By EMERSON VERMAAT
May 18, 2010 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Eachyear, more than 240,000 illegal African immigrants are entering Europe. Behindthese huge operations of migrant trafficking are powerful criminal African andNorth African organizations which bribe the police, customs officials and otherlocal officials as well as (African) government ministers. Each illegalimmigant has to pay up to 3000 euros to the trafficking organizations. Thesemafia organizations receive some 300 million dollars (237 million euros)annually for their clandestine services (bribing of officials, documentforgery, etc.), according to a United Nations report. Many of these organizationsare run by Nigerians, the report says.
Nigeria and Somalia aresignificant source countries of criminals and terrorists who operate on aninternational scale. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerian and Somali immigrantshave entered Europe and North America in recent years, posing great strains onWestern societies. Western intelligence and security services are monitoringradicalized African Muslim males who enthousiastically endorse jihadistideologies linked to Al-Qaeda. An increasing number of them even wants to jointhe jihad against the West and die as a suicide bomber or so-called ?martyr."
The origins ofAl-Qaeda lie both in Afghanistan/Pakistan and Africa. After taking part in thejihad against the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan and founding Al-Qaeda in1988, Osama bin Laden set up base in Sudan (1992). Four years later, though, hereturned to Afghanistan establishing more training camps and expanding Al-Qaedainto a truly global terror network, in close cooperation with his Egyptian friendAyman Al-Zawahiri. The first time I heard about bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri wasin 1996.
In Sudan binLaden established a terrorist training camp (referred to as ?a farm") andfunded terrorist groups in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan,Bosnia, Malaysia and the Phillipines. He also established a media organizationand a printing house in London, the beginning of his manifold activities inBritain and other European countries.
Al-Qaeda?sinvolvement in Somalia
Bin Laden reallyloves countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sudan, but the lawless countryof Somalia is also very dear to the Al-Qaeda leader?s heart. In an interviewwith the daily newspaper ?Pakistan" bin Laden boasted of being in Somaliaduring the United Nations mission to feed Somalis left starving by feudingwarlords.
From his hideoutin the tribal areas of Pakistan bin Laden heaped praise on the new Somalileaders urging Somalis to support them. ?You have no other means for salvationunless you commit to Islam, put your hands in the hands of the Islamic Courtsto build an Islamic state in Somalia," he said. He lashed out at the presidentof Somalia?s secular but powerless interim government, Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed,calling him a ?traitor" and a ?renegade." He told other countries not to getinvolved in the conflict. If that were to happen ?we will fight your soldierson the land of Somalia and we will fight you on your own land if you dispatchtroops to Somalia."
On August23, 2006, the new rulers opened atraining camp in Hilweyne, north of Mogadishu, for 600 members of Islamicmilitias. The instructors came from Eritrea, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Somalia isAl-Qaeda?s new operational base in Africa. In December 2008, Abdullah Yusufresigned as president of Somalia. His successor, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed,was a former ?commander in chief" of the Islamic Courts Union. The TransitionalFederal Government (TFG) formed an alliance with the Islamic Courts Union.Meanwhile, a new and much more radical Islamist movement called ?HarakatAl-Shabaab Mujahideen" (?Movement of Warrior Youth"), an offshoot of theIslamic Courts Union, had started a successful guerrilla war against the Somalileadership. Al-Shabaab is now one of Al-Qaeda?s most powerful instruments inAfrica. Al-Shabaab began releasing videos portraying Somalia?s struggle as partof a global movement to defend Islam and restore its rule. Foreign recruitswere promised ?victory or martyrdom" for enlisting.
Several Somalisin America returned to join jihad with Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab, the ?NewYork Times" reported in July 2009.
The NetherlandsIntelligence and Security Service (AIVD) informed the Dutch Immigration andNaturalization Service (IND) in January 2009 that five young American Somalimales posed a threat to national security. After their jihadist training in aSomali training camp, they planned to return to the US via the Netherlands.
The problem ofSomali asylum seekers
In November2009, an American Somali named Mohamud Said Omar was arrested in the Dutchasylum seekers center of Dronten. The AIVD was instrumental in his arrest asOmar was also deemed a serious security risk. U.S. authorities suspect Omar ofbankrolling the purchase of weapons for Islamic extemists and helping Somalisto travel to Somalia in 2007 and 2009. The affidavit states that six AmericanSomalis traveled to Somalia in December 2007. Omar gave travel money to some ofthem. In January 2008 Omar traveled to Somalia himself and stayed at anAl-Shabaab safehouse for several days and provided money to purchase AK-47assault rifles, the affidavit says. In August Omar accompanied two men boundfor Somalia to the airport and that November hosted a gathering that includedseveral young men who left for Somalia to join Al-Shabaab
The case of Omarshows that asylum seekers from countries like Somalia may pose a serious securityrisk ? apart from the wide cultural gap that exists between Somali and Westernculture (Female Genital Mutilation, oppression of women, polygamy, etc.) Thenumber of refugees and asylum seekers from backward Muslim countries such asSomalia, Iraq and Afghanistan has risen dramatically in recent years.Immigration fraud is very common. The U.S. State Department and the Departmentof Homeland Security have uncovered massive immigration fraud by Somalis. TheState Department has admitted that 80 percent of Somali family reunificationcases involve fraud.
