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110 items tagged "Al Qaeda"

Results 1 - 110 of 110

Russia bombs Al Qaeda prison, kills 21 civilians

Category: News
Created on Friday, 15 January 2016 18:38
Russia bombs Al Qaeda prisonRussian air strikes Saturday on an Al Qaeda run prison in Syria killed nearly 60 people, a monitor said, as aid needed in three besieged towns where people are reportedly starving was delayed.
 
The bloodshed came as UN envoy Staffan de Mistura met in Damascus with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem to prepare for peace talks between the government and the opposition.
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air raids that hit a building near a popular market in the northwestern Idlib town of Maarat al-Numan killed 21 civilians, 29 terrorists and seven detainees.
 
Thirty people were wounded, with many in critical condition.
 
The building houses a jail and a religious court run by Nusra Front, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, said the Britain-based Observatory which relies on a network of sources in the ground.
 
A child and two women were among the civilians who died, while 23 Nusra fighters were among the terrorists killed.
 
Russian warplanes have been conducting strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) organization and other jihadist groups in Syria since September 30.
 
Although Nusra and ISIS are both jihadist organisations, they are fierce rivals and regularly clash in Syria.
 
But Nusra has formed an alliance - dubbed the Army of Conquest - with other rebel groups in Idlib, including the hardline Ahrar al-Sham.
 
Aid deliveries to Madaya, a town near Damascus surrounded by the army, and to Fuaa and Kafraya which are encircled by rebels in Idlib province had been expected Sunday.
 
But the Red Cross said the much-needed supplies cannot be delivered before Monday due to logistical problems.
 
"Logistical issues"
 
"The distribution of aid will not take place on Sunday for logistical reasons; we are working hard for it to take place on Monday," said Pawel Krzysiek, spokesman in Damascus of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
 
Tamam Mehrez of the Syrian Red Crescent had said "technically we are ready to begin distribution as early as Sunday, but if there are logistical issues it will be Monday at the latest."
 
Madaya, home to 42,000 people, has become notorious in recent days because of people starving in the town. It has been surrounded by regime troops for six months.
 
The Syrian government agreed Thursday to allow aid into Madaya as part of a deal that will see aid simultaneously reach 20,000 people trapped in Fuaa and Kafraya.
 
According to Doctors Without Borders, at least 23 people have starved to death since December 1 in Madaya.
 
The UN Security Council is to discuss the matter behind closed doors on Monday, although no decision is expected.
 
More than 260,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011 and millions have been forced from their homes but a solution to end the bloodshed has been hard to nail.
 
The UN envoy has been on a regional tour to shore up support for peace talks due to take place in Geneva on January 25 between the Syrian government and its opponents.
 
The talks are the first step in an ambitious 18-month plan, endorsed by the UN, to bring about a political transition in Syria.
 
After talks in Riyadh this week, De Mistura met Muallem in Damascus on Saturday and is next planning on visiting Tehran.
 
De Mistura's office said the envoy had a "useful" meeting with the Syrian foreign minister.
 
Muallem has confirmed his government would take part in the Geneva talks but was still waiting to receive the names of opposition figures who would also attend, the official SANA news agency said.

Al-Qaeda leader praises stabbing attacks in Israel

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 November 2015 11:13
Ayman al-Zawahiri - terrorist leaderMore details are emerging about the audio recording released Sunday by Ayman Al-Zawahiri, leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization.
 
According to additional excerpts released on Monday, Zawahiri welcomed the latest terrorist attacks in Israel and called for Muslims to work to “liberate” Jerusalem.
 
Zawahiri says that “Muslims everywhere” are upset by the “Jews’ repeated attacks on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” according to a translation obtained Monday by The Long War Journal website.
 
He then reportedly praises the recent stabbing attacks that have been carried out against Jews, saying they are “a new epic of jihad,” in which people “defend Palestine and Al-Aqsa with knives, cars, stones, and everything they own.” Zawahiri also asks Allah “to bless these martyrdom-seekers who dare to stab the Jews even as they are almost certain that they will be killed at the Jews’ hands.”
 
According to Long Wall Journal, the Al-Qaeda leader also links “liberating Jerusalem” with attacking Western targets. He argues that two things are required to “liberate” Jerusalem. First, the jihadists must strike “the West, and especially America, in its heartland” and also attack Western interests everywhere they are found.
 
Zawahiri cites a number of previous attacks in the West as part of his call for more terror, including the September 11, 2001 hijackings and the Boston Marathon bombings carried out by the “two Tsarnaev brothers”, according to the website.
 
Second, Zawahiri says that Muslims must establish a “state” in Egypt and the Levant in order to “mobilize the ummah to liberate Palestine.” This, he says, “requires unity,” avoiding “disputes and ending “hostilities” between “the mujahideen.” This is a reference to the infighting between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
 
In the excerpts released Sunday from Zawahiri’s speech, he called on Muslim supporters to band together to confront the “threat” from the West and Russia in Syria and Iraq.
 
"The Americans, Russians, Iranians, Alawites, and Hezbollah are coordinating their war against us -- are we not capable of stopping the fighting amongst ourselves so we can direct all our efforts against them?" he said.
 
It was not clear when the recording was made but references to Russian “aggression” suggest it was made after Russia began airstrikes against opposition groups and Islamic State in Syria on September 30. 

Al-Qaeda leader urges Muslim unity against West and Russia

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 21:24
Ayman al-ZawahiriAl-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri is calling on Muslim supporters to band together to confront the “threat” from the West and Russia in Syria and Iraq, Reuters reported on Sunday.
 
The call came in the latest recording from the Al-Qaeda leader and, in it, he suggested greater unity between his and Islamic State (ISIS).
 
"The Americans, Russians, Iranians, Alawites, and Hezbollah are coordinating their war against us -- are we not capable of stopping the fighting amongst ourselves so we can direct all our efforts against them?" he said in an audio recording released on the Internet on Sunday, according to Reuters.
 
It was not clear when the recording was made but references to Russian “aggression” suggest it was made after Russia began airstrikes against opposition groups and Islamic State in Syria on September 30.
 
In September, Zawahiri released a recording in which he said he viewed ISIS’ claim to be a caliphate as “illegitimate” but would join them in fighting Western and secular forces in Iraq and Syria if necessary.
 
"My mujahideen brothers in all places and of all groups ... we face aggression from America, Europe, and Russia ... so it's up to us to stand together as one from East Turkestan to Morocco," Zawahiri said in Sunday’s recording.
 
Despite fierce fighting in Syria between ISIS and a coalition of powerful jihadist groups which included Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front, Al-Nusra and ISIS had temporarily agreed to work together several months ago.
 
However, by June this year that alliance seemed to have ended, when ISIS jihadists beheaded 12 men from rival Syrian rebel movements. Three of those killed in the new video were from Jaysh al-Islam, one of the main rebel groups in the Damascus area, and a fourth from Al-Nusra Front.
 
Zawahiri also released a recording in September in which he called on young Muslim men in the United States and other Western countries to carry out attacks in their countries.

Qaeda Leader: ISIS is 'Illegitimate' - But we Might Work with It

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 10 September 2015 10:05
Ayman al-Zawahiri - terrorist leaderThe leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, Ayman al-Zawahiri, on Wednesday said that rival group Islamic State (ISIS) and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are “illegitimate”, but also said his followers would join them in fighting the Western-led coalition in Iraq and Syria if possible.
 
Speaking in an audiotape on the internet and quoted by the Reuters news agency, Zawahiri said, "We don't recognize this caliphate."
 
It was not clear when the recording was made but references to events suggest it was made at least eight months ago.
 
ISIS has declared a caliphate in large parts of Iraq and Syria under its control and sought to expand its power in the Middle East.
 
Despite rivalries between the two Islamist organizations, Zawahiri suggested there was still room for cooperation when it came to combating the West.
 
"Despite the big mistakes (of Islamic State), if I were in Iraq or Syria I would cooperate with them in killing the crusaders and secularists and Shiites even though I don't recognize the legitimacy of their state, because the matter is bigger than that," he said, according to Reuters.
 
Zawahiri did not elaborate, but his comments raised the possibility he could seek cooperation with the movement that has in many ways eclipsed Al-Qaeda.
 
While Al-Qaeda has specialized in high profile bombings, ISIS seems bent on seizing and holding territory in its quest to create a self-sustaining caliphate.
 
Despite fierce fighting in Syria between ISIS and a coalition of powerful jihadist groups which included Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front, Al-Nusra and ISIS had temporarily agreed to work together several months ago.
 
However, by June this year that alliance seemed to have ended, when ISIS jihadists beheaded 12 men from rival Syrian rebel movements. Three of those killed in the new video were from Jaysh al-Islam, one of the main rebel groups in the Damascus area, and a fourth from Al-Nusra Front.

ISIS Offers Reward for Killing Al Qaeda Leader

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 26 August 2015 11:29
Reward for Killing Al Qaeda LeaderThe ongoing rivalry between ISIS and Al Qaeda has reached new heights this week, with ISIS distributing "Wanted Dead" posters for several key Al Qaeda commanders - including the group's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri
 
The posters began circulating earlier in August and were apparently the work of ISIS's official branch in Libya. ISIS has been fighting various other militias for control in the North African country, which has slipped into a state of lawlessness after the ouster of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
 
In the initial stages of the campaign, dozens of posters were released offering bounties for the heads of the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) - an Al Qaeda-linked Islamist coalition that is currently battling ISIS for control of the eastern Libyan city of Derna.
 
The MSC has proven a tough adversary and has thwarted ISIS's attempts to take the city thus far. However, several of its leaders have indeed been successfully targeted since the campaign started. According to the Long War Journal, "Each time one is killed, the Islamic State’s supporters release a new version of the graphic, changing the format and color to signify his death."
 
Other Libyan militia heads have also been targeted.
 
But the campaign soon expanded beyond Libya, to include the leader of Algeria's Al Qaeda branch (Al Murabitoun).
 
And on Sunday, ISIS released the most provocative poster yet, placing a bounty on the head of Al Qaeda's elusive leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over after the 2011 assassination of Osama Bin Laden by US Special Forces.
 
ISIS - or "Islamic State," as it refers to itself - officially broke off from Al Qaeda in February 2014, after a protracted power-struggle between Zawahiri and ISIS's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 
 
Soon after, Baghdadi declared a "Caliphate" in areas of Syria and Iraq under ISIS control, and named himself "Caliph," or supreme Muslim leader. The move further infuriated Al Qaeda, which did not recognize Baghdadi as Caliph.
 
Since then, the two groups have been locked in a bloody war, particularly in Syria, with each referring to the other as "apostates." 
 
Still, an open call to kill Al Qaeda's leader - who is currently believed to be hiding in the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border region - marks a new benchmark in the animosity between the two terrorist groups.

Bin Laden's Son Calls to 'Wage Holy War' on Tel Aviv

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 16 August 2015 10:13
Hamza bin LadenThe Al Qaeda terrorist organization has published a voice recording it claims belongs to Hamza Bin Laden, the son of arch-terrorist and Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden. 
 
The message is believed to be the first time Al Qaeda has presented Hamza Bin Laden as an official member of its organization. 
 
In the recording published Friday and shared by the organization's supporters on Twitter, Hamza calls on followers to attack the United States as well as its allies, including Israel. 
 
Preaching to "Al Qaeda faithful" in Kabul, Baghdad and Gaza, he urges followers to wage jihad, or holy war, on Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv. 
 
The audio message also called "for the targeting of Jewish American interests globally."
 
In response, the national Jewish security arm founded by the Jewish Federations of North America warned Jewish institutions in the US to be on alert. 
 
However, "there is no information at this time to suggest a credible or imminent threat as it relates to this audio message," the Secure Community Network said in its message. 
 
Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda's founder and former leader, was behind the September 11 terror attacks in the United States. He was killed by US special forces four years ago during a raid on his compound in Pakistan. 
 
