Under the Radar in Basel

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Ali J. presenting at Kirschgarten-Gymnasium

In the past couple days I’ve incidentally run across news stories out of Basel, Switzerland, involving the arrest in one case and the prosecution in another of two Islamists.  In one case, Ali J. alias “der Apotheker” (“the Pharmacist”) is currently sitting in detention awaiting deportation.  In the other, Safet Čajlaković alias Šejhan (S.C. in the press) is nearing the end of his trial, a process which began approximately two years ago and of which we are only now being told.  Little of what follows is unique to me apart from finding the identity of Čajlaković and a couple pieces here and there, but it’s something I haven’t seen in the English-language press yet and thought my readers would find of interest.  It’s piqued my interest in radical individuals/groups coming out of Switzerland, though, and I look forward to digging into Lorenzo Vidino’s 2013 report on the country now. Continue reading

What’s Past is Prologue: The Case of Mirsad Bektašević and the Bosnian Cell

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Bektasevic, Ikanovic, and Cesur during their trial

I’m a great believer in the value of “taking back-bearings,” a phrase I picked up reading the exploits of George Smiley.  Normally this means something like determining one’s current position by relating it to known points visible to the observer and easily identified on a map.  In my case, I mean looking back at previous events, incidents, and cases to help understand the present, and often, the mistakes made in past responses that helped contribute to it.

I’d like to do that in this article by taking a look back at one of the first high-profile (at least in terrorism circles) cases involving the online radicalization of young men leading to terrorist plots in their own countries.  On October 19, 2005, Bosnian police arrested two young men at an apartment in the Butmir district of Sarajevo following an 8-month operation involving the secret services of 9 different countries.  The two, a young Swede born in Novi Pazar, Serbia, named Mirsad Bektašević and a Dutch-Turk named Abdulkadir Cesur were caught red-handed with an arsenal of explosives and guns.  The police also discovered a video of the culprits expressing their intent to strike at those governments involved in the oppression of their Muslim brethren in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Iraq.  Their strike was probably going to be against the British Embassy in Sarajevo. Continue reading