SEARCH

Entries in AQAP (3)

Tuesday
Dec072010

Court Rules Executive Branch May Target Anwar Al-Awlaki

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a victory for the Obama administration, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the governments' authority to assassinate Anwar Al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen hiding in Yemen.

Awlaki is a member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He has been linked to the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009, the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan and the recent seizure of bomb-making materials in the cargo of two planes.

According to ABC's Martha Raddatz, President Obama himself has authorized the targeted killing of Awlaki in Yemen, where he is believed to be hiding.

Two public interest groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, had filed the suit on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki's father, Nasser al- Awlaki. They sought a declaration from the court that the Constitution and international law prohibit the government from carrying out targeted killings outside of armed conflict, except as a last resort to protect against imminent threats of death.

But U.S. District Judge John Bates found the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case because it was brought by Awlaki's father, instead of Awlaki himself. Furthermore, the judge agreed with the government that the issue of whether Awlaki poses a national security threat to the United States is best left to the political branches and not the Court.

At a news conference Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Tony West said, "We are pleased with the court's ruling. People need to remember that this really was an unprecedented case in which the plaintiffs were asking a court to review military decisions for the benefit of a leader of a foreign terrorist organization. And as we said when we filed this case, if Anwar al-Awlaki wants to access our court systems he ought to surrender to the authorities and be held accountable for his actions.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov302010

'Christmas Tree Bomber' Was In Touch With Al Qaeda Mouthpiece

Photo Courtesy - Multnomah County Jail(WASHINGTON) -- Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the Somali-American college student charged with plotting an attack on a Christmas tree lighting event in Portland, Oregon, was in contact with, and wrote articles for, another prominent American al Qaeda propagandist for nearly two years, authorities say.

Mohamud, who was arrested in an FBI sting, is accused of attempting to detonate what he believed to be a car bomb in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square via cellphone during the annual lighting of the Christmas tree last Friday, which had drawn a crowd of thousands. The supposed explosive device was non-functional. Mohamud, 19, pled not guilty in federal court Monday to one count of an attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The FBI affidavit alleges that Mohamud stated to undercover agents that he had wanted to take part in violent jihad since he was 15, and that he told FBI agents that he had written four articles since 2009 for two different online jihadist magazines edited and distributed by Samir Khan.

Khan, 24, is the Saudi-born, New York-raised editor behind Inspire magazine, the English language online publication of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. Khan, who has said he is currently hiding in Yemen, has become a rising figure in jihadist propaganda and an "aspiring" Anwar Awlaqi, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Under the pen name "Ibn al-Mubarak," alleges the FBI, Mohamud wrote three articles "discussing violent jihad" that appeared in 2009 in Jihad Recollections, the web magazine edited that Khan edited from his parents' North Carolina basement before relocating to Yemen.

One of the articles published under the name Ibn al-Mubarak was titled, "Getting in shape without weights," which appeared in the first issue of Jihad Recollections, urged aspiring jihadists to stay fit for God.

American forces, said the article, "cannot go to any battlefront without carrying along with them their bench, squat sets and sometimes even their machines," proof that jihadists should avoid costly devices to get strong.

In a 2009 article that praised al Qaeda's media wing, As-Sahab, Ibn al-Mubarak wrote that the organization has a "great influence on the hearts and minds of many Muslims because they help everyone realize the reality of the situation and not losing focus of the real issues at hand."

Mohamud allegedly told agents that he had written another article for Khan's new, Yemen-based web magazine, Inspire, but that it had not yet been published.

In its affidavit, the FBI says it became aware of Mohamud after he exchanged emails with a jihadist in Pakistan in 2009. Mohamud was attempting to travel to Pakistan for weapons and explosives training, but failed to follow the instructions of his contact to reach someone who could facilitate his travel.

The FBI then contacted Mohamud through an email with an undercover agent posing as the foreign facilitator, according to the complaint.

Soon after the email exchanges, the affidavit alleges, Mohamud told the FBI undercover agent that he wanted to go "operational" but needed training. The first undercover agent allegedly introduced Mohamud to a second undercover agent.

Mohamud then suggested to the two undercover agents that he detonate a bomb during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, according to the affidavit. When the FBI agents suggested that Mohamud would have to use a car bomb, and might also have to die during the operation, Mohamud said he was willing, alleges the affidavit. Mohamud also allegedly determined where to park a van filled with explosives in the city square.

Mohamud told the agent that he sought a "huge mass that will...be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays."

On Friday, when the FBI loaded a van with a fake device, they asked Mohamud to detonate the fake bomb by dialing a number on a cellphone. After he failed to explode the device with his first call, alleges the affidavit, he dialed the number a second time and FBI agents swooped in to arrest him.

On Monday, Mohamud's attorney said he planned to use an entrapment defense.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov212010

Al Qaeda Reveals Cost of Foiled Mail Bomb Plot

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/Handout(WASHINGTON) -- Printer bombs planted on two cargo flights last month cost only a few thousand dollars and were intended to affect the American economy, according to a newly published al Qaeda-affiliated magazine.

The attempt was called "Operation Hemorrhage," boasted the magazine, and the entire plot cost al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, only $4,200.

Yesterday, a special edition of Inspire magazine -- an English-language propaganda publication produced by AQAP -- gave a detailed description of how the attempted attack was conceived and produced.

"Two Nokia mobiles, $150 each, two HP printers, $300 each, plus shipping, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses add up to a total bill of $4,200," one article said.  "That is all that Operation Hemorrhage cost us. In terms of time, it took us three months to plan and execute the operation from beginning to end."

The magazine also revealed the attack was not meant to kill more than the plane's pilot and co-pilot, and was meant to force the U.S. government to spend billions of dollars on preventive security screening measures.

The strategy, the magazine said, was "of attacking the enemy with smaller, but more frequent operations is what some may refer to as the strategy of a thousand cuts. The aim is to bleed the enemy to death."

AQAP also took credit for the September crash of a UPS cargo flight in Dubai. However, U.S. and U.A.E. officials have concluded that the crash was not an act of terrorism.

The publication was unusual for the level of detail and candor with which AQAP revealed its attempt and threatened future attacks, said a terrorism analyst who monitors jihadist groups online.

"We have never seen a jihadist group in the al-Qaeda orbit ever release, let alone only a few weeks after, such a detailed accounting of the philosophy, operational details, intent and next steps following a major attack," said Ben Venzke, head of IntelCenter.

"This may represent a new level of interaction by jihadi groups following an operation and is a far cry from the days of shadowy claims and questions as to who was actually responsible."

The magazine also mocked preventive measures taken by Western governments after the attempted attack: "The British government said that if a toner weighs more than 500 grams it won't be allowed on board a plane. Who is the genius who came up with this suggestion? Do you think that we have nothing to send but printers?"

AQAP is largely based in Yemen, where the printer bomb plot was hatched. The group mailed the two printers from Yemen, addressing them to Jewish institutions in Chicago.

Shortly after they were sent, Saudi intelligence was able to learn the tracking numbers and passed the information to U.S. counterparts. The packages were intercepted and disabled in Dubai and England.

The plot itself was not unexpected. The CIA and the White House were aware of 'dry run' attempts in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 29 plot.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio