The LWOT: AQAP releases new “Inspire” magazine; Germany attack fears intensify
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New "Inspire" released
New "Inspire" released
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the third edition of its English-language magazine "Inspire" Nov. 21, claiming credit officially for the failed plot last month to deliver parcel bombs containing the explosive PETN from Yemen to the United States, or to explode the bombs in mid-air (CNN, NYT). Calling last month’s failed bombings "Operation Hemorrhage," the slickly-produced magazine, believed to be the work of American Samir Khan, also contains photos and new detail about the assembly of the bombs, which the unidentified authors claim cost only $4,200 in total and took three months to plan and build (AFP). The magazine’s authors also claimed that despite being disrupted the plot was a success, writing, "Our objective was not to cause maximum casualties but to cause maximum losses to the American economy" (WSJ, Washington Post).
The magazine does not make mention of radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, considered by American intelligence officials to be a key operational leader of AQAP. Writing in the New York Times last Friday, Yemen expert and doctoral candidate Gregory Johnsen writes that, "Contrary to what the Obama administration would have you believe, [Awlaki] has always been a minor figure in Al Qaeda, and making a big deal of him now is backfiring" (NYT).
Attack fears intensify in Germany
German security forces are in a "state of emergency" after reports reportedly from an informant in a Pakistan-based militant group, who allegedly told Germany’s police that six terrorists planned to target the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament, in a Mumbai-style operation (Der Spiegel, Der Spiegel, Deutsche Welle,).The German government closed down the Reichstag’s celebrated glass dome and roof terrace on Nov. 22 and tightened security around the building (AP, Telegraph). German security officials were searching furiously this weekend for two militants believed to have entered Germany six to eight weeks ago from Pakistan’s Waziristan region, who according to reports are waiting to take part in a terrorist attack (NYT, WSJ).
Ghailani commentary continues
Aftershocks from last week’s verdict in 1998 East Africa Embassy bomb plotter Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani’s trial continued to ripple this weekend, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in separate media appearances defended civilian trials for terrorism suspects, while keeping the option of military courts open (AFP, Politico, Fox).
Clinton refused to comment on possible venues for a trial of 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, though the number two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, suggested holding civilian terrorism trials at Guantánamo Bay in order to preserve the trials and ensure the safety of Americans (Bloomberg). And John Yoo, the Bush Administration lawyer and author of several legal memos justifying the "enhanced" interrogation of terrorism detainees, suggested scrapping trials altogether and holding suspected terrorists indefinitely, for purposes of interrogation (WSJ).
While Ghailani’s conviction on only one count of conspiracy has raised questions about not only Obama’s terrorism detainee policy but also his efforts to close Guantánamo, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reaffirmed Obama’s commitment Monday to closing the prison (USA Today, CBS, Washington Post).
Trials and Tribulations
- Ten "Islamists" were arrested Nov. 23 in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in Belgium (BBC, AP).
- U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May on Nov. 22 lost a legal appeal that sought to have the inquest into the July 7, 2005 transit bombings in London hear MI5 evidence on the attacks in a closed session (BBC). The Guardian reports that the British government next year will publish a paper proposing that all MI5 and MI6 intelligence be banned from appearing in criminal or civil court cases (Guardian).
- Despite previous assurances from Conservatives in parliament, the British government is reportedly reconsidering whether or not to pay compensation to British victims of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Bali, and elsewhere (Telegraph). And relatives of a Rabbi and his wife killed during the 2008 Mumbai attacks are suing Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency in New York, alleging complicity in the attack (CNN).
- French officials last Friday rejected calls from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leader Abdelmalek Droukdel to negotiate with Osama bin Laden for the release of seven hostages held in Mali, as Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure ruled out a military option for the hostages’ rescue (BBC, Reuters). And 28 AQIM members, some as young as 14, have reportedly surrendered to the Mauritanian army, defecting from AQIM camps in Mali (AP).
- Despite a growing chorus of complaints about new, invasive pat-downs at airports, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said this weekend that the checks would continue (Bloomberg). President Barack Obama said that he had asked security officials if there exists a less invasive means to do the checks, but was told that there is not (AP). A new poll revealed that nearly two-thirds of Americans support the scanners, even as government officials urged looking at new options for airport security (Washington Post, NYT).
- Yemen has again delayed the trial for murder of American Sharif Mobley, an suspected AQAP member who allegedly killed a Yemeni police officer in March in a shootout at a hospital where Mobley was being held after his arrest (CNN).The court will reconvene next week.
- Signs on San Diego reports on increasing tension and concern within San Diego’s Somali community, which has seen five people indicted in recent months for allegedly providing support to the Somali militant group al-Shabaab (Signs on San Diego).
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