Entries in Terrorism (151)


Japan Intensifies Search for Man Allegedly Involved in '95 Subway Attack

YOSHIKATSU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japanese police have launched a nationwide manhunt for the member of a doomsday cult that masterminded deadly attacks on Tokyo subways 17 years ago.

Police say Katsuya Takahashi drove a car for fellow cult members the day they released sarin gas on subway stations, killing 13 people. He hasn’t been spotted since 1996, but on Wednesday police released surveillance photos of him taken at a bank a few days ago.

The search for Takahashi intensified after another cult member was arrested over the weekend for her involvement in the subway attacks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Official Confirms Death of a Top Al Qaeda Leader

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A top al Qaeda leader and longtime Osama Bin Laden confidant Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed in a U.S. drone strike Monday morning in Pakistan, according to a U.S. official.

Hours after the strike Pakistani officials said that al-Libi, second-in-command to current al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was among the 15 people killed when a U.S. drone fired four missiles into a suspected militant hideout in Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan, at 5:30 a.m. local time Monday.

At the time U.S. officials said that al-Libi was the target of the attack, but had not been able to confirm his demise.

"Abu Yahya [al-Libi] was among al-Qaeda's most experienced and versatile leaders... and played a critical role in the group's planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts," the official said today, noting al-Libi was a longtime veteran of al Qaeda's jihad. "There is no one who even comes close in terms of replacing the expertise [al Qaeda] has just lost."

The strike was the third in the tribal region that straddles the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the past four days, and seventh in the past two weeks -- a span during which Pakistani officials said more than two dozen suspected militants have been killed.

Al-Libi is among the highest profile al Qaeda members to be killed by U.S. forces since a Navy SEAL raid killed top al Qaeda commander bin Laden in May 2011. The U.S. government had offered a $1 million reward through its Rewards for Justice program for information leading to his capture.

Al-Libi recently emerged as one of the most public faces of al Qaeda, appearing in several training and propaganda videos in the past two years. A letter from al-Libi chastising the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban was found among bin Laden's documents captured during the U.S. raid.

It's believed al-Libi spent a short period studying Islamic theology in Mauritania in the early 1990s, before moving to Afghanistan to fight alongside bin Laden and other al Qaeda figures.

Shortly thereafter, he is believed to have returned to Libya, where he became part of the fledgling Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, working to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi and establish an Islamic state in the African country, before returning to Afghanistan.

In 2002, after NATO forces toppled the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, al-Libi was captured and sent to the high security U.S. prison in Bagram, Afghanistan. Three years later, he escaped, rejoining militants in the tribal regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As recently as last year, al-Libi appeared in a video produced by As-Sahab, al Qaeda's media wing, urging Libyans to overthrow Gadhafi.

"The only solution for our country is Jihad for Islam", al-Libi said, praising the Arab Spring that toppled other Arab rulers.

"These revolutions have shown us that the Western governments only care about their own interests. They only speak out when they see them endangered. By now: the wind of revolution is blowing, and they evacuate their own citizens."

Other Sahab videos show al-Libi preaching to a group of militants in a mountainous region, wearing a tactical vest and reading from a script. Another shows clad in a black turban, preaching to an unidentified gathering indoors. The black flag of the Taliban is mounted on a wall behind him as he speaks.

Unlike videos of other Al Qaeda leaders that emphasize their role on the battlefield, most of al-Libi's videos appear to emphasize his role as a theologian, showing him preaching to groups of men and quoting extensively from the Quran.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Shabab Terror Group Loses Control of Key Somali Town

STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images(NAIROBI) -- While much of Somalia is still controlled by the hard-line terrorist group al Shabab, the internationally-funded troops who are attempting to push the militants out of the country are claiming an important victory.

African Union soldiers have taken control of the southern town of Afmadow, strategically important because of its location along the road leading to the port city of Kismayo -- believed to be the main source of al Shabab’s weapons and funding. African Union troops hope to capture Kismayo within a few months, which would be a potentially significant blow to the militants.

Meanwhile, Somali and world leaders are meeting in Turkey for the second major international conference this year to talk about how to restore peace and order in a country that has had neither for decades.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Somali Journalist Gunned Down, Sixth Killed in 5 Months

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- A local journalist was gunned down in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, becoming the sixth journalist killed so far this year and putting the east African nation on track to have its deadliest year ever for media workers.

Ahmed Addow Anshur, who worked at a local radio station, was murdered by four armed assailants on motorcycles near a market midday Wednesday, according to the National Union for Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). NUSOJ said the attackers escaped the scene and the motive for the killing is not yet known.

