By EMERSON VERMAAT
October 16, 2012 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLinenews.org - CNN's Al-Qaeda specialist Peter Bergen, author of four interesting books, paid a visit to the Netherlands in September. He was there to give a book presentation on the Dutch translation of his latest book "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Osama bin Laden." He also gave an interview to the liberal Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad claiming that Al-Qaeda does not pose a threat any longer. Those times are over, he said.
Bergen is echoing Jason Burke (The Guardian) and Adam Curtis (BBC), two liberal British journalists. In August 2005, shortly after the terrorist attacks in London, Curtis claimed that "we dreamed up Al-Qaeda," we are fighting "a phantom enemy", and must "avoid a witch hunt against the whole Islamist movement." This is sheer nonsense, to put it mildly. One month later, Jason Burke said in an interview to NRC Handelsblad that Al-Qaeda leaders are just bluffing when they claim Al-Qaeda was behind the attacks in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005. "The attacks in Madrid were very different from previous strikes by Al Qaeda or militants acting in their style," he wrote in a 2004 book. This is not true. Attacking multiple targets almost simultaneously is very much in line with Al-Qaeda tactics. This is what happened on 9/11, in Bali (2002), Casablanca (2003), Madrid (2004) and London (2005).
Western intelligence services and intelligence experts now believe that the attacks in Madrid and London were not simply a matter of "home grown terrorism" alone. They were very much linked to Al-Qaeda, or as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair puts it: "It was obviously part of the Al-Qaeda network." Two members of the terrorist cell in London, Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer received terrorist training in Al-Qaeda/Taliban camps in Pakistan where the attacks were also planned. Both Khan and Tanweer were British citizens of Pakistani origin.
Why are U.S. drones targeting terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal areas if these people and their leaders would not pose a clear and present danger to Western security any longer? Are they targeting "a phantom enemy"?
Today's Islamists are, in fact, anti-Semitic and anti-Western Islamo-Fascists. Was once Nazism a phantom enemy, too?
U.S. drones also killed very dangerous Al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen who seek to conquer the whole country. One of them was U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki who was killed in 2010. He was directly linked to major terrorist plots in the United States and Britain such as the "Fort Hood Shooter," the Christmas Day "Underwear Bomber," the "Times Square Bomber," the "British passenger Plane plot" and the "Cargo planes bomb plot." Fortunately, most of these plots failed – thanks to the alertness of the intelligence and security services or just because of sheer luck. (The Nigerian underwear bomber failed to detonate his bomb and a courageous Dutch passenger also intervened on board that plane.)
Al-Qaeda planned major terrorist attacks in Barcelona, Spain, in January 2008, but the Spanish police arrested the members of this terror cell just in time. Anthony Frata, an American intelligence research specialist, decribes the "Post-9/11 Responses to Mass Casualty Bombings in Europe." As to the failed Barcelona plot, he points out: "The Taliban Movement of Pakistan, led by warlord Baitullah Meshud and allied to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for training this cell and declared that their overall objective was to target NATO member states operating in Afghanistan. Mehsud's targeting preferences also went beyong continental Europe. ‘Our main aim is to finish Britain, the United States and to crush the pride of non-Muslims… We pray to God to give us the ability to destroy the White House, New York and London. And we have trust in God. Very soon, we will be witnessing jihad's miracles.'"
What kind of miracle was this despicable man dreaming of? An atomic bomb, perhaps? I write in the past tense, "was he dreaming of." Fortunately, Mr. Mehsud was successfully targeted by a drone attack in August 2009 and subsequently died from his injuries. He was held responsible for the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. A September 2007 United Nations Report claimed that Mehsud was responsible for seventy percent of the suicide bombings in Pakistan. Many Muslims and their liberal apologists in the West want these successful drone attacks to stop immediately. They are dead wrong.
