Australian police just staged a massive operation against precisely the sort of low-tech terror operation Americans worry about, while eyeballing our ridiculously insecure borders. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports:
The emerging reality of terrorism in Australia struck home just before dawn on Thursday when more than 800 police launched synchronised raids on houses and vehicles across Sydney’s west and north-west, and Brisbane’s south.
The raids foiled a plot involving a man believed to be Australia’s most senior Islamic State member who called contacts in Australia and asked them to carry out a campaign of random public beheadings in Sydney and Brisbane, the ABC understands.
Mohammad Ali Baryalei, a former Kings Cross bouncer and part-time actor, is understood to have made the instruction to kidnap people in Brisbane and Sydney and have them executed on camera. That video was then to be sent back to IS’s media unit, where it would be publicly released.
Omarjan Azari, 22, from the western Sydney suburb of Guildford, was one of 15 people detained during the operation in Sydney and is accused of conspiring with Baryalei and others to act in preparation or plan a terrorist act or acts, court documents show.
Commonwealth prosecutor Michael Allnutt told Sydney’s Central Local Court the alleged offence was “clearly designed to shock, horrify and terrify the community”.
Mr Allnutt said there was “a plan to commit extremely serious offences” that involved an “unusual level of fanaticism”.
He said the plot involved the “random selection of persons to rather gruesomely execute” and said there was an “irrational determination to commit that plan” because those allegedly involved continued to plot the attacks even though they knew they were under police surveillance.
Azari’s defense pointed out that these charges of Unusual Fanaticism In the Random Selection of Persons to Rather Gruesomely Execute were evidently based on a single intercepted phone call, which spooked the authorities into cracking down on the whole organization within 48 hours. Subsequent reports revealed that the suspects were stocked up on “machetes, balaclavas, and military fatigues,” plus a nice big Islamic State flag, which they were planning to drape around their beheaded victim. The search for other weapons and suspicious chemicals continues, as the police are raising their alertness level and putting more officers on the street .
The Australian Federal Police had this potential terror cell on their radar screens for several months, ever since the Australian government began talking about making a commitment of troops to the fight against ISIS:
“The law enforcement authorities became aware of information in May of this year that a group of people in Sydney were at least talking about plans to carry out random attacks on individuals in Australia and they were kept under surveillance,” Federal Attorney-General George Brandis told Macquarie Radio.
“I want to stress that the AFP acted at the earliest opportunity that they could when they had sufficient evidence to charge an individual.”
He said despite today’s raids he wants people to continue with their normal way of life, but be more aware of the heightened threat.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was briefed last night on the operation, adding that the intelligence received by police gave “not just suspicion” but “intent”.
“The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” he said, using another acronym for IS.
“That’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.
“There are, I regret to say, networks of people here in this country who, despite living here, despite enjoying the Australian way of life, they would do us harm and it’s very important that our police and security organisations be one step ahead of them and I think this morning they were.”
There was also a raid on an Islamic bookstore last week, which led to the arrest of two men “charged with recruiting and funding foreign fighters with al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra.” Wait a second… isn’t that the group linked to most of the Syrian rebels we’re expecting to fight ISIS for us? Also, shouldn’t the Australians be referring to the raided bookstore as a “non-Islamic Islamic bookstore,” or a “bookstore that has absolutely nothing to do with Islam?”
For some reason, some in the Australian Muslim community were very upset about the arrest of people associated with the Non-Islamic Islamic State:
About 200 people from Sydney’s Muslim community held a protest against the raids outside Lakemba station on Thursday night.
The group heard claims of police brutality and political hysteria, and the speakers included children who said they witnessed one of the raids. One said he and his mother were assaulted.
Uthman Badar from the Islamic Hizb ut-Tahrir movement said the Muslim community was “not new to these sort of heavy-handed raids”, which he described as “politicised counter-terrorism”.
However, Muslims Australia vice-president Ikebal Patel said the terrorism threat was a reality.
“We actually have to deal with that and the Government has to deal with it in a fair manner and a just manner,” he said.
“But also the communities involved in this, and indeed the Australian Muslim community, has to rise to the challenge to attend to this matter … to reject terrorism, radicalisation.”
Earlier he said he was shocked to hear of the raids and would not prejudge those arrested.
“The premise of innocent until proven guilty stands, but having said that, for the police to take such a strong action, we of course are concerned that there could be some untoward thoughts and ideas amongst the community,” he said.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who chairs the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, revealed that at least four suspected terrorists were arrested trying to cross the border from Mexico into Texas just before 9/11. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson could barely stifle his yawns, since the Obama Administration is very interested in downplaying stories about border insecurity:
Look, people, you can’t expect the Secretary of Homeland Security to know about every little group of potential terrorists who try to slip across the border, and somehow manage to get caught. Chaffetz noted that 466,000 people have been caught on the border over the past year or so – a delightfully diverse crew from 143 countries, including Syria and Iran – but an estimated 157,000 more got away.
One wonders if Johnson roused himself to read the bulletin from the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange, warning that ISIS has been calling for “lone wolves” to pull off the sort of attack the Australians just thwarted. From Fox News:
In one example cited in the bulletin, a British jihadist encouraged radicals still living in the West to use Facebook and LinkedIn to find and target soldiers.
“You could literally search for soldiers, find their town, photos of them, look for address in Yellowbook or something,” the tweet read. “Then show up and slaughter them.???
