CNN confirmed Thomas Joscelyn’s report that the Taiba (Al Quds) Mosque in Hamburg of 9/11 fame is at the heart of the plot to carry out Mumbai-like assaults in Europe. The CNN report highlights some more of the players in the plot. Also note that some of the Germans traveled “overland through Iran” [for more on how the Iranian ratlines for al Qaeda fighters into Afghanistan and Pakistan work, see here and here]. From CNN:
A friend of Atta from those days has emerged as a crucial figure in the new plot, European intelligence officials tell CNN. Naamen Meziche, 40, a French citizen of Algerian descent, worked to persuade a number of young men praying at the Taiba mosque to join in jihad, the officials said. Though his exact whereabouts are unknown to authorities, he is thought to be in the Afghan/Pakistan border area. Meziche’s wife told CNN that he was overseas.
According to a European counterterrorism official, Meziche had connections to al Qaeda dating to the 1990s that he rekindled once he arrived in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Most of the members of the group which coalesced late in 2008, left Pakistan before authorities had a chance to stop them, despite constant surveillance of suspected militants at the Taiba mosque, according to German intelligence officials.
The group used several routes to get to Pakistan, some going overland through Iran and some traveling by air via the Persian Gulf. Managing the logistics, according to German intelligence officials, was a man known as Asadullah M., 52, a Hamburg resident of Afghan origin who is thought to be in the Pakistani tribal area along the Afghan border.
Eight members of the travel group, including two wives of the militants, eventually made it to the tribal areas of Pakistan, where they joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an Uzbek militant group with strong ties to al Qaeda, according to German intelligence officials.
One member of the group was Rami Makanesi, 25, a German of Syrian descent. Another was Shahab Dashti, a German citizen of Iranian descent. He appeared in an IMU video in late 2009. Wielding a knife and gun, he urged other Germans to join in jihad against American forces in Afghanistan. Several other Germans in the video were shown firing weapons in what appeared to be live-fire exercises. Several scenes featured what appeared to be the group’s members using rockets and guns to practice storming enemy positions, honing the type of combat skills that Western counter-terrorism officials fear could be used in Western cities in a “Mumbai-style” attack.
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