|Rashid Rauf||Rashid Rauf||al-Qaeda||Britain||British-Pakistani||In Jug||20060813||Link|
|British national of Pakistani origin who was arrested in August 2006 in connection with a plot to bomb trans-Atlantic flights|
|Rashid Rauf||Jamaatul Furqaan||India-Pakistan||20060825||Link|
|Ousted UK ambassador leaked US intelligence|
|[WashingtonExaminer] Leaked U.K. diplomatic cables critical of President Trump have led Britain’s ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, to announce his departure from Washington earlier than expected. But the story is not yet concluded.|
According to one current and one former U.S. government official speaking on the condition of anonymity, Darroch repeatedly leaked classified U.S. intelligence information, including highly classified information, to a journalist for a U.S.-based media outlet. The sources are consolidated by the reaction my related inquiries have received from other government officials.
These leaks are unrelated to the diplomatic cables which sparked Trump's anger and Darroch's departure.
Still, one source says that the U.S. government was so alarmed by Darroch's leaks that it launched an official investigation to find the source of the information. That source described the leaked intelligence as "very sensitive," and suggested that exigent U.S. security concerns motivated the investigation. That source says that non-U.S. government derived records showed the ambassador and journalist exchanging messages on a continuing basis. The source emphasized that these communications were not derived from U.S. government actions.
A second source, a career government official, described the leaks as "unprecedented."
The Washington Examiner has been unable to confirm how long any investigation continued or whether it has since been suspended. But concern inside the U.S. government over the leaks was significant.
One of the sources said that the ambassador repeatedly transmitted highly classified U.S. originator-control intelligence information to the journalist. ORCON intelligence, as it's called in the intelligence world, is closely held and carefully distributed. At least some of this information was classified at the "Five Eyes" alliance classification level, meaning it was distributed by the U.S. only to Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. Some intelligence may also have been classified at the U.S.-U.K. only level. Such intelligence is transmitted only on the condition of established protocols and the assumption it will be closely held.
The implications here are thus significant for two reasons.
While there is no indication that Ambassador Darroch was targeted as an investigative subject, even if incidental to Darroch, any investigative attention towards a British ambassador will raise eyebrows. Five Eyes protocols prohibit intelligence monitoring of allies. While this rule is occasionally bent, its malleability is tempered by the need to sustain shared trust.
Conversely, were the ambassador of America’s closest ally found to have leaked highly classified U.S. intelligence, it would undercut the trusting relationship of the two closest allies.
Yet it must be said that this risk is not new.
While U.S. and Britain retain the closest and most successful intelligence relationship of any two nations (near-symbiotic between the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters), sensitive leaks in media have occurred repeatedly in both directions across the Atlantic.
Following the May 2017 suicide bombing of a concert in Manchester, England, U.S. media leaks of British intelligence led Britain to temporarily suspend the sharing of certain intelligence material with the U.S. government. At the time, Trump described those leaks as "deeply troubling" and said that Prime Minister Theresa May was "very angry." In 2006, British intelligence officials were similarly enraged by U.S. action against al Qaeda operations officer, Rashid Rauf, at the culmination of an investigation into a plot against transatlantic passenger aircraft departing Britain.
Still, for both nations there is perhaps some solace here. Darroch has announced he will leave his post once a successor is appointed.
The White House and Justice Department declined to comment. As of publication the British Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.
|Shukrijumah dead in Pak shootout|
He's been on the Burg radar since 2002.
On Saturday, the authorities finally caught up with Adnan Shukrijumah, al-Qaeda's chief of global operations who had a $5 million (£3.2 million) bounty on his head. Shukrijumah, 39, died in a raid by Pakistain military on a compound in South tribal area. He had been hunted down and killed.
US authorities had him on their most wanted list since 2010, while the justice department had charged him with ordering an attack on the New York subway. The same indictment links him to a plot to blow up shopping centres in Manchester, while he has also been implicated in attacks on the London Underground and to trains in Norway.
Shukrijumah's role in al-Qaeda was to choose the targets and then recruit the to carry them out. The attacks on New York, London and Manchester were thankfully thwarted.
Confirmation of his death came from a Pakistain senior army officer. "The al-Qaeda leader, who was killed by the Pakistain army in a successful operation, is the same person who had been indicted in the United Stated," he said.
While born in , Shukrijumah, 39, had a better insight into the West than perhaps any other al-Qaeda operative, including even its founder . He had grown up in the US, his family moving to Brooklyn when he was a teenager in the Eighties and then to Florida in the Nineties, giving Shukrijumah a familiarity with America that allowed him to move largely unnoticed. He was the only senior al-Qaeda leader with a green card.
It is reported he was a regular traveller to the Caribbean and an occasional visitor to London before he went on the run in the weeks prior to the 9/11 attack.
