London Bridge Is Falling
London, Islamic Jihad, and TWA Flight 800
London, that great cesspool into which all
of the loungers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.
A Study in Scarlet
It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my
experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys of London do not present
a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The word "terrorist" is used frequently by both the British and U. S. governments, particularly with reference to the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) and organizations such as Hamas and Hizbollah. Yet it is ironic that a substantial amount of the funding for the I.R.A. comes from residents of the United States while a substantial amount of funding for Hamas and Hizbollah comes from residents of the United Kingdom. Further, the leader of the political wing of the I.R.A., which has exported its terrorism by bombing buildings in English cities, is received at the White House by the U.S. President and by members of the U.S. Congress, while leaders of the political wings of Hamas and Hizbollah, which export terrorism by bombing buildings in the United States (World Trade Center) and Argentina, are made welcome in Britain.
But what does all of this have to do with the downing of TWA Flight 800?
Let's go to Britain and meet the leader of Islamic Jihad.
November 1, 1995 Electronic Telegraph World News
A British-educated economics lecturer, Ramadan Shallah, yesterday made his first appearance as the new leader of the militant Islamic Jihad movement, whose founder, Fathi Shiqaqi, was assassinated in Malta last week. Mr Shallah, 38, was at Damascus airport with other leaders of the rejectionist Palestinian world to receive Mr Shiqaqi's coffin.. (Shallah's) office in Damascus and the group's members in the Gaza Strip refuse to confirm basic details of his background.....From the differing accounts of his life, it seems that Mr Shallah was born in 1957 in Gaza City's Shajaiya neighbourhood. Believed to have headed Islamic Jihad's fund-raising operations in Britain .... He had been a student with Mr Shiqaqi at Zaqazik university in Egypt, where they joined Egyptian radicals in forming the Egyptian wing of Islamic Jihad, which assassinated President Sadat in 1980 after he made peace with Israel. .... The Palestinian wing of Islamic Jihad became known in the 1980s for its attacks on Israeli targets and was among the early proponents of suicide bombings .....He taught economics in Gaza and left in the mid-1980s, apparently taking up studies in Egypt and America. He went to Britain in 1986 and received his doctorate in economics at Durham University in 1991. He is believed to have headed Islamic Jihad's fund-raising operations in Britain. He is also thought to have been involved in militant Islamic activities in Florida. ..... Palestinian police have already jailed Mr Shallah's brother, Omar, for 25 years for inciting Palestinians to commit suicide attacks against Israelis.
Let's remember the activities in Florida - we shall see why later. But back to Britain where fund raising activities are in full swing .....
March 11, 1996 The Electronic Telegraph World
Britain is now the undisputed overseas fund-raising and educational headquarters for Hamas, Israeli authorities claimed last week. Apart from raising millions of pounds to support terrorist operations and publishing anti-Zionist propaganda, the Israelis say Hamas supporters in London are also helping to orchestrate terrorist attacks. Documents supporting the charges have been passed to British intelligence by Jerusalem. The best example was provided by an American activist jailed in Israel for supplying arms to Hamas. In his confession to the Israeli security forces he said he was sent from Chicago to London to receive his orders from a Hamas commander ..... According to Israeli intelligence, Abu Obeida has master- minded a series of terrorist attacks, including the abduction and murder of Israeli soldiers and bomb attacks against civilians. ...... Another example, cited by the Israelis, of how Britain is used as a safe haven by Hamas terrorists concerns the case of Ramadan Shallah, the recently appointed head of Islamic Jihad, the Iranian-financed offshoot of Hamas which carried out last Monday's suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv in which 11 Israelis, most of them children, died. Israeli intelligence officials claim that up to 50 per cent of Hamas's funding comes from Britain ...... Today Israeli officials are deeply concerned about the activities of Filisteen al-Muslima (Islamic Palestine), Hamas's official monthly magazine which is published in London, and the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, also known as Interpal. Israeli intelligence officials claim that up to 50 per cent of Hamas's funding comes from Britain. ....... Mr Howard is currently trying to expel a leading Saudi dissident who is attempting to mastermind the overthrow of Saudi Arabia's ruling family from his London headquarters. Israeli officials now believe that the British Government will suffer ... embarrassment over the activities of Hamas. MI5 confirmed last week that they were investigating alleged links between Hamas and Interpal.
We shall hear about another Saudi dissident later who also operates through London. But first let's find out how much the U.S. Government knows about the London activities .....
July 9, 1996 Defense Issues Volume 11, Number 59 Combating Terrorism
in Saudi Arabia - Prepared statements of by Defense Secretary William J.
Perry; Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, USA, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff;
and Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, USA, commander in chief, U.S. Central Command,
to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
We recognize that Middle Eastern terrorism has evolved over the years. There are several groups operating within our area of responsibility and interest, groups like Hamas, Hizballah, Al-Jihad. Most receive financing, weapons and sanctuary from countries like Iran and Sudan. Recently we have seen growth in "transnational" groups comprised of fanatical Islamic extremists, many of whom fought in Afghanistan and now drift to other countries with the aim of establishing anti-Western, fundamentalist regimes by destabilizing traditional governments andattacking U.S. and Western targets. Their small, cellular structure and tendency to operate independently of state sponsors complicate monitoring of their activities, to include preparation for terrorist attacks. We also are sensitive to the emergence over the last few years of anti-Saudi government groups. Organizations like the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights, based in London, and the Islamic Movement for Change, within Saudi Arabia, are believed to be behind recent violence in the kingdom.
And so the stage was set ........
July 17, 1996 TWA 800 Downing
And we ask "Who?" and "Why?"
July 23, 1996 The London Times
The Tel Aviv paper Yediot Ahronot disclosed yesterday that Israel had been asked by the CIA to check the Athens-New York passenger list of TWA Flight 800. The involvement of Mossad, Israel's secret service, emerged after it was made known that the Israelis warned US Intelligence before the disaster that an American aircraft would be the target of "sabotage or hijacking" by Islamic extremists. "The American intelligence agency gave Mossad the passenger list of the TWA plane from Athens to New York and asked that it check the passengers' backgrounds to reveal if one of them had connections to a terror group," reported the paper, which has close links to the Israeli security services. .... Earlier this month, a Mossad officer monitoring Middle East terrorist groups passed an unspecific warning to his American counterpart in TelAviv. The officer said: "The threat of sabotage or a hijacking against an American plane was analysed and considered serious enough for us to pass on to the Americans. It was then up to the Americans to assess the dangers and decide whether to pass it on to their airlines."
July 19, 1996 New York Times.
A specific warning about the flight had been sent by an extremist Saudi organization called the Movement of Islamic Change, the organization that claimed responsibility for blowing up US military personnel in Saudi Arabia last November. "Late this morning we got a copy of a letter in Arabic that we then had translated, and got it to the FBI" said a State Department spokesman ... "It's a ... statement that seems aimed at the Saudi regime or the American presence in Saudi Arabia"......... Officials said they were reviewing a telephone call placed to a Tampa, Florida television station yesterday morning from a man who identified himself as a member of a jihad and claimed responsibility for the crash.
July 19, 1996 CNN Web posted at: 10:50 a.m. EDT
The CIA's Counter-terrorism Center also has begun a worldwide search for any clues that terrorism may have been involved in crash. But so far, a CIA official said, "We have nothing that points us in one direction or another." There was some speculation that a surface-to-air missile, perhaps fired from a boat off the coast of Long Island, could have brought the plane down. A top Pentagon intelligence official told CNN such a possibility has been ruled out. The reason: a stinger missile is heat-seeking, and analysts concluded it would have had to make too sharp a turn (See Musing entitled "No Kidding" - Click) to hit the TWA flight, the source said. Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday two calls claiming responsibility for the crash had been received after the plane went down, but she said there are "no indications" yet of terrorism. One of the calls mentioned by Reno was received at Tampa, Florida, television station WTSP from a man who identified himself as a member of a "Jihad," a station official said. Jihad, meaning "holy war," is a word used by Islamic militant groups. The WTSP spokesman said the caller gave no name and offered no motive.
Oh, dear, Florida again and Jihad! And faxes to newspapers in London!
July 19, 1996 Reuters
Attorney General Jane Reno said she was unaware of any threats before the crash but there were "some calls'' afterward claiming responsibility. ABC News reported that an Arabic newspaper received a warning of an attack on an American target Wednesday from the same group that claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed five Americans in Saudi Arabia in November. But the State Department said it had viewed the warning letter as a political tract and not as a specific threat of an extremist attack. "To us it seemed to be a general political tract. We don't see it as a specific threat,'' State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said of the letter sent to Al Hayat, an Arabic language newspaper published in London.
July 21, 1996 New York Times.
Officials of Al Hayat, a prominent Arabic-language newspaper, said they had received faxes in London and Washington early on Wednesday, warning of a planned attack on an American target. The letter was signed by a group identifying itself as the Movement of Islamic Change, the Jihad wing.
So the CIA, when it was not making its blockbuster movie "What The Eyewitnesses Did Not See", was busy kidnapping suspects in Afghanistan and getting people in London upset and very concerned about another Saudi dissident - Osama bin Laden .......