Al Qaeda's former second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has since taken control of the terrorist group. 
 
Little is known about Bin Laden's son, Hamza, who is believed to be in his early to mid-twenties. He was born to Bin-Laden's third wife and was once designated to succeed his father. 
 
Hamza's whereabouts are also unknown, with the last documented footage of him fighting alongside the Taliban appearing on Al-Jazeera during the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. 

Al-Qaeda Confirms American Spokesman Was Killed

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 27 June 2015 07:53
Adam GadahnAl-Qaeda has confirmed that an American drone strike earlier this year killed its English-language spokesman, a California native known as Azzam the American, AFP reported Thursday, citing the SITE Intelligence Group.
 
In a special issue of the terrorist group’s English-language magazine Resurgence, editor Hassaan Yusuf wrote that Azzam, whose real name was Adam Gadahn, was killed in a strike thought to have taken place in January on an Al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan.
 
Yusuf also said Ahmed Faruq, an American described as a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and American and Italian hostages Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, were killed in another strike "a few weeks" prior.
 
The White House has said neither Gadahn nor Faruq were specifically targeted in the strikes, and President Barack Obama said in April he took "full responsibility" for the accidental killing of the hostages.
 
Gadahn was a teenage death metal music fan who grew up on a California goat farm before he was drawn into radical Islam.
 
He was one of the most high-profile figures in the global jihadist movement and a regular online presence, taunting his homeland and inciting attacks, noted AFP.
 
After the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, he played a leading role in the movement's shift in focus to an effort to inspire "lone wolf" radicals to mount spontaneous attacks in the West. 
 
In a two-part, 100-minute video released after Bin Laden's death, he said Muslims living in the West are "perfectly placed to play an important and decisive part in the jihad against the Zionists and Crusaders."
 
And in 2012, he marked the anniversary of the September 11 attacks by warning fellow American Muslims that their own government was plotting a "holocaust" against them.

Senior Qaeda Terrorist Reportedly Killed in Libya

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 10:01
Mokhtar-BelmokhtarLibya's recognized government said on Sunday that Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar had been killed in a U.S. airstrike inside Libya as part of a counter-terrorism cooperation, Reuters reported.
 
Earlier, the U.S. Department of Defense said the military conducted a counterterrorism strike against an Al-Qaeda-associated target in Libya on Saturday night, but were assessing results before providing more details.
 
"The Libyan government in the east of Libya confirms that the U.S fighter jets conducted air strikes last night in a mission which resulted in the death of the terrorist Belmokhtar," Libya's recognized government said, according to Reuters.
 
A Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren, had said on Sunday the military believed the strike was successful and hit the target, but he did not provide the name of the terrorist who was targeted.
 
He also said he did not know where the strike took place in Libya, and it was not known if it was carried out by a drone or manned aircraft.
 
The airstrike would be the first against a target in Libya since the end of the war against former dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, noted The Telegraph.
 
Belmokhtar, the report noted, led a renegade group of militants called al-Murabitoun, or The Sentinels, who rejected orders from the local branch of Al-Qaeda but were still seen as part of the broader movement.
 
In January 2013, his group, then known as the "Masked Men Brigade" or "Those who sign in blood" seized control of a gas facility in the Algerian Sahara, holding hundreds of staff hostage.
 
Belmokhtar was widely reported to have been based in lawless parts of the Libyan desert. There were reports in 2013 that he had been killed in a military assault in Mali.
 
The United States, noted The Telegraph, has been monitoring radicals with broader connections to international terrorism.
 
In October 2013, a special forces raid seized Abu Anas al-Libi, a senior Al-Qaeda commander, from his home in Tripoli, and flew him to the United States to stand trial in connection with the bombing of embassies in East Africa in 1998. He died in January from longstanding health problems.
 
A subsequent mission, in June last year, seized Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012 in which the ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed. He is now awaiting trial in the United States.

Did Bin Laden Predict Multinational Muslim Holy War?

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:58
Ben Laden - Al-ZawheryAl Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden was obsessed with attacking the US and pleaded with the terror group not to get involved in infighting in the Muslim terror world, according to an AFP exposé released Wednesday. 
 
"The focus should be on killing and fighting the American people and their representatives," Bin Laden wrote, according to a set of declassified documents given exclusively to the news outlet ahead of their official release. 
 
All of the documents were allegedly found by US Navy Seals when they raided Bin Laden's compound in May 2011; they are the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)'s translations of original materials into English. 
 
The documents are being released now due to US President Barack Obama's directive for "increased transparency," according to Jeff Anchukaitis, spokesman for the US Director of National Intelligence's office - as well as in accordance with a law mandating that all Bin Laden documents be reviewed for possible release.
 
CIA officials maintained that the documents had long been planned to be declassified, despite accusations from renowned journalist Seymour Hersh just weeks ago that the Bin Laden affair was heavily doctored for the media and that large parts of the raid were presented to the public with fabricated evidence. 
 
Deeply paranoid, warns of disunity
 
The documents reveal Bin Laden's deep paranoia, and his mindfulness that he was being targeted despite being in hiding in Pakistan. 
 
The terror leader advises against communicating by email, warns followers not to meet in large groups, and at one point, was convinced that a microphone was placed on one of his wives' clothes. 
 
They also reveal that Bin Laden predicted the disunity tearing apart the Muslim world from 2013 onward, to some extent; he called on Al Qaeda to leave internal conflicts with police forces in all Arab countries and focus solely on striking the US. 
 
"We should stop operations against the army and the police in all regions, especially Yemen," Bin Laden wrote. 
 
In particular, a series of scathing letters show Al Qaeda calling on Bin Laden and then-deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri to condemn the beginnings of what would become the Islamic State terror group (ISIS), which disassociated from Al Qaeda in 2013. 
 
"If you still can, then this is your last chance to remedy the Jihad breakdown that is about to take place in Iraq, that is mostly caused by your followers," a group of jihadists fired to Bin Laden in 2007. 
 
He was also apparently taken aback by the 2010-2011 Arab Spring movement and urged jihadists to take advantage of the power vacuum to spread their message of terror. 

Jihad on the Horizon: Al Qaeda, ISIS Clash Along Israeli Border

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 29 April 2015 07:37
Head of Al-Nusra FrontRebels and Al Qaeda's Syria affiliate clashed Tuesday with jihadists linked to the Islamic State group (ISIS) along Syria's border with the Israeli Golan Heights, a monitor and an opposition spokesman said.  
 
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP that rebel groups, as well as Al Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, fought ISIS-linked Jaish al-Jihad in the border town of Qahtaniya in the southern province of Quneitra province.
 
"These are key battles, because IS now has a presence in Syria's south and because they are close to the ceasefire line with the Golan," said Abdel Rahman.  
 
"This is the first time these groups have clashed with each other," he added.  
 
Abdel Rahman said 12 rebels, including Al Nusra fighters, were killed and Jaish al-Jihad lost seven fighters.
 
"Fifteen members of Jaish al-Jihad were also taken hostage," he said.
 
The clashes took place as Israel announced that two mortar rounds fired from Syria struck northern parts of the Golan Heights, without causing casualties. The IDF later stated that the mortar fire was the result of errant "spillover" from the conflict, and not a deliberate attack.
 
Jaish al-Islam is a relatively new group but is suspected to have very close ties to ISIS, according to Romain Caillet, a French expert on jihadists.
 
Essam al-Rayes, spokesperson for the Southern Front coalition which is fighting Jaish al-Islam, said the ISIS-linked group had a presence in and around the town of Qahtaniya.  
 
Speaking by phone from Jordan, Rayes said tensions among opposition fighters in the town rose after it was suspected that Jaish al-Jihad had pledged allegiance to ISIS.
 
The battles erupted on Monday after Jaish al-Jihad ambushed a Southern Front convoy and killed six rebels, Rayes added.
 
"Al Nusra Front then joined the fight, because Daesh is our common enemy," Rayes said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
 
Caillet said two Saudi commanders from Al Nusra's southern battalions were killed on Monday night.
 
The Southern Front had been planning a large offensive on regime-controlled areas north of Qahtaniya, but the latest clashes delayed their assault, Rayes told AFP.
 
Last month, rebel groups in southern Syria, including the Southern Front, said they would not cooperate with Al Nusra in future battles, after a dispute over a captured border crossing.  
 
Syria's conflict began in 2011 with peaceful protests, but has since become a complex civil war which has killed more than 220,000 people.

Rebels in Southern Syria Split with Al Qaeda after Tensions

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 08:26
Rebels in Southern Syria SplitRebels fighting in southern Syria will not cooperate militarily with Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Al Nusra Front, a spokesman said Wednesday.
 
Essam al-Rayes' comments come after tensions between local rebel groups and Al Nusra over the capture of a border crossing between Syria and Jordan.  
 
"We reject all forms of cooperation with Al Nusra Front because keeping silent on its excesses, its statements and its violations will only allow them to continue," Rayes told AFP.    
 
Speaking via Skype, he said the groups fighting under the Southern Front banner hoped their position would "tell Syrians that Al-Nusra's ties with Al Qaeda push the revolution away from its path and objectives."
 
"We do not want Syria to become a base for jihad, or the expansion of the Islamic State (ISIS)," he added.    
 
The comments came after several similar individual statements from battalions fighting in southern Syria.
 
Ties between the groups and Al Nusra have been strained since the April 2 takeover of the Nasib border crossing.
 
The Al Qaeda affiliate participated only in the last stages of the battle for the crossing, playing no role in the planning or initial attack.
 
Despite that, Al Nusra fighters seized parts of the border post, creating considerable resentment among the groups that carried out the operation.  
 
They asked Al Nusra to withdraw from the border point and the duty-free zone between the two crossings, which it did last week.
 
In recent days, the rebels have publicly disassociated themselves from the group.
 
Despite his comments, Rayes said the groups had no intention of fighting against Al Nusra. 
 
"This is not a declaration of war; we don't want any tensions on the ground because our battle is not against Al Nusra."  
 
Syrian rebel forces remain prominent in the south, unlike in the north, where Al Nusra and rival jihadist outfit ISIS have seized large swathes of territory.
 
In the north Al Nusra has in fact formed a joint army with other Islamist rebel groups - "The Army of Conquest" - which recently succeeded in capturing the major city of Idlib from regime forces.

Al-Nusra Front Reaffirms Allegiance to Al-Qaeda

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 08:22
Al-Nusra Front terroristsAl-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Al-Nusra Front, on Monday reaffirmed its allegiance to the global extremist network and denied any plan to break away and become a more internationally acceptable rebel force.
 
The angry statement followed weeks of speculation on Internet social networks of a split between the jihadist allies, AFP reported.
 
Al-Nusra "completely denies reports of a break-up with Al-Qaeda," the group said in a statement released on Twitter.
 
The statement added that Al-Nusra "remains the backbone of jihadists" in Syria, "the first into battle, dedicated to unifying the ranks around sharia (Islamic law)... righting injustice and defending the disadvantaged".
 
It denied "completely all reports of a meeting with Qatari or other intelligence services or seeking Qatari or Gulf funding, as this is contrary to the principles on which Al-Nusra has been based from the start".
 
An official branch of Al-Qaeda since April 2013, the group dominates a swathe of northwest Syria despite months of international airstrikes.
 
As well as fighting President Bashar Al-Assad's regime, it has clashed with Western-backed rebels and its jihadist rival the Islamic State (ISIS) group. Last November, Al-Nusra and ISIS agreed to work together.
 
Al-Nusra was formed in January 2012 by jihadists who had previously fought in Iraq, including its chief Abu Mohamed al-Jolani.
 
The group's military chief Abu Hammam al-Shami and several top commanders were last week reported to have been killed in Syria, although there was contradictory information on the circumstances.

