45 Muslim Doctors Planned U.S. Terror Raids

A story in today’s London Telegraph reports that 45 Muslim doctors were planning terrorist attacks in the United States in Internet chat rooms.

A group of 45 Muslim doctors threatened to use car bombs and rocket grenades in terrorist attacks in the United States during discussions on an extremist internet chat site. Police found details of the discussions on a site run by one of a three-strong “cyber-terrorist” gang. They were discovered at the home of Younis Tsouli, 23, Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London heard.

Cyber-terrorists: Tariq Daour, Younis Tsouli and Waseem Mughal

One message read: “We are 45 doctors and we are determined to undertake jihad and take the battle inside America. The first target which will be penetrated by nine brothers is the naval base which gives shelter to the ship Kennedy.” This is thought to have been a reference to the USS John F Kennedy, which is often at Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida. The message discussed targets at the base, adding: “These are clubs for naked women which are opposite the First and Third units.” It also referred to using six Chevrolet GT vehicles and three fishing boats and blowing up petrol tanks with rocket propelled grenades.

Investigators have found no link between the Tsouli chat room and the group of doctors and medics currently in custody over attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow. However, sources said it was “definitely spooky” that the use of doctors for terrorist purposes was being discussed in jihadi terrorist circles up to three years ago.

Part of the inquiry into the London and Glasgow incidents will focus on whether al-Qa’eda has recruited doctors or other medical professionals because they are less likely to attract suspicion and can move easily around the western world.

The three “cyber terrorists” – a British national and two who had been given the right to live in Britain – are facing lengthy jail sentences after admitting using the internet to spread al-Qa’eda propaganda inciting Muslims to a violent holy war and to murder non-believers. They had close links with al-Qa’eda in Iraq and believed they had to fight jihad against a global conspiracy by kuffars, or non-believers, to wipe out Islam.

It’s unclear from the report exactly how detailed the planning was or how successful they were at inciting terrorism. Were these just yahoos who fantacized about being jihadists while actually leading less dangerous lives? Or were they actual terrorist masterminds?

As a side note, calling these men “cyber terrorists” is bizarre. Typically, that label refers to people who use the Internet to create havok within networked systems, whether by spreading computer viruses, hacking into sensitive information, or disrupting infrastructure. Using electronic means to plan traditional terrorism is something else entirely.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. just me says:

    I thought I read somewhere that these chats/posts were happening about 2 years ago, so aren’t exactly fresh threats.

    But what is interesting is the doctor/professional angle that may be an AQ tactic to get past screeenings more easily.

    After all the popular “reason” for terrorism is that it is poor frustrated muslims that perpetrate these acts.

  2. markm says:

    No offense to those in the Cyber Terrorist Muslim Community….but the middle Jihadist looks like a whiny sniveler. He looks as if he’s about to cry.

  3. Cernig says:

    I love that bit about “sources said it was “definitely spooky” that the use of doctors for terrorist purposes was being discussed in jihadi terrorist circles up to three years ago.”

    If you understand how British journalism works, that means the author of the piece turned to the hack at the next desk and asked ‘Don’t you think that’s spooky?” and got the answer “definitely spooky”. That’s a source, that is, guv’nor.

    The 3 “cyber-terrorists” lived with their parents? The 45 doctor felt safe posting actual tagets on the web?

    This article is a perfect example of how far gone the Torygraph’s integrity has gone.

    Regards, C

  4. Jim Henley says:

    The article carefully does not say the author or authorities have seen messages from 45 doctors discussing a plot. What we seem to have here is a message by one guy claiming to represent 45 doctors. The T-graph seems to go out of its way to bury the fact that this is a years-old chat, too. I have not heard of “the ship Kennedy” or any clubs for naked women on Florida bases being blown up.

  5. Rick DeMent says:

    It’s blog post’s like this that make me understand how people in this country are being taken over with fecalating fear at the new boogie-man of evil terrorists. We live in a time and place where your changes of getting hurt by Muslim terrorists is worse then your chances of overdosing on aspirin yet we seem to be hell bent on producing a nation of bed-wetters with non-sense like this.

    God I’m flying to Glasgow next week and everyone I talk seems to think I’m insane for “risking my life” over a little summer R&R. The problem id terrorism is being overstated to a fare thee well. Come out from under the blankets people.

  6. James Joyner says:

    It’s blog post’s like this that make me understand how people in this country are being taken over with fecalating fear at the new boogie-man of evil terrorists

    I’m not sure where you got the impression that anyone is over-excited about the problem. It appears most likely that these were “yahoos who fantacized about being jihadists while actually leading less dangerous lives.”