Belgium/French Terrorists and Their Weapons

In part: Container after Container

Photo Gallery: Tracing the Origins of Terror Weapons

Hat tip to Spiegel: The shop where Coulibaly’s weapons were purchased is called AFG Security and it is located in the town of Partizánske, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Vienna. The store is in the basement of a two-story apartment building on a dead-end road near the train tracks. Stairs lead down below street level and inside, a camouflage net hangs from the ceiling. A bottle of Cabernet, emblazoned with a picture of Adolf Hitler and the words “Mein Kampf,” stands in a display case.

This shop, located in the middle of nowhere, is the source of thousands of deactivated weapons that have been sold across Europe. Firearms from here have ended up in the hands of Islamist terrorists in France, gangsters in Great Britain and a man who was once one of Germany’s most dangerous neo-Nazis. Over the course of years. The AFG website continues to claim that the weapons are just “for fun” — for the reenactment of World War II battles, for example. But the key part comes later: “Most of the expansion weapons (Eds. Note: alarm weapons) are originals (originally ‘sharp’) with minor modifications which disable the shooting with original – ‘sharp’ ammunition.” The word “sharp,” in the clumsily written English version of the website, refers to the ability to fire live ammunition.

The guns are mostly decommissioned weapons from the Slovak military. Container after container of these firearms wound up in the hands of companies like Kol Arms, which then converted them from lethal weapons into alarm rifles. By the time the weapons left AFG Security, they were considered harmless — at least according to the law. For the lawless, however, they were the hottest new thing on the market. AFG sold an estimated 14,000 alarm weapons abroad, mostly over the Internet, according to the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). The agency currently has 33 open investigations into customers in Germany.

Many of the shop’s customers apparently appreciated how quickly the weapons could be re-converted into active firearms. French investigators recently tried it out for themselves: It took only two hours for a locksmith of modest talent to reopen the barrel. Doing the same with German-made alarm guns isn’t nearly as easy.

Investigators from several EU countries have been monitoring the shop since 2014 after being tipped off by packages from Germany mailed to Alexander M., alias “Smokey,” a serial burglar from London who has since been sentenced to life in prison. The packages included four fully functioning vz.61 Scorpion submachine guns, which are as small and deadly as the name implies. Smokey ordered the guns from jail using his smartphone.

Initially, the authorities had no idea who the supplier was. They knew only that the person had been active on the anonymous trading platform Agora on the so-called Darknet. British and German police dispatched cyber investigators to order weapons in a sting operation. The tracking number of the packages led them to a mechatronics student named Christoph K. in the Bavarian city of Schweinfurt. Christoph K. is a slender young man in his mid-twenties with technical ability, good business acumen and few scruples. One morning in January 2015, police raided the campus of the University of Applied Sciences in Schweinfurt where Christoph K. was pursuing his studies. Further arrests and legal proceedings followed all across Europe.

‘Unaware of the Consequences’

Christoph K. had been reactivating the AFG alarm weapons in his basement workshop and then reselling them for 10 times the price. Four weeks ago, the Schweinfurt regional court sentenced him to four years and three months in prison. Defense attorney Jochen Kaller said his client had been “unaware of the consequences” of his actions.

Christoph K. wasn’t AFG’s only regular German customer. The company’s weapons registry, which the BKA has obtained, also includes the name Alexander R., 39, who bought two Kalashnikovs and three dozen Scorpions. In Ferlach, a hub of the Austrian weapons industry, he obtained raw tubes for the new barrels needed to reactivate the weapons.

Officials at the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the German domestic intelligence agency responsible for monitoring extremism, had already had Alexander R. on their radar. Back at the end of the 1990s, he had been part of weapons deals with a former leader of Hoffmann, a right-wing extremist paramilitary sports group. At the time of their arrest, police seized close to a dozen submachine guns along with five hand grenades. After his conviction, R. spent more than four years in prison. While in jail, he wrote to his comrades that he planned to destroy “the regime of the Federal Republic of Germany.” Police found a pamphlet in Alexander R.’s possession stating that the undercover agents who caught him should be shot and their corpses left with a warning note in their mouths. “Perhaps together with his dick and balls.”

After his release from prison, Alexander R. initially kept a low profile. But beginning in mid-2013, he began purchasing large quantities of weapons from AFG in Slovakia. Operating under the assumption that the company was under BKA surveillance, R. drove several times directly to Partizànske, where he paid in cash rather than ordering over the Internet. On the telephone, he once spoke of a “Big Chainsaw,” a friend of “Beans,” terms a regional court in Rhineland-Palatinate is convinced refers to weapons and ammunition. A few months ago, the court sentenced Alexander R. to six years in prison. His application for appeal was rejected on all major points. Meanwhile, the convict hasn’t revealed the location of the three dozen submachine guns.

Claude Hermant, 52, who had previously worked for the right-wing populist Front National party’s security service in France, also placed a major order with AFG in 2014. The stalwart right-winger has paramilitary training and is also known to have spent a few months in jail in Africa, where rumors circulated about his alleged links to a failed coup attempt. Read the full investigative summary here.

Operation Hemorrhage

It has been said often, either fight the enemy in a true war theater on the battlefield with real war tactics or fight them at home. Brussels and Paris and in the United States in Boston and San Bernardino to mention a few, the hybrid war gets real expensive. These costs are rarely measured or questioned. We are also not measuring the cost of freedoms are giving up. Add in the cost of the cyber war…..well….going back much earlier than 9-11-01 the costs cannot be calculated.

Operation Hemorrhage: The Terror Plans to Wreck the West’s Economy

DailyBeast: Every European who flies frequently knows the airport in Zaventem, has spent time in the ticketing area that was strewn with blood, limbs, broken glass, battered luggage and other wreckage.

It was another attack on aviation that pulled the United States into the conflict sometimes known as the “global war on terror” in the first place. Since then, airports and airplanes have remained a constant target for Islamic militants, with travelers being encumbered by new batches of security measures after each new attack or attempt.

After the ex-con Richard Reid managed to sneak a bomb aboard a transatlantic flight in December 2001, but failed to detonate the explosives, American passengers were forced to start removing their shoes on their way through security. After British authorities foiled a 2006 plot in which terrorists planned to bring liquid explosives hidden in sport drink bottles aboard multiple transatlantic flights, authorities strictly limited the quantity of liquids passengers were allowed to carry. When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab snuck explosives hidden in his underwear onto a flight on Christmas Day 2009, he ushered in full-body scans and intrusive pat-downs.

Those are the misses. There have been hits, too. In August 2004, two female Chechen suicide bombers, so-called “black widows,” destroyed two domestic Russian flights. In January 2011, a suicide bomber struck Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in an attack that looked almost identical to the one that rocked the airport in Brussels: the bomber struck just outside the security cordon, where the airport is transformed from a “soft” target to a “hard” one. Just months ago, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS)—the perpetrator of the Brussels attacks—destroyed a Russian passenger jet flying out of Egypt’s Sinai, killing 224 people.

The targeting of airports and airplanes has been so frequent that in lighter times—back when the terrorists seemed so much worse at what they do—some pundits openly mocked their continuing return to airplanes and airports. In one representative discussion from early 2010, a well-known commentator described jihadists as having a “sort of schoolboy fixation” with aviation.

But the reason for this targeting, of course, is neither mysterious nor quixotic, and it’s one the jihadists have explained for themselves. Following the November Paris attacks, ISIS released an infographic boasting that its slaughter on the streets of Paris would force Belgium “to strengthen its security measures … which will cost them tens of millions of dollars.” Moreover, the group claimed, “the intensified security measures and the general state of unease will cost Europe in general and France in specific tends of billions of dollars due to the resulting decrease in tourism, delayed flights, and restrictions on freedom of movement and travel between European countries.”

And that was before the group successfully attacked the Brussels airport, despite those costly new security measures.

Even before 9/11, jihadists saw bleeding the American economy as the surest path to defeating their “far enemy.” When Osama bin Laden declared war against the “Jews and crusaders” in 1996, he emphasized that jihadist strikes should be coupled with an economic boycott by Saudi women. Otherwise, the Muslims would be sending their enemy money, “which is the foundation of wars and armies.”

