On a second occasion, he says masked men drove up to him in a jeep and asked if he was interested in “bringing the jihad to his homeland”. Nearly every European recruit is asked the same question, as Sarfo claims Da’esh want to plan simultaneous attacks in a massacre that would shock the world. Sarfo says he refused and fled Syria after becoming fed up with the violence and walked away and to Turkey to escape. He was arrested when he returned to Germany at the end of Jul 15 and has provided a rare insight into the workings of the terror organisation. Accused of being a member of ISIS, Sarfo has told security officials in Germany how he witnessed firing squads and beheadings and was featured in propaganda videos of executions.
Sarfo, who converted to Islam in prison, claims he was trained as a fighter to become part of a suicide squad. The German national says he trained alongside 50 other men was drilled in camps, where he slept with his Kalashnikov and was forced to march for entire days and spend hours standing in the sun. Sarfo, who is believed to have links to British Jihadis, was born in Germany to Christian parents. It is understands Sarfo moved to London as a teenager and may have spent time in the capital between 2005 and 2012. His lawyer says the repentant radical “is a lackey who allowed himself to be misled by the propaganda of ISIS” and he did not take part in executions despite being featured in the background of a video where two kneeling prisoners were shot in the head.
Austria – Vienna police said on the 26 Dec 15 a “friendly” intelligence service has warned numerous European capitals of the possibility of a shooting or bomb attack before the New Year, pushing police across the continent to increase security measures it was reported on the 27 Dec 15. “Several possible names of potential attackers were mentioned, which were checked, and the investigation based on (these checks) has so far yielded no concrete results,” Vienna police said in a statement, some six weeks after 130 people were killed in militant bombing and shooting attacks in Paris.
“In the days before Christmas a warning was sent out by a friendly (intelligence) service to numerous European capitals, saying that it could come to an attack involving explosives or a shooting between Christmas and the New Year in crowded spaces,” the statement said. The warning from the intelligence service, which the statement did not name, pointed to a higher threat level than “the general abstract” level cited earlier, Vienna police said, asking Austrians for their understanding for more controls. Extra security steps include surveillance in crowded spaces, “especially at events and traffic hubs” as well as intensive identity checks and higher alertness for objects which could carry explosives such as bags or “bicycle frames”, it said.
361 COMMENT: The Provisional Irish Republican Army used the bicycle frame style bomb as a secondary device. The bicycle was placed in or near an assembly point. In some cases an LED was used to detonate the device by use of response to camera flash or other such initiator. This may be the first time that advice has been given regarding this style of possible attack. Either way people should be careful when reacting to a terrorist attack and making their way to an assembly point which has bicycles there. It is advisable that when people arrive at an assembly area then a search of that location is conducted to ensure it is safe. If a secondary device is found then it is advisable to move to another location which has not been marked for an assembly point. COMMENT ENDS
Belgium – Police in Belgium have arrested a ninth suspect in connection with last month's Paris attacks, which killed 130 people. Prosecutors say Abdoullah C was contacted by the cousin of suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud soon after the 13 November attacks. Both Abaaoud, a Belgian national, and his cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen died five days later when police raided a flat near Paris where they were barricaded. Few details have been released about the alleged role played by Abdoullah C, who is reported to have been arrested in a low-key operation in Brussels on the 22 Dec 15. Police did not immediately announce his arrest in order to avoid alerting potential accomplices, a spokesman said. He appeared before a Brussels court on the 24 Dec 15 but his case was postponed, local media say.
Several phone calls were made between the suspect and Hasna Aitboulahcen "after the terrorist attacks and before the Seine-Saint-Denis raid", the Belgian prosecutor's spokesman said. Abdoullah C appeared in court alongside another suspect, Abraimi Lazez, according to reports. Lazez, 39, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, was arrested last month in the Belgian town of Laeken and is suspected of helping key suspect Salah Abdeslam flee France. Police found two guns and traces of blood in a car connected to Mr Lazez but determined that the blood did not belong to Abdeslam and neither of the guns was capable of firing live ammunition. Police are still searching for Mr Abdeslam, 26. They believe he took part in the 13 Nov 15 attacks before contacting friends in Belgium to drive him back over the border to Brussels.