Massive fraudalso exists in the Netherlands where more than 60 percent of all refugees andasylum seekers are from Muslim countries: Somalia 32 percent, Iraq 21 percentand Afghanistan 9 percent. When the government tries to stem the flow ofimmigration, Somalis and the powerful immigration lobby hire expensive lawyersand go to the courts or even to the ?European Court of Human Rights" whichusually rule in their favor. This occurred, for example, in July 2007, when theEuropean Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Shalah Sheekh, a Somali asylumseeker in Holland. When the Dutch government tried to tackle the problem ofmassive benefit fraud in the Somali community, a court in the city of Haarlem lamelyruled that ?singling out Somalis for benefit fraud investigations amounted todiscrimination."
The Dutchnewspaper ?NRC Handelsblad" reported in 2009 that ?asylum seekers are supposedto apply for asylum in the country of first arrival, but some people prefer totravel to another European country if they think they have a better chance ofbeing accepted there, or after having been turned down in the first country."Somalis have recently taken to filing off their finger tips to escaperegistration.
All this, ofcourse, is a financial strain in a time when financial resources are reallyscarce. Each asylum application costs the Dutch government more than 7000 eurosand this does not include the huge costs of housing, legal appeals, etc.
The same appliesto widespread abuses concerning ?the right of family reunification." A court inthe southern Dutch city of Roermond lamely ruled that it is illegal to restrictthe number of ?import brides" or ?import bridegrooms." Such Dutch governmentmeasures are against the ?right to family reunification," the court said.
In Britain,young Somalis who claim to be ?refugees" applied for asylum claiming it was toodangerous for them to return to their home country. Yet, once their asylumclaim had been accepted, a lot of them did indeed make a return trip toSomalia. Many Somali women accompanied their young daughter whom they wanted tobe ?circumsized" in their home country. Somali men traveled to Somalia to jointhe jihad. ?Somali immigrants with jihad training pose terrorist risk," theLondon ?Times" reported in May 2009. ?For Britain, the evidence of spreadingAl-Qaeda training camps is particularly alarming because of the large Somalicommunity in the UK."
By far mostSomalis in Britain entered the country as asylum seekers within the past 20years, ?The Times" reported. ?They include Yasin Omar and Ramzi Mohammed, twoof the four men convicted of the botched bombing of the London Underground onJuly 21, 2005."
While enjoyingwelfare payments, many young Somali youths in Britain are involved in knifecrime and gang violence. Quite a lot of them admire Osama bin Laden. They nowfeel they are entitled to join groups like Al-Shabaab. This trend is one of thegreatest concerns of the British Security Service MI5 which reported inSeptember 2009 that Somalia now serves as a haven and training ground forextremist Muslims from Western countries. The number of young Britons travelingto Somalia to join the jihad or train in terror training camps has evenquadupled to at least 100 since 2004. A Somali religious leader in KentishTown, north London, said in September 2009 that he had heard from families ofsons traveling to Somalia. ?I?m hearing it from parents," he said. ?They saythey (their children) are joining the jihad. This is a big problem facing ourcommunity."
Just likeBritain tolerant Scandinavian countries welcomed many Muslim militants whoentered these countries in large numbers in the 1980s and 1990s as so-calledrefugees or asylum seekers. Most of them came from Iraq, Afghanistan andAfrica. One of them was Mullah Krekar, a terrorist from North Iraq whosuccessfully applied for asylum in Norway. He later returned to Iraq to headthe Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group ?Ansar Al-Islam." ?Suicide is the biggestjihad for Islam," Krekar told a BritishTV reporter in 2003. He also praised Osama bin Laden on more than one occasion.
Another example isMohammed, a Somali immigrant in Sweden who left the peaceful city of Göteborgin 2007 to join the jihadist terrorists in Somalia. He was killed in a U.S.bombing raid.
The SwedishSecurity Service Sapö believes more than twenty (Somali) Swedes have beenrecruited by Al-Shabaab. ?Göteborg is home to Al-Shabaab?s largest onlinecommunity, alqimmah.net, which was established by a former Nazi who convertedto Islam," the Swedish English language paper ?The Local" reported on May 5,2010.
In Denmark, aSomali immigrant named Muhudin M. Geele tried to kill Danish cartoonist KurtWestergaard who created the cartoon of the Muslim prophet Mohammed wearing abomb in his turban. ?We will get our revenge! Blood!", Geele, who has a Danishresidence permit, shouted. Police shot him in the hand and knee andsubsequently arrested him. The Danish security service found out that Geelestayed in close touch with Al-Shabaab militants in Sweden, Denmark and Somalia.In Göteborg, Sweden, he was known as a Muslim hate preacher propagating jihad.He also knew Abdi Rahman Mohammed, a Somali immigrant in Sweden who returnedto Somalia and killed three Somaliministers in a spectacular suicide attack in Mogadishu (early December 2010).