Indeed, when bin Laden first had the opportunity to publicly explain what the 9/11 attacks had accomplished, in an October 2001 interview with Al Jazeera journalist Taysir Allouni, he emphasized the costs that the attacks imposed on the United States. “According to their own admissions, the share of the losses on the Wall Street market reached 16 percent,” he said. “The gross amount that is traded in that market reaches $4 trillion. So if we multiply 16 percent with $4 trillion to find out the loss that affected the stocks, it reaches $640 billion of losses.” He told Allouni that the economic effect was even greater due to building and construction losses and missed work, so that the damage inflicted was “no less than $1 trillion by the lowest estimate.”

In his October 2004 address to the American people, dramatically delivered just before that year’s elections, bin Laden noted that the 9/11 attacks cost Al Qaeda only a fraction of the damage inflicted upon the United States. “Al Qaeda spent $500,000 on the event,” he said, “while America in the incident and its aftermath lost—according to the lowest estimates—more than $500 billion, meaning that every dollar of Al Qaeda defeated a million dollars.”

Al Qaeda fit the wars the United States had become embroiled in after 9/11 into its economic schema. In that same video, bin Laden explained how his movement sought to suck the United States and its allies into draining wars in the Muslim world. The mujahedin “bled Russia for ten years, until it went bankrupt,” bin Laden said, and they would now do the same to the United States.

Just prior to 2011, there was a brief period when jihadism appeared to be in decline. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the group that later became ISIS, had all but met with defeat at the hands of the United States and local Sunni uprisings. Successful attacks were few and far between.

People gather at a memorial for victims of attacks in Brussels on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Belgian authorities were searching Wednesday for a top suspect in the country's deadliest attacks in decades, as the European Union's capital awoke under guard and with limited public transport after scores were killed and injured in bombings on the Brussels airport and a subway station. (AP Photo/Valentin Bianchi)

Valentin Bianchi/AP

Representative of those dark times for jihadists, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a special issue of its online magazine Inspire celebrating a terrorist attack that claimed no victims. In October 2010, jihadists were able to sneak bombs hidden in printer cartridges onto two cargo planes. Due to strong intelligence efforts, authorities disabled both bombs before they were set to explode, but the group drew satisfaction from merely getting them aboard the planes.

“Two Nokia phones, $150 each, two HP printers, $300 each, plus shipping, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses add up to a total bill of $4,200. That is all what Operation Hemorrhage cost us,” the lead article in that special issue of Inspire boasted. “On the other hand this supposedly ‘foiled plot’, as some of our enemies would like to call [it], will without a doubt cost America and other Western countries billions of dollars in new security measures.” The magazine warned that future attacks will be “smaller, but more frequent”—an approach that “some may refer to as the strategy of a thousand cuts.”

The radical cleric Anwar Al Awlaki, writing in Inspire, explained the dilemma that he saw gripping Al Qaeda’s foes. “You either spend billions of dollars to inspect each and every package in the world,” he wrote, “or you do nothing and we keep trying again.”

Even in those days when the terrorist threat loomed so much smaller, the point was not a bad one. Security is expensive, and driving up costs is one way jihadists aim to wear down Western economies.

Unfortunately, Al Qaeda’s envisioned world of smaller but more frequent attacks proved unnecessary for the jihadists. Less than two months after the special issue of Inspire appeared that celebrated an at best half-successful attack, the revolutionary events that we then knew as the “Arab Spring” sent shockwaves through the Middle East and North Africa.

This instability would help jihadism reach the current heights to which it has ascended, where the attacks are not only more frequent but larger. Unfortunately, the United States—blinded at the time by the misguided belief that revolutions in the Arab world would devastate the jihadist movement—pursued policies that hastened the region’s instability. The damages wrought by these policies are still not fully appreciated.

The silver lining to the jihadist economic strategy is that they, too, are economically vulnerable. The damage inflicted on ISIS’s “state” by coalition bombings and other pressures forced the group to slice its fighters’ salaries at the beginning of this year. But as Al Qaeda watches its flashier jihadist rival carry out gruesome attacks on Western targets and get bombarded in return, it discerns further proof of the wisdom of its strategy of attrition.

