February 21st, 2013
09:03 PM ET

UK trial reveals new al Qaeda strategy to hit West

By Paul Cruickshank

The trial of three Birmingham men convicted Thursday of plotting to launch a "catastrophic" suicide bombing attack in the United Kingdom revealed that al Qaeda has developed a new strategy to target the West.

The new strategy involves a teacher-training approach in which a select few Western operatives are taught bombmaking and other aspects of terrorist tradecraft in the tribal areas of Pakistan and are then instructed to return back to the West to "spread the knowledge" to a larger body of Islamist extremists keen on launching attacks.

The new approach is a response to the growing toll of drone strikes which have made travel to the tribal areas increasingly perilous for Western recruits and significantly diminished al Qaeda's ability to orchestrate terrorist plots from the region.

The trial revealed that terrorist groups in Pakistan are actively dissuading Western militants from making the trip.

Two of those convicted Thursday - Irfan Naseer and Irfan Khalid - received 40 days of terrorist training in the tribal areas of Pakistan in the spring of 2011, mostly inside houses in the valleys of Waziristan.

In conversations bugged by British police, the plotters described being handled by al Qaeda operatives and having attended a training camp run by Harakat al Mujahideen, a Pakistani terrorist group closely affiliated with al Qaeda.

The recordings revealed that like other Western militants before them, they were provided detailed instruction in the tricky and potentially hazardous methods to make bombs out of substances readily available in the West, and practiced detonating them. Their instructors included Arabs and Pakistanis.

They also were taught how to put poisons in face creams.

And their teachers emphasized they should put nails inside their bombs, to act as razor-sharp shrapnel.

Naseer, a pharmacy major and the plot's alleged ringleader, was heard recalling how one of their trainers had said the July 7, 2005, London bombers had missed an opportunity to kill more people by failing to put nails in their devices.

Naseer commented on how they were given so much information that they had accumulated 30-40 pages of notes.

They were told the smaller the cell they recruited the better, illustrating al Qaeda's move away from spectacular attacks on the 9/11 scale toward smaller strikes that have a better chance of getting through.

In the recordings played in court, Naseer said his cell should keep the numbers launching the attack in the United Kingdom to around half a dozen. The recordings, however, indicated the cell's plans grew increasingly ambitious with talk of launching an attack bigger than the 2005 London bombings.

The need for less ambitious attacks was previously stressed by two senior American al Qaeda operatives: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Adnan Shukrijumah, an operative believed to be still at large in Pakistan.

An internal al Qaeda strategy document, authored in around 2009, and recovered in 2011 from a Berlin operative, had called for a greater emphasis on low-cost low-tech attacks by Western militants, whom it said should be quickly trained in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Teaching Westerners to teach back home

In Pakistan, Naseer and Khalid's al Qaeda handlers had a new "command" for them: go back and teach others.

Naseer is heard talking with an associate, keen on traveling to Pakistan, that he and Khalid wanted to stay in the United Kingdom to participate in the plot.

"AQ's main aim is... the knowledge that they give us, [they] want more and more people [to] have [the knowledge] in Europe. So they can start whacking [attacking] there, yeah, do you understand?

Analysts say that if al Qaeda manages to put into practice their new teacher training model, it will raise alarm bells with Western security services because it would reduce the need for Western militants to travel overseas for terrorist training.

"This seems to be a product of al Qaeda's desperation to try to get an attack through, but it's a potentially scary development," Raffaello Pantucci, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, who closely followed the trial, told CNN.

While Islamists militants have access to many bombmaking recipes online, analysts say they often contain potentially fatal errors and have been seen by militants as a poor substitute to hands-on training by an instructor schooled in the art of bombmaking.

Security services fear the presence of such instructors on Western soil could be a game changer.

Message from al Qaeda: Stay Put

The Birmingham case revealed that al Qaeda had begun actively dissuading recruits from going to Pakistan.