June 25, 1997 MSANEWS Mohammad
Jalal-Abadi - On behalf of Bangladeshi Muslim Literary Circle in Great Britain,
5 Bloomsfield House, Old Montague Street, London, E1
Agence France Presse quoting ABC reported from Islamabad that American government paid a sum of $3.5m and used Pakistan military and intelligence as intermediaries while abducting Mir Aimal Kansi, a Pakistani citizen from Pakistani soil and flew him to America. So far it is known Kansi has not committed any crime in Pakistani soil. There is no case pending against him in any Pakistani court nor the Pakistani authorities issued any arrest warrant for him. Moreover, there exists no extradition treaty between Pakistan and America. It is not known who is/are the receipient(s) of $3.5m which the American government paid for Kansi's abduction. ...... As an elected Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan did Mr Sharif know anything beforehand the abduction of this Pakistani national? ..... Stage is now set for the Mossad and its lackeys in the CIA to use Pakistani military intelligence and their "expertise" and the intermediaries to abduct Sheikh Osama bin Laden whom the Zionist entity and American State Department have declared 'world's number one terrorist'! .....Pakistanis who are accusing Mr Sharif of compromising national sovereignty and abandoning Islamic honour are not "Islamic terrorists" as claimed by the Zionist terrorists and their puppets in the White House.
The FBI, more recently made known by its assistant director as the "Federal Bureau of Total Investigation" and not the "Federal Bureau of the Obvious", (See "A Farewell to Kallstrom - Click) knew about Mr. bin Laden too and his support for Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman with money funnelled from Afghanistan through London .....
July 15, 1997 CNN Web posted at: 6:05 p.m. EDT (2205
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating connections between a maverick Saudi Arabian multimillionaire and his followers in the United States, who may be planning terrorist attacks on U.S. targets. Federal agents have identified followers of Osama bin Ladin in Brooklyn, New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan, to determine whether they are preparing to carry out attacks, CNN has learned.bin Ladin ..... has been linked to the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia ....Now living among followers in Afghanistan, bin Ladin ... has gone on record as being a bitter enemy of the United States. In an interview with CNN last month for the TV newsmagazine "Impact," bin Ladin said, "We declared a Jihad -- a holy war -- against the United States government because it is unjust, criminal and tyrannical."....Federal sources say a grand jury is investigating bin Ladin.....According to federal sources, agents investigating Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York began looking into the activities of bin Ladin's followers in this country... ..In particular, agents have been tracing money transfers from Afghanistan and Pakistan -- bin Ladin's power base -- through London to his followers in the United States....bin Ladin communicates with his adherents though audiotapes, but he also spreads his fundamentalist beliefs through Web sites on the Internet. The FBI wants to know if bin Ladin is financing any religious or political activities in the United States.
The CIA, worried about finding a good director for their forthcoming movie, had little time to concentrate on Osama .....
August 2, 1997 Electronic Telegraph Issue 799
A leading associate of a sworn enemy of the West is now in custody in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he is providing information about his former boss's Islamic fundamentalist activities. Details have been passed to MI6 and to the CIA at Langley, Virginia. United States intelligence sources yesterday named the informant as Abu Fadel, the terrorist alias for Sidi Tayyib. He handled the distribution of Osama bin Laden's vast wealth as the"godfather" of anti-American terror groups. Just how he ended up in Riyadh is uncertain. US officials, who have found the Saudis difficult to deal with in the matter of terrorism, will not say if he was captured or was working as a double agent for the desert kingdom. All they will disclose is that he has been in Saudi hands since the middle of May. There is also a report that a second aide to bin Laden, said to go by the name of Jallud, is helping the Saudis after being arrested. Exiled from Saudi Arabia, bin Laden, 44, who has an inherited fortune estimated at £154 million, is zealously committed to striking at American interests. He is a towering figure in Islamic circles, where he gained heroic status in the Eighties, fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Reporters who have interviewed him say he is a tall and elegant figure in a gold-trimmed white robe and red and white keffiyeh. He lives with his three wives at Hadda in Afghanistan, beyond the reach of the West and under the protection of the Taliban, who captured Kabul almost a year ago. He is especially feared because of his ability to fund many diverse operations. Britain has a special interest in him because he has been linked to the transfer of funds two years ago to a London-based Algerian group suspected of seven bombings in France. He has also been connected to the London-based Saudi opposition group, the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights. Egypt wants to question him for allegedly funding a plot to assassinate President Mubarak in December 1995. Cairo believes that in association with the blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, he was behind some of the murders of Western tourists in Egypt. America believes that bin Laden was the patron of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the 28 year-old Pakistani on trial in Manhattan for allegedly masterminding the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing for which the sheikh is serving a prison term. A State Department report labels him as "one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today". It is thought to be no coincidence that two alleged suicide bombers, Abu Mezer, 23, and Lafi Khalil, 22, carrying Jordanian passports, were captured two days ago making pipe bombs in a flat in Brooklyn, New York. They were apparently plotting to blow up a subway train. American sources say the information being given in Riyadh by Tayyib relates to the distribution of money to Arab communities in Brooklyn, Jersey City in New Jersey, and Detroit. Tayyib has apparently given details of bin Laden's bank accounts in Pakistan and Afghanistan from which money has been sent to London and Detroit for passing on to individuals. His information is thought to have been the reason a federal grand jury has been secretly convened in New York to examine the financing of terrorism in America. The CIA believes that bin Laden had advance knowledge of two Saudi bombings that killed 24 US servicemen. He is thought to have provided the money, with Iran supplying the muscle through Hizbollah.
Meanwhile back in Britain, Israeli agencies were trying to get some information. How many times should they ask the British government to put a stop to certain activities ....
August 17, 1997 The Electronic Telegraph Issue 814
An Israeli security chief has flown to London to investigate claims that the latest suicide bombings in Jerusalem were planned in Britain...... Israeli security forces are still trying to discover the identities of the two bombers who killed themselves and 14 other people and wounded 150 in a Jewish market in Jerusalem at the end of July. Mr Ayalon flew to Britain following reports that the terrorists had entered Israel on British passports. The Israelis have also re-interrogated an Arab held since April last year after being badly injured in an east Jerusalem hotel room while allegedly constructing a bomb. The suspect entered Israel on a stolen British passport having travelled via Switzerland....... Israeli officials are said to have become increasingly frustrated by what they see as British foot-dragging in curbing the activities of Palestinian hard-liners. The Israeli government has made repeated calls for action to be taken against militants, said to be operating freely in the British capital. The Foreign Office said last week there was no evidence to support the Israeli allegations, and called on the Jewish state to hand over any evidence it had. However, British security sources revealed at the end of last week that they had begun to review Hamas's status following Israeli pressure to outlaw the organisation in Britain. Hamas - unlike other Middle East organisations such as the Iran-funded Hizbollah in Lebanon - is not listed as a terrorist organisation here. According to the Israelis, more than £7 million a year is donated in Britain or goes through the London banking system to help Hamas. A London office, operating under the name of Interpal, a registered charity, channels money collected in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to assist Hamas prisoners and their families.
But in Britain neither the IRA, Hamas or Hizbollah are anything to worry about. But after the massacre in Luxor, Britain apparently did get worried that its citizens would no longer be able to spend their vacations in Egypt and so ......
November 20, 1997 International News Electronic Telegraph
Jack Straw's promise yesterday of new laws to curb the activities of international terror organisations based in Britain seems timely in the wake of this week's atrocity in Luxor. Groups supporting Egypt's Islamic extremists operate openly in London, alongside numerous other militant organisations conducting the wars and enmities of the Middle East by proxy from Britain. .....Britain is now an international centre for Islamic militancy on a huge scale. More Arab newspapers are published in London than anywhere else in the world and the capital is home to a bewildering variety of radical Islamic fundamentalist movements, many of which make no secret of their commitment to violence and terrorism to achieve their goals......But it is more than a hot-bed of dissident rhetoric. Islamic groups use London to support terrorist movements in their homelands, either through political encouragement or by raising funds. Security chiefs in Israel and France say some terror operations are actually controlled from London. As it stands, the law does not allow the British authorities - however suspicious they are of the militants' activities - to do anything about them unless they are caught in possession of guns or explosives. A report on Britain's anti-terror laws from a review team under Lord Lloyd of Berwick said: "A major gap in British legislation is that it is not an offence to conspire to commit acts of terrorism abroad. ...John Wadham, director of the pressure group Liberty said: "We need to look carefully at how we can uphold Britain's place as a safe haven for the persecuted of the world whilst promoting non-violence. Locking up dissidents is not the solution." This is precisely the dilemma that is exploited by the terror organisations, who do not even pay lip-service to democratic practices. David Pryce-Jones, an authority on Muslim-Arab society, said: "They show great sophistication in knowing how a Western society operates and what its weaknesses are. They can exploit the legal system, the human rights and asylum laws and other elements of a democracy to which they don't themselves subscribe."
Islamic militancy takes several forms in Britain. There are groups that conduct foreign policy by extension on behalf of a state - such as Iran or Saudi Arabia - and are financed by those governments. The late Kalim Siddiqui, who established the Muslim Parliament and supported the death sentence against Salman Rushdie was widely seen as Teheran's man in Britain. There are also the dissidents who are campaigning to destabilise countries where they cannot campaign openly or whose government they despise. Mr Pryce-Jones said: "They can't carry on opposition in their own tyrannical country. It's too dangerous. So they use London to extend their own domestic politics." There are also shadowy figures linked directly to terror groups such as Hamas, Hizbollah and the Algerian GIA. For now, the violence they perpetrate takes place mainly overseas - though, as events in Luxor demonstrated, British citizens can fall victim to terrorism abroad which may at least partially be orchestrated from their own country. But the security authorities concede that violence may spill on to the streets of London - either through feuds or by direct targeting of institutions, as has already happened in America. Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, otherwise known as the Blind Sheikh, is serving a life sentence in jail for "inspiring" the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing in New York. He is the spiritual leader of Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group), believed to be responsible for the massacre in Luxor.The Blind Sheikh is regarded as a martyr throughout the Islamic world and has links to groups in London.
