The release of “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf” by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has refocused interest on the additional details regarding the operations and mindset of the Al Qaeda “mastermind”. The content was found during the 2011 Navy SEAL team raid of Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Portions had already been released to the public in 2012 through the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC)..
This declassified/released material is described by the DNI as “a sizeable tranche of documents”. Some former U.S. government officials are hitting the talk shows saying it is only a very small portion of the documents seized – estimates of 6,000+ – others have implied far larger numbers.
Most of the initial media coverage has been focusing on the books, magazines and periodicals found – many indicating Bin Laden had sights set on western interests in the U.S., France and Germany. Not really news there.
A bit more telling are all the letters and notes. They provide unique background to Al Qaeda operations along with some insight into Bin Laden’s family relationships. These will be subject to the scrutiny of third parties to verify or challenge the English translations.
A few points of interest:
- Bin Laden remained fixated on engaging American interests and Al Qaeda had a dedicated section (external operations) to organize and execute operations against western interests. There were several references to an Al Qaeda spy network within the U.S..
- Al Qaida members from western countries, such as German Bekkay Harrach (Al Hafidh Abu Talha al Almani) were highly regarded for western recruiting operations and training. (note: It was reported that Harrach was killed in 2010 by a U.S. drone strike.)
- Bin Laden heavily monitored information released by the CTC.
- Relations with the Muslim Brotherhood were lukewarm at best. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been reported as being a Muslim Brotherhood member in his youth – claiming to abandon it later on. He uses several aliases and may be the “Abu Muhammad” Bin Laden writes about in this letter (date unknown – most likely late 2010/early 2011):
History taught us that the people in revolt will change the existing situation, and we at the moment should exert our efforts to guide them and to prevent their being represented by the half-solution people such as (TN: the Muslim) Brotherhood, and we hope that the next stage will be the reinstating of the rule of the Caliphate. As to the Muslim Brotherhood, we note that the young generation’s adhering to true Islam is a matter of time, as can be noticed by the Internet reply of Shaykh ((Abu Muhammad)) who is a Brotherhood member, in which he said that within the Muslim Brotherhood there are factions who now adhere to true Islam, and there is also a powerful Salafist faction within the Brotherhood.
- as with ISIS, focus on establishing an Islamic Caliphate was the priority and end goal.
- the “Arab Spring” uprisings were not viewed as wins for democracy. Bin Laden wrote that it would, “free the Muslim land from American hegemony” by toppling “tyrants”. As country leaders were removed, Al Qaeda operatives would guide a move towards the formation of an Islamic state.
- Bin Laden was critical of Al Qaeda activity that would harm other Muslims. This was conveyed in instructions regarding actions in Somolia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Somali pirate actions were apparently Al Qaeda directed for funding, but the connection was not to be publicized:
We hope that you will send a letter to the brothers in Somalia to have them avoid declaring their solidarity with the al-Qa’ida, and to give their full attention to collecting ransommoney and hijack ships.
- Security was a major concern. Operations used compartmentalization as a safeguard. Bin Laden realized that computers and electronic communications were a major risk and he preferred to use couriers for high-level communications. He wrote:
With respect to the communication over the internet, we have no objection in communication of general messages. However, even with what the brothers had mentioned regarding al-Asrar al-Mujahidin program, the secrecy of the external work does not allow its use. I recommend confirming with the interested brothers that the external work would only be through the trusted messengers.
- Bin Laden believed classified Department of Defense information leaked through the website Wikileaks would provide Al Qaeda with important insight regarding U.S. combat strategy.
- Al Qaeda relations with Iran appeared to be conflicting. There are some indications of cooperation, but some letters include accounts of members being detained.
Nothing very revealing considering what the CTC released three years ago.
Germany criminalises all support for ISIL
As a followup to our coverage of the Sharia Police story out of Germany, it is now reported that Berlin has just instituted measures banning all support for ISIS/IS (the Islamic State) on German soil.
According to a report by euronews.com:
The measures prohibit all fund raising and campaigning, including any online support or public use of their symbols.
The Netherlands is the only other European nation to have introduced similar legislation.
Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere outlined why such steps were necessary:
“The terrorist organisation Islamic State is a threat, also for Germany’s public safety. We must prevent radicalised Islamists from carrying jihad to our cities.”
