Former Guantanamo detainee Mehdi Ghezali’s Swedish passport. Ghezali was arrested in 2009 in Pakistan along with Munir Awad, the primary suspect in the most recently foiled Danish newspaper plot. Image from The Associated Press/Washington Times..
One of the suspects arrested in connection with the recently foiled terrorist plot against Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, has been arrested twice before.
Munir Awad was among the suspects arrested earlier this week for plotting to kill employees at the Danish newspaper, according to The Local, a Swedish publication. Awad had been arrested twice before because of his suspected ties to the terror network — once by Ethiopian forces in Somalia and a second time in Pakistan.
On both of the previous occasions, Awad and his supporters claimed that he and his traveling companions were merely vacationing.
“Vacationing” in Somalia
In 2007, Awad and his girlfriend, the then 17-year-old Saifa Benaouda, were detained in Somalia. They were suspected of answering the call for jihad. New recruits were streaming into Somalia from around the world at the time.
But the worldwide press ran Benaouda’s story that she and Awad were just a young couple mixed up in a foreign adventure. For instance, The New York Times published an account entitled, “Young Tourists Pick Somalia, and a 3-Nation Ordeal Begins.” The Times described Benaouda as having a “blend of naivet
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.