28 March 2008

Transparency and mirrors in terrorism causing moral blindness

Reading about some of the information released in the Canadian terror trial that recently started, I ran across the name of the informant in the case, Mr. Mubin Shaikh.  Born and raised in Canada, he has a cultural affinity for it even after spending a couple of years living in Syria.  After returning from that time in Syria during 2002-2004, one of his friends was picked up on terrorism charges and the CSIS folks wanted to talk with him.  Here is how he approached it as seen in a CBC Interview with him by Linden McIntyre, 15 JUL 2006:

Mubin Shaikh: So what happened was I go to Syria 2002 to 2004. I come back in March 2004, and I read in the paper Mohammad Momin Khawaja is arrested on terrorism charges. I know the family very well. We grew up together. His father taught us when we were younger. And so we have a good connection with the family.

So what happened was I contacted CSIS. I phoned them and I said, "Listen, I know the family, I know this guy, Momin, is there some way that I can help, you know, give some information in that, look, I've grown up with him, you know, I don't know him to be like this or his brother, definitely not his family, like his parents are not extremists."

So they're like, "Oh, Momin Khawaja, first terrorism case, sure, we'll talk to you." The guy comes down, he was head of the unit supposedly. We met at Timmy's, and, you know, I'm wearing my pin, the Canadian flag and the Metro police pin, because I was also doing I guess you can call it ethno-cultural religious awareness with the Toronto police, and just to let them know, you know, different things that could be of use to them, and so I met with the CSIS guys, and they were very interested in me now. So basically, you know, they put to me the prospect of working with them, giving information on people, certain groups, getting to leaders of certain groups, talking to them, seeing what kind of views they had and reporting on those views because I am convinced that I'm the best guy for them to have to comment on the different groups, because I have a solid foundation in Islam, you know, I'm born and raised here.

I mean, Toronto's home. So I understand what concerns they have, but at the same time as a Muslim, I understand what concerns Muslims have. So I felt that I could be a link between the two sides.

Beyond the understanding that he has and his ability to put the need to stop radicalism, he demonstrates one of the most extremely sophisticated views on how to put people at ease who might otherwise not be so.  First is his outreach to CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service), which itself marks him as something a bit different than those muslim communities that harbor radicals and something much closer to the Anbari's in Iraq who have realized that the evil represented by violence soon comes home to roost in one's own house.  Next he gave the proper signals by wearing the flag/police pin and meeting with the CSIS in a haunt that many would know:  Tim Horton's donut shop.  That Canadian chain of donut shops, which had spread down to my native Western New York, is not a Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts, though in the same ballpark as them.  Only in the well-worn donut shops from the area does one get a similar sense of familiarity that a brand-new Tim Horton's gives you.  Thus he had chosen not only neutral ground, but seemingly positive ground for the police.  He calls that 'ethno-cultural religious awareness' but to actively realize it and utilize it requires something a bit out of the ordinary.

That sort of outlook was similar to that used by al Qaeda in the 9/11 and other attacks:  blend into the culture, be non-threatening and be seemingly 'normal'.  Here it is clearly explained as something that can be known and utilized to set others at ease and quickly, although being Canadian born, Mr. Shaikh also has that affinity as part of his personal experience.  As he points out, however, there is also a personal part of this that is, at heart, untrainable: you either have the ability to say the right things at the right time or you do not.  That is how he went from being on the outside of the group planning a terrorist plot to being on the inside, as he relates further down:

Linden McIntyre: How do you do that without making yourself a little bit too conspicuous?

Mubin Shaikh: It's hard to say. There is a part of me that is like that. You know, right, like I have that in me so that they can see. It's very easy for me to do it. I don't really need to act. It's just the way that I am. You know, I like — I'm sociable, I like talking to people, I'm extroverted, you know, so with these guys, what happened was, I'm telling you, the divine hand is behind all of this. I go to this — there was a program that was going on, and I go to the banquet hall and I'm sitting at the table. There was nobody there, and a guy comes across, and of all the tables to sit next to, he sits next to me. So he asks me a question, is jihad... [speaking foreign language] What he's asking me is, is jihad a communal obligation or an individual obligation? If I say it's a communal obligation, I'm implicitly saying I don't need to be a jihadi. But if I say it's an individual obligation, then I'm saying I can be a jihadi.

Linden McIntyre: You should be a jihadi.

Mubin Shaikh: Yes, right, because otherwise you're not anything proper, really. So I told him exactly what he wanted to hear. I said, no, it's... [speaking foreign language] and that did it. I got pulled over to the side. They gave me the lines, what's happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, they're raping our women, killing our children, and that's the thing, the emotional thing they use. So you feel angry, you want to do something about it. Your mind is clouded. Now, you're young, physically, you're fit. You can physically do something. You need somebody to push you, to motivate you. You got that anger, the emotion, the desire to protect the honour of women, right. And the way this guy was talking, I had really my comment to my CSIS handler at that time afterwards was, "This guy is an effing time bomb waiting to go off."

Linden McIntyre: When did you know that this fertilizer or the ammonium nitrate was in the equation?

Mubin Shaikh: Just before it was made public.

That is, perhaps, one of the most amazing bits of insight into how the recruitment of individuals goes: it seeks those who have some affinity and then offers a line that pushes emotional buttons to make them receptive to recruitment.  That Mr. Shaikh could actually stand above that and distance himself from it, and then analyze it is amazing.  As he points out you cannot 'act' your way through that, but neither can you buy into the line being given.  The police were very lucky to have an individual so capable of that work come to them.  And yet the organization, itself, has built-in 'firewalls' as he was not trusted easily nor readily as that last bit shows.  He did not know of the plot or its moving into an active phase as he had not demonstrated himself as reliable.  Perhaps as an unwitting bomber, yes, but not as someone trusted with actual plans and logistics.

While he was, and possibly *is*, still supporting radical groups, at least vocally, Mr. Shaikh has also come to some realization that what the end result of that radicalism gets is not very good at all.  Basically it is a man with a conflicted spirit and view of the world, plus having a past drug habit that has included LSD and cocaine (Source: Macleans 10 SEP 2007), but who can see his way, at minim, to self-preservation and love of country to do the right thing.  One can only act like a jihadi in such a convincing way if the leanings are there, but kept under some restraint, which is how those who seek to do terror acts must lead to in the opposite direction so as to mask their inner feelings and keep actions at bay until the appointed time for them.  For Mr. Shaikh the idea of supporting Sharia in Canada and yet supporting the current system of law and order are not in conflict, no matter how much those around him may see them as being so.

His friend, Mohammad Khawaja was picked up due to leads in the UK that led to the discovery of a bomb plot there which had progressed to the point of having a half-ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer intended for bomb making (Source: CBC 08 APR 2004).  That plot was linked to men having Pakistani background and Mr. Khawaja had just arrived back from London after visiting those picked up in the plot there.  Prior to that Mr. Khawaja had met up with Mohammed Junaid Babar in Pakistan, who would later be picked up in the bomb plot and would admit to having been part of plots to assassinate Pakistani President Musharraf and having ties to Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Mohammed.

Omar Bakri Mohammed had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood by attending schools run by them from age 5 and cementing his ties with them at age 15 (Source: Jamestown Foundation interview 23 MAR 2004).  Omar Bakri Mohammed has been involved in more than one uprising, not only wanted by Syria for his participation in the Hama revolt, but also found guilty in Saudi Arabia of arranging similar there.  Also he was part of Hizb ut-Tahrir when it sent a proposal to Ayatollah Khomeini that they would recognize him as head of the Caliphate, which Khomeini turned down having different theological views from HT.  His support for HAMAS and Hezbollah in the areas of funding and activism continue, and his son was caught trying to smuggle cash out of the UK to him in Lebanon for that purpose in 2006. 

Abu Hamza, on the other hand, was the #3 man in al Qaeda when he was killed on 30 NOV 2005 by an explosion in North Waziristan due to a US missile strike (Source: South Asia Intelligence Review, Weekly Assessments & Briefings, 12 DEC 2005).

Thus the idea of Mohammad Khawaja helping from Canada has support both from the infrastructure and logistics end (Omar Bakri Mohammed) and from the operational end with Abu Hamza (from al Qaeda).  As Bakri himself would point out in the Jamestown Foundation article:

Q: How come we have not seen a dramatic attack in the West since 9/11?[5]

A: Al-Qaeda is not interested in small attacks. Of course al-Qaeda freelance supporters carry out such attacks in places like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, but the real al-Qaeda is not interested in these minor attacks, they go for massive operations. When they want to strike they will strike. Also bear in mind that the Americans are not holding any al-Qaeda people in Guantanamo Bay.

Of course he then discounts KSM, Abu Zubaida and Ramzi bin al-Shibi as either not part of al Qaeda, actually killed in Pakistan or that an imposter is the one taken in by the Pakistani ISI.  Still, the basic concept of al Qaeda being centered on the sophisticated and larger attacks was essentially correct for the pre-Iraqi version of al Qaeda.  Since then al Qaeda has had to change direction and severely, to counter its losses in the 'little attacks' arena in Iraq and Pakistan.  It is not that they don't carry them out, which they do, but that they are getting an unexpected backlash from them. 

That pre-9/11 al Qaeda would, indeed, spend months or years establishing camps, agents, casing targets, and slowly using a multi-cell operation with mutual deniability between cells to attempt very sophisticated attacks.  Mohammad Khawaja's work, then, meets up with that older system of work even as al Qaeda was coming to realize that all of the skills and tactics it had to deploy against the USSR were not only not serving it well against the US, but is counter-productive when deployed with savagery.  That he was approached is indicated by the first meeting with Bakri and Hamza, and then his meeting up with the London group thereafter.  His role may not have been determined at that point, but that he was part of the group is without question.  While Mr. Shaikh's connection to him is incidental, it is enough to put him in the spot of 'someone who knew someone' and worth being approached thereafter.

One of the individuals who best put this into context is Mark Steyn with a quick posting at The Corner on NRO, on 27 MAR 2008,(h/t: Instapundit) in which he looks at his previous article of 26 JAN 2008 on the group rounded up in Toronto due to Mr. Shaikh's work and the revelations given out by the court in Canada where their trial is taking place.  In that he points to an article in The Star (Toronto) of 26 MAR 2008 and what this group was doing in Canada:

According to the allegations, the so-called Toronto 18 were attempting to secure a safe house to store weapons and practise military drills, and embarking on a mission to destroy the West – one they should be willing to die for.

Details of the alleged plot, which also included storming Parliament Hill and beheading politicians, emerged in a factum filed by the Crown that described the case against the accused as "shocking and sensational."

The document contains transcripts of wiretaps and videotapes that include one conversation in which one of the accused speaks of the group's ambitions.

