Islamic State of Iraq 4 Abu Beavis and Abu Butthead?
The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq claimed in an audio statement posted online today that his group was behind the June 2007 bomb plots in London and Glasgow. Abu Ayyub al Masri, who is also known as Abu Hamza al Muhajer, claimed that al Qaeda in Iraq carried out a number of operations, specifically mentioning the 2007 Glasgow plot and claiming that the operation failed due to a mistake by one of the militants, who made a phone call a few days before the operation advising that the attack was about to take place.
It seems a very strange time to suddenly announce the "Islamic State's" involvement, especially during the men's trial, although whether al Masri knows about that is perhaps open to question, and it could have been recorded before it began. He's also horribly wrong that the operation failed due to a mistake by the militants; it failed because they didn't even go through car-bombing 101, as the Register put it (although another blogger suggests Masri was referring to a different plot, not the Glasgow one).
The question does have to be though, why announce it now? Even if the ISI did have some involvement in the bombing, and there has been no evidence presented at the trial so far to suggest that they did, with the funding allegedly provided by one of the men also charged, it seems intuitive that they were too embarrassed with the results to say at the time they were involved. Why then now? Maybe because ISI are doing so abysmally currently in Iraq, with even themselves admitting that they have lost land and that they face unprecedented problems in launching attacks. The ISI has long relied on irrational online support from the true believers in the forums, completely divorced from the brutal reality on the ground where ISI was in control, and even when the conditions were brought to their attention, they continued and continue to excuse the wholesale murder which was often involved or put it down to anti-ISI propaganda. This might then have been one of its last gasps, trying to pretend that it is still relevant, and not just a threat within Iraq but beyond its borders. That the other attack linked to ISI/AQI, the suicide bombing of a Jordan hotel which resulted in public opinion in that country turning drastically against the jihadists, doesn't seem to have affected the thinking this time round.
Some will doubtless be relieved that a main group has claimed to have been involved, for the reason that it dispels the idea that those without any major link to a jihadist organisation or apparent training are likely to rise up and launch attacks entirely of their own accord, as these apparently did, although they did have links with Hizb-ut-Tahir as others have had. It still however doesn't explain Nicky Reilly, allegedly "radicalised" by individuals overseas. The main threat though remains those who return from the "universities of terrorism" imbued both with the zeal of their experience and the means with which to carry out atrocities, who can be definitively linked with organised groups. Abu Beavis and Abu Butthead most certainly were not.