The LWOT: U.N. tightens sanctions on Eritrea
Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation bring you a twice weekly brief on the legal war on terror. You can read it on foreignpolicy.com or get it delivered directly to your inbox -- just sign up here.
U.N. tightens sanctions on Eritrea
U.N. tightens sanctions on Eritrea
The United Nations Security Council on December 5 approved greater economic sanctions on Eritrea, whose government is accused of funding and arming violent terrorist organizations including Somalia’s al-Shabaab, by a vote of 13-0 with two abstentions (AP, AFP, BBC, WSJ, CNN, Reuters). The resolution slams Eritrea for violating previous sanctions, including an arms embargo, continuing to support militants groups, and imposing a "diaspora tax" on remittances sent by Eritreans living abroad. However, the new sanctions are much weaker than the ban on investment in Eritrea’s mining industry and a block on the diaspora tax that was initially proposed; the resolution only asks countries to ensure their companies exercise "vigilance" in Eritrea to prevent money they put into the country from contributing to violence (Reuters).
Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry later said the sanctions will only bring more destabilization to the region and economic suffering to the Eritrean people, calling the resolution "an attempt by the U.S. administration to scapegoat Eritrea for its faulty and failed policies in the Horn of Africa" (Bloomberg).
White House repeats veto threat over detainee provisions
White House spokesman Jay Carney on December 2 reiterated the Obama administration’s intention to veto a $660 billion Defense Department budget bill that was passed in a 93-7 Senate vote, calling a provision requiring military detention for all terrorism suspects "political micromanagement" (AFP, AP). Mark Ambinder has a must-read on the reasoning behind the administration’s veto threats, while CBS presents the arguments of Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who supports the controversial provision, and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who opposes it (National Journal, CBS).
The White House will reportedly provide two official witnesses to a joint hearing on December 7 investigating "homegrown" Islamist terrorism called by Senate Homeland Security Committee chair Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and House Homeland Security Committee chair Peter King (R-NY) (Reuters). The hearing, which has been dubbed a "witch hunt" by critics, will be the first joint hearing held by the two committees, and will focus on the purported threat to the U.S. military posed by Islamic extremists in the United States.
And U.S. Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano said in an interview in France on December 2 that she has seen a shift in the global terror threat toward the likelihood of "lone wolf" attacks not directed by or affiliated with a terrorist network (AP). Napolitano was in Paris to garner support from French officials for a U.S.-E.U. deal on airline passenger information sharing that is facing resistance in the European Union parliament over privacy concerns.
Supreme Court to hear Gitmo detainee petition
The U.S. Supreme Court on December 5 said it would accept from Guantánamo Bay detainee Hussain Salem Mohammed Almerfedi a sealed petition for a writ of certiorari — an order from the Supreme Court to the lower D.C. Court of Appeals to review their reasoning for blocking Almerfedi’s habeas corpus petition in June (CNS). A federal judge had previously granted Almerfedi’s habeas petition, or request for release from unlawful detention, on the grounds that the government had failed to prove Almerfedi’s membership in a terrorist group by showing that he briefly stayed in an al-Qaeda guesthouse in Iran, but the Appeals Court supported the government’s motion to keep the suspect in custody.
Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani living in Virginia, pleaded guilty on December 2 to providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), for creating and uploading a video to YouTube glorifying the members and actions of LeT (AP, DOJ).
Lawyers for Tarek Mehanna, who is accused to distributing terrorist propaganda on the Internet and travelling to Yemen in 2004 to obtain terrorist training, sought on December 5 to discredit a terrorism "expert," Evan F. Kohlmann, called by the prosecution on December 2 to describe the history and operation of al-Qaeda (Boston Globe, Boston Globe). Defense attorneys attacked Kohlmann’s inability to speak Arabic, lack of teaching experience, and lack of government security clearance, while prosecutors hope his testimony on al-Qaeda propaganda methods will convince a jury that Mehanna was providing tangible support to the organization through his online material.
Prosecutors and a defense attorney for Jose Pimentel, who was arrested last week in New York City accused of trying to build a bomb he planned to use against police stations and post offices, among other targets, agreed to delay having a grand jury decide whether to indict the suspect (AP). Pimentel was supposed to hear from a grand jury on December 5, but will instead remain in custody for about a month until both sides in the case feel prepared to present their evidence.
Trials and Tribulations
- Militants belonging to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are reportedly using a "hearts and minds" strategy to win support from the local population in Mali by giving sweets to children and baby gifts to couples that have recently given birth (AP).
- Five suspected terrorists detained in Canada learned on December 3 that the country’s intelligence agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) did not believe it could win the cases against the men without using information obtained through torture (National Post).
- A recently discovered neo-Nazi cell in Germany reportedly designed and sold to other far-right extremists a Monopoly-style board game called "Pogromly," with concentration camps in place of the railroad stations and a large swastika in the center (Tel).
More from Foreign Policy
No, the World Is Not Multipolar
The idea of emerging power centers is popular but wrong—and could lead to serious policy mistakes.
America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn’t Want
Embedded with U.S. forces in the Pacific, I saw the dilemmas of deterrence firsthand.
America Can’t Stop China’s Rise
And it should stop trying.
The Morality of Ukraine’s War Is Very Murky
The ethical calculations are less clear than you might think.