Gratitude. “Norway ‘bomb plot’ underscores al-Qaida pitfalls,” by Ian Macdougall for Associated Press, August 29 (thanks to all who sent this in):
OSLO, Norway – When police arrested a suspected al-Qaida cell in Norway last month they turned up the makings of a bomb lab tucked away in a nondescript Oslo apartment building.
An Associated Press investigation shows that authorities learned early on about the alleged cell by intercepting e-mails from an al-Qaida operative in Pakistan and — thanks to those early warnings — were able to secretly replace a key bomb-making ingredient with a harmless liquid when one of the suspects ordered it at an Oslo pharmacy.
Officials say the suspected plot against this quiet Nordic country was one of three planned attacks on the West hatched in the rugged mountains of northwest Pakistan by some of al-Qaida’s most senior leaders. The other plots targeted the bustling New York subway and a shopping mall in Manchester, England.…
The Norwegian plot’s undoing, and that of its sibling plots in the U.S. and Britain, casts light on the potential pitfalls of al-Qaida’s changing tactics in the decade since the massive, highly organized Sept. 11 attacks. In recent years, al-Qaida has grown increasingly decentralized and nimble, relying on amateurs to recruit local cells and carry out smaller-level attacks without extensive planning and hands-on training.
While such plots are harder to detect, they are also harder to manage — and the slack remote control they often require leaves greater room for operational error and sloppy tradecraft.
All three plots were thwarted after suspected operatives exchanged e-mails — sometimes poorly coded ones — in and out of Pakistan.
Authorities say the ringleader of the Norwegian plot is 39-year-old Mikael Davud, an Uighur who came to Norway in 1999 as part of a U.N. refugee program and then became a Norwegian citizen eight years later. Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group in China, claim oppression at the hands of authorities there.
Davud was arrested July 8 along with suspected accomplices Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak Bujak, a 37-year-old Iraqi Kurd, and a 31-year-old Uzbek national, David Jakobsen. Both are permanent residents of Norway.
The trio denies any connection to terrorist groups….