Thursday, December 20, 2012

20-Dec-12: It's not a mere slogan: dealing with the terrorists in our midst

The Qazi brothers
from Floria [Image Source]
In the US, home-grown terrorists are once again vexing the citizens and law enforcement agencies.

AP says four men from Southern California men were charged on Monday [source] with plotting to bomb US military bases and government facilities, to engage in "violent jihad", to kill Americans and to destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. They are Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan who served in the US Air Force a decade ago; Ralph Deleon, 23, born in the Phillipines, and a permanent U.S. resident; Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 21 - born in Mexico and a convert to Islam who is a permanent US resident; and a US citizen, Arifeen David Gojali, 21.
De Leon and Gojali: Two of the
4 California terrorism
suspects [Image Source]

Then on Tuesday, two men were charged in a New York court [source] with "conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S." Raees Alam Qazi, 20, from southern Florida, studied bomb-making on several Internet websites. He reportedly planned to use bombs as well as sabotaged Christmas tree lights in order to kill large numbers of people; Times Square and Wall Street are reported to have been the preferred sites. He was arraigned along with his brother Sheheryar Alam Qazi, a 30-year-old taxi driver. Both are born in Pakistan; both are naturalized American citizens and both were arrested in Fort Lauderdale.near where they live.
Sohiel Omar Kabir, from California

Here in Israel, one of the perpetrators of a Tel-Aviv bus bombing [see "21-Nov-12: The buses are exploding once again"] that injured 28 people a month ago, was indicted yesterday. He's charged with terrorism offences after an investigation carried out by the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Israel Police.

Haaretz says the central perp is an 18-year-old Palestinian Arab, Mohammed Mafarja, who lives lawfully in Israel as part of the government's family reunification plan, works in the city of Modi'in (evidently at the McDonalds fast food place in town) and has Israeli citizenship. He was one of a number of terrorists from a cell located in the West Bank village of Beit Lakiya in Israel's north. The paper says they carried out the bombing "as a nod to Hamas". Mafarja is accused of planting the bomb which was detonated by cellular phone. Ynet's report says Mafarja made two practice runs with an empty bag two days before the explosion, before boarding the target bus with his concealed bomb and while equipped with his genuine Israeli ID (to increase the chance of a successful and disturbed bomb placement). He got off the bus, leaving his bag behind - and headed back to his work place.
By the time the bombing had occurred, Mafarji was on the train to Modiin, where he was due for his shift at McDonald's. Several hours later the branch was surrounded by counter-terrorism forces that apprehended him. [Ynet]
Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales
from California
A reminder that we wrote just a few days ago ["17-Dec-12: Winning friends and influencing people by waging war"] of the assessment by Khaled Abu Toameh that "the Third Intifada has begun". If that's right then Israel, like the US, is going to have quickly put in place procedures that allow for home-grown, ideologically-motivated cold-blooded killers to be intercepted before their plots can be executed... and while ensuring, as much as can be ensured, that the civil rights of innocent people are not infringed in the effort. 

As law and order officials grappling with terrorism in Europe, the US and other open-society nations know, this never works out as well as people would like it to go. But here's the thing: while protecting people's civil rights is vital, succeeding in the interception of determined, ordinary looking terrorists is no less vital - and very hard to do.

Failure is painful and extremely expensive.

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