Germany – Germany’s domestic intelligence agency expects that Islamic extremists who have travelled to Syria and Iraq will return and commit terror attacks it was reported on the 31 Aug 14. Unlike Britain, Germany hasn’t raised its national threat level for terrorism recently. But Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said in an interview broadcast on the 31 Aug that there was an “increased abstract threat” of attacks in Germany. At least 400 people from Germany have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic extremist groups, though the real figure may be significantly higher. “We have to assume that there may well be people who return and commit attacks,” he said, adding that his agency is aware of at least 25 jihadists with combat experience who have already come back to Germany. Maassen said that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group has huge appeal among Muslim extremists. “(They are) far more attractive than Jabhat al-Nursa, the al-Qaeda offshoot in Syria. What attracts people is their high brutality, their radicalism, their strictness,” Maassen said. German news weekly Der Spiegel reported on the 31 Aug that there are about 20 former German soldiers among the jihadists who have left from Germany to fight in Syria. Citing unnamed security officials, Der Spiegel reported that they were former conscripts who are more valuable than untrained recruits for groups such as ISIS. Maassen noted that his agency wants to improve its cooperation with Turkey, a key transit country for Europeans seeking to join extremist groups. He cited the high number of Germans travelling to Syria, including at least five known to have committed suicide attacks, as “simply not acceptable from a German point of view.” “I know the Turks are doing quite a bit, but we’re also in the process of improving our cooperating with Turkey on this issue,” he said.
Spain – The regional Basque Police force (Ertzaintza) described the destruction of five buses in the early morning of 20 Aug 14 in the Basque village of Loiu (Lujua) as "sabotage", according to the El Mundo newspaper. The buses were burned out causing damage worth one million euro’s. According to the Ertzaintza, a fire was started in one of the vehicles and spread to four others parked nearby. Home-made pamphlets demanding the return of Basque Homeland and Freedom (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna: ETA) prisoners to the Basque country from prisons elsewhere in Spain were found around 50 metres from the fire. It is thought that this attack may be an indication of renewed pro-ETA violence emerging.
United Kingdom – The terrorist group al-Qaeda has published a manual in which it encourages followers to bomb British targets including Sandhurst, the MI5 headquarters and local Marks and Spencer department stores it was reported on the 29 Aug 14. The media arm of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) this week published a nine-page how-to guide in its English-language magazine on making car bombs and suggests terror targets in the UK and the US.
EXAMPLES OF TARGETS
- Times Square
- Casinos and Night Clubs
- Oil Tankers and Trains
- Georgia Military College, Milledgeville, Georgia
- United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs
- General Atomics HQ, San Diego, California, US
- Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Camberly
- Marks and Spencers stores – during Friday prayers (Muslims will be praying) (Implying that Muslims shop there throughout the rest of the week)
- Thames House, London
- Israeli, British and American companies
- Tourist resorts where Israelis, Britons or Americans stay
The publication, called Palestine-Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience Al-Malahem, suggests jihadists target the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Thames House in London and M&S department stores during Friday prayers, so as to avoid harming Muslims. There is a suggested list of targets for lone-wolf, or individually executed, terror attacks, including New York's Times Square, casinos and nightclubs in Las Vegas, oil tankers and busy train stations. It also encourages attacks on places around the world where Britons, Americans and Israelis take holidays. Included in the article is a timeline of terror attacks, including 9/11 and the Boston bombings that includes a blank entry marked 201?, implying a terror attack on foreign soil is planned for the near future. The manual goes on to praise the “Boston bomber brothers” Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, praying Allah accept them. “My Muslim brother: we are conveying to you our military training right into your kitchen to relieve you of the difficulty of travelling to us,” it reads. “If you are sincere in your intentions to serve the religion of Allāh, then all what you have to do is enter your kitchen and make an explosive device that would damage the enemy if you put your trust in Allah and then use this explosive device properly.” Steve Stalinsky, whose organisation Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) monitors the online and media activity of Jihadi groups and reported on the release of this publication, said: “Both AQAP and IS, as well as every other al-Qaeda branch and offshoot is relying on US social media companies including Twitter and YouTube for their cyber-Jihad efforts. “There could be some envy by AQAP that IS is now getting all the headlines,” Mr Stalinsky said.