"They told me don't send anyone [more to us]," plot ringleader Naseer said in one of the recordings.

In a June 2011 video "You are Only Responsible for Yourself," released around the same time the Birmingham duo trained in Pakistan, al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan had urged Western militants to stay home to launch attacks.

Khalid, in one conversation recorded by British police, pointed out that Inspire magazine - the online English publication of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen - had the same advice: "we don't want people to be traveling cos it's getting risky." In 2011 Samir Khan, an American member of the group, urged followers to launch attacks in the West rather than travellng to Yemen.

Naseer and Khalid painted a dim picture of the tribal areas of Pakistan in their attempt to stop their associate from traveling there.

"[Waziristan] hasn't got no more camps now... the brothers used to be in the mountains [but] the drones just get them straight away, they just bomb the camps, so ... they taught us inside houses," Naseer is heard telling the associate in the recordings played in court.

He described how he had had to cower for several hours in 100-degree heat when a drone circled above. "That day was bad ... it's a nasty situation to be in, man," chipped in Khalid.

Khalid described how the drones restricted movement for fighters in the region: "They were restricted to one place most of the time: One place to eat, sleep, go to toilet and do everything."

Terror training on UK soil

Naseer and Khalid implemented the new al Qaeda strategy when they returned to the United Kingdom. Just days before their arrest on September 18, 2011, Naseer provided Ashik Ali, the third Birmingham man convicted Thursday, with hands-on instruction in how to make explosives.
According to expert witnesses consulted in the trial, Naseer had acquired the correct knowledge to teach recruits how to make viable bombs. The recordings suggested their planned attacks were still months away.

In one of the bugged conversations, Naseer is heard suggesting that the restrictions on training in Pakistan meant it was just as effective training recruits in the West.

"[In the tribal areas] you get bit of an experience in fighting - but you know the rest of the stuff that could be taught - they taught us in a room."

At one point, Naseer warned Ali that if he hit or rubbed the explosives in a certain way it could explode and potentially kill him; just one of the many lessons he passed on from his training in Waziristan.

In the days before their arrest, Naseer experimented and tinkered with potential bombmaking chemicals in a Birmingham apartment, including the chemicals inside sports injury cold packs. The recordings revealed that his instructors in Pakistan had taught him that ammonium nitrate- – a potentially high powered explosive - could be extracted from such packs, demonstrating al Qaeda's continued inventiveness.

Pantucci told CNN the Birmingham case illustrated that despite intensified drone strikes in Pakistan, Western militants were still finding ways to connect with al Qaeda in the region, providing the terrorist groups opportunities to attack the West.

He said al Qaeda's new emphasis on training Westerners to in turn provide terrorist instruction in the West reflected the group's looser control over plots than just a few years ago.

Unlike the 7/7 bombers, and other recent terrorist conspiracies like a plot to attack Manchester in 2009, the Birmingham plotters do not appear to have been in touch with their handlers in Pakistan after returning to the United Kingdom.

Pantucci says the pressures on al Qaeda have resulted in a shift toward a new model of "fire and forget."

The March 2012 Toulouse terrorist shootings provided further evidence of looser control by al Qaeda of terrorist plots in the West. The perpetrator of the attack - Mohammed Merah - was encouraged by the group to return to France to launch an attack during a short stay in the tribal areas of Pakistan in September 2011 but planned every aspect of the operation himself, including which targets to strike.

soundoff (1,615 Responses)
  1. RV Cabinet Near Me


    May 22, 2021 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  2. Rebffiple

    buy cialis online in usa http://rcialisgl.com/ cialis coupons

    May 22, 2021 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  3. temecula roof repair


    May 22, 2021 at 10:30 am | Reply
  4. RV Generator Riverside

    bookmarked!!, I really like your blog!


    May 22, 2021 at 10:25 am | Reply
  5. body repair near me


    May 22, 2021 at 9:38 am | Reply
  6. Anooreext

    achat viagra pharmacie sans ordonnance http://llviagra.com/ what does viagra do to dogs

    May 22, 2021 at 8:44 am | Reply
  7. RV Inspection Orange County


    May 22, 2021 at 6:09 am | Reply
  8. rv plumbing

    Hi, I do believe your web site may be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic website!


    May 22, 2021 at 5:12 am | Reply
  9. Digital Marketing Company


    May 22, 2021 at 5:12 am | Reply
  10. vcm collision center

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to come back yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.


    May 21, 2021 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  11. RV Supplies California


    May 21, 2021 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  12. Jebgreext

    best drug store foundation http://pharmacylo.com/ pharmaceutical online ordering

    May 21, 2021 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  13. SEO Marketing Agencies


    May 21, 2021 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  14. BbshVelm

    how much does viagra cost at walmart [url=http://loxviagra.com/ ]pills like viagra[/url] viagra for woman

    May 21, 2021 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  15. rv furniture center

    Excellent post. I definitely appreciate this site. Keep it up!


    May 21, 2021 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  16. Digital Marketing Experts

    I want to to thank you for this very good read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 21, 2021 at 11:22 am | Reply
  17. Digital Marketing Agency

    I like it whenever people come together and share views. Great website, stick with it!


    May 21, 2021 at 11:22 am | Reply
  18. agenpkvgamesindonesia.blogspot.com

    I am not sure where you're getting your info,
    but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning
    much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this information for my

    May 21, 2021 at 11:16 am | Reply
  19. vinyl repair near me

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality blogs on the internet. I most certainly will highly recommend this website!


    May 21, 2021 at 9:56 am | Reply
  20. RV Slide Out Los Angeles

    I was able to find good information from your articles.


    May 21, 2021 at 7:05 am | Reply
  21. Gtnbclups

    womens viagra pill [url=http://jokviagra.com/ ]ingrediants in viagra[/url] viagra pictures

    May 21, 2021 at 6:03 am | Reply
  22. Repair Fuel Pump Mercedes Sprinter Dodge 3500 2010


    May 21, 2021 at 5:50 am | Reply

    Hi! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I
    could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having problems
    finding one? Thanks a lot!

    May 21, 2021 at 3:26 am | Reply
  24. live22 download

    It isn't fair, either to the other parent or to the child to impose your conflicted emotions on him.
    Do not let the owner sweet talk you into choosing a dress essentially can't have.

    May 21, 2021 at 2:12 am | Reply
  25. RV Repair Near Me


    May 21, 2021 at 1:47 am | Reply
  26. Authorized Dodge Sprinter Repair


    May 20, 2021 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  27. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Authorized Repair Shop


    May 20, 2021 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  28. orange near me


    May 20, 2021 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  29. camera repair orange county


    May 20, 2021 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  30. trailer service near me

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I am hoping to see the same high-grade content by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own blog now 😉


    May 20, 2021 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  31. socal upholstery

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after looking at a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly pleased I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!


    May 20, 2021 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  32. RV Dent Repair Riverside

    Hello there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I'll send this article to him. Pretty sure he'll have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 20, 2021 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  33. Content Marketing Agencies


    May 20, 2021 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  34. Internet Marketing Companies Near Me


    May 20, 2021 at 8:06 am | Reply
  35. Digital Marketing Company Near Me

    Great information. Lucky me I came across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!


    May 20, 2021 at 5:41 am | Reply
  36. Lebnreext

    online pharmacy denmark https://xlnpharmacy.com/ Malegra DXT plus

    May 20, 2021 at 4:34 am | Reply
  37. Content Marketing Services

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will revisit yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.