Al-Qaeda is not "a phantom enemy," they are fighting back instead
Bruce Riedel, a leading security and counter-terrorism expert and a former CIA officer who has advised four American presidents, rightly observes that eleven years after 9/11, Al-Qaeda is still a threat. Indeed, "it is fighting back." The group "remains intent on striking inside America and Europe." "Bin Laden's successor, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, is orchestrating a global terror network and communicating with its followers." (The first time I myself read about Osama bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri was in February and April 1996.) "A new Al-Qaeda franchise has emerged in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula where it is trying to provoke a war between Egypt and Israel," says Riedel. "The fastest growing Al-Qaeda operation is in Syria. Zawahiri ordered Al-Qaeda jihadists from around the world to go to Syria last February. They carried out seven attacks in March and at least 66 in June." "Al-Qaeda dispatched Chechen terrorists to Spain this year to attack Gibraltar. The Spanish unraveled the plot in August. Since 2009 Al-Qaeda plans to attack New York, Chicago, and Detroit have all failed due to good counterterrorism work, and good luck."
I can only confirm this. Each week I receive vast amounts of information on Islamic terror networks and Al-Qaeda. It seems that in many countries local judges, the police, law enforcement and intelligences agencies are hardly able cope with the proliferation of terror plots, a number of which are indeed linked to Al-Qaeda. In other countries, local authorities are no longer in control of the situation. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Mali and Indonesia are now facing a serious resurgence of Islamic radicalism and so-called Salafism which provides a fertile ground for Al-Qaeda and related groups. Al-Qaeda is now even in control of northern Mali.
Between 2003 and 2006, Al-Qaeda was responsible for thousands of "successful" suicide attacks in Iraq. Both Al-Qaeda and Iran had a common enemy: The United States and Britain and actually wanted to take over the whole country. As Tony Blair puts it: "Suppose we had not had Al-Qaeda and Iran as players in this drama, would it have been manageable? Without hesitation, the answer was yes." Iran, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are now intent on stopping Western interference in Afghanistan, once again killing tens of thousands of people. And most of victims are Muslims. These ruthless killers do not hesitate to bomb mosques as well.
Young Muslim immigrants and asylum-seekers in Europe are currently joining the jihad in Al-Qaeda's latest battle ground – Syria. One of them is an Iraqi named Khaled who lives on welfare in the Dutch city of Almere. He joined the Salafist "holy warriors" of "Jubhat (Front) Al-Nusra," a group closely affiliated with Al-Qaeda and excelling in suicide bombings and torture. Khaled was arrested last year by the Dutch police after the Security and Intelligence Service AIVD concluded from tapped phone and internet conversations that he planned to join Al-Qaeda and participate in the jihad in the Middle East. He was released after two weeks due to lack of evidence. One year later, however, he traveled to Syria and joined the jihadists in Aleppo. A picture was taken of him as he was reading the Quran with a kalashnikov on his lap and near a dead body. The AIVD warns that more young Dutch Muslims want to join the jihad in Syria and in other countries.
Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers quickly withdrew Khaled's residence permit, and quite rightly so.
France: Al-Qaeda is targeting the Jews
In France a Muslim convert named Jeremy Louis Sidney was involved in an attack on a Jewish grocery store in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles in September. Sidney, a former drug dealer with an Antillian (Caribbean) background who converted to Islam while he was in prison, was the leader of a terrorist cell that was planning new and spectacular attacks. When the police wanted to arrest him in Strasbourg on Saturday October 6, he opened fire on the police and was shot dead by them. They found a "martyr's testament" – the kind of document Muslim terrorists have made when they want "to die as a martyr." Stevens was even carrying this document in his pocket. That same day the French police arrested other terror suspects and found Al-Qaeda publications, 25,000 Euros cash money as well as a list of Jewish/Israeli targets in Paris and its vicinity. French prosecutor Francois Molins was quoted by "France24 International News." He described it as the biggest terror threat the country has faced since the deadly bombings carried out by Algerian terrorists in the 1990s. "The group had been plotting to mount attacks in France and to join up with other ‘jihadists' in Syria and elsewhere," Molins said. The profile of the suspects in custody was "much more dangerous than we initially assumed," he added.
France24 also quoted French president Francois Hollande. "Authorities had information there were French nationals with the hardline Islamists in northern Mali, Somalia and Syria, he said. He could not permit them to return to France with plans to launch attacks there."
Jews in France are now terrified. Last March, Mohammed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin, killed three Jewish children and a rabbi in a Jewish school in Toulouse in southern France. Merah had previously received terrorist training in Pakistan and was acting on behalf of Al-Qaeda. He, too, died in a shootout with the police.
Anti-Semitism is rampant in France, especially among Muslim immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. Al-Qaeda and other dangerous extremist groups are making inroads. It is not very different in Britain, once a great nation, and elsewhere in Europe. Anthony Julius, who published a leading study on anti-Semitism in England, writes that "a full 50 percent of anti-Semitic incidents on the European continent are connected to radical Islamic elements" and only 22 percent of the Muslims in Britain believe that the Holocaust happened "as history teaches." "The number of people of Pakistani origin with jihadist views is extremely large," writes John Arlidge in the Sunday Times. "Terrorism has a real life-threat to people in Britain. It has a pungency and urgency."
The killing of U.S. ambassador Stevens in Libya: an Al-Qaeda operation on the 11th anniversary of 9/11
Exactly eleven years after the 9/11 attacks an angry crowd of Muslims attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in eastern Libya, killing ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. This was not a spontaneous act in protest of the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" which sparked rage across the Muslim world. The attack in Benghazi was most probably planned and carried out by operatives linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). This was their way to "commemorate" the 9/11 attacks. It was also an act of revenge. Just one day before, on September 10, that is, bin Laden's successor Ayman Al-Zawahiri, released a video calling on jihadists to exact revenge for the death of Abu Yahya Al-Libi. Al-Libi, a very high ranking Al-Qaeda operative, was killed by a drone strike in Waziristan on June 5, 2012. Al-Libi was also a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which is closely affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
Former Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) detainee Sufyan Ben Qumu, who was released in 2007, was probably involved. He was also a LIFG member, but left the group and joined the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1998. He was captured shortly after 9/11. After his release in 2007, he was sent back to Libya, where Qadaffi released him in 2008. He later joined the uprising against Qadaffi as a Libyan rebel leader. In an article in Frontpage Magazine Joseph Klein quotes Matt Olson, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who said: "We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to Al-Qaeda or Al-Qaeda's affiliates, in particular Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb."
Al-Qaeda's failed plot to attack the New York subway system during rush-hour
Al-Qaeda also planned a major terrorist attack in the United States on September 11, 2009, the eighth anniversary of 9/11. Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant in New York, planned "a rush-hour attack on Grand Central and Times Square Subway Stations" – together with two other Al-Qaeda operatives.
It was at the end of August 2008 that Zazi traveled to Peshawar, a hotbed of Islamic extremism and close to the infamous tribal areas. He returned to New York by mid-January 2009. In Pakistan/Afghanistan, he had joined the ranks of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and was fighting against the United States. He also received instructions on how to make a bomb. "He agreed with Al-Qaeda officials to become a suicide bomber, and after returning to the United States he moved to Colorado," Erik J. Dahl from the Naval Postgraduate School writes. "Zazi found work as an airport shuttle driver, and at the same time began assembling the materials necessary for a bomb. On 8 September 2009 he rented a car and began driving to New York, where he and two others planned to strap explosives to their bodies, board trains at the Grand Central and Times Square Stations, and blow themselves up during the rush-hour."
But U.S. officials were aware of the plot. The Americans received a tip from British intelligence that Zazi was up to something. Dahl: "In 2009 British officials had intercepted e-mails from a British citizen, Abid Naseer, to an account registered to a man named "Ahmad." Ahmad, who officials describe as an Al-Qaeda facilitator in Pakistan, had also been exchanging e-mail with Zazi. Shortly before Zazi left Colorado for New York, he sent an e-mail to Ahmad, stating that ‘the marriage is ready.' This apparently signaled that the attack was imminent."
The FBI followed Zazi's car to New York. When he had arrived there on 10 September, authorities secretly broke into his car and searched his laptop. They discovered "nine pages of hand-written bomb making instructions." After a local imam had tipped Zazi off, the decision was taken to arrest him and his accomplices forthwith. FBI Director Robert Mueller later said that this was the first known instance since 9/11 that Al-Qaeda had successfully deployed a trained operative in the United States." Attorney General Eric Holder said that "were it not for the combined efforts of the law enforcement and intelligence communities, it could have been devastating. This attempted attack on our homeland was real, it was in motion, and it would have been deadly."