The article makes mention that the Sharia Police incident caused “alarm bells” and Berlin is concerned about radicalized German citizens returning from Syria and Iraq. The full article can be viewed HERE.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: As we pointed out in our followup to the Sharia Police story, Germany will not tolerate the level of activity seen in other European nations and the U.K. The memory of World War II and the events that led up to it are permanent reminders of the tragic results of allowing any type of radical or extremist movements to go unchecked. The Salafist threat, while representing a small fraction of the country’s Muslim population has increased over the last few years. As noted in a report we highlighted last year, “… authorities are concerned that most of those attracted to Salafi ideology are impressionable young Muslims who are especially susceptible to committing suicide attacks in the name of Islam.”
The EU is about to see an increase in Muslim immigration as result of the turmoil in the Middle East and it will bring with it, increased support for Islamist ideology. Most will likely settle in Sweden or Norway – countries that offer more liberal asylum laws and welfare programs.
“Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil“
– Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere
Last week we reported on a story from Wuppertal, Germany about a group of Muslims photographed with “Sharia Police” vests. According to several news accounts, a Salafist group was patrolling the streets to recruit new members and lecture people they determined were violating Sharia law. The story was featured on a number websites and blogs, some sites even implying that the photograph was proof of an established Islamic “No Go” zone in Wuppertal. We noted that the reported actions were considered illegal and criminal charges were being considered against the group.
This week the following story was published by the Deutsche Welle (DW) media group:
Germany won’t tolerate ‘Sharia police’
The German government has strongly criticized nightly patrols in the city of Wuppertal by men calling themselves “Sharia police.” The 33-year-old behind the patrols claimed that their goal was only to raise attention.
Conservative members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition put forward a united front at the weekend against recent developments in the city of Wuppertal. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said civilians wearing uniforms bearing the logo “Shariah police” could not simply start patrolling German streets.
The groups reportedly hovered around sites like discotheques and gambling houses, telling passers-by to refrain from gambling and alcohol. Wuppertal’s police have begun pressing charges.
“Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil,” de Maiziere told mass-circulation daily Bild on Saturday. “Nobody can take it upon themselves to abuse the good name of the German police.”
Justice Minister Heiko Maas, meanwhile, told Bild that “the state alone” was responsible for the administration of justice in Germany. It was obvious, Maas said, that any illegal parallel system of law enforcement would not be tolerated. Christian Democrat party whip Volker Kauder was similarly emphatic in an interview to be published in this week’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
“Under absolutely no circumstances can we tolerate self-styled ‘Sharia police officers’ patrolling our streets and dictating what people should or should not do,” Kauder said.
The DW story noted that the person behind the Sharia patrols is Sven Lau, a 33 year old former firefighter. Lau, a Muslim convert, is a leading member of Germany’s Salafist movement and known to German security services. From DW:
Lau said that a “Sharia police” never existed, and that a group of men had simply worn the mock uniforms for a few hours. “We knew that this would raise attention,” Lau said, claiming that his goal was to spark a debate about Sharia law in Germany.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: European nations and the U.K. certainly have a growing threat being posed by Islamists pushing a Sharia based agenda that conflicts with established secular governments. It would be a mistake, however, to equate incidents in Germany as being comparable to reported “no go” zones found in France and Scandinavia. As we pointed out in our previous report, the German government regularly investigates/prosecutes Salafist activities as they would any group viewed as a threat to the German constitution. Additionally, a well placed source in Germany informed us it was inconceivable that authorities would ever tolerate a group wearing clothing/uniforms that identified them as police – it’s a clear violation of German law.
We have some doubts that media attention was the original goal behind the actions of Lau and his group, but if it was, the end results may have not been what was expected. Attempts have been made to remove any copies of the You Tube video showing the “Sharia Police” in action citing copyright violations. The original video was removed from the groups You Tube site. New videos have been posted by Lau, attempting to explain the incident away and stating there is no “Sharia Police.” These resemble attempts at damage control for fear of prosecution instead of encouraging debate.
Some additional information on Sven Lau has been reported on www.globaljihad.net
German police have initiated several criminal investigations into the group and have increased the police presence in the downtown area.
A photo has been circulating social media showing individuals wearing “Shariah Police” vests.
Wuppertal – They walk at night through the center of Wuppertal (NRW), wearing orange vests with the word “Shariah Police”.
The self-proclaimed Sharia police act as faith–police.