This is not your normal, run-of-the-mill terrorist wannabe that so many complain about as 'not being real terrorists'.  I have looked at that in the past in connection with a group in Florida, and looked at the sorts of things going on with terrorism in general and Florida in particular.  With just a bit of digging connections to the late Zarqawi's european terror group could be found in London, which the plotters in Florida were in contact with.  Further a more localized organization in Trinidad, Jamaat al-Muslimeen, had ties to Florida to stage its 1990 Islamic coup with guns purchased and shipped via Florida.  Additionally ties to Pakistan showed up in the trial of Shueub Mossa Jokhan and Imran Mandhai, who were plotting to attack power infrastructure in the US along with Jewish businesses.  Beyond that, the basing of a black market arms dealer in the area by the name of Jean-Bernard Lasnaud (Source: NISAT transcript of a Frontline documentary) gives a ready resource to any who could were in contact with him.

Thus the problem with trying to discount individuals as 'not being professional terrorists' points to the problem that it is very, very easy to get in contact with professional terrorists and start doing their work.  The connections Canada has with transnational terrorist groups is clearly seen in testimony given to Congress on 13 DEC 2000.  The first of these is by Frank J. Cilluffo, Deputy Director, Global Organized Crime Program, Director, Counterterrorism Task Force, Center for Strategic & International Studies (Source: Globalsecurity document cache) looking at the problem of organized crime and terrorism:

The overlapping of terrorism and the narcotics trade is not new either. Many groups have always been involved in the drug industry. But many ideologically bankrupt terrorist groups shed their moral righteousness and turned towards the drug trade to further their tainted causes. Whether the terrorists actively cultivated and trafficked the drugs or "taxed" those who did, the financial windfall that the narcotics industry guarantees has filled the void left by state sponsors.

Organized crime and terrorism have two differing goals. Organized crime’s business is business. The less attention brought to their organization, the easier their job is. The goal of terrorism is quite the opposite. A wide-ranging public profile is the desired effect. Despite this, the links between organized crime and terrorism are becoming stronger in regards to the drug trade. Organized crime groups often run the trafficking organizations while the terrorists and insurgent groups often control the territory where the drugs are cultivated and transported. The relationship is mutually beneficial. Both groups use funds garnered from the drug trade to finance their organizations.

Funds from states that support terrorism are dwindling, but by no means depleted entirely. The fall of the Soviet Union ended the stream of money that funded terrorists. As a result, terrorist organizations had to search for new sources of funding for their wars. Some organizations such as the Shining Path have always look towards indigenous forms of funding. Others like FARC cooperate with overseas criminal enterprises. Nevertheless, it is evident that the distinction between terrorist groups fighting an ideological enemy and criminal organizations’ pragmatic pursuit of profit is quickly becoming blurred.

Involvement in the drug business is almost a guarantee of financial independence from a state sponsor. Groups are no longer beholden to outsiders. That brings the realization that whatever restraint those state sponsors could impose, has now vanished. Likewise, traditional diplomatic or military measures that the United States could subject state sponsors to curb terrorist actions is diminished.

The blurring of these lines pose new challenges to the United States. The traditional organization of the US national security apparatus used to combat the troika of the terrorist, organized crime, and narcotics trafficking threat is no longer applicable. In order to work towards a solution to the problem of narco-terrorism, it is important to identify its implications to US policymaking and its implementation.

On many levels this is what we have seen in Pakistan, Iran, and the extension of terror groups throughout South and South East Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas.  It is quite telling that the one set of contacts not mentioned about Mr. Shaikh are *not* the terror ones but the drug ones.  While his addiction is brought up as a 'social ill' and he goes into rehab, he only does so AFTER the group he has infiltrated has been brought down.  That leaves a high and distinct possibility that not only was he recruited by terrorists but that he helped make vital connections between them and the trafficking side of the equation, too.

The second man to address the House Congressional Judiciary sub-committee on 13 DEC 2000 (Source: Globalsecurity document cache)was Ralf Mutschke, Interpol's Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence Directorate, and it is that testimony that is the most chilling to anyone trying to discount a difference between 'professional terrorists' and mere drug traffickers.  Soon after introducing himself he presents this as an example of transnational terrorism melding with organized crime:

I would like to draw the particular attention of the Committee to the Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA), considering the events of December last year. On 14 December 1999, Ahmed Ressam, was arrested near Port Angeles, Washington State, while trying to enter the United States from Canada. He was in possession of a timing device, explosive materials and false identification documents. Ahmed Ressam is known to have shared a Montreal (Canada) apartment with Said Atmani, a known document forger for the GIA. It has been established that before Ressam attempted to enter the US, he was in the company of Abdelmajid Dahoumane in Vancouver (Canada) for a 3 to 4 week period. An Interpol Red Notice was issued regarding the latter. The investigation has revealed links between terrorists of Algerian origin and a criminal network established in Montreal and specializing in the theft of portable computers and mobile telephones. The group in Montreal was in contact with individuals involved in terrorist support activity in France, and with several Moudjahidin groups who are active in Bosnia.

Subsequent to the arrest of Ressam, the Montreal police arrested twelve persons who were committing theft of valuable goods in cars in the Montreal downtown area. The proceeds of these criminal activities were sent to an international network with links to France, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Bosnia.

The events in Canada and the United States should be seen in a wider perspective. Indeed, intelligence shows that several Algerian terrorist leaders were present at a meeting in Albania, which could also have been attended by Usama bin Laden, who was believed to be in Albania at that time. It was during this meeting that many structures and networks were established for propaganda and fund raising activities, and for providing Algerian armed groups with logistical support. The arrest at the Canada-US border in December 1999 may indicate that the Algerian terrorists are prepared to take their terrorism campaign to North America.

The GIA is a very active and deadly terrorist organization operating mainly in Algeria but which has also mounted several terrorist attacks in France, including the hijacking of an Air France jetliner in 1994 and a bombing campaign in 1995. Their aim is the overthrow of the Algerian Secular Government and its replacement with an Islamic state. They have developed large scale support and financing activities in Europe and other parts of the world. An analysis recently conducted at the Interpol General Secretariat has revealed GIA involvement in a number of criminal activities in several European countries. Although the information received is fragmented, it has been established that GIA support networks are involved in extortion, currency counterfeiting, fraud, and money laundering.

This is not what one expects of the GIA: to operate a highly sophisticated criminal organization in support of terrorism.  The interconnects of the GIA via Albania take root in the concerns of the region, especially Kosovo.  In listing the problems engendered in Albania that permit groups like the GIA to join up with organized crime, he looks at the following:

1. Concerning Albanian organized crime in the United States, the 1986 break-up of the "Pizza connection" made it possible for other ethnic crime groups to "occupy" the terrain which had until then been dominated by the Italians. For Albanians this was especially easy since they had already been working with, or mainly for, Italian organized crime.

2. Due to a highly developed ethnic conscience - fortified by a Serb anti- Albanian politics in the 80’s and 90’s, Albanians, particularly Kosovars, have developed a sense of collective identity necessary to engage in organized crime. It is this element, based on the affiliation to a certain group, which links organized Albanian crime to Panalbanian ideals, politics, military activities and terrorism. Albanian drug lords established elsewhere in Europe began contributing funds to the "national cause" in the 80’s. From 1993 on, these funds were to a large extent invested in arms and military equipment for the KLA (UÇK) which made its first appearance in 1993.

3. From 1990 on, the process of democratization in Albania has resulted in a loss of state control in a country that had been totally dominated by the communist party and a system of repression. Many Albanians lacked respect for the law since, to them, they represented the tools of repression during the old regime. Loss of state structures resulted in the birth of criminal activities, which further contributed to the loss of state structures and control.

4. Alternative routing for about 60% of European heroin became necessary in 1991 with the outbreak of the war in Yugoslavia and the blocking of the traditional Balkan route. Heroin was thus to a large extent smuggled through Albania, over the Adriatic into Italy and from there on to Northern and Western Europe. The war also enabled organized criminal elements to start dealing arms on a large scale.

5. Another factor which contributed to the development of criminal activities, is the embargos imposed on Yugoslavia by the international community and on the F.Y.RO.M. by Greece (1993-1994) in the early 90’s. Very quickly, an illegal triangular trade in oil, arms and narcotics developed in the region with Albania being the only state not hit by international sanctions.

6. In 1997, the so-called pyramid savings schemes in the Albanian republic collapsed. This caused nation-wide unrest between January and March 1997, during which incredible amounts of military equipment disappeared (and partly reappeared during the Kosovo conflict): 38,000 hand-guns, 226,000 Kalashnikovs, 25,000 machine-guns, 2,400 anti-tank rocket launchers, 3,500,000 hand grenades, 3,600 tons of explosives. Even though organized crime groups were probably unable to "control" the situation, it seems clear that they did profit from the chaos by acquiring a great number of weapons. Albanian organized crime also profited from the financial pyramids which they seem to have used to launder money on a large scale. Before the crash, an estimated 500 to 800 million USD seem to have been transferred to accounts of Italian criminal organizations and Albanian partners. This money was then reinvested in Western countries.

7. The Kosovo conflict and the refugee problem in Albania resulted in a remarkable influx of financial aid. Albanian organized crime with links to Albanian state authorities seems to have highly profited from these funds. The financial volume of this aid was an estimated $163 million. The financial assets of Albanian organized crime were definitely augmented due to this situation.

I have looked at this previously in special regards to Kosovo and its environs, and the amount being made in the drug trade is astronomical due to the percentage of Europe that is supplied via the Albanian Mafia Families.  Even with things simmering down in the Balkans, Albanian organized crime and its affiliates were the ones who were armed and connected enough to profit by any relaxation of border security.  Looking later on, Mr. Mutschke points to links with cocaine, heroin, forced prostitution and human trafficking, beyond arms trafficking and money laundering.  Further on he looks at the transnational alliances between various narcotics cartels and syndicates spanning the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia, which, when combined with terrorist support, gives terror organizations a distributed web for logistical supply and support.

These gangs do not just stay in those venues, however, and branch off into the lucrative field of tax dodging of import duties and sales taxes.  One of these areas is cigarette smuggling, that not only seeks to avoid international controls, but controls within Nations.  On 19 JUL 2006 Andrew Cochran at Counterterrorism Blog looks at some of the cases then in the works relating to terrorism:

Racketeering, Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing:

* U.S.A. v. Mohamad Youssef Hammoud et al., Charlotte, North Carolina: 25 individuals charged in connection with cigarette smuggling, money laundering, credit card fraud, marriage fraud and immigration violations. Four individuals were charged with providing “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization,” Hizballah, specifically providing “currency, financial services, training, false documentation and identification, communications equipment, explosives, and other physical assets to Hizballah, in order to facilitate its violent attacks.” In 2003, Mohamad Hammoud was sentenced to 155 years in prison, while his brother, Chawki, was sentenced to 51 months.

