Day Two Highlights from the World Summit on Counter Terrorism

48756-ConferencePJMedia, By Patrick Poole:

Some interesting and provocative discussions during Day 2 of the in Herzliya, Israel (my Day 1 overview is here). Some of the highlights from the second day of proceedings:

A report released at the conference announced an estimate that the Assad regime in Syria has 1,000 tons of chemical weapons.

Syracuse professor William Banks offered his assessment, in line with one offered the previous day, that while the Syrian regime may have violated international law with the use of chemical weapons (even though they are not a signatory to the chemical weapons convention), the remedies do not include the use of force, much as President Obama is proposing.

Qanta Ahmed warned against the virulence of Islamist ideology, claiming it was more dangerous than nuclear weapons, and stressed the importance of moderate Muslims unmasking the “wolves in sheeps’ clothing,” i.e., so-called “moderate” Islamists.

Undoubtedly the most lively discussion of the day involved Canadian columnist and author Tarek Fatah. During his speech, which you can see in the clip below, he notes that missing from much of the debate over the use of chemical weapons by Syria, and even Iran’s budding nuclear program, is that Pakistan already possesses 100+ nuclear weapons.

Fatah also added that two of the top Islamic partners in the “war on terror,” Turkey and Pakistan, are among the biggest purveyors of the jihadist ideology we are confronting globally (Saudi Arabia could also be added to that list).

Brian Jenkins of RAND Corp noted the diminishing effectiveness of strikes aimed at decapitating terrorist organizations. According to his research, a terrorist group that suffers decapitation in the first year of its existence is 8.5 times more likely to disintegrate than if the leadership continues; after 10 years existence, that rate is cut in half; by 20 years (al-Qaeda would fall in this category) the effect of a leadership decapitation strike is negligible.

Jenkins also added that it appears the West is headed towards a permanent state of war with Islamic terrorism.

King’s College professor Peter Neumann said that the number of foreign jihadist fighters traveling to Syria is higher than any other conflict previously seen, which will pose a considerable threat to Western countries down the road.

Former FBI and Treasury official Matt Levitt talked about his new book on the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. He noted that many Hezbollah plots have a U.S. nexus.

Levitt also predicted that regardless of who comes out on top in Syria (Hezbollah is actively fighting on behalf of the Iranian-backed Assad regime), Hezbollah will come out the loser. Gone is their status as “freedom fighters” now that they are waging widespread warfare outside of their own country, severely damaging their credibility.

Thomas Hegghammer from the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment reported that there are 4,000-5,000 foreign fighters now operating in Syria. He also added that despite much of the jihadist activity around the world, the threats to Western countries — including the U.S. — are still primarily coming out of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy offered the most provocative thesis of the day, saying that “there has to be a revolution in law and jurisprudence” when it comes to terrorism. In the clip below, he says that rather than having government continuing to run to the courts to see what judges will allow, the process needs to be reversed, with governments telling judges and courts what results are needed and leaving it to the courts to find a way to get there:

I will be traveling to the Syrian border by the Golan Heights tomorrow, missing the last day of the conference. But I’ll be providing a report following that trip.

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Poll Reveals Chilling View of Post-Revolution Egypt

A new poll taken to gauge the views of the Egyptian people shows a telling — and chilling view – of the Egyptian population post-revolution. For those who envisioned the Arab Spring bringing with it a favorable view democracy in the Arab world, with its values of peace and tolerance, the results of this recent survey prove that view dead wrong.

Three years ago, 41 % of Egyptians said they wanted their country to acquire a nuclear bomb. Now, 87% of Egyptians said they “would be happy” if Egypt acquired the bomb.

Even though Shi’ite Muslims are viewed unfavorably by Egypt’s Sunni Muslims (68% according this poll), 62% of Egyptians said that “Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are friends of Egypt,” despite Iran’s hard-line Shi’ite affiliation.  In addition, 65% expressed a desire to restore diplomatic relations with Iran, and 61% supported the Iranian nuclear program.

Egypt’s recently elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi broke three decades of a freeze in Egyptian-Iranian relations (the result of the Islamic revolution in Iran and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel) when he visited Iran last month. At the time, Iran’s deputy defense minister proclaimed, “We are ready to help Egypt to build nuclear reactors and satellites.”

A dramatic change in the Egyptian population’s view of Israel was also prominent in the results of the poll. Just three years ago, less than 25 percent of Egyptians favored breaking Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Now, 77 percent agreed that “The peace treaty with Israel is no longer useful and should be dissolved.”

Read more at Radical Islam

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Most Dangerous Terrorist Eludes Massive Manhunt: A Federal Folly (Part III)

by Paul L. Williams:

Part  I : Eleven Years after 9/11, the Threat Remains: The Leading Al Qaeda Operative  Remains at Large

Part  II: 9/11 A Prequel? Next Attack on America in Works

As the Arab Spring transforms into a chilling autumn of anti-American riots,  the “most dangerous” al Qaeda agent on planet earth remains on the loose with  the intent of launching terrorist attacks with radiological bombs in major  cities throughout the USA.

Seven years ago, the FBI issued a BOLO (“be-on-the-look out”) with a $5  million reward for any information resulting in the arrest of Adnan el  Shukrijumah.

Despite the expenditure of nearly $50 million, the search for this elusive  terrorist has produced no results. Elaborate plots were designed to snag him in  Guyana; his photo has appeared on the front page of every leading American  newspaper; and a special office, manned by a small army of FBI agents, was set  up in Miami to uncover his whereabouts.

