A North Carolina man is charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a designated terrorist organization, the al-Nusrah Front, also known as al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI). Basit Javed Sheikh (also known as Abdul Basit), a 29-year-old man originally from Pakistan and living in Cary, N.C., used the social networking site Facebook to advocate for Syria becoming a center for "global jihad."
According to the complaint, Basit listed the Facebook page of "Jabhat al-Nusrah" as a "friend" on the networking site. He posted several photos and videos glorifying jihad being waged by al-Qaida fighters in Syria. A post showed a man holding a machine gun with the caption, "Many are those who have chosen to live in order to die, but I have chosen to die in order to live."
Basit reposted a letter from another Facebook page with the caption, "Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri's orders the annulment of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shaam that al-Baghdadi declared and specifies the jurisdiction of the Islamic State of Iraq to be Iraq and of Jabhat al-Nusrah to be Syria." Ayman Al-Zawahiri is the current leader of al-Qaida.
He posted a video link of mujahideen planning a military-style attack in Syria with the caption, "Rejoice Oh Allepo, Jabhat Al Nusra Jihad in Syria." He also posted a link to a video titled, "Execution of 10 Assadi by the mujahid of Jabhat Al-Nura." The "10 Assadi" alludes to "10 soldiers fighting with the Syrian Regime under President Bashar al-Assad against Jabhat al-Nusra," the complaint said.
Above the picture of "a room full of firearms, ammunition, and military equipment as well as several [jihadi] flags on the wall," Basit wrote: "This picture is an example of the [sic] how united the different groups of Mujahideen are in Syria—contrary to the kufaar propaganda. They work and plan together and respect each other's leadership. Do not believe kufr news about our Mujahideen ever!!!!" "Kufaar" or "kufr" means a non-Muslim or infidel.
Basit posted a propaganda video that included images of President Barack Obama and U.S. soldiers. A portion of the speech said, "Let their blood run in the streets of Falujah (city in Iraq), Let their blood run in the mountains of Afghanistan, Let the Mujahideen kill them and destroy them one after the other, Allah give victory to the Mujahideen is what you want to ask, Allah give victory to Shaykh Usama (Rahimullah) is what you want to ask…" He also posted videos of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, Anwar al-Awlaki, U.S.-born radical extremist, Omar Hammami (also known as Abu Mansoor Al-amriki) and Adam Gadahn.Basit confided in an undercover FBI informant whom he befriended on Facebook that he had traveled to Turkey in October 2012 "to help his Syrian brother's suffering." He said he had met with members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but they "were only interested in money." Basit said "he would return to Syria if he knew the brothers were true because he didn't know who to trust right now and every group had its own agenda." Basit was arrested on his way to Lebanon in early November.
A man who claims to be a senior South American counterterrorism official is charged in New York with attempting to provide material support to the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah. In exchange for millions of dollars, Dino Bouterse agreed to let large numbers of alleged Hizballah operatives establish a permanent base in Suriname. From there, the Hizballah terrorists could launch attacks, including against American targets.
Bouterse hails from an influential political family – his father is the nation's president – and he claims to have served as Commander of Suriname's counterterrorism unit. He was willing to use his political connections to provide fraudulent Surinamese passports and visas to enable the purported Hizballah operatives to travel undercover from South America into the United States Bouterse also allegedly contemplated providing heavy weapons to the alleged operatives.
An earlier indictment in August charged Bouterse with conspiring to import cocaine to the United States. He was also charged with carrying and brandishing a rocket launcher. Bouterse was arrested in Panama in late August and extradited to the U.S. the same month.
According to that indictment, Bouterse and co-defendant Edmund Quincy Muntslag met at a Suriname government office in June with DEA informants posing as members of a Mexican drug cartel. There, Bouterse and Muntslag agreed to ship drugs from Suriname to the United States. Bouterse allegedly showed the informants a rocket launcher and a kilogram of cocaine.