The suspected Islamists speak to youths on the street, they invite them to sermons, they want to recruit to Salafism. And they want to impose their rules of conduct:
► “No Alcohol”
► “No Gambling“
► “No music or concerts“
► ‘No porn or prostitution’
► “No drugs or smoking“
The article reports that German police have initiated several criminal investigations into the group and have increased the police presence in the downtown area.
Below is a video taken of the “Shariah Police” in action – minus the vests or any visible German police presence:
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: Other news reports indicate that the Wuppertal prosecutor was planning on charging up to eleven individuals in violation of the Breach of Assembly Act . Unlike some other European countries, Germany regularly investigates/prosecutes Salafist activities that are viewed as a threat to the German constitution. Several of the 9/11 attackers were identified as worshiping at a Hamburg, Germany mosque. Despite the efforts, it is a growing problem that is not likely to disappear – especially with some German politicians leaning towards appeasement.
From the Gatestone Institute
By Soeren Kern , March 15, 2013
More recently, Salafists have issued death threats against German politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The groups aim to change our society in an aggressive belligerent way so that democracy would be replaced by a Salafist system, and the rule of law replaced by Sharia law.” — Hans-Peter Friedrich, Ministry of the Interior, Germany
Germany has banned three ultra-conservative Salafist Muslim groups which the Interior Ministry says want to overturn democracy and install a system based on Islamic Sharia law.
The ban, which took effect in the western German states of Hessen and North Rhine-Westphalia on March 13, comes amid Islamist death threats against German politicians — and just days after German intelligence announced that the number of Salafists in Germany has jumped over the past year.
The Interior Ministry said that it had banned the groups “DawaFFM” and “Islamische Audios,” as well as “An-Nussrah,” which is part of the “Millatu Ibrahim” group that was outlawed in June 2012.
In an effort to enforce the ban, hundreds of German police officers raided the homes of radical Islamists in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Gladbeck and Solingen, and seized computers, cellphones and electronic storage devices, as well as money, documents and Islamic propaganda videos in Arabic and in German.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said: “Salafism, as represented in the associations that were banned today, is incompatible with our free democratic order. The groups aim to change our society in an aggressive, belligerent way so that democracy would be replaced by a Salafist system, and the rule of law replaced by Sharia law.”
Salafism is a branch of radical Islam based in Saudi Arabia that seeks to establish an Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe — and eventually the entire world. The Caliphate would be governed exclusively by Islamic Sharia law, which would apply both to Muslims and to non-Muslims.
Also known as Wahhabis, Salafists believe — among other anti-Western doctrines — that democracy must be destroyed and replaced with an Islamic form of government.
Hans-Georg Maaßen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), told the German newsmagazine Focus on March 10 that the number of committed Salafists in Germany had grown to 4,500 in 2012, compared with 3,800 in 2011.
Although Salafists make up only a fraction of the estimated 4.3 million Muslims in Germany, authorities are concerned that most of those attracted to Salafi ideology are impressionable young Muslims who are especially susceptible to committing suicide attacks in the name of Islam.
COMMENT: This type of radical activity has become rampant in Europe. Death threats and violence towards public figures that dare oppose the spread of Islam are on the rise. Despite Germany’s tendency to take a harsh stand on those that promote violence for political goals and deporting them, religious fanaticism is apparently not addressed in the same way. As many other members of the European Union have found out, the influx of Muslim immigrants has produced a very dangerous radical element that is difficult, if not impossible to contain.
For those in the United States, the influence of Wahhabism has a firm foothold among many Muslim communities. According to CAIR, it’s estimated that 27% (about 1 in 4) U.S. mosques are funded and under the control of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). Other sources place it well over 50%. NAIT was created by the Muslim Students Assoc (MSA), is part of the web of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups and was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror support trial. Much of NAIT’s financial backing comes from Saudi sources and according to a September 30, 2002 report in Newsweek, “NAIT money has helped the Saudi Arabian sect of Wahhabism—or Salafism, as the broader, pan-Islamic movement is called—to seize control of hundreds of mosques in the U.S. Muslim communities.” With NAIT financing, a mosque and/or school’s title is kept by NAIT who often appoints individuals to the mosques’ boards of directors, decides a mosque’s imam, and supplies free Wahhabi literature.
- Germany Arrests 4 and Bans Groups Linked to Salafism (nytimes.com)
- Police mount nationwide raid against Islamists (thelocal.de)