40 Killed as Kurds Battle ISIS for Key Syrian Town

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 08 March 2015 20:46
Kurds Battle ISISAt least 40 Kurdish fighters and Islamic State group (ISIS) jihadists have been killed in clashes for control of a strategic town in north Syria, a monitor said on Sunday.  
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that 11 civilians were killed in a government air raid on the rebel-held town of Irbin northeast of Damascus.  
 
The clashes that erupted on Saturday as ISIS launched an offensive aimed at seizing Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province from Kurdish forces have killed 40 fighters on both sides, it said.
 
"Fierce battles broke out during the past 24 hours around Tal Tamr... that killed 40 fighters," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
 
He said the fighting erupted when ISIS advanced close to the town, but the Kurds called in reinforcements and were able to repel the Islamists.  
 
IS has been trying to capture Tal Tamr because of its strategic location.
 
Taking it would allow ISIS to dominate a key road between the eastern part of Hasakeh and the town of the same name that are held by the Kurds, and also gain access to the Iraqi border and the jihadist bastion in Mosul beyond.
 
Sunday's raid on Irbin near Damascus during which missiles were fired at the town also wounded 50 people, some of them critically, the Observatory said.  
 
It also reported several civilians wounded in regime-held areas of Damascus by rebel rocket fire, without giving a precise toll.  
 
Elsewhere, clashes were still under way around the Aleppo province villages of Handarat and Bashkoy between regime forces and fighters from the Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Nusra Front.
 
The Observatory said that a child and a local Nusra commander were killed in the fighting.  
 
A military source told AFP that loyalist forces had launched an overnight offensive on rebel positions in Handarat after failing to recapture it last month.

New Al Qaeda Video Shows Steady Advance along Israeli Border

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 February 2015 13:54
Israeli BorderThe Nusra Front, Al Qaeda's official branch in Syria, has released a new propaganda video documenting its steady gains in southern Syria, along the border with Israel.
 
The 48-minute video is a clear attempt to reassert the Al Qaeda franchise in the jihadi propaganda sphere, where it has been eclipsed by the slick productions of rival jihadi outfit ISIS.
 
It comes as Al Nusra is experiencing a resurgence on the ground in Syria as well, where until a few months ago it appeared to be losing its momentum, in stark contrast to ISIS's lightening offensives in Iraq and Syria. Recently, Al Nusra has made significant gains against both regime and rival rebel forces, including the capture of large swathes of territory in the Syrian Golan Heights, which borders Israel.
 
Unlike many previous Nusra Front productions, production-wise this one is on-par with those made by Islamic State/ISIS.
 
There are, however, several key distinctions. Most notably, while it does showcase sometimes graphic raw footage from battle scenes, the video contains none of the kind of ultra-violent and gory sequences usually included in ISIS's videos, such as beheadings and other executions. This is in-line with statements made by Al Qaeda leaders in opposition to the gratuitous nature of ISIS's violent actions, which it sees as counterproductive in the arena of public support.
 
It also lacks some of the more melodramatic flourishes and special effects often used by ISIS.
 
Additionally, the video is entirely in Arabic without any subtitles - unlike ISIS productions, which usually include subtitles in one or several foreign languages. That difference is an indication of how Nusra's support base and pool of potential recruits differs to those of ISIS.
 
While the Al Qaeda rebel faction does also include many foreign fighters among its ranks, the proportion of foreign fighters to native Syrians are lower than in ISIS. Those foreign recruits it has received come primarily from the Arab world, where major jihadi Muslim scholars have by and large supported Al Qaeda over ISIS. In contrast, ISIS's effective use of social media has given it a clear edge in western countries and other regions outside the Arabic-speaking world less influenced by or exposed to such Arab scholars.
 
And while the video does contain a clear message to western leaders, the group is clearly attempting to brand itself within the context of the Syrian rebellion against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, as opposed to ISIS's open, ostentatious declarations of its intent to achieve world domination.
 
Interspersed among the various scenes are graphic illustrations of the Nusra Front's steady gains along the border with Israel, as it cooperates with other rebel groups to steady oust forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad. It charts how Nusra has been pushing northwards and capturing key strategic positions - a development Israeli intelligence services will be keeping a close eye on.
 
But the battle along Israel's border - which has on occasion spilled over into Israeli territory - is far from over.
 
Having being ejected from the majority of their positions by the border, regime forces have reportedly turned to Hezbollah for help - with some reports claiming the Iranian proxy group is even leading regime operations against the rebels there.

Is the Middle East on the Verge of Exploding?

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Monday, 26 January 2015 12:44
Middle East on the Verge of ExplodingFive separate sets of potential fireworks have been igniting simultaneously in the Middle East for the last few weeks, each of them adding fuel to the fires caused by the others. If and when these developments reach the kindling point, the entire region may go up in uncontrollable flames.
 
These are the sources of the fires:
 
a. the rivalry between Al Qaeda and ISIS
 
b. the intensifying struggle between the Sunni Jabhat al Nusra and the Shiite Hezbollah.
 
c. the successes of the Houthis in Yemen
 
d. Islamic fury at what is happening in Egypt
 
e. the struggle between Islamic extremists and European regimes
 
Here are the details::
 
a. In the militant Sunni arena there is a fierce struggle going on between organizations that identify with Al Qaeda's ideology, headed by Jabhat al Nusra - and ISIS, which is in control over large swathes of Syria and Iraq and has established the most stringent form of Sharia law in those areas. The rivalry has caused Al Qaeda to increase its attacks on the Yemeni government, abort an American attempt to rescue two hostages from Yemen last December, accept responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris and announce that the brothers who perpetrate the murders received their training in an Al Qaeda camp in Yemen. 
 
b. The war between the Shiite Assad regime and Hezbollah on the one hand and Sunni Jabhat al Nusra on the other is getting more fierce. Jabhat al Nusra managed to cause Hezbollah painful losses  recently, near the Hermon Mountain range and in a daring infiltration into the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, by way of the city of Arsal. Hezbollah is feeling pressured, leading the Iranian revolutionary guards to send some top officers to help the organization plan its next operation and improve its results.
 
c. In Yemen, the Shiite Houthi militias have succeeded in taking over the capital city of Sana'a and appear as the winning side in the long, drawn out war the Houthis have been waging against that nation. Iran is backing the Houthis, the US is helping the regime, both against al Qaeda and the Houthis. Without doubt, Yemen is a battlefield where Iran is forcing its enemies to follow its agenda, including nearby Saudi Arabia, which sees the Houthis as a direct threat to its security. Several years ago, the Saudis built a separation fence all along their border with Yemen, in an attempt to keep out Al Qaeda and Houthi militants.
 
d. There is a fierce struggle in Egypt between the Muslim Brotherhood - the mother of all Sunni Jihad organizations - and the regime of Al Sisi. As far as this struggle goes, Sisi is reinstating the government of Gamal abdel Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, all of whom waged relentless and bloody war against the "Brothers".  As of now, Sisi has succeeded in pushing the "Brothers" from positions of rule into jail cells and from the streets to the cemetery. His successes are infuriating his detractors.    The fight is to the finish, and it is also being waged in the Sinai Desert between the government and the militias of Anṣār Bayt al-Maqdis, who recently switched its loyalties from al Qaeda to ISIS.
 
Europe is a relatively new battleground, but the last few weeks showed mounting escalation, both in jihadist activities against governments (see France) and in governmental activity against jihad cells (Belgium, Germany). Jihad activities in Europe are encouraged by ISIS as well as Al Qaeda, both sides of the rivalry mentioned above. People who return from Jihad in Syria, Iraq and Libya - but not just they - are participating in the heated struggle for Europe's image. 
 
These struggles are synergetic, they influence one another because an Islamic militant sees what is happening in one area and decides to take revenge for Allah in another. This sinking into chaos can lead to large number of large scale conflicts, with many more participants and deaths, especially if these organizations succeed in drawing Israel and the US into the fray. We have already heard of ground troups from the West fighting ISIS.
 
Israel must understand the dangers now permeating the atmosphere of the MIddle East with oil vapors that any spark can set on fire and that no one will be able to put out before the entire region is ablaze. The potential for destruction posed by all these disputes is enormous, and the explosion may shake Europe and even cross the Atlantic when Islamic extremists blow their minds at the deep crisis affecting the entire Middle East.
 
The massive Islamic immigration to Europe turned that continent into a branch of the Middle East's disputes, so that Europe will not be immune to the many deep seated and broad Middle Eastern problems. And America is on the same planet, so that the Middle East disasters will find their way to its shores as well.
 
 
Dr. Mordechai KedarDr. Mordechai Kedar
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.

Paris Attacks Challenge 'Lone Wolf' Terrorist Theory

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 22 January 2015 11:44
Amedy CoulibalyThe attacks in Paris and the radical Islamist cell dismantled in Brussels have challenged the idea of the "lone wolf" terrorist who works alone, without the help of a jihadist organisation, analysts say.
 
Every terrorist that has attempted or carried out attacks in the West in recent years - down to the Kouachi brothers who struck the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris this month - has had some level of ties to extremist groups engaged in global jihad, according to experts.
 
For Jean-Pierre Filiu, of Sciences Po university in Paris, the events in France and Belgium had shown "once again" that the idea of radicals acting in isolation was "an inane myth".  
 
"This largely fantastical figure is an intellectual creation that appeared in the United States as part of the Bush administration's 'global war on terror' in 2001", he argued.
 
Although they may have acted without direct instructions from above, the Kouachi brothers had training from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), its Yemen branch, and struck a top target on Al Qaeda's "most-wanted" list.
 
The concept of "lone wolves" emerged at a time when Western observers were still struggling to understand the apparently diffuse threat from global jihadists - that operated with less clear-cut structures than the major terrorist organisations of the 20th century.
 
The idea was also politically useful for governments trying to sell tougher security measures to the public, said Filiu.
 
"Constructing the idea of an internal enemy, who is elusive and everywhere, justified draconian policies like the Patriot Act in the United States."
 
The Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of 9/11, gave the US government wide-ranging powers to snoop on its own citizens, but Filiu said its effectiveness has been "questionable at best".  
 
"Playing up the specter of a 'lone wolf' only serves to sow confusion and undermine attempts to pinpoint those who are really responsible for terrorism - the people giving the orders in the Middle East."
 
His claims echo those made by a leading British counter-extremism campaigner in a recent interview with Arutz Sheva.
 
Inspiration from abroad
 
 The confusion comes from the fact that many jihadists in the West have only very loose bonds to known jihadist groups.
 
Amedy Coulibaly - the third gunman in Paris who murdered a policewoman and attacked a Jewish supermarket, killing four - claimed he was working on behalf of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) group in Syria and Iraq, though he never traveled there.
 
But some experts argue it is nonetheless wrong to label them lone wolves. Even if they act alone, or as part of small local cells, they are following a clear blueprint set out by groups with global name recognition.
 
"Even if Coulibaly does not appear to have had direct contact with IS, he was inspired by their threats against France," said Louis Caprioli, former counter-terrorism head at French intelligence agency DST.
 
"That is the power of the jihadist discourse: they push people into suicide missions they would not have even contemplated two months earlier."  
 
That sets jihadists apart from individuals, who develop their own ideology and choose their own methods and targets.  
 
Apparent lone radicals have often turned out to have had direct contact with the leadership of a terrorist group.
 
Nidal Malik Hassan, the US army psychologist who killed 13 soldiers in the Fort Hood military base in Texas in September 2009, was found to be in contact with AQAP leader Anwar Al-Awlaki.
 
"Behind Islamist attacks, there is always someone giving the orders," said Filiu.
 
Still, those orders may not be very precise and the limited costs involved in mounting attacks mean there is no apparent direct financing.  
 
Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported that Coulibaly bought the weapons for all three Paris gunmen - including assault rifles and a rocket launcher - in Belgium for less than 5,000 euros ($7,000). The rocket launcher was never even used.
 
