Mumbai suspect ‘trained Bosnia fighters’ (December 12)

A LEADER of Lashkar-e-Taiba, suspected in the Mumbai attacks, took part in the training of Islamic fighters and police in Bosnia in the 1990s, a terrorist expert said today.

“Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi participated in Bosnia’s war,” Dzevad Galijasevic, an independent expert, said, referring to the leader who has been detained by Pakistan.

“He was a commander of the Pakistani section of the (Bosnian army) El-Mujahed unit” notorious for criminal activities, Mr Galijasevic said, adding he had obtained the information from “various official sources”.

“Lakhvi was in Bosnia in 1994 and immediately after the war in 1996 and 1997 when he took part in the training of police forces in central Bosnia.

“It was official training so evidence about it can be found in police archives,” he said.

Police declined to immediately comment on Mr Galijasevic’s allegations.

Pakistan confirmed yesterday it had arrested Lakhvi and another suspected leader of the group, Zarar Shah.

The two men have both been named by Indian media as key planners of the devastating attacks in Mumbai in which 172 people died.

Hundreds of fighters from Islamic countries joined the mainly Bosnian Muslim army during the 1992-1995 war.

Under a peace deal, they were ordered to leave, but some stayed on after obtaining Bosnian citizenship, mainly by marrying local women. […]

Lashkar chief Hafeez Saeed remains defiant (Dec. 13)

New Delhi: The UN Security Council has declared Lashkar-e-Taiba and its key men as terrorists, but who exactly are these men and more importantly what motivates them[?]

Hafeez Saeed may be one of the wanted men in the world, but on the day the UN banned the Jammat-ud-Daawa, popularly known as the front for the LeT[, its] chief Hafeez Saeed was on every Pakistani channel holding a press conference from an undisclosed location claiming innocence.

“If there is evidence against us please present it in court and not to media,” said Hafiz Saeed.

Born in Shimlam, a teacher by profession, Saeed shifted to Pakistan after partition and co-founded the Markaz Dawat-ul-Irshad along with Abdullah Yusuf Azzam.

In 1990, he founded the Lashkar and became the key man behind the attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. Soon after, the Markaz-Dawat-ul-Irshad was banned but it returned as the Jammat-ud-Daawa.

Saeed and LeT have made it clear that their Jihad is not limited to Jammu and Kashmir, but that they will wage war across India.

Along with Saeed, three other Lashkar operatives have also been put on the most wanted list. They are suspected to have carried out the serial train bombings in Mumbai, and the srtike on the India Parliament among many other attcks.

Zaki-ur Rehman Lakvi, a key commander from Okhara who has operated in Chechnya, Bosnia and Iraq before he turned his sights on India, is one of the Lashkar’s key planners.

The other two are Zaki-ur-Rehman and Haji Mohammed Ashraf. There are no available photographs of these men. Their role ensure[s] funds for the LeT.

But what does the UN ban mean on the ground[?] After the Mumbai serial train blasts, Saeed was put under house arrest twice by Pakistan, only to be released without charges. The present arrests, Indian agencies fear, will go much the same way.

As a report cited by notes, a Bosnian has been involved in just about every major terror attack across Europe. In fact, even in some not so major ones such as this plot against a pro-Israel church in Sweden (from an English-language news site in Sweden named “The Local,” May, 2006):

Three men ‘planned terror attack on church’

Three men have been charged with planning a terror attack against preacher Ulf Ekman’s Word of Life (Livets Ord) evangelical church in Uppsala. The case is the first ever prosecution for terrorist offences planned to take place on Swedish soil, and only the second case ever under Swedish terror laws.

The alleged plot was unveiled during the investigation into last year’s failed firebomb attack against an Iraqi polling place in Stockholm. Police found references to plans to attack the church in a computer belonging to a 22-year old man of Iranian origin referred to as Mehdi.

The Swedish security police, Säpo, found information in the computer allegedly linking two other men to the plans. They were identified as Milan, a 19-year old of Bosnian origin from Trelleborg in Skåne, and Johan, the 25-year old son of Swedish professionals from Kramfors in northern Sweden.

“The motive for the plan is rooted in the fact that Livets Ord is pro-Israeli,” said Lindstrand.

The controversial Christian movement, which has famous adherents including pop singer Carola, has expressed strong support for Israel, and actively encourages Russian Jews to move there.

The men had not decided when the attack would take place, and Lindstrand says he believes that it was prevented by the police’s intervention.

Dagens Nyheter reports that Medhi had twice been convicted of smuggling a doping preparation and was sentenced in 2005 to four years in jail. He is also reported to have an interest in militant Islam.

He is charged with terrorism for carrying out the attack on the polling place in Kista, a Stockholm suburb, and for planning terrorist offences in relation to the alleged plot against the Word of Life.

Milan is suspected of instigating terrorism, meaning he is suspected of encouraging others to commit terrorist acts. He refers to himself as a faithful Muslim, but speaking to DN he distanced himself from militancy or terrorism.

Johan, it is reported, stayed for three days at Mehdi’s home in the Stockholm suburb of Vårby, after developing an interest in Islam. He denied to DN that he had converted. He is charged with assisting in an attempted terrorist crime and for conspiracy to commit terrorist offences. He has said in questioning that it was unlikely that he would have actually carried out the attack.

The three men have each given different information in police questioning, and have tried to blame each other. Johan has said that they had talked about different ways to set fire to Livets Ord’s headquarters by alternatively drenching it in petrol then setting light to it with fireworks, or by smashing a window and throwing a petrol bomb through it.

“Given that the men are claiming innocence, we don’t really know if they genuinely intended to carry out the plans,” said Lindstrand.

Finally, below is a related item from June, when Bosnia turned up on the radar — closer to home — for the umpteenth time in 2008:

Qaeda-trained U.S. man pleads guilty in terror case

A U.S.-born man who trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and fought in Bosnia in the 1990s pleaded guilty on Tuesday to plotting to bomb targets in the United States and Europe, the Justice Department said.

Christopher Paul, 44, entered his plea in U.S. district court in Columbus, Ohio. He agreed to serve 20 years in prison under terms of the deal.

Paul was born in Ohio as Paul Kenyatta Laws and converted to Islam while in college, the Columbus Dispatch reported. He grew a beard and addressed some friends in Arabic. New acquaintances were surprised to learn he was American.

Paul, known also by a string of aliases including Abdul Malek Kenyatta, was arrested last year in Ohio on charges of conspiring to aid terrorists, conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and providing material support to terrorists.

The activities dated back to the early 1990s when he traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and continued until 1999 and 2000 when he helped Islamists in Germany who were planning to bomb Americans vacationing at foreign resorts, the summary said.

Paul trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in basic battle techniques, then joined the group and received advanced training in rappelling, explosives and military history.

He fought in Afghanistan, then returned to Columbus and began recruiting to form a jihadist group, the summary said. From 1993 to 1995 he made more Islamist contacts while fighting in Bosnia.

Authorities searching Paul’s home in Columbus found a master list of “terrorist contacts and bomb-making information” that he had created while in the Balkans, the summary said.

It said al Qaeda members in Europe in 1997 asked him to form a jihad group, which he trained around Columbus. He went to Germany in 1999 to meet members of a[n] Islamic fundamentalist cell. Asked to provide explosives training, he agreed to help the group, which also intended to attack within the United States, the summary said.