed to be a purely autonomous cell," the official said. "But we now think it was controlled by Al Qaeda leaders because of the links the investigation has found. That does not mean Osama bin Laden pushed a button. It does not work like that anymore. There is no evidence of a direct order from outside."

In the late 1990s, Azizi and Mejatti attended the Martyr Abu Yahyia training camp in Afghanistan, the forge of the GICM, whose founders have also spent time at Koranic schools in Syria, according to documents.

The GICM went into action May 2003, with suicide bombings in Casablanca. It operates in Europe, Turkey and Syria, a crossroad through which jihadis can reach Iraq.

Raids across Europe last year revealed strong ties between the Madrid attacks and the GICM. In December, police in the Canary Islands arrested Hassan Haski, a top GICM operative who had shuttled between Paris and Belgium and, according to an accomplice's testimony, knew in advance about the train bombings.

"The Moroccans are much more important than we thought," said Bruguiere, the French anti-terrorism magistrate. "They have significant finance and logistics cells. And they turn out to be more structured and organized than other networks."

The ferocity of the train bombers stunned police. Stocked with drug profits, guns and explosives, they planned a wave of follow-up attacks and blew themselves up when cornered, killing a policeman. Similarly, two Dutch suspects linked to the network defied police in a standoff in November, wounding three officers with a grenade before a SWAT team stormed their hide-out in The Hague.

"This is a new aggressiveness not just in the terrorist attack itself, but the determination not to be arrested, the readiness to become martyrs," said Dambruoso, Italy's U.N. attache. "In Madrid, the aftermath was almost more alarming than the attack itself."

As Spanish security forces prepare for a grim anniversary, they are haunted by memories of Madrid. And by voices of men who massacred to reach paradise.

"If my enemies jail me it will be my retreat and if they free me it will be tourism and if they kill me it will be martyrdom," Kounjaa wrote in his farewell letter. "I prefer death to life…. May God curse the tyrants."

Central America vows force to fight gangs, terror

Our government may refuse to deal with this--but at least these Central American countries are willing

Source: Reuters

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, March 3 (Reuters) - Five Central American nations vowed on Thursday to create a joint "rapid force" to confront terrorist threats, drug traffickers and violent youth gangs.

The group will include troops, police, prosecutors and judges from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica in a bid to clamp down on crime across the region and to imprison criminals quickly.

The five nations drew up and approved the plan at a meeting of government ministers in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

"We agreed to form this 'rapid force' to confront narcoterrorism and other emerging threats, like the youth gangs that operate in almost all the countries of the region, including Mexico," Honduran Defense Minister Federico Breve told Reuters.

"The idea is to have a rapid force in each country, but one which can react together in the event of regional situations," Breve said.

U.S. security officials are concerned terrorists could try to cut deals with the drug traffickers or street gangs that operate in Central America as part of a planned attack on the United States.

Colombian cocaine heading for the United States is often routed through Central America, which was torn apart by civil wars in the 1980s.

Violent youth gangs, known as "maras," operate in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and, more recently, Mexico. They have their roots in Hispanic gangs in Los Angeles and are effectively at war with some Central American governments.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

What Role Did Affirmative Action Play in Pre-9/11 Intel Failures? - ("fools rushed in?")


The Central Intelligence Agency might be the last place in Washington you'd expect political correctness to have taken root. But as Gabriel Schoenfeld demonstrates in a disturbing new article, "What Became of the CIA," in the March issue of Commentary magazine, the agency has turned into "a government bureaucracy like any other, its managers and employees preoccupied with endless reams of restrictive regulations and simultaneously caught up in many of the newfangled pathologies of the American workplace," including affirmative action programs. Is it possible that in its zeal to promote more women and minorities, the CIA compromised its own mission? What role, if any, did affirmative action play in the spectacular failures of the CIA prior to 9/11? And what is being done now to undo the damage to the agency?

Schoenfeld reports that the agency has been under pressure since the early 1990s to reform its "old boy network" image. A 1991 CIA-commissioned study found that women did not achieve "at the same pace of or [to] the same degree as men," and received "proportionately fewer awards," missing out on choice assignments in the agency. The report also noted that, "in order to be accepted," female officers tolerated widespread sexual harassment. When Clinton-appointed CIA Director R. James Woolsey took over in 1993, the agency embarked on an ambitious plan not only to break the so-called "glass ceiling" but to identify the top 50 jobs within each directorate and collect data on how many women and minority candidates applied and were chosen for the slots.

Although Woolsey promised "we have not and will not set down quotas," the affirmative action plan he put in place soon transmogrified into rigid hiring goals. When Woolsey's replacement, John Deutch, took over, one of his first actions was to establish a "strategic diversity plan." By 1995, Schoenfeld notes, "the effort to remake the agency in the name of 'diversity' had intensified markedly."

Deutch appointed Nora Slatkin, a former Capitol Hill staffer and assistant secretary of the Navy, as CIA executive director, the No. 3 job in the agency. Slatkin immediately declared "a goal that one out of every three officers hired in fiscal years 1995-97 be of Hispanic or Asian-Pacific origin." According to Schoenfeld, Slatkin "moved no less aggressively to alter the ethnic and sexual complexion of the CIA's higher levels. In just six months, she was able to report, '42 percent of officers selected for senior assignments ha[d] been women or minorities.'" Nonetheless, Deutch's successor, George Tenet, bemoaned the under-representation of "[m]inorities, women, and people with disabilities" in the agency's mid-level and senior officer positions, and proclaimed diversity "one of the most powerful tools we have to help make the world a safer place."

Obviously, the undermining of the CIA during the Clinton years was not entirely due to overzealous affirmative action. As Schoenfeld points out, the agency's budget suffered large cuts under Clinton and, most importantly, many senior political appointees seemed contemptuous of the agency's very mission, to gather and protect national security intelligence. Deutch eventually admitted to mishandling highly classified material by storing it on unsecured home computers while he was CIA director. He signed a Justice Department plea bargain admitting his guilt, but the agreement was essentially nullified when outgoing President Bill Clinton pardoned him on Jan. 20, 2001. (Deutch's affirmative action gadfly Slatkin was one of six CIA officials later reprimanded for her role in stalling the investigation into Deutch's abuse of classified material.)

But even if affirmative action was not the primary culprit in the perilous decline of the CIA, it contributed to the problem. Schoenfeld points out, "The drive to hire more 'Asian-Pacific' and Hispanic officers at the very moment the CIA was facing a critical shortage of Arabic speakers, and at the very moment when Islamic terrorism was emerging as the most significant threat to our national security, speaks volumes about how and why the agency failed in its mission of safeguarding the United States."

It's now up to the director of the CIA, Porter Goss, and the newly appointed director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, to put the nation's need for timely intelligence ahead of political correctness.

Mrs. Chavez is a nationally syndicated columnist, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics (Crown Forum).

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