A document found after Somali troops killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda’s former leader in East Africa and a senior Shabaab commander, details a plot to conduct multiple Mumbai-like attacks that target civilians in London. The plot highlights how al Qaeda and Shabaab seek to strike civilian targets outside Somalia, and foreshadowed Shabaab’s attack on the Eastgate Mall in Kenya this week.
The document and several others found in Fazul’s possession after he was killed by Somali troops at a checkpoint in Mogadishu in June 2011 were obtained by the Toronto Star. A copy of the document was also obtained by The Long War Journal. The Canadian newspaper reported that “dozens of documents, Internet frame grabs and media reports in English, Arabic, Somali and Swahili, along with more than 50 video clips” were also found in Fazul’s car.
Fazul’s document detailing a plot in London is titled “International Operations.” In the opening paragraph, he notes how Shabaab’s external terror teams are to emulate “the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai.” In the Mumbai attack, small teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters armed with assault rifles, grenades, and bombs fanned out across the city and attacked civilians. More than 170 people were killed during the Mumbai siege, which lasted for three days. Shabaab targeted train stations, a theater, two posh hotels, and a Jewish center during the attack.
“Our objectives are to strike London with low cost operations that would cause a heavy blow amongst the hierarchy and Jewish communities using attacks similar to the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai,” the first paragraph of Fazul’s memo said. “These will either be many individual random untraceable operations or the group will be trained to cause maximum damage to a single target.”