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- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
Al-Nashiri hearing focuses on mail debate
The Saudi Guantánamo Bay detainee accused of masterminding the 2000 USS Cole bombing, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, appeared at a pre-trial hearing on January 17, where debate centered on the defense’s motion to stop the reading of privileged attorney-client mail by prison staff, a practice ordered by Guantánamo commander Rear Adm. David Woods (AFP, CNN). Rear Adm. Woods testified on January 17 that the Privilege Review Team (PRT) examines the prison’s incoming mail only to look for contraband, as well as glancing at each page to check that they have been properly marked as "privileged" (Post, Reuters, McClatchy).
Navy Commander Andrea Lockhart testified at al-Nashiri’s hearing on January 18 that the new mail-reading orders had come on December 27 after a copy of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) English-language Inspire magazine was discovered in one suspect’s cell (AP, Miami Herald, CNN, Tel). And the military judge Col. James Pohl denied a motion from the defense that al-Nashiri be allowed to meet with his attorneys without being shackled to the floor, a condition al-Nashiri’s lawyers say could trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder because it purportedly reminds him of his years of torture by his American captors (WSJ).
French judge Sophie Clement has requested permission to visit Gitmo to investigate claims by three former French inmates that they were tortured and raped while held at the American military prison (AP).
NYC subway plot involved 4th suspect – prosecutors
Federal prosecutors last week filed a revised indictment against Adis Medunjanin, a suspect in the alleged plot to detonate three suicide bombs on the New York City subway systems, accusing him — together with alleged co-conspirators Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, –of trying to recruit a fourth suspect identified only as "John Doe" to "wage violent jihad" in Pakistan (AP). One of Medunjanin’s defense attorneys, Robert Gottlieb, said on January 19 that the defense team plans to request the identification of John Doe at next week’s pre-trial hearing.
On January 18, 46 senior federal, state, and local law enforcement officials met at the White House to discuss strategies for combating violent extremism and homegrown terrorism while retaining the trust of their communities (AP). In an inter-agency study of 62 cases of homegrown terrorism carried out to identify broad warning signs for law enforcement officials and presented at this meeting, analysts found that a person’s ethnic background, socioeconomic status and country of origin are not reliable indicators for his or her likelihood to carry out violent acts of terrorism.
The AP’s Gene Johnson and Chris Brummitt had a must-read on January 18 about the little-noticed death of a radicalized Pakistani-American, Moeed Abdul Salam, whose wealthy family had spent years preaching religious harmony and fighting Islamophobia in their hometown of Plano, TX (AP). Despite his privileged American upbringing and his family’s dedication to interfaith activities, Salam moved to Saudi Arabia and later Karachi, where authorities say he killed himself with a hand grenade after police entered his apartment to arrest him.
Thai police search for second suspect
A criminal court in Bangkok on January 19 issued an arrest warrant for James Sammy Paolo, who lived with the alleged Lebanese Hezbollah member detained by Thai police last week, Hussein Atris (Bangkok Post). Turkish police on January 18 said they had detained six suspected al-Qaeda operatives who were allegedly plotting to poison the water supply of an airfield in the southern province of Adana used by Turkish and NATO forces (Today’s Zaman). And Nigerian police admitted on January 17 that the suspected mastermind of a massive church bombing on Christmas Day 2011 escaped from custody when his accomplices attacked the officers escorting him to a different police station (AP).
The German court hearing the case of Arid Uka, who has admitted to shooting and killing two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt Airport last year, again delayed a verdict in order to hear more evidence concerning a recent news story that Uka was seen in Bosnia with radical Islamists (AP). Finally, researchers at Boston College will go to court next week to fight a request from police in Northern Ireland investigating a 1972 murder case involving a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) chief, for the release of interviews conducted by the researchers with former members of the (IRA) (AP). Ed Maloney, the former Belfast Post reporter who directed the oral history project for which the interviews were recorded, argues that their release could trigger reprisal attacks against former IRA members, hindering Northern Ireland’s peace process.
Trials and Tribulations
- Two bomb blasts rocked the Northern Irish city of Londonderry on January 19 after police received two anonymous warnings about the bombs, allowing them to clear the area and prevent any casualties (BBC, CNN, AFP, Independent).
- Terrorist suspect Khalid Aldawsari, who is accused of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, will face trial in April instead of mid-May, per an order by the federal judge overseeing his case (Local).
- A U.S. official said on January 19 that a CIA drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal regions on January 10 killed Aslam Awan, an "external operations planner" for al-Qaeda (AP, NYT, CNN, Reuters).