RealNews

Lessons in US terror cases

Two separate federal prosecutions now unfolding in Detroit and upstate New York may be shedding brighter light on the methods and structures of the Al Qaeda terror network, even as officials warn the group may be trying to stage its next US attack. If prosecutors are right, these and other cases show that Al Qaeda is a multilayered organization with several distinct kinds of cells – everything from self-financed advance teams that do basic spadework to “connectors” who quietly recruit foot soldiers. In fact, in some ways, the group appears to be structured much like any modern military – heavy on logistics and supply units and light on combat troops. In the Detroit case, the alleged sleeper-cell ringleader was arrested in November 2001 at a bus station carrying $83,000 in cash and a stack of fake IDs – two key elements of a logistics operation. He and others allegedly spoke in a Moroccan-based code as they surveilled targets. In Lackawanna, N.Y., six Muslim men have now pleaded guilty to charges of supporting terrorism. Their recruitment hints at the ideal Al Qaeda grunt – a 20-something US citizen with potential sympathies to the Al Qaeda cause. “Each of these cases is descriptive of a particular trend” within Al Qaeda, says Matthew Levitt, a former FBI counterterrorism analyst now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Full Story

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