Belgium – Two suspected ISIS militants have been arrested in Belgium on suspicion of planning attacks in Brussels on New Year's Eve it was reported on the 29 Dec 15. The pair were held during house searches on the 27 Dec 15 and the 28 Dec 15 in the Brussels area, the Liege region and Flemish Brabant, federal prosecutors said. Military-style training uniforms, ISIS propaganda and computer material were also seized and are being examined. The investigation revealed 'the threat of serious attacks that would target several emblematic places in Brussels and be committed during the end-of-year holidays,' the prosecutor's office added. A total of six people were taken in for questioning, but four were released. Two were placed under arrest on charges including participation in the activities of a terrorist group as a leader or recruiter with the aim of committing terrorist offenses as principal or secondary actor.
The prosecutor's office said no additional details would be made public, but that the probe was not connected to the 13 Nov 15 attacks in Paris, in which numerous suspects, including fugitive Salah Abdeslam, had connections to Belgium. It comes after Austrian police said a 'friendly' intelligence service had warned European capitals of the possibility of a shooting or bomb attack before New Year, prompting police across the continent to increase security measures. Extra steps include surveillance in crowded spaces 'especially at events and traffic hubs' as well as intensive identity checks and higher alertness for objects which could carry explosives such as bags or 'bicycle frames'. In a statement, Vienna police said: 'Several possible names of potential attackers were mentioned, which were checked, and the investigation based on (these checks) has so far yielded no concrete results. A French source close to the investigation confirmed that one of the attackers at the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people were massacred sent a text message to a Belgian number saying: 'It's on, we've started'.
361 COMMENT: In a TV report they claim was that there were no weapons, ammunition or explosives found. This may change later as more is learnt. However, with the lack of logistics in place this may indicate that the Quarter Master (Person responsible for logistics) may not have delivered the hard-ware for the two to conduct the attack. If this is the case then that means there maybe another cell somewhere and that there are appropriate weapons etc to conduct another attack. COMMENT ENDS
Belgium – Three people detained on the 31 Dec 15 in connection with an alleged plot to target Brussels on New Year's Eve. Another three people who were also detained during the raids in and around the Belgian capital were released. Two other terror suspects were arrested earlier in the week and Brussels' mayor cancelled New Year festivities. French authorities have deployed more than 100,000 police to ensure security. Belgian authorities said the apparent plots to target New Year celebrations in Brussels are not related to the suspected network behind the Paris attacks. The mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, said the decision to cancel the city's New Year celebrations was based on intelligence suggesting they could be targeted.
The two men seized in Brussels on the 27 Dec 15 named as 30-year-old Said Saouti and 27-year-old Mohammed Karay, both Belgian nationals, could be held for a month, a judge ruled on Thursday. Both are members of a motorcycle club called the Kamikaze Riders. Some members have links to Islamist groups and to Belgians who have travelled to Syria to fight with so-called Islamic State, Belgian media report. It was not clear whether the six taken in for questioning on Thursday morning were also connected to the motorcycle club. Police seized material during Thursday's raids including computers, phones and materials for playing airsoft - a military simulation game in which players fire replica weapons loaded with plastic pellets. The Belgian national, identified as Ayoub B, was detained on Wednesday during a raid in the Brussels district of Molenbeek. He has been charged with terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist group. Paris attacks: Is Molenbeek a hotbed of extremism/Security was stepped up in other major European cities ahead of New Year celebrations, including Paris, London, Berlin and Moscow, with officials wary of possible terror plots. Munich police issued a warning of an imminent threat there.
