More on terrorism originating in Africa;
The existence of militant religious groups is not a new phenomenon in Africa but their increasing presence and violence has become a growing concern. As a result of religious fundamentalism, tribal and ethnic tension, continued regional and political instability, and the extremist ideologies of groups to establish new states and reform old ones, Africa offers fertile ground for extremism. This year alone, scores of people lost their lives in attacks orchestrated by terrorist groups in various regions of the continent. The main groups are Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), based in Algeria.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful”, is an Islamic jihadist organisation based in Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon. Founded in 2001, the group is fighting to reform West Africa into an Islamic region ruled by sharia law. It operates in a cell-like structure and is popular for its use of motorbikes. Their current leader is Abubakar Shekau, who has been deemed a global security threat by the United States.
Earlier this year, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan considered offering an amnesty deal to the rebels, whose insurgency has left more than 3 00 people dead since 2009. Shekau reportedly rejected the deal, claiming they had not committed any wrong. In various incidents this year, Boko Haram have orchestrated beheadings, bombings, and attacks on schools and checkpoints.
Earlier in December, the most recent attack, the group attacked a military base in north Nigeria that left scores of civilians dead and forced the government to impose a curfew in certain areas.
Calling the United States a “prostitute nation of infidels and liars,” Abubakar Shekau says Boko Haram will strike outside of Nigeria and in America. However, very little media attention is paid to these thugs and lunatics.–AA
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. Image from Vanguard.
A new video has surfaced showing Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claiming responsibility for the Dec. 2 attack on military installations in Maiduguri, and threatening attacks in the West. The emergence of the video further contradicts reports that he was killed several months ago.
In the 40-minute video obtained by AFP yesterday, Shekau is dressed in military fatigues and vest, and has a Kalashnikov rifle under his arm. He speaks for 19 minutes, then the rest of the video shows footage of the attack. The 46-second clip released by AFP contains excerpts showing Shekau speaking, Boko Haram fighters entering Maiduguri in trucks, and fighters calmly in control of the military air base as aircraft and buildings burn.
In his speech in Arabic, Hausa, and Kanuri, Shekau reportedly claims that the whole world fears him, including US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and even the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
Addressing the United States, Shekau calls it a “prostitute nation of infidels and liars,” and goes on to threaten that Boko Haram plans to attack outside Nigeria and even the US itself: “You are boasting you are going to join forces with Nigeria to crush us. Bloody liars. You couldn’t crush us when we were carrying sticks. By Allah, we will never stop. Don’t think we will stop in Maiduguri. Tomorrow you will see us in America itself. Our operation is not confined to Nigeria. It is for the whole world.”
Shekau’s threat follows the US’ addition of Boko Haram to the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities on Nov. 13 along with a splinter faction known as Ansaru. Shekau himself was added to the US list of global terrorists on June 21, 2012, along with Khalid al Barnawi and Abubakar Adam Kamba, both of whom “have ties to Boko Haram and have close links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”
In the State Department’s official announcement of the Boko Haram designation, the group was described as “a Nigeria-based militant group with links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that is responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria over the last several years including targeted killings of civilians.” Ansaru, on the other hand, was described as focusing “on Nigerian military and Western targets.”
Boko Haram’s tactics have shifted lately, and are becoming more like those of Ansaru. As indicated by the recent attack in Maiduguri, Boko Haram has changed its tactics and grown more sophisticated. The group is now prepared to directly attack military installations, and in large numbers.
This is the second time in the past 30 days that Shekau has appeared in a video to claim responsibility for a Boko Haram attack. On Nov. 3, Shekau featured in a video titled “the Battle of Damaturu,” in which he claimed to have personally commanded the operation that killed 35 people on Oct 24. While the authenticity of the clip could not be independently verified in November, Shekau spoke in Arabic, Hausa, and Kanuri, as he did in the video obtained yesterday. The Damaturu attack was Boko Haram’s first significant raid in a major urban center in some time.
From the Long War Journal
Mustafa is better known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, the subject of the important book The Suicide Factory. Al-Masri is considered responsible for radicalizing a number of known terrorists, and both Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui. He also praised Osama bin Laden and declared that”many people will be happy, jumping up and down at this moment,” after 9/11. Here’s to a long, grueling incarceration. –AA
NEW YORK — A federal judge has pushed back the New York terrorism trial of an Egyptian Islamic cleric extradited from Great Britain.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest granted the change Monday for the trial of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa (muh-STAH’-fuh kah-MEHL’ muh-STAH’-fuh).
The new date — April 14 — was requested by prosecutors.
Mustafa’s lawyers said at the hearing that he should be moved to a prison hospital. They say his lower Manhattan lockup cannot adequately care for Mustafa. He is missing both arms just below the elbows.
Prosecutors say Mustafa conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon. They also say he helped to abduct two American tourists and 14 others in Yemen in 1998.
He has pleaded not guilty.
BEIRUT: Hezbollah is the party to blame for the infiltration of terrorism into Lebanon, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in an article published Sunday, as he reiterated his condemnation of Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian crisis.
“No matter what excuses Hezbollah uses to justify its mission [in Syria], fingers will always be pointed [at Hezbollah] for its responsibility in allowing the infiltration of terrorism and suicide bombings [into Lebanon],” Hariri wrote in an article published in Al-Mustaqbal daily.
“The party persists on its erroneous behavior and dismisses everything the president declared in his [Independence Day] message, declaring to the Lebanese that the response will be in Syria,” the article read.