    May 20, 2021 at 3:44 am | Reply
  38. Local Marketing Company

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through issues with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody having the same RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 20, 2021 at 3:39 am | Reply
  39. SEO Marketing Experts


    May 20, 2021 at 3:25 am | Reply
  40. BbshVelm

    order viagra online http://loxviagra.com/ viagra prescription cost

    May 20, 2021 at 2:04 am | Reply
  41. Digital Marketing Company

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and also the rest of the site is extremely good.


    May 20, 2021 at 1:18 am | Reply
  42. repair rv shades

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    May 19, 2021 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  43. Lebnreext

    try our ed pack [url=http://xlnpharmacy.com/ ]pharm[/url] Extra Super Avana

    May 19, 2021 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  44. Social Media Marketing Consultants


    May 19, 2021 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  45. RV Renovation Orange County

    Hi there! I just wish to offer you a big thumbs up for your excellent information you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your web site for more soon.


    May 19, 2021 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  46. slot idn

    Kerasbola Idn Slot Online Deposit Gopay. Situs Judi Online24jam Depo Gopay Terpercaya dengan jenis taruhan terlengkap.
    Semuanya bisa dengan mendaftar 1 akun saja untuk seluruh
    permainan seperti:
    • Mesinslot
    • Casino Online
    • Live Games
    • Sportsbook
    • Taruhan Poker
    Menerima Kirim bank Umum 24jam tanpa ada offline. Transaksi
    bisa memanfaatkan emoney seperti Dana, Ovo, Gopay dan Link Aja.

    Whatsapp: +62 821 7041 7961
    Line: kerasbola88
    Link main: kerasbola1.com

    May 19, 2021 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  47. Repair My 2006 Dodge Sprinter 3500 Rv


    May 19, 2021 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  48. Fmrfreext

    cialis without perscripiton https://cialisee.com/ order cialis no prescription

    May 19, 2021 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  49. gifts for mexican mom


    May 19, 2021 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  50. visite website

    I couldn't refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

    May 19, 2021 at 10:11 am | Reply
  51. Maserati Supercars

    Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 19, 2021 at 8:32 am | Reply
  52. Digital Marketing Management

    After looking at a number of the blog articles on your website, I really appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my website as well and tell me how you feel.


    May 19, 2021 at 7:52 am | Reply
  53. promo slot online

    Good day! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after going through some of the posts
    I realized it's new to me. Nonetheless, I'm certainly delighted I discovered it and I'll
    be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

    May 19, 2021 at 2:51 am | Reply
  54. Content Marketing Companies


    May 19, 2021 at 1:26 am | Reply
  55. zoom energy pills


    May 19, 2021 at 12:21 am | Reply
  56. Forklifts Near Me

    This is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate info… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!


    May 18, 2021 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  57. Forklift Tires Near Me

    Good article. I certainly appreciate this site. Keep writing!


    May 18, 2021 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  58. Family Dental Near Me


    May 18, 2021 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  59. car air conditioning service near me


    May 18, 2021 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  60. situs judi bola online

    Thanks for your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you happen to be
    a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will come back later
    in life. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great writing,
    have a nice morning!

    May 18, 2021 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  61. escortlar kuşadası

    You are so awesome! I do not believe I have read through anything like
    this before. So great to find someone with genuine thoughts on this
    topic. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site
    is something that's needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

    May 18, 2021 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  62. Lbsofiple

    cheap cialis overnight [url=https://ucialisdas.com/ ]cialis online overnight[/url] cialis no perscription

    May 18, 2021 at 10:04 am | Reply
  63. ambulance repair

    I was able to find good advice from your blog posts.


    May 18, 2021 at 8:10 am | Reply
  64. Anooreext

    viagra levitra precio [url=https://llviagra.com/ ]can i buy viagra legally in the uk[/url] donde conseguir viagra en bogota

    May 18, 2021 at 7:49 am | Reply
  65. Anooreext

    viagra 50 mg tabletki https://llviagra.com/ viagra bei herzschrittmacher

    May 18, 2021 at 1:05 am | Reply
  66. Maserati Quattroporte 2005

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and also the rest of the website is also really good.


