Three Muslim men arrested under terrorism legislation are being questioned over internet threats to kill Gordon Brown and the former Prime Minister Tony Blair. One of the men being questioned by police in Manchester is suspected of posting a death threat on a recognised jihadi website and styling himself Sheikh Umar Rabie al-Khalaila, leader of al-Qaeda in Britain. The message, written in English, appeared only briefly on January 24th, 2008. The website http://www.al-ekhlaas.net/forum/ was shut down in Tampa Fl, USA on Jan 28th, 2008. The three arrested are British-born Muslims of Asian origin (Pakistani).
The threats appeared on the http://www.al-ekhlaas.net/forum/ website, which has been used by al-Qaeda and is monitored by intelligence agencies, in January. They warned of a wave of suicide attacks in Britain and against British interests around the world unless the group’s demands for a withdrawal from Iraq and the release of Muslim prisoners were met.
One man was detained in the Accrington area and the other two were arrested at at Manchester airport before they could board a flight to the Finnish capital, Helsinki. The Times understands that British police are concerned about the potential link to militants in Scandinavia and travelled to Finland earlier this week to carry out further inquiries.
The internet threats were reported earlier this year and the full text of the posting, which originally appeared in Arabic, has since been obtained. It was headed: "Statement of the Leader of al-Qaeda in Britain, Sheikh Umar Rabie al-Khalaila” and began by offering “a truce to the British government”. The author of the document demanded “a complete withdrawal of the British troops from Afghanistan and Iraq” and the release of “all Muslim captives from Belmarsh prison”.
It specifically named the extremist clerics Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza al-Masri as two inmates who should be freed. The courts have since ordered the release on bail of Abu Qatada who is now living under a 22-hour curfew in west London. The statement then added: "If the British government fails to respond to our demands by the last day of March 2008 as they fail to answer to the truce of our Sheikh Osama bin Laden... then the Martyrdom seekers of the organisation of al-Qaeda in Britain will target all the political leaders especially Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and we will also target all Embassies, Crusaders Centres and their Interests through out the country, with the help of Allah.” The author then signed off: "Finally, all praise is to Allah. Umar Rabie al-Khalaila. The leader of Al-Qaeda in Britain.”
TAMPA; Local Firm Removes Jihadi Web Site http://www.al-ekhlass.net/forum By HOWARD ALTMAN The Tampa Tribune Published: January 28, 2008. A Tampa Web-hosting company has taken down a Web site used by al-Qaida for communicating in secret and hiding files from investigators. The company, Noc4Hosts, took the action Monday after it was informed about the site by The Tampa Tribune. Noc4Hosts, at 400 N. Tampa St., is in an office building that also rents space to the Tampa district of the U.S. attorney's office.
The Web site http://www.al-ekhlass.net/forum/ includes a graphic interface program that is of special interest to those who monitor jihadi activity. Known as "Mujahideen Secrets 2," it allows for encryption of messages and files. Steve Eschweiler said he took down the site, which was at www.alekhlaas.info/forum , after a call from the Tribune. He would not say whether he has been contacted by investigators about the site. "If it is not immediately taken down, there is a reason for that, but I can't really say anything more than that without disclosing information," Eschweiler said. "Read between the lines. We are as American as anyone."
Typically, Alshech says, al-Qaida and other jihadi groups perform their most sensitive communications without using the Internet because it isn't secure enough for them. Mujahideen Secrets 2 is the second generation of a graphical user interface that is as simple to use as Windows, said Paul Henry of Ocala, an Internet security specialist who first discovered the program. Law enforcement has taken a great interest in the program, he said.
The Web site http://www.alekhlass.net/forum/ , he said, is extremely popular. "When I looked at it, it had a counter that said it has had 17 million visits." The U.S. attorney's office would not comment on the site, the encryption program or whether an investigation is under way.
The Web site often used by al-Qaida is of great concern, according to A. Aaron Weisburd, who runs the Internet Haganah, a Web site dedicated to hunting and disrupting jihadi Internet communications. Intelligence investigators describe the site as "arguably the single most important al-Qaida Web site currently in operation," Weisburd says. The site was registered on January 22, 2006, by a man named Peterson Hoffman in Amman, Jordan.
Though Eschweiler shut down the Web site, the information is still available online. Another version, with a different Web address, is being hosted by a company in Phoenix (that site was shut down on Feb 2nd 2008 by the Arizona Republic newspaper and Private Investigator Bill Warner see story click here,) he said.