Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

The Case of Louai Sakka Shows That AQ Still has Financial Lifeline
The Washington Post today has a fascinating story on al Qaeda operative Louai Sakka, a would-be bomber who accidentally set off the bomb in his own apartment in Antalya, Turkey. What is interesting is not just that Sekka has been active for years, learned how to make bombs in Iraq, provided dozens of Salafist jihadi with fake documents, and had big plans for blowing up Israeli and U.S. targets.

What is really interesting is that he had money to burn. He had undergone plastic surgery on his face to alter his appearance, put down $60,000 on a luxery apartement near the beach, owned a 27-foot yacht and lived a life of luxery. He had been traveling widely in Europe, was able to pay cash for expensive bomb components, and worked with a companion.

This clearly shows that, when they need to, al Qaeda operatives can gather the cash to carry out expensive, long-term plans to inflict damage. The cash pipeline, while perhaps not as freeflowing as before, exists and is able to pump out the money when needed.

The total cost of the operation, had Sakka been a better student in Iraq, would have only registered at a few thousand dollars. The real cost of setting him up, allowing him to live and gather the specific information he needed from visiting Israeli tourists, was far higher. This is the argument for keeping the heat on the terror finance front, despite resistence and lack of attention in much of the intelligence community. Sakka is a sleeper who was only caught because he set the bomb off in his living room rather than on his yacht. It is clear from his travels he was part of a much broader network across Europe, one intent on carrying out attacks large and small. He was not identified through intelligence work.

It is also clear that Osama bin Laden and the core of the original al Qaeda are planning another major attack. European and U.S. sources say the level of chatter is high again, and bin Laden's recent specific references to upcoming attatcks seem to point to some specific plan. He is unlikely to put his reputation on the line if he does not have something well underway and has confidence it will be pulled off successfully. Not a happy thought.
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