One of his past associates is Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of al-Muhajiroun (The Emigrants), which operates out of an office in north London and is said to be the fastest growing militant Islamic organisation in the world. Bakri has expressed support for Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organisation implicated in suicide bomb atrocities in Israel, and said in a recent interview: "Do not follow British laws. Do not vote. The only authority is God's law." Bakri, 38, was born in Syria but has been in Britain legally since 1985. He has five children and claims income support and disability benefit. His party is dedicated to the overthrow of Western society and wants to see the establishment of a khilafah - an Islamic state - in Britain. Last year, al-Muhajiroun tried to organise an Islamic rally in London's Docklands, but it was abandoned after the Home Office excluded from Britain some of its principal speakers. To Bakri, even the Islamic Republic in Iran is corrupt. He and his supporters despise the dictatorship in Iraq and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Among his admirers is Mohamad al-Massari, who has called for the annihilation of the Jews and campaigns from London for the overthrow of the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Last year, the Home Office tried to expel Mr al-Massari to a Caribbean island but was overruled by the courts. He now has indefinite leave to remain in the UK and has even appeared on an episode of "Have I Got News For You".
Elsewhere in London is the Islamic Observation Centre, said to be run by Abdel Meguid Fahmy, an Egyptian exile who has been given political asylum in Britain. The most extreme British Muslim organisation is Hizb ut-Tahrir (HUT), which campaigns for the establishment of a Muslim regime in Britain and has been behind several high-profile rallies in central London. The presence of so many Islamic groups leads inevitably to diplomatic tensions. Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front continues to operate in Britain, much to the annoyance of the Algerian and French governments, who say British-based groups were behind bombs in Paris. Israeli security chiefs are also constantly pressing Britain to bear down on the activities of Hamas. They regard London as its overseas fund-raising and educational headquarters, raising millions of pounds to support terrorist operations and publishing anti-Zionist propaganda. The Hamas monthly magazine, Filisteen al-Muslima (Islamic Palestine), is published in Cricklewood, north London, and its charities operate freely. The Israelis also say Hamas supporters in Britain are helping to orchestrate terrorist attacks, something disputed by British security sources. While MI5 and the Special Branch keep a close eye on the activities of suspected terror groups, a distinction is drawn between them and those ostensibly involved in dissident politics. But there is concern that Britain could be increasingly vulnerable to international terrorism unless additional powers of the sort proposed by Mr. Straw are forthcoming.
And now it looks like Britain is getting worried that its citizens will no longer be able to spend their vacations in France ......
November 27, 1997 The New York Times
Forty people accused of helping Algerian Islamic militants plant bombs that killed eight people and wounded more than 170 in Paris in 1995 went on trial this week. They are charged with conspiracy to support a terrorist campaign to get the French government to drop support for the Algerian government......... The defendants .... were arrested two years ago, after French commandos and the police killed one of the suspected ringleaders of the bombings, Khalid Kelkal, near Lyons and arrested hundreds of Algerians or people of Algerian origin suspected of being part of an underground support network for the Algerian Armed Islamic Group in France. ...... Three of the defendants in this trial -- identified as Joseph Jaime, David Vallat and Alain Celle -- are French citizens who converted to Islam and underwent military training in Afghanistan, prosecutors said. ..... The French authorities say the operations here were financed from Britain, where the Islamic group was able to publish a newsletter. The French press often rails against Britain for its perceived laxity regarding Islamic militants who are said to find sanctuary in England. French newspapers gave prominent display recently to similar charges by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after the massacre of foreign tourists at Luxor last week.
So worried that it finally decided to take action .....
September 24, 1998 The New York Times
The British police arrested seven people Wednesday in a coordinated raid apparently aimed at associates of Osama bin Laden ..... A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard declined to name any of the suspects, but she said they had been detained as a result of "a carefully planned ongoing operation led by the Met's anti-terrorism branch." The Met is shorthand for London's Metropolitan Police Force. The Press Association, Britain's domestic news agency, said it was understood that the operation ... was aimed at associates of bin Laden, whom American officials suspect was the mastermind behind the embassy bombings, which killed more than 250 people. The arrests were made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1989, but it was not clear whether the police were operating under new liberties granted them to arrest people suspected of plotting terrorist acts elsewhere on British soil. Legislation expanding police power in such cases was passed here in August in an emergency session of parliament called by Prime Minister Tony Blair after the bombing in the town of Omagh, in Northern Ireland, that killed 29 people. Under those new laws, conspiring to commit terrorist crimes while in Britain is a punishable offense. The police said that the arrests were part of a joint operation between specialist Metropolitan police officers and agents from MI5, the domestic military intelligence arm that is the equivalent of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. The police spokeswoman said that the seven men were picked up at separate addresses in West and Northwest London early Wednesday morning. An eighth address, described only as a "business premises," was also searched. It was believed that those arrested included a number of Egyptians and at least one Saudi. Agence France-Presse reported that one of those jailed was Adel Adbel Meguid Adbel Bari, who was sentenced to death in absentia for involvement in a bombing plot in Cairo in 1995. The news agency also quoted Omar Bakri Mohammed, who claims to be a spokesman here for bin Laden, as saying, "They belong to various Islamic movements, but some of them are linked to the International Islamic Front, Osama bin Laden's movement." London has been a haven for Arab dissidents, and several countries in the Middle East, as well as France, have complained that guerrilla groups are taking advantage of British law. .... Asked whether the British agencies had been in touch with the FBI, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said, "As a matter of routine, the Metropolitan Police Service liases regularly with international law enforcement agencies."