    May 17, 2021 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  67. Jebgreext

    capsule online pharmacy https://pharmacylo.com/ pharmacy cheap

    May 17, 2021 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  68. orange coast trailer supply


    May 17, 2021 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  69. Rebffiple

    cialis fastest shipping http://rcialisgl.com/ canada cialis online

    May 17, 2021 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  70. RV Furniture Near Me


    May 17, 2021 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  71. Mercedes Sprinter Chasis Repair

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I found this during my hunt for something relating to this.


    May 17, 2021 at 11:31 am | Reply
  72. Authorized Mercedes Benz Service Centers Near Me

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy that I found this in my hunt for something concerning this.


    May 17, 2021 at 9:32 am | Reply
  73. Lbsofiple

    cialis without prescription [url=http://ucialisdas.com/ ]whats better cialis or viagra[/url] cialis buy online canada

    May 17, 2021 at 8:30 am | Reply
  74. Maserati Ghibli Specs

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover an individual who genuinely understands what they're discussing on the internet. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people should check this out and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you aren't more popular since you most certainly have the gift.


    May 17, 2021 at 5:28 am | Reply
  75. Southern California Sprinter Repair


    May 17, 2021 at 3:31 am | Reply
  76. Dry Van Floor Repair

    It’s difficult to find educated people for this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 17, 2021 at 1:24 am | Reply
  77. Repair Shop For Mercedes Sprinter Vans


    May 17, 2021 at 12:51 am | Reply
  78. Start Error Mercedes Sprinter Repair

    Spot on with this write-up, I really feel this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!


    May 16, 2021 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  79. Van Wheelchair Lift Repair

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?


    May 16, 2021 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  80. Van Repair Near Me


    May 16, 2021 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  81. Maserati Brazzers


    May 16, 2021 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  82. Service A Mercedes Sprinter

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS issues? Anybody who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 16, 2021 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  83. Rebffiple

    cialis daily https://rcialisgl.com/ cialis w/dapoxetine

    May 16, 2021 at 11:54 am | Reply
  84. Aika Download


    May 16, 2021 at 11:06 am | Reply
  85. Aikaonline

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be interesting to read articles from other writers and practice a little something from their web sites.


    May 16, 2021 at 9:57 am | Reply
  86. Jebgreext

    international pharmacy [url=https://pharmacylo.com/ ]Nimotop[/url] Remeron

    May 16, 2021 at 6:05 am | Reply
  87. Hel Networks Aika


    May 16, 2021 at 5:18 am | Reply
  88. Seo Marketing Help

    I have to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this site. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal website now 😉


    May 16, 2021 at 1:28 am | Reply
  89. Internet Marketing Programs

    Greetings, There's no doubt that your site might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, great website!


    May 16, 2021 at 12:05 am | Reply
  90. Local Marketing Programs

    bookmarked!!, I love your site!


    May 15, 2021 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  91. game aika online

    This web site truly has all of the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 15, 2021 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  92. Kickass

    Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your
    situation; many of us have created some nice practices and we are
    looking to trade methods with other folks, please shoot me an email if interested.

    May 15, 2021 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  93. Maserati Usa


    May 15, 2021 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  94. Arizona Vision

    Hello there! This blog post could not be written much better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I most certainly will send this post to him. Pretty sure he's going to have a good read. Thank you for sharing!


    May 15, 2021 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  95. rv water leak repair

    I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!


    May 15, 2021 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  96. house for sale athol idaho


    May 15, 2021 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  97. Maserati Lease Price


    May 15, 2021 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  98. property for sale rathdrum


    May 15, 2021 at 9:40 am | Reply
  99. property for sale rathdrum idaho


    May 15, 2021 at 9:20 am | Reply
  100. Orthokeratology Near Me


    May 15, 2021 at 8:04 am | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Leave a Reply to Premal D.Shah


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.