The Soufan Group, a New York think tank, said a better term for "lone wolves" would be "known wolves", given how many are already known to Western intelligence agencies before they strike.  
 
"These individuals, acting alone or in small groups ... have been on the radar of various agencies and organisations, highlighting the difficulty of effectively monitoring and managing people at the nexus of criminality and terrorism," it said in a report this week.  
 
For the Soufan Group, the most serious threat came from people with known associations with radicals and a string of past offences.
 
"It is counter-productive to speak of France's five million Muslims as a sign of a potentially enormous target pool, when it's likely only several dozen people ... should be the highest priority target set".

MI5 Busted Three UK Terror Attacks in the Past Month

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 10 January 2015 08:14
Generic-policeThe Syrian Civil War and Wednesday's attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters in Paris are connected, the head of London's MI5 security agency stated Thursday, saying unchecked Islamism is threatening the West on the large scale. 
 
"We know... that a group of core Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West," MI5 head Andrew Parker told AFP Thursday. "Although we and our partners try our utmost, we know that we cannot hope to stop everything."
 
Parker stated that Islamists from Syria are intent on bringing their "twisted ideology" to the West, and plan to carry out major terror attacks at European and North American landmarks. 
 
"We still face more complex and ambitious plots that follow the now sadly well-established approach of Al-Qaeda and its imitators - attempts to cause large-scale loss of life, often by attacking transport systems or iconic targets," he said.
 
Parker concluded that the attacks were a "terrible reminder" of the Islamist threat, and went on to reveal that MI5 had stopped three attacks on British soil in the last month alone. 
 
Twelve people were killed in Wednesday's jihadist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo - five cartoonists, three contributors, a guest at the magazine's editorial conference and a maintenance worker, along with two police officers.
 
The three Islamists who are the prime suspects in the attack - named by French police as 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad who voluntarily handed himself over to authorities on Wednesday night, and brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, who are still at large - stated to cartoonist Corrine Rey before the shooting that they were working on behalf of Al-Qaeda.
 
Both Kouachi brothers had reportedly trained with Al-Qaeda, one in Yemen and one in Iraq. 

Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Sentenced to Life in Prison

Category: News
Created on Friday, 09 January 2015 18:20
Hook-handed Abu Hamza al-MasriA judge in the United States on Friday sentenced British hate preacher Abu Hamza to life behind bars for 11 terrorism and kidnapping convictions, calling his crimes that spanned the globe "evil" and "barbaric", reports AFP.
 
The hook-handed imam, blind in one eye and a double-hand amputee, became a tabloid bogeyman in Britain for preaching vitriolic, anti-American sermons at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.
 
The sentencing on Friday comes eight months after he was convicted by a jury on May 19, after a four-week trial.
 
Abu Hamza would be "committed to a sentence of life imprisonment in the custody of the United States attorney general and U.S. marshals," the judge announced at the end of a three-hour hearing.
 
Blind in one eye and with both hands blown off by an explosives experiment in Pakistan, he alarmed the jury by speaking of his love for Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden and compared himself to Irish republican leader Gerry Adams.
 
Abu Hamza showed no remorse for his crimes, and again pleaded his innocence in court and demanded to be sent to a federal prison hospital, where he said he would be better treated as a double amputee suffering from diabetes.
 
"With all honesty I do maintain my innocence," he was quoted as having said, dressed in navy scrubs and gesticulating with his raw, red stumps. His face was pale behind a grey and white beard.
 
The judge said she had thought long and hard about the severity of the sentence but ultimately concluded the world would not be safe with him a free man.
 
"Evil comes in many forms but doesn't always show itself immediately in all its darkness," she said. There is "a side of you that this court views as evil."
 
She called his crimes "barbaric" and "obviously unacceptable in a civilized society."
 
It took the jury just 12 hours to convict him of facilitating the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen, providing material support to Al-Qaeda, assisting the Taliban and sending terror recruits to Afghanistan.
 
Abu Hamza, whose full name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, provided the kidnappers with a satellite phone, acted as an intermediary and dispensed them advice.
 
Four of the kidnapped tourists were killed.

Gulf States Fear Iranian Takeover of Yemen

Category: Reports
Created on Friday, 02 January 2015 12:48
Shiite rebel seizure of YemenAn Arabic-language newspaper in London reported Thursday that pro-Iranian militias in Yemen have tightened their grip on the country – to the extent that they have taken over the country's national bank. As a result, Gulf states have withdrawn their support for Yemen, leaving the road open for a full takeover by Iranian-backed groups.
 
According to A-Sharq al-Awsat, the Houthi rebel groups took over a number of government offices this week, including the country's civil aviation authority, and the Bank of Yemen. Speaking to the newspaper on condition of anonymity, a Yemen government official said that a negotiated settlement to curb violence under UN auspices signed earlier this year “has practically been annulled due to the practices of the Houthis who are seeking to take complete control of the Yemeni state.”
 
In addition to the takeovers, Houthis kidnapped several top officials, including Maj. Gen. Yehia Al-Marani, undersecretary of Yemen’s central security agency.
 
The Houthis are a Shi'ite Islamist group that has claimed that Shi'ites in Yemen are mistreated. The official told A-Sharq al-Awsat that Sunni Yemeni groups were becoming “very upset” at the continued coup the Houthis are apparently conducting. Islamist groups, including one backed by Al-Qaeda, are likely to take action in the near future – dragging the country even deeper into civil war.
 
Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have apparently given up on Yemen, effectively admitting that it will eventually fall to Iran's domination, the newspaper said. The states have cut off assistance to Yemen, and are withdrawing personnel, the report added.

What Makes Islamic State so Attractive?

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Sunday, 28 December 2014 07:25

islamic-stateWhy are young people rushing to join IS?

The fact that Islamic State (formerly Daesh or ISIS/ISIL) is highly popular in the Islamic world cannot be ignored. Not a day goes by without reading about large numbers of people from all parts of the globe – both Muslims, would-be Muslims and converts – arriving in droves at the Jihad centers of Syria and Iraq  prepared to give up their lives for Islamic State.
 
A number of groups have sworn allegiance to the "State's" leader, Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The most recent of these is Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a terror group based in Sinai that poses a threat to Egypt.
 
In addition, the fact that we have not heard of one protest or demonstration against Islamic State anywhere in the Islamic world, not even against its treatment of minorities, women and children, cannot be ignored.  The thunderous quiet is in sharp contrast to the violent demonstrations that enveloped that very same world over caricatures, films and military actions of which it disapproved. Does the Islamic world agree with beheadings, mass murder of minorities and the sale of women in the slave market? And another question that needs answering is why Al Qaeda was not as attractive as Islamic State during the years in which it operated.
 
The most meaningful answer to these questions is that to many Muslims, Islamic State appears to be the real thing – pure, holy, original and unadulterated Islam. 
 
To them, it is the Islam that Mohammed brought to the world and that guided his cohorts and those who ruled after him. Many Muslims have read or heard about books on Islamic history, where the way Islamic forces conquered most of the 7th century world, butchering infidels, looting churches and monasteries, selling infidels on the market and forcing those who were vanquished to convert, is described with great pride – and without an iota of shame.
 
Islamic historians have never felt the need to apologize for the way in which they conquered the world, to the point where they constantly describe Islam as a religion of peace. Islamic State today is doing the same: it conquers areas, beheads  some, crucifies others, sells men and women into slavery just the way the first Muslims did in the seventh century, and it also cuts off the hands of thieves, stones adulterers, whips criminals, all in accordance with Sharia law. Can any Muslim believer protest against Sharia? Can he protest the return of Muslim practices to the glorious days of the Prophet and his followers? Can a Muslim criticize Mohammed's behavior when the Islamic faith declares him infallible?
 
In contrast to al Qaeda, which never took over territory in order to establish an Islamic state, IS is the modern territorial expression of what seems to be the exact replica of what Mohammed created in the seventh century. The writing on the IS flag is taken from the seventh century and followers believe that it includes Mohammed's seal. A good many IS fighters wear black, as did the early fighters for Islam. At the head of IS today is a Caliph, the title given to those rulers who took over after Mohammed. This is a crucial point, because the institution of the Caliphate was dissolved in 1924 by Attaturk (Mustafa Kamal), who has now been declared an enemy of Islam by the faithful. He stopped Sharia, set fire to mosques, closed madrassas, switched from Arabic to Latin letters and tried to uproot Islam from Turkey by every means at his disposal.  IS, however, has arrived to renew the Caliphate, a subject that plays on a sensitive string in the Islamic heart.
 
Another issue is that IS does not hesitate to threaten the infidel Western powers, and has no problem butchering American and British citizens– the symbols of heretic Christian Western hegemony. These murders are carried out confidently and unashamedly in front of the camera, while the murderers read a scornful English message meant for those countries' leaders, considered the strongest men in the world, leading the strongest countries in the world The sheer audacity of IS makes Moslems all over the world proud and makes them feel that this is the way a true Moslem should act and speak when faced with heretics.
 
This issue is most important to the young Muslims living in the Europe and the USA, who have not been absorbed into Western society and have developed feelings of rage against the countries in which they were raised. Their mass exodus to the Jihad centers of Iraq and Syria stems from their desire to take revenge on the West for pushing them, the children of  immigrants, to the periphery of society and for discriminating against them although they were born, raised and educated in the West.
 
Of late, several videos video clips have surfaced whose subject is the young Yazidi women handed over to the fighters of IS to serve as slaves. The clips portray the lighthearted bantering of the fighters prior to the young women's being divided up among them. In traditional Islamic societies, where men are not allowed to have any contact with women other than their wives, this relaxation of prohibitions acts as a strong drawing factor.
 
Islamic State arrived in a world where social media – youtube, facebook, twitter – are within everyone's reach, mainly through the use of mobile phones. The intensive utilization of these methods of communication by IS activists on internet sites set up for that purpose, facilitates recording their ideas, propagating them and recruiting volunteers.
 
Islamic State is a wealthy organization: it has wrested control over oil fields, and countries – most likely Turkey – buy oil from it, some directly and some indirectly. IS fighters rob banks, kidnap people for ransoms in the millions, receive massive funding from countries such as Qatar, levy taxes on the populations forced to live under IS control in the areas it has conquered.  All this enables IS to purchase arms, weapons, means of communication and transportation that create the image of success – and in attracting people, nothing succeeds like success.
 
Islamic State has gained possession of arsenals of American weapons and arms that belonged to the Iraqi army. These are now in the hands of the Jihadists. Some of the weapons airlifted to the Kurds fighting in Kobane in northern Syria, fell into the hands of IS as, literally, gifts from heaven. Many Muslims believe that American weaponry that serves Jihad fighters battling America is a sign from heaven proving that Allah is helping the Jihad fighters win against their enemies by means of the enemies' own weapons.
 
Just for the sake of comparison: al Qaeda does not control any territory, does not collect taxes, does not force Sharia law on local populations, has no Caliph at its head, and even its Jihad against infidels has waned over the years. Al Qaeda's image is that of a tired, old, decrepit organization that has lost its way, while Islamic State – at this point – seems a young and vibrant one, whose actions are in true accordance with Islamic precepts and which does not give any consideration to the heretical, materialistic and permissive cultural mores with which Western culture tries to inculcate Muslims all over the world.
 
As things stand, IS will probably grow larger over the next few months – or years – and become more dangerous and influential in the Middle East and possibly the world.
 
This organization can be made to disappear in one of two ways: the first, a battle to the death that the world declares against it, putting "boots on the ground" to destroy or imprison the Jihadists, down to the last man. The problem with this scenario is the high price in human life and resources the world will have to pay in order to bring it about.
 
The second scenario is what has always happened in Islamic history: once a group begins to rule, internal feuds appear based on ideology, religion, funds, personal differences,tribal and organizational animosities – leading to eventual disintegration and its fall from power. The problem with this scenario is that it takes a long time and can span decades during which the organization continues shedding blood and turning its subjects' lives into hell.  
 
