(London, England) The trial of three Birmingham men convicted Thursday of plotting to launch a “catastrophic” suicide bombing attack in the United Kingdom revealed that al Qaeda has developed a new strategy to target the West.
The new strategy involves a teacher-training approach in which a select few Western operatives are taught bombmaking and other aspects of terrorist tradecraft in the tribal areas of Pakistan and are then instructed to return back to the West to “spread the knowledge” to a larger body of Islamist extremists keen on launching attacks.
The new approach is a response to the growing toll of drone strikes which have made travel to the tribal areas increasingly perilous for Western recruits and significantly diminished al Qaeda’s ability to orchestrate terrorist plots from the region.
The trial revealed that terrorist groups in Pakistan are actively dissuading Western militants from making the trip.
Two of those convicted Thursday – Irfan Naseer and Irfan Khalid – received 40 days of terrorist training in the tribal areas of Pakistan in the spring of 2011, mostly inside houses in the valleys of Waziristan.
In conversations bugged by British police, the plotters described being handled by al Qaeda operatives and having attended a training camp run by Harakat al Mujahideen, a Pakistani terrorist group closely affiliated with al Qaeda.
The recordings revealed that like other Western militants before them, they were provided detailed instruction in the tricky and potentially hazardous methods to make bombs out of substances readily available in the West, and practiced detonating them. Their instructors included Arabs and Pakistanis.
They also were taught how to put poisons in face creams.
And their teachers emphasized they should put nails inside their bombs, to act as razor-sharp shrapnel.