Missed Opportunities—Real and Imagined

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I was excited this morning to see a new article from CNN about Oussama Atar.  For those of you who have followed my blog, you know I have written about him a number of times (5 to be precise).  I initially stumbled upon him while trying to unearth more about the background of the El Bakraoui brothers, discovering his relationship to them, the Benhattals, and Yasin Atar.  My findings were confirmed by the Belgian press the following month.  I came back to his story briefly with the arrest of Moustapha and Jawad Benhattal last June.  August brought forth the stunning development of a series of unsuccessful raids in Laeken, Anderlecht, and Evere aimed at capturing Atar.  Meanwhile Belgian MP Alain Destexhe demanded an investigation into the role of Amnesty International and the deputies Zoe Genot (Ecolo), Jamal Ikazban (PS) and Ahmed El Khannouss (CDH) in the release of Atar from an Iraqi prison in 2012.  The last time I mentioned the Atars was in connection to a neighbor of their aunt Khadouj, Jamal Alkhomaili, who was an old gang-mate of Moustapha Benhattal and an associate of the recently arrested Farid Kharkhach, a supplier of false documents from the Saint-Gilles “factory” to the El Bakraouis. Continue reading

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Concrete But Shaky

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On Saturday German police sealed off the Limbecker Platz shopping center in Essen, one of the largest in the country, on the strength of a highly specific threat (a “konkrete Gefahr” in their words) consisting of a 3-man suicide attack team using backpack bombs at 4:30.  The place was cleared out and surrounded by heavily armed men; hundreds of officers were involved in the operation. Continue reading

Violence Begets Violence

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Residence des Bois du Temple in Clichy-sous-Bois

Sometimes a story that looks like it’s about to explode (no pun intended) just sort of fizzles out.  That’s what happened recently with the arrest of some family members in Clichy-sous-Bois on February 28 and their subsequent indictment and imprisonment for criminal association in relation to a terrorist enterprise.  The story broke on March 1 some details spilled out over the next few days before going totally quiet after March 6.

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The Fifth Man (oder der V-Mann)

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My mini-foray into the old Salafist scene in Ulm, Germany, based on the Leicester angle of the recent arrest of the Belkaid brothers got me very interested in the old Sauerland Cell.  For my readers who are thoroughly familiar with this group, I beg your patience as I relate the details to those who aren’t so familiar. Continue reading