Tag Archives: Taliban

End of the Week Headlines in Homeland Security



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The Taliban Enters Syria

From the inestimably good website at The Long War Journal

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has sent “experts in warfare and information technology” to Syria to establish a base and monitor the fighting there. The disclosure of the existence of the Pakistani Taliban’s Syrian cell occurred just two days after a group that bears the same name as an al Qaeda unit in Pakistan claimed to have executed an attack on Hezbollah in Beirut.

The Pakistani Taliban sent 12 “experts in warfare and information technology” to Syria in the past two months to aid Syrian jihadists, while the base was established in Syria six months ago, the BBC reported.

The BBC interviewed a senior Pakistani Taliban leader known as Mohammad Amin, who is described as the “coordinator” of the group’s efforts in Syria.

“He [Amin] said that the cell has the approval of militant factions both within and outside” of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the BBC noted.

“They were facilitated by our friends in Syria who have previously been fighting in Afghanistan,” Amin said. The Pakistani Taliban cell is in Syria to “assess the needs of the Jihad in Syria, and to work out joint operations with our Syrian friends,” he continued.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan works closely with the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and a host of non-aligned Taliban groups and jihadist organizations in Pakistan. Amin did not disclose which of these groups approved the Pakistani Taliban’s establishment of a cell in Syria. Al Qaeda has a strong presence in Syria, and its official affiliate, the Al Nusrah Front, and the rogue Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, control territory throughout the country [see LWJ report, Islamic State of Iraq leader defies Zawahiri in alleged audio message].


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Feds arrest four Southern Calif. men in terror plots

LOS ANGELES Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in “violent jihad,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al Qaeda leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two — 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland — converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

Authorities allege that in Skype calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists. Kabir added the would-be jihadists could sleep in mosques or the homes of fellow jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.

The trio made plans to depart in mid-November to carry out plots in Afghanistan, primarily, and Yemen, after they sold off belongings to scrape together enough cash to buy plane tickets and made passport arrangements.

In one online conversation, Santana told an FBI undercover agent that he wanted to commit jihad and expressed interest in a jihadist training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The complaint also alleges the men went to a shooting range several times, including a Sept. 10 trip in which Deleon told a confidential FBI source that he wanted to be on the front lines overseas and use C-4, an explosive, in an attack. Santana agreed.

“I wanna do C-4s if I could put one of these trucks right here with my, with that. Just drive into, like, the baddest military base,” Santana said, according to the complaint.

Santana added he wanted to use a large quantity of the explosive. “If I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna take out a whole base. Might as well make it, like, big, ya know,” he said.

According to the complaint, at the shooting range that day both Santana and Deleon told a confidential FBI source they were excited about the rewards from becoming a shaheed, which is Arabic for martyr.

Ten days later, during another trip to the shooting range to fire assault-style rifles, Santana told the source he had been around gangs and had no problem taking a life.

On Sept. 30, Gojali was recruited to the plot after he was asked if he had it in him to kill in jihad. Gojali answered, “Yeah, of course.”

“I watch videos on the Internet, and I see what they are doing to our brothers and sisters. … It makes me cry, and it gets like I’m, like, so angered with them,” Gojali said, according to the complaint.

The men wiped their Facebook pages of radical Islamist content and photos of themselves in traditional Muslim attire, and devised a cover story that they were going to Afghanistan to attend Kabir’s wedding.

Federal authorities said the trio and the FBI’s confidential source bought airplane tickets last week for a Sunday flight from Mexico City to Istanbul, with plans to later continue to Kabul.

After Kabir began talking to him about Islam, Santana said he “accepted Islam without knowing anything about it besides it being the truth” and that he believed the religion would help him “fit in and actually be able to fight for something that’s right,” according to the complaint.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.

Kabir is being detained in Afghanistan. The other three appeared for a detention hearing Monday in Riverside, and all but Gojali were remanded to federal custody with no bail. His detention hearing was delayed.

After-hours calls left for the men’s attorneys were not immediately returned Monday.

A preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 3, and an arraignment is set for Dec. 5.

Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Santana was born in Mexico, while Deleon was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents. Gojali is a U.S. citizen.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Taliban Attacks US Embassy in Kabul

From Jihadwatch.org:

The Taliban are firing rockets at our embassy in Kabul. “Militants Launch Attack on U.S. Embassy in Kabul,” by Alissa J. Rubin and Jack Healy in the New York Times, September 13:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgents launched a complex assault against the United States Embassy and the nearby NATO headquarters on Tuesday, pelting the heavily guarded compounds with rockets in an assault that raised new questions about the security of Afghanistan’s capital and the Westerners working there.At least 10 explosions — apparently from rockets launched by militants — and waves of automatic weapons fire were reported amid the drone of sirens and English-language warnings telling Americans inside the embassy to take cover.

It was unclear whether anyone — Western or Afghan — had been hurt or killed, but it appeared that one rocket had struck a minibus belonging to the Tak Beer private school, and witnesses said that young adults had been carried away bleeding and apparently unconscious.

Kerri Hannan, a spokeswoman for the American embassy, said that no embassy personnel were injured in the attack.

Afghan officials said several attackers were behind the assault, but it was unclear precisely how many assailants there were or whether they were attacking from a single or multiple locations. The attackers were holed up on several floors of a tall, partially built concrete building that offered a bird’s-eye view of the secured diplomatic and military compounds about a half mile away. Flashes from gun barrels could be seen as the militants fired from their perch. Afghan security forces returned fire from the ground, sending puffs of concrete dust into the air as bullets slapped the building.

“We don’t know how many suicide bombers are in the building,” said Col. Abdul Zahir, of the criminal investigative division of the Kabul police. “They’re shooting at the embassy. We’re still in fighting position. We can’t say anything.”

Two explosions were also reported near the Afghan Parliament, but it was unclear whether militants were specifically trying to attack the government building, or other targets….

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Inside Al Qaeda’s hard drives

By Renny McPherson in the Boston Globe

When Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden at his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound on May 2, the ensuing coverage focused on how the death of Al Qaeda’s leader might undercut terrorism worldwide. But the raid accomplished more than bin Laden’s removal: It yielded several computers, nearly a dozen hard drives, and about 100 other data-storage devices. Speaking on “Meet the Press” the weekend after the raid, presidential national security adviser Tom Donilon called it “the largest cache of intelligence derived from the scene of any single terrorist.”

After combing over this huge pool of data, a task force of analysts has already produced hundreds of intelligence reports geared to a primary goal: hunting down Al Qaeda operatives. Meanwhile, however, there is a second and longer-term task ahead. If studied diligently enough, the captured data is likely to provide an unparalleled look at how Al Qaeda functions. And that information may be as essential to disrupting Al Qaeda’s activities as it was to kill bin Laden.

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BREAKING: Terrorists attack luxury hotel in Kabul

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Fighters armed with bombs and small arms attacked Kabul’s InterContinental Hotel, where they fought Tuesday with Afghan security forces, Chief of Criminal Investigation Mohammed Zahir told CNN.

Among the attackers were suicide bombers, he said.

Taliban bombers were responsible for the 10 p.m. attack on the hotel, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

The hotel is popular among international guests.

Initial reports indicate that multiple suicide bombers, mostly likely wearing explosive vests, carried out the attack, a U.S. military official told CNN. There were no indications that U.S. military or diplomatic personnel were at the hotel, the official said.

Police Chief Lt. Gen. Ayoub Salangi said Kabul police were on the grounds of the hotel, but had not been able to communicate with anyone inside, since the phone lines were down. He could not confirm any casualties.

A news conference had been scheduled to take place Wednesday in the hotel to discuss the planned transition of security from international to Afghan forces announced last week by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The hotel is on a hill on the outskirts of Kabul and is typically protected by heavy security. Three Taliban penetrated that security, and one of them detonated an explosion on the second floor, said Erin Cunningham, a journalist in Kabul for The National. “We’re continuing to hear small-arms fire right now,” she told CNN from a vantage about 500 meters (a third of a mile) from the hotel. Several snipers were on the roof firing at Afghan security forces.

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Six Indicted in Plot to Raise Money for Terrorism; 1 is Held in L.A.

Los Angeles Times,  Richard A. Serrano

A 76-year-old imam and his two sons in South Florida have been charged with conspiracy to raise money for weapons for the Pakistani Taliban. Three other people in Pakistan, at least two of whom are related to the family, were also said to be connected to the scheme, but they remain at large. The leader of the group is Hafiz Khan, who serves as an imam at a mosque in Miami. Also arrested were his sons Izhar, who is also a religious leader at a mosque in the Miami area, and Irfan. The suspects are said to have raised up to $45,000 for the Pakistani Taliban prior to their capture, using bank accounts and wire transfers. Additionally, Hafiz Khan was charged with sending funds to a school in Pakistan that officials say was used to shelter militants and their families and to teach children to “kill Americans in Afghanistan.” If convicted, the defendants could face 15 years for each of the four counts in the indictment. MORE

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Breaking: Bin Laden ‘Revenge’ Attack Kills Scores in Pakistan

The Guardian (UK), Declan Walsh

The Pakistan Taliban has claimed credit for a double attack on a military training center in northwest Pakistan that killed at least 80 people on Friday. “This is the retaliation for the killing of Osama bin Laden. Pakistani and U.S. forces should be ready for more attacks,” said a Taliban spokesperson. Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives as recruits were boarding buses at the gates of a Frontier Corps base in Charsadda. At least one of the bombers was on a motorcycle. More than 100 people were also injured, and the death toll from the attack is expected to rise.

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Time for Straight Talk On Afghanistan and the War on Terror by Judith Miller

In deciding to send another 1,400 Marine combat forces to Afghanistan to consolidate gains made during the troop buildup and put extra “pressure” on the insurgents, as Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan put it Thursday, President Obama is doubling down on his “surge” strategy. He is betting that more American fighters will inflict sufficient pain on the Taliban to prompt them to come to the negotiating table to make a deal, since clearly, America and its allies can’t kill or quell them all before Obama starts withdrawing his surge forces from the country.

But this is a risky bet which a growing number of even hawkish critics say is unlikely to work. The most recent among is Robert Blackwill, a tough-minded national security veteran of several Republican administrations. He warns in the new issue of Foreign Affairs that the United States and its allies are “not on course to defeating the Taliban militarily” and urges instead not more troops but what he calls “a shift to Plan B.”

The United States, he points out, now has 150,000 American-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in Afghanistan. This, he notes, “is 30,000 more troops than the Soviet Union deployed in the 1980s, but less than half the number required to have some chance of pacifying the country, according to standard counterinsurgency doctrine.”

Adding 1,400 more Marines is not likely to change the calculus. Nor will “an occupying army largely ignorant of local history, tribal structures, languages, customs, politics, and values” be able to “win over large numbers of the Afghan Pashtuns, as counterinsurgency doctrine demands.” And it won’t make the Kabul government of Hamid Karzai less corrupt, more effective, or more credible, another indispensable ingredient of a successful counterinsurgency. “You are only as good as the government you are supporting,” as David Kilcullen has observed.

What is Blackwill”s Plan B? Essentially, MORE…

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Al Qaeda’s Latest Threats

From Chameleon Associates

CNN is claiming that Pakistan’s intelligence services are sheltering Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri.  This report could pressure Pakistan to eliminate safe havens for Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.  Pakistan’s Interior Minister denied the claim and noted that similar reports had been proven false in the past.  Meanwhile, Saudi intelligence officials are issuing warnings about possible attacks in Europe.  According to French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, an average of two terror plots have been broken up per year in France and 61 people have been incarcerated there for their involvement in terrorism.  Indeed, the Eiffel Tower has been closed twice in recent months over attack threats.  In this case, it is Al Qaeda based in Yemen that is allegedly active in Europe.  This Yemeni offshoot has been encouraging random attacks and providing ideas and instruction via an online magazine.

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