Mali Islamists regroup to strike back

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Jean-Charles Brisard, international terrorism expert, said the Islamists’ evacuation of their bases, after air strikes by the French air force jets was an explicit tactical retreat to organise a counterattack.

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Posted in Terrorist Tagged with: ,

Exclusive: Al Qaeda European terror plot linked to the 9/11 hijackers’ cell

Nine years after the 9/11 attacks, the latest Al Qaeda European terror plot goes back to the 9/11 hijackers’ path.

According to a key witness arrested in Afghanistan in July, Ahmed Sidiqi, the plot coordinated by Al Qaeda involved several European citizens in a « Mumbai style » attack on various European targets, including the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and the Alexanderplatz television tower in Berlin, among others.

Sidiqi, a German of Afghan descent, claims that the main recruiter for the plot was Naamen Meziche (aka Nouamane Meziche), a well-known figure of the European Islamist arena since the late 90s. Meziche, who settled in Germany in 1992, was identified in 2001 as a member of the “Hamburg cell” and a close friend of hijacker Mohamed Atta, and cell’s ringleader Ramzi Binalshibh.

Born on June 18, 1970 in Paris of Algerian descent, Meziche married the daughter of another well-known figure of jihadism, Mohamed Fizazi, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his involvement in the Casablanca bombings in 2003. Fizazi was the religious leader of Salafia Jihadia, the group behind the attacks. Fizazi also preached at the Al Quds mosque in Hamburg which was attended by the 9/11 hijackers.

Meziche came to the attention of European law enforcement in 2002 for his involvement with two Jihadist recruiting networks to fight in Iraq, uncovered in Spain and Italy. The Italian network was formed by a close associate of the then Al Qaida leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. Meziche even traveled to Syria in 2003 to meet Al Qaeda members, according to Italian legal documents.

Meziche was arrested in 2006 in Algeria and freed later that year as part of the Algerian policy of national reconciliation.

Most of the would-be terrorists for the latest European plot were recruited in 2008 and 2009 by Meziche at the Taiba mosque (formerly the Al Quds mosque) in Hamburg, before training in the Afghan-Pakistani region.

Sidiqi also indicated that the plot was entirely financed by Al Qaeda and coordinated by an Al Qaeda leader, Younis Al Mauritani.

Posted in 9/11, Terrorist Tagged with: , , ,

AQIM kidnap-for-ransom practice: A worrisome challenge to the war against terrorism financing (Updated)

Kidnapping-for-ransom is considered by many experts as an “alternative source of terrorism financing.” But the recent abduction of five French nationals in Niger by the Al Qaeda’s Islamic Maghreb terrorist group (AQIM) highlights a worrisome regional trend that emerged in 2003, when AQIM first launched a major hostage taking campaign targeting foreign tourists.

Since then, AQIM has developed a growing criminal industry that sustains itself through huge ransoms they extort and drug trafficking.

It is estimated that the kidnap-for-ransom business in the Sahel region alone, put at least $65 million in the coffers of AQIM since 2005. More than 90% of the group’s funding derives from this single financial source. The rest comes from drug trafficking and donations.

The kidnapping business is so good, that hostage taking in the Sahel region had risen 150% between 2008 and 2009. The average ransom for the release of a Western hostage is $6.5 million.

Since 2008, AQIM raised more than $25 million from ransom for foreign nationals in the Sahel region. This makes AQIM richer than “Al Qaeda Central”, whose annual income was recently estimated by U.S. officials to be between $5 million to $10 million.

Continue reading “AQIM kidnap-for-ransom practice: A worrisome challenge to the war against terrorism financing (Updated)” »

Posted in CTF Initiatives, Terrorist Tagged with: , , , , ,

The U.S. Supreme Court bans humanitarian support to terrorist organizations

In its ruling of June 21, 2010 (Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project), the U.S. Supreme Court further clarified the notion of “material support” to designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and brushed aside so-called “peaceful or humanitarian” support to such organizations.

