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The LWOT: Alleged Ft. Hood shooter arraigned

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Ben Sklar/Getty Images
Ben Sklar/Getty Images

Alleged Ft. Hood shooter arraigned

The man accused of killing 13 soldiers and civilians in a shooting spree at Ft. Hood in November 2009, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was arraigned in a military court on July 20, though Hasan opted not to enter a plea in the case (WSJ, AP, NYT, AP, WSJ). During the arraignment, Hasan also announced that he had released his civilian defense attorney, and would instead be represented by three military lawyers. His court martial is scheduled to begin in March of next year (LAT).

A Minneapolis man, Omer Abdi Mohamed, pleaded guilty on July 18 to helping raise money for the militant group al-Shabaab, as well as assisting young men recruited in the United States to fight for the group in Somalia (AP, VOA, Reuters, BBC, Lawfare Blog). A document filed by prosecutors a day before Mohamed’s plea provided new details on how the men were recruited to fight for al-Shabaab (AP). And a former Minnesota resident charged with conspiring to support al-Shabaab, Ahmed Hussain Mahamud, pleaded not guilty this week (StarTribune).

The prosecution rested July 21 in the capital murder trial of Carlos Bledsoe — who is accused of killing an American soldier and wounding another in a 2009 shooting at an Arkansas recruiting station — after the jury watched videos of Bledsoe confessing to the murders to FBI and local investigators (The Tennessean, AP). Bledsoe, a convert to Islam who goes by the name Abdulhakim Mujahid Mohammed, had tried unsuccesfully to fire his attorneys due to their attempt to argue that Bledsoe was delusional at the time of the shootings (WSJ, The Tennessean, AP, The Tennessean). Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has reportedly dispatched an aid to monitor the trial (The Tennessean).

Jury deliberations began July 21 in the case of Mohammed Wali Zazi, accused of lying to federal investigators and attempting to cover up evidence incriminating his son, Najibullah Zazi, who pled guilty last year to plotting bomb attacks against the New York Subway system (WSJ, Bloomberg, CNN). The jury heard testimony this week from two relatives, the elder Zazi’s brother-in-law and nephew, who both testified that the defendant planned to destroy or hide bombmaking materials, while an FBI investigator testified that Mohammed Wali misled investigators about his communications about the case with a Queens imam and NYPD informant (NYT, AP, NYDN, NY1, AP, NYT, WSJ).

Also this week, an FBI agent testified at the bail hearing for Pakistani-American Irfan Khan that the latter was an important part of a plot allegedly coordinated by his father to funnel money to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) (AP). In the wake of the arrest in a sting operation of two Iraqi men who allegedly plotted to send money and weapons to Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), American authorities are reportedly re-investigating the nearly 58,000 Iraqi refugees in the United States for possible ties to insurgents (LAT). And NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston has a must-read two-part series on problems and positive steps in counterterrorism training and Muslim outreach in terrorism cases (NPR, NPR). 

Republican leaders challenge Obama on detention policy

The chairs of the House Armed Services, Judiciary, Intelligence, Homeland Security, and Foreign Affairs committees wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on July 19 asking for clarification of the president’s terrorism detention policy (AFP, AP, Lawfare Blog, Lawfare Blog). In the letter, the committee chairs criticized the "lack of a comprehensive detention system to incapacitate and interrogate terrorists captured outside of Afghanistan" and questioned why it was considered "off the table" to send newly-detained terrorism suspects to Guantánamo Bay.   

The AP reports this week on a purportedly key Hezbollah figure detained in 2007 in Iraq, Ali Mussa Daqduq, who the Bush administration had planned to send to the United States for trial, but may instead be transferred to Iraqi custody after political pressure prevented his move to an American court (AP). Daqduq’s transfer to Iraqi control has been delayed amidst concerns that he may escape or be set free (AP).   

Lawyers for Guantánamo detainee and accused U.S.S. Cole bomb plotter Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri argued last Friday that Nashiri’s harsh treatment while in CIA custody, as well as delays in the case and destruction of evidence, should prevent their client’s execution if he is convicted by a military court (Miami Herald). The AFP reports that China has attempted to punish the tiny island nation of Palau by cutting off investment since the country agreed to take in six Uighur Muslims formerly detained at Guantánamo (AFP). And Australia has informed former Guantánamo inmate David Hicks that the government may seize profits from his autobiography (AP). 

Al-Qaeda may change course – reports 

The Journal reports this week that al-Qaeda under Ayman al-Zawahiri may focus on attacking American and Western targets overseas, rather than in the West (WSJ). Meanwhile, the L.A. Times notes that according to U.S. officials, Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has provided arms, training and fighters for al-Shabaab, and encouraged the group to attack targets outisde of Somalia (LAT). And an Arabic-language jihadist forum carried still images this week of a cartoon glorifying al-Qaeda’s attacks against the West (Tel, BBC, Reuters). 

Finally, Indonesian authorities this week announced that al-Qaeda linked terrorist figure Umar Patek, arrested in Abbottabad, Pakistan in January, would be deported to Indonesia to face trial in relation to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings (Jakarta Globe, Sydney Morning Herald).  

Trials and Tribulations   

  • A massive explosion rocked downtown Oslo this morning, damaging the building that houses the office of Norway’s prime minister, and reportedly causing at least two deaths and a number of injuries (AP, BBC, Guardian, AJE, Reuters). At the time of writing, no one had claimed responsibility for the attack.    
  • Mumbai police are investigating the death in custody of a suspect in the triple bombing that struck the city last week, as inquiries in the attack are focusing on a group known as the Indian Mujahideen (BBC, VOA, WSJ).  And a Chicago judge this week unsealed documents from the trial of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who was convicted of providing support to the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) last month, but acquitted of involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks (ABC, AP).   
  • Five Nigerian police officers pleaded not guilty this week to killing the former leader of the militant group Boko Haram, Mallam Mohammed Yusuf, in 2009 (AP). 
  • Prominent former French counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière is facing legal inquiries into a potential coverup in two cases he investigated, a 2002 bombing that killed 11 French naval engineers in Karachi and the 1996 killings of seven French monks in Algeria (TIME).   
  • Britain’s top counterterrorism officer John Yates resigned his post this week due to his alleged involvement in the ongoing News of the World hacking scandal (Tel). 
  • Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility July 19 for twin suicide bombings against police targets in the northern Algerian town of Bordj Menaiel (Reuters). 
  • Six members of a Greek anarchist group were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms July 19 for their role in a series of bombings against Greek government figures and buildings (AP).  
  • A senior Russian security official said July 18 that Russian authorities had disrupted a major planned terrorist attack in the Moscow area (Reuters).

Andrew Lebovich is a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a doctoral candidate in African history at Columbia University. He is currently based in Senegal and has conducted field research in Niger and Mali.

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