* U.S.A. v. Elias Mohamad Akhdar et al. (pdf), Dearborn, Michigan: 11 co-defendants charged with racketeering related to the Charlotte, North Carolina scheme. In January, 2004, Akhdar was sentenced to 70 months in prison and was fined over $2,000,000 after having pled guilty in July, 2003.

* U.S.A. v. Imam Mohamad-Musbah Hammoud, et al., Michigan, Canada (Ontario, Quebec), Lebanon: In March, 2006, 19 co-defendants charged with a racketeering scheme involving contraband cigarettes, counterfeit Zig Zag rolling papers and counterfeit Viagra, counterfeit cigarette tax stamps, transporting stolen property, and money laundering. A percentage of the profits derived from the illegal enterprise were given to Hizballah. On July 7, two of the defendants, Imad Majed Hamadeh and Theodore Schenk, 73 pled guilty (pdf). Hamadeh and Schenk face a maximum possible penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

This is *not* your father's Hezbollah, that's for damned sure.  This set of rings were set up by the Exterior Security Organization of Hezbollah run by the late Imad Mugniyah, and yet it follows the classical lines of organized crime groups.  As another case points out, this goes far beyond cocaine, heroin, cigarettes and such:

Drug Running:

* U.S.A. v. Mohammad Shabib, Cleveland, Ohio: Federal prosecutors charged Mohammad Shabib with hiding his role in a drug ring which profits were funneled to Hizballah. Shabib, a gas station owner, had $8,000,000 in a Chicago bank account, which authorities say Shabib amassed by shipping roughly 3 tons of pseudoephedrine from Canada to California, which he would sell to Mexican gangs who would use the drugs to produce methamphetamine. (See: Amanda Garrett, “Terrorists’ Money Takes Convoluted Path in U.S.,” The Cleveland Dealer, January 18, 2004).

Yes, purchase the sudafed from Canada, ship it to California with its lax controls over just about everything save taxes, sell it to Mexican drug gangs a mark-up and pocket the profits.  When you are caught with having shipped 3 tons of sudafed illegally and netting $8 million in profit, you are no longer talking about minor crime or support of it.  Even the 'supporters' of Hezbollah are getting into the act:

* Hizballah-linked Counterfeit Goods Ring in Los Angeles (pdf), Los Angeles, CA: Testimony of Lieutenant John C. Stedman, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, May 25, 2005: “There are also indicators that some associates of terrorist groups may be involved in (Intellectual Property Right/)IPR crime. During the course of our investigations, we have encountered suspects who have shown great affinity for Hezbollah and its leadership. The following are just two examples: during the search of a residence pursuant to an IPR related search warrant, I saw small Hezbollah flags displayed in the suspect’s bedroom. Next to the flags was a photograph of Hassan Nasrallah whom I recognized as the leader of Hezbollah. The suspect’s wife asked me if I knew the subject of the photograph. I identified Nasrallah and the wife said, ‘We love him because he protects us from the Jews’. Also in the home were dozens of audio tapes of Nasrallah’s speeches. During the search, one of my detectives also found a locket which contained a picture of the male suspect on one side and Sheik Nasrallah on the other. In 2004, detectives served an IPR search warrant at a clothing store in Los Angeles County. During the course of the search, thousands of dollars in counterfeit clothing was recovered as were two unregistered firearms. During the booking process, the suspect was found to have a tattoo of the Hezbollah flag on his arm.”

So, how can a terrorist organization that wants to spin up a camp quickly do so?  Contact your local pushers until you find someone associated with one of the gangs related to Hezbollah or GIA and, soon enough, you can get a nice pipeline of work going and with a bit of extra work via GIA, you will be in contact with al Qaeda agents or they with you.  Getting money and support to individuals is not much of a problem, as the multiple penetrations of the 'secure' banking networks has demonstrated, and have indicated a secondary set of networks of funds transfers between financial institutions that aren't banks being near autonomous in their ability to do similar.  What is worse is the inherently person-to-person fund transfer networks that I looked at concerning the Middle Eastern hawala system and the Black Market Peso Exchange Systems.  These networks are more difficult to stop as they are ethnic based and trust networks: based on p2p trust.  Worse is that funds, themselves, do not actually exchange hands across the networks, but white market goods can and do.  In one of the most ingenious and nearly impossible to detect and stop ways of doing business, by separating out cash and goods and only transferring goods, cash is exchanged across the network.  Throw in a bit of smuggling to move white market goods to restricted markets and you get an added profit from the transaction.

Back to Mr. Shaikh and what was going on in Canada, then, with the group that was forming up a conspiracy to commit terror attacks:

While some of the allegations have already surfaced in public reports, a great deal in the factum had never been published. Some of that expected evidence includes:

  • Videos of terrorist indoctrination, in which the accused are exhorted to wage battle in the new empire of "Rome" in North America, "whether we get arrested, whether we get killed."

  • Wiretap surveillance in which they discuss their desire to "establish the religion of Allah and to get rid of the oppressors" and the need for funds to finance their goals of building a "team" to "go make an attack."

  • The construction of a "radio frequency remote-control detonator" that needed to be improved because its range was nine metres.

