Wife of convicted terrorist on trial in Germany

The wife of a German convert to Islam who was convicted of plotting a thwarted attack on U.S. targets in Germany went on trial herself Friday on charges of supporting terrorist organizations. Filiz Gelowicz, 28, is accused of supporting the Islamic Jihad Union and the German Taliban Mujahideen by helping provide 3,000 euro ($4,225) to fund terrorist training camps in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region between 2009 and 2010. She faces up to five years in prison.

Federal prosecutors charge 3 men with funding Somalia terrorist organization

The US District Court Eastern District of Missouri unsealed an indictment charging three men with providing material support to Somali-based Islamic terrorist organization al Shabaab. The October 21 indictment charges Mohamud Abdi Yusuf, Duane Mohamed Diriye and Abdi Mahdi Hussein with funding and providing materials to a known terrorist organization. The federal grand jury charged Yusuf and Hussein with allegedly transferring funds through a Minneapolis wire-transfer business where Hussein was employed to al Shabaab supporters in Somalia from 2008 to July 2009. The indictment details the care the men took to avoid detection, often breaking up transfers into smaller amounts and using code words. Diriye, who is believed to be in Kenya or Somalia, was charged with collecting the funds for al Shabaab. The indictment also mentions unspecified individuals who were allegedly complicit in the conspiracy to provide funding to the organization.

U.S. judge rules Bank of China can be sued in terrorism case

Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has allowed a lawsuit to proceed against one of China’s largest banks for allegedly helping finance the terrorist group Islamic Jihad.
The case was brought by the parents of Daniel Wultz, a 16-year-old from South Florida who was killed as the result of a terrorist attack while visiting Israel in 2006. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the April 17 assault on a Tel Aviv restaurant—an attack that was financed through a Bank of China account in the United States, claim Yekutiel (Tuly) and Sheryl Wultz. David died in an Israeli hospital on May 16, 2006.

The unusual 118-page ruling came as Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied a request by attorneys for the state-controlled bank, one of China’s largest, to have it dropped from the case.

Victims of overseas terrorist attacks are increasingly turning to U.S. courts for restitution. Many are pursuing claims not only against shadowy groups or rogue nations but also against financial institutions with substantial economic interests to defend.

In the suit, Wultz’s parents, Yekutiel and Sheryl Wultz, are seeking $300 million in damages from Iran and Syria, as well as from the Bank of China (BOC), under legislation that allows victims to sue terrorist-sponsoring states in U.S. court.

The 2008 lawsuit alleges that officials at the Bank of China ignored warnings by senior Israeli officials that Islamic Jihad was financing deadly bombings through a Bank of China account in the United States maintained by a purported senior officer of the militant group, Said al-Shurafa.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims that in an April 2005 meeting, counterterrorism officials with Israel’s prime minister’s office demanded that China’s central bank and Ministry of Public Security stop the Bank of China from assisting Shurafa, but China “demurred.”

In weighing whether the claims against the bank can go forward, Lamberth wrote: “The Court must assume the truth of this allegation, which is plausible because it is reasonable to assume that, although BOC is not directly owned by China . . . China does exert a measure of control over the BOC through China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.”

Brief in US v El Mazain Argues Material Support Conviction Should Require Knowledge of Terror Connection

On Oct. 26, 2010, a diverse group of U.S. organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit arguing that individuals may not be convicted under a statute barring “material support” to “designated terrorist groups” if they have not knowingly supported any designated terrorist group. Under the lower court’s ruling, a charity that carefully checks all government lists of “designated terrorists” and avoids supporting any of them may still be convicted, if the government later shows that, unbeknownst to the donor, its grantee was connected to another designated group. The case, U.S. v el Mezain et al, involves the 2008 convictions of leaders of the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation (HLF) on a variety of charges. 

The brief limited its arguments to the charges involving support to non-designated groups, because if upheld, the lower court’s decision would render thousands of foundations and charities in the United States vulnerable to criminal prosecution. It was filed by 20 foundations, charities, peace groups and constitutional rights organizations, including the 1750-member Council on Foundations, The Carter Center (founded by former President Jimmy Carter), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and Grassroots International. The Dallas-based HLF and its leaders were convicted of aiding five local charities in the West Bank and Gaza that are not on any government lists of terrorist organizations, but which the prosecution said were controlled by Hamas, which is listed. The full list of signatories is here. The current appeal involves the leaders, while the Holy Land Foundation, which was unrepresented at trial, is pursuing a separate appeal.       

Pakistan intelligence services ‘aided Mumbai terror attacks’

According to The Guardian the ISI was were heavily involved in preparations for the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008, according to classified Indian government documents obtained by the Guardian. A 109-page report into the interrogation of key suspect David Headley, a Pakistani-American militant arrested last year and detained in the US, makes detailed claims of ISI support for the bombings.

Under questioning, Headley described dozens of meetings between officers of the main Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI, and senior militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group responsible for the Mumbai attacks. He claims a key motivation for the ISI in aiding the attacks was to bolster militant organisations with strong links to the Pakistani state and security establishment who were being marginalised by more extreme radical groups.

Headley, who undertook surveillance of the targets in Mumbai for the operation, claims that at least two of his missions were partly paid for by the ISI and that he regularly reported to the spy agency. However, the documents suggest that supervision of the militants by the ISI was often chaotic and that the most senior officers of the agency may have been unaware at least of the scale and ambition of the operation before it was launched.

Mauritanian court jails two Al-Qaeda militants

A Mauritanian court on Sunday jailed two militants linked to Al-Qaeda’s north African wing, including one who tracked the movements of Westerners and security forces in the desert region.

Ahmed Ould Elmoctar, a member of a hardline wing of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), was jailed for five years for spying on Westerners in the central town of Tidjikja and providing information on the Mauritanian armed forces, according to an AFP reporter at the court.

A second man, Mohamed Lemine Ould Cheikh, was jailed for two years for being a member of a “terrorist” organisation and “attempts to rally support for AQIM”, the court ruled.

The court in the capital Nouakchott jailed three people on terrorism charges Thursday, the same day as the trial opened for 19 people suspected of belonging to AQIM.

Meanwhile, Malian authorities arrested an AQIM militant wanted by Nouakchott for involvement in a 2005 attack on a military garrison that killed 15 Mauritanian soldiers, a Malian security official said.

North African states agreed to increase counter-terrorism cooperation during a summit this week in the Malian capital Bamako.

Experts from G8 members Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States held two days of closed meetings Thursday and Friday with counterparts from Burkina Faso, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

After staging a wave of attacks on governments in the region, AQIM has recently turned to kidnappings of foreigners.

On September 16 the group seized five French nationals, a Madagascan and a Togolese from a uranium mining town in Niger. It is believed to be holding them in a mountainous desert region in northeastern Mali.

U.S. government funds may have gone to Taliban

The LA Times reports that millions of dollars in American taxpayer funds may have been paid to Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan to provide security for a U.S. development project, a government audit has found. The report, released Thursday by the inspector general of the U.S. Agency for International Development, says subcontractors hired to protect a development project near Jalalabad may have paid more than $5 million to the militants through local authorities.