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The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West• Tradebom Plot (World Trade Center, New York, 1993)• Millennium Plot (Los Angeles, 1999)• 9/11 Planes Plot (New York, Washington DC, Shanksville, PA 2001)• Shoe Bombers’ Plot (Paris–Miami, 2001)• The Lackawanna Cluster (Lackawanna, NY 2002)• Operation Rhyme (London, 2004)• Operation Crevice (London, 2004)• Madrid Train System (March 11, 2004)• Hofstad Group Plots (Netherlands, 2004–5)• Operation Theseus (London, July 7, 2005)• Operation Vivace (London, July 21, 2005)• Operation Pendennis (Australia, 2005)• Operation Osage (Toronto, 2006)• Operation Overt (United Kingdom–United States, 2006)• Operation Dagger (Copenhagen, 2007)• Operation Highrise (New York, 2009)
The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the WestUnique Research Sources:• Legal documents (discovery material; trial transcripts, government reports)• Self reports (terrorist documents, interviews & testimony)• Media reporting (comprehensive, cross-checked, chronological analysis)• Consultation with law enforcement agencies & security services
Joining Al Qaeda A local, organic, bottom-up process The Scene Overseas Travel Was there any al Qaeda role in Did al Qaeda find the Westerners the formation of the scene? or did they find al Qaeda? The Cluster Plot Conception Did al Qaeda create or assign Did al Qaeda suggest, endorse or roles in the cluster? provide detailed instructions? Connecting to al Qaeda Plot Launch Did al Qaeda send emissaries to Did al Qaeda’s Chief of External the West to radicalize and Operations have a role in the recruit? plot?
The Operational Cycle Acts in Furtherance of the Plot Target Selection Logistics Did al Qaeda choose the Did al Qaeda fund the targets? operation? Casing of Targets Weaponization Did al Qaeda recon the targets? Did al Qaeda provide the weapons or instructions? Communications Were the conspirators in contact with al Qaeda?
Anatomy of an Al Qaeda Plot LeT LeT JeM Al Qaeda HuM Operational Cycle The ClusterPoliticization • Communicationof Beliefs • Target Selection • Casing Reactionary • Logistics Islam • Weaponization The Scene
The Scene and CountercultureReactionary Islam Politicization of Beliefs• Literal interpretation of Islam • West at war with Islam (Af/Pak, Iraq…)• Democracy and Islam not compatible • Islamic lands invaded by US and allies• Believers vs. Unbelievers • Islamic political action: Hizb ut Tahrir,• Return to the Caliphate (Utopia) Al Muhajiroun, Rev Muslim, ITS, MB• Salafis and Tablighi • Anti-war protests certain mosques The Scene private locations ideologue universities online community
Londonistan 2004-2006 Muslim Education Centre (Markaz u Dawa)Masjid-e-Umar The Scene Waltham Forest CollegeAnti-war protests Islamic Medical Association London Metro University
From the Scene to the Cluster Rejecting the Scene• Action is necessary to remedy situation • Private meetings (bookstore, apartments…)• Protest activity and politics ineffective • Guilt about living comfortably in West• Spin-off from scene with trusted associates • Desire to take action – train, fight overseas The Scene private locations The Cluster
Lackawanna, New York 2001 Rejecting the Scene• Action is necessary to remedy situation • Private meetings (bookstore, apartments…)• Protest activity and politics ineffective • Guilt about living comfortably in West• Spin-off from scene with trusted associates • Desire to take action – train, fight overseas The Scene private locations The Cluster
Travel Overseas to Southwest Asia the fixer FIGHT JIHAD OVERSEAS PARAMILITARY TRAINING SKILL DEVELOPMENT PROVIDE SUPPLIES SANCTION/DIRECTION
July 7, 2005 Bombersthe fixer Para-military Training HuM 2001 2003 Al Qaeda 2004/2005
Overseas Travel and Al Qaeda Link Up LeT JeM Al Qaeda Chief of al Qaeda External Operations “do something for the HuM cause back in London” Para-military Training “we have a specific mission for you” the “link man” the fixer
Shoe Bombers and LAX Millennium Plot LeT JeM Al Qaeda Chief of al Qaeda External Operations “do something for the HuM cause” Para-military Training “we have a specific mission for you” the “link man” the fixer
Al Qaeda Plot Typology Command & Control Suggested/Endorsed Inspired Individuals met with Individuals met with Individuals did not someone of rank within someone of rank within meet someone of al Qaeda, or their al Qaeda, or their rank within al representative in representative in Qaeda , or their Afghanistan or Pakistan Afghanistan or Pakistan representative AQ assigned them a AQ provided a AQ did not provide specific mission suggestion/endorsement direct suggestion or conceptualized by AQ to do something endorsement Specific guidance General guidance No guidance on provided on means, provided on means, means, timing, and timing, and targets timing, and targets targets Ongoing communication Sporadic communication No communication
Where is the Center of Gravity for the plots? LeT LeT JeM Al Qaeda HuM Operational Cycle The ClusterPoliticization • Communicationof Beliefs • Target Selection • Casing Reactionary • Logistics Islam • Weaponization The Scene
Al Qaeda Threat 2001-2004 2011 AQ Ideology Abu Sayyaf Al Qaeda Jemaah Islamiyah AQI AQ Ideology
Al Qaeda Threat 2004-2011 2001- 2004 2011 AQ Ideology AQIM LeT TTP homegrown Al QaedaAQI AQAP AQAP JeM Al Shabab
The Overall Threat NowAl Qaeda Al Qaeda Affiliates Al Qaeda Core and Allies Inspired AQAP LeT homegrown Al Qaeda TTP JeM AQIM Al Shabab RADICALIZED IN THE WEST North America, Western Europe, Australia
The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the WestKey Judgments:• Al Qaeda Core’s actual role in plots against the West has been overstated.• Much more of the “action of the conspiracies” has taken place in the West, by Westerners, independent of Al Qaeda.• Al Qaeda has not actively recruited in the West; rather the plots are underpinned by a “bottom-up” process, driven by individuals in the West who radicalize and then take the initiative to go overseas for training or to get into the fight.• Al Qaeda has been opportunistic, taking advantage of the Westerners who have shown up on its doorstep to utilize them in plots against the West.• Post Bin Laden, given the combination of Westerners who continue to radicalize/mobilize plus the rise of other important nodes in al Qaeda’s worldwide network of allies and affiliates, the threat from al Qaeda type terrorism has not ended.