The Toronto Star has obtained documents from an intelligence cache of a dead Somali al-Qaida leader revealing detailed plots against Western and Jewish targets, the newspaper reported Wednesday. The videos and reports show that the besieged Islamist group al-Shabaab hasn't given up its 'international operations,' despite tremendous pressure from a joint African military offensive and infighting among the group's remaining leadership.
"Our objectives are to strike London with low-cost operations that would cause a heavy blow amongst the hierarchy and Jewish communities," says the document labeled "International Operations," discovered on the dead body of leader Fazul Abdullah Mohammed.
"These attacks must be backed with a carefully planned media campaign to show why we chose our targets to refute hypocrites, clear doubts amongst Muslims and also inspire Muslim youth to copy."
The report lays out specific plans to attack London hotels, the prestigious Eton College, and London's largest Jewish neighborhoods. East African embassies in Kenya's capital Nairobi, and the kidnapping of Sudan's ambassador stationed there, are also listed as viable targets. London's Summer Olympics this year was not mentioned, despite British caution over a plot.
The call to inspire local Muslims to join in attacks, as well as the unclear authorship of the documents, raises questions about the continued viability of the plots and the involvement of other al-Qaida branches.
Mohammed, who was indicted in the U.S. for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, functioned as a key link between al-Qaida central and al-Shabaab. His autobiography, posted to a jihadi website in 2009, showed that he was also highly critical of the African group and believed that they were unjustly attacking civilians.
Originally from the Comoros Islands, he was shot dead by Somali government troops after an American raid killed Osama bin Laden, making him the third major al-Qaida leader slain in six weeks in 2011. The U.S. Department of State had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture or conviction.