About a month later, Bouterse and Muntslag sent 10 kilograms of cocaine on a commercial flight flying out of Suriname as a test run. The cocaine was however intercepted by law enforcement officials after the flight departed Suriname.
Later in July, Bouterse met with one of the DEA informants in Europe and discussed hosting 30-60 Hizballah members. They could use Suriname for training and operations and also establish a Hizballah cell there to "act as a kind of personal armed force."
"We're going to need maybe 10 people who will stay permanently in Suriname. People that we can depend on and call up every second, any time…we need tough guys," the indictment says Bouterse told the informant. He added that "inside the country…we need a little fort that we can depend on. And we can call them at any time."
He also discussed opening bank accounts and purchasing property for the alleged Hizballah operatives in Suriname to facilitate their getting visas to travel to the United States. He said that everything was ready for the Hizballah members and that some "toys" (weapons) would be available for inspection upon their arrival in Suriname.
If convicted on all counts, Bouterse could face a prison sentence of 40 years to life.
Israel's military is pointing to a series of Facebook postings by a Palestinian man to show that he wanted to die attacking Israelis.
Anas Alatrash was shot and killed last Thursday at a checkpoint near Bethlehem. Soldiers say Alatrash, 23, got out of his car and charged at soldiers with a knife. He was shot after ignoring warnings to stop.
The shooting angered Palestinians, who demanded an investigation. His father claimed the shooting was unprovoked: "They stopped my two sons at the checkpoint and they were waiting to be checked. Then the soldiers came to the car and opened the door and my son tried to get out and they shot him."
Dozens who attended Alatrash's funeral in Hebron threw rocks and firebombs at nearby troops.
But the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) point to Alatrash's own words, posted on Facebook in the days preceding the shooting, to show his intent.
First, he posted an image containing a Quranic passage that says "We belong to God, and to him we shall return." It's a verse often used after someone has died, the IDF explained: "The fact that Alatrash posted it two days before he died strongly suggests that he was preparing to take his own life."
Then, just a few hours before the checkpoint clash, Alatrash posted another message that the IDF says shows the young man was preparing to die: "God, take me to you. Your servants have been making it hard on me."
The statements fit with a man who charged armed soldiers with a knife. "Like many Palestinian terrorists before him," Alatrash wanted to die trying to kill Israelis, the IDF says.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed an anticipated interim deal between the United States and its allies and Iran which will grant the Islamic Republic relief from crippling global economic sanctions.
No such relief should be offered without Iran dismantling the elements of its nuclear weapons program, Netanyahu said after meeting Secretary of State John Kerry. Netanyahu said he stressed to Kerry that "no deal is better than a bad deal. And the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years."
According to London's Telegraph, which cited an anonymous Senate aide privy to White House and State Department briefings, Iran would freeze its nuclear program for six months, cease enriching uranium to near-weapons grade 20 percent levels and "turn its existing stockpile of this material into harmless oxide." Iran could still enrich uranium to 3.5 percent for use in nuclear power plants. In exchange, some sanctions would be eased and some frozen assets released.
U.S. officials say those concessions could be reversed if Iran failed to live up to its commitments.
An unnamed senior administration official told CNN that the package is "limited, targeted and reversible," acknowledging that, "Sanctions have been instrumental on Iran coming to the table, to change the strategic calculus of Iran."
To Netanyahu, any easing of those sanctions must be exchanged for actions which inhibit Iran's ability to build nuclear weapons. He called the current proposal "a mistake of historic proportions" which "must be rejected outright."
But according to a report Friday in the Daily Beast, the Obama administration actually began easing its enforcement of some sanctions months ago, in hopes of creating a diplomatic opening. Since Hassan Rouhani's June election as Iran's president, the United States "has all but stopped the financial blacklisting of entities and people that help Iran evade international sanctions," write reporters Eli Lake and Josh Rogin.