Kamikaze Riders – Founded by Belgians of Moroccan descent, gang members show off their prowess on their Japanese motorcycles, wearing the leather jackets emblazoned with samurai imagery. However, investigations have exposed links between group members and Belgium's shadowy jihadist underworld. In 2013 one of the club's founders, Abdelouafi Elouassaki, was arrested after providing material support to two of his brothers, who were fighting in Syria for jihadist groups. All three were found to have ties to now-banned group Sharia4Belgium, which radicalised hundreds of young Belgian and Dutch men to fight for jihadist groups in Syria, including Islamic State (ISIS) and the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al Nusra. Before his death in 2013 in a motorcycle accident, Elouassaki was questioned by police about his support for terrorism. One of his brothers was killed in Syria with the other seriously wounded.
Bosnia – A Bosnian anti-terrorism prosecutor has said the recent arrests of 11 suspected jihadists prevented an attack that purportedly would have killed around 100 holiday revellers in Sarajevo, state television said on the 26 Dec 15. The arrests were carried out on the 22 Dec 15 in several parts of the Bosnian capital. On the 25 Dec 15 a Sarajevo court ordered eight of the suspects to be held for 30 days, Bosnian television reported. It quoted prosecutor Dubravko Campara as telling an investigating magistrate that the group were planning "a terrorist act during end-of-year celebrations." "They were threatening to carry out an explosives attack in which 100 people would be killed," RTRS television quoted Campara as saying. The suspects' lawyers dismissed the allegations as a "simple farce" and said their clients were merely "practising their religion". Prosecutors said the suspects habitually gathered at a place of worship set up in a rented house in a Sarajevo suburb.
After the arrests, prosecutors gave reporters a photograph taken at the site showing a printout of the Islamic State group flag on the wall. "Physical evidence of the links with the Islamic State group structures were seized," Campara said, while adding that no explosives were found in the raids. The operation was conducted in several Sarajevo districts, including in Rajlovac, where two members of Bosnia's armed forces were killed in Nov 15 in a suspected terror attack by a man who then blew himself up. Around 40 percent of Bosnia's population of 3.8 million are Muslim, most of whom follow a moderate form of Islam. Orthodox and Catholic Christians make up most of the rest of the population. Of some 200 Bosnian nationals who joined jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq in 2012 and 2013, at least 26 have died while about 50 have returned to the Balkan country, authorities say. Last year Bosnia adopted a new law providing for jail sentences of up to 20 years for jihadists and their recruiters, since when the number leaving for the Middle East appears to have dropped off.
France – An Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris was forced to make an emergency landing in Kenya after a suspicious package was found on board it was reported on the 20 Dec 15 by Kenyan police. Flight AF 463, which had 459 passengers and 14 crew members on board, had left Mauritius at 0900 hrs local time (1700 hrs GMT) and was due to arrive in Paris Charles de Gaulle at 0550 hrs (0450 hrs GMT) on the 19 Dec 15. The Boeing 777 landed at Moi International Airport, Mombasa, before 0100 hrs local time (2137 hrs GMT). "It requested an emergency landing after a device suspected to be a bomb was discovered in the lavatory, an emergency was prepared and it landed safely and all passengers evacuated," police spokesman Charles Owino said. Bomb experts from the Navy and the CID were called in and took the device which they are dismantling to establish if it had any explosives." The Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, which lies about 1,000km east of Madagascar, is a favourite vacation destination for French nationals.
Two other Air France flights from the U.S. to Paris were diverted on the 18 Nov 15 after bomb threats were received but no bombs were found.
A retired policeman was released after being questioned by officers in Paris after he got off an Air France plane that was forced to make an emergency landing in Kenya on the 20 Dec 15 when a fake bomb was found on board. The man was detained by border police when the flight from Mauritius finally landed in Charles de Gaulle airport on the morning of the 21 Dec 15 police said. He had been suspected of placing the suspect device in the aircraft’s toilets. But on evening of the 21 Dec the prosecutor's office said: "The current state of the investigation does not justify keeping him in detention. The office added that it is "continuing its inquiry". Media reports said he was a 58-year-old who lives on the French island of Reunion, which like Mauritius lies in the Indian Ocean. Police were also questioning his wife as a witness.
