Monday, September 18, 2017

European Attacks Show the Difficulty in Tracking Soaring Terror Suspect Numbers

Three separate radical Islamic terror attacks took place Friday in Europe. The most serious was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) placed on a London underground train in the Parsons Green station which injured more than 30 people.

Witnesses spoke of hearing a "whooshing" sound and then seeing a fireball coming at them from a plastic bucket that was placed unattended on the floor of the rush hour train. The device's failure to completely detonate was credited with saving lives. "There is no doubt that this was a serious IED (improvised explosive device) and it was good fortune that it did so little damage," said UK Interior Minister Amber Rudd.

Two men, ages 18 and 21, are in custody. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Until the second suspect's arrest Saturday night, Prime Minister Theresa May raised the terror threat level from severe to critical, meaning that future attacks may have been imminent.

As the number of terror attacks in Europe increases, the question arises whether current counter terrorism strategies are working. Issues such as immigrant vetting, watch lists, and de-radicalization continue to be critical components that require, upon closer examination, changes. At least one of those components failed in each attack.         Read more in IPT News...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Barcelona Terror Imam - The Path From Prison to ISIS Soldier

In the wake of the horrific terror attacks in Barcelona that killed 15 people and injured as many as 120, including 7-year-old Julian Cadman, authorities are trying to understand how a group of young Moroccan men went from football teammates who occasionally smoked marijuana together to radical Islamic terrorists.
The man who has emerged as the leader of the group and most influential in their radicalization is the imam from the Annur Islamic mosque in Ripoll, a small Spanish town near the French border.
Abdelbaki Es Satty was hired by the Annur Islamic Community in 2016. But before that, authorities have learned, he was an inmate in the Spanish prison system, convicted in 2012 for smuggling hashish from Morocco into Spain. People who knew him then said that he was not religious and occasionally smoked marijuana. Then he met several al-Qaida members in prison, including Rachid Aglif. Also known as "The Rabbit," Aglif was serving an 18-year sentence for his part in the 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 190 people and injured more than 1,000.
It was there in prison where Abdelbaki Es Satty was believed to have been radicalized. Authorities from the Annur Islamic mosque said that they were unaware of Es Satty's criminal history and admitted that they did not properly vet him. They simply examined his knowledge of the Quran and felt that was sufficient.

They also seemed unaware that Es Satty became known to counterterrorism officials during an investigation into radical Islamic influences in the small seaside towns surrounding Barcelona. The investigation, dubbed "Operation Jackal," resulted in the arrest and conviction of five radical Islamists for attempting to send young men to Iraq to fight alongside ISIS.
So, two important themes in understanding radical Islamic terrorists are surfacing again, prison radicalization and someone "known to authorities." There is a third: Immigration. Following his release from prison, Spanish authorities attempted to deport Es Satty back to Morocco. An order for his expulsion from Spain was issued in April 2014 citing his criminal history as a narcotics trafficker. Spanish immigration law subjects any foreign national who is sentenced to a year or more in prison to deportation.

Es Satty argued that deportation violated his human rights and won an appeal.

He then was granted asylum, which gave him the right to travel throughout the European Union. He used this privilege to make several trips to Belgium, spending three months in a Brussels suburb called Vilvoorde in early 2016. That town has seen its share of radical Islamic influences, with as many as 30 young men leaving to fight with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Just after Es Satty left Vilvoorde, two coordinated terrorist attacks took place in Brussels that left as many as 35 dead and 300 injured. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Abdelbaki Es Satty became an imam at the Ripoll mosque after returning from Belgium and began to draw young men to the jihadi cause. The process took at least a year. Small groups met in a van, and sometimes in Es Satty's sixth-floor apartment. When group members attended the local mosque, they took precautions to mask both their radical beliefs and their intimate relationship with each other.

Two months before last week's the attacks, Es Satty told the mosque he was returning to Morocco.

In fact, Es Satty went to a house in Alcanar, a town 120 miles south of Barcelona. There, along with several others, he began to construct improvised explosive devices to be placed in vehicles as car bombs. They used gas canisters and a highly explosive substance made from acetone and hydrogen peroxide known as TATP.
This was the same substance that was used in the Brussels attacks.