Meanwhile, the world does nothing of any consequence against IS, which is advancing, gaining control over more territory and threatening other nations in its immediate environs. Organizations and volunteers are eagerly joining it and there is no end in sight. Islamic State is undoubtedly more attractive than al Qaeda, making it stronger and turning it into a clear and present danger to the Middle East and the entire world.
 
The real problem in the West today is that too many European politicians depend on the votes of large, ever growing Muslim populations, meaning that there is very little chance that these politicians will take a stand against anything Islamic, including Islamic State and how it must be addressed.
 
 Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky
 
Dr. Mordechai KedarDr. Mordechai Kedar
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.

Rival Syrian Rebels Clash over War Booty

Category: Islam
Created on Monday, 22 December 2014 06:56
Syrian TerroristsDespite facing common enemies in the Assad regime and Islamic State/ISIS terrorist group, Syrian rebels appear as fractured as ever.
 
As Syria's bloody civil war continues to rage on with no end in sight, a recent video obtained and translated by MEMRI offered an insight into the tensions simmering between different rebel battalions - including rival Islamist groups.
 
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The video shows an angry group of fighters from several allied battalions belonging to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) - a loose coalition of rebel groups - clashing with members of Al Qaeda's Nusra Front. 
 
The FSA fighters were led by Sharif Al-Safouri, Commander of the Haramain Battalion, who claimed that Nusra fighters had stolen war booty taken from Assad regime troops.
 
"As we were loading the booty taken from the Bashar Al-Assad regime... We in the Haramain Battalion were loading the booty, along with the Murabiteen Battalion and the Al-Sabatten Battalion. Then we were attacked by Jabhat Al-Nusra people, who brandished their weapons in our faces," he says. "They brandished their weapons at their Muslim brothers. Everybody here can attest to that."
 
After a brief tussle with a masked Nusra Front fighter Al-Safouri can be heard shouting: "Aren't we Muslims?! Aren't we Muslims?! They are not our brothers. Anyone who points his gun at me is no brother of mine."
 
"See what kind of foreign fighters have come to our aid... They point their guns at their Muslim brothers," he adds sarcastically of the Nusra fighters, many of whom are non-Syrians.
 
At one point other commanders direct the camera to the Nusra commander, calling for him to be punished.
 
Despite the angry protests it appears that the detachment of Nusra fighters were able to make off with the weapons - an illustration of just how much more powerful the Al Qaeda affiliate is than many other rival rebel groups.
 
In fact, according to MEMRI, the angry exchange backfired completely on Al-Safouri, who was arrested by Nusra and forced to "confess" to being a collaborator with Israel - a charge which could result in his execution.

Al Qaeda in Yemen Threatens to Execute American Hostage

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 04 December 2014 06:36
luke somersAl Qaeda's branch in Yemen has threatened to execute a British-born American journalist if its demands are not met within three days.
 
33-year-old Luke Somers was kidnapped by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in September 2013 in the Yemeni capital Sana'a. US special forces reportedly attempted to free him as recently as November 25, but succeeded only in freeing a number of Saudi and Yemeni hostages after terrorists moved Somers to a different location shortly before the operation.
 
In the three-minute video released Wednesday senior AQAP's figure Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi appears sitting at a desk with his face uncovered, calmly reading a list of grievances against the US including military operations in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan. He then warns the US that it has "a time-frame of three days from the issuance of this statement to meet our demands about which they are aware."
 
"Otherwise, the American hostage held by us will meet his inevitable fate. We warn Obama and the American government of the consequences of proceeding ahead in any other foolish action."
 
However reports suggest both US and Yemeni officials are not in fact clear as to what AQAP is demanding in return for Somers, although it has been speculated that the group wants to see a prisoner exchange similar to the one conducted with the Taliban in exchange for US soldier Bowe Bergdahl.
 
Somers also addresses the camera, looking composed but notably thinner than in previous videos.
 
"My name is Luke Somers. I'm 33 years old. I was born in England, but I carry American citizenship and have lived in America for most of my life," he begins.
 
"It's now been well over a year since I've been kidnapped in Sana'a. Basically, I'm looking for any help that can get me out of this situation. I'm certain that my life is in danger.
 
"So as I sit here now, I ask if anything can be done, please let it be done. Thank you very much."
 
The video follows a string of several similar ones from Al Qaeda's rivals in the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) and its affiliates in northern Africa, who have executed several western hostages after similar videos in which they plea for their lives.
 
There are however several noticeable differences between those videos and this one by AQAP.
 
Apart from the fact that al-Ansi does not bother to cover his face - apparently feeling secure enough in the lawless desert expanses of Al Qaeda-held territory in the country - Somers is seen dressed in a plain button-down shirt and not an orange jumpsuit, which jihadis have often forced western hostages to wear. In addition, Somers appears alone, without any armed jihadis lurking threateningly in the background, as is usually the case in such videos.
 
It is unclear what response, if any, has been made by the US government to Somers' captives following the footage.

Al Qaeda Urges Jihadists to 'Rescue Jihad' from ISIS

Category: Islam
Created on Sunday, 28 September 2014 19:09
Islamic State TerroristsA senior Al Qaeda official has urged jihadists to "rescue the ship of jihad" from Islamic State (IS or ISIS) Saturday, according to an audio message released Friday and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. 
 
Muhammad al Bahtiyti, also known as Abu Dujana al Basha, does not mention IS by name in the speech, but it is clearly aimed at the terror organization and former Al Qaeda affiliate. 
 
"We call to restore the rightly-guided Caliphate on the prophetic method, and not on the method of deviation, lying, breaking promises, and abrogating allegiances - a caliphate that stands with justice, consultation, and coming together, and not with oppression, infidel-branding the Muslims, killing the monotheists, and dispersing the rank of the mujahideen [jihadists - ed.]," al Basha stated. 
 
"Abrogating allegiances" likely refers to the split between IS and Al Qaeda earlier this year. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri disowned the group - claiming it was too extreme - after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi  repeatedly ignored calls to end infighting between ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front, Al Qaeda's official branch in Syria. 
 
"I address my speech and my advice to my brothers on the frontlines in Sham [Syria] among those who have been deceived by slogans and titles, to use your heads and have insight, and to weigh the matters fairly," al Basha continued. "Rescue the ship of jihad, and reach it before it deviates from its course and settles on the path of the people of desires. Strive to turn off the sedition and restore cohesion among the mujahideen."
 
ISIS is part of a group of jihadist rebels that declared swathes of Syria and Iraq to be an independent Islamist state, leading to a second civil war between moderate rebels and jihadist rebels in Syria and genocide in Iraq.
 
ISIS has executed dozens of rival Islamists as the group recaptured most territory it had lost in the northeastern Syrian province of Raqqa.
 
More importantly, it has introduced an extra element of chaos into the Middle East, as Arab leaders remain up in arms over what to do about the group and its frequent skirmishes along - and forays into - Lebanese, Jordanian, and Turkish borders. 

Al-Qaeda Promises 'Dark Days' for U.S. Coalition Against IS

Category: News
Created on Monday, 22 September 2014 07:51
al-Qaeda terroristsAl-Qaeda’s branches in Yemen and North Africa on Tuesday issued an unprecedented joint statement calling for jihadists in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a U.S.-led coalition, AFP reported.
 
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) urged their “brothers” in Iraq and Syria to “stop killing each other and unite against the American campaign and its evil coalition that threatens us all.”
 
AQAP and AQIM also called on the people of 10 Arab countries that have joined the coalition against the Islamic State group to prevent their governments from acting against IS, according to AFP.
 
The two groups promised “dark days” to the “alliance of infidelity and evil”.
 
Al-Qaeda’s leadership under Ayman al-Zawahiri has disavowed IS, which has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, but the joint statement, released on two jihadist Twitter accounts, called for differences to be set aside in the face of the growing coalition.
 
“Make the unity of the infidel nations against you a reason for your unity against them,” it said, accusing Washington of “leading a Crusader campaign against Islam and all Muslims”.
 
“Stop the infighting between you and stand as one against America’s campaign,” it added, according to AFP.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama  last week announced that a broader campaign would seek to "degrade and ultimately destroy'' IS.
 
The campaign has already been slammed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on Monday said his country had rejected a U.S. request for cooperation against the IS because Washington has “dirty hands”.
 
Secretary of State John Kerry waffled on his position from last Friday, when he ruled out Iran's participation in the global coalition against IS, saying in an interview that he would be open to military cooperation with Iran.
 
Asked in a Yahoo interview whether the U.S. would cooperate militarily with Iran, Kerry did not rule out the option, saying, "Let’s see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements."

Al-Qaeda Declares New Branch in India

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 07 September 2014 19:18
Ayman al-ZawahiriAl-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on Wednesday announced the formation of an Indian branch of his terrorist group, Reuters reported.
 
The Al-Qaeda leader declared the new branch would spread Islamic rule and "raise the flag of jihad" across the subcontinent.
 
In a 55-minute video posted online, Zawahiri also renewed a longstanding vow of loyalty to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, in an apparent snub to the Islamic State group.
 
Zawahiri described the formation of "Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent" as a glad tidings for Muslims "in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujurat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir" and said the new wing would rescue Muslims there from injustice and oppression.
 
Counter-terrorism experts say Al-Qaeda's aging leaders are struggling to compete for recruits with Islamic State, which has galvanized young followers around the world by carving out tracts of territory across the Iraq-Syria border.
 
Islamic State leader Abu Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calls himself a "caliph" or head of state and has demanded the loyalty of all Muslims.
 
The group fell out with Zawahiri in 2013 over its expansion into Syria, where Baghdadi's followers have carried out beheadings, crucifixions, and mass executions.
 
According to Reuters, Zawahiri’s statement on Wednesday warned Al-Qaeda's new wing against oppressing local populations - another complaint leveled against Islamic State by critics in Iraq and Syria.
 
"If you said that you are doing jihad to defend the sanctities of the Muslims, then you must not transgress against them or their money or honor, and not even transgress your mujahideen brothers by word and action," he said.
 
"Discord is a curse and torment, and disgrace for the believers and glory for the disbelievers," Zawahiri said. "If you say that by your jihad you do not want but the pleasure of Allah, then you must not race for governance and leadership at the first opportunity."

Syrian Islamic Rebels Sign Covenant of Honor

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Friday, 04 July 2014 11:03
christian-massacreFive of the quarreling opposition forces have joined forces to produce a covenant. Will it bring the desired results - and what, exactly, are those results?
 
The most difficult problem facing the anti-Assad forces is that there is no single Opposition to Assad. Instead, there is a plethora of opposition forces, with different goals and individual plans of action. They have not hesitated, over and over again, to fight one another. This is one of the main reasons Assad's regime has survived up until now.
 
The divisiveness among  the anti-Assad groups is most pronounced among the religiously-motivated ones, those fighting in the name of Islam. In contrast to them, the Free Syrian Army is a militia that lacks a religious cast, and includes Muslims, Druze, Christians and even Alawites. It does not want to establish an Islamist state, but a modern and democratic one.
 
Two of the religious militias stand out: "The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria" (Dulat al-Islam fi al-Iraq wal-Sham, Daash, for short) and "The Support Front for the People of the Levant" (Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahl ash-Shām). The two militias are the largest and wealthiest of them all, and therefore have the greatest effect on what is happening in Syria, but they are at odds with each other and have already clashed several times. What they have in common is that each one was closely aligned with al-Qaeda for a while, and that both want ultimately to establish a Sunni Islamist Sharia state on the ruins of Assad's Syria.
 
Out in the field there are tens of much smaller Islamic militias whose names are, for the most part, unfamiliar, whose strengths are unknown and whose influence on Syria's future is unclear.
 