Anshur's death marks the sixth killing of a local journalist in Somalia since the new year and the second this month, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In a statement, the NUSOJ said the targeting of journalists is part of a concerted effort to "undermine the media freedom and freedom of expression," but the organization's Secretary General, Mohammed Ibrahim, said it's often difficult to tell who is actually be behind the attacks.

Somalia has been rocked by violence for the past two decades as the transitional government battles militant Islamists, including the al Qaeda-allied terrorist organization al-Shabaab, for control of the country. Al-Shabaab, which includes in its ranks several American-born fighters such as the rapping jihadist Omar Hammami, occasionally claims responsibility or is blamed for the killings, but other times -- such as in Anshur's case -- the journalists are gunned down in areas controlled by the government.

There are also a variety of violent criminal gangs to consider, Ibrahim said, not to mention journalists who are simply caught in the crossfire.

"[The journalists] know that it's risky, it's deadly, but they respect their profession," said Ibrahim, a veteran Somali journalist who is the first recipient of the Galloway Family Foundation Fellowship for International Investigative Reporting at the ABC News Brian Ross Investigative Unit. "They report to the outside world the situation on the ground. It is a great bravery."

Before coming to the U.S., Ibrahim contributed reporting from Somalia to the New York Times and worked closely with Pulitzer prize-winning Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman.

The United Nations special representative to Somalia condemned Anshur's murder in a statement today and said journalism in the war-torn nation is "essential to a free and functioning society."

"It is well known that Somali journalists have the most difficult working conditions in the world," the U.N. representative, Dr. Augustine Mahiga, said. "But that does not make it any easier to accept when one is brutally killed. Ahmed Addow Anshur was targeted in cold blood for carrying out his doing his job as a professional journalist..."

In all, the CPJ counts 41 journalists that have been killed in Somalia since 1992 and has named the country the most dangerous on the continent for media workers. The deadliest year to date was 2009, in which nine journalists were killed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Irish 'Terror Network' Busted As Queen's Visit Nears 

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BELFAST) -- Six alleged members of a dissident Irish Republican network have been arrested on terrorism charges in Northern Ireland since last Saturday in a joint operation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and MI5, the U.K.'s Security Service.

Though dissident Republican groups are often characterized as splinter operations with little public support, the arrests occurred in cities across Northern Ireland. British authorities also invoked two criminal charges rarely used in Northern Ireland, "directing" terrorism and "acts preparatory" to terrorism.

The arrests come just weeks before Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, and two months before up to 900,000 visitors converge on London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Security preparations for the summer games have included a stepped-up police presence and surface-to-air missile batteries atop residential buildings.

Three men were arrested on Saturday, May 11, and three more were arrested on Monday, May 13. The three men arrested Monday morning, aged 41, 42 and 47, were charged with conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to cause an explosion, preparation of terrorist acts and collecting information of use to terrorism. The 47-year-old was also charged with directing terrorism. They are due to appear in court tomorrow morning, at which time their names will be made public.

"Police have charged three men with a number of serious offences linked to a proactive investigation into dissident Republican terrorist activity in Northern Ireland," said the PSNI in a statement. "Officers have worked closely with colleagues in the Security Service and, latterly, with the Public Prosecution Service to reach a point where charges have been brought." The Security Service, also known as MI5, is the lead agency in terrorism investigations in Northern Ireland.

In recent years, dissident Republican groups have mounted both bombing attacks aimed at law enforcement and so-called "punishment" attacks against alleged drug dealers and criminals. Splinter groups have improved their bombmaking skills and now have the capability to detonate devices by remote control, say police.

According to U.K. press accounts, a 600-lb device found on the outskirts of Newry, Northern Ireland on April 26 "could have been set off by someone in the area with a transmitter." Police said that the device, which was left in a white Citroen Berlingo van, was "ready to go." They added that it was designed to kill and was to be detonated with a remote transmitter.

Earlier this month, the dissident Republican group Óglaigh na hÉireann is believed to have left a milk-churn bomb found on an island in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Anti-terrorist officers told the media that they believe the bomb "was hidden there in a panic as Gardaí [Irish police] carried out a major search and disrupt operation following the discovery of the Newry van bomb."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Manual Warns of Wounds, Sleeping Outdoors, 'Annoying' Drones

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate has released a new English-language training manual that offers American would-be jihadis details on what to expect when they join al Qaeda, but recommends that they should consider staying home and "attacking America in its own backyard."

Written by U.S.-raised al Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan, who was killed in a 2011 drone strike, Expectations Full tells Western recruits what hardships they can expect to encounter when they arrive at training camps in Yemen and other Muslim countries, from physical training and outdoor living to dealing with wounds.

