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Unformatted text preview: Terrorism Monitor Volume 4, Issue 21 (November 2, 2006) | Download PDF Version Al-Qaeda's Caucasian Foot Soldiers By Hayder Mili Australian Convert Jack Roche In the West, Islamic terrorism is a threat traditionally associated with Middle Eastern men whose faces are easily perceived as "alien" and who present a suitable profile around which to organize law enforcement monitoring. Recent events have again shown that this profile is outdated. The July 7, 2005 London bombings and the further discovery of other operational cells in Britain and Canada included several converts, such as 25-year-old Hindu-Canadian convert Steven Chand and Germaine "Jamal" Lindsay, the young Briton who not only participated in but led the four-man suicide bombing cell on July 7. The activities of converts, or rather those who adopt a militant ideology inspired by Salafi-Jihadi interpretations of Islam, have become increasingly important in executing terrorist attacks. The incorrect perception of the "face of terror" risks obscuring our understanding of how terrorist groups operate. In monitoring and preventing terrorist activity, law enforcement agencies need to move beyond the current profile and react to the empirical reality. Blue-Eyed Emirs That empirical reality has been apparent for some time, particularly in France. The logistical support cell involved in the Algerian Armed Islamic Group's (GIA) 1995 bombing campaign in France included two converts, David Vallat and Joseph Raime, who had been converted to Salafi-Jihadism while in prison by GIA "emir" and Afghan veteran Ahtmane Saada. Beyond logistical support, French law enforcement also found operational converts when they investigated the ultra-violent jihadi-gangster Roubaix Gang (Terrorism Monitor, January 12). Notably, the gang was composed of Algerians led by two ethnic Frenchmen, both veterans of the war in Bosnia. In another French example, the "blue-eyed emir" Pierre Robert, who was apprehended by authorities, was the recruiter and leader of several Salafi-Jihadi cells involved in the Casablanca suicide bombings of May 2003 (La Gazette du Maroc, February 4, 2004). Other converts were involved at different levels in this operation, including Andre Rowe, a Briton of Afro-Caribbean origin who was a Bosnian war veteran linked to the Roubaix Gang (The Telegraph, July 9, 2005). In the latter examples, French and Algerian cultural/historical enmity had no effect on cooperation. Easily bypassing racial and ethnic divides, the French converts were cell leaders whose faith, commitment and legitimacy were not questioned on account of their ethnic or cultural background. In fact, conversion may help to strengthen perceptions of devotion in some cases....
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