The sanctions have cut Iran's oil exports from about 2.5 million barrels per day to about 1 million barrels per day. Using front companies, Iran is selling another 150-200,000 barrels per day on the black market through front companies, Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the Daily Beast. That's 35 million barrels since Rouhani was elected.
"There's no earthly reason to do this," Netanyahu told the Washington Post. "Not only the force of the existing sanctions but the threat of the future sanctions was the great impetus on [Iranian leadership], and now they could just take that away."
Update, Nov. 7: The Charity Commission now says that Viva Palestina should not have been removed from the nation's registry. A spokeswoman blamed a computer error and says Viva Palestina "remains a charity and its online record was corrected overnight."
Britain's Charity Commission has scrapped Viva Palestina, a "humanitarian aid" charity tied to Hamas, form its charities register. The move came last month with the entry "it does not operate," said a report in the Third Sector.
Viva Palestina, also known as Lifeline for Gaza, has led several convoys in support of the Hamas-led government in Gaza. The charity was founded in 2009 by MP George Galloway. It came under the commission's scrutiny in July after failing to file required financial statements for the fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012.
An IPT investigative report into the charity revealed that the Viva Palestina campaign is more about providing legitimacy to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, than about providing aid to needy Palestinians. For instance, in March 2009, Galloway defied international sanctions to personally deliver a bag of cash to a prominent minister in the Hamas government. Viva Palestina leaders have openly supported the destruction of Israel.
In September, the commission ordered Galloway's spokesman, Ronald McKay, to provide financial statements for Viva Palestina. But McKay said that he was not a trustee of the charity and couldn't provide the information despite his close association with the charity. McKay has traveled alongside Galloway on several of the aid convoys.
"At no point in the three years for which accounts should be filed was I a trustee or official of the charity," McKay told the Third Sector. "I was a sympathizer and I've helped out, and I've attempted to act as an honest broker between the commission and the trustees, and the commission appears to have deemed me a trustee as a result."
An earlier inquiry into the charity's fundraising activities found that it had exaggerated the amount of humanitarian aid it had raised for Gaza, saying the charity had raised only a fifth of the £1 million it had claimed.
The Viva Palestina UK website formerly listed several international affiliates of the charity in the United States, Canada, Indonesia, Turkey, Italy, Arabia, and the Gulf. But its website address (www.vivapalestina.org) no longer works and instead directs individuals to the Malaysia chapter website (http://vpm.org.my/). Viva Palestina UK continues to operate its Twitter and Facebook accounts.
A war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh convicted Ashrafuzzaman Khan and a second man Sunday on 11 charges related to the kidnapping and murder of 18 intellectuals at the end of the country's 1971 war of independence.
Khan is a past secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and a leader of the group's New York chapter. His name was removed from the ICNA-New York web page last month but he remains listed as the northeastern contact for the North American Imam's Federation.
The special Bangladesh court issued a death sentence by hanging for Khan and co-defendant Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, who lives in the United Kingdom. Both men were tried in absentia, represented by court-appointed counsel.
"Justice will not be done if they are not awarded capital punishment," senior judge Obaidul Hassan said in court.
A parade of witnesses testified that Khan and Chowdhury led a band of gunmen who kidnapped doctors, professors and journalists in the waning days of Bangladesh's war to gain independence from Pakistan. The victims later were found in mass graves.
"They killed top professors, journalists and doctors to make the nation devoid of any talent," senior prosecutor M.K. Rahman said after the verdicts.
One survivor testified that he saw Khan and Mueen-Uddin when he was kidnapped, and heard them address each other by name. But it is unlikely that Khan, a naturalized citizen living in New York, will be sent back to Bangladesh to face his punishment. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Bangladesh.
"We are aware of reports that a US citizen has been sentenced by Bangladesh's war crimes court. We have nothing more to add," US embassy spokesperson Kelly McCarthy said.
Similarly, the United Kingdom does not extradite people wanted in other countries if the death penalty is involved.