But Adnan el-Shukrijumah, the Brooklyn-bred jihadi, remains alive and well  and more dangerous to America’s national security than ever before.

US officials first became aware of him in the wake of  Operation  Enduring Freedom (the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan), when the names of  Jaffar al Tayyar (“Jafer the Pilot”) and Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan were  discovered among the “pocket litter” of al Qaeda soldiers. [i]

In May 2002, U.S. intelligence and military officials starting asking a  pressing question to al Qaeda detainees who were being interrogated at foreign  prisons and secret CIA and military facilities abroad. “Whom,” the officials  asked, “would al Qaeda pick to lead the next big attack against U.S. targets?”  Intelligence sources told U. S. News and World Reports that several of  the detainees coughed up the same answer: “Jaffar al Tayyar.[ii]

The detainees said they had encountered “the Pilot” during al Qaeda training  exercises in Afghanistan. Intelligence officers presented photos of hundreds of  suspected al Qaeda operatives to the detainees. Several identified an individual  who bore a resemblance to Adnan el Shukrijumah.

But the resemblance was not reality, and it would take months before the FBI  and CIA teams, with their sophisticated equipment and state-of-the-art search  engines, would realize it. “We were pursuing a lead,” says one official, “that  in the end turned out to be a dead end. We found out we were after the wrong  person.[iii]

Indeed, the teams might still be searching for the wrong suspects and hitting  dead-ends, if not for the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured, quite  by accident, in Karachi, Pakistan March 1, 2003.

THE PLOT REVEALED

After days of interrogation, coupled with severe sleep deprivation, Mohammed  told U.S. officials that bin Laden was planning to create a “nuclear hell storm”  in America.[iv] Unlike other attacks, the terrorist chief said, the chain of  command for the nuclear attack answered directly to bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and  a mysterious scientist called “Dr. X.” Mohammed later admitted that “Dr. X” was  Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani father of the Islamic bomb and the  godfather of modern nuclear proliferation. He further confessed that the field  commander for this operation was a naturalized American citizen whom he also  referred to as Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan and “Jafer al Tayyar” (“Jafer the  Pilot”).[v] Both names are aliases of Adnan el Shukrijumah.

Khalid Mohammed went on to say that Adnan represents a “single-cell” – - a  lone agent capable of launching a solo nuclear or radiological attack on a major  American city. The news of such a cell reportedly startled U.   S. officials who  assumed that al Qaeda cells contained several members who were supported by  broad logistical back-up crews.[vi]

In March 21, 2003, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert  Mueller issued an urgent alert for Shukrijumah, and several of his al-Qaeda  associates, including Amer el-Maati, Abderraouf Jdey, and Aafia Siddiqui, who  received a biology degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and penned  a doctoral thesis on neurological science at Brandeis  University.[vi]

Siddiqui, a native of Pakistan, looms of importance in the search. She worked  closely with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as a “fixer,” the central al-Qaeda operative  who supplied money and logistical support to Adnan and his associates in  southern Florida. The money, as it turns out, came from the Saudi embassy.[viii]

‘DEMANDING, RUDE, AND OBNOXIOUS’

Several days after the BOLO was issued, Adnan and Jdey were spotted at a  Denny’s restaurant in Avon,  Colo., where one ordered a chicken sandwich and a  salad.  Samuel Mac, the restaurant manager, described them as “demanding,  rude and obnoxious.[ix] They told Mac they were from Iran and were driving from  New York to the West Coast. Upon calling the FBI headquarters in Washington,  D.C., Mac said the agent who answered the telephone said he had to call the  bureau’s Denver office and declined to take down any information. When Mac  called the Denver office of the FBI, he said he was shuttled to voice mail  because “all the agents were busy.”[x] It was five hours before a seemingly  uninterested agent called the restaurant manager. This agent, according to Mac,  took a few notes and said she would pass the information along to the field  agents who were handling the case.[xi]

This promise represented the full extent of the government’s interest in the  sighting, even though Shukrijumah had been labeled “the next Muhammad Atta by  FBI Director Robert Mueller. The federal and state law enforcement officials  failed to interview the restaurant workers and the patrons, purportedly even  those who were willing to verify the presence of the terrorists in the  restaurant. No forensic evidence was obtained from the scene by any law  enforcement officials – - not even the utensils that had been used by the  suspects.

When contacted by The Denver Post, Monique Kelso, spokeswoman for  the Denver bureau, said the office had received at least a dozen calls as a  result of the BOLO. The calls, Kelo said, were all taken seriously. She added,  “We follow up on every lead.”[xii]

THE WAZIRISTAN SUMMIT

Following the federal botch-up in Colorado, the diminutive Shukrijumah  resurfaced at a terrorist summit in the lawless Waziristan Province of Pakistan  in April 2004. The summit has been described by the FBI as a “pivotal planning  session” in much the same manner as a 2000 meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur for  the 9-11 attacks. Attending the summit were Abu Issa al Hindi, a Pakistani  technician whose company contained plans for staging attacks at financial  institutions in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., and Mohammed Babar,  who has been charged with buying materials to build bombs for attacks in Great  Britain. [xiii] Babar is an American citizen and resident of Queens, New York,  where he was a leading member of the Islamic Thinkers Society, a group that  burned the American flag during a demonstration before the Israeli consulate in  2006 and held up placards stating: “The mushroom cloud is on its way.”[xiv]

Read more: Family Security Matters