The Netherlands Network – poised for second try
Samir Azuz aged 19 is a Dutch citizen of Moroccan descent. He headed the Netherlands network of al Qaeda but worked under Khalid Abu Basir and his Brussels headquarters. Both were arrested among the several dozen senior al Qaeda regional chiefs rounded up in November in 11 countries.
Azuz is charged with six co-conspirators with enlisting the cooperation of two employees at an office near Schiphol international airport for reconnaissance. They also acquired weapons for their plot to shoot down an airplane. According to the Netherlands Intelligence service, Azuz expected to die in the operation. He had prepared a videotape bidding farewell to his parents. Six months ago, this young al Qaeda commander was acquitted on charges of attempting to sabotage the nuclear plant at Borselle in the Netherlands.
That was the official account.
The Dutch Network’s Assignments: DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources reveal a rather different scenario.
This network had prepared 20 Moroccan suicide bombers to simultaneously strike the headquarters of the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service – AIVD just outside The Hague. They stood trained and ready to go from August. But in late September, an order came down from Osama bin Laden to disband the team of suicides and replace it with 20 European and Moroccan-born women who had been mobilized in London, Leeds, Manchester and other British cities, as well as in Belgium, the Netherlands and Morocco and trained at Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s camps.
When the axe came down on the Dutch network, 19 of the 20 women-suicide bombers had been mustered. Several were among the detainees rounded up in Belgium, Holland and Morocco in the last days of November. Had the single missing female bomber been found by early November, the attack on the AIVD would have gone forward.
Tuesday, November 29, the Belgian police arrested 14 accomplices of the first European woman to carryout a suicide attack in Iraq. She was a white woman identified as Muriel Degauque, 38, from Charleroi, Belgium, who converted to Islam after marrying a radical Muslim.
She killed no one but herself in the attack on a US military convoy south of Baghdad on Nov. 9. A Belgian passport was found on her body and papers showing she entered Iraq via Turkey.
“This is a terrorism file,” said the spokesman of the prosecutor’s office. “We are looking for a group of people who were the entourage of a woman who carried out an attack in Iraq.”
DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports that European counter-terror agencies are working on the hypothesis that the woman, who blew herself up in Iraq, belonged to a sorority of several dozen women, who had been planted in sleeper cells around the continent and were awaiting the call to jihad.
Her accomplices are also suspected of recruiting jihadist volunteers for al Zarqawi across Europe and plotting more attacks against US forces in Iraq. They were of Belgian, Tunisian and Moroccan origin.
Other targets in Holland: Since the brutal murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim radical of Moroccan origin last November, the Dutch authorities have been aware of a heightened threat from organized Islamist terror. The information garnered from the smashed network’s leaders pinned its targets down to an attempt to shoot down an airliner at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport with anti-air missiles; further plots to sabotage a nuclear reactor as well as blowing up the Netherlands parliament in The Hague and AIVD headquarters. Dutch police have also found evidence that the local al Qaeda cell was planning to acquire poison substances for chemical and biological attacks.
The British Network – Insular
Least of all is known about this cell and its position in the seven networks rolled up in November. The British authorities are extremely cagey with information gained from questioning detained suspects – even with fellow intelligence agencies – because, to this day, they are clueless about the masterminds of the July 7 railway bombings.
But even the sketchy information points to an extremely dangerous organization. Al Qaeda is seen to draw heavily on the large Muslim communities of British cities, using them as an important reservoir for male and female suicide bombers to be used in other places. Counter-terror and intelligence agencies are certain that a large body of suicide bombers, including women, is standing by in the UK ready to strike pre-assigned targets.
The British network is also counted on to raise funds for overseas actions by fraternal al Qaeda groups. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, the British network has raised and sent on hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling and dollars donated at prayer sessions in mosques and religious schools across Great Britain. The money is posted through the Royal Mail. The leads to the British network came from the terrorist suspects rounded up and questioned in Brussels and Istanbul.
The Spanish Network benefits from official laxness
Hassan al Haski was the big al Qaeda fish detained in France.
He was in close touch with Zarqawi though his man in Damascus, Khaled Salibi aka Abu Zaim. On Nov. 22, ten of his henchmen were arrested in the southern and eastern Spanish towns of Alicante, Granada and Murcia. They were alleged to be implicated in the May 2003 Casablanca bombing of Israeli and Jewish targets and the deaths of 45, as well as the Madrid attacks in March 2004.
These fundamentalists doubled as crime entrepreneurs, engaged in dope trafficking, forging credit cards which they used to make large cash withdrawals, stealing cars, and burgling wealthy homes. A cell phone store in Alicante served as their meeting place which sold the stolen phones that were not sent to the Moroccan and Belgian terror networks.
The Spanish terror organization was well-connected with crime gangs as well as fundamental Muslim cells in Germany, Denmark, Holland and Belgium. Their interrogation revealed they had been expecting groups of suicide activists to arrive from Morocco, Holland, Belgium and Britain for a series of strikes in large Spanish cities.
Despite the Madrid attacks and the terrorist threat still hanging over Spain, counter-terror circles in West Europe complain the Spanish authorities are still too easy-going with these terrorists.
Tuesday, Nov. 29, Spain’s high court detained four people accused of financing an Islamic militant group linked to al Qaeda.
A group of eleven was arrested last week in southern Spain. Some were caught trying to buy explosives. Its members had connections with Algerian-born immigrants in Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Belgium and Denmark. They are accused of providing financing and logistical support for the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, Algeria’s largest radical jihadist movement.
Nonetheless seven of the 11 members detained were released on bail.