The LWOT: “JihadJane” expected to plead guilty; Spanish judge sets deadline on Gitmo investigation

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Wonk Watch: A newly-released Congressional Research Service (CRS) report details the legislative actions pertaining to the prison at Guantánamo Bay that took place during the 111th Congress (CRS).

"JihadJane" expected to plead guilty today

A short document released Friday announced a plea-change hearing scheduled for today for Colleen LaRose, a reported convert to Islam known on various websites as "JihadJane" or "Fatima LaRose" charged in 2009 with involvement in a plot to kill the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who stoked worldwide anger by drawing a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad (CNN, Reuters). LaRose, who is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists as well as plotting to kill persons overseas, reportedly became obsessed with violent jihad and attempted to recruit other Westerners over the Internet to commit acts in Europe and South Asia, in addition to recruiting others for the plot to kill Vilks (WSJ, LAT).

LaRose originally pled not guilty in March 2010, following her arrest in late 2009. She could spend the rest of her life in prison, though it is unclear if prosecutors worked out a deal to cut her jail time.

Spanish judge sets deadline on Guantánamo investigation

Spanish judge Eloy Velasco has given the U.S. government until March 1 to say if it intends to investigate alleged abuses of detainees at Guantánamo, before ruling on whether or not a lawsuit against senior Bush administration officials can go forward (Jurist, Dow Jones). The lawsuit alleges that former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, as well as administration and Department of Justice officials David Addington, William Haynes, Douglas Feith, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, constructed a legal framework to shield abuses occurring at the prison.

A Tunisian former detainee transferred to Italy in 2009 and immediately taken into custody was convicted this week of criminal association "with the aim of terrorism" and sentenced to six years in prison (AP). Lawfare Blog looks at the two new Guantánamo habeas appeals filed this week (Lawfare Blog). And National Public Radio’s Dina Temple-Raston examines the many complexities and challenges facing an Obama administration that still publicly argues for Guantánamo’s closure, but seems to be moving further away from shuttering the prison (NPR).

Russia identifies airport suicide bomber

Russian authorities have reportedly identified the suicide bomber who killed 35 at Russia’s Domodedovo Airport, a 20 year-old man from the Caucacus whom Russian officials refused to name (NYT, AP). The bombing marked a shift for Russia’s Caucacus militant groups towards targeting foreigners. And as more is learned about the ethnic Russian who allegedly planned the attack, Russians are beginning to face the growing role converts are playing in the country’s militant Islamist groups (Telegraph).

California man arrested for threat to mosque

Police in Dearborn, Michigan last week arrested a 63 year-old California man in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of North America, one of the United States’ largest mosques, in possession of "explosives" (CNN, San Diego Union-Tribune).The man, Roger Stockham, was reportedly carrying an undisclosed but "substantial" amount of class-c, commercial fireworks that are illegal in Michigan (Reuters). Authorities reportedly were alerted to Stockham’s possible intentions after a bar employee overheard him threaten to harm a mosque, and reported the threat to police (The Detroit News).He is charged with one count of a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possession of bombs with unlawful intent, and faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Trials and Tribulations

  • Records obtained by a San Francisco-based watchdog group indicate that the FBI reported nearly 800 violations of privacy laws during surveillance operations to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board between 2001 and 2008 (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Washington Post, LAT, MSNBC).
  • The New York Times this weekend looked at the growing effort by countries around the world to combat internet radicalization, a subject that was the focus of a major conference held in Saudi Arabia last week (NYT).
  • The U.S. State Department has renewed a terrorism alert for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (AP). The Europe-wide alert that was previously in effect expired Jan. 31. Germany, meanwhile, has reduced its anti-terrorism security presence, which had been at an elevated level since November of last year (AP).
  • A computer specialist formerly employed by British Airways, Rajib Karim, pled guilty in a British court Jan. 31 to charges that he was involved in terrorism funding and producing propaganda for a terrorist group, as well as offering to train for or engage in insurgent operations abroad (AFP, Reuters).
  • A Canadian man publicly labeled by the United States as a member of al Qaeda, Abousfian Abdelrazik, has filed a petition to be taken off the United Nations terrorism "blacklist" (Globe and Mail). Abdelrazik has been cleared by the Canadian government, but a previous petition was vetoed by a U.N. Security Council member, believed to be the United States.
  • Italian police have arrested three Moroccan men on charges of distributing terrorist training materials online, including information on how to use different arms and explosives and how to hack computer systems (AP).
  • A British immigration officer has reportedly been arrested after it was discovered that he allegedly added his wife to a terrorism "no-fly" list three years ago in order to prevent her from coming back to the United Kingdom (IOL).
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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