  • Allegations the accused attended two training camps. One was a 12-day camp near the town of Washago, Ont., where they practised military-style exercises in camouflage gear and undertook firearms training with a 9-mm firearm. The second was a two-day camp at the Rockwood Conservation Area, where they donned camouflage clothing and made a propaganda-style video of their military drills.

According to the Crown's factum, the alleged terrorists first popped onto the radar of police in August 2005, when two of the adults were stopped at the Canada-U.S. border in a rented vehicle while attempting to smuggle firearms and ammunition into the country.

Based on the rental agreement, weapons history and intercepted telephone conversations the duo had while in jail, police expanded their investigation. They homed in on a few individuals and contacted Mubin Shaikh to act as a police agent.

This group would then case various areas to see if it was feasible to set up a 'safe house' for storage of arms and explosives in a planned called 'Operation Badr':

On the way back to Toronto they discussed Operation Badr, a plot to storm Parliament Hill, take politicians hostage and demand the removal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan and the release of Muslim prisoners in federal institutions, police allege. If their demands weren't met, they'd "kill everybody," said an adult, who also reminded the others that the prime minister wasn't "Paul Loser" or "Paul Martin" – as they suggested – but was in fact "the other guy, Harper."

After their return, an adult reported he had built the "first radio frequency remote-control detonator," but pointed out it only had a range of 30 feet (nine metres), "which is not good." In response, another man pointed out "30 feet away? So you have to get blown up? Might as well sit in the car." He explained that if they could get the detonator to work from 300 metres, "then we'll do it." He then said that when the bomb went off on Front St., innocent people would be killed, which would be "too bad for them," according to the Crown's factum.

To those who miss the point: they don't care about politics and being nice to anyone based on political alignment.  The nature of terrorism is to exploit weaknesses and demonstrate strength, not to take a political 'side' as their side is 'above politics'.  To these individuals the actual 'victory' is the action itself, even if they get killed:


In a video, Person 1, shown sitting in the dark under what appears to be a tent, speaks to the group:

"We're here to kick it off man. We're here to get the rewards of everybody that's gonna come after us, God willing, if we don't (get) a victory, God willing, our kids will get it. If not them, their kids will get it, if not them, the(n) five generations down somebody will get it, God willing. This is the promise of Allah. . . .

These are not 'militants', they are cold blooded killers looking to kill their way to power for their cause even if it consumes them in that doing.  This is 'killing your way to promised rewards' which, in case anyone has missed it, is the exact reason Aum Shinrikyo decided on methodical mass killing: to bring about the promised end by just helping it along.  The causes and verbalizations are starkly different, but the end result is unrepentant slaughter of innocents.

Beyond the obvious with individuals educated beyond the basics, these people have knowledge of technology, a rudimentary concept of terrorist combat and were getting up to speed on logistics and funding.  They were not 'poor and uneducated' and are, very likely, middle class and possibly even college students or graduates.  Terrorism is only for the 'poor and uneducated' as 'muscle', which is why al Qaeda recruits amongst slums and such: they need individuals to actually protect their operations while the operations, themselves, are carried out by skilled individuals. 
Which makes yet another small piece by Mark Steyn, just prior to the others (Corner NRO) , even more troubling, as the western idea behind the causes of terrorism, not just the Islamic Fascistic sort but all terrorism, is severely myopic:

Yesterday, round about the time Andy and Derb raised this, I was giving a talk to the Hudson Institute gang and Monica Crowley asked me a question about the presidential candidates and radical Islam. I replied that I had no doubt that John McCain was fully committed to the military campaign - if only for personal reasons and tribal loyalty, he's not going to let this generation of American warriors get stuck with a losing hand from Washington. But I added I was unsure the Senator grasped the scale of the broader ideological struggle. His words yesterday confirmed as much:

McCain said the United States' goal in fighting Islamic extremists should be "to win the hearts and minds of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists.

"In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs."

Really? Even as a theoretical proposition, trusting the average American college education (even if one does not draw Sami el-Arian or Ward Churchill as one's mentor) to woo young Muslims to the virtues of the Great Satan would be something of a long shot. But it isn't even theoretical anymore.

There's plenty of evidence out there that the most extreme "extremists" are those who've been most exposed to the west - and western education: from Osama bin Laden (summer school at Oxford, punting on the Thames) and Mohammed Atta (Hamburg University urban planning student) to the London School of Economics graduate responsible for the beheading of Daniel Pearl. The idea that handing out college scholarships to young Saudi males and getting them hooked on Starbucks and car-chase movies will make this stuff go away is ridiculous - and unworthy of a serious presidential candidate.

Indeed, nearly every leader of terror groups has been educated in western universities, be they Ivy League or purely technical academies, the 'muscle' of a couple of men per plane on 9/11 points out the other 'technical' individuals that actually carried out the hijackings and flew the aircraft.  Some of them had come with visas in their pockets to study at US flight schools in the 1990's, at the invitation of the US government.  When radicals come to speak in the US, they do not go down to poor neighborhoods or run down storefront mosques, then go upscale and talk to the middle class muslims.  As seen in testimony given to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims on 25 JUN 2000 (Source: Globalsecurity document cache), are some descriptions of the individuals actually let in or invited to the US and what they did when they got here [all spelling errors in the original]:

Islamic militants on the lecture circuit in the United States:

"The Jews distort words from their meanings…they killed the prophets and worshipped idols…Allah says he who equips a warrior of Jihad is like the one who makes Jihad himself." In Arabic, Wagdi Ghuniem, a militant Islamic cleric from Egypt, mesmerized his audience, with his relentless tirade against the Jews, reminding them of the Jews' "infidelity," "stealth" and "deceit." Known for his folksy deliveries and exhortations to commit violence against the Jews, Ghuniem did not disappoint his crowd, several of whom had come just to hear him. The conflict with the Jews, he said, was not over land but one of religion. "The problem of Palestine is not a problem of belief… suppose the Jews said 'Palestine--you [Muslims] can take it.' Would it then be ok? What would we tell them? No! The problem is belief, it is not a problem of land."