A terror attack on the UK is now 'highly likely', the British Prime Minister David Cameron said on the 29 Aug 14. The Prime Minister's remarks came after the official threat level was raised from substantial to severe - the second highest - amid growing fears over the number of extremists returning to the UK from Iraq and Syria. Mr Cameron said ISIS now posed a 'greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before'. The PM said terrorism was now 'the most important issue facing this country today'. He also announced that new laws will be passed to make it easier to remove extremists' passports if there are concerns they will travel to the Middle East to join ISIS. The Prime Minister's remarks came after the Home Secretary Theresa May stressed that there is no information to suggest an attack is imminent, but warned: ‘We face a real and serious threat in the UK from international terrorism.' Mr Cameron said the intelligence and security services believed that at least 500 Britons had gone to fight in Syria and potentially Iraq. Mr Cameron said ISIS was more dangerous than the Taliban and al Qaeda. He said: ‘In Afghanistan the Taliban were prepared to play host to al Qaeda, the terrorist organisation. 'With IS (ISIS) we are facing a terrorist organisation not being hosted in a country but seeking to establish and then violently expand its own terrorist state. ‘With designs on expanding to Jordan, Lebanon, right up to the Turkish border, we could be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member.’ He said the gruesome murder of US journalist James Foley was ‘clear evidence - not that any more was needed - that this is not some far off (problem), thousands of miles away, that we can ignore’. Mr Cameron added: ‘What we are facing in Iraq now with ISIL (also known as ISIS) is a greater threat to our security than we have seen before.’ Mr Cameron said: ‘My first priority as Prime Minister is to make sure we do everything possible to keep our people safe. ‘The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the UK. ‘This threat cannot be solved simply by dealing with perceived grievances over Western foreign policy. Nor can it be dealt with by addressing poverty, dictatorship or instability in the region - as important as these things are. ‘The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear. It is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and faith leaders.’
United Kingdom Five Terror Threat Levels
Critical - an attack is expected imminently
Severe - an attack is highly likely
Substantial - an attack is a strong possibility
Moderate - an attack is possible but not likely
Low - an attack is unlikely
361 COMMENT: It is possible that the British are about to assist the American with airstrikes on the Islamic State. To ensure the safety and security of those living in the United Kingdom the threat level has been raised prior to the announcement. However, where British and western assets remain closely guarded personnel from those countries and living and working elsewhere would be wise to step up their own security and safety in light of this threat enhancement. On the other hand there maybe some information that the government are withholding information that an attack is being planned in the near future. COMMENT ENDS
United Kingdom/NATO – Seven NATO allies plan to create a new rapid reaction force of at least 10,000 soldiers as part of plans to boost NATO defences in response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine, the Financial Times reported on the 29 Aug 14. The aim is to create a division-sized joint expeditionary force for rapid deployment and regular exercises. The British-led force would include air and naval units as well as ground troops.
Countries involved include Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands. Canada has also expressed an interest in taking part. British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce the creation of the force during the next reporting period, coinciding with the September 4-5 NATO summit in Wales. Since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in Mar 14, NATO members have taken a number of short-term steps to reinforce the security of allies in eastern Europe that are worried by Russia's new assertiveness. At the future Wales summit, US President Barack Obama and other NATO leaders are expected to agree on a longer-term plan for boosting NATO's eastern defences. One element of the plan will be shaking up NATO's existing rapid reaction force so that some units of it are capable of responding to a crisis in a few days, NATO diplomats say.
United Kingdom/Syria – A British militant apparently fighting alongside extremists in Syria has claimed that he will return home if “your countries don't stop attacking us,” in a recent interview via video link with an American news outlet. CNN spoke to two masked men, Abu Anwar al-Brittani and Abu Bakar, who gave the interview from an unknown location this week (29 Aug 14). For his part, al-Brittani said he would be “honoured” to perform an execution similar to the murder of U.S. journalist James Foley. “I hope God gives me the chance to do such a thing as the brother did with James Foley. Whether it be someone like James Foley or a soldier of Bashar [al-Assad, the Syrian president] or a soldier of America. “My hands are ready to do this task.” Abu Bakr told CNN’s interviewer Atika Shubert that he would return back to Britain if “your countries don't stop attacking us. “I am ready to take that step to come back if your armies, your countries don't stop attacking us.” Muslims in the UK, including parents of those suspected to have joined extremist groups, said they would work with police and intelligence to help find these militants. Chief executive of Britain’s Ramadhan Foundation, Mohammed Shafiq, promised to help police and intelligence agencies find British-based extremists or those who return home from fighting for ISIS. “As Muslims, we reject terrorism and the evil ISIS, they do not act in our name and we abhor anyone who supports them,” he told a newspaper. “We stand ready to support the police and intelligence agencies in their work to defeat terrorism and protect our nation,” he said. Towards the end of the interview, al-Brittani comments on the Muslim Council of Britain's denouncement of ISIS. The body recently condemned ISIS’ “psychopathic violence, whether it is on minorities, on civilians, or on fellow Muslims” in a statement posted on their website. “ISIS does not speak for Islam, and has been repudiated by all Muslims,” the statement read. Al-Brittani retorted: “The Muslim council of Britain are apostates. They are not Muslims, they have always fought against Islam with the British government.” He ends by saying: “They have tried to stop young men going to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and they work in these so-called ‘anti-extremist projects. They are not Muslims.”