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- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
The LWOT will be taking a break to wrap some presents, and will be back on January 3rd. Happy Holidays!
Iraqi VP wanted on terrorism charges
An Iraqi judicial committee said to be under the control of Shi’a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on December 19 issued an arrest warrant for the country’s vice president and highest ranking Sunni official, Tariq al-Hashemi, on terrorism charges (AP, , Guardian,AJE, CNN, Reuters, Tel, AFP). Three men identified as al-Hashemi’s bodyguards appeared on state television for a half-hour confession of their roles in attacks on several Shi’a officials since 2009, which they said were ordered and funded by al-Hashemi (NYT, WSJ). The accusations are creating severe political and sectarian tensions in Iraq just days after the last U.S. troops exited the nation.
The United States on December 16 turned over to the Iraqi government their last remaining detainee in Iraq, Ali Musa Daqduq, who is a suspected member of the Lebanese Hezbollah and accused of masterminding an attack that killed five American soldiers in Karbala, Iraq in 2007 (NYT, AJE, WSJ, Post, LAT, AP, Reuters, CNN). The Obama administration has struggled to decide whether to bring Daqduq back to the United States to face a military trial, finally saying on December 16 that Iraqi law would not allow it, a development that has sparked criticism of the administration.
Norwegian prosecutors on December 19 said they would seek an 11-year sentence for a Norwegian citizen of Chinese Uigur origin, Mikael Davud, the alleged mastermind of a plot to attack the offices of Jyllands Posten, the Danish newspaper that printed controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2005 (AFP, Reuters). Prosecutors recommended five-year sentences for each of Davud’s accused co-conpsirators, Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, an Iraqi Kurd residing in Norway, and David Jakobsen, an Uzbek also residing in Norway; all three suspects have pleaded not guilty.
Nigerian police arrested 14 suspected members of the extremist group Boko Haram after one suspected member discovered his home was under surveillance on December 17 and organized other members to attack local police, resulting in a shootout that killed three police officers and four militants (BBC, AFP, Guardian, Reuters).
Report: Deal with Taliban could involve Gitmo detainee transfers
Reuters reported on December 19 that senior U.S. officials have confirmed ongoing secret talks with the Afghan Taliban to reach a reconciliation agreement that could include transferring an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners from the Guantánamo Bay detention center to the Afghan government (Reuters). The 10-month dialogue process has reportedly reached "a critical junction" at which a political end to the Afghan war could be agreed upon. However, a senior Afghan Taliban official later denied that the group had been in any secret talks with the U.S government (Reuters).
The Associated Press’ Pete Yost on December 18 examined the newly passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), pointing out that the new law requiring military custody for terrorist suspects tied to al-Qaeda and its affiliates does not apply to U.S. citizens or to lawful U.S. residents (AP). The bill also leaves the executive branch with the ability to try foreign terrorist suspects in U.S. civilian courts, but defense and intelligence officials have voiced concern over questions left unanswered by the bill that could complicate terrorism investigations. Lawfare Blog’s Benjamin Wittes and Robert Chesney have an invaluable list of NDAA FAQ (Lawfare).
An Iraqi refugee living in Bowling Green, KY, 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan, pleaded guilty on December 16 to 23 terrorism-related charges, including conspiracy to kill Americans abroad, attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and conspiring to kill U.S. troops using explosives (WSJ, AP, Reuters).
Jurors in the case of Tarek Mehanna, who is accused of disseminating jihadist propaganda on the Internet and traveling to Yemen in 2004 to undergo terrorist training, began deliberating on December 16 (AP, Reuters). In his closing arguments, one of Mehanna’s defense attorneys attempted to convince the jury that what Mehanna was doing was "independent advocacy" not "in coordination with or at the direction of" a terrorist organization, a condition necessary to convict Mehanna on charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.
The hearing to decide whether Pfc. Bradley Manning will face a court martial on charges of aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeals enters its fifth day on December 20 (Guardian, BBC, AP, Guardian, Reuters,CNN, Post, AP). Witnesses so far have debated the evidence allegedly found on Manning’s computer, including at least 100,000 classified cables that do not appear to have been released, and emails between Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in which Manning expressed a desire to lift "the fog of war" by releasing the documents.
Trials and Tribulations
- Pakistani police in Lahore arrested an Iranian citizen suspected of being a terrorist on December 16 (ET).
- Turkish state media reported on December 19 that security forces had killed around 20 separatist militant members of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) (AP).
- The United Kingdom is reportedly planning on overhauling its terrorism threat-level five-point scale, which research has shown to be widely misunderstood and unrelated to the number of tips provided by the public on terrorism plots (AP).