ICNA was founded by South Asian Muslims in the United States, and its reading list emphasizes works by Jamaat-e-Islami founder Sayyid Abul 'Ala Maududi.
Maududi is considered an influential Islamist thinker who preached that Islam was not like other religions because it offers a "system encompassing all fields of living" including politics, economics, and legislation. Muslims, he wrote, "must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize all powers to the rule and make laws from those who do not fear God."
The tribunal has issued guilty verdicts against eight other people in connection with the 1971 killings. At least eight more people still face charges.
A founder of a radical Islamist website pleaded guilty Thursday to using the Internet to espouse jihadi attacks against Jewish organizations.
Yousef Mohamid Al-Khattab (a.k.a. Joseph Cohen), co-founder of the "Revolution Muslim" websites, pleaded guilty to using his position as leader of a radical Islamist website to place Jewish organizations, including a Chabad in Brooklyn, NY, "in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury."
Court records show that in March 2008 Al-Khattab posted a video to the Revolution Muslim website praising the "martyrdom operation" of a Palestinian who had attacked a Jewish school in Jerusalem killing eight students and injuring 11 more. The video referred to the attacker as an "Islamic warrior" who "slaughtered eight rabbinical students in Merkaz HaRav, which is a Yeshiva [Jewish religious school] the Zionist War Machine uses to train its religious soldiers."
Al-Khattab also praised the deadly November 2008 terrorist siege in Mumbai, where terrorists attacked multiple targets including a Chabad House. Six people were brutally murdered at the Chabad House, including the rabbi and his wife. Al-Khattab justified the attack saying the Chabad supported Israel.
In January 2009, Al-Khattab posted a video encouraging viewers upset with the conflict in Gaza to target Jewish Federation chapters in the U.S. and "deal with them directly at their homes." The video provided the names and addresses of three New York-area synagogues as well as the photo and map of a Chabad organization in Brooklyn. It showed images from a rally that included several Hasidic Jews supporting Israeli actions in Gaza. Above the video image was the text, "Do Not Let Orthodox Judaism Get Away from Murder in Ghaza." Under the image, Al-Khattab wrote, "Make EVERY attempt to reach these people and teach them the message of Islam or leave them a message from Islam."
Al-Khattab founded the Revolution Muslim website in 2007 along with Jesse Morton, also known as Younus Abdullah Muhammad, "to operate Internet platforms and websites to encourage Muslims to support Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and others engaged in espousing violent jihad." In June 2012, a federal judge sentenced Morton to 138 months in prison. Revolution Muslim administrator Zachary Chesser was sentenced to 25 years in prison in February 2011.
Al-Khattab faces a maximum of five years in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 7.
Newspapers in Israel and Turkey published three separate articles Sunday and Monday on severe economic and political problems facing the Hamas government in Gaza.
The three reports all point to the same root causes – a steep reduction in Iranian support after Hamas backed the uprising against Syrian dictator and Iran-ally Bashar al-Assad; and Egypt's demolition of smuggling tunnels into Gaza after the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian government was ousted in July.
Hamas, an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, had been closely aligned with President Mohamed Morsi's government and hoped his rise would harbor an era of prosperity for Gaza. But, as Avi Issacharoff writes in the Times of Israel, "Almost overnight, Hamas was transformed from being the ally of the biggest Arab state to its enemy."
Losing the tunnels took $230 million per month out of the Gaza economy, a Hamas official claims. Unemployment has soared above 40 percent. Hamas collects taxes on the smuggled goods, too, so the tunnels' closure cut into revenues used to pay government employees.
When Israel allowed more building supplies into Gaza, Hamas responded by digging tunnels under Israeli land, in hopes of launching attacks or kidnapping soldiers.
In two weeks, Gaza's version of the youth opposition group Tamarod promises to take to the streets to call for Hamas's removal from power. Hamas officials are spooked, Zvi Bar'el writes in Haaretz. There already is an enhanced security presence on the streets, and Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad even discussed assassinating Tamarod leaders.