Even after the United States and Britain invaded Afghanistan in the Autumn of 2001, they failed to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda entirely. There are still training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan where angry Muslim males are being trained to become really dangerous terrorists. What will happen when all NATO forces will have left Afghanistan? Already did Al-Qaeda and the Taliban announce that they will take over that war-ridden country again. We must take them at their word.
It is a fact that after the departure of U.S. and British troops from Iraq both Iran and Al-Qaeda have stepped up their activities there. The number of Al-Qaeda jihadists and terrorist attacks attributed to them has doubled in 2011.
By far most successful terrorist attacks in the West were carried out by radicalized Muslim immigrants or radicalized Muslim converts. The same applies to most thwarted terror plots. There is no doubt that John Arlidge is right when he writes that in Britain alone "the number of people of Pakistani origin with jihadist views is extremely large." That is why immigration from risk countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa must be curbed at all cost.
Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands. In 2005 he published a Dutch study on Al-Qaeda – "De dodelijke planning van Al-Qaeda" ("Al-Qaeda's Deadly Planning"). Website: emersonvermaat.com.
NRC Handelsblad (Rotterdam), September 13, 2012, p. 18. ("Al-Qaeda's tijd loopt ten einde").
NRC Handelsblad (its monthly supplementary magazine), September 2005, p. 10. (Jason Burke: "Iedereen kan nu zijn Al-Qaeda beginnen"); Jason Burke, Al-Qaeda. The True Story of Radical Islam (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 271.
Adam Curtis, Creating Islamist phantoms, in: The Guardian (London), August 30, 2005, p. 18.
Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm. The Authorized History of MI5 (Londen: Allen Lane, 2009), p. 822, 823 (Mohammed Siddique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer and Al-Qaeda).
http://en.wikipedia.org.wiki/Anwar_al-Aulaqi (involvement in many plots).
Anthony Fratta, Post 9/11 Responses to Mass Casualty Bombings in Europe: Lessons, Trends and Implications for the Unites States, in: Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 2010, vol. 33, p. 377.
Bruce Riedel, A Stubborn Terror: Eleven years later Al-Qaeda is still a threat, in: Newsweek (international edition), September 17, 2012, p. 6.
Tony Blair, A Journey (London: Hutchinson, 2010), p. 467, 468 (thousands of suicide attacks in Iraq), p. 478 (Al-Qaeda, Iran and Iraq), p. 567 (Al-Qaeda and the London 7/7 attacks).
De Telegraaf (Amsterdam), October 7, 2012, p. 5 ("Heilige oorlog met uitkering"); NRC Handelsblad, October 1, 2012, p. 6 ("Terreurverdachte in Syrië gearresteerd").
Metro (France), October 8, 2012 ("Un djihadiste qui voulait ‘finir en martyr'"); De Volkskrant (Amsterdam), October 8, 2012, p. 5 ("Franse politie pakt terreurcel"); De Telegraaf, October 8, 2012, p. 7 ("Franse Joden in angst").
France24 International News, October 12, 2012 ("France charges, imprisons seven terror suspects: court source").
The New York Times, October 8, 2012 ("Radicalism Prompts Warnings in France").
Anthony Julius, Trials of the Diaspora. A History of Anti-Semitism in England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 535, 541, 542.
Martin Janssen, Al Qaida is link tussen Benghazi en Cairo, in: De Volkskrant (Amsterdam), September 2012, p. 30. (Martin Jansen is a Dutch Arabist living in Jordan); The Daily Telegraph (London), April 26, 2011 ("Wikileaks: Guantanamo detainee is now Libyan rebel leader"); Joseph Klein, Gitmo Alumnus Involved in Deadly Libya Attack, in: Frontpagemag.com, September 21, 2012; The Weekly Standard, October 3, 2012 ("Al-Qaeda Responsible for 4 Attacks on U.S. Embassies in September").
New York Daily News, April 12, 2010 ("Zazi, Al-Qaeda Pals Planned Rush-Hour Attack on Grand Central, Times Square Subway Stations").
Erik J. Dahl, The Plots that Failed: Intelligence Lessons Learned from Unsuccessful Terrorist Attacks Against the United States, in: Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, vol. 34, 2011, p. 633, 634 (Najibullah Zazi; also the quotes from FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder).