Meshal, Beantown and the London Boys

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Amir Meshal

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. Continue reading

For German Salafists, Leicester Is Open For Business

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Mohamed Belkaid

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

Still in the Game

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Melouk, Kouachi, Beghal, and Laidouni hitting the soccer field in Cantal, France, on 4/4/2011

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

From the UK, to Italy, then Singapore, and Back to Brussels

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Mohammed Ali Ahmed, Zakaria Boufassil, and Soumaya Boufassil in the dock at Westminster Magistrates Court CREDIT: JULIA QUENZLER

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.

Continue reading

Whitmore Road Suspect Identified

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22 Whitmore Road, Birmingham, West Midlands (The Sun)

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.

There’s No Risk to the Public in Birmingham

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Police conduct a house search on the Whitmore Road (The Sun)

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

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