Federal authorities in the US believe Shukrijumah oversaw a panel with two other senior al-Qaeda leaders that hatched attacks from their base in Pakistain. One of his fellow plotters was Rashid Rauf, the Birmingham-born al-Qaeda commander, who had also ed a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners using liquid bombs. Rauf was killed in in 2008 in North Waziristan; Saleh al-Somali, the third member of the panel, was killed a year later in another drone strike.
Security services accuse Shukrijumah of involvement in a number of planned atrocities, including the plot to blow up a Manchester shopping centre in 2009. A dozen students were but none charged due to lack of evidence. Some of the suspects had been watched by MI5 agents as they filmed themselves outside the Trafford Centre on the edge of Manchester, the Arndale Centre in the city centre, and the nearby St Ann's Square. Police round up the alleged plotters after they were overheard discussing dates, understood to include the Easter bank holiday, one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.
Had it been successful, the attack would likely have been the worst in the UK. "We had to act," an intelligence source said at the time.
A year later on July 7 2010, Shukrijumah was charged by the US justice department with "an al-Qaeda plot to attack targets in the United States and United Kingdom". Two other men indicted in New York -- Abid Naseer and Tariq ur Rehman -- had previously been arrested on suspicion of terrorism over the Manchester plot.
Shukrijumah was charged with "providing and conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda; conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction; assisting the receipt of military training; committing and attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries; and using firearms in relation to the same offences".
The foiled attack on the new York subway, using a different cell, was described by the attorney general at the time as "one of the most dangerous" since 9/11.
Federal prosecutors said Shukrijumah had also recruited three men to carry out attacks on the London Underground as well. Details of that remain scant.
In the US, he had not amounted to much. His father, a scholar born in Guyana in South America, had been at a mosque in Brooklyn until he moved the family to Florida. Shukrijumah went to a local college before getting a job selling used cars.
His mother Zurah Adbu Ahmed , described him as a "kind, loving, caring boy", but admitted he had been angered by the excesses of American society including "drugs, alcohol, a love for sex, and clubs". She added: "That doesn't make him a terrorist."
On Saturday in a pre-dawn raid, Pak helicopter gunships swooped on Shukrijumah's hideout. He died in a , the most senior al-Qaeda leader killed by the Pakistain military. Intelligence officials confirmed that five people captured were Shukrijumah's wife and four children.
|A View From London: Preventing the Next Mumbai|
|It is almost two years since terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba traveled to Mumbai, India, and carried out a string of attacks on hotels, cafes, a Jewish center and other civilian targets. The horrific footage of those attacks spread around the world and raised obvious questions: Would it happen again -- and if so, where?|
In the past week that question appears to have been answered. Increasingly credible reports have emerged claiming that Predator drone attacks in Pakistan have killed a number of people planning Mumbai-style attacks in Western European cities. This fits with the increased number of alerts and heightened threat levels across Europe in recent weeks. Last weekend the British Foreign Office changed its threat level to "high" from "general."
And there is another element of the story that suggests its authenticity: Two British citizens are among those reportedly killed in the Pakistan drone strikes, along with several German nationals.
Lashkar-e-Taiba certainly has links to the United Kingdom, the Western center of jihad. A comprehensive report published in July by the Centre for Social Cohesion, "Islamist Terrorism: the British Connections," revealed that 5% of the Islamists convicted of terrorism-related offenses in Britain over the past 10 years have links to the group. What is striking is the ambition of the plots they have been involved with.
Shehzad Tanweer, one of the suicide bombers who attacked the London transport system in July 2005, was associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba. So were British-born Omar Sheikh, convicted in a Pakistani court for his role in the killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and Rashid Rauf, the suspected ringleader of the 2006 trans-Atlantic airline plot (himself reportedly killed in a missile strike in Pakistan two years ago).
A further five men with links to Lashkar-e-Taiba have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the U.K. They include Dhiren Barot, the head of a U.K.-based terror cell that planned a series of attacks against major targets including financial buildings, and Omar Khyam,
It is also significant that once again the source of this latest plan appears to have been Pakistan. In 2008, then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown said three-quarters of the serious terror plots being aimed at Britain originated in Pakistan. The head of MI5 said last month that this figure now stands at 50%, but this reflects the troubling rise in activity in Somalia and Yemen, not a decreased threat from Pakistan.
Pakistan's ability to export security problems around the world -- as the Times Square car bomb reminded us -- continues to grow. The man who placed that bomb set the timing device at "7:00," but it was a 24-hour timer that should have been set at 19:00 hours (which was when he wanted it to blow). Only that mistake stopped the killing and wounding of countless people.
Announcements from American and British authorities are of questionable usefulness.
