United States/Syria – Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamist groups in Syria are trying to identify, recruit and train Americans and other Westerners in the country to get them to carry out attacks upon their return home. According to the officials, 70 Americans have either traveled to Syria or tried too since the conflict began almost three years ago. Director of the FBI, James B. Comey, said on the 9 Jan 14 that tracking the activities of Americans who have returned from Syria had become one of the bureau’s highest counterterrorism priorities. “We are focused on trying to figure out what our people are up to, who should be spoken to, who should be followed, who should be charged,” Comey said. “I mean, it’s hard for me to characterize beyond that. It’s something we are intensely focused on.” In Europe, officials share the same concern and are working with the U.S., according to the report. Analysts say at least 1,200 European Muslims have traveled to Syria since 2011. In a confidential memo dated 26 Nov 13, Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counterterrorism coordinator, warned that “the first returnees have come back, and there are cases where individuals continue traveling back and forth.” The American officials said that Islamist groups in Syria have begun to begin building the apparatus to conduct attacks outside Syria. “That al- Qaeda would like to get operatives into the homeland or in Western Europe has been a persistent theme over the past several years,” Referring to the al-Qaeda threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Comey said “we’ve had great success against core al-Qaeda in the Af-Pak region, but at the same time, in the ungoverned or poorly governed spaces in Africa and around the Middle East, we see a resurgence of al-Qaeda affiliates.”
United States – An Indiana National Guardsman was arrested outside Columbus on New Year’s Day (1 Jan 14) after a state trooper found nearly 50 bombs and the blueprints for a Navy SEAL training facility inside his car. Andrew Scott Boguslawski, 43, also had a remote-control device to detonate the bombs. Boguslawski’s civilian job is as a groundskeeper at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in south-central Indiana. No-one could not say definitively whether the blueprints in the car were for the facility where he worked. Boguslawski also had a bulletproof vest in his car. Lt. Col. Cathy Van Bree, a spokeswoman for the Indiana National Guard, said Boguslawski is a specialist in the guard who does intelligence analysis and has top-secret clearance. Pronai said Boguslawski, who is from Moores Hill, Ind., appeared to be heading to Indiana when a state trooper saw him doing 85 mph in a 70 mph zone. When the trooper came back to the car to give Boguslawski a ticket, he saw the handle of a gun between his legs. The trooper ordered Boguslawski out of the car and called for backup. Investigators found three more guns in the car — all loaded — and 48 bombs. They also found material to make more explosives. The report shows that Boguslawski was clearly intent on causing a terrorist incident. (No Further Details Available)
United States/Libya – The United States on the 10 Jan 14 blacklisted two Libyan militant groups accusing them of leading a 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi in which the ambassador and three other Americans died. It was the first time the State Department had officially named the groups thought to be behind the deadly assault, but a spokeswoman insisted that did not mean they were the only ones responsible or that, there was any new information about the operation. Two Ansar Al Sharia groups set up separately in Benghazi and Derna in 2011 after the fall of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were both designated foreign terrorist organisations. The State Department said they “have been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, frequent assassinations, and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya, and the 11 Sep 12 attacks against the US special mission and annex in Benghazi.