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Study shows that Islamic State terror cells in Europe are led by former al-Qaida terrorists

A recent study conducted by the Henry Jackson Society shows that the former Al-Qaida terrorists are training Islamic State cells in europe

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  • Henry Jackson Society, a London-based research institution, looked at the al-Qaida-linked terror networks in Europe and compared them to current networks linked to Islamic State
  • Many of the elder members of former al-Qaida networks had traveled to fight in Afghanistan the previous decade, and passed on their knowledge
  • Former al-Qaida operatives also passed on expertise in how to evade detection on their return to Europe

There are direct links between the al-Qaida terror networks of the last decade, and the Islamic State-linked terror cells in Europe that have carried out a series of attacks in recent months, according to a new report.

The study by the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based research institution, looked at the al-Qaida-linked terror networks in Europe in the early 2000s, around the time of the NATO-led invasion of Afghanistan, and the current networks linked to Islamic State that were responsible for the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels. Time and again, the same names appeared.

‘Training and grooming’

“The recidivism of those individuals who had originally been convicted of al-Qaida activism, almost training and grooming those individuals who would go on to be involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks,” said Rupert Sutton, co-author of the report.

Those individuals included Abdelhamid Abaaoud, chief coordinator of the Paris attacks in November 2015, and Najeem Laachraoui, one of the network’s chief bomb makers, who detonated a suicide bomb at Brussels airport in March.

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“They were connected to a number of individuals with previous convictions for al-Qaida activity, and to a cleric called Khalid Zerkani, who acted almost as a father figure to a number of these individuals. He was actually known as ‘Papa Noel’ [Father Christmas] because he used the proceeds of his petty crime to shower them with gifts and look after them at the same time as radicalizing them,” Sutton said.

Many of the elder members of former al-Qaida networks had traveled to fight in Afghanistan the previous decade, and passed on their knowledge to embryonic terror cells in Europe as the Syrian civil war became a rallying call for jihadist fighters.

“Providing them with expertise on bomb-making or network formation, but also providing them with advice on perhaps how to travel to a conflict zone to gain training, how to gain combat experience and how to use those conflict zones as areas in which you can formulate your own ideas and formulate your own attacks,” Sutton said.

Combat experience

He added combat experience appears key, as the most serious Islamic State-linked terror plots in Europe have been planned by European citizens returning from the Syrian frontline, however, those individuals are often beneath intelligence radars.

“Often these individuals perhaps haven’t come into contact with the authorities in the past. So whilst there are direct connections between the two networks, the individuals that are recruited by those veterans perhaps have only come into contact with the police through a record of petty crime,” he said.

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Sutton said former al-Qaida operatives also passed on expertise in how to evade detection on their return to Europe. “Perhaps one of the most worrying factors is that a number of these individuals were stopped by police on their returns, showed fake identities and gave fake names, and were able to continue on their journey.”

The report’s authors say the links show the need to improve efforts to challenge radicalization in prisons and develop better ways of preventing offenders from being drawn into terrorism. (VOA)

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The Son Of The Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi Dies: IS

Al-Baghdadi's fate is still unknown

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This image from video posted in July purports to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon in Iraq, July 5, 2014. Islamic State media has announced the death of the leader's son.
This image from video posted in July purports to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon in Iraq, July 5, 2014. Islamic State media has announced the death of the leader's son. VOA

The son of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has died in a suicide attack mission in the city of Homs in western Syria, according to the IS media al-Nashir News.

Posting the photograph of a young boy, purportedly Hudhayfah al-Badri, al-Baghdadi’s son, the outlet said he lost his life in an operation against the Russian forces deployed in Homs and the Syrian government forces, referred to as Nusayriyyah by IS.

“Hudhayfah al-Badri (may Allah accept him), the son of the Caliph (may Allah safeguard him), was killed in an inghimasi [suicide] operation against the Nusayriyyah and the Russians at the thermal power station in Homs Willayah,” the news outlet reported.

Inghimasi refers to suicide operations in which a fighter, clad with explosive belt and armed with regular weapons, attacks an enemy position before detonating himself to inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible.

The U.S. military said it has seen the reports of al-Badri’s death but declined any confirmation.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on an attack on forces outside the Coalition. We have nothing more to provide,” U.S. Central Command told VOA.

An Iraqi national, al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, announced the Islamic State caliphate in the city of Mosul in June 2014 and made himself its caliph. The leader has since become the world’s most wanted man, with a $25 million bounty on his head.

Islamic Terrorism in NYC
Bicycles and debris lay on a bike path after a motorist drove onto the path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. VOA

Al-Baghdadi’s fate is still unknown, with various reports claiming his death and injury several times, including a claim by the Russian Defense Ministry that he might have been hit by a Russian airstrike in 2017.

Those claims have been rejected by U.S. officials and the whereabouts of the elusive leader remain unknown.

Al-Baghdadi’s infamous role in IS has put a spotlight on his family. In March 2014, al-Baghdadi’s wife, Sujidah al-Dulaimi, was released, along with her two sons and daughter, in exchange for 13 nuns taken captive by al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front militants.

Also read: Will the Latest Message From Islamic State Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Provoke New Attacks in the West?

It was reported that only the girl was al-Baghdadi’s daughter. The two boys belonged to a man his wife had married before meeting al-Baghdadi. (IANS)