Ghuniem then led his rapt audience, which numbered as many as 500, in a special song, the audience responsively repeating each refrain:

No to the Jews
Descendants of the Apes
We Vow to Return
Despite the Obstacles

The administrators of Brooklyn College would probably have been surprised to learn thattheir campus was the site of an incendiary rally more similar to those held in Gaza than those held in the United States. On May 24, 1998, a special all-day program was held in the Walt Whitman Auditorium of Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York. Organized by the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), an American-headquartered front group for Hamas, the program was entitled "Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation." Eleven Islamic organizations co-sponsored the event, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Islamic Circle of North America. To the outside world, this conference probably seemed like one of the many seminars held on campus. Conducted almost entirely in Arabic, the conference featured Islamic speakers from the United States and abroad.

Ghuniem has traveled to the US on a regular basis, giving lectures in large and small venues. In 1997 and 1998, Ghuniem appeared at the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) (an Islamic group that supports the positions of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in the United States) and IAP conferences, as well as at smaller events in local mosques and Islamic centers across the United States and Canada. Part of his popularity may stem from the fact that he speaks in a local rural Egyptian dialect and peppers his talks with humorous anecdotes. His rhetoric espouses a deep hatred for Jews. He often praises terrorists and terrorist attacks.

Interestingly, Sheik Ghuniem was denied entry to Canada in early January 1998 and detained as he tried to enter Windsor from Detroit. Ghuniem was on a whirlwind US-Canada lecture circuit, with scheduled stops in Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Detroit, San Diego, D.C., Toronto and Montreal. But the trip was rudely interrupted, if only temporarily, at the Canadian border. The reason he was barred? "Our (computerized information) system indicated he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas," said Gerald Belanger, a Canadian immigration official as he was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen. Leaders of the Muslim communities in Detroit, Toronto and Windsor bitterly protested Ghuniem's detention, as evidence of an anti-Muslim bias, claiming that Ghuniem was a "man of peace." "He's a very reasonable man" declared Hussein El-Hennawy, a MAYA official quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, "He teaches people to be peaceful." MAYA has established the "Scholars Defense Fund," to pursue legal action against the Canadian Government for its perceived "humiliation" of Ghuniem.

Canadian authorities released Ghuniem back to the United States and he returned to his lecture tour on behalf of militant Islamic groups in helping them recruit new members, raise funds and coordinate strategies with other militant Islamic leaders crisscrossing the United States. US officials say they are virtually powerless to stop the influx of known militants into the United States for reasons ranging from lack of adequate intelligence to easy circumvention of the watch list to legal restrictions in stopping self-described religious clerics from entering the United States.
Still, the question raised by Ghuniem's numerous appearances in the United States is how do terrorists manage to enter the country?

One method has been those who deliberately overstay their student visas, some op who are dispatched from terrorist-supporting regimes. Some of these "students" have acquired visas for the purpose of attaining cover for their illicit activities as activists for terrorist organizations. Others receive advanced degrees in the US and return to their countries where some might work in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs. Although there is no official compilation of the number of student visas granted to would-be terrorists and agents of terrorist supporting regimes, one study currently in preparation shows that there are at least 200 terrorists or agents of terrorist regimes and organizations who have received student visas in the past decade to pursue undergraduate or graduate training.


Beyond the issue of how terrorists have been able to exploit student visas to stay in the United States for long periods of time, another major, even more frustrating, counter-terrorist problem is the ease in which terrorists and militants freely enter the US for shorter periods of time. The official purpose of such short visits is generally linked to invitations to appear at religious-based conferences and meetings at Islamic organizations in the United States attended primarily by American Muslims. The real purposes of these visits are to recruit new members of militant organizations; facilitate fundraising for militant activities, both in the U.S. and abroad; coordinate political and even military strategies with other militants leaders; indoctrinate new "foot soldiers;" and even participate in terrorist training sessions.

Every year, according to law enforcement officials and information obtained at Islamic conferences, dozens of militant Islamic clerics, officials, representatives and leaders of various terrorist organizations and movements come to the United States. These include Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Gamat Al Islamiya, Sudanese National Islamic Front, Jordan's Islamic Action Front, and Hezbollah. Visits by Islamic militants to the US are not a new phenomenon.

