British, German jihadists involved in Europe plot killed in Predator strikes


Abu_Askar.jpg

German national Shahab D., who is better known as Abu Askar, in a propaganda video from 2009. Image from DPA/Welt.

Over the past month, US Predator strikes in Pakistan have killed at least three Western members of the cells assigned to carry out Mumbai-like terror assaults against targets in major European cities.

One Briton, who had been appointed to a top al Qaeda leadership position in the United Kingdom, and two Germans associated with the Hamburg cell were killed in airstrikes by unmanned US Predators or Reapers in Pakistan in September.

The Briton, who was identified as Abdul Jabbar, is thought to have been killed in a US airstrike in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Sept. 8. Jabbar, a British citizen who was originally from Jhelum in Pakistan, was said to have been appointed as the future leader of the so-called Islamic Army of Great Britain, according to the BBC.

"Intelligence agencies monitored a meeting of 300 militants three months ago in the Ambarshaga area of North Waziristan, attended by Jabbar and militants from the Taliban and al Qaeda," the BBC reported. At that meeting, he was appointed the leader of the Islamic Army of Great Britain and was tasked with carrying out terror assaults in Britain, France, and Germany, using assault rifles and suicide vests.

Jabbar had earlier survived a drone strike on a militant training camp run by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a commander allied with the Haqqani Network, an Afghan Taliban faction considered one of the most effective forces battling Western troops in Afghanistan.

The two Germans have been identified as Shahab D., who goes by the name of Abu Askar, and Imran Almani, according to Welt Online.

Abu Askar was a native of Iran, but grew up in Hamburg. Askar attended the radical Taiba Mosque in Hamburg (formerly known as Al Quds), the same mosque that was involved in the 9/11 attacks. In early August this year, German officials closed the Taiba mosque, several weeks after a German named Ahmed Siddiqui was captured by US forces in Afghanistan. Siddiqui disclosed details of the Europe plot, and said it was ordered and financed by Osama bin Laden.

Askar left Hamburg in March 2009 "with three other Islamists" and traveled "from Hamburg via Frankfurt and the Gulf emirate of Qatar to Pakistan's Peshawar," Welt Online reported. "In the Pakistani tribal areas of Waziristan Shahab D. [Askar] joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," a Central Asian terror group closely allied with al Qaeda. That same year, Askar appeared in an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan video brandishing a sword and declaring that he and others had left Germany to wage jihad. Askar has also been linked to failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.

The exact location of the strike that killed Askar and Almani is not known, but there has been one recent Predator attack in Pakistan in which Germans were reported among the dead: the Sept. 8 airstrike in Datta Khel, which is said to have killed eight Germans, two Britons, and a terrorist leader known as Qureshi, who was a trainer for the Islamic Jihad Group, a splinter faction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Qureshi was reported to be an expert in training Germans to carry out attacks in their home country.

Al Qaeda's European terror plot has rattled several Western nations, as they have become concerned that their own citizens have traveled to Pakistan for training to wage jihad in their home nations. The chief of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office "estimates there are more than 400 Islamists currently in Germany," with a "core" of 131 hardened, dangerous jihadists and "278 supporters and other 'relevant people,'" according to a report in Der Speigel. Seventy are estimated to have trained in terror camps Pakistan and 40 are thought to have fought in Afghanistan. British intelligence believes that more than 20 Britons are currently in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The US Predator campaign in Pakistan has been ramped up to counter this threat, and several terrorist leaders associated with the plot are thought to have been killed in these strikes over the past month. There have been 27 Predator strikes in Pakistan since Sept. 1, when the operation to interdict the terror network began in earnest. A few weeks after the death of Qureshi, the Islamic Jihad Group trainer, in an airstrike on Sept. 8, Sheikh Fateh al Masri, al Qaeda's leader in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was also killed in a strike in North Waziristan.

In addition to the marked increase in airstrikes against al Qaeda operatives in the Pakistani tribal areas, Coalition Special Operations Forces dramatically stepped up operations in northern Afghanistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan immediately after Siddiqui's capture in July. Multiple IMU commanders have been killed or captured in the northern Afghan provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar since July. Many of these commanders had integrated their operations with the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, and some held senior positions in the Taliban's shadow government.


For more information on the European plot, see:

Islamic Jihad Group commander reported killed in Predator strike
Al Qaeda's #3 misidentified again
More ties between al Qaeda plotter and 9/11 Hamburg cell revealed
Report: Osama bin Laden ordered Mumbai-style attacks in Europe
9/11 hijackers' mosque tied to recent terror plot against Europe
European terror plot begins to unravel

For more information on Coalition operations against the IMU in Afghanistan, see:

Coalition continues pursuit of IMU commanders in the Afghan north
IMU-linked Taliban shadow governor captured in Afghan north.



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READER COMMENTS: "British, German jihadists involved in Europe plot killed in Predator strikes"

Posted by James at October 7, 2010 9:25 PM ET:

One thing has long been crystal clear at least to me. Terrorism is an international problem, and it's going to mandate a unified international response.

I have long advocated an INTERPOL-like model to deal with it.

Pakistan is nobody's ally in the WOT. If anything, we all ought to be getting on the side of India. At the very least, we in the international community (particularly the US) need to get on the same "page" with India's intelligence services.

I say do to Pakistan what Al Queda tried to do to Iraq. Let it become the next former Yugoslavia or former Soviet Union. Turn them against each other, literally. Let them break apart and be cast to the winds.

May the bloodiest civil war the earth has ever seen happen in Pakistan until they fracture up to the heathen neanderthal-like cave-dwellers (like bin laden) they have always been and will be.

Again, our ally over there is (or ought to be) India.

Posted by Concerned Observer at October 7, 2010 9:48 PM ET:

I'm curious; have you ever been to Pakistan? I haven't, and I've never met any Pakistanis, so I have no way of verifying whether everyone living there is a neanderthal cave-dweller deserving of whatever they get.

But as long as we're daydreaming anyway, how about a UN resolution recognizing independence for the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan? If we're lucky, the jihadist rank-and-file might even support the idea. At least until everyone declared war on them.

Posted by Cerberus at October 7, 2010 10:31 PM ET:

It seems to me that a dozen well placed missles sent to the meeting of 300 militants three months ago in Ambarshaga just might have had a significant bang for the buck.

Posted by Bear at October 7, 2010 11:20 PM ET:

I wonder what james thinks about the bloodiest civil war the world has ever seen in a country with nuclear weapons??? not a good idea... please don't turn this into a yahoo comments section. i usually enjoy reading the comments here (because they are intelligent).
I thought the same thing Cerberus, a meeting of 300 militants...

Posted by Matt at October 7, 2010 11:29 PM ET:

I think the US government should offer a bounty for that ridiculous jihad knife. lol Either way, bravo to all involved that killed these dorks.

Posted by Tyler at October 7, 2010 11:44 PM ET:

I was watching that video of the now-deceased German Abu Askar earlier today. Gotta hand it to these European-born terrorists, they've kept the propaganda production values up despite the comparative decline of Al Qaeda's. Its a slick vid, quick cuts, graphics, combat footage, even an 80s style montage of the jihadis strapping on their gear (think Rambo II & III.)

I got a kick out of that big sword he's holding. Looks like an Iron Sheikh prop. Word to the wise, don't bring knives to missile fights.

Posted by David at October 8, 2010 12:07 AM ET:

I don't understand how they are suddenly getting such unbelievably great intelligence on the plot (not only
the what, but the who, and where they are training?),
and who is giving them these after-action reports? Is it the ISI? Dawn? Our own spies in the region -- in which case why is all this being published, aren't we giving away sources/methods? I know it is supposed to be related to this European plot, but these guys are always cooking up something, how did they find out so much detail about it, that they didn't have before, on previous European plots?