As it watches these two sets of foes exhaust each other, Al Qaeda believes that its comparative patience will pay off. It believes that its own time will come.


ISIS Stealth European Operations, on Display

Belgium terror network

AtlanticCouncil: Even though Belgian authorities have been on high alert for several months, attackers were able to strike Brussels in three separate but seemingly coordinated attacks, killing at least 31 people on Tuesday.

Part of the challenge for security officials in Belgium, where home-grown radicalization is a major problem, is the lack of information-sharing between intelligence agencies and “numerous types of local law enforcement,” according to Jorge Benitez, an international security expert at the Atlantic Council.

Brussels is home to 19 different municipalities, two intelligence agencies, and six police zones in a city home to only around 1 million people.

“Even in the tightest-wound societies in terms of security services, you can still hide in nooks and crannies,” Tom Sanderson, a terrorism expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Mashable. “And in Belgium, the nooks and crannies are huge.”


FC: Jake Wallis Simons writes on the March 23, 2016 Daily Mail Online, that “the seeds of the terror blasts that shook Europe, were planned by a brotherhood of childhood friends who grew up just a few doors away from each other in a part of Brussels dubbed “the crucible of terror.”  “Police following the trail of the terrorists murderers behind the atrocities in France and Belgium have repeatedly arrived at a single block of housing in Molenbeek, a district of Brussels known as a hotbed of jihadism.”

     “The center of the deadly network is the Abdelslam family home, a first floor apartment on Gemeenplaats, behind the police station — and just around the corner from the home of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the ‘brains’ behind the Paris attacks,” Mr. Simons wrote. “Questions remain,” he adds “about how a gang of young men, all of whom were Belgian citizens,” were “transformed into death-loving monsters, showing loyalty to each other; but, [demonstrating] a profound hatred of their country and fellow citizens.”
     “Belgian authorities were so focused on Molenbeek, known as the hotbed of jihadism, that they were unaware that Europe’s most wanted man was forming a new terror network in Schaerbeek, another Muslim-dominated area just three miles down the road,” Mr. Simons wrote.  “The local community there views police with contempt,” the locals told The Daily Mail Online, “and are unlikely to report terrorists to the authorities, even if they do not have jihadist sympathies themselves.”  “Frankly, I wasn’t surprised,’ a policewoman who wished to remain anonymous told The Daily Mail Online.  “Nobody takes what happens in the district seriously.  Every day, we arrest well known criminals, and the next day they are back on the street.  It is frustrating that we are doing our work; but, the justice system doesn’t back us up.  These people aren’t being prosecuted, or fined, they are just being released.  We arrest them,and  nothing happens.  One or two hours later they smile and mock us, believing they are on the winning side.  The lack of respect for police and for Belgium in the local multicultural community meant that the terror cell could operate without fear of being reported. This made Schaerbeek — which has been ‘off the radar’ for terror police — the ideal place for the terror jihadi to hideout.  We have been asking for the higher authorities to take this district more seriously; but, it hasn’t happened,” she said.  The Daily Mail Online added that the policewoman’s commanding officer, who also wanted to remain anonymous, agreed with her observations.  “We have not been blind to the fact that something serious has been going on here.”
**** What is there to be cultivated is real and handy:

SkyNews: Buried in the midst of thousands of Islamic State files passed to Sky News we discovered a spreadsheet different to the rest of the documents.

The names of Islamic fighters, their pseudonyms, their countries of origin and contact numbers for family members, we had seen before.

What marked this file out was its title: The Martyrs.

Previously unheard of, this was a totally secret brigade. A brigade made up of men who had joined Islamic State to die as suicide bombers.

The files revealed the names of 123.

They came from a variety of countries: France, German, Spain, Tunisia and Egypt.

What is interesting in the files is the number of times that Belgium or Belgian cities are mentioned.

We can reveal that 25 Belgians are identified.

There are 48 references to Belgian nationals within the registration papers.

There are 70 references to the country which include their sponsors who guaranteed their entry to the terror group, family members and telephone numbers.