"Many Muslims dream of making it to the front lines of jihad," says the foreword. "In this document, the writer gives his fellow Muslim a sense of what the life of a mujahid would be during the twenty-first century."

Khan suggests that in order to experience what life can be like in a training camp, aspiring jihadis practice going a week without using any electronic equipment, talking above a low voice or leaving their apartment.

But he also suggests that Americans simply stay home. "I strongly recommend all the brothers and sisters coming from the West to consider attacking America in its own backyard. The effect is much greater, it always embarrasses the enemy, and these types of individual decision-making attacks are nearly impossible for them to contain."

In the section titled "Aerial Bombardment," Khan tells readers that it's normal to be "shaken up by missiles, which are released from jets, helicopters, spy planes, ships and whatnot." During bombardment, recommends Khan, "If you feel terrified...close your eyes and image yourself inside, paradise, entering its magnificent gates. Imagine glancing at your beautiful palace...Think of your hoor [beautiful maidens promised to believers] that are awaiting you."

He also describes surviving an attack via cluster bombs, and the "loud and annoying bee-like sound" of a drone hovering overhead. "I swear by Allah, when one is under the aerial bombardment of the enemy, there is no time in the world when one feels closer to their [God] than this," wrote Khan. He was killed by U.S. Hellfire missiles fired by Predator drones on Sept. 30, 2011, along with U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Will Al Qaeda Mole Get Big Payday for Foiling Plot?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --The British spy who managed to infiltrate an al Qaeda cell and thwart a scheme to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner may be eligible for tens of millions of dollars in reward money, courtesy of the U.S. government.

The U.S. State Department said Friday that under their Rewards for Justice program the mystery double agent -- who officials said was recruited by British intelligence from the U.K.’s Muslim population and posed as a would-be suicide bomber -- could be paid up to $25 million for playing an integral role in preventing a terrorist strike against U.S. interests, if he’s determined eligible. Another $5 million could be paid if information provided by the mole led to a recent air strike that killed Fahd al-Quso, a high-level commander in al Qaeda’s Yemen branch, AQAP.

But one State Department official told ABC News that right now there is not nearly enough information about who the mole is and what he did to know if he is even eligible for the reward.

Established in the mid-1980s, the Rewards for Justice program has paid out over $100 million to more than 70 tipsters, according to the State Department.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Bombmaker Designs Bombs to Hide in Cameras, Hard Drives and Pets

Saudi Interior Ministry/Landov(NEW YORK) -- At the age of only 30, the al Qaeda bombmaker behind the foiled plot on U.S-bound planes has emerged as the most feared face of terror for American authorities, a master technician with a fierce hatred for America and ingenious plans for hiding hard-to-detect bombs inside cameras, computers and even household pets.

Again and again, Ibrahim al-Asiri has created bombs that get past security screening -- the underwear bomb targeting a Detroit-bound jet in 2009, bombs hidden in printer cartridges set to explode over Chicago, even a bomb hidden in the body of a younger brother who was sent on a suicide mission against a Saudi official.

A Saudi citizen who studied chemistry in college, al-Asiri's parents say he became radicalized after the death of a brother.

"It makes him dangerous," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chair of House Homeland Security Committee, "and it's clear that we want to make sure that he doesn't have the opportunity to...continue to do, to build any device whatsoever, or impart his knowledge to anyone else who wants to build these devices."

U.S. authorities tell ABC News that al-Asiri's latest designs involve bombs surgically implanted in terrorists, as well as bombs hidden in pets to be carried on aircraft, cameras, and external hard drives that would explode when plugged into a laptop computer.

"[He's] very innovative in trying to find some way to get a bomb onto an airplane that will evade detection from airport screeners," explains Seth Jones, former senior advisor to the U.S. Special Operations Command and author of the just-published Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa'ida since 9/11.

The bombmaker's hatred of the U.S. adds to the threat. "Ibrahim al-Asiri absolutely hates the United States," said Jones. "[He] hates what the U.S. culture has brought to the world. [He]'s a violent supporter of the ideology of Osama bin Laden and has tried desperately, as hard as he can, to put a bomb together that will detonate and kill as many Americans as he can. He hates American ideology. He hates Western values."

Jones said that al-Asiri is also "operationally very savvy." According to Jones, he not only designed and built the device that underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to use to take down Northwest flight 253, he was also worked with AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki on how to preserve the bomb and how to detonate it for maximum effect. Said Jones, "In other words he's not just building the material himself, he's interested in working with the operatives so that they can actually detonate it and kill as many Americans as possible."

Because of the threat of al-Asiri and his al Qaeda group, AQAP, the United States has vastly expanded its drone operations in Yemen, with the U.S. military and the CIA given the freedom to operate in large zones.

Al-Asiri has survived at least one U.S. drone strike in the last year.

While al-Asiri and al Qaeda's latest plot was foiled by a double agent working for U.S. and allied intelligence agencies, authorities tell ABC News there are several other plots aimed at U.S. airlines that are at the least in planning stages if not further along.

Now, the FBI continues to pore over the latest al-Asiri bomb that the double agent was able to bring out of Yemen, but at airports across the country security officials say they have yet to be briefed or receive any concrete guidance about the details of the bomb or what steps need to be taken to guard against it.

Al-Asiri's twisted genius means the threat from al Qaeda remains very real and active. But even if he were to be killed by a drone strike, said Jones, the threat would not disappear.

"Taking out al-Asiri would take out the most competent bombmaker in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," he said. "But as we've seen in Pakistan with senior al Qaeda leaders, they can replace these individuals. It may not be with somebody as technically savvy for the moment, but just taking somebody out does not mean that the problem goes away. They have other bomb experts, so they will try again."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


AQAP Bomb Maker Killed in Yemen Drone Strike Tied to Recent Foiled Plot

FBI(SHABWA, Yemen) -- A drone missile strike in Shabwa, Yemen, on Sunday killed a man named Fahd Mohammad Ahmed Al-Quso, the Yemeni government said in a statement.

Al-Quso, 37, from Yemen, was best known in the United States for heading terrorist operations in the USS Cole bombing, which killed 17 American sailors in 2000. More recently, Al-Quso had replaced Anwar al Awlaki as head of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

He was continuing the terrorist group’s plans to take down an international airliner with an explosive -- one foiled in recent days, government officials say.

A previous attempt, with a bomb made by AQAP bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, had failed on Christmas Day 2009, when the bomber, Umar Faruq Abdulmuttalab, failed to detonate the device that had been hidden in his underwear.

U.S. government sources tell ABC News that Al-Quso and Asiri continued to plan for a similar terrorist attack, using a small IED that could be hidden on a person, with the same goal of bringing down an international airline.

In April, their plot, based in Yemen, was detected by intelligence sources. American and other intelligence agencies were, sources said, on top of the plot from the beginning and closely monitoring it. Early last month White House counterterrorism czar John Brennan told President Obama about the plot.

The IED is in the hands of the FBI and is, according to sources, being thoroughly examined.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Taliban Announces Start of Spring Offensive, Recruiting Officials to Attack US

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- He's lived through invasions, suicide attacks, and the almost daily routine of NATO forces patrolling his streets. And yet, despite all Aziz Ahmed has been through, there's one thing that still scares him: The Taliban's "Spring Offensive."

"I don't know who the next target will be," said Aziz, who sells telephone cards at the side of a Kabul street.

"The winter was quiet, but as soon as the weather became warm, we saw a couple of attacks in Kabul. When the Taliban say something, they do it," he said.

The Taliban announced Thursday as the official beginning of their offensive, naming the campaign Al-Farooq, after the second caliph of Islam. Posted on their website, the announcement declares the offensive will take place across the entire country, identifying foreigners, contractors, advisers, Afghan members of parliament, and anyone who associates with the Afghan regime, as targets.

But unlike previous years, this year, there's a key difference. They are setting up a "Recruitment Commission," a wing whose goal is to influence officials and high ranking Afghans to switch sides in the more than decade-long conflict.

It's a troubling development since 20 percent of all NATO casualties this year have been caused by Afghans wearing military uniforms. In the latest incident, a commando with Afghanistan's special forces opened fire on his American counterparts, gunning down a U.S. soldier during a joint night raid. The Afghan was shot dead by U.S. forces.

If the idea behind the new "Recruitment Commission" is to generate sympathy and support for the insurgents, their tactic may fall on deaf ears.

"It's all part of their usual strategy," says Mohammed Zia, a money changer in Kabul.

"I'm not worried. Day by day our security forces are getting stronger and are able to fight them. The Taliban know this is a media war, and that's why they make these announcements. The only reason is to panic the people," he continued.

The ISAF issued a statement saying the Afghan forces will be able to handle the Taliban's offensive.

"The insurgents have already tested the ANSF a number times this spring and each time it is the same result; the insurgents are defeated," the ISAF statement said.

The statement cited attacks in Kabul early Thursday which injured civilians, including children heading to school.

"The Taliban's words have never matched their actions, especially when the majority of civilian casualties are caused by the Taliban's careless actions," the statement said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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