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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Times’

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.”

Weekly Roundup: Syria on the Brink

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The carnage in Syria continues unabated, as reports came in Wednesday that over 80 people – including two Western journalists and a Syrian journalist – were killed in the besieged city of Homs. Syrian forces pressed on with their assault on Thursday, marking the 20th day of incessant bombardment of Homs.

The deaths of Marie Colvin, a veteran American journalist for Britain’s Sunday Times, and French photographer Remi Ochlik, has drawn further outrage  and condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. According to witnesses, the two were killed when a rocket struck them as they attempted to escape a house that was being shelled. In another sign that the fighting in Homs is still raging intensely, the bodies of Colvin and Ochlik have not yet been extracted, while three other journalists wounded in the same attack are still waiting to be evacuated from the devastation.

The Syrian Information Ministry released a statement on state-run television saying that it “rejects accusations that Syria is responsible for the deaths of journalists who infiltrated into the country on their own responsibility, without the authorities knowing about their entry or location.”

Members of the Syrian opposition have reported that the army is impeding the transfer of medical supplies to Homs, while the International Committee of the Red Cross has been working feverishly to secure an agreement between the government and the opposition to implement daily ceasefires.

UN Report alleges ‘crimes against humanity’

Meanwhile, the United Nations asserted in a report released Thursday that Syrian forces have been directed by “officials at the highest level of government” and the military to commit “crimes against humanity and other gross human right violations,” implying that Assad himself is guilty.

“The commission received credible and consistent evidence identifying high- and mid-ranking members of the armed forces who ordered their subordinates to shoot at unarmed protesters, kill soldiers who refused to obey such orders, arrest persons without cause, mistreat detained persons and attack civilian neighborhoods with indiscriminate tanks and machine-gun fire,” read an excerpt from the report to the UN Human Rights Council. The report includes a confidential list of names of high-ranking officers and officials alleged to be responsible for perpetrating these and other crimes against humanity.

The UN commission was barred from entering Syria but asserted that it had interviewed 369 victims and witnesses. “Satellite imagery of areas where military and security forces were deployed and related reported violations occurred, corroborated a number of witness accounts.”

In the wake of the report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commissioned Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, “to visit Syria to assess the humanitarian situation and renew the call for urgent humanitarian access.”

International response

Syria’s Arab neighbors meanwhile continue to distance themselves from the Assad regime, with Egypt recalling its ambassador to Syria on Sunday. “The decision is a message that Egypt is unsatisfied with the situation in Syria as it is,” a Foreign Ministry official said. The decision came a few days after the Arab League’s entreaty for Arab states to end diplomatic relations with Syria, and follows similar moves by Gulf states and other Arab nations.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, in a brusque phone conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, was adamant that there was no use for additional dialogue with the regime, and criticized Russia’s controversial veto of a UN Security Council resolution in early February. “[A]ny discussion about the situation would be fruitless,” he was quoted as saying by SNA, the Saudi state news agency. “It would have been better if our Russian friends coordinated with the Arabs before using the veto in the Security Council.”

In related news, a “Friends of Syria” conference is scheduled to take place on Friday in Tunisia, and will be attended by Arab League countries, Turkey, the United States, European nations – all of whom are demanding that Assad resign. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal insisted that the conference would illustrate Assad’s isolation. “It will recall that the international community has condemned the regime’s venture into criminality.” Russia, Syria’s primary guarantor in the international community, has said it will boycott the meeting.

Free Syrian Army turning away Jihadists

Also, according to a report in Asharq Al-Awsat that may calm Western jitters, the Free Syrian Army has rejected the service of Arab jihadists in fighting the Assad regime. The report cited Imad Husari, a member of the Syrian National Council as saying that non-Syrian jihadists are already in Syria, but that the opposition has turned them away.

Republicans voice support for arming opposition

Stateside, Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both advocated the idea of arming Syrian insurgents, joining republican lawmakers John McCain and Lindsey Graham in pressuring the Obama administration to do more. “We need to work with Saudi Arabia and with Turkey to say, ‘You guys provide the kind of weaponry that’s needed to help the rebels inside Syria,’” said Romney, invoking geostrategic considerations in toppling Assad. “If we can turn Syria and Lebanon away from Iran, we finally have the capacity to get Iran to pull back.”

Report: Israel to provide 12-Hour Window Before Attacking Iran

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

The UK’s Sunday Times reported that Israel informed US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey during his recent visit that it will not request permission from the US to attack Iran and will only provide America a 12-hour warning before the attack.

The report also claimed that an Israeli source communicated that Israel was caught unaware when the US postponed their joint security exercise last week.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-israel-to-provide-12-hour-window-before-attacking-iran/2012/01/22/

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