A recruiting ring for the Islamic State (ISIS) has been busted by European authorities who arrested 13 Islamists in Italy, Britain, and Norway on Thursday, November 12, 2015. The coordinated police action put a choke-hold on Norway-based Iraqi Kurdish recruiters drumming up volunteers to fight for ISIS.
According to Yahoo! News based on a report from Eurojust, the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit, 17 arrest warrants were issued, resulting in the 13 suspects being apprehended. The other wanted suspects netted by the recruiting ring before it got busted are believed to be fighting in Iraq or Syria alongside ISIS.
Investigators said the European-wide jihadist recruiting ring was part of a plan to kidnap diplomats and stage attacks with the purpose of springing its leader, fundamentalist Kurd Najmuddin Ahmad Faraj, 59, otherwise known as Mullah Krekar, from jail in Norway. Tagged a terrorist by the United States and United Nations, Krekar was imprisoned after he was busted in 2012, released in January after completing his sentence for intimidation and death threats, but thrown back in jail at the end of February for inciting crime.
Italian Carabinieri General Giuseppe Governale, commander of R.O.S. (Special Operative Department) that led the sting on the recruiting ring, called the exercise “the most important police operation in Europe in 20 years,” according to Fox News. He described the network as developing on secretive Internet platforms constituting the “dark web” to recruit and send fighters to combat, at the time Krekar was busted.
Governale said that while the recruiting ring was priming jihadists to conduct terror operations, including suicide bombings, a modus operandi was in place to spring their busted chief, Mullah Krekar, from his incarceration. Governale outlined plans that involved “attacks against Norwegian and British diplomats in the Middle East,” “kidnappings to allow them to negotiate Krekar’s release in exchange for prisoners,” and attacks on “members of parliament in Norway”.
An Italian police report revealed that Mullah Krekar used his time in Norwegian exile to develop a recruiting ring across Europe, chatting on the Internet as a means of communication before he was busted. His Rawti Shax group sought to prepare a new generation of Iraqi Kurds in Europe for repatriation to the Iraqi Kurdish region where they would overthrow the governing powers in favor of the ISIS-backed caliphate.
According to the National, Mullah Krekar, who migrated as a refugee to Norway in 1991, was convicted in 2005 for making death threats. Known to be instrumental in financing Ansar Al Islam, the militant Islamic Kurdish separatist movement, Mullah Krekar was indicted in October 2015 for openly supporting the massacre of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in France. Aside from running a recruiting ring before he got busted, he was found guilty of advocating the murder of a Kurdish immigrant in Norway.
German authorities announced in September their arrest of a 21-year-old Moroccan at a refugee center near Stuttgart on suspicion of being part of an ISIS recruiting ring. Sought under a European arrest warrant issued by Spanish authorities, the subject used a false identity passing him off as an asylum seeker in the district of Ludwigsburg.
According to the New Observer, the Stuttgart incident is the first time the Germans have busted an asylum seeker unmasked as a terror suspect..
In another development, Leith Abou Fadel, the Syrian editor-in-chief of Al-Masdar News, presented evidence that Osama Abdul Mohsen, the refugee who was tripped by the Hungarian journalist Petra Laszlo while trying to avoid detention in Hungary, is a supporter of terrorist group Al-Nusra. On September 13, Fadel pointed to Mohsen’s old Facebook page, now deleted, expressing his extremist sympathies.
According to Italian authorities, the recruiting ring arrests were the high point of an investigation dubbed “Jweb” launched in 2010 after a website called “jarchive” was discovered to be publishing Al-Qaeda-related material. The investigation tracked down Kurdish Iraqi Abdul Rahman Nauroz, who exhibited symptoms of radicalization in his site visits, prompting operatives to wire-tap his phone and uncover a Europe-wide Islamist plot, for which the radical mullah was busted.
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