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Entries in Terrorist (12)

Wednesday
Oct312012

Terrorist Offers Hurricane Sandy Aid; US Says No Thanks

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- The U.S. has turned down an offer of post-Hurricane Sandy assistance from one of the world's most wanted men, a Pakistani terrorist leader with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head.

Hafiz Saeed, an Islamist militant who is alleged to have masterminded the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that left more than 160 people dead, issued a written statement Wednesday saying his organization was willing to send supplies and volunteers to help the U.S. East Coast recover.

"We are ready to send food items, medicines and doctors to the U.S. for the people affected by the storm," said Saeed.  "America [may] fix bounties on our heads but as followers of the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), we feel it is our Islamic duty to help Americans trapped in a catastrophe."  Saeed noted that the charity he heads had provided aid in Sri Lanka and Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami.

Saeed is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group banned by the Pakistani government, and still heads its charity wing, Jamaat ud Dawa.  Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture or arrest.

After Saeed's offer of assistance, the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan declined his help via Twitter.

"We respect the Islamic tradition of help to the needy," said the tweet, "but we can't take Hafiz Saeed's offer seriously."

Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba more than 25 years ago and has mounted many attacks against India as part of a campaign to wrest the Kashmir region from Indian control.  Saeed is accused of masterminding the Nov. 26, 2008 terrorist attacks on the city of Mumbai.  Ten gunmen took part in the multi-day assault, which cost the lives of at least 166 people, including six Americans.  The lone surviving attacker, who faces a death penalty, has accused Saeed of hatching the plot.

Pakistan kept Saeed under house arrest for some months after the attacks but then released him.  He maintains a high public profile inside the country.  In September, he led street protests against the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims.

On April 2, when the State Department announced its $10 million reward for Saeed, it said the bounty had "everything to do with Mumbai and his brazen flouting of the justice system."

Saeed responded to the announcement of the bounty by publicly taunting the U.S. government.  "I am here, I am visible," said Saeed on April 4.  "America should give that reward money to me."

"I will be in Lahore tomorrow.  America can contact me whenever it wants to," said Saeed.  He also expressed surprise that the U.S. did not know where he was, offered to face charges in an American court, and said America had "gone blind" because of its hatred of Islam.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner reacted to Saeed's taunts by stressing that the reward was for information leading to his arrest or conviction, not his location.

"We all know where he is," said Toner.  "Every journalist in Pakistan knows where he is."

Toner said it was unfortunate that Saeed was free to give press conferences, but that the U.S. hopes "to put him behind bars" and is seeking information that would "give the Pakistani government the tools to arrest him."

The $10 million bounty makes Saeed among the top-five most-wanted on the U.S. terrorism list; al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is worth a $25 million reward.  The U.S. also offered up to $2 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed's brother-in-law, who is the deputy leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct052012

Accused Terrorist Abu Hamza en Route to US

Abu Hamza in 2004. Bruno Vincent/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, the man authorities said tried to set up a terrorist training camp on American soil, is finally on his way to stand trial in the U.S. after an eight-year delay.

Hamza, along with four other suspected terrorists, will fly to the States in the custody of U.S. Marshals, British officials told ABC News just hours after the defendants lost a last ditch appeal to the British courts. The officials said there had been "dreadful weather" but they still have "every intention to get them airborne tonight."

"There is great relief here that these men who have used every opportunity to delay and frustrate extradition will soon be on their way to face justice in U.S.," one British government source told ABC News.

An indictment against Hamza, the one-eyed and hook-handed former imam at the Finsbury Park mosque in London, was unsealed after his arrest by British authorities in 2004. It accused Hamza of a litany of terrorism-related crimes including his alleged role in what turned out to be a deadly hostage-taking operation in Yemen. It also said Hamza had tried to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and was accused of providing material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The four other suspects, Adel Abdul Bary, Khalid al-Fawwaz, Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan, are also facing terrorism-related charges.

Together, the group had put up fierce legal opposition to extradition and had argued they had human rights concerns about the conditions they would face in U.S. prisons. The U.S. government first requested Hamza's extradition when he was picked up by British police in 2004.

The U.S. Embassy in London said in a release it was "pleased" with the U.K. court's decision to extradite the group and said the move marked "the end of a lengthy process of litigation."

"The U.S. Government agrees with the ECHR's findings that the conditions of confinement in U.S. prisons -- including in maximum security facilities -- do not violate European standards. In fact, the Court found that services and activities provided in U.S. prisons surpass what is available in most European prisons," the embassy said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

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

Thursday
May032012

Osama Bin Laden Letters: Al Qaeda Leader Frustrated at Impotence

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An analysis of newly declassified letters found in Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound shows that the late terror leader was frustrated at his own inability to control the violent jihadi movement he helped create, especially when it came to regional affiliates of al Qaeda.

Bin Laden was angry at his "seemingly inability to exercise control" over regional actors whose attacks often claimed Muslim lives, which bin Laden believed hurt the reputation of al Qaeda in the Muslim world, according to an analysis conducted by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. The Center recently posted the original Arabic-language notes on its website.

"Rather than a source of strength, bin Laden was burdened by what he viewed as the incompetence of the 'affiliates,' including their lack of political acumen to win public support, their media campaigns and their poorly planned operations which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Muslims," the CTC's analysis says. "He was at pains advising them to abort domestic attacks and… instead focus on the United States, 'our desired goal.'"

American officials have repeatedly said that the core of al Qaeda, formerly led by bin Laden and now headed by his old deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been considerably weakened in recent years, highlighted by the death of bin Laden himself at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs last May. But National Intelligence Director James Clapper said as recently as this January that the terror organization's affiliates, most prominently in Yemen and Somalia, have emerged as some of the greatest threats to the American homeland.

According to the CTC, before bin Laden's death, the senior leadership in al Qaeda was split on how to deal with affiliates. Some wanted to distance themselves completely from any group that acted in al Qaeda's name without first consulting them. Another side believed it was important to include the affiliates into al Qaeda's cause regardless of some of their more questionable operational choices. Bin Laden himself, the CTC says, made up a third party: the one who simply wanted to keep the communication lines open so he could urge restraint, "without granting formal unity with al Qaeda."

Zawahiri appears to have ignored bin Laden's concerns once he took the reins of al Qaeda, as he was the one to formally announce an alliance between core al Qaeda and the domestically-violent Somalia-based terrorist organization al-Shabaab.

The documents also show direct communications between bin Laden and several top terror suspects, including American-born Adam Gadahn and the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, the CTC said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr042012

Suspected Pakistani Terrorist Scoffs at $10 Million US Bounty on Him

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The terrorist suspect who allegedly masterminded the 2008 militant attacks on Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people including six Americans fired back at the U.S. Tuesday after learning a $10 million bounty had been placed on his head.

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the Pakistani-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, said that the bounty made public in the State Department's "Rewards for Justice" website was due to advice he gave Islamabad not to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that were closed following the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers by coalition war planes last November.

Saeed says he wants proof that he is leading any terrorist activities and claims Washington wants to stop Pakistanis from supporting him by attempting to silence him.

Following the Mumbai attacks, Saeed was put under house arrest for six months, but a Pakistani court determined that there was not enough evidence to prosecute him.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the $10 million bounty for Saeed's capture and conviction is about "justice being done."  Nuland said those who kill Americans overseas are not exempt from punishment.

The Obama administration probably can't expect much help from Islamabad in this matter since the Pakistanis believe Washington is overstepping its bounds.  India still says Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible for the three-day siege in Mumbai and it came under the direction of Saeed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar222012

French School Shooter Was on US No-Fly List

Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A senior U.S. official has confirmed to ABC News that Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old suspect in three French terror attacks, was on the FBI's "no-fly" list, and said that French authorities would be aware that the U.S. had placed Merah on the list as a terror risk.

