In a sharp indictment that fixed the spotlight squarely on Pakistan’s involvement in terror attacks, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has unveiled fresh charges implicating senior al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. The charges were levelled specifically against five members of al-Qaeda for their plot to attack targets in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
In the U.S. case, the charges revealed that the planned attack on New York’s subway system discovered in September 2009 and involving Colorado resident Najibullah Zazi was in fact directed by Pakistan-based leaders of al-Qaeda. Similarly the charges also included other al-Qaeda masterminds in Pakistan who had allegedly planned to use “Western operatives to attack a target in the U.K.”.
According to the indictment, which was unsealed today in the Eastern District of New York, the defendants charged with numerous terrorism violations included Adnan El Shukrijumah, aka “Hamad;” Adis Medunjanin, aka “Mohammad;” Abid Naseer; Tariq Ur Rehman; and a fifth defendant known as “Ahmad,” “Sohaib” or “Zahid”. The DoJ in a statement said that each of the defendants faced a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Touching upon the international dimension of the terror threats, David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said, “These charges underscore the global nature of the terrorist threat we face. They further reflect the effectiveness of mutual investigations and cooperation with our global partners in disrupting terrorism threats.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Executive Assistant Director Sean Joyce, added that the threat posed by terrorists around the world was a threat to security and a threat to the rule of law. He added that the transnational nature of this conspiracy and its connection to plots targeted outside the U.S. underscored the importance of international coordination and collaboration.
The charges came even as a recent Congressional report said the increase in Islamist extremism and militancy in Pakistan was a central U.S. foreign policy concern and this increase hindered progress toward key U.S. goals, “including the defeat of al-Qaeda and other anti-U.S. terrorist groups, Afghan stabilisation, and resolution of the historic Pakistan-India rivalry…”