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December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘German’

Germany: ‘Islamists Want to Bring Jihad to Europe’

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

German Intelligence Chief Gerhard Schindler has issued a warning saying that Europe is at great risk of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists.

In a wide-ranging interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, Schindler said the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is particularly concerned about the threat posed by homegrown terrorists, individuals who are either born or raised in Europe and who travel to war zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen to obtain training in terrorist methods.

Schindler said: “A particular threat stems from Al Qaeda structures in Yemen. They want to bring Jihad to Europe. Among other tactics, this involves the ‘lone wolf’ model, which involves individuals who are citizens of the targeted country and who go abroad for training. We know that this is strategy is currently high on Al Qaeda’s agenda, and we are accordingly attentive.”

Schindler’s comments came just days after Spanish authorities arrested three suspected al Qaeda terrorists who were allegedly plotting an airborne attack on a shopping mall near Gibraltar, the British overseas territory on the southernmost tip of Spain.

Schindler’s warning also comes amid the backdrop of a high-security court trial of four suspected Al Qaeda members which began in the German city of Düsseldorf on July 25. German public prosecutors say the defendants — three home grown Islamists born in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and one Moroccan national — were planning to stage a “sensational terror attack” in Germany.

Also known as the “Düsseldorfer Cell,” the defendants are also accused of plotting to assassinate the former commander of German Special Forces (KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte) as well as to attack the US Army base in the Bavarian town of Grafenwöhr.

German authorities began monitoring the group in early 2010, when the American Central Intelligence Agency alerted German police to the fact that the Moroccan, Abdeladim el-Kebir, 31, had entered Germany after having been trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Waziristan along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2010.

German public prosecutors say El-Kebir, also known as Abi al-Barra, was the ringleader of the Düsseldorfer Cell and, following orders from an unidentified senior Al-Qaeda operative, in November 2010 began working on a plot to blow up public buildings, train stations and airports in Germany. After several months of surveillance by German police, El-Kebir was arrested in April 2011.

Before his arrest, El-Kebir also recruited three accomplices he knew from his student days in the German city of Bochum: a 32-year-old German-Moroccan named Jamil Seddiki, a 21-year-old German-Iranian named Amid Chaabi, and a 28-year-old German named citizen Halil Simsek. The three were arrested in Germany in December 2011.

Prosecutors say that Seddiki was in charge of producing explosives while Chaabi and Simsek were responsible for communications with the al Qaeda leadership.

During testimony in court, it emerged that all four defendants led inconspicuous lives. Simsek, for example, who was born in the German city of Gelsenkirchen, earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Bochum. He had wanted to become a German police officer but his application was rejected for medical reasons. Chaabi, who was born in Bochum, was studying Information Technology at the University of Hagen when he was arrested. Seddiki, a high school graduate, was working as an electrician.

Prosecutors have compiled 260 ring-binders containing evidence gathered by investigators; the prosecutor’s arraignment runs to 500 pages. The main accusation against the men is that they set up a terrorist cell and prepared to commit murder.

Federal Prosecutor Michael Bruns told the court that the defendants “planned to carry out a spectacular and startling attack” in Germany and that the defendants “wanted to spread fear and horror.”

The trial is expected to run for 30 days; a verdict is expected in November. If the four accused men are found guilty, they face up to ten years in prison.

(In November 2011, a federal court in Brooklyn, New York indicted el-Kebir on charges of conspiring to provide Al-Qaeda with explosives and training. If extradited and convicted, el-Kebir faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.)

Underscoring German officialdom’s anxiety over home grown Islamic terrorism, the German state of Lower Saxony recently published a practical guide to extremist Islam to help citizens identify tell-tale signs of Muslims who are becoming radicalized.

Hungarian Lawyer Seeks Indictment against Nazi Hunter Efraim Zuroff

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

A Hungarian lawyer has urged authorities to charge Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff with making “false statements” against an alleged war criminal.

Attorney Futo Barnabas said Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, should be indicted for leveling false allegations against Laszlo Csatary, whom police arrested last month. Zuroff gave testimonies to Budapest prosecutors that Csatary had organized deportations of Hungarian Jews from Kosice in 1941 and 1944.