September 29, 1998 NY Times
A British court ordered a suspect held Monday pending extradition to the United States as part of the broadening investigation into Osama bin Laden .... The suspect, Khalid al Fawwaz, is believed to be the leader of bin Laden's organization in Britain .... Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, declined to give details about the complaint. But she said in a statement that al Fawwaz had been arrested on a warrant charging him with "conspiring with Mr. Bin Laden and others to murder United States nationals." .... The indictment also asserts for the first time that bin Laden's organization, Al Qaeda, took its stand against the United States for, among other factors, "the arrest, conviction and imprisonment" of people belonging to "Al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups, including Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman," the Egyptian clergyman who was convicted in 1995 in a plot to bomb landmarks in New York City. .... It was unclear whether al Fawwaz's extradition was sought in connection with the embassy attacks or as part of the broader investigation of bin Laden. A brief summary of the case offered by the British authorities said al Fawwaz's duties included transmitting bin Laden's fatwahs, or death sentences against people found to have offended Islam. The summary document said that in one case Fawwaz transmitted a fatwah that declared a holy war against American citizens. He was able to send it through an intermediary "to the eventual publisher and personally vouched for its authenticity," the document said, without supplying details. ... Al Fawwaz was described in The Times of London on Sunday as an executive and one-time close ally of bin Laden who ran the London office of a Saudi dissidents' group that bin Laden had founded. The newspaper said al Fawwaz was involved in monitoring the press and distributing communiques.
February 21, 2001 NY Times
Spurred by growing international alarm about Osama bin Laden's militant networks, the police in Britain and Germany have recently arrested more than a dozen Islamic radicals. American officials say some of those arrested were plotting terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere. American and foreign officials said the arrests were part of an intensified effort to crack down on a network with ties to Mr. bin Laden. Last week British police officers raided several houses in London and arrested 10 men, six of whom have been charged with preparing to engage in "acts of terrorism." Among the four arrested but not charged was Omar Mahmood Abu Omar, an Islamic religious leader who American and Jordanian officials say is a key agent for Mr. bin Laden in Europe. Jordanian courts have twice convicted Mr. Omar, who is known as Abu Qatada, on terrorism charges in absentia, in 1998 for his role in bombings and last year for conspiring to blow up tourist sites during millennium celebrations. Britain has rebuffed Jordan's requests for his extradition, Jordanian officials say. The British police said that among those charged is Mustafa Labsi, 31, an Algerian with links to Islamic militants whom American officials have accused of trying to smuggle explosives into the United States from British Columbia in late December 1999. Canadian court documents show that Mr. Labsi rented an apartment in Montreal where Ahmed Ressam, one of the men charged in that case, is believed to have stayed. American officials said the United States has been urging Britain for years to crack down on Abu Qatada, who has political asylum, and on other militant Muslims. The United States and several of its Arab allies have complained that Britain offers a haven to groups plotting violence in their countries. American officials said the investigations of such militants gained momentum on Dec. 26 when the German police arrested four men in Frankfurt on terrorism charges. American officials say they believe the Germans also found a videotape of tourist sites in Strasbourg, France, across the Rhine from Germany. American officials said German investigators had told Britain and France that the group had contacts with associates in London and might be plotting attacks in France. Abu Qatada is a Palestinian who took Jordanian nationality and got political-refugee status in Britain in the early 1990's. American and Jordanian officials describe him as a senior bin Laden agent who has coordinated the movement of men, money and arms to Islamic wars, including the rebellion against Russian rule in Chechnya. Jordanian officials accuse him of issuing fatwas, or religious rulings, to the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria that blessed the killing of women and children. In the bombing trial in New York, the renegade from Al Qaeda, Mr. Al- Fadl, identified a man named Abu Qatada as an early member of Al Qaeda's fatwa committee, the group that drafted such religious rulings, including a command to kill Americans throughout the world. In an interview last year with the Arabic newspaper Al Hayat, Abu Qatada denied that he was a member of Al Qaeda group or that he had signed or helped draft the fatwa that sanctioned the killing of Americans. He did not deny supporting Muslims in their struggle in Chechnya or in other Islamic wars. "Britain is increasingly becoming aware of the threats that are posed by terrorist support networks, and is taking action," he said. "The U.S. has shown the way. Britain's taking action will mean that many other countries in the European Union and the Commonwealth will follow along."