Last week five of these militias gathered together and decided on a joint covenant. The groups are, in rough translation, "The United Islamic Forces of the Levant ( al-Ittihad al-Islami li-Ajnad al-Sham)", "The Levantine Division (Filak Al-Sham)", "The Jihad Fighters Army (Jaysh al-Muwahhideen)", "The Salvation Brigade (Al Furqan)" and  "The Islamic Front (Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya)". The names of these militias reflect their Islamic religious ethos, and their military character raises the suspicion that they are the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda.
 
The five militias are extremely concerned about Assad's ability to continue to massacre his opponents, that is, the divided – and therefore weak – opposition, The world's lack of involvement is because of its fears of the rise of another Islamic terror state, something that is actually happening already. This brought the five groups together to issue a "Covenant of Honor' that is intended to create a new agenda for Islamic groups, one that will unite them and dispel the West's fears.
 
The following is a translation of the entire document, with my comments in parentheses:
 
"The revolutionary forces are aware of the importance of the stage our blessed revolution is undergoing. In order to unify the efforts under one framework of action that will serve the Syrian revolution, the forces have decided:
 
1. The definitions and rules of revolutionary activity are taken from the tenets of Islam, far removed from extremism and radicalism.
 
2. The Armed Syrian Revolution has a political goal and it is to topple the present regime with all its institutions and regalia, and to bring it to justice, far removed from vengeance.
 
3. The revolution's military goal is the Syrian regime which inflicts terror tactics against our people, using its military strength, a standing army and militias ("hashbicha"), allies such as the mercenaries from Iran, Hezbollah (Lebanese Shiites), "the Abu Alfadel Alabas Battalion (Syrian Shiite militia) and everyone who attacks our people and claims they are heretics such as Daash (i.e.The Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant, a Sunni al-Qaeda type organization).
 
Our military activities are limited to Syria (i.e. We will not attack our enemies in refugee camps or foreign lands).
 
4. The actions to topple the regime are joint actions of all the revolutionary forces and result from their awareness of the regional aspect (i.e. the struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia over regional hegemony) and the international dimension (i.e. the decline of America's power, the rise of pro-Syrian regime Russia's power) of the Syrian crisis. We encourage the cooperation and connection with regional (i.e. the Sunnis: Saudis, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan) and international forces (Europe, US) who identify with the sad state of the Syrian people in ways that serve the goals of the revolution.
 
5. It is important to preserve Syrian territorial contiguity and oppose any plans for partition by all means. This is a revolutionary axiom that is not open to negotiation (i.e. we oppose a Kurdish, Alawite, Druze or Islamic state in Haleb or other areas).
 
6. In their military activities, our revolutionary forces rely on the Syrian components, and believe that the political and military decisions of the revolution must be solely Syrian.We reject all subjugation to outside forces (i.e. if Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the USA want to help us, we will be happy, but will not accept dictates from them).
 
7. The Syrian people aspire to establish a state based on justice, law and freedom, free of pressures and dictates (i.e. we don't want a Sharia state, but will not accept western-style democracy either).
 
8.The Syrian revolution is a revolution bearing morals and values, it aspires to achieve liberty, justice and security for Syrian society and its heterogenic social fabric, its ethnic  (i.e. Arabs, Kurds, Armenians) and religious (Moslem, Christian, Druze, Alawite) components.
 
9. The Syrian revolution is obligated to respect the human rights that pure Islam calls to respect.
 
10. We reject the regime's policy of attacking civilians with varous weapons, including chemical weapons. We wish to stress our obligation to remove civilians from the combat arena. We have no weapons of mass destruction and we have not and will not put them to use.
 
11.Everything recovered from the regime is the Syrian nation's property. The revolutionary forces use these assets to fulfill the demands of the people to overthrow the regime.
 
This and more: We call on the other forces acting on Syrian land to sign this proclamation so that we can all work together in the struggle to topple the regime."
 
So ends the declaration. It seems to me that the declaration is aimed primarily at US President Obama and some other European leaders who hesitate to send arms to the Syrian rebels in order not to establish another al-Qaeda state. This coalition of militias defines the group called "An Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant" as an enemy, and that suffices to cleanse this newly-formed coalition of militias in the eyes of the American government and European decision makers.
 
This declaration is intended to attract positive attention – along with financial  – from Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well, two countries which distance themselves from the actions of extremist Islamic organizations such as Daash and Jabhat an-Nuṣrah..
 
Does this declaration mean that all the forces opposing Assad are marching in formation under one command towards the final battle against him?
 
It is too early to predict this scenario, but it is clear that the source of the document and the understandings upon which it stands are the ongoing weakness of Assad's opponents as a result of their internal splits and the struggles they wage against one another. The document is an attempt to unite the lines of the Islamic opposition while calming down the West.
 
Will the attempt succeed? Only time will tell.
 
Dr. Mordechai KedarDr. Mordechai Kedar
 
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.

World Leaders Alarmed over Islamist Takeover of Iraqi City

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 June 2014 18:04
Islamist Takeover of Iraqi CityWorld leaders have reacted with alarm to the capture of Iraq's second city by an Al Qaeda offshoot, whose rapidly-expanding control over vasts swathes of Iraq and Syria has seen it morph into a fully-fledged state in all but name.
 
The takeover of Mosul on Tuesday by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, prompted the United States to voice deep concern about the "extremely serious" situation and warn that the jihadist Sunni group poses "a threat to the entire region".  
 
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman also issue a statement, saying the UN chief was "gravely concerned by the serious deteriorating of the security situation in Mosul".
 
ISIS, which also seized an international airport and captured US-made weapons and equipment during its rout of Iraqi security forces, has dealt a spectacular blow to Baghdad's Shia-led government by cementing its effective control over the entirety of the country's western Nineveh Province, and now poses a clear threat across the Middle East.
 
In a desperate attempt to fend off the threat posed by the group - who will now surely be eyeing further territorial gains - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called a state of emergency and has offered to arm local tribes and citizens opposed to ISIS. 
 
Known for its ruthless tactics and suicide bombers, ISIS has already controlled the Iraqi city of Fallujah for five months, and is also arguably the most capable force fighting President Bashar al-Assad inside Syria. 
 
ISIS is led by the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and backed by thousands of Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq, many of them Westerners and other foreign jihadists, and it appears to be surpassing Al Qaeda as the world's most dangerous terrorist group.  
 
Western governments fear it could eventually emulate Al Qaeda and strike overseas, but their biggest worry for now is likely the eventual return home of foreign fighters attracted by ISIS and Baghdadi.
 
Among them are men like Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old Frenchman who allegedly carried out a deadly shooting on a Jewish museum in Belgium last month after spending a year fighting with ISIS in Syria.
 
Working towards Islamic emirate
 
The Soufan Group, a New York-based consultancy, estimates that 12,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Syria, including 3,000 from the West.
 
And ISIS appears to have the greatest appeal, with King's College London Professor Peter Neumann estimating around 80 percent of Western fighters in Syria have joined the group.
 
Unlike other groups fighting Assad, ISIS is seen working towards an ideal Islamic emirate that straddles Syria and Iraq. And compared with Al Qaeda's franchise in Syria, Al Nusra Front, it has lower entry barriers.
 
ISIS has also sought to appeal to non-Arabs, recently publishing two English-language magazines, having already released videos in English, or with English subtitles.
 
The jihadist group claims to have had fighters from the Britain, France, Germany and other European countries, as well as the United States, and from the Arab world and the Caucasus.
 
Much of the appeal also stems from Baghdadi himself - the ISIS leader is touted as a battlefield commander and tactician, a crucial distinction compared with Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.
 
"For the last 10 years or more, (Zawahiri) has been holed up in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area and hasn't really done very much more than issue a few statements and videos," said Richard Barrett, a former counter-terrorism chief at MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence service.
 
"Whereas Baghdadi has done an amazing amount - he has captured cities, he has mobilised huge amounts of people, he is killing ruthlessly throughout Iraq and Syria.
 
"If you were a guy who wanted action, you would go with Baghdadi," Barrett told AFP.
 
Baghdadi apparently joined the insurgency that erupted in Iraq soon after the 2003 US-led invasion.  
 
In October 2005, American forces said they believed they had killed "Abu Dua," one of Baghdadi's known aliases, in a strike on the Iraq-Syria border.  
 
But that appears to have been incorrect, as he took the reins of what was then known as the Islamic State of Iraq, or ISI, in May 2010 after two of its chiefs were killed in a US-Iraqi raid. ISI was Al Qaeda's official branch in that country, but after engaging in the Syrian civil war against Zawahiri's explicit instructions - and then threatening to alienate public support through his extremely brutal tactics - the newly-named ISIS was disowned by the Al Qaeda chief.
 
Since then, details about Baghdadi have slowly trickled out.  
 
Bearded man with a suit and tie
 
In October 2011, the US Treasury designated him as a "terrorist" in a notice that said he was born in the Iraqi city of Samarra in 1971.
 
And earlier this year, Iraq released a picture they said was of Baghdadi, the first from an official source, depicting a balding, bearded man in a suit and tie.
 
At the time Baghdadi took over, his group appeared to be on the ropes, after "the surge" of US forces combined with the shifting allegiances of Sunni tribesmen to deal him a blow.
 
But the group has bounced back, expanding into Syria in 2013.
 
Baghdadi sought to merge with Al-Nusra, which rejected the deal, and the two groups have operated separately since. More recently, the two have engaged in armed clashes against one another, as rebel groups joined forces to eject ISIS from Syria.
 
Rebels accuse ISIS of serving the Syrian regime's agenda; the group has embittered its rivals through its ruthless monopolization of territory, attacking rebel forces and killing several prominent rebel leaders in its quest to establish its Islamic state.
 
Despite losing some territory to Syrian rebels ISIS has consolidated its control over areas still under its control, and Middle East expert Aymenn al-Tamimi observed that previous conservative estimates of the group's strength were clearly vastly underestimating its capabilities.
 
Speaking to the Washington Post, Tamimi noted that ISIS's ability to brush aside American-trained Iraqi security forces in Mosul at the same time as it is fighting on several other fronts in Syria (against rebels, Kurdish militias and Syrian regime forces), proves its manpower is far greater than the 10,000 fighters it is widely reported to posses.
 
And speaking to Arutz Sheva yesterday he said its continued success should sound alarm bells.
 
"If it turns out ISIS have taken exclusive control without sharing with other groups then this is very significant. It means massive expansion of power and resources... so in short, they are just getting stronger and stronger."

Canadian Youth Helped Carry Out Iraq Suicide Bombing

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 05 June 2014 07:41
Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant -ReutersCanadian Salman Ashrafi has been identified as the suicide bomber who participated in an attack in Iraq in November 2013. Some 40 people were killed in the attack. The attack included two vehicles, one of which exploded outside the Iraqi army base in Tarmiyah, and a second one that entered the compound and exploded inside, killing the victims. One of the cars was driven by Ashrafi, Canadian officials said this week.
 
Ashrafi, a resident of Calgary in western Canada, grew up in the city and studied at Canada's Lethbridge University. He graduated with a degree in engineering, and later worked for major energy companies, including Talisman Energy and Exxon. Ashrafi moved to Calgary with his family in the mid-1990s from Saudi Arabia, after his father accepted an academic position at a local university.
 
He apparently underwent a process of radicalization while in school, officials said. Ashrafi joined several campus groups and participated in anti-racism protests. He moved into an apartment with four other Muslim youths, and became friends with them, joining them for social events and praying in the same mosque with them.
 
One of the youths, a Canadian Christian named Damian Clairmont, who had converted to Islam, went to Syria and joined Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic terror group, the Al-Nusra Front. He ws killed in a battle with the Free Syrian Army last year.
 
Following his friend's example, Ashrafi in late 2012, and now in his mid-20s. also went to Syria, but continued on to Iraq. There he joined another Islamist group, called The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also affiliated with Al-Qaeda. The group was behind the November 2013 terror attack in which Ashrafi was killed.
 