Prosecutors dismissed the 1941 charges last week as “unsubstantiated” but are still investigating those pertaining to 1944.

Citing the dismissal, Barnabas told the conservative newspaper Magyar Nemzet that “there are valid grounds to charge Zuroff with deliberately making a false accusation.” The offense, which is meant to discourage libelous complaints, carries a five-year prison sentence, according to Barnabas.

Contacted by JTA, Barnabas said in German that he would only agree to be interviewed in Hungarian.

A spokeswoman for the Budapest prosecutor’s office, Bettina Bagoly, is quoted as telling the Hungarian paper that she was not aware of any pending investigation against Zuroff.

In 1944, Csatary was a police officer in Kassa, now Kosice in Slovakia. He is accused of organizing transports of at least 15,000 Jews to the Ukraine.

Csatary fled to Canada in 1949 after a Czechoslovakian court sentenced him in absentia to death for war crimes. He returned to Budapest 15 years ago, after Ottawa annulled his Canadian citizenship.

Based on Zuroff’s research, The Sun newspaper of London reported on Csatary’s whereabouts in July. Budapest’s chief prosecutor said on July 17 that the research “contains no new evidence.” Csatary was nonetheless placed under house arrest the next day.

Last year, a Budapest court acquitted Zuroff of libel charges. Sandor Kepiro, then a suspected war criminal, sued Zuroff for voicing the suspicions. Kepiro was acquitted last year.

20 Bipartisan Congressmen Voice ‘Deep Concern’ over German Circumcision Ban

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

A bipartisan group of 20 Congressmen sent a letter to the German government expressing “deep concern” over a recent German court decision to effectively ban circumcision on young boys.

Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), authored the letter, which was addressed to Peter Ammon, the German ambassador to the United States.

The District Court of Cologne court recently ruled that the right of a child to be protected from bodily harm took precedence over the interests of the parents or religious freedom. Accordingly, the court said, the circumcision of a minor for non-medical reasons could be considered a criminal act.

The letter by the congressmen called the June 26 court decision “an affront to religious freedom.”

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, which represents about 1,000 congregations, praised the letter. Circumcision, it wrote in a press release, is “a fundamental ritual and sacred rite of passage for both the Jewish and Muslim communities. Throughout history, the prohibition of Brit Milah has been tantamount to rejection of the Jewish community’s existence.”

The letter to the ambassador also “applauded the strong opposition voiced by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle” and called on them to pass legislation that would safeguard religious freedom.

“Europe has experienced a troubling uptick in measures that violate religious freedom by undermining core religious tenets, such as the Dutch initiative to ban ritual slaughter and this new effort in Germany to outlaw ritual circumcision,” Waxman said in a press release. “We must ensure that Germany follows through on its commitment to resolve this controversy.”

Berman added in the release, “A not so veiled assault on tenets central to religious expression is underway in Europe’s courts and legislatures. We must let it be known to our friends in a clear and unequivocal voice that such measures are harmful assaults on religious freedom and should not continue.”

David Rakoff, Humorist, 47

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

David Rakoff, a humorist who often wrote about American Jewish culture, has died.

Rakoff, 47, died in Manhattan Thursday of cancer, a disease he has battled since he was 22, according to reports.

A frequent contributor to National Public Radio’s This American Life, Rakoff, who was Montreal-born, embraced his misfortunes with a cheerful negativity.

A book of his essays was named “Half Empty.”

“Optimism is not for everybody,” he told Tablet magazine in a 2010 podcast. “There are a lot of people who are simply going to feel anxious no matter what, it predates consciousness almost, it’s pre-verbal, it’s the way you are and ultimately it’s as value neutral as having brown eyes.”

He wrote, in a 2006 Tablet blog chronicling his attendance at virtually every film in a Woody Allen film festival, of his delight in his discovery of a shared identity with Alvy Singer, the Allen doppleganger in “Annie Hall.”

“Walking out, my friend Rick, thirty-plus years resident said, ‘I had forgotten how Jewish a film it is’,” Rakoff wrote. “I really hadn’t noticed. But I’m the wrong guy to ask. It’s like saying to a fish, ‘Do things around here seem really wet to you?’

