Posts Tagged al-qaida

Who Are ISIS and What Are Their Goals?

A long read from The Atlantic but well worth it:

Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.

We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.

 

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Israel Shoots Down Missile Launched From Egypt

From: AP

Katyusha Rocket

Katyusha Rocket

Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, said the Iron Dome system shot down a Grad-style Katyusha rocket fired from Egypt after midnight.

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Al Qaida Takes BP Facility in Algeria, Takes American Hostages

From the Washington Post:

Algerian forces have surrounded the complex and the state news agency reported a bit more than 20 people were being held, including Americans, Britons, Norwegians, French and Japanese, citing the local authorities.

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U.S. Hunts Al-Qaida in Yemen

From Military.com:

The offensive signaled increased concern over the growing strength of al-Qaida in Yemen since the militants gained control of several southern towns by taking advantage of the security vacuum during an uprising that led to the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The effort is supported by the U.S., which considers al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen the network’s most active. On Sunday, the White House’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, met with Hadi in the capital Sanaa.

Just because we are out of Iraq and will soon be out of Afghanistan does not mean the fighting stops. The threats will persist in many forms and we need to face that reality.

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Terrorism and the Exceptional Individual

By Scott Stewart

There has been a lot of chatter in intelligence and academic circles about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri and his value to AQAP. The disclosure last week of a thwarted AQAP plot to attack U.S. airliners using an improved version of an “underwear bomb” used in the December 2009 attempted attack aboard a commercial airplane and the disclosure of the U.S. government’s easing of the rules of engagement for unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in Yemen played into these discussions. People are debating how al-Asiri’s death would affect the organization. A similar debate undoubtedly will erupt if AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi is captured or killed.

AQAP has claimed that al-Asiri trained others in bombmaking, and the claim makes sense. Furthermore, other AQAP members have received training in constructing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) while training and fighting in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. This means that al-Asiri is not the only person within the group who can construct an IED. However, he has demonstrated creativity and imagination. His devices consistently have been able to circumvent existing security measures, even if they have not always functioned as intended. We believe this ingenuity and imagination make al-Asiri not merely a bombmaker, but an exceptional bombmaker.

Likewise, al-Wahayshi is one of hundreds — if not thousands — of men currently associated with AQAP. He has several deputies and numerous tactical field commanders in various parts of Yemen. Jihadists have had a presence in Yemen for decades, and after the collapse of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, numerous Saudi migrants fleeing the Saudi government augmented this presence. However, al-Wahayshi played a singular role in pulling these disparate jihadist elements together to form a unified and cohesive militant organization that has been involved not only in several transnational terrorist attacks but also in fighting an insurgency that has succeeded in capturing and controlling large areas of territory. He is an exceptional leader.

Individuals like al-Asiri and al-Wahayshi play critical roles in militant groups. History has shown that the loss of exceptional individuals such as these makes a big difference in efforts to defeat such organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Al Qaeda is Unlikely to Execute Another 9/11

Why Al Qaeda is Unlikely to Execute Another 9/11 is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

It is Sept. 1, and that means we are once again approaching the anniversary of al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States. In the 10 years that have passed since the attacks, a lot has happened and much has changed in the world, but many people can still vividly recall the sense of fear, uncertainty and helplessness they felt on that September morning. Millions of people watched United Airlines flight 175 smash into the south tower of the World Trade Center on live television. A short while later they heard that another plane had struck the Pentagon. Then they watched in horror as the World Trade Center’s twin towers buckled and collapsed to the ground.

It was, by any measure, a stunning, cataclysmic scene, a kind of terrorist theater that transformed millions of television viewers into vicarious victims. Excerpts of the just-released memoir of then-Vice President Dick Cheney demonstrate that it was not just ordinary people who were affected by the attacks; America’s leaders where shocked and shaken, too. And judging from the statements of foreign citizens and leaders in the wake of 9/11, those who proclaimed, “We are all Americans,” it was also apparent that the toll on vicarious victims did not stop at the U.S. border.

One result of this vicarious victimization and the fear and helplessness it produced was that many people became fixated on the next attack and began anxiously “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” This spawned an entire industry of fear as dire warnings were propagated by the Internet of the impending “American Hiroshima” that was certain to result when al Qaeda detonated all the nuclear devices it had hidden in major U.S. cities. Chain emails were widely circulated and recirculated quoting a dubious Israeli “security expert” who promised simultaneous catastrophic terrorist attacks against a number of American cities — attacks that never materialized outside of Hollywood productions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fighting Grassroots Terrorism: How Local Vigilance Can Help

This report is republished with the permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

In the wake of the July 22 Oslo attacks, as I have talked with people in the United States and Europe, I have noticed two themes in the conversations. The first is the claim that the attacks came from an unexpected source and were therefore impossible to stop. The second theme is that detecting such attacks is the sole province of dedicated counterterrorism authorities.