In January 2013, two other Canadian youths were killed in Algeria, carrying out attacks for an Islamist group there.  

Leader of Sinai Al-Qaeda-Inspired Group Eliminated

Category: News
Created on Friday, 23 May 2014 10:12
Sinai TerroristThe leader of an Al-Qaeda-inspired group that fired rockets from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula towards the Israeli city of Eilat was killed in a drive-by shooting on Thursday, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
 
Three associates of the leader of the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group were killed in the same incident as well, senior Egyptian security officials said.
 
The development deals a heavy blow to the group, which has claimed scores of deadly attacks across Egypt since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last July.
 
According to three senior security officials, Shadi el-Manaei, who headed the group, and the three others were found dead after unidentified gunmen sprayed their vehicle with bullets on a road in central Sinai.
 
The officials said that according to the police investigation, 15 men in vehicles and armed with automatic machineguns, attacked el-Manaei's car to avenge the killings of tribesmen by his terror group.
 
Among the attacks claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in recent months was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.
 
Egypt's military-backed interim government has blamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group for the violence, outlawing it and calling it a terrorist organization. The Brotherhood denies being involved in the violence.
 
The United States has designated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis a foreign terrorist organization. Egypt just recently charged 200 suspected members of the group with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks, killing 40 policemen and 15 civilians and conspiring with Hamas.

Al Qaeda Chief Explosives Expert Dead in 'Unprecedented' US Op.

Category: News
Created on Friday, 25 April 2014 13:00
Ibrahim al-Asiri - ReutersReports indicate that a massive US military operation in Yemen on Saturday and Sunday killed well over 55 Al Qaeda terrorists. Among the dead reportedly is Ibrahim al-Asiri, the chief bombmaker of the terrorist organization.
 
A 4x4 truck which the 32-year-old al-Asiri was thought to be in was ambushed by US special forces over the weekend, according to the Daily Mail.
 
The US special forces, who were dropped in by helicopter, reportedly took position by the road and waited for the truck to arrive before showering it with a hail of bullets. While the occupants managed to fire back, all were killed in the barrage.
 
Trained dogs were used by soldiers to identify those in the truck, and troops later confirmed that one was a "high value militant." If the rumors of al-Asiri's death are true, he would be the most senior Al Qaeda terrorist killed since Osama Bin Laden in May 2011.
 
Al-Asiri is considered an explosives expert, and was the mastermind behind the failed 2009 "underwear bombing" attempt on a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit. An upgraded underwear bomb, also thought to be Al-Asiri's work, was foiled by the CIA in 2012.
 
The upgraded bomb, as well as others designed by al-Asiri, contained no metal parts, making security scans vulnerable to the explosives. It was mainly due to his expertise that the group's Yemeni branch - Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - was deemed its most dangerous to US interests by American security chiefs.
 
The bomb expert reportedly recruited his own brother, Abdullah al-Asiri, to be a suicide bomber in a failed 2009 assassination attempt on Saudi Arabia's counter-terror chief, Prince Mohammed Bin Naif. Abdullah was killed by explosives that had been concealed in his rectum, while Naif was just slightly injured in the attack.
 
AQAP leader also killed?
 
Several air strikes primarily by US drones were carried out in central and southern Yemen over the weekend, leaving 55 terrorists dead on Sunday alone. The operation is considered the largest strike against Al Qaeda since 2012.
 
A desert air base in eastern Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen, is thought to have been the base of operations for the strikes.
 
Aside from al-Asiri, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi is also believed to have been killed.
 
Just last week footage was leaked of al-Wuhayshi holding an unprecedentedly large meeting with over 100 fighters and commanders of the terrorist group in Yemen.
 
While it is possible the meeting caught Western intelligence services unawares, some theories posit that intelligence agencies were more interested in listening in to the proceedings for valuable information than disrupting it.
 
The havoc wrought on Al Qaeda in Yemen just the following weekend after the meeting, in which al-Wuhayshi is thought to have been killed, would seem to support the latter theory.
 
While a senior security source said investigations were currently certifying the identities of those killed in the raids, the source confirmed that "leaders in the organization" had died.

'There Are Thousands of Al-Qaeda Terrorists in Gaza'

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 March 2014 12:37
al Qaeda flagThe head of a Gaza-based jihadist group warned on Sunday that there are several thousand Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists in Gaza.
 
Speaking to The Associated Press (AP), the terror leader, Abu Bakir al-Ansari, said that these terrorists pose a formidable threat to both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
 
Al-Ansari described a movement that is larger and better organized than is generally believed, with dozens of fighters now in Syria, and claimed his group killed an Italian activist three years ago. He added that Gaza's Salafis have agreed with Hamas to observe a truce with Israel for the time being, but that they are ready to fight at any time.
 
"We have a deal with Hamas to abide by the truce as long as Israel abides," Abu Bakir told AP. "But once it violates the truce, we fire our rockets without any consultation with Hamas."
 
Abu Bakir, who refused to be identified by his real name, claimed he has survived three Israeli assassination attempts. He told AP he was a former member of Hamas, but broke away after the group agreed to participate in parliamentary elections in 2006. He was later arrested by Hamas for allegedly forming "terrorist groups" and "harming national interests" for firing rockets into Israel during a time of truce, and for attacking hair salons and other shops.
 
Abu Bakir told the news agency he spent three years behind bars and was beat and kept in solitary confinement by Hamas.
 
He also revealed that since late 2012, Salafi groups have formed a loose alliance.
 
"We are six groups and we have thousands of fighters, maybe 4,000," he told AP.
 
Under the truce agreement, he revealed, the Salafis have halted attacks on shops, hair salons and coffee shops after Hamas provided assurances there would be no drinking of alcohol, racy movies or mixing of the sexes in these places.
 
"If Hamas stops preventing the bad things in these places, we will return," he declared.
 
Abu Bakir said the group has halted attacks on Christians, as long as they "abide by the rules." That means no public displays of crosses, and consumption of pork and alcohol  must take place in private. He further claimed that 100 Gazans have gone to Syria to battle the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, and 10 have been killed so far.
 
Although Hamas, like its parent group the Muslim Brotherhood, is more observant of Islam than the secular Fatah faction, Salafi groups hold the ruling faction in contempt and hope to instead wrest control of Gaza from Hamas and install a Sharia-bound regime instead.
 
Hamas has cracked down on the Salafists, who have claimed responsibility for some of the rocket attacks on Israel, and has been arresting them for several years.
 
In December, an Al-Qaeda-inspired group said it had infiltrated Judea and Samaria as part of its war against “the Jews,” Christians, infidels and the Palestinian Authority.
 
That claim came after Israeli security forces killed three Salafi terrorists in Hevron, foiling a huge terror attack.
 
Salafists have also been a problem for Egypt, carrying out terrorist attacks in the Sinai Peninsula and firing rockets from there at the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

New Saudi Law: 20 Years for Belonging to Terrorist Groups

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 20:22
Saudi security forces -AFPSaudi King Abdullah on Monday decreed jail terms of up to 20 years for belonging to "terrorist groups" and fighting abroad, AFP reported.
 
The new law comes as part of Saudi Arabia’s struggles to deter Islamist Saudis from becoming jihadists.
 
"Taking part in combat outside the kingdom, in any form" will be punished by jail terms of between three and 20 years, said the decree published by state news agency SPA.
 
Similar sentences will be passed on those belonging to "extremist religious and ideological groups, or those classified as terrorist organizations, domestically, regionally and internationally," the decree said, according to AFP.
 
Supporting such groups, adopting their ideology or promoting them "through speech or writing" would also incur prison terms, the decree added.
 
Rights group Amnesty International sharply criticized the new legislation, saying it could be used to suppress peaceful political dissent because the law used an "overly vague definition of terrorism".
 
"The Saudi Arabian authorities are seeking legal cover to entrench their ability to crack down on peaceful dissent and silence human rights defenders," Amnesty's Said Boumedouha said in a statement quoted by AFP.
 
Saudi Arabia set up specialized terrorism courts in 2011 to try dozens of nationals and foreigners accused of belonging to Al-Qaeda or being involved in a wave of bloody attacks that swept the country from 2003.
 
As part of its efforts to fight terrorism, the kingdom last year opened a luxury rehabilitation center in Riyadh, featuring counseling, spa treatments and exercise for convicted Al-Qaeda terrorists.
 
Scores of Saudis are believed to have joined Islamist extremists fighting in Syria, where Riyadh is a strong backer of the nearly three-year rebellion against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.
 
The Saudis have reportedly been providing the rebel groups that are considered to be moderate with anti-tank missiles.
 
Last week it was reported that the U.S. Congress had approved funding for light arms for the moderate rebel groups in Syria.

Junior Jihad: Syrian Rebels Present Four-Year-Old Fighter

Category: Islam
Created on Saturday, 01 February 2014 18:13
Child in Islamic Jihad summer camp in GazaIn the latest alarming evidence of child soldiers being used by Syrian rebel forces, an Islamist brigade linked to Al Qaeda released footage of a four year old it claimed as its youngest recruit.
 
In the video (below), the child - who can barely hold the AK-47 rifle he is firing - lets off two shots to cheers of "Allahu Akbar". The tiny boy is clad in a black ski mask and is forced to rest the barrel of the rifle on what appears to be a section of a roadblock to prevent himself from falling over.
 
{youtube}aEieWqsY45w{/youtube}
 
Britain's Daily Mail reported that the child is believed to be the son of an Albanian jihadi, one of thousands of foreign Islamist fighters who have flocked to fight on both sides of the Syrian civil war, which is increasingly being waged as a sectarian conflict between Islam's Shia and Sunni sects.
 
In December, a video by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) illustrated the numerous cases of young Syrian children - often orphans who parents were killed by the Assad regime - fighting among the ranks of the country's various rebel factions.
 
The video comes as French Prime Minister Francois Hollande claimed that both France and the UK had seen up to 700 foreign Islamist fighters from each of their countries leave to fight in Syria.
 
"We have young people who live in our respective countries who are being manipulated, and they are going off to the combat areas," he said after a press conference with his British counterpart David Cameron. "Today we were exchanging figures – 600 to 700 young people are involved in each of our countries."
 
Western security officials are concerned that some of the scores of fighters from Europe and North America could eventually return - radicalized and well-trained - to their native countries and commit attacks there.
 
Earlier this month a report revealed how an Islamist network led by British Muslim extremist Anjem Choudary was actively recruiting young British Muslims to fight in Syria, under the noses of British authorities.

Syria: Nearly 500 Dead in Rebel Infighting

Category: Islam
Created on Friday, 17 January 2014 15:38
Members of the Al-Baraa bin Malek batallion - AFPAt least 482 people have been killed in fighting between the Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel group Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and other Syrian rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported.
 
Eighty-five civilians were among the dead, along with at least 240 non-ISIS rebels and 157 ISIS members.
 
The high death toll was reported after just one week of fighting across various provinces of northern Syria. Three powerful rebel alliances – among them Islamist groups - have teamed up to fight ISIS, which they have warned is worse than the Bashar Assad regime.
 
ISIS has been accused of several human rights abuses, including torturing and murdering prisoners, among them children and teenagers, and forcing Druze men to convert to Islam or die.
 
The Al-Qaeda linked group has vowed to “crush” other rebel groups in Syria.
 
Rebels with the Islamic Front have made gains against ISIS, capturing a key base in Aleppo and advancing in the Idlib province. However, they have reportedly been struggling to oust ISIS in its stronghold of Raqqa.

Pakistan Boy Killed Stopping Terrorist Hailed as Hero

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 23:11
Aitzaz HasanA 15-year-old boy in Pakistan is being hailed as a hero, after he tackled a suicide bomber terrorist to stop him from blowing up his school on Monday. The boy was killed defending his fellow students, 2,000 of whom were at the school, as the bomb detonated.
 
