Wednesday, November 23, 2011

23-Nov-11: Yet another hitherto unremarkable suspected terrorist is dragged into the lights

Yusuf in New York court with his lawyer, 21st November 2011
For those of us without the time and ability to do serious research and lacking Arabic language skills, the MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor provides an invaluable contribution to analyzing and translating otherwise inaccessible information about Islamist and other terrorists.

Its latest dispatch, issued last night, deals with arrest of Muhammad Yusuf, born Jose Pimentel. Yusuf is the 27-year-old New Yorker, originally from the Dominican Republic, a convert to Islam, who was arrested this past week on charges of plotting to blow up U.S. targets including troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as planning to blow up police cars and (naturally) postal facilities in Manhattan. He produced several English-language websites to disseminate his beliefs. These include Allah's Servants, Steeds of War, and The Few The Proud The Mujahideen. Under surveillance for a year or more, he was arrested in NYC's Washington Heights neighbourhood after coming close to completing an explosive device

His main contribution to the dissemination of racism is a site called True Islam. This is a vehicle for his original essays, links to introductory material on Islam and to other racist and hate-based websites, and - typically for the genre - video, audio and text featuring some of the Islamist all-stars: Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri and the American-born Anwar Al-Awlaki. It features posters advocating for the usual Islamist causes including "Free Somalia," "Free Chechnya," and "Support Afia Siddiqui", and has prominent and adulatory portraits of such jihadists as Sayyed Qutb (Egypt), Abdallah 'Azzam (founder of the global jihad movement), Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi (Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq), Chechen terrorist Shamil Besayev and others. 

MEMRI says most of his material appears to be aimed at Muslims, seeking to persuade them of Al-Qaeda's virtue and of the evil nature of Islam's "enemies" and especially the U.S. Though he appears not to know Arabic well, he shows familiarity with the tenets of Islam, of Al-Qaeda and of the jihad movement in general. His key themes:
  • Praise for Osama bin Laden in an essay from March 5, 2011. He justifies Al-Qaeda's war on the U.S. and the targeting of civilians, especially the 9/11 attacks. 
  • "America and its allies are all legitimate targets in warfare," including civilians who strengthen the U.S. economy, like those who worked at the World Trade Center.
  • Non-Muslims fight wars for worldly reasons and for worldly gains, but Muslims wage jihad for religious reasons, in fulfillment of Allah's commands. Non-Muslim soldiers and wars are immoral. Jihad and the mujahideen are virtuous.
  • Islam will not flourish until the concept of jihad is properly understood and implemented by Muslims.
  • When arrested, he told police: "Islamic law obligates all true Muslims to wage war against the United States in response to the United States invasion of Muslim lands."

NY Post said the terrorist had been on the NYPD's radar for two years. The decision to bring him in came when police learned he claimed he would create a working bomb within hours. Most of the media reports call him a "lone wolf" as if this diminishes the threat to the lives of innocent people in some way. We see it differently. There is a worldwide industry out there of sleeper 'soldiers' plotting a war against the societies in which they live. Advances in the state of weapons technology give those haters the ability to create real devastation. To think - as many do - that the good side is somehow winning is to ignore the steady stream of suspects and attempts that have been blocked at the last minute or fell victim to accident or stupidity. 

It's mostly luck and sometimes good policing and detective work that is keeping the threats from overwhelming us. New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg said this jihadist terror attack was the 14th to have been thwarted by the NYPD since the 9/11 attacks. So we're left to either assume this 'lone wolf' has no friends, has influenced no one, is an outlier, and the danger has been neutralized. Or we can look around at the ocean of inflammatory material (MEMRI has a constantly updated sample set here) like Yusuf/Pimental's, washing up against the empty lives of quiet, unobtrusive men and women and the religious messages being broadcast at them 24/7 and count our dumb luck that another huge unthwarted showcase attack by the terrorists has not happened. Yet.

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