Just hours after a special forces raid in which Merah died, France's foreign minister said there were legitimate questions about how Merah was able to launch three attacks in which seven people died even though Merah had been on law enforcement's radar ever since a late 2011 trip to Pakistan.

"I can understand questions about whether there was a failure on the part of intelligence services," said Alain Juppe. "This should be looked into." A spokesman for Francois Holland, President Nicolas Sarkozy's chief rival in upcoming elections, called for an investigation into what he termed a "failure" by law enforcement.

After Merah was cornered by French special forces in a five-story apartment building in Toulouse on Wednesday, he told negotiators that he took credit for the three separate terror attacks, and said he had filmed them in hopes of placing the footage on the Internet. He also said that he had been to Pakistan for jihadi training, claimed a link to al Qaeda, and said he had launched the attacks to avenge the deaths of children in Gaza and the presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

In attacks on March 11 and 15, a gunman on a motorcycle shot and killed three paratroopers and wounded a fourth. All the soldiers who died were of North African descent. On March 19, a lone gunman on the same model bike and using the same Colt .45 killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. Three other students were seriously wounded.

Merah allegedly told negotiators that he had chosen the school as a target after failing to locate another soldier. French officials said Wednesday that Merah had planned to launch another attack that day on a specific soldier and two policemen.

French special forces raided Merah's home at 3 a.m. local time Wednesday, evacuating all other residents of the apartment building. Merah said he would surrender when dark fell, but then did not. He threw a Colt .45 out the window, but remained heavily armed with several automatic weapons and a store of ammunition. After a siege lasting 32 hours, and a series of explosions that were meant to unnerve Merah, a squad raided his apartment. At the end of a long gun battle, Merah died of a single shot to the head.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant said that Merah, who had a prior criminal record for petty offenses, was interviewed after returning to France from Waziristan, Pakistan, a region known for Taliban-linked terror training camps, in late 2011. Merah, a French national of Algerian descent, said he had traveled to Waziristan as a tourist. Gueant said Merah produced vacation photos to prove it.

According to French media, a neighbor of Merah's had complained to police in 2010 after Merah allegedly made her son watch al Qaeda decapitation videos and declared himself a mujahideen.

The U.S. no-fly list is maintained by the FBI and contains the names of individuals who are not permitted to fly into or out of the United States because they are perceived to pose a risk. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that two U.S. officials had confirmed that Merah was on the list.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar012012

Terrorist Pleads Guilty at Gitmo, Sentenced to 19 Years

John Moore/Getty Images(GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba) -- Majid Khan went from working for a Virginia electronics firm to becoming a terrorist assigned to conduct a wave of 9/11-style attacks on the U.S.

But before he could carry out his mission, Khan was caught and now he will spend at least 19 years in prison after copping a plea deal on Wednesday before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay.

In exchange for a lesser sentence, Khan must provide "complete and accurate information in interviews, depositions and testimony wherever and whenever requested by the prosecutors" about other terrorist suspects.

Khan, a Pakistani citizen, was in Virginia when the Pentagon came under attack on Sept. 11, 2001.  He then decided to join al Qaeda by traveling to Pakistan where he met with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, now a detainee at Gitmo.

In addition to being a courier for al Qaeda, Khan was prepared to conduct terrorist activities in the U.S., including poisoning water reservoirs and blowing up fuel tanks under filling stations.

Apprehended in 2003, Khan pleaded guilty Wednesday to five war crimes, including murder, attempted murder and spying.  If he decides not to cooperate with prosecutors, his sentence will be extended to 25 years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Officials: Al Qaeda Bombmaker Not Killed in Awlaki Strike

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(SANA'A, Yemen) -- Al Qaeda bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri was apparently not killed in the drone strike in Yemen last week that killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, say both Yemeni and U.S. officials, despite initial reports that he may have died with the two al Qaeda leaders.

A senior U.S. official told ABC News that while it was initially believed -- based on Yemeni sources -- that al-Asiri was among those killed by Hellfire missiles, they now know it was not him.  Yemeni officials have also now told ABC News that al-Asiri was not killed in the strike.

