Wonk watch: Congressional Research Service, "American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat" (CRS).
Senate votes to keep detainee provisions
U.S. Senators voted 60-38 on November 29 to reject an amendment proposed by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) that would remove from the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 controversial provisions requiring military custody of suspects believed to be members of al-Qaeda or its affiliates (Post, NYT, AP, AFP). The Obama administration has threatened to veto the massive bill over this and other detainee-related provisions that it believes restrict the government's ability to effectively combat terrorism. And the Senate voted again on December 1 to reject an amendment proposed by Senate Intelligence Committee head Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would ensure that only suspected terrorists detained abroad would be placed in military custody, while those arrested on U.S. soil could be held by civil law enforcement (AP, Hill). Senators will vote on several other proposed amendments before looking to pass or halt the bill.
Indian police arrest six alleged terrorists
Indian security forces in Delhi, Bihar and Chennai on November 30 arrested six suspected members of the Indian Mujahideen allegedly involved in three separate attacks: the 2008 Jama Masjid shooting in New Delhi, the Chinnaswamy Stadium bombing last year, and a bomb blast at a German bakery in Pune, also last year (TOI,The Hindu). Police said they discovered a large weapons cache in the outskirts of Delhi following the arrests, and that the suspects provided a wealth of information on the Indian Mujahideen (The Hindu). However, the group's alleged ringleader and bomb expert, Ahmad Siddi Bappa - also known as Shahrukh - is still at large (TOI).
The Belarus Supreme Court on November 30 sentenced two men, Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov, to death for their roles in a bombing of a metro station in Minsk in April that killed 15 people, as the judge called them "an extreme danger to society" (Deutsche Welle, NYT, AP, Tel, Reuters). Relatives of the two men, as well as human rights activists, claim that they were framed by the government.
Amnesty International accused the government of Saudi Arabia in a report published on December 1 of drafting a "draconian and abusive" anti-terror law, which it allows it to prosecute peaceful dissent of its citizens as a "terrorist crime" (AJE, BBC, AFP, Reuters). The Saudi government said in a statement that the report used "inaccurate information" to come to those conclusions (BBC).
Somali refugee pleads guilty to terrorism charges
A 25-year-old Somali refugee in San Diego, Nima Yusuf, pleaded guilty on December 1 to providing material support to a terrorist group for sending money to men from Minnesota who had traveled to Somalia to join the militant group al-Shabaab (AP, AFP, LAT). Four men indicted along with Yusuf will go on trial in San Diego next year.
The trial of Tarek Mehanna, who is accused of translating and disseminating jihadist material on the Internet, as well as traveling to Yemen in an attempt to receive terrorist training, continues in Boston, as a recording of Mehanna played to the court on December 1 revealed him saying his family knew he "didn't go [to Yemen] to graze goats" (Boston Globe). Defense attorneys sought to portray Mehanna as a scholar who was exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech by disseminating jihadist material, and argued on December 1 that it was Mehanna's friends - and key witnesses in the trial - Kareem Abuzahra and Ahmad Abousamra who wanted to find a terrorist training camp in Yemen, while Mehanna went along for his own religious and educational purposes (AP).
Federal prosecutors on December 1 requested a delay in the trial of juvenile suspect Mohammad Hassan Khalid, who is accused of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization by helping convicted terrorist "Jihad Jane" raise money and recruit others for jihad (AP). Prosecutors cited the complexity of the case.
Trials and Tribulations
- A Canadian-Sudanese man, Abousfian Abdelrazik, was removed from a United Nations terror watch list that labeled him as an al-Qaeda associate on December 1 (AFP). Abdelrazik was placed on the list after visiting his mother in Sudan in 2003.
- Philippine security forces on November 29 captured a suspected member of the al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf Group, Hussein Ahaddin, who was wanted in connection to six bombings that have taken place over the last ten years, including one in 2002 that killed a U.S. Green Beret (AP).
- Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a video released on December 1 that his terrorist group is holding a 70-year-old American aid worker, Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped while working in Pakistan in August (Reuters, NYT, LAT).