Islamic State, like many previous jihadi groups, has used suicide attackers to overrun their enemies’ positions from Libya to Pakistan and Afghanistan. All in traditional war zones. What marks this brigade out as different is that it appears to have been made up, in the large part, by killers trained to carry out attacks in the peaceful cities of Europe and beyond.

Death squads sent out to attack away from Syria and Iraq, away from the battlefield.

The files we have published over the past week or so list all the fighters’ intended specialisms.

Fighter, infiltrator and Martyr were standard pieces of information requested. All these men ticked the Martyr box. In translation it is suicide attacker.

The registration form of Mohammed Belkaid, first reported by Sky News from our files after he opened fire on police in Brussels last week and was killed, showed that he too was part of the Martyrs’ Brigade.

In Syria he is likely to have joined one of the training camps and the Islamic State training programme in their stronghold of Raqqa.

Sky News has previously revealed the existence of these foreigners’ camps, which train fighters to carry out attacks outside Syria and Iraq.

Counter Terrorism expert Professor Andrew Silke said ISIS seeks out recruits for its martyrs’ brigade that have a series of qualification.

He said: “One of the things that the movements are interested in is ‘have we got a candidate who is willing and able to carry out a suicide attack? Because there’s a value in that.

“Another issue … is ‘could this person operate in the West? Have they got the language skills? Do they fit in with the culture? Do they come from that particular region, because if they do, their ability to go back and operate (there) … is much greater than sending somebody from the Middle East.”

Some of the Belgians we can easily identify.

Redwana Mohammed Hajaoui also known as Abu Khalid al Maghribi, crossed into Syria in February 2014. He later appeared in an Islamic State propaganda video.

Mesut Cankarturan also known as Abu Abdullah al Beljiki from Bruges, crossed into Syria in March 2014. He later died near Deir ez-Zor.

During our investigations Sky News has learned from former ISIS members that the recruits were trained not just to carry out attacks but to be trainers as well, raising the specter of further developing terror cells.

The analysis of these files will take a long time; certainly the security services are gearing up for a long fight against Islamic State and its terror gangs.

The UK Looks like Belgium, Anyone Notice?

While all attention with good reason has been directed to Brussels, Belgium, it was determined earlier in the week that the UK is working to stop a larger 10 target plot. After reading this piece, it may be prudent to look around your own neighborhood or city and questions may come to mind.

Then earlier this year, this site published an article about SERCO, one of the most powerful companies across the globe, a company no one knows about.

Serco once again comes into focus, this time in the UK.

Outrage as hotel homes 300 asylum seekers – without telling anyone

HUNDREDS of asylum seekers have been housed in a major hotel without informing anyone.

Asylum seekers and the hotel

The Britannia Group has agreed to house 306 immigrants at its hotel near Manchester Airport

City council bosses are embroiled in a war of words after Home Office contractor Serco placed more than 300 migrants into hotels, in what the authorities claim is on the sly.

Officials are now taking action after a “material” change to the hotel’s planning permission.

Currently, 271 asylum seekers are at the Britannia Hotel near Manchester Airport, and another 35 are in the branch in nearby leafy Didsbury.

But now Britannia, in agreement with Serco, want to take people out of Didsbury and into the airport.

Manchester has one of the highest numbers of asylum seekers in the UK, looking after a little under 1,000.

Paul Andrews, the council’s lead member for adult health and wellbeing, admitted his surprise the authority had not been told about the decision.

Asylum seekers waiting to be moved to the hotel

ZENPIX: Refugees were taken to the hotel as locals voiced their concerns

He said: “Manchester City Council has today been made aware that the Britannia Hotel located at the airport in Northenden have agreed for the Home Office sub-contractor Serco to increase the level of asylum seekers they accommodate there.

We believe that this amounts to a material change of use, and as such we will be taking appropriate action with the Britannia hotel chain, Paul Andrews

“We believe that this amounts to a material change of use, and as such we will be taking appropriate action with the Britannia hotel chain regards to planning restrictions.

“We have also made it clear to Serco that failing to notify the council in advance of this action having been taken is completely unacceptable.

