Foiled Attack On Paris Churches Another Case of “Known Wolf” Terrorism

An alleged Islamist was arrested as officials said the attack was 'imminent'

An alleged Islamist was arrested as officials said the attack was ‘imminent’

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, April 22, 2015:

France nearly averted a major terror attack in Paris over the weekend after the suspect inadvertently shot himself in the leg and police discovered plans in his car to attack churchgoers leaving church on Sunday, news reports this morning indicate.

However, the unnamed suspect was already known to French intelligence agencies and had previously been subject to police surveillance, making this yet another case of what I have termed “known wolf” terrorism.
The New York Times reports:

A 24-year-old computer science student suspected of planning an imminent attack on at least one church and of involvement in the murder of a woman was taken into custody in Paris over the weekend, the French authorities said on Wednesday.

The student was arrested on Sunday, and the police found heavy weapons, handguns, ammunition and bulletproof vests in his home and car, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Mr. Cazeneuve did not identify the student, nor the church or churches that he was believed to be targeting.

“Detailed documents were also found, establishing without any doubt that the individual was planning an imminent attack, most likely against one or two churches,” Mr. Cazeneuve said. “That attack was avoided on Sunday morning.”

But The Guardian adds based on a Le Monde article that the subject was already on the French intelligence radar:

Le Monde said the man had settled in France in 2009. Cazeneuve said he had been under surveillance since 2014 when he made it known he wished to go to Syria to join jihadis there. He disappeared in February this year and was found to have spent a week in Turkey. He was arrested, briefly held, and given a warning on his return, but his profile was not thought to justify further action beyond circulating a security warning.

“Our country, like other European countries, is facing a terrorist threat that is unusual in its nature and size. Our vigilance and our determination are absolute and constant,” the minister added.

But events just in the past month have repeatedly shown that their vigilance is far from “absolute and constant.”

As I reported here at PJ Media back in January, the Kouachi brothers who massacred 11 people and wounded another 11 in an attack on the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper were already known to French authorities.

Cherif Kouachi had been arrested and sentenced to prison back in 2005 for his role in helping send fighters to Iraq to attack coalition soldiers. At the time of the attack, he was on both the US and UK terror watch lists. It was later reported that Said Kouachi had been subject to surveillance orders since 2011 after he had returned from terror training in Yemen, but that the surveillance on Said had been stopped in June 2014 – just six months before the attack – because he had deemed no longer dangerous by security services, and the surveillance had been stopped at the end of 2013 on Cherif because authorities believed he had disengaged from “violent extremism.”

Then again, as I reported here in February, a man who stabbed three French police officers standing guard outside a synagogue in Nice had just been deported from Turkey back to France a week before the attack because he was believed to be en route to join ISIS in Syria.

French authorities are not alone in these “known wolf” failures. When I first identified the “known wolf terrorism” phenomenon back in October, it was after two separate terror attacks in Canada in less than a week by two individuals already known to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and both had their passports revoked for fear they would leave the country for Syria to join terror groups there.

I noted too at the time that virtually all of the American Islamic terror cases since 9/11 involved “known wolf” attackers.

Here’s my reporting on “known wolf terrorism” syndrome:

Oct. 24, 2014: ‘Lone Wolf’ or ‘Known Wolf’: The Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Failure

Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Jan. 7, 2015: Paris Terror Attack Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 3, 2015: French Police Terror Attacker Yesterday Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 15, 2015: Copenhagen Killer Was yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Feb. 26, 2015: Islamic State Beheader ‘Jihadi John’ Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

In January, I gave briefing on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) on the “Known Wolf” terrorism:

And in February I conducted an interview with my friend and colleague Erick Stakelbeck on the phenomenon:

Even the New York Times picked up the term in March, if only to try to explain away the failures of law enforcement. The term was also used when London Mayor Boris Johnson slammed the UK Home Secretary for dropping surveillance orders on Mohammed Emwazi, who has been featured in ISIS videos beheading Western prisoners.

Even well-paid US terrorism consultants are trying to cash in by suddenly discovering the “known wolf” terrorism problem:

The Soufan Group, a New York think tank, said a better term for “lone wolves” would be “known wolves”, given how many are already known to Western intelligence agencies before they strike.

“These individuals, acting alone or in small groups … have been on the radar of various agencies and organisations, highlighting the difficulty of effectively monitoring and managing people at the nexus of criminality and terrorism,” it said in a report this week.

For the Soufan Group, the most serious threat came from people with known associations with radicals and a string of past offenses.

What makes these many instances of “known wolf” terrorism so tragic is that it is never a case of the subject falling off the radar of authorities, or escaping surveillance. In each and every case, they have been deliberately removed from the radar after clearly mistakenly being removed from law enforcement radar, or more amazingly, authorities have aware[ness] of the threat and did nothing out of indifference or incompetence.

As the case in Paris on Sunday shows, we can expect the “known wolf” terror problem by Western intelligence and law enforcement authorities to continue.

Three Convicted in Massive British Terror Plot


Irfan Khalid, Ashik Ali and Irfan Naseer

Irfan Khalid, Ashik Ali and Irfan Naseer

IPT – by John Rossomando:

A court in Birmingham, England has convicted three men of plotting to carry out a suicide bombing campaign inspired by the late terrorist mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki.

Irfan Khalid, Ashik Ali and Irfan Naseer were radicalized by Awlaki’s lectures and by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine, which regularly featured the terrorist mastermind’s articles prior to his death in a September 2011 drone strike.

Police found lectures by al-Awlaki on Khalid’s cell phone, including “The Book of Jihad,” “It’s a War against Islam,” “Brutality towards Muslims” and “Stop Police Terror.”

According to the Telegraph, Khalid encouraged his fellow plotters to listen to al-Awlaki’s lectures.

Additional CD-ROMs containing talks by al-Awlaki were found in Khalid’s grandparents’ home. The terrorist leader’s messages were also found stored in Ali’s laptop and cell phone.

The trio experimented with making bombs using ammonium nitrate they removed from sports injury cold packs. Experts told the court they could have developed a viable improvised explosive device (IED) using their bomb-making recipe.

Such tactics resemble the sort of “Open Source Jihad” tactics advocated in Inspire that call for small groups or individual jihadists to make bombs and other weapons using readily available ingredients.

“They wanted to commit their own 9/11. They were critical of the July 7 [2005] bombers because they didn’t kill enough people,” said Marcus Beale, assistant commissioner of the West Midlands Police, the Guardian reported. “From evidence we presented to the court there were 8-10 bombs that they wanted to deploy, a mixture of suicide bombs and IEDs. So in terms of their capability, if they delivered on the plans that they had they would have committed mass murder on a horrendous scale.”

A coordinated series of bombings in London in 2005 killed 52 people in what is known as the 7/7 attacks.

Another of the plans the trio discussed involving the attaching of blades to the wheels of cars to mow down pedestrians came directly from an Inspire article titled, “The Ultimate Mowing Machine.”

Al-Awlaki has been tied to numerous other terror plots, including: Maj. Nidal Hasanand the Fort Hood shooting, Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab‘s plot to blow up an airliner with a bomb in his underwear and Faisal Shahzad‘s plot to blow up a truck in Times Square. The 9/11 Commission Report also stated he was tied to two of the 9/11 hijackers.

Although al-Awlaki might be gone his message lingers in his videos that are still for sale in Islamic bookstores and in more than 2,000 YouTube videos.