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News

More News with Ultrascan

Cargo Bicycle Frames Bomb Threat

 Cargo Bicycle Frames Bomb Threat

Ongoing Intelligence, HUMINT and Anti-Money-laundering (AML) operations (2007-2015) within the core of Al Qaeda network revealed in November 2013  a connection with organised theft and distribution of exclusive bicycles. Specifically the type cargo bikes often used to transport children around town.

January 2014 the connection was reason to start an investigation that initially targeted the illegal (on-line) sale/export of refurbished second hand and stolen bicycles. Investigations eventually focused on a number of bicycle (repair) shops selling bicycles within the EU to numerous European capitals.

The shipments to Germany, Belgium, France and Spain contained mainly old city bikes, stock lots, cargo bicycles and an increasing number of cargo bike frames. On the surface all the recipients appeared to be regular trading companies or existing distributors for bicycles.

Only one connection revealed tradecraft, sufficient reason to initiate a low level of monitoring, collecting phone numbers, IMEI’s, IMSI’s, locations, time and duration of the call.

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November 2014 during another Anti Money Laundering and risk assessment operation in the Maghreb, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. Discovering an imminent threat to major cities in Western Europe, as a prime target for the ISIS network, reason for a 90-days terror alert. "intercepted encrypted messages between members of the ISIS network mentioned elements of the coordination for a high profile terror attacks"

Ongoing humint and analysis, regarding the above mentioned Terror Alert, yielded - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the Caliph of the Islamic State (ISIS) is adamant to demonstrate the extent of his power. He expects to announce and claim significant attacks around the globe in personal messages, emphasizing the scope of his power.

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In the second week of  October 2015 a coded conversation was intercepted. Among other things it contained the (translated) elements:

  'we will party together' - 'then we'll start blasting all together' - and the animated sound of  'an explosion'

December 26 - "In the days before Christmas a warning was sent out by a friendly (intelligence) service to numerous European capitals, saying that it could come to an attack involving explosives or a shooting between Christmas and the New Year in crowded spaces."

"especially at events and traffic hubs" higher alertness for objects which could carry explosives such as bags or "bicycle frames"

 First published by Ultrascan Humint 

The Context

Cycling is at the heart of Dutch culture and society. Quality bicycle facilities make cycling safe and attractive for all and cycling makes Dutch cities healthy, livable and accessible. Both bicycles and bicycling culture are iconic dutch export products.

An association of bicycles with terror, strikes at the heart of  Dutch society and core identity.

The Targets

- targets are to be chosen in line with its vision and mission, not only establishing fear by random killings but preferable also aiming to hurt an already weak economy

- The quality of rarely used resources, indicate that the conspirators  seek to strike targets with international significance. The soft targets in The Netherlands with international significance are foreigners, tourist and export products.

The Netherlands (or Holland) may be a small country, but it's packed with world famous icons. Tulips bulb fields, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water-management and millions of bicycles.

Amsterdam is famous for its canals, beautiful houses, “coffee shops”, the Red Light District and Bicycles.

Confirmed threat for western Europe Netherlands

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Related news items and searches:

Brussels police detain six over 'New Year terror plot'
 - Amsterdam cargo bike terror warning is part of Europe-wide terror alert
- Google search for 'cargo bike stolen'
 - Google picture search for 'bakfiets' 'cargo bike'
- Google picture search for 'bakfiets frame' 'cargo bike frame'
- In Nederland worden er elke dag 311 fietsen gestolen
Dagelijks in Nederland 311 fietsen gestolen
Gestolen fietsen massaal naar Duitsland geëxporteerd
- Bicycle theft in Amsterdam
Sluiting rijwielhandel wegens heling

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View Funding, Support, Recruitment and Threat Levels of Al Qaeda Affiliates in Diaspora in a larger Google map

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The "Al Qaeda Strategy Value Pyramid" bridges continents with ‘Motivation By Events’.

Anti money laundering investigations (Ultrascan-AGI, 2007-2015), connects the initial funding to the support for more complex cross continent attacks by Al Qaeda's affiliates and offshoots.

Stolen Bicycles Transnational Organised Crime

The potentially high profits flow back to organised crime. But not in the least there is a risk that the global distribution network facilitates the distribution of other dangerous products under the cover of the well established business and export.

- Scope of the threat is global

Explosives linked to a popular consumer product that is widely available. Its distribution, packaging or personal use is not actively prohibited and in some cases 'specifically allowed' by international accepted security measures and (tax) regulations.

- Synergy between Crime and Ideology

The high profits and the low probability of detection associated with crime, 'implies' non ideological but pragmatic reasons that support the plot. The business infrastructure 'unwittingly' facilitates transnational crime and terrorist operations.

- Tactical Deployment

The "tactic is not detected by security measures" and allows for simultaneous deployment. In recent years Al Qaeda, affiliates and offshoots have repeatedly threatened to eventually use undetectable bombs. Indicating a bluff or the time consuming planning and Preparation that Precedes High Profile Attacks.

- Ingenious Explosives

The threats emphasize Ingenious explosives and ineffective security measures. However the globally adopted assessment was, that Al Qaeda developed or acquired the expertise for a liquid explosive and hiding explosives in body cavities. It spurred a quest for solutions and the deployment of body scanners.

"Low Probability of Detection a Prerequisite for Successful Attacks"


A Mumbai or Paris-style attack

The threat of multiple attacks on locations packed with civilians remains the second biggest fears of counter terrorism chiefs. The ambition of violent Islamist's to stage a Mumbai- or Paris-style atrocity is undiminished.

Primitive militia holed up in the wilderness or jungle

Terror attacks are often portrayed as an incident with little preparations or coordination, the image of the Islamist group as a primitive militia, disenfranchised, marginalized, and estranged from society, holed up in the wilderness, jungle or backstreets of the cosmopolitan cities. Dreaming about the mission and vision but lacking the capabilities and skills to plan attacks that fulfill the demands of a strategy and military doctrine. 

Or professionals executing international plot

Only when more attackers seem to be able to cause carnage that claims the attention of international media for days in a row and murder people in plain sight. Only then one starts to wonder about the level and coordinated planning those attacks have, and if such scale of preparation can be detected and/or prevented.

Al Qaeda "The Base", detected but never eradicated

Al Qaeda "The Base", as in connections that go back to the 90’s and developed into the past decade. Informal relationships and human networks, one of the most important of which was formed around bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s.

Counter terrorism operations launched after 9/11 show that detection require an immense investment in Techint and deep cycle undercover operations. Traditional mechanics of terror groups proved no longer effective due to the advanced monitoring possibilities of the intelligence services (NSA, Echelon) and widely infiltrated Mosques. The CT operations were quite successful but did not go unnoticed, forcing “The Base” to change methods, minimize their use of infrastructure and move their leadership from Europe to less technologically advanced countries, thus staying under the radar of government agencies.

Al Qaeda "The Base" is “seen as” currently led by Ayman al Zawahiri and was never eradicated because the WOT actually was the WOTF "War On Terror Figureheads" with a focus on thought leaders like Usama bin Laden and the AfPak region. Allowing unhindered growth of the international funding and support network.

Also read:

- ISIS and Al Qaeda Converge with Refugee Streams

- ISIS leader The Butcher al-Baghdadi killed in strike by Turkey

- Imminent Terror Attack ! ....... How Do We Know ?

- ISIS plans massive attack on Israel

- Al Qaeda’s global strategy bridges continents with ‘Motivation by Events’

- Synergy between Crime and Ideology in the Diaspora