Daily brief: American “Jihad Jane” faces terrorism charges
Jihad Jane et. al. A Pennsylvania woman who allegedly dubbed herself "Jihad Jane" was accused in an indictment unsealed yesterday of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, specifying that Colleen LaRose recruited men and women on the internet to carry out "violent jihad" in Europe and ...
Jihad Jane et. al.
Jihad Jane et. al.
A Pennsylvania woman who allegedly dubbed herself "Jihad Jane" was accused in an indictment unsealed yesterday of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, specifying that Colleen LaRose recruited men and women on the internet to carry out "violent jihad" in Europe and South Asia (DOJ, NYT, CNN, LAT, The Local, Wash Post, Tel, AFP, indictment-pdf). LaRose was also tied to an assassination plot against a Swedish artist who drew the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog in August 2007, and could face up to life in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.
A law enforcement official reportedly said Jihad Jane’s case was linked to the arrests yesterday of seven Muslims — four men and three women from Morocco and Yemen, some with Irish citizenship and some who were converts to Islam — in Ireland in connection with a plot against the same Swedish artist, Lars Vilks (AP, NYT, Guardian, The Local, Times, Independent, AFP). Al Qaeda in Iraq had placed a $100,000 bounty on Vilks with a 50 percent bonus if his throat was cut, and Vilks has been under police protection in Sweden.
And going on the record for the first time about why five Pakistani men were arrested in northwest England in April 2009, a British intelligence officer told a court hearing yesterday that the men were detained "within days" of carrying out their planned attack, which the officer said had similar elements to both the July 7, 2005 London bombings and the summer 2006 transatlantic planes plot (BBC, AFP). British police were forced to conduct the raids early after a counterterrorism police official was photographed carrying documents with details of the plan; two of the accused are fighting their deportations to Pakistan, where the other three have already been sent.
A blast in Pakistan
At least six Pakistani aid workers including two women were killed earlier today after militants with grenades and guns attacked the offices of a Christian aid group in Mansehra, a comparatively peaceful district in northwest Pakistan hard hit by the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir (AP, Geo, BBC). World Vision has suspended its operations across Pakistan as a result.
The head of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, had his term renewed for another year yesterday, which U.S. officials reportedly believe will help facilitate actions against the Taliban in Pakistan (ABC, ToI, Daily Times, The News). The FT considers whether the recent slew of arrests of militants in Pakistan signals a strategy shift, and Jane Perlez describes how six Pakistani parliamentarians who refused to submit to mandatory additional security screening at Reagan National airport are being hailed as heroes back in Pakistan (FT, NYT).
And Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari signed a law yesterday in front of a group of 100 women activists making it illegal for women to be harassed in the workplace, with sentences of up to three months in jail for violations (AFP, Dawn). Afghan President Hamid Karzai is off to Islamabad for two days of talks beginning today, and militant reconciliation is likely to be on the agenda (AP). Later today at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband will energetically urge the Afghan government to pursue peace negotiations with the Taliban (BBC, Guardian, Reuters).
As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are both in Afghanistan visiting Karzai, the Iranian leader accused the U.S. of playing a "double game" in Afghanistan, just days after Gates used the same phrase about Iran’s overtures to the Afghan government and alleged "low-level" support for the Taliban (BBC, AP, AFP, Pajhwok, AFP). Yesterday, Gates visited a former Taliban town just north of Marjah, site of a recent coalition military offensive, and the Times and the Post take fairly different tones toward the condition of Now Zad, which under Operation Cobra’s Anger in December 2009 was cleared of Taliban fighters (NYT, Wash Post).
Gates also implied that some U.S. forces in the Obama administration’s 30,000-troop surge in Afghanistan could start returning earlier than the stated July 2011 deadline for beginning the withdrawal, but commented, "We should not be too impatient" (AP). Yesterday, head of EUCOM Adm. James Stavridis told a Senate hearing that NATO is falling short on its promises to deliver more military trainers to the Afghan theater (AFP).
The Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide blast by a bomber wearing an Afghan police uniform in the eastern Afghan province of Khost that killed two NATO service members last night, and a car bombing in Paktika this morning (AP, ISAF, Pajhwok). The Journal has today’s fascinating must-read, profiling a company called Strategic Operations Inc., which is paid by the military to build and maintain large "Afghan" cities at military training facilities (WSJ). These "villages" are then populated with actual Afghans, who play insurgents, military officials, and locals, giving training to troops to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Ghulam Ali, a taxi driver in Afghanistan, has seen it all: from expectant brides to wounded people en route to hospitals, he has been driving his Toyota Corona for more than 30 years (AFP). He says 264 brides have traveled in his backseat, and claims that his car’s battered appearance protects it from being stolen.
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