The man was seen making several trips to the plane’s toilets before the suspect device was discovered, members of the plane’s crew told police. Sunday's alert was the third time an Air France flight has been diverted because of a bomb scare since the massacre of 130 people by Islamist extremists in the French capital last month. A passenger informed the crew after finding a suspect package in a toilet cubicle an hour after the Boeing 777 took off from Mauritius. An Air France source said the device consisted of “two transparent digital clocks set to different times, apparently without a countdown, a black wire that looked like a radio clock aerial, and four rectangular cardboard boxes joined with adhesive and metal pliers.” Air France has said it has "filed a legal complaint against unknown persons for endangering the life of others."
361 COMMENT: It would have taken more than one person to assemble the fake device. Each component may have been carried by two or more people. If the components were placed in hand luggage and then taken on the aircraft by one person then the security staff along with scanners would have picked them up as it is if they have been carried on separately and as a hoax the security staff would never know. The parts would have had to be taken on the aircraft by more people. Once sat and the aircraft had taken off then the components would have been given to one person. If the report is correct and one person took a number of trips to the toilet then that person would have assembled it there, in privacy. If they had done it sat in their seat they would have been discovered. Once the fake explosive device had been assembled then it would have been left to be discovered. But why carry out this type of fake attack? What would the people who carried out this attack achieve? It is doubtful that it was a rehearsal as in attacks of this nature they would have done the attack for real. This is all very odd. COMMENT ENDS
France/United States – On the 18 Dec 15 Homeland Security published the following in the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Paris. The leaders of U.S. and European law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been explicit in their warnings: commercially available communication devices equipped with end-to-end encryption software make it impossible for security services to track terrorists plotting an attack – or monitor the terrorists’ communication while the attack is under way. Sources close to the investigation of the 13 November Paris terrorist attacks have now confirmed that the terrorists used the encrypted WhatsApp and Telegram messengers apps to communicate for a period before the attacks – and with each other during the attacks. What was said in those encrypted messages, and who sent and received these messages, may never be known, because the companies themselves do not have the key – or back door – to decrypt these messages. Thus, security services could not monitor such messages before an attack in order to prevent it, and cannot read these messages after an attack to learn more about the terrorists’ network and support system.
The leaders of U.S. and European law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been explicit in their warnings: commercially available communication devices equipped with end-to-end encryption software make it impossible for security services to track terrorists plotting an attack – or monitor the terrorists’ communication while the attack is under way (see “Head of U.K. surveillance agency: U.S. tech companies have become terrorists’ ‘networks of choice’,” HSNW, 5 November 2014; “FBI unable to break 109 encrypted messages Texas terror attack suspect sent ahead of attack,” HSNW, 11 December 2015; “Privacy vs. security debate intensifies as more companies offer end-to-end-encryption,” HSNW, 9 July 2015). FBI director James Comey last week told lawmakers that one of the suspects in the foiled terror attack in Garland, Texas, in May 2015 had exchanged 109 messages with sources in a “terrorist location” overseas ahead of the attack. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, however, have not been able to break into and read those messages because they were exchanged on devices equipped with end-to-end encryption software.
Was the Garland attacker receiving instructions from his handlers, and, if so, who were they and what were their instructions? If the Garland attacker was a member of a terrorist cell, were these handlers relaying messages to other cell members? Was the attack part of a larger plot to attack several targets simultaneously, as would be the case in Paris on 13 November? The FBI was already monitoring those sources in a “terrorist location,” so they had the assume that the 109 messages coming from Texas during the run-up to the Garland attack were not innocent messages about family matters or an upcoming basketball game. Yet, the end-to-end encryption made it impossible to break into these messages, learn the details of the terrorist attack about to be carried out, and do something to prevent it from taking place. In the aftermath of the attack – when there was no longer any doubt that the Texas messages sender was a terrorist who tried to kill Americans – the end-to-end encryption made it impossible to learn more about the scope and nature of the terrorist’s support network, in the United States and abroad, thus making it impossible for the security services to dismantle it.