So when we ask the "Who?" and the "Why?" about TWA Flight 800 let us remember that TWA Flight 800 fell down, the World Trade Center fell down, and in 2005 "London Bridge Is Still Falling Down".
July 8, 2005 The Daily
The quiet-life option ensures that attacks go on By Mark Steyn
One way of measuring any terrorist attack is to look at whether the killers accomplished everything they set out to. On September 11, 2001, al-Qa'eda set out to hijack four planes and succeeded in seizing every one. Had the killers attempted to take another 30 jets between 7.30 and nine that morning, who can doubt that they'd have maintained their pristine 100 per cent success rate? Throughout the IRA's long war against us, two generations of British politicians pointed out that there would always be the odd "crack in the system" through which the determined terrorist would slip. But on 9/11 the failure of the system was total. Yesterday, al-Qa'eda hit three Tube trains and one bus. Had they broadened their attentions from the central zone, had they attempted to blow up 30 trains from Uxbridge to Upminster, who can doubt that they too would have been successful? In other words, the scale of the carnage was constrained only by the murderers' ambition and their manpower. The difference is that 9/11 hit out of the blue - literally and politically; 7/7 came after four years of Her Majesty's Government prioritising terrorism and "security" above all else - and the failure rate was still 100 per cent. After the Madrid bombing, I was struck by the spate of comic security breaches in London: two Greenpeace guys shin up St Stephen's Tower, a Mirror reporter blags his way into a servants' gig at Buckingham Palace a week before Bush comes to stay; an Osama lookalike gatecrashes Prince William's party.
There is an important rhetorical battle to be won in the days ahead. The choice for Britons now is whether they wish to be Australians post-Bali or Spaniards post-Madrid. That shouldn't be a tough call. But it's easy to stand before a news camera and sonorously declare that "the British people will never surrender to terrorism". What would you call giving IRA frontmen offices at Westminster? It's the target that decides whether terror wins - and in the end, for all the bombings, the British people and their political leaders decided they preferred to regard the IRA as a peripheral nuisance which a few concessions could push to the fringe of their concerns. They thought the same in the 1930s - back when Czechoslovakia was "a faraway country of which we know little". Today, the faraway country of which the British know little is Britain itself. Traditional terrorists - the IRA, ETA - operate close to home. Islamism projects itself long-range to any point of the planet with an ease most G8 militaries can't manage. Small cells operate in the nooks and crannies of a free society while the political class seems all but unaware of their existence.
Did we learn enough, for example, from the case of Omar Sheikh? He's the fellow convicted of the kidnapping and beheading in Karachi of the American journalist Daniel Pearl. He's usually described as "Pakistani" but he is, in fact, a citizen of the United Kingdom - born in Whipps Cross Hospital, educated at Nightingale Primary School in Wanstead, the Forest School in Snaresbrook and the London School of Economics. He travels on a British passport. Unlike yours truly, a humble Canadian subject of the Crown, Mr Sheikh gets to go through the express lane at Heathrow. Or take Abdel Karim al-Tuhami al-Majati, a senior al-Qa'eda member from Morocco killed by Saudi security forces in al Ras last April. One of Mr Majati's wives is a Belgian citizen resident in Britain. In Pakistan, the jihadists speak openly of London as the terrorist bridgehead to Europe. Given the British jihadists who've been discovered in the thick of it in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia, only a fool would believe they had no plans for anything closer to home - or, rather, "home". Most of us can only speculate at the degree of Islamist penetration in the United Kingdom because we simply don't know, and multicultural pieties require that we keep ourselves in the dark. Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of Britain's Islamic Human Rights Commission, is already "advising Muslims not to travel or go out unless necessary, and is particularly concerned that women should not go out alone in this climate". Thanks to "Islamophobia" and other pseudo-crises, the political class will be under pressure to take refuge in pointless gestures (ie, ID cards) that inconvenience the citizenry and serve only as bureaucratic distractions from the real war effort.
Since 9/11 most Britons have been sceptical of Washington's view of this conflict. Douglas Hurd and many other Tory grandees have been openly scornful of the Bush doctrine. Lord Hurd would no doubt have preferred a policy of urbane aloofness, such as he promoted vis à vis the Balkans in the early 1990s. He's probably still unaware that Omar Sheikh was a westernised non-observant chess-playing pop-listening beer-drinking English student until he was radicalised by the massacres of Bosnian Muslims. Abdel Karim al-Tuhami al-Majati was another Europeanised Muslim radicalised by Bosnia. The inactivity of Do-Nothin' Doug and his fellow Lions of Lethargy a decade ago had terrible consequences and recruited more jihadists than any of Bush's daisy cutters. The fact that most of us were unaware of the consequences of EU lethargy on Bosnia until that chicken policy came home to roost a decade later should be sobering: it was what Don Rumsfeld, in a remark mocked by many snide media twerps, accurately characterised as an "unknown unknown" - a vital factor so successfully immersed you don't even know you don't know it. This is the beginning of a long existential struggle, for Britain and the West. It's hard not to be moved by the sight of Londoners calmly going about their business as usual in the face of terrorism. But, if the governing class goes about business as usual, that's not a stiff upper lip but a death wish.