Some get into the United States using false identification, while others simply get in because they are not on any watch list. During these conferences, it is not uncommon to hear Islamic militants praise terrorists and terrorist attacks, attack the United States and the West, or call for the death of Jews and the destruction of the United States. For the most part, these incendiary lectures, almost invariably in Arabic, are not illegal insofar as the content, unless a specific act of violence is advocated, and fall under protected speech. Federal law enforcement is largely prohibited from attending the conferences at which these militants appear, because of the restrictions imposed by the Attorney General Guidelines against any surveillance of religious groups, unless there is ironclad evidence ahead of time that a crime or a conspiracy to commit a crime will take place. Of course, absent direct surveillance, it is almost impossible to obtain such evidence--which creates a Catch-22 conundrum. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the Attorney General Guidelines were issued in response to abuses by intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Even if the FBI were involved in greater surveillance, chances are that it would not witness the events going on behind the scenes--the most likely venue of any illegal activities--even though witnessing center stage activities would be considered shocking in and of itself. For example, the Islamic Association for Palestine held annual meetings in 1989 and 1990 in Kansas City where off stage, secret meetings were held with a pre-selected "class" of future Hamas terrorists who were taught car-bombings and other terrorist warfare. Meanwhile, at IAP's "plenary" sessions--held in the Kansas City Convention center-- several notorious militants and leaders of Hamas gave fiery speeches praising attacks by Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist groups in language and rhetoric more familiar to Hamas rallies in the Middle East than to Kansas City.One of the most electrifying moments came when a keffiyeh-draped leader of the Izzadin Al-Qassem death squads--the military arm of Hamas--delivered a rousing account of the specific violent terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas.

The conferences mentioned above are but a few of the literally dozens of radical Islamic events held prior to the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. Following the bombing and the subsequent investigations into the militant Islamic networks in the US and their ties to terrorist organizations abroad, it seemed likely that the US would seek to curtail the entrance of Islamic militants into the US.Yet conferences featuring prominent terrorist sympathizers and spokesmen for Islamic militancy have continued unabated.

Believe it or not that is a very *short* portion of the testimony given.

Yes, declare yourself to be a 'cleric' and you can preach all the hatred you want and couple it directly with appeals for military funding and action... illegally.  The reason they could, as mentioned, was that 'wall' set up by the Clinton administration between INTEL and just about everyone else, including the State Dept.  Somehow the Leftist claim that 'overstaying your visa is no big deal' suddenly doesn't look like such a good deal due to those that abuse this concept with intent to kill and undermine the US and its allies.  Even after the 1993 WTC bombing, the Clinton administration did nothing to stop this and, indeed, allowed such practices to get worse.

In case Sen. McCain has missed this: allowing terrorists in to train in western schools just makes them skilled terrorists, not western sympathizers.

This is not a visa problem, at heart, but one of actually making sure that the people applying for them are screened and vetted, and that they are held to their visa stays.  It is not that all of those coming on visas are bad, it is the few bad ones that can create disaster that need to be screened out.  Judicial Watch asked ICE to outline how many people are here on student visas and published their results on 16 FEB 2007:

Judicial Watch began investigating the student visa program following a Bush administration joint statement with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in April 2005 increasing the number of Saudi students permitted to travel to and study in the United States. Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 24, 2006. According to records recently obtained by Judicial Watch, 9,952 “active Saudi Arabian students” were in the United States, on three different types of visas as of January 25, 2007.

The ICE documents obtained by Judicial Watch contain the following breakdown of the student visa program: 9,787 students possess “F-1” visas, which are designated for foreign students pursuing a full course of academic study. Nine students possess visa type “M-1”, which are designated for foreign students pursuing a full course of vocational or recognized non-academic program.  The remaining 156 possess visa type “J-1,” intended for foreign nationals who are selected by a sponsor to participate in an exchange visitor program.

According to other ICE official records dated September 6, 2005, at the time, there were a total of 611,581 active foreign students in the United States eligible for “F-1” and “M-1” student and vocational visas.  The same records indicated that there are 154,471 exchange visitors eligible for “J-1” exchange visas.

On September 11, 2001, 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers carrying out the attacks were Saudi nationals. According to a CNN News Report, six months after the attacks, Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) issued visa approval/verification letters for two of the hijackers to the flight schools at which they were registered. Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi were approved for “M-1” vocational/non-academic visas by INS in 2000.

Yes, Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi had not only visas, but ones that indicated they were here for a vocation or trade, and by the numbers it is one of the hardest set of visas to *get* from KSA.  I doubt that they listed al Qaeda as their sponsor and 'flying aircraft into buildings' as their trade, although it was so good of ICE to issue them visas posthumously.  That's 'Compassionate Conservatism' for you!

What this points to is that the problem with terrorists in Canada is that they are a local manifestation of a much larger, global phenomena.  Transnational terrorism and organized crime are not things that make themselves suddenly apparent as an immediate problem.  Due to the nature of these organizations and how they work, their very intent is to remain in the interstices of international law and convince the law abiding peoples *not* to hunt them down as Nations should do.  When captured by civil means then, of course, demonstrate the inability of individuals to distinguish between what is and is not lawful and put them away for a good long time, perhaps a lifetime.  But do not blind yourself to the encouragement that can be given to it by just saying 'well they aren't *professional* terrorists/gangsters, so no harm done':  the dividing line between the 'professional' and 'amateur' has become damned thin and the intent and lawlessness are the SAME no matter the level of 'professionalism' involved.

The wheels of justice will grind slow, but fine, in the case of those in Canada and their associates in Georgia in the US.  Stopping them is all to the well and good, but that is not even the beginning of trying to tame this mess left to us by generations of self-deceit that these are organizations that we 'just can't deal with'.

We haven't even *tried* to properly formulate a response to them.

And inviting them to do worse by training them, is not only not helping, it is getting people killed.

It is a very Christian and highly moral thing to 'turn the other cheek' and seek that your attacker learn the error of his ways.... when he hits that one, what will you do?  Bend over to give him two more to beat?

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