Militant Muslimsjoining the jihad in Somalia is also a growing security concern in Holland. InJuly 2009, four young Dutch Muslims were arrested in Kenya. Two of them wereDutch Somalis, the other two were Dutch Moroccans. The Dutch Security andIntelligence Service reported that the four men expressed an intention to jointhe violent jihad in Somalia.
Australia isanother country where Muslim militants pose a serious security threat.
One of theterror suspects, Nayef El Sayed (Lebanese), refused to stand when asked bymagistrate Peter Reardon. He would stand for no man ? only for Allah. Anotherterror suspect Saney Edow Aweys (Somali) said he hated Australia and thankedAllah for Victoria?s Black Saturday bushfires that killed 117 people. ?Thanksbe to Allah, we say. Allah bring them fitna (trouble), Allah bring themcalamity.
In March 2010,Kenyan immigration officials arrested Hussein Hashi Farah, an Australiancitizen of Somali descent who was on an international terrorism watchlist.However, he escaped from police custody hours after he had been arrested andhis wherabouts are now unknown. Kenyan and Australian police believe Mr. Farahis an Al-Shabaab operative who was involved in planning a terrorist attack onthe Holsworthy Barracks in Australia.
Al-Qaeda?sinvolvement in Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar
With 1.2 millionSomali immigrants and hundreds of thousands of restive Somali refugees, manyKenyans now fear that the bloody conflict in neighboring Somalia could spillover to their country. Kenya shares a 420-mile porous border with Somalia. Inthe past Islamic radicals crossed the border undetected. About 11 percent ofthe Kenyan population is Muslim, most of them are moderates, but there areIslamic courts (or Kadhi?s courts) and these are recognized by the government.Abdulkarim Jimale, a Somali journalist in Eastleigh, Kenya, told Dutch ?NRCHandelsblad" correspondent Kurt Lindijer in January 2010 ?that wounded Al-Shabaabfighters travel to Kenya to be treated in Kenyan hospitals. They recruit Somaliyouths in northeast Kenya and Al-Shabaab seeks to pursuade preachers todisseminate their (Al-Shabaab?s) radical message in mosques."
Kenya expelledradical Jamaican cleric Abdullah Al-Faisal in January 2010. Al-Faisal had triedto recruit Kenyan citizens for Al-Shabaab as he was preaching in mosques inMombasa. He was first detained and his detention led to demonstrations bySomali youths in Nairobi who were waving Al-Shabaab banners and were firing atthe police. Shortly after Al-Faisal?s expulsion by the Kenyan authorities,Al-Shabaab issued a statement declaring war on that country.
Al-Qaeda hasalways shown a preference for East African countries and was successful inrecruiting a number of local muslims. Al-Qaeda began establishing cells in EastAfrica during the early and mid-1990s.
Another Nairobiplotter on the FBI list is Abu Anas-Al-Lib(b)y, a Libyan who once claimedasylum in Britain and lived in Manchester before 2000. Another Al-Qaedaconspirator in the embassy bombings is Mohammed Sadiq Odeh, a Palestinian bornin Saudi Arabia who joined the jihadists in Afghanistan. He arrived in Kenya in1994 and worked as a fisherman in Mombasa marrying a Kenyan woman and havingchildren. He was known as ?Mohammed the Fisherman" ? indeed, a perfect coverfor a terrorist. More than 200 people died, more than 5000 were wounded in the twinblasts ? most of the victims were Kenyan and Tanzanian nationals.
The TanzanianAhmed Khalfan Ghailani, born in Zanzibar, played a key role in the Dar esSalaam bombings. Arrested in Pakistan on July 25, 2004, ?Ahmed the Tanzanian"was a high-level Al-Qaeda operative. Originally a moderate Tabligh
Their missionwas to buy diamonds from Liberia?s president Charles Taylor, one of Africa?smost brutal dictators. They handed Taylor a leather pouch containing US $500,000 in cash, the standard amount for doing diamond deals in Liberia, writesDouglas Farah in his book ?Blood for Diamonds." Enjoying the protection of Taylor, the two Al-Qaeda operativesstayed in Liberia in 2000 and 2001 andalso made a tour to the daimond fields in Sierra Leone. They left in June 2001,a few months before the 9/11 attacks in America.
The planning forthe Embassy bombings started in 1993 when bin Laden was still in Sudan. At theend of 1993, an Al-Qaeda surveillance team was sent to Nairobi, writes JohathanRandal in his book ?Osama. The Making of a Terrorist" (2004). These menthoroughly cased the U.S. embassy. ?Photographs were later shown to Osama binLaden in Khartoum. Bin Laden looked at the picture of the American embassy andpointed to where a truck could go as a suicide bomber. Less than five yearslater an Al-Qaeda team did just that."