DOUGLAS MURRAY is director of the London-based Centre for Social Cohesion.
|Home Front: WoT|
|US officials link Shukrijumah to New York plot|
|Current and former counter-terrorism officials of the United States have linked Adnan Shukrijumah, one of the most wanted persons, to thwarted plot to bomb the subway system in New York City last year, authorities said.|
The officials said Shukrijumah, top al Qaeda operative, met with one of the would-be suicide bombers in a plot that Attorney General Eric Holder called one of the most dangerous since the 9/11 attacks. In Brooklyn, federal prosecutors have named Shukrijumah in a draft terrorism indictment but the Justice Department was still discussing whether to cite his role.
Some officials feared that the extra attention might hinder efforts to capture him. The involvement of Shukrijumah shows how important the (subway bombing) plot was to al Qaeda's senior leadership. Intelligence officials believe Shukrijumah is one of the top candidates to become al Qaeda's next head of external operations, the man in charge of planning attacks worldwide.
The counter-terrorism officials discussed the case on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak about it. Shukrijumah, 34, has eluded the FBI for years. The Saudi-born operative studied at a community college in Florida, but when the FBI showed up to arrest him as a witness to a terrorism case in 2003, he already had left the country. The US is offering $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Intelligence officials started unraveling the subway plot last year, when US intelligence intercepted an electronic mail from an account that al Qaeda had used in a recent terrorist plot, officials said. The mail discussed bomb-making techniques and was sent to an address in Denver, setting off alarms within the CIA and the FBI from Islamabad to the US.
Najibullah Zazi and two friends were arrested in September 2009 before, prosecutors said, they could carry out a trio of suicide bombings in Manhattan. Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay have pleaded guilty and admitted planning to detonate homemade bombs on the subway during rush hour. A third man, Adis Medunjanin, awaits trial. A fourth suspect, known as Ahmed, traded the emails with Zazi, who was frantically trying to perfect his bomb-making recipe, the officials said.
The US wants to bring the Pakistani man to the US for trial on charges that are not yet public. The CIA learned valuable information about al Qaeda and its operations from Ahmed. The officials in Pakistan have also arrested a fifth person, known as Afridi, who worked with Ahmed, the officials said. The FBI and the US attorney's office in Brooklyn had no comment.
The US officials told The Associated Press about how the men hooked up with al Qaeda. The new account provides a rare glimpse into the recruiting process. The trio's lengthy odyssey took them from their homes in Queens to the mountainous tribal areas in northwest Pakistan. The prosecutors said the men, motivated by their anger at the war in Afghanistan, travelled to Peshawar in the summer of 2008 to fight against the US forces.
Before splitting up, the men stayed at the house of Zazi's uncle. Zazi remained in Peshawar while Ahmedzay and Medunjanin headed into Afghanistan where they hoped to join the fight against the Americans, they said. But Ahmedzay and Medunjanin never made it. They were stopped at a roadblock and briefly detained by the police who were suspicious of their Western looks and their US passports.
The two men talked their way out of the bind, however, and the police never contacted the US about it, the officials said. Undeterred, the men regrouped in Peshawar and were recruited to meet an al Qaeda facilitator at local mosque in Peshawar. While al Qaeda was eager to recruit Americans, the group was also deeply suspicious of the trio and wanted to make sure they were not US spies.
Once they passed that initial test, Ahmed drove them to North Waziristan and delivered them to a rudimentary terrorist camp. The three received weapons training, but al Qaeda had bigger plans for the men than the Afghanistan front line. Salah al-Somali, then the head of external operations, and Rashid Rauf, a British national linked to a 2006 jetliner bomb plot, explained to the three men that they were more useful as bombers in the US.
It was at that camp that the US officials believe Ahmedzay, and perhaps the other two men, met Shukrijumah. In 2004, then attorney general John Ashcroft called Shukrijumah a clear and present danger to the US. Abu Zubaydah told US authorities that Shukrijumah was among the most likely candidates to attack the US or Europe. The trio completed about two weeks of training and left the camp with the promise of returning. But only Zazi made the trip back to Waziristan to take a course on explosives.
In early 2009, Zazi flew to New York and moved to Denver, armed with bomb-making notes. Unlike the Sept 11, 2001, attacks they chose the target, not Osama bin Laden. The emails that tipped off US intelligence triggered "Operation High Rise," an FBI investigation that had to come together within days. Agents scrambled as Zazi sped toward New York on September 9, armed with about two pounds of the powerful explosive.
He was stopped on the George Washington Bridge, but authorities failed to find the explosive material (TATP) stashed in a bag in the trunk. Spooked after the traffic stop, Zazi gave the TATP to Ahmedzay, who flushed it down the toilet. That week, the FBI raided the homes of all three friends, bringing a swift end to the plot.
|Home Front: WoT|
|Guilty plea over NYC subway plot|
|A New York man has pleaded guilty to terror charges in connection with a plot to set off suicide bombs in the city's subway system. Zarein Ahmedzay admitted conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and providing support to al-Qaeda, in a plea entered in a court in New York. |
US officials have called it one of the most serious threats since 9/11.
