Two New Jersey men intent on killing American troops were arrested Saturday as they boarded flights to link up with a virulent jihadist group in Somalia, authorities said.
The men, both North Jersey residents, were charged with conspiring to commit an act of international terrorism through a group tied to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, according to officials familiar with the details of the arrests.
Mohamed Hamoud Alessa, 20, of North Bergen, and Carlos Eduardo “Omar” Almonte, 24, of Elmwood Park were apprehended at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens before they could board separate flights to Egypt, where they were to start journeys to Somalia. The men were arrested by teams of state and federal law-enforcement agents who have been investigating the pair since October 2006, according to the officials, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the operation publicly.
The arrests were the culmination of Operation Arabian Knight. Details were still sketchy Saturday night, but authorities said the suspects have been under surveillance for some time and were being shadowed by an undercover New York City cop who managed to infiltrate their circle of friends and keep tabs as they consumed jihadist videos and literature, bought airline tickets and prepared to travel overseas.
Officials said the suspects were not planning an imminent attack in the New Jersey-New York area but were believed to be joining with the terrorist fight against Americans in Somalia.
Authorities said the men planned to wage jihad as part of a Somalia-based Islamist terror group called al Shabaab, an organization of several thousand fighters spread through Somalia’s southern region. Al Shabaab, whose full Arabic name means “Mujahideen Youth Movement,” has had ties to al Qaeda since 2007, according to national security experts.
In order to understand this phenomenon, it is critical to keep in mind that for the totalitarian radical, experiencing any kind of joy means succumbing to the false consciousness that, in the utopian mindset, must be purged from the earth. Earthly joy distracts from the constant vigilance that is necessary to engage in revolutionary battle.
This is why Lenin refused to listen to music, since, as he explained, “it makes you want to say stupid, nice things and stroke the heads of people who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell.” For Lenin, violent revolution was the priority — a priority endangered by the emotions music could induce.
Sayyid Qutb, one of Islamism’s godfathers, could relate to this vision all too well — and he serves as a perfect example of Islam’s rejection of the joyous celebration of this world and this life. In his work Milestones, Qutb demonizes the pursuit of individual interests and sensual pleasures — but above all sexual pleasure — and of personal happiness and fulfillment. The word “desire” reverberates through Milestones as a diabolical entity.
“Controversial” but entirely vindicated by events since. To return to the theme of my post a couple of days back, a significant percentage of Muslims in the west do not understand concepts such as pluralism and freedom of expression. A further percentage understand them very well but reject them as loser fetishes incompatible with the requirements of Islamic supremacism – and have a shrewd sense that when, push comes to shove, a lot of these fine liberal concepts crumble to nothing. Is the percentage of Muslims who support Mr Westergaard’s right to free expression and the broader principles of intellectual liberty sufficient to make the importation of legions of “27-year old Somalians” a net benefit to Denmark?
The answer to that seems obvious. But Mr Westergaard is 74, and I’ll bet his half-century-younger attacker grasps however crudely the demographic symbolism, in Scandinavia and beyond.
UPDATE Noticias 24 reports that Westergaard was at home with his five year old grandson granddaughter. Noticias 24 also has a photo of the police standing in front of Westergaard’s house after the incident:
The American captain of a cargo ship held hostage by pirates jumped overboard from the lifeboat where he was being held, and U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three of his four captors, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.
Capt. Richard Phillips was helped out of the water off the Somali coast and is uninjured and in good condition, the official said. He was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship.
Captain Phillips is now resting on the U.S.S. Bainbridge, named for Commodore William Bainbridge. Not only was Commodore Bainbridge born right here in Princeton, New Jersey, but he fought the Barbary Pirates and was imprisoned by them for 2 1/2 years until freed after William Eaton’s expedition to “the shores of Tripoli.”
There is, however, a troubling part to the story,
At the time of the shootings, the fourth pirate was aboard the Bainbridge negotiating with officials, the source said. That pirate was taken into custody.
Let’s hope the Obama administration is not planning on issuing full civil rights protections to that guy.
That is why there has not been a pirate attack on an American-flagged merchant ship in 200 years. Until now.
John Bolton finds the “it’s an international situation” stance pathetic, and adds,
“It’s not a law enforcement matter, either. The pirates are, and have been for centuries the common enemies of all mankind, and that gives rise to the legitimacy of the use of force by the United States and others who would join with us against the pirates.
“I recognize that the situation in Somalia is complicated, but if you destroy the pirates’ boats and you destroy the pirates’ bases, and truth be told, you kill a number of the pirates, it will have a deterrent effect on others.”
The US Navy missed a chance to rescue the American captain held by Somali pirates on a lifeboat in the Indian Ocean when he tried to escape by jumping into the sea.
Captain Richard Phillips fled through a back door in the covered lifeboat about midnight on Thursday local time and began swimming away, US officials said.
At least one pirate jumped in after him and brought him back aboard the boat, which is drifting without fuel, before the nearby US destroyer, USS Bainbridge, could intervene. The incident was captured on video by a US drone overhead. “He didn’t get very far,” one official said.
One of the pirates fired several shots during the escape attempt, and Captain Phillips was seen being helped back into the lifeboat. The US Navy had asked for proof that the skipper was still alive but was not able to talk to him by radio, NBC News said. However, US sailors saw Captain Phillips moving around and talking after his return to the lifeboat, and the Pentagon believes he is unharmed.
I can’t believe what I’m reading. Four punks in a lifeboat floating adrift without fuel in a standoff with a US destroyer, and they get away with it.
The pirates demanded $2 million (£1.4 million) yesterday for the release of Captain Phillips.
The tension at the stand-off was intensifying last night as pirates sent for reinforcements, apparently carrying “human shields”, in an effort to assist those holding Captain Phillips hostage. It is believed they contacted fellow pirates by satellite phone.
Mohamed Samaw, a resident of the pirate stronghold in Eyl, Somalia, who claims to have a “share” in a British-owned cargo ship that was hijacked on Monday, said that four foreign vessels held by pirates were heading towards the lifeboat. The ships include a seized Taiwanese fishing vessel and a German freighter carrying a total of 54 captured crew members from China, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, Tuvalu, Indonesia and Taiwan.
“The pirates have summoned assistance – skiffs and mother ships are heading towards the area from the coast,” a Nairobi-based diplomat said. A Somali in contact with a pirate leader said that the captors wanted a ransom and were ready to kill Captain Phillips if they were attacked.
Their strategy appears to be to link up with fellow pirates and take Captain Phillips to Somalia, counting on the presence of the other hostages to deter the warships from an attack.
“They had asked us for reinforcement, and we have already sent a good number of well-equipped colleagues who were holding a German cargo ship,” said a man claiming to be a pirate from the lair of Haradhere. “We are not intending to harm the captain, so we hope our colleagues would not be harmed as long as they hold him.”
A French military operation to free a yacht hijacked by Somali pirates backfired yesterday when one of the hostages was killed, highlighting the perils facing US forces trying to free an American seaman being held captive in a parallel pirate standoff.
Despite the rescue of his four fellow hostages, including his three-year-old son, Florent Lemaçon was shot dead on board the Tanit during the raid by elite French forces. Two pirates also died, and three others were taken prisoner, said the French defence minister, Herve Morin.
Standing by the commando-style tactics, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s office confirmed “France’s determination not to give into blackmail, and to defeat the pirates”
Pirates purportedly have no country backing them. Now, seeing how the US continues to hesitate in the American captain’s kidnapping which could be handled with a “blow them off the water” solution, imagine what drug traffickers from states sponsoring terrorism in our hemisphere are learning from this situation.
The Caribbean is going to get a lot more interesting.
Retired U.S. Ambassador Robert Oakley, who was special envoy to Somalia in the 1990s, said U.S. special operations forces have drawn up detailed plans to attack piracy groups where they live on land, but are awaiting orders from the Obama national security team.
“Our special operations people have been itching to clean them up. So far, no one has let them,” Oakley told the Daily News
There is nothing less civilized than rewarding evil and thus guaranteeing more of it. High-minded as it is commonly made to sound, it is not civilized to appease evil, to treat it with “dignity and respect,” to rationalize its root causes, to equivocate about whether evil really is evil, and, when all else fails, to ignore it — to purge the very mention of its name — in the vain hope that it will just go away. Evil doesn’t do nuance. It finds you, it tests you, and you either fight it or you’re part of the problem.
The men who founded our country and crafted our Constitution understood this. They understood that the “rule of law” was not a faux-civilized counterweight to the exhibition of might. Might, instead, is the firm underpinning of law and of our civilization. The Constitution explicitly recognized that the United States would have enemies; it provided Congress with the power to raise military forces that would fight them; it made the chief executive the commander-in-chief, concentrating in the presidency all the power the nation could muster to preserve itself by repelling evil. It did not regard evil as having a point of view, much less a right to counsel.
We don’t see it that way anymore. Evil is now just another negotiation. Pirates and terrorists are better known for their human rights than for their inhuman wrongs. On Thursday, America’s commander-in-chief didn’t want to talk about the pirates — “Guys, we’re talking about housing right now,” he chided a reporter who dared to raise the topic as the Somalis held the American ship’s captain hostage. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, was dispatched to assure the public that the world would come together to deal with this “criminal activity” — a relief if you were wondering whether the naval destroyer on the scene was equipped with Miranda-warning cards.
For too long, America has been too dismissive of the proud culture and invaluable contributions of the Pirate Community. Whether it is their pioneering work with prosthetics, husbandry of tropical birds or fanciful fashion sense, America owes a deep debt to Pirates.
The past eight years have shown a failure to appreciate the historic role of these noble seafarers. Instead of celebrating their entreprenuerial spirit and seeking to partner with them to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
Some of us wonder if our current Overseas Contingency Operation would even be needed had the last administration not been so quick to label Pirates as “thieves,” “terrorists” and worse. Such swashbucklaphobia can lead to tragic results, as we have seen this week.
As head of al-Shabaab – “the youth” – he is implicated in the murders of 16 foreigners including the BBC journalist Kate Peyton.
But it was during the reign of the Islamic Courts Union that he came to prominence. His few hundred fighters were credited with providing the courts with their military muscle as they took over much of central and southern Somalia the year before last.
Since their defeat in December 2006, at the hands of Ethiopia’s military machine, Ayro has gradually moved away from his former allies in the courts and waged his own Jihadist war against Somalia’s feeble government.
His tactics echoed those pioneered by Iraqi insurgents. His fighters posted videos on the internet warning peacekeepers they would be targeted and claimed responsibility for suicide attacks. Roadside bombs became a daily occurrence in the capital Mogadishu.
Taking out Ayro, who analysts believe trained in Afghanistan with al Qaeda, has been a key objective of US military policy in the Horn.
He was the target of an airstrike last year when US military officials say DNA evidence showed he was wounded. Then, in March, al Shabaab was designated a terrorist organisation by the State Department.
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somali security forces are seizing and even burning Muslim women’s veils in Mogadishu to stop Islamist insurgents disguising themselves for attacks, authorities and witnesses said on Wednesday.
The Western-backed government’s crackdown on veils is a highly symbolic turnaround for the Somali capital. When it was under Islamist control in the second half of 2006, women were instructed to cover their heads.
Backed by Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes, Somali forces ousted the rival Islamist leaders in January and are trying to secure the capital after a surge of bloody fighting.
There’s a security aspect,
“Every policeman and government soldier has orders to confiscate veils from veiled women,” senior police officer Ali Nur told Reuters, saying various recent attacks had been carried out by people in disguise.
“Some of the remnants of the Islamic Courts have been caught wearing veils. During the war, these remnants, pretending to be women, killed so many government troops.”
Somalis are generally moderate Muslims and most women traditionally cover their heads but not faces. Officials say some suicide attacks have been carried out by men disguised under full face-veils, known as indhasharer in Somali.