Al Qaidacontinued to operate in Kenya and Tanzania after 1998. At the end of November2002, the Paradise Hotel near Mombasa, a resort owned by an Israeli and popularwith Israeli tourists, was car bombed. Sixteen people died, including threeIsraelis and the three car bombers. Almost simultaneously SA-7 missiles werelaunched shortly after an Israeli charter plane had taken off from Mombasaairport. They missed. SA-7 surface-to-air shoulder launched missiles arepopular with Al-Qaeda and Somali militias. The missiles were problably smuggledaccross the Somali-Kenyan border. Behind the attacks was the Somali-based group?Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya," which was linked to Al-Qaeda. They received moneyfrom Osama bin Laden and many of its members were trained in Afghanistan.
In his articleon ?Al Qaida Recruitment Trends in Kenya and Tanzania," William Rosenau (Rand Corporation) discusses the possibility ?thatNairobi- and Mombasa based remnants were responsible for the November 2002attacks on Israeli tourists." ?Fazul Abdallah Mohamed, the Comoros-bornmastermind of the embassy bombings, is widely considered responsible for theMombasa attacks. Like his fellow Mombasa and Nairobi co-conspirator, AhmedSalim Swedan, Fazul was a product of Al Qaeda training in Afghanistan." Fazullived quietly in the coastal town of Lamu near the Somali border, married alocal woman, taught at a madrassa.
The planning forthe November 2002 attacks, though, was protracted and meticulous: ?Fazulassembled a team along the coast, and established a small-scale lobster fishingbusiness to provide cover for the group?s activities. A year before theattacks, some members of the group gathered in Mogadishu, Somalia, where theyreceived ideological and weapons training, with locally purchased weapons.Later, a number of terrorists returned to the Mombasa region, where they werejoined by other elements from thenetwork, and by the following April, the group had identified its targets andwas conducting surveillance. Before the attacks, the group divided into foursubgroups, with one staying in Mogadishu, a second carrying out the suicidebombing of the hotel near Mombasa, a third in Lamu preparing a boat for escapeto Somalia, and a fourth, under Fazul?s command, carrying out the failedmissile attack on the airliner. The surviving members of the organization fledto Lamu and on to Mogadishu, although a number later returned to Kenya. InAugust 2003, a suspect in the attacks, Feisal Ali Nassor, killed himself and apolice officer when he detonated a grenade as he was being taken into custody.A subsequent raid on a Mombasa house yielded a weapons cache and ammunition,and confirmed to authorities that terrorist cells were still active in Kenya."
Terrorists andMuslim extremists are also active in Tanzania and Zanzibar. In Tanzania about45 percent of the population are Muslims. Most of them are moderate andpeaceful, but there are worries about outside fundamentalist Wahhabistinfluences from Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Saudi, Sudanese and Gulf charities andbusinesses are active in Tanzania which may serve as a cover for terroristoperations and financing. There are also indications that Al-Qaeda and otherextremists (?Pakistani missionaries" and the like) are stepping up theirrecruitment efforts in Tanzania and Zanzibar. There have been violent incidentsincluding armed takeovers of moderate mosques in Dar es Salaam. According to?Time Magazine" (September 2003)
At least threeAl-Qaeda operatives have been identified as originating from Zanzibar: KhalfanKhamis Muhammed, one of those convicted in connection with the 1998 U.S.embassy bombings, Qaed Sanyan Al-Harithi, a suspected East African point manfor bin Laden who was killed in Yemen last year by a CIA drone, and AhmedKhalfan Ghalaini.
Quite worryingis the fact that since 2004 a growing number of African jihadists have traveledto Iraq. Close to a quarter of foreign fighters in Iraq come from NorthernAfrica. General Thomas Csrnko, head of the U.S. special operations command inEurope (EUCOM), whose security oversight includes North and West Africa, says:?Many veterans could return to Northern Africa to use insurgent tacticsdeveloped in Iraq, from bomb-making to strategic planning, against theirgovernments."
The case ofMohamedou Ould Slahi
Immigrants fromAfrica and the Caribbean are targeted by Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks.These young men visit mosques in France, Italy, Germany or Britain, visitinternet-cafés and some of them become radicalized. Not always are theymarginalized. Take Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a young man from Mauritania who wentto Germany to study Electronics at Duisburg University.
In Germany, OuldSlahi befriended a native German citizen named Christian Ganczarski who alsotraveled to Afghanistan where he met Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden neededGanczarski because of his German passport. He became an Al-Qaeda courier. In2002, Ganczarski would play an important role in the Al-Qaeda suicide attack onthe synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba. He gave the suicide bomber hisblessing.