“I wrote a book that got translated into German a few years back. There was a fascination among the Germans with what they perceived as my Jewish sensibility; a living example of the extirpated culture. I’ve said this before, but I felt like the walking illustration of that old joke about the suburbs being the place where they chop down all the trees and then name the streets after them. At least a dozen of the reviews referred to me as a ‘stadtneurotiker,’ an urban neurotic, a designation that pleased me, I won’t lie. Especially when I found out the German title for Annie Hall: Der Stadtneurotiker.”

Orient Impressions: China

Friday, August 10th, 2012

China assaults the senses with a cacophony of sounds and colorful sights amid its teeming masses. As we arrived for a month’s trip in October the noxious smog of vehicle-packed Beijing assailed our nostrils. But the past still dwells in the shadows of the modernized capital. At dusk a row of elderly stooped men shuffled along the road beneath our apartment in Mao-style uniforms. We would see the same gray men plodding by in the morning.

The contrast between affluence and poverty was very striking. The opulent Prince Gong Mansion adjoins the Hutong area of Beijing, where life is still primitive without indoor plumbing. Our guide, David, grew up here in a one-room hut, but his family was later relocated. As for changing times, the steep demands of a future wife would likely comprise an apartment, a vehicle and expensive jewelry, he told us.

At an upscale mall with fountains, we shunned the crowd thronging the iPhone store to buy salad vegetables in a small supermarket. One department store had rows of stylish vaporizers steaming away — a necessary device considering the air quality. When I absentmindedly dropped my shawl on the mall plaza a policewoman was beside me in a flash to return it. Big Sister was watching over us. We had similar eureka moments elsewhere in China. When we bargained with a self-styled porter at a railway station, a security man appeared out of nowhere and violently shoved the coarse-faced fellow outdoors. The TV and Internet censors were brutally efficient as well. As a CNN news bulletin mentioned the imprisonment of a Nobel prizewinner in China, the screen promptly blacked out. Similarly, a nature program about crocodiles disappeared forever after mildly disparaging Chinese conservation efforts and the local yen for crocodile skin. The Chinese we met seemed stoic about their restricted freedom. “We can do as we like,” one told me, “as long as we don’t speak about it in public.”

Shopping is a strenuous activity. In an indoor Beijing market two diminutive teenage girls attached themselves like limpets to my husband, pulling him along, “Hey Mister, Mister. Come over here. You gotta see this.” Bargaining, which is done on small calculators, requires stamina and endurance.

Tantalizing glimpses of traditional China sometimes filter through. In a Beijing park we listened, spellbound, as a dignified trio of seniors gathered under the trees to sing haunting melodies, accompanied by the time-honored two-stringed erhu. During a daytrip to Souzhou near Shanghai we visited classic landscaped Chinese gardens with aristocratically furnished pavilions and toured a factory with an exhibit of manual silk production.

The magnificent art treasures of northern China fascinated us so much that we spent eight hours inside the vast Forbidden City of Beijing. Its architectural features include raised entries to ward off the evil eye, the emperor dragon symbol and the phoenix for the empress. Calligraphy exhibits were on handmade paper or silk, sometimes with minute lettering. One humorous painting showed a group of jolly fishermen at work. Some of the intricate craftsmanship was inspired by plum blossom, orchids, fruit and vegetables. We admired porcelain vessels, gold artifacts, lacquered wood and jewelry.

Alone that day, we developed a technique to navigate the throng heading to the subway. It helped to follow closely on the heels of the most aggressive pushers as they elbowed their way through. The next day we headed north for a day of intensive touring to the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Ming Tombs. Outside the town were piles of dried maize for the animals, roadside fruit stands and tall chestnut trees. One restaurant was packed as it offered a special delicacy — donkey meat, David said. After a short cable car ascent we hiked energetically around the Great Wall, clambering up and down its uneven stone steps and towers, then careening down to the bottom on an alpine slide.

At the Summer Palace of the emperors we admired the marble boat once revamped by Dowager Empress Cixi from naval funds. Cixi’s life story features her remarkable transformation from a minor concubine of Emperor Xianfeng to the de facto ruler of China for half a century. What triggered her sudden ascent was presenting the emperor with his only son in 1856. Despite her utter ruthlessness and talent for political intrigue, Cixi’s shortcomings as national ruler ultimately led to China’s defeat in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), to the decline of the Qing dynasty and the 1911 revolution.