July 8 2005 New York Times
Our Ally, Our Problem by Peter Bergen
As the shock waves from yesterday's terrorist attacks in London - which seem to be the work of jihadist militants - reverberate across the Atlantic, a grim truth should become increasingly clear: one of the greatest terrorist threats to the United States emanates not from domestic sleeper cells or, as is popularly imagined, from the graduates of Middle Eastern madrassas, but from some of the citizens of its closest ally, Britain. Richard C. Reid, the "shoe bomber" who tried to blow up an American Airlines jet flying between Paris and Miami in 2001, is British. So is Saajid Badat, who pled guilty in London four months ago to plotting to use a shoe bomb similar to Mr. Reid's to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight in late 2001. And Ahmed Omar Sheik, who orchestrated the 2002 kidnapping-murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, is a British citizen of Pakistani descent who graduated from the London School of Economics. In 2004 British police arrested 12 terrorist suspects, many of them British citizens (including Qaeda operative Abu Issa al-Hindi), who were allegedly plotting attacks both in Britain and the United States. American law enforcement officials accuse Mr. Hindi of leading the surveillance of financial targets in New York and Washington between August 2000 and April 2001. Those targets included the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Prudential building in Newark and the New York Stock Exchange. And two years ago, British citizens engaged in a highly unusual suicide attack outside the country, a foreshadowing of how such an attack might be mounted in the United States. On April 30, 2003, two Britons of Pakistani descent walked into Mike's Place, a jazz club near the American Embassy in Israel. Once inside, the younger of the two men succeeded in detonating a bomb, killing himself and three bystanders, while the other man fled the scene. If such an attack can happen in Israel, a country with the most rigorous counterterrorist defenses in the world, it can also happen here.
Why have so many of these terrorists come from Britain? Many British Muslims are young and poorly integrated into society and therefore vulnerable to extremism. In fact, Muslims have the youngest age profile of any religious group in Britain; around a third are under the age of 16. The unemployment rate among British Muslims runs almost 10 percentage points above the national average of about 5 percent. In the case of 16- to 24-year-old Muslim men, the unemployment rate is 22 percent. Not surprisingly, polls of British Muslims show a considerable sense of anger. Eight out of 10 believe that the war on terrorism is a war on Islam, while a poll conducted last year, under the auspices of the Guardian newspaper, found a surprising 13 percent who said that further attacks by Al Qaeda or a similar organization on the United States would be justified. One rap video that surfaced in Britain last year called "Dirty Kuffar" had lyrics that included the following verse: "O.B.L. [bin Laden] pulled me like a shining star! Like the way we destroyed them two towers, ha-ha!" Last year a British government report estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 British Muslims are supporters of Al Qaeda or related groups. The estimate was based on intelligence, opinion polls and a report that 10,000 Muslims attended a 2003 conference held by Hizb ut-Tahrir, described by the Home Office as a "structured extremist organization." British authorities believe that between 300 and 600 British citizens were trained in Qaeda and Taliban camps in Afghanistan. For this reason, and because of Britain's relatively permissive asylum laws, Arab militants living in London sometimes jokingly refer to their hometown as Londonistan. Here's the problem for the United States: Under our Visa Waiver Program, residents of Londonistan who hold a valid British passport can board a plane for the United States without an interview by an American consular official. This program also applies to more than a score of other European countries, like France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, that meet the criteria for visa-free travel to the United States. Unfortunately, while these countries may enjoy a low visa refusal rate, grant reciprocal visa-free travel to Americans and issue machine-readable passports - all criteria for inclusion in the waiver program - many of them have also had a hard time integrating their growing Muslim populations. Even before yesterday's attacks, there was plenty of evidence from episodes like the Madrid bombings in 2004 that these countries contained sleeper cells with the ability and motivation to carry out major terrorist operations and even, perhaps, to attack the United States itself.
As declining populations in Europe are replaced in part by rising Muslim emigration from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, economic resentment and sectarian strife seem likely to grow. Tinkering with visa regulations might help, but it is unlikely to change the reality that Islamic militant groups in Britain, as in several other major European countries, represent a growing threat to the United States that will continue for many years to come.
(Note from website author: Ramadan Shallah was finally indicted by th U.S. government on February 20, 2003)