I’ve been half-heartedly working on a long piece on the Roubaix Gang for some time. The story has many twists and turns, and although their small outfit seems a relatively insignificant part of the jihadist mosaic, it plugs into so many other elements which are by no means unimportant. One of the frustrating aspects of trying to write such a story is the inner “need” by this author to go into detail on all those elements that play a supporting role, in order to drive home the importance of the main characters. I’m going to indulge that need and tell the story of one of the members of the Fateh Kamel network, Moustapha Labsi. That facilitation network provided the means by which surviving members of the Roubaix Gang were able to move around Europe and evade law enforcement. Labsi, for his part, became the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by France in 2000 in connection with attacks there between 1996 and 1998, suggesting he had more than a passing linkage to Roubaix. Continue reading
Cherifi is an important name from the early-to mid-2000s in the European terrorism scene. I decided to write about him not because of recent revelations, but because a number of my previous articles have touched upon him. I think his story, what there is of it to tell, deserves a fuller treatment, because he cuts across groups and plots, and some from those days continue to appear in today’s conspiracies. Another reason has become apparent in the course of researching and writing it which I will touch upon in the conclusion. Continue reading
In my last article I said that the story of Amir Meshal deserved its own article, and I thought I might do that here. But as Burns once wrote, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men, / Gang aft agley.” Meshal’s ordeal in Africa will matter here, but in some senses it will serve as the backdrop of a much different facet of the jihad story, one fairly well known but surprising in its relationship. With respect to Meshal, it may simply be a series of unfortunate coincidences, but if it isn’t then it may say a great deal about him and the danger he potentially represents. To be clear, much of the detail surrounding his experience there is drawn from the court filing in the Higgenbotham case, so it represents Meshal’s point of view. What the government contends with respect to Meshal’s activities can’t be probed directly.
The German press announced a series of raids on Wednesday, February 8, aimed at two Algerian brothers, ages 32 and 39. These brothers are accused of funneling money and material to Jabhat al-Nusrah and its variant organizations for years through the non-profit organization Medizin mit Herz, which sits in Hennef by Bonn. Authorities have been aware of the group for some time and keep it under observation due to its known ties to the local Salafist scene. Continue reading
In my last post, I mentioned that I had decided to take one individual from an old plot—in this case, Slimane Khalfaoui from the 2000 Strasbourg Cathedral/Christmas Market plot—and research what had become of him. I ended up going off on a tangent and looking at Rabah Boukaouma, a conspirator most recently with respect to the Sid Ahmed Ghlam affair. Continue reading
I’ve taken a few days off from writing due to the requirements of everyday life, but I haven’t stopped paying attention. Law enforcement throughout the world have continued to uncover cells and plots, revealing that al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other global-jihadist-minded actors have not swerved from their program to implement the Sharia throughout the world.
My April 18 posting about the arrests in Birmingham included a bit about a 40-year-old father of four and taxi driver at 22 Whitmore Road. He has been identified as Fazal Sajjad Younis Khan, and it turns out that the electoral rolls I was hesitant to cite were correct. The suspicious substance found in the home has been declared variously as tear gas or more specifically as CS gas. He has been bailed to appear before Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on May 13. The electoral rolls also show a handful of other names at the Whitmore Road address: Lal Bahadur Khan, Gulzad Gay Khan, Noorshad Begum, and Hazara Begum. Thus far, I’ve only been able to discover that Gulzad is the mother of Fazal, based on the England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005.
British police counter-terrorism units have launched a number of pre-planned, intelligence-led operations in recent days in Birmingham and at Gatwick airport against individuals for Syria-related terrorism offenses or in connection with the events in Paris and Brussels. Every time the public is told that there was no risk to them and that there was no information to suggest that an attack was being planned against the UK. Continue reading
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