Report: Germany was Warned a Month Before ‘72 Olympics Attack

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Germany was warned about a possible terror attack against Israeli athletes one month before the Munich Olympics in 1972, Der Spiegel reported.

The weekly magazine reported Sunday on its website that despite solid warnings of an attack plan which were received a month before the Games, no action was taken.

The Palestinian terrorists, for example, were able to walk by the apartments of the Israeli athletes without being stopped.

Der Spiegel also reported that German police had prepared possible scenarios for a terror attack at the Games, including one that dealt specifically with a Palestinian attack on the Olympic village, but after the attack the police said there were no written documents of the preparations and German authorities tried to cover up their failures.

The story is based on reports of the post-attack inquiry minutes from German Cabinet meetings and documents from government bodies obtained by Der Spiegel.

Jihadi Tourism Hits Europe

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Increasing numbers of Muslims in Europe are travelling to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and other conflict zones to obtain training in terrorist methods.

Although intelligence agencies have been following the trend since the July 2005 bombings of the London commuter system, which were perpetrated by four home-grown Islamic terrorists, the scale of the problem has come into greater focus in recent weeks.

European security officials are especially concerned about reports that al-Qaeda is recruiting and training Western operatives who have “clean” criminal records and have the ability to travel freely and blend in with European and American cultures.

In Norway, for example, an ethnic Norwegian convert to militant Islam who has received terrorist training from al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen, is awaiting orders to carry out an attack on the West, officials from three European security agencies said on June 25.

European officials have confirmed that the man is “operational,” meaning he has completed his training and is about to receive a target. Although the terrorist-in-waiting is believed to still be in Yemen, even if he is found he cannot be extradited: under Norwegian law it is not a crime to attend a terrorist training camp.

The London-based newspaper Sunday Times, quoting intelligence services, published a story on July 1 that said the Norwegian jihadist had been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] to evade airport security and is plotting to hijack an American passenger plane and, in a suicide mission, crash it. The newspaper portrayed the plot as an attack on the upcoming London Olympics, to be held from July 27 to August 12, but said the target was specifically supposed to be an American aircraft.

The paper described the recruit as being a Norwegian citizen in his 30s, with no immigrant background, but who calls himself Abu Abdulrahman. The man, who converted to Islam in 2008, has apparently in recent months been undergoing training at AQAP bases in Yemen.

According to a detailed report in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, on July 5, the individual is a 33-year-old Norwegian who, in his youth, was associated with Oslo’s far-left Blitz movement. Despite his one-time radical credentials, he later worked as a babysitter at a daycare center in Oslo, the city where he was born and raised. He did not have a history of violence, the paper said.

Dagbladet went on to report that eventually he became a member of the Green Party; a source close to the suspect said that, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, he had come to be viewed as an easily-influenced conspiracy theorist.

His ideological priorities shifted, according to the paper, after he married the daughter of a diplomat from an unspecified North African country. In 2008, he converted to Islam and underwent a change of lifestyle: he gave up alcohol and broke off almost all contact with his earlier friends. The newspaper stated that he recently became a father, and that his wife had travelled to her home country with their child.

Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, Britain’s domestic security service, recently provided important context to the threat posed by would-be jihadists. In a rare public address on June 25, Evans said the Olympic Games in London “present an attractive target for our enemies and they will be at the center of the world’s attention in a month or so. No doubt some terrorist networks have thought about whether they could pull off an attack.”

“In back rooms and in cars and on the streets of this country there is no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terrorist attacks here,” Evans continued. “It is essential that we maintain pressure on al-Qaeda.”

Evans also said that al-Qaeda militants are using the countries which toppled their leaders in the Arab Spring as bases to train radical Western youths for potential attacks on Britain: “This is the completion of a cycle. Al-Qaida first moved to Afghanistan in the 1990s due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin. They moved on to Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban. And now some are heading home to the Arab world again.”

“Today,” Evans added, “parts of the Arab world have once more become a permissive environment for al-Qaeda. A small number of British would-be jihadis are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen. Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here. This is a new and worrying development and could get worse.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/jihadi-tourism-hits-europe/2012/07/18/

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