Al-Asiri, a 29-year-old Saudi, is believed to have constructed both the "underwear" bomb used in the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas 2009 and the bombs in last year's printer bomb plot.

His fingerprint was found on the bomb allegedly packed into the underwear of Umar Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to bring down Northwest 253 over Detroit.  The two printer bombs discovered last November included toner cartridges packed with explosives, and circuitry taken from cellphones.  The bombs were shipped via UPS and FedEx to the United States from Yemen, but were intercepted en route in Dubai and Britain.

The chief target of Friday's drone strike, radical American-born cleric al-Awlaki, was a major al Qaeda figure who U.S. officials say inspired numerous terror plots against the United States.  A senior U.S. official told ABC News the United States had been tracking the high-profile jihadist for some time and had just been waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

President Obama said in an announcement Friday that al-Awlaki's death was a "major blow" to al Qaeda's most operational affiliate, the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and that the successful operation against him was a tribute to the intelligence community.

In 2010, al-Awlaki was declared a "specially designated global terrorist" and became the first U.S. citizen ever to be placed on a White House-approved list for targeted killing.  He nearly met his fate shortly after Navy SEALs killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in early May, when a drone strike hit the convoy in which he was traveling but barely missed him.

Earlier this year, America's chief counter-terrorism official Michael Leiter called him and AQAP "probably the most significant risk to the U.S. homeland."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep302011

US-Born Radical Cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki Killed

ABC News(SANA'A, Yemen) -- Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born, Yemen-based radical cleric and al Qaeda recruiter who's tied to several terror attacks, was killed in Yemen overnight, ABC News confirmed Friday.

A senior U.S. official told ABC News the U.S. had been tracking al-Awlaki for some time and had just been waiting for the perfect moment to strike.  A Yemeni official said al-Awlaki was killed in the south of the country along with an unknown number of al Qaeda confederates.

Al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, has long been of interest to American law enforcement authorities because of his apparent ties to several of the 9/11 hijackers.

The AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) operative has also been linked to the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas that left 13 people dead and wounded more than 30 others, the attempted Christmas Day "underwear" bombing of Northwest Flight 253 in 2009, and the unsuccessful Times Square bombing in New York last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun132011

Treasure Hunter Searches for bin Laden's Body

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Treasure hunter Bill Warren salvages history from shipwrecks, but he has a different sort of treasure in mind for his next quest -- he is now seeking to find the remains of Osama bin Laden in the north Arabian Sea.

"It is the most exciting and maybe dangerous project," Warren, 67, told ABC News of his latest mission.

After the United States proclaimed that bin Laden was killed in a Pakistani compound on May 2 and that DNA tests verified his identity, his body was placed in a weighted bag and buried at sea. But photos of the corpse of the then most wanted man on earth were never publicized -- which some say breeds skepticism.

"I want to prove, one way or the other that he is, in fact, dead," Warren said.

Over the past 30 years, Warren, an entrepreneur and sunken-treasure hunter from California, says he has discovered 150 wrecks and recovered loot that totals several million dollars. Brushing off skeptics, he has attempted to uncover legendary wrecks such as the San Francisco Xavier, which sank in 1705, and a Spanish caravel called the Trinidad dating back to the mid-1500s, according to media reports.

"If we are successful and find him with sonar and recover him with a remote-operated vehicle, we'll recover the body in the bag and take photographs, video, and a DNA test -- maybe of his hair or his beard."

Warren is still not entirely sure how bin Laden's DNA will be confirmed from what he potentially may recover, but wonders if a Bin Laden family member might confirm the DNA to bring an end to his quest for proof.

"I know his family lives in Arabia," he said.

Funded by money from associates, Warren says this hunt could cost nearly $1 million.

"There is still a $25 million reward that no one has collected, and the reward says dead or alive, well, if -- in fact -- he is dead, then I could collect the $25 million reward. Why not?"

Unfortunately for Warren, the reward is no longer being offered. Though this was explained to Warren, he insisted that he's going to continue his hunt.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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