Ahmedzay, 25, originally entered a not guilty plea after his arrest in January. He was picked up with another classmate, Adis Medunjanin, who is facing similar charges.
Prosecutors say the three were planning an attack on city subway lines last September under the direction of al-Qaeda that would have been similar to the 2005 attacks on public transit in London, which killed more than 50 people.
Prosecutors have said Ahmedzay, Zazi and Mr Medunjanin all travelled to Pakistan in 2008 to look for terrorism training.
At the Brooklyn hearing, Assistant US Attorney Geoffrey Knox said the plotters had met two senior al-Qaeda operatives who ordered them to carry out the suicide bombings. Mr Knox identified the leaders as Saleh al-Somali and Rashid Rauf, both of whom were killed in Pakistan over the past year.
|TNR: We cannot defeat Al Qaeda Without Securing Afghanistan|
The novel details of the case were sobering. Few Americans, after all, were expecting to be terrorized by an Al Qaeda agent wielding hair dye. But it was perhaps the least surprising fact about Zazi that was arguably the most consequential: where he is said to have trained.
In August 2008, prosecutors allege, Zazi traveled to Pakistan's tribal regions and studied explosives with Al Qaeda members. If that story sounds familiar, it should: Nearly every major jihadist plot against Western targets in the last two decades somehow leads back to Afghanistan or Pakistan. The first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was masterminded by Ramzi Yousef, who had trained in an Al Qaeda camp on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Ahmed Ressam, who plotted to blow up LAX airport in 1999, was trained in Al Qaeda's Khaldan camp in Afghanistan. Key operatives in the suicide attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000 trained in Afghanistan; so did all 19 September 11 hijackers. The leader of the 2002 Bali attack that killed more than 200 people, mostly Western tourists, was a veteran of the Afghan camps. The ringleader of the 2005 London subway bombing was trained by Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The British plotters who planned to blow up passenger planes leaving Heathrow in the summer of 2006 were taking direction from Pakistan; a July 25, 2006, e-mail from their Al Qaeda handler in that country, Rashid Rauf, urged them to "get a move on." If that attack had succeeded, as many as 1,500 would have died. The three men who, in 2007, were planning to attack Ramstein Air Base, a U.S. facility in Germany, had trained in Pakistan's tribal regions.
And yet, as President Obama weighs whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, the connection between the region and Al Qaeda has suddenly become a matter of hot dispute in Washington. We are told that September 11 was as much a product of plotting in Hamburg as in Afghanistan; that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are quite distinct groups, and that we can therefore defeat the former while tolerating the latter; that flushing jihadists out of one failing state will merely cause them to pop up in another anarchic corner of the globe; that, in the age of the Internet, denying terrorists a physical safe haven isn't all it's cracked up to be.
These arguments point toward one conclusion: The effort to secure Afghanistan is not a matter of vital U.S. interest. But those who make this case could not be more mistaken. Afghanistan and the areas of Pakistan that border it have always been the epicenter of the war on jihadist terrorism-and, at least for the foreseeable future, they will continue to be. Though it may be tempting to think otherwise, we cannot defeat Al Qaeda without securing Afghanistan.
|Militant groups in Punjab|
|The Taliban hostage-taker arrested after a brazen attack on the headquarters of the army on Saturday is believed to be a member of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an Al Qaeda-linked group based in Punjab.|
Here are some facts about some of the major groups in Punjab.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) is one of the most notorious Al Qaeda-linked groups with roots in the province. It also has forged strong ties with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) operating in the Tribal Areas. A senior leader of LJ, Qari Muhammad Zafar, appeared before a group of journalists in South Waziristan last week along with new TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
Zafar carries a $5 million reward from the US on his head for his suspected involvement in a bomb attack on the US consulate in Karachi. LJ emerged as a sectarian group in the 1990s targeting member sof the Shia community and later graduated to more audacious attacks, such as the truck bombing of Islamabad's Marriott Hotel last year in which 55 people were killed, as well as an assault on a Sri Lankan cricket team in which seven Pakistanis were killed. Six members of the team and a British coach were wounded.
LJ was outlawed in Pakistan in August 2001. LJ members are also involved in violence in Afghanistan. A security official told Reuters about two dozen Taliban linked to LJ and two other groups, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and a splinter faction of Jaish-e-Muhammad, were suspected to be behind several attacks in Punjab in recent months.
Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan is a pro-Taliban anti-Shia group based in central Punjab. The group was banned in 2002 but officials say its members were suspected of involvement in attacks in the province in recent months, including the burning to death of seven Christians on suspicions of blasphemy in Gojra in August.
Jaish-e-Muhammad is a major group with links to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It was banned in Pakistan in 2002 after it was blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001. The group was founded by firebrand cleric Maulana Azhar Masood shortly after his release from an Indian jail in exchange for 155 passengers of an Indian airliner hijacked to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in December 1999.
The group focused its fighting on the Indian part of divided Kashmir but later forged links with Al Qaeda and the Taliban and was suspected of involvement in several high profile attacks including the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 and an assassination attempt on former president Pervez Musharraf. Rashid Rauf, a British militant suspected of being ringleader of a 2006 plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic, was also a Jaish member. Masood was arrested by Pakistani authorities shortly after the group was banned but security officials say he has disappeared since 2005.
Jaish fighters are also involved in violence in northwest Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan.
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) was founded in 1990 to fight Indian rule in Kashmir. It was blamed for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November last year that killed over 170 people. LT was also blamed for the late 2001 Indian parliament attack and was also banned in Pakistan in 2002.
Seven LT-linked militants are being tried for suspected involvement in the Mumbai assault but India is insisting Pakistan prosecute its founder, Hafiz Saeed, who India says was the attack mastermind. A UN Security Council committee last year added Jamaatud Dawa, a charity headed by Saeed, to a list of people and organisations linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
|Rashid Rauf 'training dozens of British terrorist recruits in Pakistan'|
|Pakistani officials have warned that Rashid Rauf, the terrorist linked to the trans-Atlantic airline bomb plot, bas been involved in grooming two dozen British recruits to carry out new attacks. |
Pakistan intelligence said that Rauf, who mysteriously escaped from police custody and was then reported killed by a missile fired by US drone last November, used the name Khalid to recruit fellow Britons for training at a camp in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
One official said that Rauf was involved with a group of Arab and Uzbek terrorists in a camp in Matta Cheena village in south Waziristan.
Rauf is said to be a key lieutenant of the group's leader, explosives expert, Abu Nasir. "He is an explosive expert who has effectively devised methods of explosives using easy-to-get ingredients that are virtually undetectable or can raise no alarms for authorities," said the intelligence source.
"We know that they are planning a very serious attack and it is very important for us to arrest all of them.
"If they are able to strike it is going to give a bad name to Pakistan once again for no reason."
Intercepted emails and text messages between Pakistan and the UK had indicated Rauf's involvement under the name Khalid after the authorities decrypted the communications.
British security and intelligence officials have said they believe Rauf may have survived the missile strike and could be planning further attacks.
A US informant called Bryant Neal Vinas, who has admitted planning a suicide attack, was arrested by the Pakistanis last November and said he had met Rauf shortly before the missile strike.
He gave information that has led to the arrest of two cells allegedly planning attacks during a European summit in Brussels and last Easter in Manchester.
Monitoring of the movements of Rauf's relatives has continued despite claims that he has been killed.
Security officials in Pakistan said that Rauf's wife and in-laws, who are based in the city of Bahawalpur, a dusty backwater in the far south of the country's dominant Punjab province, had made no formal request to the government to collect his remains.
"His family [Rauf's in-laws] are under constant surveillance," said one counter-terrorism official. "So we know that no-one went to receive the body, no-one made contact with anyone in Waziristan to ask about the body."
Other Pakistani sources have said they believe Rauf is probably dead and a senior interior ministry official in Islamabad said "he [Rauf] is not on any list of wanted persons".
Rauf was arrested in Bahawalpur in 2006, where he had married into the city's foremost Islamic extremist family, which was then headed by Masood Azhar, founder of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist group.
Maulana Suhaib, Rauf's brother-in-law and a teacher at the madrassa attended by the 28-year-old, said Rauf had adopted a fresh identity.
"We were told his name was Khalid, a rich businessman and very religious," he said. "We did not know that his actual name was Rashid Rauf. Even on the marriage certificate he identified himself as Khalid."
Another brother-in-law, Suhaib Ahmed said the family had not received confirmation of his death from the government, an important obligation under Islamic tradition. "We have had no contact, and have no source of information, to verify it," he said. "There are many games being played. We can't understand what the game is, and what its objectives are," said Mr Ahmed.
"The body has not come to us. If he was killed, then the government must give us the body.
"My sister [Rauf's wife] demanded, through the media, that we must be given the body, so we can bury him in the proper Islamic way." Mr Ahmed said.
A relative on Rauf's side of the family also dismissed reports of his death.
|Jaish-e-Mohammad build huge Pakistan base|
|Jaish-e-Mohammad ("army of Mohammad"), which is linked to a series of atrocities including an attack on the Indian parliament and the beheading of the American journalist Daniel Pearl, has walled off a 4.5 acre compound just outside the town of Bahawalpur. Pakistani authorities have turned a blind eye to the new base, in the far south of Punjab province, even though it is believed to have been built to serve as a radical madrassah - Islamic school - or some kind of training camp. |
British security sources believe Rauf helped organise the July 7 and 21 attacks in 2005. He was born in England to Pakistani parents and brought up in Birmingham where his father was a baker. It was in Bahawalpur that Rauf was arrested in 2006, before his mysterious and still unexplained escape from custody.
Bahawalpur is a backwater, a dusty, dirt-poor town which is swelteringly hot in summer. Its isolation allows it to function quietly as a centre for ideological indoctrination and terrorist planning, a jihadist oasis surrounded by parched fields. Once mentally prepared, promising students are dispatched to camps for training jihadists in warfare, in the north west of the country.
Aside from Rauf, two other two other notorious British-Pakistani militants had connections with Jaish: Shehzad Tanweer, one of the 2005 bombers of the London transport system; and Omar Sheikh, who was found guilty in Pakistan of the murder of the American journalist, Daniel Pearl. It emerged last week that British intelligence believes that Rauf is still alive, despite claims that he died in a US missile attack in Pakistan's tribal area in 2008.
Bahawalpur and the surrounding districts also serve as a safe resting place for jihadists battling in Afghanistan, including, it is believed, for British-born Muslims who go to fight there. They have respite from the threat of US spy planes that patrol the tribal area in the north west, killing militants with deadly missile strikes. In Bahawalpur alone, there may be as many as 1,000 madrassas, many of which teach a violent version of Islam to children, who are mostly too poor to go to regular school.
Jaish has its headquarters in Bahawalpur and it openly runs a imposing madrassah in the centre of town, called Usman-o-Ali, where it teaches its extremist interpretation of Islam to hundreds of children every year. The group was banned by Pakistan back in 2002 and designated by the US as a "foreign terrorist organisation". The Sunday Telegraph was prevented from entering the madrassah, which also has a mosque that should be open to everyone.
Jaish's new site, about 5km (3 miles) out of Bahawalpur at Chowk Azam, on the main road to Karachi, is much larger, with evidence that it could contain underground bunkers or tunnels. Surrounded by a high brick and mud wall, little can be seen from the road. However, The Sunday Telegraph discovered that it has a fully-tiled swimming pool, stabling for over a dozen horses, an ornamental fountain and even swings and a slide for children all belying claims by the group and Pakistani officials that the facility is simply a small farm to keep cattle. There were signs of construction activity.
A man at the site, who gave his name as Abdul Jabbar, who wore a visible ammunition vest under his shirt, would not allow The Sunday Telegraph to enter, and suggested it was time for the newspaper to leave. "We're not hiding anything. Nothing happens here. We have just kept some cattle for our milk," said Mr Jabbar, who sported the long hair that is typical for Pakistani and Afghan Taliban. A man on a motorbike followed as The Sunday Telegraph drove away.
The new facility is known to the regional administration and, with a hefty army cantonment in Bahawalpur, the military would also be aware. It has deeply worried some Pakistani security personnel. One described it as a "second centre of terrorism", to complement the existing Jaish madrassah in the middle of town. The officer, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that Jaish should never have been allowed to buy the land. He said they initially acquired 4.5 acres, then they forced the adjacent landowner to sell them another 2 acres. "It's big enough for training purposes," he said. On the inside walls, there are painted jihadist inscriptions, including a warning to "Hindus and Jews", with a picture of Delhi's historic Red Fort, suggesting they will conquer the city.
Bahawalpur was where Rashid Rauf fled in 2002, after being implicated in the murder of his uncle in the UK. His family friend Ghulam Mustafa, a radical imam, ran a madrassah, the Dar-ul-Uloom Medina. He married Mr Mustafa's daughter, and his wife and children are still believed to live there. No-one was willing to talk about Rauf in Bahawalpur. Attaur Rehman, the deputy head of the Dar-ul-Uloom Medina madrassah, which is run out of an unmarked building in a back street and is closely associated with Jaish, said: "We don't say anything about this, I won't talk to you. I'm fed up with you media people."
Publicly, Pakistani officials insisted that the new compound is innocuous and even that there is no extremist threat in Bahawalpur. Mushtaq Sukhera, the Regional Police Officer for Bahawalpur, the most senior police officer for the area, admitted that the Usman-o-Ali madrassah in the middle of Bahawalpur "belongs to "Jaish" . He said that Jaish also owned the facility out of town. "But there's nothing over there except a few cows and horses," he said.