Posted by Mike at October 8, 2010 12:23 AM ET:

Is it possible that Ahmed Siddiqui knew Mohamed Atta(b.1986), Marwan al-Shehhi(b.1978), Ramzi Binalshibh(b.1972), and Ziad Jarrah(b.1975)? If alive today they would all be around the same age as Ahmed Siddiqui(b.1974), they all lived in Hamburg and attended the Al-Quds Mosque. It has also been noted, in Der Spiegel, as well as here on TheLongWarJournal


http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/10/al_qaeda_plotter_rev.php


that Siddiqui was quite friendly with the family of Mounir el Motassadeq(b.1974) and worked at the Hamburg Airport with him as well as with another member of the Al-Quds Mosque, Mohammed Raji who can be seen in this photo from 1999 with Mohammed Atta's hands on his shoulders. Also in this photo is Abdelghani Mzoudi(b.1972), Mounir al-Motassadeq, Ramzi Binalshibh. Perhaps Ahmed Siddiqui is even in this photo:


http://www.historycommons.org/events-images/089_jarrah_friends_992050081722-8094.jpg




A more recent photo of Ahmed Siddiqui can be seen on the ABCnews website:


http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/ahmed-siddiqui-german-terror-connection/story?id=11760048&page=2




Mohammed Raji who also worked at the Hamburg airport subsequently moved to Morroco which is where Ahmed Siddiqui and the family of Mounir el Motassadeq went to visit in 2002.

Posted by neonmeat at October 8, 2010 4:55 AM ET:

You would think this news will finally prove that what we are doing in Afghanistan is right and is saving the lives of civilians in our respective Allied countries. For me this is definitive proof that we have prevented an atrocity occuring in Great Britain by killing these terrorists in Afghanistan, no one can now say that this war is wrong or unjustifiable. However will this shut up the Islamist apologists who believe that we should just let these killers sit happy in their caves and plot murder against us, I doubt it. Good work ISAF keep hitting them.

P.S Islamic Army of Great Britain?! Don't make me laugh.

Posted by Paul at October 8, 2010 6:26 AM ET:

Biggest threat to UK is Brit born Paks.Biggest threat to India is Pakistan.Biggest threat to Afghanistan is Pakistan.Biggest threat to US is Pakistan trained militants.

Get the jist on who the biggest threat in the WOT is?

Ps. Iran is not far behind with funding/training insurgents in Iraq and Afganistan!

Pak and Iran are our biggest enemies in WOT!

Posted by g at October 8, 2010 12:07 PM ET:

I could not agree more with Paul. It is infuriating that we call Pakistan an ally and we send so much aid there.

Posted by kp at October 8, 2010 1:18 PM ET:

Plenty more interesting details in the Asia Times article that fills in quite a few blanks.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LJ07Df02.html

Lots of little interesting background details like the movement of the IMU from Shawal Valley in SW to Mir Ali in NW ... they were attacked in both places).

One informant "Rami M." was arrested whilst wearing a burqa heading to the German mission after becoming disillusioned with the IMU. His full name is Rami Mackenzie. An odd name for a German.

And then this item at the end:

"The region of Datta Khel [North Waziristan] has been identified as the place where all al-Qaeda bigwigs are gathered. [Osama bin Laden's deputy] Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri is also believed to be there, and it therefore looks as if the Afghan war will cross into North Waziristan this winter," the security official said.

Posted by TLA at October 8, 2010 1:22 PM ET:

Yes Tyler, the huge kitchen knife is a good propaganda move.

Personally, I think it makes Rambo look positively enlightened, and is more in the Conan league. I must have missed the Iron Sheikh. Do you think they are all Dungeons and Dragons addicts between missile strikes?

Posted by kp at October 8, 2010 1:30 PM ET:

Key German targets survive US drone hit

http://thenews.com.pk/08-10-2010/Top-Story/1167.htm

Quote: Two most wanted al-Qaeda-linked German terrorists based on the Pak-Afghan tribal belt, who were the actual target of the October 4 American drone attack in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan have survived the deadly predator strike, which killed half a dozen German militants belonging to the Sunni Islamic Jehad Union (SIJU), also known as Islamic Jehad Group (IJG).

