|Abu Hamza in happier days|
Reuters says one of several Islamists behind a September 19 grenade attack on a Jewish store in the Paris suburbs was shot and killed by police in the northeastern French city of Strasbourg today. Eleven other people were detained in what prosecutors called a "vast anti-terrorist operation". The dead French man, Jérémie Louis-Sydney, 33, had served prison time for drug-dealing and had been convicted of membership in a radical Islamist movement. When police entered Sidney's apartment around dawn, he opened fire. He was found to be equipped with a .357 Magnum revolver and reserves of ammunition. Reuters says that in the course of the round-ups today, the police found Al-Qaeda literature, 27,000 euros in cash, and a list of Jewish organizations in Paris (the French-language reports, according to a friend of ours in Paris, used the archaic term “israélite” leading to most of the news agency reports saying the targets were Israeli, but they were actually French-Jewish) at the homes of the suspects. Among the others taken in by police is a woman described as one of Sidney's two wives. Three of the others have criminal records for drugs, theft and violence. One of the men was arrested in the Paris region as he returned from morning prayers and was carrying a "ready to fire" 22-caliber pistol.
Melbourne's Age newspaper has an interview today (it's the lead story at this hour) with an Islamist preacher, Abdul Rahman Ayub, who acknowledges that he was sent to Australia in 1997 to recruit jihadists at the request of Abu Bakar Bashir, the notorious Indonesian terrorist currently serving a lengthy prison sentence. The Age calls Bashir "Indonesia's godfather of terrorism". Ayub co-founded the Australian wing of Jemaah Islamiah and says he personally "indoctrinated" a group of about 100 people in "the ways of violent jihad". One of them, an Australian Moslem convert called Jack Roche (alias Paul George Holland) was later convicted in 2002 for conspiring to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra. In today's interview he says he has gotten over his terrorism. There were about 30 active "radicals" in Australia when he left there in 2002, he says, and while ''I don't know about their recent development, whether they're still active or not... I believe they are still there." Ayub says he is no longer in favour of "violent jihad" and thinks Moslems "should fight only as soldiers in a war zone" whatever that means. Elsewhere in today's Age ["J is for Jihad"], one of its foreign correspondents in Asia points out that "Indonesia's prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists, and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling this issue."
UK and US
The one-eyed Sunni Islamist cleric with a hook for a hand, Abu Hamza al-Masri (sometimes known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa), was finally extradited to the United States on Friday after his eight-year legal battle to avoid deportation ended in failure. He was jailed by the British for incitement to murder (of "non-believers"). He became famous for his hate-filled sermons in the years that he was the imam of the Islamist hot-bed, the Finsbury Park Mosque, in north London. He loved the UK, calling it "a paradise, where you could do anything you wanted" [source], and he meant it. British taxpayers have contributed several million dollars to the man in the form of welfare payments and government-funded legal services. The Americans have charged the preacher with hostage taking, conspiracy to establish a militant training camp in the US state of Oregon and calling for holy war in Afghanistan [source]. The British prime minister [source] marked the occasion with a brief appreciation of the man and his achievements:
"I'm absolutely delighted that Abu Hamza is now out of this country. Like the rest of the public I'm sick to the back teeth of people who come here, threaten our country, who stay at vast expense to the taxpayer and we can't get rid of them. I'm delighted on this occasion we've managed to send this person off to a country where he will face justice."