“Is not such persistence a suicidal policy and a public invitation for terrorism to come to [our] country?”
President Michel Sleiman explicitly slammed Hezbollah in his Independence Day message for fighting alongside the Assad regime troops in Syria against Syrian rebels and reiterated his call for disassociating Lebanon from the crisis in the neighboring country.
Hariri also said the results of the DNA tests that revealed that one of the suicide bombers involved in the attack against the Iranian Embassy in Beirut this week was from the southern city of Sidon indicate the nature of the real dangers threatening Lebanon.
“For one of the suicide bombers … to be a young Lebanese from Sidon and from a family known for its moderation and its work in service of the city and the entire south doubles the pain that the Lebanese feel over this terrorist attack and reveals the dangers and divisions threatening both the Lebanese and Muslim communities,” he said.
Hariri added that these threats are increasing as the rift between the Lebanese and between Muslims is widening due to many factors, particularly the “policy of bullying and the military involvement of Hezbollah in the Syrian war.”
By Michael Hirsh
“I think al-Qaida’s capabilities for a strike into the United States are more dangerous and more numerous than before 9/11.” Congressman Mike Rogers
Ever since the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama and his senior lieutenants have been telling war-weary Americans that the end of the nation’s longest conflict is within sight. “Core al-Qaida is a shell of its former self,” Obama said in a speech in May. “This war, like all wars, must end.” That was the triumphal tone of last year’s reelection campaign, too.
The truth is much grimmer. Intelligence officials and terrorism experts today believe that the death of bin Laden and the decimation of the Qaida “core” in Pakistan only set the stage for a rebirth of al-Qaida as a global threat. Its tactics have morphed into something more insidious and increasingly dangerous as safe havens multiply in war-torn or failed states—at exactly the moment we are talking about curtailing the National Security Agency’s monitoring capability. And the jihadist who many terrorism experts believe is al-Qaida’s new strategic mastermind, Abu Musab al-Suri (a nom de guerre that means “the Syrian”), has a diametrically different approach that emphasizes quantity over quality. The red-haired, blue-eyed former mechanical engineer was born in Aleppo in 1958 as Mustafa Setmariam Nasar; he has lived in France and Spain. Al-Suri is believed to have helped plan the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and the 2005 bombings in London—and has been called the “Clausewitz” of the new al-Qaida.
Whereas bin Laden preached big dramatic acts directed by him and senior Qaida leaders, al-Suri urges the creation of self-generating cells of lone terrorists or small groups in his 1,600-page Internet manifesto. They are to keep up attacks, like multiplying fleas on a dog that finds itself endlessly distracted—and ultimately dysfunctional. (A classic Western book on guerrilla warfare called The War of the Flea reportedly influenced al-Suri.) The attacks are to culminate, he hopes, in acts using weapons of mass destruction.
READ MORE HERE
CNN: The Next Bin Laden?
Interesting piece with Cong. Rogers and Peter Bergen on the Syrian terrorist who might be the next bin Laden.
Good news from the Federal Courts, and more vindication for the great work done by the FBI agents who investigated Mehanna for years. It’s also not a good day to be a client of JW Carney, as today his other client–Whitey Bulger–was given two life sentences plus five years from Federal Judge Denise Casper.–AA
The U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction and 17-year prison sentence imposed on Islamic extremist Tarek Mehanna, calling terrorism “the modern-day equivalent of the bubonic plague: It is an existential threat.”
The 31-year-old former Sudbury pharmacist was found guilty last year of conspiring with al-Qaeda to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, and traveling to Yemen in a failed attempt to enlist in a terrorist training camp. Prosecutors said Mehanna was also making plans to shoot up a local shopping mall.
Mehanna argued unsuccessfully that his convictions weren’t supported by the evidence and that many of his statements interpreted as anti-American jihadist rants were protected political speech.
Appellate Justices Jeffrey R. Howard, Bruce M. Selya and O. Rogeriee Thompson found Mehanna “was fairly tried, justly convicted and lawfully sentenced.”
“We do not pretend to understand why the defendant chose to go down such a treacherous path,” they wrote. “Nevertheless, the jury found that he knowingly and intentionally made that choice, and that finding is both supported by the clear weight of the evidence and untainted by legal error.”
By Nick Paton Walsh, Raja Razek and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
Gaziantep, Turkey (CNN) — Raqqa was, a matter of months ago, one of Syria’s most liberal cities. Now locals call it Tora Bora. They say it’s as if the Taliban of Afghanistan have taken over.
After months of bombardment by the regime and a chaotic lack of control by weak and divided moderate rebels, al Qaeda have found a broken society, made it their home, and imposed on it hardline Islamist law.
Each morning, activists told us, they seem to awake to a more conservative city. The “Bayanaat” or rulings sometimes appear on town walls. Many limit women’s rights — to walk alone, to style or show their hair. Other edicts come by word of mouth — no smoking, no cameras. Behind them are often foreign jihadists from the al Qaeda linked militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
The fear that now grips the city can be felt in the shocking bruises on Adnan’s body. Adnan, whose name has been changed out of fears for his safety, was behind some graffiti in Raqqa that told ISIS to get out. They caught him filming too, and dragged him into the burned-out ruins of a church they had torched and labeled as a new ISIS base.
Read the rest here
The link below is worth every second you spend reading the page and looking at the moving photos. It’s a short story of sorts about the desert memorial to UTA Flight 772, downed in a Libyan terrorist attack in 1989.