The LWOT: Neo-Nazi terror cell shocks Germany

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Neo-Nazi terror cell shocks Germany

German authorities on November 13 formally charged Beate Zschaepe with co-founding and belonging to a neo-Nazi terrorist organization believed to be responsible for ten murders between 2000 and 2007 (Deutsche WelleDer Spiegel, CNN, Tel, Bloomberg, LAT). Two other members of the group calling itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground appeared to have committed suicide in a caravan on November 4, four days before Zschaepe turned herself into police. Authorities discovered a DVD in the caravan showing the two alleged members, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boenhardt, admitting to the murders of eight people of Turkish origin, one Greek, and policewoman, as well as setting off a nail bomb in 2004 that injured several Turkish immigrants (Deutsche Welle, Tel, AP). A fourth suspect, identified as Holger G., was also arrested and remanded into custody on November 13.

German Prime Minister Angela Merkel called the murders "shameful for Germany," and the country’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said it was "deeply troubling that there was no connection made between the murder series across Germany and the far-right scene in Thuringia," the state in which the group was allegedly based (AFP, Deutsche Welle, Reuters, Der Spiegel). German intelligence officials have come under fire for failing to prevent the murders, despite being aware of the suspects’ affiliation with right-wing extremism since the 1990s and arresting Zschaepe, Mundlos and Boenhardt in connection with the planting of a swastika-emblazoned fake bomb at a theater in 1997 (Der Spiegel).

Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to killing 77 people on July 22 in a bombing in Oslo, Norway and a shooting spree on the island of Utoya, appeared on November 13 at his first open court hearing in front of the victims’ families, survivors, journalists, and members of the general public (AP, Tel, Deutsche Welle, BBC, AFP). As in previous hearings, Breivik told the court, "I acknowledge the facts, but I do not plead guilty," and said that he is "a military commander in a resistance movement," before being denied his request to speak directly to families of the attack victims.

District Court Judge Torkjel Nesheim remanded Breivik back into custody to await a trial scheduled to begin on April 16, 2012, pending his psychiatric evaluation, from which Judge Nesheim said he expects to see clean results (CNN). The Post reports that a new courtroom capable of accommodating 700 people will be built especially for this trial for the many survivors and family members of victims who wish to attend (Post).

Texas man convicted on terrorism charges

Barry Walter Bujol Jr. was convicted on November 13 of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft, after being accused of trying to leave the United States with restricted military documents, money and equipment destined for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) (AP). Bujol was apprehended when he tried to sneak into a Houston port to board a ship, carrying restricted U.S. Army manuals and GPS receivers given to him by an FBI informant posing as a member of AQAP.  

Reuters on November 13 reported on the complex legal and political issues that draw out the still largely untested military tribunals of suspected terrorists held at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility (Reuters). And despite President Barack Obama’s insistence that he will close Guantánamo, and the steady drop in the detainee population, construction continues on the aging and now almost empty prison (AFP).

In the wake of a series of Associated Press reports that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has been monitoring Muslim communities for terrorist connections, some Muslim community leaders in New York City are reportedly encouraging Muslims not to go directly to authorities with any terrorism-related concerns (AP). The leaders have also instructed others in the community on how to identify police informants, and one law professor at City University of New York called most police interactions with Muslims "a fishing expedition," moves that could further damage relations between law enforcement and the Muslim community.

British police arrest four suspected terrorists

Four men were arrested in Birmingham today on suspicion of raising money for terrorist purposes and travelling to Pakistan for terrorist training, as part of a major counterterrorism investigation in which eight people have already been detained and charged (Tel, BBC, AFP).

A man convicted in London in 2007 of conspiracy to murder for his involvement in an alleged bomb plot against targets in the United States, Qaisar Shaffi, has told his lawyer that he accompanied a fellow convicted terrorist, Dhiren Barot, to New York in 2001 only because it was a free vacation, not because he wanted to survey possible attack targets (Tel). Shaffi’s lawyer also said his client "took recreational drugs and drank alcohol and his life revolved around clothes, music and partying" – quite the opposite of extremist Islamic practices – and that he is working to have Shaffi’s security rating lowered so that he may be released on parole next year.

Finally, Juan Mendez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture has said the U.K.’s inquiry into alleged torture of suspected terrorist detainees must be "fully public," or it will "only serve to cover up abuses" (BBC, Guardian). Prime Minister David Cameron announced the inquiry last July, but it has not yet begun. 

Trials and Tribulations

  • Prosecutors at the U.N.-mandated Special Tribunal for Lebanon told judges on November 11 that it was too early to consider a trial in absentia for four members of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah charged with assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (AP).
  • Two men convicted in Australia’s first terrorism case 2008 for belonging to a homegrown Islamic extremist terror cell were released in Melbourne on parole on November 6, though police fear that they have not renounced their radical, violent views (Herald Sun).
  • Indonesian counterterrorism police forces on November 13 captured three suspected terrorists, who may be linked to the April 2011 Cirebon Police mosque bombing case for which eight suspects are already on trial (Jakarta Post).

Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
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