The “material support” statute (18 U.S.C. § 2339B) adopted in 1996, prohibits the provision of material support or resources to  a foreign terrorist organization.
“Material support or resources” is defined as
“any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials”.

The main question was the legality of providing non-violent resources to support the humanitarian and peaceful efforts of terrorist organizations. The Court found that not only there was no distinction between the violent and non-violent wings of terrorist groups, but that terrorist groups benefit from any support given to them, even peaceful or humanitarian.

The Court conceded that FTOs may engage in political and humanitarian activities, but insisted that “Foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activity are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates that conduct.”

The Supreme Court therefore confirmed that it was necessary “to prohibit providing material support in the form of training, expert advice, personnel, and services to foreign terrorist groups, even if the supporters meant to promote only the groups’ nonviolent ends”, because this aid would “legitimize” the organization.

Referring to such humanitarian support during theoral arguments, Chief Justice Roberts stated “It’s going to make their hospital run better. People are going to like their hospital. So the party, the group, will be legitimized.”

Justice Scalia insisted that “The theory of the legislation is that when you aid any of their enterprises, you’re aiding the organization. Hamas, for example, gained support among the Palestinians by activities that are perfectly lawful, perhaps running hospitals, all sorts of things.”

Solicitor General Kagan clearly emphasized that “when you help a terrorist, foreign terrorist organization’s legal activities, you’re also helping the foreign terrorist organization’s illegal activities”. “Hezbollah builds bombs. Hezbollah also builds homes. What Congress decided was when you help Hezbollah build homes, your are also helping Hezbollah build bombs.”

The Supreme Court held that “Material support meant to ‘promote peaceable, lawful conduct’ can further terrorism by foreign groups in multiple ways. Material support is a valuable resource by definition. Such support frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends. It also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups—legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members, and to raise funds—all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks.”

By its unambiguous ruling the Supreme Court clarifies the debate about “political wings” or “humanitarian wings” of terrorist organizations including the Hamas and Hezbollah, and sends a strong message to those promoting a dialog with so-called “moderate” elements within designated terrorist organizations.

Posted in Legal Issues, Misc, Terrorist Tagged with: , , , , ,

IHH: From the war in Bosnia to the Gaza Flotilla

The main organizer and funder of the Gaza Flotilla, the Turkish NGO Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), is portraying itself as a “Humanitarian Relief Foundation”, but it is better known in Bosnia for its connections to terrorism.

Several documents confirm the nexus between the Turkish IHH and foreign Muslim fighters in Bosnia during the war.

A Bosnian State Security Service (SDB) Report on “Citizens, Organizations and Institutions from Afro-Asian Countries who Reside and Operate” in Sarajevo, dated November 19, 1995, provided specific details on the NGO’s activities and the involvement of its managers in the Mujahideen Brigade.

At the time, the IHH Sarajevo office director was Hakan Celik. The report stated that he arrived in Sarajevo in July 1994, from Zenica, which served as headquarter of the Mujahideen Brigade.

The report provided the details of another IHH official, Hakan Bogoclu, deputy director of the IHH Sarajevo office. It stated that “he was a member of the 7th Muslim Brigade from September 1st, 1992 until July 1st, 1994.”

 

Continue reading “IHH: From the war in Bosnia to the Gaza Flotilla” »

Posted in Charities, Terrorist

Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad indicted (Updated)

Faisal Shahzad was indicted for attempted car bombing in Times Square, the Justice Department announced today.

Shahzad was indicted by a federal grand jury on 10 counts related to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

The grand jury charges that Shahzad received $12,000 in cash and explosives training in Pakistan from the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban).

The full text of the indictment is available here

The full text of the complaint filed on May 4, 2010 is also available here

Update of June 22, 2010: Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty to 10 counts according to the U.S. Department of Justice

Posted in Sanctions, Terrorist Tagged with: , , ,

About JC Brisard

Jean-Charles Brisard

Jean-Charles Brisard is an international consultant, specialized in the financing of terrorist organizations.
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