These Canadian guys were framed.
This could happen here.
Web forum linked cells
Two Toronto suspects took part in discussions
Thursday, June 15, 2006
TORONTO - Terror suspects arrested in several countries including Canada were members of a password-protected Internet forum where they chatted and shared jihadist propaganda, the National Post has learned.
Among those who participated in the English-language on-line forum were terror suspects who have since been arrested in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Sweden and elsewhere.
They include Fahim Ahmad, one of the 17 arrested by the RCMP in Toronto on June 2 in connection with what police say was a series of terrorist plots in southern Ontario. He participated in discussions using several pseudonyms.
The forum and its apparent role as a link between accused terrorists in Canada and other Western countries were exposed by the SITE Institute, a U.S. non-profit group that monitors jihadist Internet activity.
Among the participants in the jihadist forum were a member who used the pseudonym c4explosive and another who called himself irhabi007 (irhabi is Arabic for "terrorist") and who is believed to be Younis Tsouli, 22, a London man arrested for terrorism last October.
"If protecting the honour of our sisters is terrorism, if saving our lands from the ravaging of the non-Muslims is terrorism ... if purifying our holy lands is terrorism then let the world bare [sic] witness that indeed we are terrorists," one posting says.
There are also postings from a member who uses the name Abdul Shakur. Abdul Shakur is the alias of Steven Vikash Chand, an Islamic convert who was among those arrested in Toronto.
On the forum, Shakur exchanges messages with Abu Omar, an alias used by Aabid Hussain Khan, a British man charged in the U.K. yesterday with murder conspiracy and terrorism.
Abu Omar has several postings concerning an outlawed Pakistani terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Tayiba, whom he calls "the best group in Kashmir" and who "recruited volunteers to fight for the Taliban. It would be really sad if they had left the path of jihad."
Other participants are Tariq Al-Daour, who was arrested in Britain last fall on terrorism charges; a man known as Abu-Usama El Swede, who was arrested in Sweden for his alleged ties to a Bosnian bomb plot but later released; and at least one person tied to a terror plot in Australia.
The postings on the site include al-Qaeda videos and English translations of statements by the late al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's lieutenant. There are also religious and ideological tracts that justify the killing of non-Muslims and other "infidels."
"It's just ideological jihad," said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute. "It's really more like a propaganda site."
Canadian authorities have indicated their investigation into the Toronto group was launched due to suspicious Internet activity. It was unclear whether they were referring to this particular forum.
The fact that so many members of the same forum have been arrested on terror-related charges suggests the site has been closely monitored by authorities internationally.
Terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman said "virtual networks" now play an important role in the global jihadist movement, helping participants nurture their radical views.
"They know that they're no longer alone and isolated in the sense that there are others who think like them and there are others who enable them and egg them on," said Mr. Hoffman of the RAND Institute, who wrote the foreword to the book Terror on the Internet.
Forums have even more impact when the participants are logging on from different parts of the world to share their grievances, he said. That feeds the impression that there is a global war against Islam.
"If it's geographically diffuse I think that's more important because, don't forget, what they're responding to or what they're fighting against is what they perceive as a war being waged against Islam and against Muslims everywhere.
"If you're getting geographically disparate people who think exactly as you do, then you're going to believe there is a war everywhere. It's not just your own interpretation of your own parochial situation."
Other users of the forum are said to include two Atlanta men who were arrested on terrorism-related charges earlier this year. Both visited Toronto last March, and allegedly met with two of those arrested by the RCMP.
A dozen men and five juveniles are facing terror-related charges following Canadian police and intelligence investigations described as the largest since the Air India bombings.
The RCMP says the group trained at a rural property north of Toronto, tried to acquire guns and an explosive device and plotted attacks, notably truck bombings at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service regional headquarters near the CN Tower and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The Post revealed last week the array of international connections between the Toronto investigations and related counter-terrorism cases in at least a half-dozen countries.
The RCMP probe called Project OSage and the CSIS investigation, Operation Claymore, are just two of several overlapping investigations that have resulted in more than 30 arrests worldwide, including an FBI case called Operation Northern Exposure.
The arrests began last Aug. 13, when Canadian customs officers caught two Toronto men, Yasin Mohamed and Ali Dirie, trying to smuggle semi-automatic handguns into Ontario. They have since been charged with smuggling weapons for terrorist purposes.
On Oct. 19, Bosnian authorities arrested a Swedish man in Sarajevo codenamed Maximus, an alleged recruiter for the Iraq insurgency, on charges he was planning a bomb attack.
Two days later, British police arrested three alleged members of the Mughal Network, Mr. Tsouli, Mr. Al-Daour and its senior member Waseem Mughal. Mr. Tsouli and Mr. Mughal have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder.
During a search of Mr. Tsouli's home, police seized video images that showed landmarks in Washington, D.C. Authorities said they were from a video filmed by Georgia residents Ehsanul Islam Sadequee and Syed Haris Ahmed, who were later arrested in the U.S.
The British arrests were followed by arrests in Sweden and Denmark. On Nov. 8, Australian police arrested 18 men they say trained in the Outback, were planning terror attacks and had scouted such targets as a nuclear reactor.
Police said the arrests had prevented a "catastrophic act of terrorism. Prime Minister John Howard said the terror suspects were driven by "perverted fanatical Islam."
The forum members have had extended discussions about Kashmir and the various Pakistani militant groups fighting there, supporting theories of a Pakistani connection to various Western terrorist plots.
"To their credit [Lashkar-e-Tayiba] have helped at times the Taliban and al-Qaeda," says one posting. But another member named Brother Mujahid argues that another group named Jaish-e-Mohammed "have been most supportive of the Taliban and al-Qaeda mujahedin."
“...I realized I had to gain more knowledge to protect against evil and to protect myself from not becoming evil myself. This is our major goal in life...\" Terry Lee