"No militancy, no military training is being imparted to students (at Usman-o-Ali)," said Mr Sukhera. "There is no problem with militancy (in south Punjab), there's no problem with Talibanisation. It's just media hype." Others tell a different story. Somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000 men from southern Punjab are currently fighting jihad in Afghanistan or Pakistan's north western tribal area, according to independent estimates, said Ayesha Siddiqa, an analyst who has studied the area.
They are often known as the "Punjabi Taliban", whereas the main Taliban forces are ethnic Pashtuns, the group that straddles north west Pakistan and Afghanistan. "These guys [in Bahawalpur] aren't connected with a war, they don't have any ethnic affiliation with Afghanistan," said Dr Siddiqa. "These guys are purely ideologically motivated. That makes it much more difficult to crack them during investigation or to break their will to fight."
|British mosque has been recruiting ground for 20 years|
|A mosque frequented by the leader of the airline plot terrorist cell has been a recruiting ground for extremists for more than 20 years. The Queen's Road mosque in Walthamstow, northeast London, where Abdulla Ahmed Ali met his associates, is controlled by the ultraorthodox Tablighi Jamaat. Intelligence services around the world believe that Tablighi's fundamentalism makes some of its followers easy prey for terrorist recruiters. |
Tablighi Jamaat, if you've been asleep since 2001, is a Pak proselytizing organization that recruits impressionable yoots for al-Qaeda and similar worthy causes.
Two decades ago the same mosque was hosting talks by followers of Omar Bakri Mohammed, one of the first Islamic clerics in Britain to preach jihad.
The learned Omar was the founder of al-Muhajiroun, recall, which split off from Hizb-ut-Tahrir because they weren't radical enough. Hizbutt is another jihad recruiting and propagandizing organization.
The disclosure of the mosque's history indicates that, despite the focus on the Pakistan-based terrorist threat, the roots of Islamist radicalisation are deeply embedded in Britain. The men involved in the fertiliser bomb plot of 2004, the July 7 and July 21 bombings of 2005 and the airline plot were all radicalised in Britain. Their initial contacts with the al-Qaeda network were through fundraisers and recruiters in Britain and Rashid Rauf, who has been identified by security sources as a key link man in Pakistan, was from Birmingham.
Verily, the links between Britain and Ye Olde Countrie are tight. The fellows are born and bred in Land of Hope and Glory, but they speak Urdu or Pashto and they travel to Lahore for religious education and to marry their first cousins.
Ed Husain, of the Quilliam Foundation, an anti-extremist think-tank, said the first contact with radicals for many young Muslims was at British colleges and universities. "In the 1990s it was Arab political refugees, not Pakistanis, that helped radicalise many British Muslims," he said. "Pakistani militants provide training for would-be violent Islamists. But they go out radicalised and willing -- it is folly to think that visits to Pakistan are points of first contact with extremism."
Why's it folly? They maintain Pak cultural islands and the itinerant Arabs have about the same effect in Britain they have in Pakistain: they're members of the Islamic Master Race.
Ali, who will be sentenced for the airline plot next week, was heavily influenced by a suspected al-Qaeda facilitator who is known to the authorities. That man, who has not been arrested and lives freely in East London, claims that he has no links to terrorism and is a Tablighi missionary. But long before the Walthamstow mosque came under Tablighi influence, it hosted "study circles" led by Bakri Mohammed's followers. I attended one of those meetings as a reporter in August 1989 and heard young men decry the evils of drink, discos and "free intermingling of the sexes".
They'll address the free intermingling of the races later...
One called Kysar, then aged 19, told me: "Islam isn't a religion where you can only adopt part of it. You have to adopt the whole Islamic viewpoint on society. There can be no compromise with the divine system revealed to us."
"If you're not part of the problem you're part of the solution!" or something along those lines.
That the airline bomb plot was based in Walthamstow has shocked residents of this northeast London suburb.
They're shocked! Shocked!
The area prides itself on having a mixed and well-integrated community and, unlike in many areas of East London, there are no ghettos.
Sounds like a multicultural herd of sheep, dunnit?
But the plot has revealed that Islamist extremism is deeply rooted in elements of the large Muslim population. Many of the people whom Ali tried to recruit to his terrorist cell were his Walthamstow school friends and his bomb factory was an upstairs flat in the busy Forest Road. In the flat, Ali -- who had lived almost all his life in Walthamstow -- experimented with bottle bombs and liquid explosives and recorded martyrdom videos. Bombmaking components were disposed of in the rubbish bins across the road in Lloyd Park, once the garden of the philanthropist William Morris.
Meanwhile the multicultural sheep were placidly grazing, congratulating themselves on their placidity...
Afzal Akram, the local councillor whose brief includes "community cohesion", insisted that Queen's Road mosque itself was not part of the problem.
"No, no! Certainly not! Why, I go there myself!"
"It's got nothing to do with the imams or the mosque -- some of my friends and family pray there, I've been there myself," he said.
"Sometimes I even give the sermons!"
"None of the mosques here have been used to preach extremism. Individuals may have met at particular mosques and individuals may live within a stone's throw of the mosque. But I wouldn't put two and two together."
"You might come out with four, and that wouldn't be a good thing."
Mr Akram says that extremism locally is little more than youngsters "mouthing off" and "spouting conspiracy theories". But the Government is spending £90,000 in the borough to teach "leadership" to young Muslims.
That way they'll be able to organize their friends and families into Stürm brigades.
The Queen's Road mosque declined to comment, despite approaches made through the Muslim Council of Britain. However, two years ago Tablighi Jamaat set up a website, to publicise its plans for a giant mosque next to the Olympic site, on which it said: "We do not teach an extremist line, but we clearly can't speak for every single one of those who have ever attended our mosques -- there are several thousand people at our weekly gatherings." They added: "We utterly refute any links to terrorism or terrorists."
"Oh, yasss! We're ever so multicultural! Here! Feel my fleece! Want some grass?"
One community leader, who is involved in interfaith work in Walthamstow, said the Muslim community did not recognise that extremism was a problem. "I don't want to add fuel to the fire, but the problem is within the Muslim community and its attitude to the extremists," he said. "You speak to the community elders and they smile and say, 'It's not a big problem, if we ignore them they'll go away'. That seems a dangerous attitude to me and the wrong one to take."
|Airline Bomb Plot Reveals Links to Pakistan|
|[Asharq al-Aswat] A plot to blow up at least seven transatlantic aircraft using liquid bombs was masterminded from Pakistan, intelligence services said as more details emerged Tuesday of the complex planned attacks.|
British police were forced to go to extraordinary lengths to build their case against the men who prosecutors say were hoping to cause more deaths than the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The trial, which ended in the convictions of three British Muslims on Monday, was peppered with evidence that members of the London-based gang were frequently in communication with figures linked to Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
"In terms of Al-Qaeda involvement, there is a large part of this plot that has been thought through or invented in Pakistan," one senior counter-terrorism source said after the trial.
The jury were shown intercepted emails in which Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 28, and Assad Sarwar, 29, asked Pakistani contacts for advice on building bombs in drinks bottles to detonate on flights over the Atlantic.
Prosecutors believe the absence of evidence establishing these links had led to a jury in the men's first trial in 2008 failing to reach a verdict that they had plotted to blow up the planes, forcing a second trial to be held.
Ken MacDonald, the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions, said: "We felt that this was a strong case from the start, unfortunately the jury in the first trial could not agree.
"The additional evidence that we had (in the second trial) were the emails," he told BBC radio.
The emails were obtained by a court order in California requiring Yahoo! to disclose them.
Reports said the men's main point of contact was Rashid Rauf, a British-born Muslim who fled to the tribal areas of Pakistan in 2002 after the murder of his uncle and developed strong links with Al-Qaeda.
Intelligence services also reportedly believe he was a key contact of the gang in the 2005 bombings of the London transport system which killed 52 people.
The trial heard that Ali had already been identified as a dangerous radical when he was stopped at London's Heathrow Airport in June 2006 on his return from a trip to Pakistan.
Customs officials found a large quantity of batteries and a high-sugar powdered drink in his luggage. Both are ingredients for homemade bombs.
He was not arrested, but police broke into his flat one night and installed hidden cameras and microphones.
Over the next few months, they watched as Ali and his colleagues experimented with injecting drinks bottles with a mixture of the explosive liquid hydrogen peroxide which they planned to carry on to flights and detonate with a bulb filament.
But the biggest counter-terrorism operation ever mounted in Britain, costing 35 million pounds (57 million dollars, 40 million euros), was reportedly almost thrown into jeopardy by US intervention.
Fearful that the gang were close to carrying out the plane bombings, the US authorities put pressure on Pakistan to arrest Rauf in 2006.
Andy Hayman, a senior police commander who worked on the case, said in the Times newspaper that his detention "hampered our evidence-gathering and placed us in Britain under intolerable pressure."
British police were confident that they had the gang completely under surveillance, but Rauf's arrest forced them to bring forward the arrests in Britain when they would have preferred to wait longer.
Rauf escaped from police custody in Pakistan in mysterious circumstances in 2007.
US officials said they believed they killed him in an attack with an unmanned drone but his death has never been confirmed.
The discovery of the plot in 2006 sparked chaos at airports, as authorities worldwide immediately introduced draconian regulations limiting the amount of liquids that passengers can carry on to flights.
Many of the rules remain in place.
|Airline terror trial: US 'undermined British investigation'|
|The police investigation into the al-Qaeda airline bomb plot was undermined after the US pressurised Pakistan to arrest the suspected ringleader Rashid Rauf, it has emerged|