INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO. 698
( To be read in continuation of my articles of April 3,2010, titled WAS JIHAD JANE A RECRUIT OF LASHKAR-E-TOIBA? International Terrorism Monitor- Paper N0. 638 at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers38%5Cpaper3745.html and of May 23,2010,titled “PAKISTAN: Stoking Jihadi Anger Against US, Sweden -- International Terrorism Monitor --- Paper No. 652” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers39%5Cpaper3826.html )
According to media reports, one person was killed and two others were injured in two incidents in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, on December 11,2010.A car blew up near a crowded shopping street followed by another blast nearby about a few minutes later. The Swedish press attributed the second blast to a suicide bomber, but police said no cause had yet been determined. Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, said a "terrorist attack" which could have been "truly catastrophic" had failed.
2.A local news agency, TT, said it had received a threatening e-mail in Swedish and Arabic languages shortly before the blasts, which called for "mujahideen", or Islamist fighters, to rise up in Sweden and Europe. The e-mail reportedly denounced the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed drawn by Swedish artist Lars Vilks and Sweden's military presence in Afghanistan. It warned: “"Our acts will speak for themselves. Now your children, your daughters and your sisters will die as our brothers, our sisters and our children are dying." TT said a similar message had been sent to the Swedish Security Service SAPO.
3.Unconfirmed reports in Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper said the dead man in the second blast was carrying pipe bombs, as well as a backpack full of nails. According to a police spokesperson, the car involved in the first incident had contained gas canisters and had "exploded with a series of minor explosions".
4.On March 4,2010, the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had indicted Colleen La Rose also known as Jihad Jane and Fatima La Rose, on a charge of involvement in a conspiracy to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had drawn a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in his paper. An FBI press release on the indictment said:
"The indictment charges that La Rose (an American citizen born in 1963 who resides in Montgomery County, Pa.) and five unindicted co-conspirators (located in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the United States) recruited men on the Internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe, and recruited women on the Internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad.
"The indictment further charges that La Rose and her unindicted co-conspirators used the Internet to establish relationships with one another and to communicate regarding their plans, which included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports and avoiding travel restrictions (through the collection of passports and through marriage) in order to wage violent jihad. The indictment further charges that La Rose stole another individual’s U.S. passport and transferred or attempted to transfer it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism.
"In addition, according to the indictment, La Rose received a direct order to kill a citizen and resident of Sweden, and to do so in a way that would frighten "the whole Kufar [non-believer] world." The indictment further charges that La Rose agreed to carry out her murder assignment, and that she and her co-conspirators discussed that her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans. According to the indictment, La Rose traveled to Europe and tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task."
5.In June 2008, Jihad Jane had posted a comment on YouTube saying she was “desperate to do something somehow to help” suffering Muslims. According to the FBI indictment, she appeared to have been contacted by the jihadis thereafter. The indictment charged that she received a direct order to kill a Swedish resident. She traveled to Sweden and tracked the target with the intent of carrying out the murder. The FBI identified the target as cartoonist Lars Vilks. In an e-mail message to a co-conspirator, she wrote that she would pursue her mission “till I achieve it or die trying,” according to the indictment. The indictment accused her of agreeing, in March 2009, to marry a co-conspirator from a South Asian country who was trying to obtain residency in Europe. He allegedly urged her to go to Sweden, find the Swedish man "and kill him". The indictment claimed she tried to raise money over the internet, lure others to her cause, and lied to FBI investigators.
6. According to US media reports, she was also linked to an online organization Revolutionmuslim.com -- where she was a subscriber, again using the name Jihad Jane. The site was run by an American Muslim, who had made the following posting after she was indicted: "Sisters -- please consider sending her [La Rose] a message of support and hope and let's remind her she isn't alone. It's likely she's the only Muslimah there. As always, use discretion when writing, don't ask pointed questions, and of course don't say anything that could create problems for her or yourselves."
7.The case of Jihad Jane bore a close resemblance to that of David Coleman Headley, of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) She was a volunteer for jihad who was recruited by an unidentified person in South Asia through the Internet and given the task of killing the Swedish cartoonist, just as Ilyas Kashmiri of the 313 Brigade of Pakistan, allied to Al Qaeda, had initially tasked Headley through the Internet to kill the Danish cartoonist, who had published cartoons of the Prophet in a Danish paper in 2005. Headley subsequently met Ilyas in North Waziristan. There was no indication that Jihad Jane had met her South Asian recruit to whom she got engaged without ever having met him.
8. Whoever initially recruited Headley and Jihad Jane seemed to have done so for two reasons. Firstly, both of them had typical physical features of a White American. They did not look like Muslims and could , therefore, easily evade profiling. Headley looked a typical White despite his mixed Pakistani-White origin. Jihad Jane is a typical White with no mixed blood. Secondly, both of them are US nationals with valid US passports with which they could travel easily without facing difficulties in obtaining visas and in going through immigration controls.
9. Both of them had been given double tasks. Headley was given the tasks of facilitating the operations of the LET in India and attacking the office of the Danish paper in Copenhagen with the help of sleeper cells in Europe to which Ilyas had given introduction. Headley had played an active role in helping the LET in carrying out the terrorist strikes in Mumbai between November 26 and 29,2008. Jihad Jane had the dual task of killing the Swedish cartoonist with the help of Ireland-based contacts in Europe and organising acts of terrorism in South Asia. In the evidence against her, the reference was to South Asia and not specifically to India.
10.The FBI revealed the nationalities of her seven accomplices who were picked up in Ireland, but not their identifying particulars. Of the seven arrested in Ireland two are Algerians, two Libyans, a Palestinian, a Croatian, and an American woman married to one of the two arrested Algerians. The FBI documents did not say anything about her South Asian fiancee. They were silent even about his nationality. He was described as a man who claimed that he knew how to work with bombs and explosives.
11. During four days of demonstrations in different cities of Pakistan in the third week of May last over what many Muslims regarded as a blasphemous contest on sketches of Prophet Mohammad sought to be organised by one of the users of Facebook----his controversial page which sparked the anger in Pakistan was later removed by Facebook---- religious parties and jihadi organisations associated with Al Qaeda and the Talibans directed the anger against the US and Sweden because of the alleged caricatures of the Holy Prophet, which they alleged, had inspired the person who called for the blasphemous contest on Facebook.
12.During the demonstrations, slogans were shouted against the US and Sweden, US and Swedish flags were burnt and calls were issued by religious clerics for the death of the Swedish cartoonist. A ruling by the Lahore High Court calling for blocking the site of Facebook also added to the anger of pro-Al Qaeda elements because it sought to project the US as partly responsible for the perceived insult to the Prophet. It claimed that Facebook operated from the US and was subject to US laws and regulations. The US had, therefore, a responsibility to act against it.
13. The blasts in Stockholm coming in the wake of what has been stated above indicate a possible link to the so-called 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri. In his communications with Headley, Ilyas had claimed to know people in Europe who could assist Headley in attacking the office of the Danish newspaper in Copenhagen. Who are those people? Did they have any role in the Stockholm blasts? Those are among the questions to be investigated by the police. (13-12-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )