Former associate of Osama bin Laden. Noman Benotman, a Libyan and former Afghanistan terrorist camp trainer, said that he was present at several discussions about the plot to force the Americans to release Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and believes it has now been reactivated.
Montreal Gazette He said: “I have information that I consider to be reliable, according to which al-Qaida in North Waziristan is training how to carry out multiple -parallel hostage takings in order to enforce the release of a prisoner.”
Mr Bentoman’s claims in Spiegel magazine are backed by separate developments in al-Qaida’s command structure, which suggest it is preparing for a major operation.
Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi, who is counted among al-Qaida’s most sophisticated terror planners, has rejoined al-Qaida after he was released in return for Iranian diplomats kidnapped by the organization. Adnan al-Shukri Juma, an al-Qaida operative, has been given a senior operational role. Muhammad Illyas Kashmiri, a top Pakistani jihadist close to al-Qaida, is thought to have been made responsible for training teams for attacks on Western targets.
Counter-terrorism experts say Mr Benotman’s claims deserve attention. Berlin-based Guido Steinberg of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs said: “In the past all of his information proved to be right.”
Now based in London, Mr Benotman is a consultant with the Quilliam Foundation, which monitors the activities of violent Islamist groups. He was a ranking member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an al-Qaida affiliate founded in 1995 by Libyan jihadists who had fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
Intelligence suggested an al-Qaida commander boasted that he had sent terrorists to Britain and Germany as part of a Mumbai-style plot, sparked an alert across Europe last month, although no evidence of attack planning has been uncovered.
Ahmed Siddiqi, a German national, was arrested in Afghanistan in July and told U.S. interrogators about the plot.
The key members of the team are thought to include Shahab Dashti, a German of Iranian descent who featured in a 2009 jihadist video calling on Western Muslims to support al-Qaida. Rami Makanesi, a German of Syrian origin, is also believed by U.S. and European intelligence services to be a member of the group.
Mamoun Darkazanli, a German who led prayers at the mosque, was identified by the 9/11 Commission as having links to al-Qaida. In 2003, Spain sought his extradition from Germany on charges of membership of al-Qaida. The request was denied by Germany, on the grounds that he faces no charges there. The mosque, however, has been closed after Siddiqi’s arrest.