Today’s Terrorism News post will be the last one for the summer. Along with the staff here at the Center on Law and Security, and with particular thanks to The Soufan Group for its generous support and to Carolyn O’Hara for her superb work, I wish you all a wonderful August!
- Karen Greenberg, Exec. Director, Center on Law and Security
In Association with The Soufan Group
Treasury Accuses Iran of Aiding al Qaeda
The United States formally accused Iran of aiding al Qaeda Thursday, alleging that operatives of the terror group “use Iranian soil as a transit point for moving money, arms and fighters to its bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The allegations came as the Treasury Department placed six suspected al Qaeda operatives from Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Pakistan under sanction.
Regarding the question of why Iran’s Shiite regime would allegedly work with the predominantly Sunni al Qaeda, “Treasury officials asserted that the Iranian government had entered into an agreement” with al Qaeda operatives, and that Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, a suspected al Qaeda facilitator from Syria, is believed to be living in Iran, according to the New York Times. U.S. officials told the WSJ that they believe Iran’s motivation for aiding al Qaeda is focused on “ridding the Middle East and Central Asia of U.S. forces.”
No Iranian officials were named in the Treasury’s action, which prevents Americans from participating in financial and commercial dealings with the six men under sanction. A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations called the allegations “baseless.”
U.S. Sees Iranian, al Qaeda Alliance (WSJ)
Treasury Accuses Iran of Aiding al Qaeda (NYT)
U.S. Accuses Iran of Aiding al Qaeda (WaPo)
U.S.: Iran Has ‘Secret Deal’ with al Qaeda (AP via Time)
Editorial: Al Qaeda in Iran (WSJ)
AWOL SOLDIER HELD IN CONNECTION WITH ALLEGED FORT HOOD PLOT
An AWOL Army private who was arrested Wednesday near Fort Hood planned to attack the base with bombs and gun down military personnel there, according to reports. Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, a 21-year-old from Texas, was arrested in a motel in Killeen, Texas, not far from Fort Hood, after “his purchase of gunpowder at a local gun store aroused employees’ suspicion,” the LA Times reports. Fort Hood is the location of a November 2009 shooting spree that left 13 people dead and more than 30 wounded. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan has been charged in that attack and faces court martial.
Police reportedly found a number of suspicious items in Abdo’s possession upon his arrest, including “a military uniform with Fort Hood patches, a pistol, shotgun shells and an article on ‘how to make a bomb in your kitchen’ from the English-language Qaeda magazine Inspire,” according to the New York Times. “He also had more than one wall clock, a cellphone, duct tape and a shopping list for what appeared to be explosive components.”
Abdo reportedly went AWOL in early July from Ft. Campbell in Kentucky. In May, Abdo, who said his Muslim faith would not allow him to deploy to Afghanistan, was granted conscientious objector status by the Army. “But a week later, the Army put the resulting discharge on hold after charging him with possession of child pornography and beginning court-martial proceedings against him,” according to the LAT.
Army Soldier Suspected of Planning Ft. Hood Attack (LAT)
AWOL Private Held Near Fort Hood in Alleged Plot to Kill Soldiers (NYT)
Army: AWOL Soldier Was Planning Fort Hood Attack (NPR)
Official: Soldier Said He Wanted to Attack Fort Hood Troops (CNN)
Soldier’s Arrest Revives Fear at Fort Hood (NYT’s The Lede)
LEITER: AL QAEDA REMAINS A THREAT
Michael Leiter, who recently stepped down as head of the National Counterterrorism Center, told an audience at the Aspen Security Forum Thursday that al Qaeda in Pakistan remains a threat to the United States, pushing back against recent reports citing anonymous U.S. officials that al Qaeda’s core is on the brink of defeat. Leiter said those assessments lack “accuracy and precision,” according to the New York Times.
Leiter said that while al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan is “on the ropes…the core organization is still there and could launch some attacks.” Pakistan, he continued, “remains a huge problem.” He also weighed in on concerns that younger analysts and counterterrorism officers at the CIA have been pushed into high-octane overseas missions and posts and could find themselves bored when they return to do still-vital work back at Langley. Leiter expressed concern that many of them would think, “[s]uddenly you find yourself at a desk in Washington working in a pretty big bureaucracy and you say: “This what I’m stuck with for another 30 years? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Ex-Counterterrorism Aide Warns Against Complacency on al Qaeda (NYT)
At the same conference, former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said that he believes drones are not strategically effective, reports Wired’s Danger Room. “If the drones stopped flying tomorrow, Blair told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum, ‘it’s not going to lower the threat to the U.S.’ Al-Qaida and its allies have proven ‘it can sustain its level of resistance to an air-only campaign,’ he said.”
Former Intel Chief: Call Off the Drone War (And Maybe the Whole War on Terror (Wired’s Danger Room)
Former Officials: Al Qaeda Still Likely to Use WMD (AP)
TALIBAN SUICIDE BOMBERS ATTACK AFGHAN PROVINCIAL CAPITAL
The Taliban launched an “audacious surprise” attack Thursday, sending “at least” seven suicide bombers and gunmen into the capital of Oruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan on a mission to kill the provincial governor and a regional strongman, according to the New York Times. Twenty-one people were killed in the bombings and gun battles that followed, though both of the reported targets survived. Women and children reportedly accounted for half of the dead.
The LA Times says the attack “underscore[s] deteriorating security conditions” in Afghanistan’s south. This week, the mayor of Kandahar was killed by a suicide bomber at his office. “Last week, a former governor of Oruzgan who was a senior aide to Karzai was shot dead at his Kabul home,” and prior to that, President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, an influential powerbroker, was killed in Kandahar.
Suicide Bombers Attack Afghan Provincial Capital (NYT)
Suicide Bombers, Gunmen Attack Afghan Provincial Capital (LAT)
Taliban Attack Hamid Karzai Ally in Southern Afghanistan (Guardian)
Taliban Storm Provincial Capital (WSJ)
MORE U.S. NEWS AND OPINION
27 with Terrorist Links Held FAA Licenses, Report Says (NYT)
Republican Congressmen Work to Bring Back 9/11 Commission (Fox News)
Bill Would Force Intel Chief to Renounce ‘Secret Patriot Act’ (Wired’s Danger Room)
An Un-Americans Response to the Oslo Attack (Salon’s Glenn Greenwald)
Op-Chart: States of Conflict (NYT: Ian Livingston and Michael O’Hanlon)
MORE WORLD NEWS AND OPINION
Drones in Pakistan: Out of the Blue (The Economist)
Pakistan’s Military Accused of Escalating Draconian Campaign in Balochistan (Guardian)
Editorial: Holding Pakistan to Account (NYT)
EU Says ‘Lone-Wolf Terrorism’ May Need More Government Attention (Bloomberg)
Norway’s ‘Lone-Wolf’ Attacks Stir Angst in Europe (AP via Houston Chronicle)
Twin Blasts in Tikrit Leave 12 Dead (NYT)
Blast at U.S. Embassy in Georgia Tied to Russian Officer (NYT)
Counterradicalization Lessons from the United Kingdom (Roll Call)