The bulletin came out long before Tuesday’s indictment of an upstate New York man on a raft of terror-related charges, including attempting to kill “officers and employees of the United States. Mufid Elfgeeh, 30, of Rochester, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on three counts of attempting to provide material support and resources to Islamic State. Elfgeeh was arrested in late May in a Walmart parking lot after a sting in which an FBI informant offered to sell him guns and silencers, which Elfgeeh allegedly wanted to use to kill returning American troops as well as Shiite Muslims living in the region.
Killing U.S. troops on American soil is is an increasing focus of jihadists, according to the bulletin, titled ???Continued Threat to Military Personnel from Al-Qaida Inspired Homegrown Violent Extremists.??? It was sent out on July 8, 2014 ???in response to recent social media messaging from Western fighters in Syria calling for attacks against ???soldiers in the West.??? Instead of luring radicalized Americans to the Middle East, Islamic State will likely encourage them to stay home and kill U.S. soldiers here, the bulletin warned.
Every time I read a story about someone from the U.S. or U.K. jetting off to Syria to fight with ISIS, I find myself wondering how many of its recruits didn’t get on planes and leave their home countries. Judging by the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange bulletin, ISIS has begun openly advising eager sympathizers to cause trouble at home:
???U.S.-based [Home-Grown Violent Extremists] could be inspired by this rhetoric to turn their attention towards carrying out attacks at home,??? the bulletin states.
The radical rhetoric is delivered via social media, where Islamic State operatives have long exhorted westerners to get on a plane and come join the battle. But terrorists now believe they can have a powerful effect from afar just by inspiring attacks inside the U.S.
???In recent Twitter posts, foreign fighters in Syria have encouraged Muslims in the West to target soldiers with spontaneous attacks using small arms (i.e. knives and guns),??? the bulletin said.
It listed several examples of tweets posted in late June that specifically mention interest in attacking Western military personnel. In one series of tweets a British fighter formerly with Jabhat al Nusra lamented the terrorist infighting between Islamic State and groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.
“I???m realizing bickering about internal politics is taking up our time too much, the enemies are working what???s stopping you from something like learning how to make explosives or learning shooting, or killing vulnerable soldiers right now? (To the bros in the West).???
There goes Jabhat al-Nusra making trouble again. Arming the Syrian resistance to serve as our proxy army on the ISIS northern front is going to be so much fun.
There’s already been a bit of recent “lone wolf” jihad in the United States, but the media is going to great lengths to avoid talking about it. Meet Ali Muhammad Brown, whose crimes are detailed at the New York Daily News:
The shooter accused of gunning down at least four men in two states said he murdered a New Jersey teenager as revenge for Muslims killed overseas.
According to court documents, Ali Muhammad Brown described his June murder of 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin as a “just kill” and said it was an act of “vengeance” meant to compensate for U.S. military killings in the Middle East.
In addition to Tevlin’s murder, Brown has been charged will fatally shooting three men in Seattle.
[…] Brown is a devout Muslim opposed to U.S. intervention overseas, especially Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran, prosecutors said.
“All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life,” he told investigators, according to the documents.
Brown further justified killing Tevlin by claiming the shooting was a “just kill,” meaning he targeted an adult man and did not put any women, children or elderly people in danger.
In police interviews, Brown described the U.S.’s military campaign in the Middle East as evil and said if a “man sees evil, then he must take action against that evil,” the court papers show.
Among the details of Brown’s case you’ll find almost completely unreported by the media are that two of his Seattle victims were gay men he evidently lured to their deaths with a social media app, and that he was previously involved in a bank-fraud scheme which investigators thought might have been funneling money to overseas terrorist groups. New Jersey authorities went to great lengths to avoid describing Tevlin’s murder as the jihad attack it was, to the bafflement of everyone who knew the victim, as City Journal observes:
In the ensuing days, authorities claimed that their preliminary investigation determined that Tevlin had been ???targeted,??? a phrase suggesting that perhaps the young man had been the victim of a hit engineered by someone he knew. The viciousness of the killing???Tevlin had been struck by eight bullets???was one indication, investigators said, that this was more than just a chance encounter, such as a robbery gone bad. ???It does not appear to be random,??? a chief investigator said. Friends and family, however, were baffled by the authorities??? conclusion. ???He was literally a good kid. No enemies???he always avoided controversy,??? a family friend told the press.
[…] New Jersey???s largest newspaper, the Star-Ledger, said in an editorial that authorities??? initial description of Tevlin as ???targeted??? by someone he might have known raised false assurances among local residents by implying ???that the killer had some private beef with Tevlin and went after him.??? The paper added that the message investigators apparently wanted to send was that ???The danger is confined to people who associate with killers.???
Tevlin associated with no killers, and local residents now know that a jihadist had been hiding out among them for weeks after killing Tevlin. Brown had camped out at two sites in West Orange, a town intersected by the Watchung Mountains, where homes nestle next to hiking trails and wooded recreation areas. He put some thought into choosing his hiding place in an area dotted with wealthy homes. In his notebooks, police found jihadist rants suggesting, in effect, that taking cover among the rich was the best way to evade detection. Before being apprehended, Brown had committed at least one other local crime, emerging from the woods to rob a man at gunpoint and force him into the trunk of his SUV.
The story doesn???t end there. After arresting Brown, authorities collared two accomplices in the attack on Tevlin. In August, they announced that possibly a fourth accomplice remained at large. When pressed, investigators wouldn???t elaborate, except to say that ???the public shouldn???t be alarmed.???
Yes, all is well, don’t be alarmed. Try not to dwell on how our homeland-security apparatus, in concert with the media, seem more worried about a hypothetical “backlash” from informed and alarmed Americans than attacks from ISIS sympathizers.