Europe Begins Grappling with al Qaeda
Turkey: Police brought a suspect in his twenties, caught Tuesday, November 25, when he tried to cross the border into Iran on a fake passport, to the wrecked Beit Israel synagogue for a reconstruction of the suicide bombings of two Istanbul synagogues on November 15. The manacled man was described as the mastermind of the synagogue attacks that left 33 dead and 450 injured. No details of his identity were released. Twenty people have now been charged in Turkey with complicity in the Istanbul bombings of Jewish and British targets that left 57 dead and 712 injured.
Britain: Beginning Thursday, British counter-terror police combed through four cities, Gloucester, Blackburn, Manchester and Birmingham, making arrests and raiding suspect premises. Materials gathered there led to a high terror alert Saturday, November 29, for a threatened al Qaeda attack at London’s Heathrow airport. In Gloucester, the police hit the jackpot, would be shoe-bomber No. 2. Found in the home mg class=”picture” src=”/dynmedia/pictures/BADAT.jpg” align=”left” border=”0″>of suspected al Qaeda member 24-year old Sajid Badat were a small amount of explosives and hollowed out trainer heels – disassembled shoe bombs thought to be intended for a multi-casualty strike at a soccer field or underground train. Badat was found to have links with the notorious British shoe bomber Richard Reid who is serving three life sentences in the United States for attempting to blow up an American airliner two years ago.
A second 33-year old man arrested in Birmingham thought to belong to a different al Qaeda cell from Badat was picked up and released without charge.
Germany:The big prize netted by the German police was the Algerian Mahjub Abderrazek, known as The Sheikh. He was detained in Hamburg on an Italian warrant issued in Milan on a charge of recruiting Islamists in Europe to be trained in Turkey and Syria for suicide attacks against US forces in Iraq. One of his recruits was captured in Baghdad on October 27 after the Al Rashid Hotel was rocket-attacked during the stay of US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
Three of the 19 suicide hijackers who struck New York and Washington on 9/11 lived and studied in Hamburg.
Italy: Three North African suspects arrested in and around Milan Thursday, November 27, were members of the same cell as The Sheikh. Italy is sensitive to terrorist activity more than ever since losing 19 troops at military police headquarters in Nasariya, Iraq, earlier this month.
The Italian interior minister said some of the recruits were sent for training as suicide bombers with al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Islam in northeast Iraq.
Acting on data gathered in these raids, the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo stepped up security citing a specific threat against international organizations in the UN-run province and neighboring Macedonia. Al Qaeda and its local affiliates have already singled out international organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan for murderous attacks.
Friday, November 28, the Turkish daily Hurriyet led its front-page report on the investigation of the Istanbul attacks with the debkafile Nov. 21 revelation of a secret Turkish IBDA-C logistics and intelligence base in Germany for operations in Europe.
The European dragnet for Islamic terrorists continues.