The Home Office sign

GETTY: The Home Office outsources accommodation for asylum seekers to Serco

“Manchester City Council has had no direct responsibility for providing accommodation and support to asylum seekers living within our communities since 2012.

“The responsibility lies with the Home Office and Serco, their sub-contractor for north west England.”

Jenni Halliday, Serco’s contract director for Compass, said: “Due to the continuing increase in the number of these vulnerable asylum seekers being placed in our care in the North West, over the past few months we have been using several hotels including this one, to accommodate them.”

“The availability of individual hotels changes, sometimes at very short notice and when that happens we work hard to make sure that we can make alternative arrangements to safely accommodate the asylum seekers and keep the local authorities informed.”


Meanwhile in other news regarding the UK:

Pair Face Jail Over Drive-By Terror Plot

Two home-grown terrorists planned to kill soldiers, police officers and civilians in Islamic State-inspired shootings.

Terror plot court case

A picture of Tarik Hassane with a gun was found on Majeed’s mobile phone

Two men are facing lengthy prison terms over a drive-by gun attack plot to target police and soldiers on the streets of London.

It can be disclosed that the plan to attack officers and soldiers outside a police station and army barracks was both inspired and funded by Islamic State from Syria.

The attack was to be led by Tarik Hassane, a medical student known to his friends as “The Surgeon” and the son of a Saudi diplomat.

Another plotter, student Suhaib Majeed, has now been found guilty by an Old Bailey jury of helping co-ordinate the plan in the UK.

Two others, Nyall Hamlett and Nathan Cuffy, were found not guilty of the main terrorism charge but have already admitted supplying the weapon and ammunition to be used in the attack.

Both men claimed they had no knowledge of the fact the weapon was to be used in a terrorist attack.

Scotland Yard Commanders have described the attack plan as a “significant step-up in complexity and ambition” compared to other recent plots, like the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in southeast London in 2013.

Head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terror Command, SO15 Commander Dean Haydon, said: “This was a very determined bunch of individuals, they were four very dangerous men.”

He said the plot represented an “elevation in complexity” adding: “This is about acquiring a moped, acquiring a firearm, silencer and ammunition and in broad daylight, targeting police officers, the military and members of the public and making good their escape.

“That is a real concern to me and certainly a real concern to SO15 Counter-terrorism Command. It draws parallels in a way to Paris. The attackers in this case were intent on murder, intent on using a firearm, intent on causing fear, stress, disorder in a particular part of west London.”

The plot, according to the authorities, was not to be a martyrdom operation. The attackers would open fire on an unsuspecting police officer or soldier and drive off, free to scout their next targets. It would have been a cycle of killing which could have claimed many lives.

When MI5 uncovered the plot in early September 2014, they launched the largest surveillance operation since the transatlantic airlines plot to blow up eight aircraft using bombs in soft drinks bottles in 2006.

The main instigator of the plot, Hassane, 22, had failed to get onto a medical course at university in London and instead moved to Sudan to study there.

He masterminded the plot from Sudan and during brief visits back home to London, where he was pictured by undercover officers as he met with his fellow plotters.

Hassane’s father was the Saudi Ambassador to Uzbekistan, it can be revealed, but had left him to grow up on a council estate in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London with his aunt.

His school friend, Majeed, 21, a physics undergraduate at King’s College, London  was the main co-ordinator in the UK, organising, researching and acting as the communications expert.

Majeed used an encryption programme called Mujahideen Secrets on his laptop as he passed and received instructions on the ongoing plot.

He was tasked with picking up the firearm, finding a moped for the drive-by and renting a lock-up to store the moped close to the target.

Hamlett, 25, the ‘middleman’ with the gun supplier, lived in the same area of west London and was friends with both Hassane and Majeed.

He was able to put them in touch with the main gun supplier and the man who acted as armourer, Cuffy, 26, who was storing five handguns in his father’s council flat.

The plot is the first example of Islamist terrorists in Britain obtaining a working firearm and sources say the plan has “unnerving echoes” of the Paris plot 16 months later.