Quote: According to well informed security officials in Rawalpindi, the US drones had actually fired three missiles targeting a home built above a market in the Mir Ali area, suspecting the presence of two most wanted al-Qaeda-linked terrorists of German origin - 27-year-old Mouneer Chouka alias Abu Adam and 25-year-old Yaseen Chouka alias Abu Ibrahim. Coming from the suburb of Kessenich in Bonn, both are real brothers and believed to be leading a group of over 100 German militants who had traveled from Germany to the border areas of Pakistan in recent years, raising the latest security alert in Europe. Chouka brothers were lucky enough to have survived the drone attack, which killed eight people including six German nationals.
The strike was carried out on the basis of information gleaned from a 27-year-old German national, Rami, already arrested on June 22, 2010 while donning a Burqa and trying to cross over from North Waziristan to the Bannu district of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Posted by kp at October 8, 2010 1:47 PM ET:

Apologies for the third consecutive post but this WSJ article today has more interesting info:

Quote:Mr. Mackenzie, a Caucasian in his mid-20s who converted to Islam So he's a "white" convert. Particularly valuable to IMU and AQ in Europe.

Quote:At least two Germans and three other people killed in a Central Intelligence Agency drone strike this week [Mon 10/4? 10/6? 10/7?] in Pakistan's tribal regions were allegedly involved in plotting terrorist attacks in Europe, Pakistani officials said Friday.

Quote:The people killed in the drone strike Monday [10/4] were linked to the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the Pakistan Taliban, the senior military official said. But these were supposed to be a lot of Germans? With IMU. Or are they shuffling them around the different groups safe houses?

I'm not sure if this reporting is conflating more than one strike given they're have been three this week in the Mir Ali district. The casualties described in the opening paragraph don't seem to match up with the other descriptions of the Monday 10/4 attack (4 to 8 people killed with 4 to 8 Germans). Perhaps they're talking about the 10/7 strike which has said 5 killed? e.g. see the summary here in LWJ

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/10/us_predators_strike_9.php

Posted by Civy at October 8, 2010 5:51 PM ET:

Since we seem to be on the topic of reorganizing Pakistan's territory, I'd like to offer that a more deliberate approach might pay bigger dividends.

Especially with NATO convoys so much in the news, and given Baluchistan's historical hatred of Islamabad, I think carving out a supply corridor with road and rail (and in future, pipeline) from Afghanistan to the port city of Gwadar on the Indian Ocean would be a capital idea, and God knows, we've already paid for it 10x over with all the aid we've given to Pakistan.

This would not only help NATO, but would finally give Afghanistan a port, so it would no longer be land-locked. This would be a huge boon too fruit and vegetable farmers in Helmand - offering an alternative to poppy growing - who would find ready export markets in arid Arab lands, and likely India and China.

The Iranians are also keen to have such a pipeline route, and it was the Chinese who sunk 3 billion into the port of Gwadar to tap Iranian energy. With the US, NATO, China and Iran on board, it's hard to imagine such a plan would fail.

Since Baluchistan's major complaint with Islamabad is it's great wealth of natural gas is essentially stolen at the price paid, and it lies between Pakistan and the proposed corridor, security might prove surprisingly easy. This should seriously undermine, if not end, the Quetta shura.

Posted by kp at October 8, 2010 7:57 PM ET:

One more from the WSJ

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704657304575539761117883970.html

Quote: At least two Germans and three others killed in a Central Intelligence Agency drone strike Tuesday in Pakistan were involved in plotting terrorist attacks in Europe, Pakistani officials said Friday.

It looks like there are at least two sets of brothers?

The two Chouka brothers who may have escaped the Monday attack. And three al Amani brothers: one dead and one escaped the Tuesday attack in Pak and one in Germany.

And the WSJ have the name of the informant as "Rami Makanesi". I don't know which spelling to believe now.

Posted by James at October 10, 2010 6:05 PM ET:

To Bear and Concerned, I'm sure there are good Pakistanis (like the former [now deceased] Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto), and I'm sure there are bad Pakistanis. Unfortunately, all I'm hearing about lately are the bad Pakistanis.

What I was referring to concerning the cave-dwellers and Neanderthal-like thugs are terrorists in general, not just those of a single nations descent.

Honestly, I believe Pakistan was a failed state right from the start and still is, until they can demonstrate otherwise.

Concerning their nuclear arsenal, if worse came to worse, the international community would be on them like flies on dung and just maybe that's what it will take.

The former Soviet Union also had (and still has) plenty of nuclear weaponry laying around when they broke up.

I don't wish ill will for the Pakistani nation or its people, but the Pakistani government must change itself, or be changed by force.

They should be given an ultimatum that either they are with US or against US.