Meanwhile, Israel's release of 26 Palestinian prisoners may be seen among Palestinians as a sign that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "can deliver, while the Gaza-based Islamic terror organization's position is worsening, both in the West Bank and Gaza," Issacharoff writes.
Iran's ties to Hamas are "close to total," Bar'el writes, adding that Iran blew off recent planned meetings with top Hamas officials.
None of the assessments envisions a Hamas defeat, though Bar'el says Abbas and Israel believe Hamas may one day "evaporate." But it also could lash out in a new wave of rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in hopes of drawing Israeli retaliation as a rallying point. Hamas has improved its arsenal and is holding onto M-75 rockets which can reach Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, Turkey's Today's Zaman indicates the relationship with Iran may be starting to thaw. And Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains a Hamas ally, hosting Khaled Meshaal earlier this month and offering aid for food and energy programs.
As if further evidence of Turkey's Islamist agenda is needed, the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch points to a recent article saying Turkey has become the focal point for Brotherhood deliberations and meetings following Egypt's crackdown on the movement.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stepped up to challenge "the foreign legitimacy" of Egypt's interim government after the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July, writes Mohammad Abdel Kader of the Al Arabiya Institute for Studies. The intervention followed weeks of protests which drew tens of millions of Egyptians angered by Morsi's emphasis on consolidating Islamist power at the expense of Egypt's crumbling economy and infrastructure.
There are reports that Turkey supplied the Egyptian Brotherhood with weapons, Abdel Kader writes, and he notes that a Turkish intelligence officer was arrested in Egypt.
Brotherhood officials from throughout the world met in Turkey at least twice since July and discussed strategies for coping with their failures in Egypt. They also discussed the effect the purge in Egypt would have on Brotherhood franchises in Tunisia, Sudan, Jordan and Algeria, Abdel Kader writes.
Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch notes that this is just the latest example of Erdogan's government's increasing embrace of the Brotherhood and its terrorist progeny, Hamas.
While the United States reduced its military aid to Egypt because of the transition, it recently agreed to a 10-year, $200 million counter-radicalization program in partnership with Turkey. IT aims to combat jihadist recruitment in hotspots including Yemen and Pakistan through education and vocational programs.
That prompted Daniel Pipes to quip that "American taxpayer dollars will help members of a non-violent extremist ideology to educate youth 'about the dangers of violent extremist ideologies.'"
Turkey is believed to have tipped off Iran to the identities of 10 Iranians meeting Israeli intelligence officials inside Turkey – meetings that likely involved information on Iran's nuclear weapons program.
In new court papers, federal prosecutors implicated slain Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a September 2011 triple homicide in Waltham, Mass. Tsarnaev and an accomplice allegedly slit the throats of three men and covered their bodies with marijuana after a falling out over a drug deal. FBI agents got to know of Tsarnaev's involvement in the murders during an interrogation of fellow co-conspirator Ibragim Todashev at his Orlando apartment in May. A martial arts fighter, Todashev suddenly turned violent upon being questioned about his links to Tsarnaev and was shot dead by a federal agent.
In their filing, prosecutors argued against providing Tamerlan's brother, and surviving Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, access to information, including investigative documents, related to the Waltham triple murder. Dzhokar Tsarnaev "might want access to the information now in order to prepare to defend against it," prosecutors said. They argued that "the government had already disclosed to Tsarnaev that, according to Todashev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in the Waltam triple homicide."
"Any benefit to Tsarnaev of knowing more about the precise 'nature and extent' of his brother's involvement does not outweigh the potential harm of exposing details of an ongoing investigation into an extremely serious crime, especially at this stage in the proceedings," the filing said.
Tsarnaev was charged in federal court in Boston with using a weapon of mass destruction in connection with the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured 200 others.