Germany – German authorities on the 17 Dec 15 raided, shuttered and banned a Muslim association and mosque they accused of supporting the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria and Iraq. Police in the south-western city of Stuttgart confiscated computers, data storage devices, smartphones and documents, said the interior minister of Baden-Wurttemberg state, without reporting any arrests. "We do not tolerate associations that advocate the use of violence to promote religious concerns and collect donations for terrorist groups," said the minister, Reinhold Gall. He charged that radical preachers and fundamentalist Islamists, mainly from western Balkan states, had frequented the Islamic Educational and Cultural Centre Mesdschid Sahabe.
Of about 50 people who had travelled to Syria from Baden-Wuerttemberg to join the fighting, at least 10 had been visitors of the mosque, and three of them had since died, he said. The centre -- which was previously raided by police in Mar 15 to gather evidence -- had now been closed and disbanded and its property confiscated, added the minister in a statement. "The association supports, in the form of the so-called Islamic State, an Islamist group that carries out religiously-motivated attacks against persons and property," he charged. "Through the association, donations have been collected for terrorist groups and fighters recruited for the conflict in Syria. In addition, the association and its members glorify jihad and religiously motivated terrorism."
Open source material on the 23 Dec 15 reported that about a dozen migrants may have entered Germany on forged Syrian passports like those used by two Paris suicide bombers, which authorities did not confirm. Bild newspaper, citing unnamed government sources, said the passports bore the "same forgery characteristics" as those carried by two men involved in the November 13 France attacks claimed by ISIS. The passports were stolen blanks issued by the Syrian government, but filled in by forgers with the personal details of people who then joined tens of thousands on the refugee trail to Europe, according to Bild. The report said German authorities did not know where the "about one dozen" arrivals were now, having entered the country before November 13, and that no fingerprints had been taken of them. Germany's Office for Migration and Refugees now only had copies of the passports, which Bild said had been issued in 2013 in Raqqa, now ISIS's de facto Syrian capital.
The German interior ministry declined to comment on the claims "for tactical reasons", but stressed that it was aware of the risk criminals and extremists could use forged Syrian passports. German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, citing Western intelligence sources, reported on the 20 Dec 15 that ISIS may have stolen "tens of thousands" of blank passports in Syria, Iraq and Libya that it could use to smuggle its fighters into Europe. The two unidentified Stade de France attackers in Paris appear to have used fake Syrian passports to enter Europe along the migrant trail. Europe's biggest economic power has to date maintained an open-door policy for Syrians escaping their country's bloodshed, giving them "primary protection" -- the highest status for refugees.
Germany – Police in Germany said on the 01 Jan 16 a New Year's Eve terror alert that closed two busy Munich train stations was prompted by the threat of suicide attacks linked to ISIS. It was not immediately clear exactly how the alert was linked to the terror group. Threats were made against the central Hauptbahnhof station and the Pasing station west of the city, Police Chief Hubertus Andrae said. The stations were evacuated on the evening of the 31 Dec 15 and service stopped for around eight hours. Authorities told the public additional officers were being called in to find possible suspects. On Friday (01 Jan 16), 100 additional officers were still on duty, Andrae said.
The information police received referenced five to seven possible attackers and included personal information for some of them. Those details included names and referred to both Syrian and Iraqi nationals, the chief said. Initial police checks of the information turned up nothing, and no one has been detained, Andrea said. Another country's intelligence agency reported the plot and the ISIS connection to German federal police, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said. Andrae would not confirm reports that the intelligence that sparked the alert came from U.S. and French intelligence. Early Friday, police allowed both train stations to reopen, they announced in a tweet.
361 COMMENT: With the nationalities of the suspected terrorists stated as Syrian and Iraqi, it would be interesting to know from where they were from in regards to the recent migrant issue. Are they home grown and lived in Germany for some time? Or are they a recent addition with the German policy of allowing so many migrants into their country. COMMENT ENDS