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Terrorism News

A collection of open-source terrorism news from around the world.
Keyword: policy support
A new Terror Threat Snapshot for the month of August was released today by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. The monthly assessment is the Committee’s continuing effort to highlight the growing threat America, the West, and world face from ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups. 
 
Chairman McCaul: “Terror struck the heartland in Chattanooga last month, a sobering reminder that a new generation of extremists is targeting our city streets.  We can’t stop what we can’t see, and with terror going viral—spreading online and across borders—I am worried more fanatics will go undetected until it’s too late.  We’ve got to do more to take the fight to the enemy overseas at its source, otherwise we’re going to see the threat picture here at home steadily worsen.”
 
Key takeaways in this month’s Terror Threat Snapshot include:
 
·         The terror threat level in the U.S. homeland is high.  There have been more U.S.-based jihadist terror cases in 2015 than in any full year since 9/11, and the total number of cases has increased three-fold increase in just five years (from 38 in July 2010 to 122 today).
 
·         As we saw in Chattanooga, terrorists are increasingly targeting American troops and police.  Since early 2014, the majority of Islamist terror plots on U.S. soil have featured plans to kill U.S. soldiers or law enforcement.
 
·         Globally, ISIS is fueling the Islamist terror wildfire—and at unprecedented speed.  As of the end of July, the group had inspired or directed 55 terrorist plots/attacks against Western targets, including 14 in the United States.
 
·         America and its overseas partners have largely failed to rollback the ISIS terror safe haven.  Despite a year of airstrikes, U.S. intelligence agencies have reportedly concluded ISIS is no weaker than a year ago and can field nearly 30,000 foot soldiers, including Americans and thousands of other Westerners.
 
A powerful rebel group with thousands of fighters, political clout and close ties to key regional powers has emerged as the most powerful opposition force in Syria in recent months. It has vowed to fight the Islamic State and called for engagement with the West.
 
But despite a long struggle by the United States to find a viable opposition in Syria to counter President Bashar al-Assad and fight the Islamic State, the Obama administration has shown no interest in working with the group, Ahrar al-Sham, or the Free Men of Syria.
 
The problem for the United States is Ahrar al-Sham’s grounding in militant Islam — a concern that has also dogged previous efforts to find partners in Syria.
 
Confronted yet again with the reality in Syria — where the government, the Islamic State and an array of insurgents are fighting a complex civil war — some analysts and former United States officials say it is increasingly clear that to effectively challenge the Islamic State and influence the future of the country will require at least cautiously engaging with groups like Ahrar al-Sham.
 
Read more: New York Times

Two days after a young Moroccan man was thwarted from an apparent plan to cause carnage on a Paris-bound express train, European officials confronted the deepening quandary of what additional steps they could take in the face of such attacks on soft targets, short of paralyzing public spaces or even more intrusive surveillance.

Enhanced security and surveillance measures had already filtered out the young man, Ayoub El Khazzani, 26.  But he was one of thousands of Europeans who had come on the radar of authorities as potential threats after traveling to Syria.  The sheer number of militant suspects combined with a widening field of potential targets have presented European officials with what they concede is a nearly insurmountable surveillance task.  The scale of the challenge, security experts fear, may leave the Continent entering a new climate of uncertainty, with added risk attached to seemingly mundane endeavors, like taking a train.

In fact, the authorities in at least two countries already knew quite a lot about Mr. Khazzani before he surged into notoriety on Friday afternoon: He was on a French list as a security threat, and Spanish officials told news media there that he had traveled to Syria — not in itself an offense, unless he went there for jihad.  Had he been living in France, a tough new surveillance law, approved at the end of July by France’s constitutional council, would have likely turned up even more on him.

Yet with all that the authorities already knew about him, he managed to board unhindered the heavily traveled Amsterdam-to-Paris high-speed train with a sack of weaponry, probably in Belgium, and was ready to inflict serious damage, with dozens of rounds of ammunition, an AK-47, an automatic pistol and a box cutter.  If not for the fortuitous presence of three Americans, and the help of a British and a French passenger in the train car, many could have died.

Read more: New York Times

From one perspective, Lawal Babafemi was a propagandist for Al Qaeda who traversed several countries to join in jihad, and was plotting to carry out an important mission when he was arrested in 2011.  From another, he was a desperately poor Nigerian who was sexually abused as a child, was kept from graduating from college because of bureaucratic malfunctions, and faced torture by Nigerian officials after embracing and then turning away from terrorism.

On Wednesday, Mr. Babafemi was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, having pleaded guilty in April 2014 to providing and conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group. Federal sentencing guidelines called for a term of 24 to 30 years; the defense had asked for 15.

Mr. Babafemi told Judge John Gleeson that he was “extremely sorry” and that he now denounced Al Qaeda. His lawyer, Lisa Hoyes, noted that he had been advising another of her clients — who is in jail on charges of trying to join ISIS — to avoid terrorism.  “It’s hard to conjure a more serious offense,” Judge Gleeson said in handing down the sentence. He noted, however, that Mr. Babafemi’s recent denunciations of terrorism factored slightly in his favor. “I wish I had a better feel for how genuine it is,” the judge added.

Read more: New York Times

A new Terror Threat Snapshot for the month of August was released today by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. The monthly assessment is the Committee’s continuing effort to highlight the growing threat America, the West, and world face from ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups. 
 
Chairman McCaul: “Terror struck the heartland in Chattanooga last month, a sobering reminder that a new generation of extremists is targeting our city streets.  We can’t stop what we can’t see, and with terror going viral—spreading online and across borders—I am worried more fanatics will go undetected until it’s too late.  We’ve got to do more to take the fight to the enemy overseas at its source, otherwise we’re going to see the threat picture here at home steadily worsen.”
 
Key takeaways in this month’s Terror Threat Snapshot include: