The LWOT: Basque separatist group renounces violence

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Gara via Getty Images
Gara via Getty Images
Gara via Getty Images

Basque separatist group renounces violence

Basque separatist group renounces violence

On October 20, the Basque militant organization ETA that is believed to be responsible for over 800 deaths since its inception in 1959 declared an end to its armed campaign for a Basque homeland, and asked for talks with the Spanish and French governments (Guardian, BBC, Reuters, AP, WSJ, AFP, AJE, NYT). While Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero welcomed the announcement as a "victory for democracy," Defense Minister Carme Chacon said today that talks with ETA are not an option (BBC, AP). Interior Minister Antonio Camacho praised the "tireless and unstoppable work of the police and civil guard" in defeating the militant group (CNN).

Al-Awlaki son killed in drone strike

The family of American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed on September 30 by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, has spoken out against his targeting and that of his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was killed in another drone strike against suspected militants on October 14 (AP, AP, Post). The family also released Abdulrahman’s birth certificate in response to reports that he was actually a 20-something-year-old militant (Post). An intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity indicated that the U.S government would not have targeted the militants if they had known an American teenager was with them (Post).

Internal FBI documents made public on October 20 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) show that the Bureau has in recent years collected information on the basis of religious, ethnic and national-origin aspects of American communities (NYT). The ACLU also alleged in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that these activities are illegal and unconstitutional, while the FBI maintains that it is not investigating Americans based "solely" on religion, race, or ethnicity, but using these characteristics as factors in investigations.

The AP’s Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo reported on October 17 that many questions remain unanswered concerning the role of a CIA clandestine officer in the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) intelligence branch (AP). While the CIA has claimed the operative is receiving management training, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said his CIA guest does not have access to any investigative files, which would make it difficult for him to manage the handling of cases.

Minnesota women convicted on terrorism-related charges

A federal jury in Minnesota on October 20 convicted two Somali-born women, Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, on multiple charges over allegations they funneled over $8,600 to the Somali militant group al-Shabaab between September 2008 and July 2009 (AP, Reuters, CNN, AFP, WSJ). The evidence presented by the prosecution included hundreds of hours of phone conversations between the two women and militant leaders in Somalia obtained through an FBI wiretap, which is reportedly sparking mistrust of the government in Minnesota’s Somali community (AP).

Also on October 20, federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania filed charges against Mohammad Hassan Khalid, an 18-year-old Pakistani immigrant from Maryland, and Ali Charaf Damache, an Algerian currently detained in Ireland, for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists (AP, Reuters, CNN, BBC). Khalid was 15 years old when he allegedly began communicating online with convicted terrorist Colleen LaRose, known by her Internet handle as Jihad Jane, and began efforts to recruit people to wage "jihad" in Europe and South Asia. Damache married LaRose’s coconspirator Jamie Paulin-Ramirez in 2009 and allegedly tried to recruit men to fight with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) (AP).

Top pentagon lawyer speaks on detainee legislation

On October 18, the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Defense Jeh Johnson warned against the "over-militarization" of counterterrorism policy, pointing out the role that law enforcement agencies must play as well (Post, Miami Herald, WSJ). Johnson was speaking at the Heritage Foundation on the Pentagon’s objection to further legislation on the handling of suspected terrorist detainees, and he reiterated the Obama administration’s intention to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

CNN’s Jenifer Fenton reported on October 17 that the United States has struggled to produce definitive evidence of al-Qaeda or Taliban links to many Guantánamo detainees, who fear they will be held indefinitely because of this (CNN). And the U.S. Senate voted today to block a Republican attempt to keep the United States from prosecuting suspected terrorists in civilian courts (Post).

British teenagers apprehended in Kenya

Two 18-year-old Britons, Mohamad Abdulrahman Mohamed and Iqbal Shahzad, were arrested by Kenyan security officials near the border with Somalia after Mohamed’s father alerted authorities to his fears that the young men planned to enter Somalia to "fight a holy war" (Tel, BBC, Guardian). Police in Nairobi today also arrested and charged two Somali doctors, as well as a Muslim cleric on the United Nations designated terrorist list, with being members of the Somali militant group al-Shabaab (Reuters, AP).

A member of the Irish terrorist organization the Real IRA, Michael Campbell, was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison in Lithuania today for attempting to purchase weapons and explosives he planned to use in attacks on targets in London (AP, Tel, Guardian, AFP, Reuters). Campbell was arrested in January 2008 after he met with a Lithuanian agent posing as an arms dealing, following a six-year undercover operation.

Trials and Tribulations

  • Two Swedish journalists pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in Ethiopia on October 20, after being arrested by the Ethiopian government in July while traveling with a banned separatist group (Guardian, Reuters, AP).
  • Indonesian police announced today that they had arrested all five suspects in connection to a suicide bombing at a mosque in West Java in April (Jakarta Post).
  • The alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, Umar Patek, reenacted for police on October 20 the assembly of the bombs he used in the attacks (AFP, Jakarta Post, AP).
Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

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