A number of radical Islamic jihadist outfits including Islamic State (ISIS) are plotting severe jihadist attacks during the Christmas [Christmas massacre], targeting European nations including Britain. According to classified intel reports, Aimen Dean, a former Al Qaeda bombmaker, who later joined British MI-6 as an agent has warned that a senior commander of ISIS was already plotting series of attacks in European countries, including Britain during Christmas. Meanwhile, according to another report, jihadist groups may also target churches, temples and “non-Muslim” establishments in India.
British MI-6 agent Aimen Dean had spent eight years spying on the Islamist groups in the Middle East, the Philippines, Lebanon, Libya, Indonesia, Syria and Iran before his cover was blown by a UN intelligence leak is quoted in the intel report as saying, “plots were being hatched in ungoverned areas of northern Syria and Libya to launch attacks in revenge for the re-publication in France of cartoons of Mohamed.”
He said the alleged plan to try to send attackers via Turkey and across the Mediterranean from North Africa is being masterminded by Abu Omar al-Shishani, a Georgian ISIS commander who was believed to have been killed in an American airstrike in 2016 but is now believed to have survived his injuries.
Dean said it was his understanding that extremists had decided to try and use the lifting of lockdown restrictions during the Christmas period to launch attacks in Europe, in particular against the UK, France and Germany….
Speaking to a policing and security audience at the online International Security Week conference in London, Dean said Shishani, who is thought to be based in northern Syria, was planning to infiltrate attackers from the remaining outposts of Islamic State activity following the recent re-publication of Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohamed. A French teacher, Samuel Paty, was murdered in October after showing the cartoons to his class.
MI-6 agent Dean said, “The worry is that, according to people who know him, [Shishani] is planning to avenge the Prophet Mohamed cartoons in places like Germany, UK, France and all-around Christmas time.”
“I’m afraid I’m not bearing good news but we need to be worried about the wave of terror that is coming from northern Syria and Libya for Christmas this year,” he added.
Aimen Dean, who now works as a consultant on terrorism and Middle Eastern affairs said, “This promise of no lockdown at Christmas has made it a more attractive timeframe for targeting. Already they have been thinking about it, already they have been looking at it and I feel this will be the next target.”
In November, Britain has moved up its second-highest terror threat level of “severe”, meaning an attack is believed to be highly likely while there is no specific intelligence pointing to a particular target.
Ever since the collapse of Islamic State’s so-called caliphate in Syria, almost all the jihadist attacks in the European countries have been carried out by individuals, who appear to have been inspired by the online propaganda of established groups rather than have their actions directly coordinated by commanders of the jihadist outfits, meaning, ISIS and other jihadist groups are now focusing on executing terror attacks through line wolves. It may be further mentioned that over 900 million of the criminal funds of ISIS are being stashed into several countries, including Middle Eastern nations, Europe, Pakistan, and the Philippines, while a major portion of these funds is now been invested into trans-national drugs trafficking.
Terrorist training during lockdown
Islamist extremists have exploited the Covid-19 pandemic by seeking to radicalize vulnerable individuals forced to remain in their homes during periods of lockdown and unemployment. In Britain, mostly Muslim immigrants were attending online sessions organized by Tablighi Jamaat and other radical groups, where they have been regularly indoctrinated with anti-Semite and jihadist mindset. Females were encouraged to become radicalized by enforcing sharia within their homes, which had forced even the minors of the families in putting Arab attires, including burqa and hijab.
Lucy D’Orsi, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, London Metropolitan Police said, lockdown had presented an increased risk of radicalization as support services such as schools or colleges closed and extremists sought to reach people in their homes via the internet.
Speaking to a security and policing audience at the online International Security Week conference in London, she said that efforts by terrorists to “exploit fears, anxiety, hate, grievances… led to an increased risk of online radicalization for the most vulnerable”.
Warning that radicalization is “quick” and often takes place with minimal contact with others, DAC D’Orsi said increased joblessness also posed a risk as individuals spend time in front of screens in their homes. She said: “Unemployment continues to rise and this allows extremists to continue to divide and target the vulnerable.”
In an unusual insight into the problems posed by the pandemic to operational policing, the senior officer cited the problems of undercover surveillance of suspects as one of the issues faced by counter-terrorism officers in recent months.
She said “Covert surveillance in lockdown in deserted streets and without the cover that is normally provided by crowds has definitely had to become far more creative. The terrorist threat has adapted and continues.”
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist, counter-terrorism specialist and editor of Blitz