Ould Slahi wasinstrumental in recruiting the Hamburg based future 9/11 hijackers. Initially,Mohammed Atta, Ramzi Binalshibh, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah wanted tofight the Russians in Chechnyia. But in late 1999 Binalshibh and Al-Shehhi metan individual named Khalid Al-Masri on a train. They talked about jihad inChechnya. Al-Masri told them to contact ?Abu Musab" in Duisburg, who turned outto be Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Binalshibh, Al-Shehhi and Jarrah visited Ould Slahiwho explained it was difficult to get to Chechnya. Why not go to Afghanistaninstead? Although Atta did not attend the meeting, he joined in the plan withthe other three. Following Ould Slahi?s instructions, Atta, Jarrah, Al-Shehhiand Binalshibh first traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, then went to the Talibanoffice in Quetta from where they were escorted to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Therethey met Osama bin Laden and his close associate Mohammed Atef (Abu HafsAl-Masri) who were impressed by the promising new recruits from Germany. The?9/11 Commision Report" finds:
Mohamedou OuldSlahi was captured in his home country of Mauritania in November 2001 and subsequentlytransferred to Jordan. He arrived in the extrajudicial detention center at theUnited States Naval Base Guantanamo Bay (?Gitmo?),
Yet, to complywith the federal judge?s order to release him might be highly risky, regardlessof what his defense lawyer argues. Not so few Al-Qaeda Gitmo detainees fromYemen, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan decided to return to terrorism shortly aftertheir release ? breaking solemn promises that they never would. (Many jailedIslamists and Muslim terrorists have previously been instructed to deceivetheir enemy.) One of them, Abdul Qayum Zakir, became a Taliban commander.Abdullah Mehsud, also an ex Gitmo inmate, directed an attack that killed 31people in Pakistan. (He got a U.S. $ 75,000 prosthetic leg before leaving U.S.custody.) A former detainee named Omar Khadr returned to Afghanistan. A videoshowed him building roadside bombs in Afghanistan with several reputed Al-Qaedaoperatives. And Al-Qaeda leader
Al-Qaeda?s involvementin Nigeria
Osama bin Ladensaid in February 2003 that ?the areas most in need of liberation are Jordan,Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen."
In January 2004,Nigerian soldiers crushed an uprising by Islamic militants in the northern Yobestate. The militants wanted to establish a Taliban-style Islamic government. Inthe southern Anambra state as well as in the north more than 1000 people werekilled after protests against the Danish cartoons satirising the Muslim prophetMohammed.
Militant Muslimswant to turn all of Nigeria into an Islamic state modelled after the Taliban.One of the most militant groups is known as the ?Nigerian Taliban" or the?Hijrah movement." Most members of the Nigerian Taliban are young universitygraduates from influential families. They openly show their admiration forformer Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. They are heavily armed and triggerhappy and attacked several police stations to confiscate weapons and ?to killunbelievers in uniform." They are fanatics willing to die as martyrs in thejihad. Their aim is to establish an Islamic state in the northeastern Nigerianstates of Yobe and Borno (bordering on Niger and Chad). They call on Muslims inNigeria to rise up in jihad.
Nigerianjihdists receive support from Al-Qaeda affiliates in Mauritania, Mali,Sudan, the Maghreb, Yemen and Pakistan.
In February2007, Nigerian prosecutors wanted a man accused of plotting attacks onAmericans in Nigeria with the help from Al-Qaeda to be tried in secret forsecurity reasons. The judges rejected their request, though. Mohammed Ashafastood accused of receiving U.S. $ 1,500 from an Al-Qaeda cell in Pakistan ? twoAl-Qaeda operatives in Lahore ? and was charged with receiving decoding messages from this Al-Qaeda cell andpassing them to the Nigerian Taliban with a view to attacking Americans.Pakistani authorities decided to deport Ashafa. According to the charges, hehad undergone terrorist training in Mauritania. He was also accused ofsponsoring 21 members of the Nigerian Taliban to receive combat training andindoctrination at camp Agwan in Niger run by the Algeria based ?Salafist Groupfor Preaching and Combat" (GSPC), since January 2007 known as ?Al-Qaeda in theIslamic Maghreb" (AQIM). Ashafa denied the charges.
Five Islamicmilitants were arrested in Northern Nigeria in November 2007. Three of themwere charged with training in Algeria with GSPC/AQIM between 2005 and August2007. Nigeria expert Bestman Wellington made following observation in June2008: ?In Nigeria, particularly in the Muslim north, there are various armedIslamist formations with agendas similar to that of Osama bin Laden.
Nigerian?Underwear Bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Those who arerecruited by Al-Qaeda are usually not marginalized poor Africans. Al-Qaeda and its regional affiliates have apreference for university graduates, intellectuals and people with a militarybackground, people without a conspicuous terrorist track record. People likeUmar Farouk Abdulmutallab, son of Alhaji Umaru Abdul Mutallab, former Nigeriangovernment minister and former chairman of First Bank of Nigeria ? described asbeing one of the richest men in Africa.
Abdulmutallab?spolygamous father is from the Muslim north and has two wives and 16 children,but he is not a militant Muslim. Abdulmutallab visited the U.S. for the firsttime in 2004. He subsequently studied in Yemen, possibly his first encounterwith radical Islam. Not only did he study Arabic at the Sana?a Institute ofArabic language, also did he attend lectures at Al-Iman university near Yemen?scapital Sana?a. It was there that met his favorite teacher, Al-Iman?sAmerican-born firebrand cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, a high level Al-Qaedaoperative. Awlaki?s father was a former Yemeni minister who studied in theUnited States.
American-bornTaliban fighter John Walker Lindh was also a student at Al-Iman University.Lindh was captured in Afghanistan in November 2001 by Afghan Northern Allianceforces and subsequently handed over to CIA interrogators. Al-Iman university, aprivate institution, is headed by Sheikh Abdel-Majid Al-Zindani, named by theU.S. as a ?specially designated global terrorist, the London ?Daily Telegraph"reported.
Abdulmutallab?sfather, though, wanted his son to studyat a serious foreign university. So Abdulmutallab went to London in September2005 to study Engineering and Business Finance at University College London(UCL). He was nineteen years old then. He earned a degree in mechanicalengineering in June 2008. In 2006, he became president of the university?s?Islamic Society," a militant student group which invited jihadist preachers.One of those preachers reportedly said: ?Dying while fighting jihad is one ofthe surest ways to paradise."
Although Abdulmutallab?sfavorite hate cleric Al-Awlaki was banned from entering the United Kingdom in2006, he did gave a number of videolink lectures to mosques and Islamic studentassociations. Awlaki is believed to have had links to the London ?7/7" (July 7,2005) suicide bombers and other terrorist plots in Britain.
It was probablyAwlaki who encouraged Abdulmutallab to return to Yemen in the summer of 2009.Abdulmutallab?s father was flatly opposed. Why did his son go back to Yemen,instead of pursuing a master?s degree in cosmopolitan Dubai? The father wasdeeply concerned about his son?s inexplicable radicalization. He had everyreason to be worried, although he could not know at the time that his son wouldbe trained by Awlaki?s ?Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" with a view toplaying a central role in a major terrorist plot. He didn?t even know his son?swhereabouts in Yemen.
It was lateAugust 2009 when the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted Al-Qaedatransmissions in Yemen relating to an unidentified Nigerian being involved in apossible plot, ?The Sunday Times" reported. ?It was the first small piece in apuzzle that could have prevented Abdulmutallab from boarding the Detroit-boundplane."
These warningsdid not sufficiently alarm U.S. security and intelligence officials, though.Abdulmutallab?s name was added to the U.S. 550,000
On December 16,2010, Abdulmutallab traveled to Accra, the capital of Ghana, to buy a returnticket for U.S. $ 2,831 in cash from Lagos to Detriot, via Amsterdam, Holland.On Christmas Day he traveled to Amsterdam, carrying only hand luggage. AtAmsterdam Schiphol Airport he boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route toDetroit. Nearly 300 people were on board. His seat was 19A, near the fuel tank.David Learmont, an aviation expert, was quoted in ?The Sunday Times" asfollows: ?It was pretty much the best possible seat in the plane to have thehighest chance of bringing it down."
Shortly beforelanding Abdulmutallab spent about 20 minutes in the bathroom to prepare thePETN explosive device, a 15 cm packet which was sewn into his underwear. PETNor ?pentaerythritol" is hard to detect, but you have to mix it with a liquid totrigger an explosion. For this purpose Abdulmutallab used a small syringe butthe bomb itself failed to detonate. There was only smoke and fire. Dutch Filmdirector Jasper Schuringa later said: ?Suddenly we heard a bang. It soundedlike a firecracker. Everybody panicked. Someone screamed: Fire! Fire!" ?I sawsmoke rising from a seat. I didn?thesitate. I just jumped on him." He put out the fire
Al-Qaeda in theArabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the failed attack.
The NorthernCalifornia Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) traced messages in ?SadaAl-Malahim" (?The Echo of Epic Battles"), AQAP?s magazine. In the October 2009issue, the group began moving away from Saudi and Yemeni government targetsthat it has pursued for years. AQAP leader Nasser Al-Wuhayshi recommended thatindividual jihadists expand their attacks on the West using any possible means,including household items and knives, and target the ?airports of the Westerncrusader countries... or in their aircaft, residential compounds or in thetrain tunnels, etc."
A Pew GlobalAttitudes Survey found in 2009 ?that 43 percent of Nigerian Muslims believedsuicide bombings were sometimes justified."
Al-Qaedatargeting North African immigrants in Europe
Al-Qaeda alsorecruited a number of Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan immigrants in Italy,Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and Britain. Terrorist cells planned andcarried out attacks, like the one in Madrid in March 2004 (most perpetratorswere Moroccans). In 2002, a Tunisian cell in northern Italy experimented withnerve gas and planned a terrorist attack in France. They were linked to atleast one Al-Qaeda operative in Belgium. Fortunately, the Tunisian cell inMilan was dismantled by the Italian police just in time.