On Wednesday August 16th, two days before the Barcelona attacks, an explosion rocked Alcanar, destroying the house where the bombs were being built. Authorities first thought it was the result of a gas leak but, upon investigation, forensic trace evidence of TATP was found. Several charred bodies also were found in the house.

A lone survivor, Mohamed Houli Chemlal, was taken in to custody by police. Authorities believe Imam Abdelbaki Es Satty was killed in the explosion.
It was a fitting conclusion for someone whose life traversed the path from common criminal to radicalized inmate to a religious leader who deceived the minds of the young men of Ripoll.

Prison radicalization, open borders, lax immigration laws and the all-too-familiar case of a terrorist previously "known to authorities" have come to the surface once again immediately following a terror attack.

At some point, authorities must focus on these three areas and come up with a strategy to tighten the loopholes that allow radical Islamic terrorists to thrive.

With ISIS's continued losses in Syria and Iraq, it has now turned its attention and remaining assets toward the West, inspiring and exhorting people to attack in their home countries. They really don't care how many plots are thwarted or how many young lives are wasted. Death is their goal.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for these latest attacks and has hailed the Barcelona terrorists as soldiers of the Islamic State and "Caliphate soldiers in Spain."

If that is so then we must treat them as such – enemy combatants whether captured or killed.

Anything less is both foolish and dangerous
Read IPT News...


Friday, August 18, 2017

Author Discusses the Challenges Posed by Radicalization

IPT Senior Fellow and Author Patrick Dunleavy discusses Islamic radicalization and the prospect of releasing radicalized inmates once their sentences are completed.

Listen to interview...

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Flawed Solution to Radicalization - Group Therapy for Terrorists

The latest example of a flawed strategy in dealing with imprisoned Islamic terrorists comes from the UK's Ministry of Justice which has embarked on creating "separation centers" that would "...have an individualized care and management plan which sets out realistic, achievable targets, while also taking into account the complex, ideological/political nature of some of the risks that need to be targeted."

                          In other words, group therapy for terrorists.
While the most positive news in the war on Islamic terrorism has come from military successes against ISIS in Mosul and Syria, the overlooked recent failures by authorities to effectively deal with home grown Islamists is a cause for growing concern.  Whether it is by downplaying the threat or attempting to come up with snappy-sounding strategies to deal with the growing list of suspected terrorists "known to the authorities," the West is struggling to reverse the tide of radicalization, particularly in the prison system.
And what does the new care and management plan include? Well, one element is developing "positive personal goals." This sounds good, until you consider that the personal goal of a jihadist is to kill infidels even if it means killing themselves as well. And the method prison officials would use to attain these positive personal goals is a "collaborative approach to expressing concerns and resolving disagreements."    What a bunch of gobbledygook.
Keep in mind that the type of inmates they are talking about include the likes of Michael Adebolajo, convicted in the brutal killing of British Army soldier Lee Rigby, and Anjem Choudary, the bigoted radical Islamic clergy who inspired countless attendees at his Finsbury Mosque to jihad, including ex-con "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid. Choudary was convicted of providing material support to the Islamic State terrorist organization.
And who will oversee the progress these coddled killers are making? According to the UK Ministry of Justice, there will be a panel of experts, "including a psychologist, a chaplain, and lawyer" who will review the inmate's progression (or regression) every three months. This sounds like making of a joke – you know, "A priest, a shrink, and a legal beagle go into a bar looking for a terrorist..." Only radical Islamic terrorism is no joking matter.
Read more in IPT News...

Friday, June 30, 2017

Allowing Terrorists to Re-Enter Prison is a Bad Idea

Edwin Lemmons arrested by FBI 2003
How did a former inmate with extremist views and convicted of firearm charges earn the ability to enter Virginia prisons as a religious volunteer and employee of the Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia?

Recent articles by the IPT and other news organizations have addressed the growing concerns regarding the upcoming release of over a hundred inmates convicted of terrorism related crimes. Experts have spoken on the lack of a bona fide strategy that will address the unique security issues presented when a terrorist is released. The need for post release specialized supervision programs is clear.

The one idea that should not be on the table is to allow them to re-enter prisons to speak with inmates as a religious volunteer. Yet this is exactly what has happened in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) for the last two years.
Read Full Story at IPT News...