September 29th, 2011
08:06 AM ET

Analysis: Model planes as weapons of terror

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, CNN

The F-86 Sabre was a fighter jet that played a pivotal role in the Korean War. And it was a model of that plane – packed with high explosive – that Rezwan Ferdaus allegedly planned to use to launch his own war against iconic targets in Washington D.C.

Miniature versions of the plane – 5 feet 6 inches long – can easily be acquired for less than $200 from websites serving model plane enthusiasts.

"Provides authoritative rudder control so you can execute point rolls and knife-edge flight with precision," reads the promotion material for the model on one website.

According to the affidavit in the case against Ferdaus, one of these F-86 models was delivered in August to a storage facility in Framingham, Massachusetts that he had rented under a false name to build his attack planes and maintain all his equipment. FULL POST

The 'lone wolf' — The unknowable terror
Kosovan Islamist Arid Uka confessed to shooting and killing two U.S. servicemen at the Frankfurt, Germany, airport. He acted alone and had been radicalized by videos online, experts say.
September 7th, 2011
12:42 PM ET

The 'lone wolf' — The unknowable terror

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, CNN

Khalid Aldawsari lived in a nondescript apartment block in the university town of Lubbock, Texas. He was – ostensibly – a student, who had arrived in the United States in 2008 from Saudi Arabia. But he was also keeping a journal, which allegedly included this entry:

“After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives, and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”

Khalid Aldawsari is accused of attempting to carry out a bomb attack on U.S. soil.

His preparations allegedly included research online into bomb components, life-like dolls in which explosives could be placed, and a number of possible targets including the Dallas residence of former U.S. President George W. Bush. The FBI were only alerted to the alleged plot after a North Carolina-based chemical supply company reported their suspicions over an online purchase made by Aldawsari in late January. He was arrested a month later and subsequently pleaded not guilty to attempting to carry out a bomb attack on U.S. soil. His trial begins next January.

In the indictment against Aldawsari, there are no conspirators mentioned. In many ways, such cases are the worst nightmare of counter-terrorism officials: “lone wolf” individuals acting alone, untraceable through any contacts with other terror suspects, capable of teaching themselves how to launch a terror attack. FULL POST

September 5th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

Al Qaeda suffers another blow with arrest of senior operational figure

Analysis by CNN's Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister

If Younis al-Mauretani has been arrested in Pakistan, it is another significant blow against the operational ambitions of al Qaeda. Counter-terrorism analysts say he had become a key planner for the group in recent years - and he appears to have had direct contact with Osama bin Laden.

Like many in al Qaeda, al-Mauritania adopted his country of origin as his last name. He was from the sparsely populated desert state of Mauritania in north-west Africa. Al Qaeda has recruited extensively from Mauritania and neighboring countries, where al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb now has a foothold.

Al-Mauretani's stature within al Qaeda appears to have grown in the last two years. According to European intelligence officials, he was involved in planning attacks in Europe in the fall of 2010. Fears that such attacks would materialize led the U.S. State Department to issue a travel alert in October 2010. The alert said that "current information suggests that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks." It added that some European governments were warning of "heightened threat conditions."

FULL POST

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