Some 100-200 British residents are thought to be involved in militant activities in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, mostly young men from cities such as London and Birmingham between the ages of 18 and 30, according to MI5.
Although al-Qaeda has made no successful attack on Britain since 2005, Evans said the threat has not evaporated, and that Britain has been the target of credible terrorist plot every year since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
A suspected al-Qaeda militant and would-be suicide bomber, for example, was caught at the Olympic Park in London on July 7. The 24 year-old has previously tried to get to Afghanistan, allegedly for terrorist training; he is suspected of fighting for the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab, which has been responsible for thousands of deaths, including those of Western aid workers. He is also accused of trying to recruit other Britons to the Islamist cause.
In Germany, the country’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, published a detailed story about German jihadists on July 2. Citing intelligence sources, Deutsche Welle reported that “since the beginning of the 1990s, around 235 people with German connections and Islamic terrorist backgrounds have at least attempted to obtain paramilitary training.” There is concrete evidence that around 100 were actually trained or engaged in military operations. More than half of those are said to be back in Germany, and around 10 have been imprisoned.
Deutsche Welle interviewed a spokesman for Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), who said: “Should they [the jihadists] return to Germany, these people could be involved in activity which poses a threat to national security. Another risk factor is that these people have big reputations in the Islamist scene. That can lead to the further radicalization of Islamists who until now weren’t necessarily prepared to engage in violent conflict.”
The report also describes the lives of two Turkish-German brothers from the German city of Wuppertal, who went to join Islamist fighters in the mountainous Pakistani region of Waziristan on the border of Afghanistan. One of the brothers, named Bünyamin, was killed by an American drone attack shortly after his arrival in October 2010. (His death caused German politicians to protest the American policy of drone strikes in Pakistan.)
After Bünyamin died, his brother, Emrah, left Waziristan and travelled to Somalia where he joined al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. East African security agents became aware of him at the end of May 2012 in connection with an attack in Kenya on a shopping mall. He was arrested in Tanzania on June 10, 2012, and later deported to Germany. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has accused him of being “an active member of the foreign terrorist association al-Qaeda.”
Deutsche Welle also made mention of Mounir and Yassin Chouka, two Moroccan brothers from Bonn who regularly appear in German-language propaganda videos from Waziristan. In the most recent video, dated May 2012, Yassin called for the murder of journalists and activists from the conservative political party, PRO NRW, which is opposed to the Islamization of Germany.
A new book, entitled, Young, German, Taliban, sums it up nicely. Author Wolf Schmidt, who is also the editor of Berlin-based newspaper Tageszeitung, states: “Many of these young men intended to go to Chechnya, but ended up in Pakistan. They don’t know the war zone, have relatively little idea about the conflict, and often have shockingly little knowledge of the religion which they claim to defend.”
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org
About the Author: The writer is the Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group, one of the oldest and most influential foreign policy think tanks in Spain.
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