ISIS: STATE OF TERROR
LINKSBlogs of War
Making Sense of Jihad
Views from the Occident
American Al Qaeda Members
News, documents and analysis on violent extremism
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Declassified State Department Cables On Al Qaeda-Linked Cell in CaliforniaState Department cables obtained by INTELWIRE describe Ayman Al Zawahiri's trip to California in 1995 and the activities of an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist cell in Northern California.
The general outline of the cell's activities has been previously reported in newspapers and in Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam.
The documents, obtained from the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act, detail the trial of a group of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operatives captured in Egypt and Albania, with the latter being deported to Egypt. Because of this, the trial became known as the "Returnees from Albania" case. One of those tried in the case was Khaled Abu El Dahab, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lived in California with the notorious Al Qaeda infiltrator Ali Mohamed. Dahab was arrested in Egypt.
Click here to read the full documents
According to the cables:
Zawahiri [who was at the time emir of Egyptian Islamic Jihad] visited the U.S. in early 1995 using a forged passport, primarily to collect contributions from Islamist circles. Abu ad-Dahhab placed Zawahiri at the Al-Nur mosque in Santa Clara, California. Three American citizens of Egyptian extraction who, per Abu ad-Dahhab, helped Zawahiri' s 1995 visit were Ali Abu al-Sa'ud Mustafa [Ali Mohamed] and two brothers, Ali and Hassan Zaki, all living in the San Franscisco area. Mustafa had served in the U.S. army for several years. [Egyptian newspaper] Al-Hayat of February 11 adds that Egyptian authorities may ask the U.S. to render Mustafa for trial in the "returnees" case, primarily for his EIJ fundraising. Mustafa apparently told Abu ad-Dahhab that the money that Mustafa had raised was used to plan the 1995 bomb attack on the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan. Mustafa is also wanted for helping to train EIJ operatives in bomb-making techniques, per Al-Hayat.Mohamed and Zawahiri were convicted in absentia during the trial, however Mohamed was by this point under indictment in New York for his role in the 1998 East African Embassy bombings. Dahab was convicted and sentenced to prison. His current status is unknown, although according to some accounts he died in prison.
Although the cell was initially organized under the banner of EIJ, testimony from both Mohamed and Dahab, as well as other witnesses, indicated that both men took orders directly from Osama bin Laden at times, and both took part in highly sensitive Al Qaeda activities, including communications, security and the planning of terrorist attacks. For most meaningful purposes, the cell is considered an Al Qaeda operation.
Also convicted in absentia during the "Returnees" trial was Mohammed Al Islambouli, the brother of Sadat assassin Khaled Al Islambouli, who recently returned to Egypt after the fall of Mubarak and was promptly arrested. The cables state that "some observers [in Cairo] believe Muhammad Islambouli is connected with the EIJ defendants through setting up terrorist training camps in the Balkans."
If you see any interesting tidbits in this material not covered here, feel free to discuss them with me on Twitter.
For more about American jihadists, check out J.M. Berger's new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, on sale everywhere.
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
Tweets referencing this post:
"...smart, granular analysis..."ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post
More on ISIS: The State of Terror
"...a timely warning..."Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times
More on Jihad Joe
The Utility of Lone Wolves, Or Lack Thereof
Well, Is Al Qaeda Winning Or Not?
BloggingHeads: J.M. Berger and Daveed Gartenstein-...
Documents Seen In Secrets of 9/11 And More
Unedited Abu Suleiman Interview
An Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al ...
Hyping The Terrorist Internet: The "You Name It" P...
Finding A Way Forward For CVE
Oklahoma City Bombing: FBI Informants Reported on ...
9/11 Commission Memorandum on Relations with the T...
New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim
The Utility of Lone Wolves
Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser
A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds
How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You
PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement
Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips
Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums
U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki
State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh
State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995
FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs
Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War
U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001
Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting