Monday, May 19, 2008

Police work brings down a terrorist financing network

Europe does it again, and shows the world how you effectively fight use good old-fashioned sleuthing. The operation involved police agencies from Germany, the Netherlands, and France cooperating to build the case and arrest 10 men they suspect of financing a terrorist organization in Uzbekistan. Some of the men are accused of acting as couriers and delivering cash to the Uzbek jihadists.

Although German authorities were aware that French police were investigating a network of alleged terrorism financers, the request for help on Friday morning came as a surprise.

The reason, though, was simple: One of the suspects is currently staying in Weil am Rhein, a town in the state of Baden-Württemberg close to the Swiss and French borders. However, the man, a Turk, actually lives in France.

Apart from the 35-year-old, nine other people were arrested. Eight were seized in France, partly in areas close to the German border, and a 10th man was held in Tilburg in the Netherlands. During the raids Dutch police searched three houses and confiscated a computer, documents, a CS gas pistol and a handgun magazine.

It is unknown at the moment whether all the arrested men are Turks. But most are definitely of Turkish origin, say sources in Germany's security authorities. Some of them also had Western European passports.

The suspects have been accused by the French government of supporting and financing the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) which uses terrorist tactics to nationalist ends has more regionally-based goals, namely the establishment of an Islamic theocracy in central Asia but also meddles in affairs in Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The IMU is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, but European law enforcement is not so hasty to affix the terrorist label. French authorities did say that the arrests were preventive in nature. Authorities don't believe that the men were involved in funding any specific, concrete plans for an attack.

The United States would be well served to apply more law enforcement resources to the terrorist fight, because terrorists are criminals, and fighting them with the military just romanticizes their cause, creates martyrs and recruits new jihadists to their ranks.

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