In January 2007,the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) adopted a new nameand is now known as ?Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" (AQIM). The group isactive in Algeria, northern Mali, eastern Mauritania, northern Mali, northernNiger and northern Chad (to create safehavens outside Algeria). The group hasalso created a base in the Sahara itself. Sources of income are drugs, crimeand taking Western hostages.
Libya?s leaderMuammar Ghadaffi, who restored relations with the West in recent years, is veryconcerned about the threat posed by these ?Pan-Saharan Salafis." He is equallyworried about the prospect of jihadists returning to Libya from Iraq. A numberof Libyan jihadists have joined the insurgency in Iraq, three Libyans fromBenghazi blew themselves up in Baghdad, and their families in Benghazi held aspecial ?wedding" celebration for these ?martyrs." What Ghadaffi does not wantis a repetition of what happened in the 1990s when Arab Afghan veteransreturned from Afghanistan and continued to wage jihad, but this time againstthe leaders of their home countries.
The GSPC/AQIM isfurthermore active in Europe (Belgium, France, Spain, Britain, theNetherlands). In April and June 2002, intensive investigations by the DutchGeneral Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) into recruiting activities inthe Netherlands resulted in the arrest of a group of persons that had formeditself around an Algerian man named Rodoin Daoud who was affiliated with theGSPC.
In November andDecember 2005, Spanish authorities arrested 18 Algerians on suspicion of givinglogistical support to the GSPC through criminal activities (theft, documentforgery).
European policeorganizations and security services are worried about the growing number ofEurope-based AQIM cells. According to an Europol study radicalized individualsmay now offer to act on behalf of AQIM to attack European targets.
Some AQIMcommuniqués and statements made by Laden?s deputy Ayman Al-Zawahirispecifically focus on France and Spain, former colonial powers in the Maghreb.Al-Qaeda repeatedly announced that not only would it liberate the Spanishenclaves in northern Morocco ? Ceuta and Melilla ? but also ?Al-Andalus" orSpain proper.
In January 2006,a Moroccan named Omar Naksha was arrested in Spain, accused of recruitingjihadists for Iraq and assisting the Madrid bombing suspects. Spanishauthorities linked him to both the GSPC and the Moroccan Islamic CombatantGroup (GICM).
In Febuary 2007,Spanish police arrested a high level AQIM operative named Mbar El Jaafari, aMoroccan. Police discovered that Jaafari had sent 35 jihadists to Iraq. He hadalso sent a number of militant Muslims to new AQIM training camps in the Sahelwhere the AQIM organization allied itself with local Tuaregs.
AQIM has alsostepped up its presence and activities in Alicante and southern Spain. Thereexists an AQIM criminal and terrorist infrastructure consisting of secret cellsin Alicante. These Algerian terrorists send money to Algeria, either by specialcourier or through the so-called ?Hawala-system" (Islamic banking). Money isobtained through criminal activities (robberies, etc.), so-called phone centers(or ?locutorios") and is being collected from Islamic shop owners. With lessthan 6000 euros a car bomb can be made. With the same amount of money friendlyTuaregs in the Sahara desert can be supplied with kalashnikovs. Money fromSpain has already been used to finance terrorist attacks not just in NorthAfrica but also in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chechnya.
To evade taxcontrols, money has even been transferred via the Bahamas after an Algeriancitizen living in Spain opened a business account there. Payments were madeafter receiving fake bills sent from Holland and Germany.
In Europe?s bigcities radical North African and Arab Muslims seek to introduce sharia law inneighborhoods and subsurbs where Muslims form a majority. InBrussels-Molenbeek, for example, Salafist Muslims want to establish an Islamiccaliphate, others propagate jihad, the holy war against the infidels. HindFraihi, a young Muslim women in Brussels, just published a shocking book on herconversations with fellow Muslims in Brussels-Molenbeek andBrussels-Schaarbeek. Fifteen year old Moroccan boys talked about terroristattacks and suicide bombings as if they were a normal thing. Young men inBrussels are recruited for the jihad and sent to terrorist training camps, shewas told by various sources. She was in a mosque in Schaarbeek where afirebrand cleric was calling on the mosque visitors to sacrifice their moneyand lives in the jihad.
In the summer of2005 there were two terrorist attacks on the public transport system in London,those on July 7 were successful, the ones on July 21 tried to imitate the July7 bombings but failed. The 7/7 attacks were carried out by three Pakistanis(well integrated, not poor) and one Jamaican immigrant. At least two of thePakistanis had previously received training in a terrorist training camp inPakistan.