As discussed in last week’s Security Weekly, even in so-called unexpected attacks there are specific operational tasks that must be executed in order to conduct an operation. Such tasks can be detected, and unexpected attacks emanating from lone wolf actors can indeed be thwarted if such indicators are being looked for. Alleged Oslo attack perpetrator Anders Breivik reportedly conducted several actions that would have made him vulnerable to detection had the authorities been vigilant and focused on those possible actions.

This is why it is critical to look at the mechanics of attacks in order to identify the steps that must be undertaken to complete them and then focus on identifying people taking such steps. Focusing on the “how” rather than the “who” is an effective way for authorities to get on the proactive side of the action/reaction continuum.

Considering this concept of focusing on the how, one quickly reaches a convergence with the second theme, which involves the role and capabilities of dedicated counterterrorism resources. The primary agency tasked with counterterrorism in most countries tends to have limited resources that are stretched thin trying to cover known or suspected threats. These agencies simply do not have the manpower to look for attack-planning indicators — especially in a world where militant actors are increasingly adopting the leaderless-resistance model, which is designed to avoid detection by counterterrorism forces. Read the rest of this entry »

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AQAP and the Vacuum of Authority in Yemen

AQAP and the Vacuum of Authority in Yemen is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

While the world’s attention is focused on the combat transpiring in Libya and the events in Egypt and Bahrain, Yemen has also descended into crisis. The country is deeply split over its support for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and this profound divide has also extended to the most powerful institutions in the country — the military and the tribes — with some factions calling for Saleh to relinquish power and others supporting him. The tense standoff in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa has served to divert attention (and security forces) from other parts of the country.

On March 28, an explosion at a munitions factory in southern Yemen killed at least 110 people. The factory, which reportedly produced AK rifles and ammunition, was located in the town of Jaar in Abyan province. Armed militants looted the factory March 27, and the explosion reportedly occurred the next day as local townspeople were rummaging through the factory. It is not known what sparked the explosion, but it is suspected to have been an accident, perhaps caused by careless smoking. Read the rest of this entry »

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US drone strike kills 8 militants in North Waziristan, Pakistan

“Eight militants, including three foreign fighters, were killed and 12 more injured when a US drone targeted their compound in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan.

The drone fired two missiles at a compound in Datta Khel village, 45km west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency late last night, security officials said today.

Foreign militants killed in the attack included Arabs and Central Asians linked to al-Qaeda, officials said.

This was the third US drone strike in the region in 24 hours.

The area was targeted by US missiles twice on Friday, killing six militants in the first strike and four foreign militants in another.”

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/us-drone-strike-kills-8-militants-north-waziristan

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Police commandos kill 3 Islamic militants in al-Qaida-linked group resposible for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings

Police commandos in the southern Philippines have killed three Abu Sayyaf militants, including the brother of a top rebel commander.

The assault took place on remote Jolo Island and was aimed at capturing an Abu Sayyaf bomb-maker who is wanted by U.S. authorities. He is identified as Malaysian-born Zulkifli bin Hir, who goes by the alias Marwan. But a police spokesman said there was no sign of Marwan when the assault was over.

Among those killed was Gafur Jumdail, whose brother, Gumbahali Jumdail, is also on the U.S. State Department’s list of known terrorists.

The al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group is blamed for a years-long rebel campaign in the southern Philippines that has included bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.

http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2010/09/05/philippine-police-raid-leaves-3-militants-dead/

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Secret Assault on Terrorism

by Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti and Robert F. Worth.

WASHINGTON — At first, the news from Yemen on May 25 sounded like a modest victory in the campaign against terrorists: an airstrike had hit a group suspected of being operatives for Al Qaeda in the remote desert of Marib Province, birthplace of the legendary queen of Sheba.

But the strike, it turned out, had also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk Qaeda members into giving up their fight. Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accepted responsibility for the death and paid blood money to the offended tribes.

For its part, the Pentagon is becoming more like the C.I.A. Across the Middle East and elsewhere, Special Operations troops under secret “Execute Orders” have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies. With code names like Eager Pawn and Indigo Spade, such programs typically operate with even less transparency and Congressional oversight than traditional covert actions by the C.I.A.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/world/15shadowwar.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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New Al-Qaida Leader Knows US Well

Adnan Shukrijumah, 35, is shown in these undated images provided by the FBI. The suspected al-Qaida... Expand Adnan Shukrijumah, 35, is shown in these undated images provided by the FBI. (AP Photo/FBI) Collapse (AP)

“A suspected al-Qaida operative who lived for more than 15 years in the U.S. has become chief of the terror network’s global operations, the FBI says, marking the first time a leader so intimately familiar with American society has been placed in charge of planning attacks.”

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Somalian Al-Qaida affiliate Claims Uganda Bomb Attacks

A Ugandan man lies injured in the emergency ward at the Mulago hospital in Kampala after bombs exploded at two sites in Uganda's capital late Sunday, killing dozens, 12 Jul 2010 -Photo: AP

“Al-Qaida’s affiliate in Somalia, al-Shabab, has taken responsibility for two separate bombings late Sunday in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The death toll has risen to more than 70 and dozens more remain seriously wounded.”

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/Somali-Group-Claims-Responsibility-for-Uganda-Blasts-98254389.html

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