The LWOT

The LWOT: Chechen rebel leader claims Moscow attack; Cameron criticizes ‘multiculturalism’

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ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Chechen rebel leader claims Moscow attack 

In a video posted online Feb. 7, the self-appointed "emir" of southern Russia’s Islamic insurgency, Doku Umarov, claimed responsibility for the Jan. 24 suicide bombing of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, calling the attacks which killed 36 a response to "Russian crimes in the Caucacus" (BBC, AJE, Guardian, AP, Reuters, Jihadology). Umarov appeared last week in an undated video, threatening Russia with "a year of blood and tears" if the country does not cede control of the mostly-Muslim North Caucacus region (VOA).

In the video, Umarov appears flanked by two men, one of whom Umarov tells the camera he is sending on a "special mission." the Independent reports that the man closely resembles the suspected Moscow suicide attacker tentatively identified by anonymous security sources as Magomed Yevloyev (Independent). Russian authorities are reportedly searching for two young men who disappeared from Yevloyev’s village of Ali-Yurt at the same time as the suspected bomber, as Russian police searched train stations in the country’s capital following a bomb threat (AFP, Deutsche Welle, AFP).  And the Washington Post looks at the persistent insurgency in Russia’s south (Washington Post).

Cameron criticizes "multiculturalism" 

In a speech delivered Feb. 5 to a major security conference in Munich, British Prime Minister David Cameron pushed back forcefully on Britain’s decades-old policy of "multiculturalism," saying that it had encouraged Muslim immigrants to lead separate lives from other Britons, separation that has led some to extremism and violence (Guardian, NYT, The Canadian Press).In the speech, roundly condemned by British Muslim leaders, Cameron also criticized the payment of funds under the government’s anti-radicalization "Prevent" program to organizations he termed extremist though non-violent, and called for more "muscular liberalism" in defense of British values. Cameron told the audience (BBC):

Let’s properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?…These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organizations.

Many critics also questioned the timing of Cameron’s speech, coming on the same day as the English Defense League, a right-wing anti-immigrant group, held its largest rally yet in the city of Luton.

Cameron’s government has reportedly already begun withdrawing "Prevent" money from certain Muslim organizations (Guardian). The program has spent £53 million (over $85 million) since 2007 on more than 1,000 counterterrorism programs.

Florida doctor loses terrorism appeal

A Manhattan appeals court last Friday rejected by a 2-1 vote the appeal of Dr. Rafiq Sabir of Florida, convicted in 2007 of attempting to provide material support to terrorists after he swore an oath to al Qaeda and agreed to provide medical aid to wounded al Qaeda fighters in a 2005 meeting with an undercover FBI agent (AP, Courthouse News). The majority rejected Judge Raymond Dearie’s argument that Sabir’s conviction was improper due to an overly broad material support law, and that Sabir could not be convicted only for agreeing to participation in a crime.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, announced Feb. 7 that he would call mostly Arabs and Muslims in his upcoming hearings on Muslim radicalization in the United States (NYT). King said he would call Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the only Muslim member of Congress, as well as Dr. Zuhdi Jassir, a Muslim and U.S. military veteran known for his denunciations of many American Muslim leaders as radicals. King also said he would not call Somali-born critic of Islamic practice and former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi-Ali.

Yemeni Gitmo detainee loses habeas appeal

A Federal judge last week in a sealed opinion denied the habeas petition for Guantánamo Bay detainee Mashur al-Sabri, a Saudi-born Yemeni captured in 2002 along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and accused of fighting with the Taliban and staying in two al Qaeda safehouses (Miami Herald).

An Italian judge on Feb. 7 ordered free a former Guantánamo detainee, Adel Ben Mabrouk, sentenced last week by a Milan court to a two-year suspended sentence for terrorist association, citing Mabrouk’s time served at Guantánamo (The Canadian Press).

Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, charged by President Hamid Karzai with organizing efforts to negotiate with important Taliban figures,  has called for the release from Guantánamo of Khairullah Khairkhwa, a Taliban governor and Interior Minister before 9/11 (Telegraph). And the lawyer for Awal Gul, a former Taliban figure who died after exercising last week at Guantánamo, disputed U.S. government assertions that Gul met with Osama bin Laden and ran a guesthouse for al Qaeda fighters (NYT). The blog Jihadology this weekend published the purported statement from the Taliban in response to Gul’s death (Jihadology). 

Former President George W. Bush canceled a planned trip to Switzerland this week over security concerns surrounding planned protests over the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo (Guardian). Despite the stated reason for the trip’s cancellation, some sources speculated that Bush was concerned over calls for his arrest from human rights groups over the alleged human rights violations committed during his presidency (Deutsche Welle, AFP, Reuters).

Trials and Tribulations

  • An Australian news source reports that according to an anonymous Arab intelligence official, several Australian citizens are currently training for terrorist attacks and other militant activity in Yemen under the direction of radical American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
  • After a harrowing chase from Mauritania’s capital Nuakchott last week, one member of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) blew himself up Feb. 6 after being encircled by Mauritanian forces, while another AQIM member was taken into custody (Reuters).
  • The U.S. State Department on Feb. 7 initiated the process for removing Sudan from the official list of state sponsors of terrorism, after Southern Sudan successfully voted for independence from the North (AP, CNN, Reuters).
  • A Canadian court on Friday denied bail for a Canadian citizen, Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, currently fighting extradition to the United States on charges that he aided a terrorist group in Iraq that killed five Americans in a 2009 suicide attack (AP).
  • Ten Yemeni men, suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), went on trial Feb. 7 on charges of blowing up the office of a Canadian company in 2008 in the country’s capital Sanaa (AFP, Bloomberg).
  • Several female relatives of key AQAP figure Saeed al-Shihri caused controversy by protesting outside the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry this weekend (UPI). They demanded the release of Shihri family members allegedly held by the Saudi government.
  • An Indonesian court will begin the trial on Feb. 10 of radical cleric Abu Bakr Bashir, who is charged with seven terrorism offenses, including one that carries the death penalty if Bashir is found guilty (Sydney Morning Herald).
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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