There are strongindications that Al-Qaeda was involved in the 7/7 bombings. The July 21?copycat" attacks were probably not linked to Al-Qaeda. But attention should befocussed on another interesting aspect. Three of the suspects of the failedLondon bombings were born in Africa, they became jihadists after their arrivalin London. Osman Hussain (real name: Hamdi Isaac) and Yasin Hassan Omar wereborn in Somalia and arrived in Britain in 1992. Mukhtar Said Ibrahim arrivedfrom Eritrea in 1992, and moved in with Omar in 1995/96. He was convicted in1996 for gang robberies and spent some time in juvenile prisons. After thefailed attack on July 21, Osman Hussain fled to Italy where he was arrested(together with his brother who lived in Italy). Italian Interior MinisterGiuseppe Pisanu said ?Hussain counted on an extensive network from the Horn ofAfrica in Italy to protect him in his flight from London, through Paris and toRome."
Radicalized young black people: an important target forjihadist recruiters
There are terrorists and militantArab, Pakistani or North African ?missionaries" who seek to convert and recruityoung African and Jamaican males who feel lost, disoriented, lonely andmarginalized in Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Paris, Marseille, Brussels,Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg, Birmingham or London. Al-Qaeda, too, successfullytargeted frustrated and angry African and Jamaican immigrants in Europe. One ofthem was Richard Reed, the so-called ?shoe bomber," whose father was a Jamaicancareer criminal in Britain. Another was Tunisian-born Nizar Trabelsi, a formerprofessional soccer player in Germany who became addicted to cocaine and gotinvolved in petty crime. A desillusioned and frustrated man, he moved toBrussels, traveled to London where he visited radical mosques and wassubsequently recruited by extremists. He traveled to Afghanistan, even metOsama bin Laden himself and was later convicted in Brussels for his role in amajor terrorist plot.
Another example is Feroz Abbasifrom Croydon, England. He was born in Uganda and moved to Britain with hismother and family when he was eight. He was brought up a moderate Muslim, waswell behaved and well adjusted in school, in short, he was a promising pupil.He took a two year computing course but dropped out of the course halfwaythrough his first year. After a mugging experience in Switzerland he feltfrustrated and angry. He now began to search for answers in Islam. In thespring of 2000 he joined London?s radical Finsbury Park mosque where he met themosque?s preacher Abu Hamza Al-Masri, a follower of Osama bin Laden. The youngand enthousiastic Abbasi helped set up awebsite for a militant Islamic group and then left for Afghanistan. He joinedAl-Qaeda and met Abu Hafs Al-Masri (Mohammed Atef), one of Osama bin Laden?sclosest aides. Abu Hafs asked him if hewould like to take actions against Americans and Jews. Abbasi said yes, and AbuHafs then said: ?Okay, we?ll see about getting you some special training."
The most recent example of aradicalized African male in London is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. His sincereand rich Nigerian father sent him to London to study business and finance. Itwas in London that young and impressionable Abdulmutallab began to visitradical mosques and meet militant Muslims. This tragic example ofradicalization and terrorist recruitment has already been discussed above.Whether Abdulmutallab was actually recruited by Al-Qaeda in London, isuncertain. His was probably recruited in Yemen by his Yemeni friend AnwarAl-Awlaki. But his friendship with militant Muslims in London surely paved theway.
The problem is that the Britishgovernment issues too many student visas to young people from high riskcountries such as Pakistan, Iran, Kenya and Nigeria. Al-Qaeda recruiters andthe Iranian intelligence service are quite aware of this. ?In the 12 months toMarch 2009 , the government issued 236,470 student visas, a threefold increaseon the numbers issued in 1998," the British ?Sunday Express" recently reported.Many of these students don?t even study or they enroll for bogus courses. ?Forevery 110,000 students granted visas for 12 months only 10,000 return homeannually." ?Intelligence officers warn the system is a major securityloophole."
Islamist terrorism is now by farthe greatest threat to national security and two-thirds of the Security Service(MI5) resources are dovoted to countering this threat, a recent British studyon the history of MI5 concludes. Between July 2005 and February 2008, MI5disrupted 6 plots to undertake terrorism in Britain. In one of those disruptedIslamist terrorist plots the plotters ?had planned to bomb seven flightsleaving Heathrow for North American cities during a three-hour period. Suicidebombers were to detonate explosives conceiled in soft-drink bottles, using theflash units on disposable cameras. As well as causing massive loss of life onthe scale of 9/11 (even greater if the planes had exploded over cities), theplot would have caused major disruption to transatlantic air travel."
EmersonVermaat, M.A. (law), is an investigative reporter specialized in terrorism andcrime. Already in March 1997 he wrote about Osama bin Laden?s role ininternational terrorism. He is the author of the books ?Het Criminele Web: DeGlobalisering van de Misdaad" (The Crime Web: The Globalization of Crime, March2000, with a preface by Ernst Hirsch Ballin, former Minister of Justice; inSeptember 2006 Hirsch Ballin became Justice Minister again), ?Misdaad, Migratieen Cultuur" (Crime, Migration and Culture, October 2004), ?De DodelijkePlanning van Al-Qaeda" (Al-Qaeda?s Deadly Planning,"April 2005)