Over the past week, the authorities have disrupted two potential terrorist attacks in London. This follows the Westminster Bridge attack in March, which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS). Britain has been one of the most targeted states by IS’s campaign of global terror, and these latest incidents—whether or not they transpire to be IS-linked—underline the scale of the terrorist threat to Britain. Security forces prevented thirteen attacks in the U.K. between June 2013 and March 2017, and at any one time there are five-hundred live investigations into potential terrorist incidents, with 3,000 Britons believed to be capable of committing an act of domestic terrorism. Continue reading
The 22 March attack outside Westminster by Khalid Masood is the most significant act of Islamist terrorism since the 7 July 2005 bombing by al-Qaeda of the London public transport system. Masood’s attack highlights a number of historic trends in British jihadism and starkly poses the question of the extent of IS’s penetration of the United Kingdom. Continue reading
The seventy-fourth edition of al-Naba, the Islamic State’s newsletter, released online on 30 March 2017, reiterated the terrorist group’s 23 March claim via Amaq of the 22 March Westminster attack by Khalid Masood (born: Adrian Russell Ajao). The brief article is reproduced below.
The State Department designated five individuals on 30 March 2017 as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), imposing sanctions on them for having “committed, or [for] pos[ing] a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.” Four of those sanctioned are members of the Islamic State (IS), including two key British operatives in the group’s global network, and the other is a member of al-Qaeda. On the same day, the Treasury Department sanctioned two IS operatives involved in funding and guiding external IS operations in the Far East and Southeast Asia. Continue reading
Since the offensive against Mosul, the Iraqi capital of the Islamic State (IS), began five months ago, IS has expended a high number of lives quite deliberately in suicide attacks. One of the suicide-attacks conducted on 20 February 2017, a car bombing against an Iraqi base, was by Abu Zakariya al-Britani, a British citizen now identified as Ronald Fiddler from Manchester. In 2002, Fiddler, then calling himself Jamal Udeen al-Harith, was sent to Guantanamo Bay, before being released in 2004 while still protesting his innocence. After suing the British government over his imprisonment, Fiddler received a substantial cash settlement in order to avoid compromising state secrets. Fiddler’s demise invites some revisiting of widely-held assumptions surrounding Guantanamo. Continue reading
Junead Khan, 25, of Marlow Avenue, Luton, was sentenced to life imprisonment—to serve a minimum of twelve years—today for using his job as a delivery driver to scout out an attack on American troops stationed at Lakenheath in Britain. Khan had gathered materials on bomb-making and browsed Amazon for a knife like that used by Mohammed Emwazi (Abu Muharib al-Muhajir), the Islamic State’s British video butcher, widely known as “Jihadi John,” who was killed in a drone strike in November 2015. Khan, who was arrested on 14 July 2015 with his younger uncle, Shazib Khan, 23, intended to fake a road accident and then attack those who came to assist. Junead and Shazib were found guilty of terrorism offences for their plans to travel to Syria and sentenced to seven years each, with an extended period of five years on licence. Continue reading
Yesterday, the Islamic State (IS) released their thirteenth issue of Dabiq. Among many things, it contained an admission of death for Mohammed Emwazi (“Jihadi John”). Referred to by his kunya, Abu Muharib al-Muhajir, Dabiq said (pp. 22-23) Emwazi had been hit by an “unmanned drone in the city of ar-Raqqah” on November 12, “destroying the car and killing him instantly.” The biography that Dabiq offered gave some intriguing details, confirming some surmises I had made about Emwazi when his identity was revealed last spring, including his early involvement in an al-Qaeda network in London sending fighters to al-Shabab in Somalia—the thing that brought him to the attention of the security services, confirming that the truth was the inverse of CAGE’s infamous claim that harassment by the MI5 had radicalized Emwazi—and that Emwazi had left Britain to do jihad in Syria in the company of another British citizen. Emwazi was also in the thick of it when IS broke from al-Qaeda and offers an interesting and rare example of a European IS fighter entrusted with an internal security role for the caliphate.