Younes Tsouli, a ‘cyber-jihadist’ who uploaded extremist propaganda to the internet, posted advice on hacking and tried to help people planning terrorist attacks, has been jailed for 16 years. He will serve his sentence at Belmarsh High Security Prison in London, where he will not have access to the internet.
Tsouli, originally from Morocco, was arrested at his flat in shepherds Bush, London in October 2005, after police learned that he had been in telephone contact with two men who had travelled from scandinavia to Bosnia to carry out an attack. Police raided Tsouli’s address and arrested him. Accused of having a video on his computer that showed how to make a car bomb, he was charged with conspiracy to murder and to cause an explosion.
It was only weeks later, as the records from his computer were analysed, that the importance of his arrest became apparent. Younes Tsouli used the online username Irhabi 007 (Terrorist 007) and was one of the world’s most notorious cyber-jihadists. From browsing the web for extremist literature, he had become much more active and was eventually contacted by Al-Qa’ida leaders in Iraq. He was asked to build websites and run web forums and soon became the main distributor of video material from Al-Qa’ida in Iraq. He facilitated contact between thousands of individuals; Peter Clarke, head of Counter-Terrorism Command at the Metropolitan Police, said that Tsouli, ‘provided a link to… the heart of Al-Qa’ida and the wider network ... via the internet’.
Tsouli was helped by two associates, waseem Mughal and Tariq Al-Daour, who were also arrested in October 2005. At the time, all three pleaded guilty to incitement to commit acts of terrorism on the internet. The case is remarkable in that it illustrates the dangers of cyber-jihadism and the fact that there is no longer a need for a physical base: there is no evidence that Tsouli and Al-Daour ever met in person. ‘It showed us the extent to which they could conduct operational planning on the Internet. It was the first virtual conspiracy to murder that we have seen’, said Clarke.
Lord Carlile Warns of Convert Threat
A report in The Scotsman newspaper,published on 13 January, has warned that white, British converts to Islam are being targeted by radical Muslims while serving prison terms; some young, lonely first-time prisoners may be approached at first without any reference to religion.
A growing secret army of white potential terrorists poses a serious threat as they are less likely to be detected than Asians; groups that are aware of this may be targeting converts specifically. The newspaper reported that a British security source claimed, ‘there could be anything up to 1,500 converts to the fundamentalist cause across Britain. They pose a real danger to our domestic security because, obviously, these people blend in’. Lord Carlile, the Government’s independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation added, ‘There have been cases of non-Muslims converting before and of these Richard Reid, the ‘shoe bomber’, is the most obvious example’.
Jailed Man was in contact with Lyrical Terrorist
Following on from Monitor’s report on Samina Malik, the self-styled ‘Lyrical Terrorist’, in our previous issue (January/ February 2008, Vol . 7, no. 1) further information on the case has emerged. In January, Sohail Qureshi, a 30-year-old man living in London was jailed for four and-a-half years for three terror charges. He was arrested in October 2006 as he prepared to board a flight to Pakistan from Heathrow, where samina Malik worked in the airport’s wHsmiths concession. The police presented intercepted internet traffic to the Old Bailey which included an email from Qureshi to Malik asking her about checking-in procedures at the airport.
The Old Bailey heard that Qureshi, who had been trained by Al-Qa’ida, planned to take ‘military style’ equipment on board a flight to Pakistan including two metal batons and a night-sight. Prosecutor Jonathan sharp told the court that Qureshi had planned an operation in Pakistan or Afghanistan and that he was, ‘a dedicated supporter of Islamic extremism’. Qureshi, a qualified dentist, was charged with preparing for terrorism under section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.
The links between Malik and Qureshi, which could not be publicised while Qureshi’s trial was ongoing due to legal restrictions, emphasise the fact that Malik was guilty of more than simply ‘thought crime’, as many of her defenders claimed.
FBI Seeks International Database for Biometrics
The FBI has proposed that five countries – the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – create a database that will enable them to share biometric data on criminals and criminal suspects. The proposal was made to a working group, the International Information Consortium, which will discuss ways to take the Us-initiative forward. The UK body on the International Information Consortium is the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).
The US-initiated programme, called server in the sky, could lead to much greater co-operation between international police forces and would be capable of holding information on millions of criminals and suspects. such a database would enable biometric data such as iris, palm and fingerprints to be shared between participating countries. The Washington Post reported that it is likely to cost $1 million to develop.
Server in the sky could be linked into existing police databases such as the UK’s IDENT1, which contains seven million sets of fingerprints and other biometrics collected at crime scenes.
A spokesman for the nPIA has confirmed that the International Information Consortium Group is discussing the proposal, although stressed that is it too early to say what the UK’s involvement in the project might be. The Home Office and the Metropolitan Police have also confirmed that they are aware of the proposals. within the European Union, the Prum treaty already allows the national police forces of 27 EU countries to search one another’s DnA and fingerprint databases, giving them access to four million Britons, not all of whom have been charged.
Thousands Displaced by Kenyan Riots
The violence that erupted in Kenya over the new Year period has led to mass migration of thousands of people from the capital, nairobi, to the south and east of the country. Many Kenyans have been affected by the riots, which occurred after the elections on 27 December 2007. As Monitor went to press, the riots were still ongoing.
More than 100 people are thought to have died in the violence. In the town of Kakamega, close to Kisumu where some of the worst of the violence took place, more than 1000 people took refuge in a temporary camp set up around the police station, many of them out of fear of travelling any further.
International aid organisations are providing sanitation and health facilities to the displaced people as well as monitoring the situation, to enable them to provide supplies needed by those affected.