It represents a “dangerous cross-over” between Islamist terrorists and the world of gangs and drug dealing which enabled them to get hold of a weapon, according to sources.

They fear that terrorists are now able to get hold of weapons that were previously out of bounds because gangland armourers did not want to be dragged into terrorism.

However, the suppliers in the latest case were all converts who were still involved in drug dealing but also had a large amount of radical material on their phones and computers, including IS recruitment videos.

Officers moved in to arrest the three London-based plotters in September 2014, after Cuffy had handed a self-loading pistol, ammunition and a silencer onto Hamlett and Majeed.

Hassane was still in Sudan at that time, but detectives used the cover of an operation against gangs in London to try to lull him into a false sense of security that he was safe to return to Britain after his friends’ arrest.

When he did return he was put under surveillance as he visited an internet cafe where he was observed looking at articles about kidnapping in the Middle East.

When his home was raided, police discovered he had been using an iPad to research Shepherd’s Bush police station and the Parachute Regiment’s Territorial Army base in White City using Google Street View

Hassane pleaded guilty to masterminding the plot, just before he was due to give evidence in the three-month trial.

All four men will be sentenced at a later date.


Breaking: ISIS had Deployed 400 Fighters to Europe

ISIS trains 400 fighters to attack Europe in wave of bloodshed

PARIS: Security officials have told The Associated Press that ISIS has trained at least 400 attackers and sent them into Europe for attacks.

The network of interlocking, agile and semiautonomous cells shows the reach of the extremist group in Europe even as it loses ground in Syria. The officials, including European and Iraqi intelligence officials and a French lawmaker who follows the extremist networks, describe camps designed specifically to train for attacks against the West.

The officials say the fighters have been given orders to find the right time, place and method to carry out their mission.


BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the attacks in Brussels and related investigations (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israelis know what Belgians are enduring and offered them his country’s expertise in combating attacks.

Netanyahu said at a news conference on Wednesday night that he had spoken with the Belgian prime minister and the EU foreign minister and wished Belgians a speedy recovery to the wounded in the name of the Israeli people.

Netanyahu said that “if there is one people in the world who knows what they are going through, it is the citizens of Israel who have bravely and heroically faced terror attacks for many years.”

He said that “I offered them full Israeli assistance in the struggle against terror, intelligence and security assistance.”

He said the world needs to unite and act against terrorism.


The U.S. State Department must have some intelligence coming into their OpsRooms:

Worldwide Caution

Last Updated: March 3, 2016

The Department of State is updating the Worldwide Caution with information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Current information suggests that ISIL, al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.  Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.  This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated July 29, 2015.

In August 2014, after the United States and regional partners commenced military action against ISIL, ISIL called on supporters to attack foreigners wherever they are.  Authorities believe there is a continued likelihood of reprisal attacks against U.S., Western, and coalition partner interests throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia.

U.S. citizens continue to be at risk of kidnappings and hostage events as ISIL, al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates attempt to finance their operations through kidnapping-for-ransom operations.  U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and murdered by members of terrorist and violent extremist groups.  ISIL, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are particularly effective with kidnapping for ransom and are using ransom money to fund their activities.

Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, shopping malls, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.  In the past year, major extremist attacks occurred in countries including Tunisia, France, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, and Mali.

U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.  Extremists have targeted and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems, aviation, and maritime services.

U.S. citizens considering maritime travel also should review information at the websites of the National Geospatial Agency, the Maritime Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard for information related to maritime and port security globally.  Current areas of concern include the Caribbean, Gulf of Guinea, Horn of Africa, and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore ‎as a result of maritime crimes including smuggling, human trafficking, and piracy.

The information provided below offers select regional or country examples.  Please check for additional information.

EUROPE:  Credible information indicates terrorist groups such as ISIL and al-Qa’ida and its affiliates continue to plot near-term attacks in Europe.  All European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.

European authorities continue to warn of the possibility of attacks conducted by lone individuals inspired by extremist organizations that could occur with little to no warning.  Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, aviation services, transportation systems, and public venues where people congregate.  Authorities believe there is a high likelihood terror attacks in Europe will continue as European members of ISIL return from Syria and Iraq.  European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable.


MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA:  Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa.  The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests.  Private U.S. citizens are strongly discouraged from traveling to any country to join in armed conflict.  U.S. citizens are reminded that fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations, including ISIL, can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a serious crime that can result in penalties including prison time and large fines.

In Syria, the security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable as a civil war between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country.  Groups such as ISIL, al-Nusrah Front (ANF) and al-Qa’ida operate there.  In recent years, Westerners have been kidnapped and several have been killed by terrorist groups in Syria.

U.S.-designated terrorist groups operating in Lebanon include Hizballah, ISIL, ANF, Hamas, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB).  U.S. citizens have been the target of terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity remains.

In Iraq, ISIL controls significant territory in northern, western, and central Iraq, and continues to attack Iraqi security forces and civilians in those areas.

In Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, groups affiliated with ISIL, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and other terrorist groups have conducted attacks against both foreign and local targets.

In Yemen, the security situation has deteriorated greatly since 2014, necessitating the suspension of operations of the U.S. Embassy in February 2015.  Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIL remain threats to U.S. citizens in Yemen.


AFRICA:  Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Murabitun remain active in northern Mali and Niger, and recently conducted major attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso in which U.S. citizens were killed.  Terrorist groups have stepped up their rhetoric, calling for additional attacks or kidnapping attempts on Westerners and others, particularly those linked to support for international military intervention.

The terrorist group AQIM has declared its intention to attack Western targets in the Sahel (an area that stretches across the African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea to include Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea).  It has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners throughout the region.

Al-Shabaab assassinations, suicide bombings, hostage taking, and indiscriminate attacks in civilian-populated areas are frequent in Somalia.  Al-Shabaab retains its demonstrated capability to carry out attacks in government-controlled territory in Somalia and in neighboring countries such as Kenya and Djibouti.

Boko Haram, an extremist group based in northeast Nigeria, has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria.  Boko Haram also has targeted women and children for kidnapping, reportedly kidnapping women in northern states for marriage as “slave brides.” Boko Haram has carried out attacks in Cameroon’s Far North Region, western Chad, and southern Niger, targeting foreign expatriates, tourists, and government leaders.


SOUTH ASIA:  The U.S. government assesses terrorist groups in South Asia may be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. facilities, citizens, and interests.  The presence of al-Qa’ida, Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terrorist organizations, many of which are on the U.S. government’s list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region.

Although the Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities, terrorist attacks have occurred against civilian, government, and foreign targets.  Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations and airports.  Terrorists and criminal groups also have resorted to kidnapping for ransom.

No province in Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and crime, and the strong possibility exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other foreign nationals at any time.  Taliban and other extremist organizations remain active in every province of the country and frequently target both Afghan government and foreign interests.

India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly.  Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba.  Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.

Since September 2015, Bangladesh has experienced a series of increasingly sophisticated violent attacks.  These include the murders of two foreign nationals, as well as bombs and other attacks against gatherings of religious groups and security forces.  ISIL publicly claimed credit for many of these attacks.  Additionally, groups claiming to represent al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) asserted responsibility for a series of threats and terrorist attacks targeting writers, publishers, and others in the media, including the murder of a U.S. citizen blogger.


CENTRAL ASIA:  Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qa’ida, and the Islamic Jihad Union remain active in Central Asia.  These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government interests.


EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC:  Information from credible sources suggests that there is a continued risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region.  Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf Group, have cells operating throughout Southeast Asia and JI is linked to al-Qa’ida and other regional terrorist groups.

There is a risk of travel to the southern Philippines, specifically related to kidnapping threats in the Sulu Archipelago and the ongoing threat of violence on the island of Mindanao, particularly in Central Mindanao. Foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia are also targets for kidnappings for ransom.  Criminal or terrorist bands may attempt to intercept boats ferrying tourists in the area as well.

Indonesian counterterrorism efforts have prevented terrorists from conducting large-scale attacks in recent years.  The January 14, 2016, attack in central Jakarta, however, shows that extremists in Indonesia still have the ability to carry out small-scale violent attacks.

U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.  These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.  In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.  U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.