The boy, Aitzaz Hasan, was with his friends outside his school in the Hangu region of north-western Pakistan, which has suffered from Muslim sectarian violence and high Al Qaeda and Taliban activity. Aitzaz and his friends spotted the terrorist approach wearing a bomb belt.
 
According to his cousin Mudassar Hassan Bangish, Aitzaz said "I'm going to stop him. He is going to school to kill my friends." Bangish told BBC "he wanted to capture this suicide bomber. He wanted to stop [him]. Meanwhile the suicide bomber blasted himself which resulted in the death of my cousin."
 
The teenager has been the object of much praise over his self-sacrifice, giving up his life despite his friends' attempts to stop him.
 
Aitzaz's father Mujahid Ali praised his son's heroism, saying "my son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children."
 
Some have called for Aitzaz to be given the army's highest honor given award to those who sacrifice their lives for the country; "we the citizens believe that State of Pakistan must award Nishan-i-Haider to Pakistan's brave son shahid (martyr) Aitzaz," wrote journalist Nasim Zehra on her Twitter account Thursday.
 
Former Pakistani ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman also was part of the social media outpouring calling for recognition of the youth's bravery. Rehman tweeted "Hangu's shahid (martyr) Aitzaz Hasan is Pakistan's pride. Give him a medal at least. Another young one with heartstopping courage."
 
Bangish described his cousin as "brave," noting "he always used to say 'I am always ready for my country.'" Bangish also called his cousin "a shahid of his whole nation."
 
Aitzaz is not the first Pakistani youth to pay a cost for opposing terrorism. Malala Yousufzai, a 15-year-old activist who spoke out against the Taliban's ban on schooling for girls, was shot in the head by the terrorist organization, although she survived her wounds.

Al-Qaeda Group: We Bombed Hezbollah

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 05 January 2014 08:22
al Qaeda flagThe al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Saturday claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing last week in the stronghold of Shiite terror militia Hezbollah, reported Al Arabiya..
 
ISIL managed to penetrated the “security system of the Party of Satan (Hezbollah)... and crush its strongholds... in a first small payment from the heavy account that is awaiting those wicked criminals,” Agence France-Presse quoted the al-Qaeda-linked group as saying in a statement posted onto a website page used by Sunni militants.
 
The bombing, which took place Thursday in Beirut’s Haret Hreik district, killed at least five people and wounded 77.
 
The army, meanwhile, said Saturday that the bomber who blew himself up was a young man from northern Lebanon.
 
“The DNA test results on the remains of a suicide attacker found in the car used in the bomb attack... confirm they belong to the youth Qutaiba al-Satem,” said the army.

Yemen: Attack on Military Post, 10 Dead

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:31
al Qaeda flagAn attack on a military post in Yemen's Lahj province left 10 dead Monday, in the latest in a series of skirmishes in the Arab country. 
 
Southern secessionist gunmen approached the military post on trucks with machine guns, according to the Business Standard, and opened fire. A military official confirmed that the attack took place in the al-Habylan area of the province. 
 
"The army forces swiftly launched a large-scale manhunt against the secessionist attackers and arrested one of them," said an army source. "Two military vehicles were destroyed during the attack. The identities of the gunmen remained unclear."
 
Four soldiers may also have been abducted, military sources revealed to Gulf News. Southern separatists have denied involvement with the attack.
 
North and south Yemen used to be separate states but merged peacefully in 1990. However, the relationship deteriorated soon after, and Southern Yemen began calling for a secession from the North in 2007. 
 
Regional news sources have also linked Al Qaeda with the attack. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has stepped up its attacks against Yemeni security forces in recent years, though these attacks have been mainly in the lawless southern and eastern provinces where jihadist groups are active.
 
In August, the United States closed down all its embassies in the Middle East for several days after U.S. intelligence intercepted a phone call between al-Wuhayshi and Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. During the phone call, al-Wuhayshi reportedly vowed to carry out an attack that would "change the face of history".
 
In September, a large-scale coordinated attack on military bases and outposts left over 40 dead. Earlier this month, terrorists stormed a hospital complex, executing patients and medical staff in cold blood. 52 were killed and over 150 injured. 

Al Qaeda Apologizes for Yemen Hospital Attack

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 22 December 2013 16:34
Al Qaeda Hospital AttackAn Al Qaeda leader has given a rare apology for the deadly attack earlier this month in Yemen which killed 52 people, according to USA Today Sunday. Shocking CCTV footage of the attack revealed how terrorists stormed a hospital complex, executing patients and medical staff in cold blood, drawing anger from many Yemenis.
 
Qassim al-Rimi, commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, stated in a video that the attackers were warned in advance not to enter the hospital within the complex, nor a place for prayer there. One terrorist, he insisted, ignored direct orders. 
 
"Now we acknowledge our mistake and guilt," al-Rimi stated in a video released late Saturday by al-Qaeda's media arm al-Mallahem.
 
"We offer our apology and condolences to the victims' families. We accept full responsibility for what happened in the hospital and will pay 'blood money' for the victims' families."
 
Analysts say that a Yemeni state television broadcast prompted the apology, after widespread outrage at footage showing the killer attacking hospital staff. While Al Qaeda tried to dismiss the video as a hoax, the broadcast apparently embarrassed the group's leaders enough to make a public apology for their actions.
 
"We rid ourselves of what our brother did," al-Rimi said. "We did not order him to do so and we are not pleased with what he did."
 
Despite this, of course, the leader vowed to continue "our Jihad," or killing innocents in the name of a global Islam. 
 
USA Today notes that the authenticity of the video, which had English subtitles, cannot be confirmed. 
 
In addition to 52 dead, 167 people were also reportedly injured in the attack. The bloodshed - the worst in Yemen in 18 months - prompted the US to raise its alert status of the Middle-Eastern country. 
 
Al Qaeda has stepped up its attacks in Yemen over the past several years. In September, a large-scale coordinated attack on military bases and outposts left over 40 dead. 

New Report Reveals Kenya Attackers Likely Escaped Westgate Mall

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 18:59
Kenya- Terrorists -child Escapes AliveA detailed report by the New York Police Department on the deadly Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya, reveals previously unknown details of the attack - including the fact that the four attackers likely escaped alive. The report was compiled from publicly-available material and was released Tuesday.
 
The September attack on a crowded mall killed 67 and wounded 200, in the worst terrorist atrocity to hit the African state since the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, which killed 212 people. 
 
Victims ranged in age from 78 to to just eight years old, and came from 13 different countries. Most casualties likely took place within the first hour of the attack, according to assessments.
 
Although apparently well-planned, the attack itself was carried out with relative ease by just four Al Shabaab terrorists, primarily due to the lack armed security guards at the site and a poorly-coordinated and sometimes thoroughly confused operation by security teams responding to the attack.
 
The Islamist gunmen were armed with folding-stock AK-47 assault rifles and hand-grenades - relatively "light" weapons, which indicated that they did not expect to encounter any effective resistance in the attack. 
 
At one point, after realizing that they were ill-equipped to handle what had initially been reported as an armed robbery, Kenyan police called on the military, who dispatched troops to tackle the terrorists. But a lack of proper coordination, coupled with confusion resulting from many of the police first-responders failing to wear any form of law-enforcement identification marks, resulted in soldiers opening fire on members of the police tactical team, killing one officer and wounding the team commander.
 
Although one of the terrorists was shot in left leg by "an unidentified first-responder" during the first few minutes of the attack, the gunmen strolled largely uninterrupted through the mall, firing at will at innocent bystanders, and talking on their mobile phones to associates in Somalia and possibly Norway, according to reports. At one point, CCTV cameras show the men gathering in a storeroom, apparently relaxed, to eat and pray - with all but one of them putting down their weapons entirely.
 
Contrary to some reports at the time, the terrorists showed little if any interest in taking hostages, and focused instead on killing as many people as possible. In a graphic illustration of the cold-blooded nature of the attack, the report recounts how one of the terrorists' first targets was a parent-children cookery competition.
 
Although at points they attempted to distinguish between Muslim and non-Muslim bystanders - only killing the latter - at other points they simply fired at random. According to the report, most of the casualties were inflicted on terrified shoppers huddling together in an attempt to hide from the terrorists - but when discovered, the mass of unarmed civilians presented an easy target.
 
But most damningly for Kenyan security teams, it appears that despite the presence of scores of police, armed civilians and the military - who eventually fired an anti-tank rocket at the mall - all four terrorists probably escaped alive due to an astonishing failure by security teams to properly cordon-off the area.
 
Apart from demonstrating the lack of preparedness or training by Kenyan security forces to such an incident, the attacks above all illustrate the relative ease with which such mass-casualty attacks can be carried out against soft targets with large concentrations of innocent civilians. 
 
It also served as a high-profile reminder that, despite suffering losses inside Somalia at the hands of African Union troops (including Kenyan forces - the main motive given by Al Shabaab for the attack), the Al Qaeda-aligned Al Shabaab is still capable of coordinating large-scale terrorist atrocities outside of the country.
 
The full report can be read here.
 
Last month a Kenyan court charged four Somali men for providing support to the terrorist squad which carried out the attack. None of them are believed to have been among those directly involved in the attack, however.

Former Jihadi Warns of Syrian Rebels with '9/11 Ideology'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 18:40
makeshift memorial for Boston Marathon attack victimsA French Islamist who fought as part of a jihadi rebel faction in Syria has said that foreign fighters with a "9/11 ideology" could return to the West, where they would pose a definitive security threat.
 
In an interview with the BBC the anonymous former rebel fighter told of how he had fought for an unnamed Islamist brigade, before leaving after it pledged its allegiance to Al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), saying that he opposed the brutal methods of the group - but not necessarily its vision for Syria.
 
The interview offers an intriguing insight into the mindset, ideology and motivations of the increasingly dominant Islamist rebel movement in Syria, which has eclipsed the more secular Free Syrian Army. It also once again highlights the growing security concerns shared by most Western countries over the increasingly large number of Western-born Islamists fighting in Syria - and the prospect of there return to their countries of birth at some point in the future.
 
Western states have recently opened diplomatic channels with the largest such faction - the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) - in a bid to gain their support for upcoming peace talks in Geneva. The move has also been seen as an attempt to drive a wedge between the non-Al Qaeda-aligned factions fighting under the banner of SIF, and Al Qaeda franchises such as Al Nusra Front and ISIS, with whom they sometimes coordinate operations, particularly in the north of the country.
 
But such efforts are fraught with risks.
 
As the unnamed fighter, who chose to hide his identity, presumably out of concerns for his safety after publicly declaring his desertion, explained to his interviewer, whilst he and other Islamists in Syria did not support the killing of "blasphemers" or even the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, "the final goal is an Islamic state".
 
"We are all Al Qaeda in the sense of ideology and mindset," he declared.
 
Illustrating his point, he explained how his unit did not view members of the Shia Islamic sect as Muslims, and viewed the conflict through the prism of a religious sectarian war.
 
Echoing sentiments made by Al Qaeda leaders, he said that the Syrian civil war is "Definitely a fight against the Shia. Shia is not a sect of Islam. The difference between Sunni and Shia are so huge that they are not related to our religion in any way."
 
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is a member of the Alawite sect - an offshoot of Shia Islam whose adherents make up around 10% of the Syrian population. His forces are backed by pro-government Shia and Alawite militias raised from within Syria itself, as well as foreign Shia jihadis from Iraq and Lebanon - most notably Hezbollah.
 
Shia Iran has provided crucial support to the Assad regime, including sending members of its own armed forces to train and fight alongside regime troops.
 
Relating how his brigade would treat members of Syria's tiny Shia minority in the areas they controlled, the former rebel said they found it so "irritating" to hear Shia referring to themselves as "Muslims", that "in areas we controlled we would force them to stop calling themselves Muslims."
 
Neither the interviewer nor the former jihadi revealed which precise brigade he had been fighting with, but given his description and the fact that it is said to have "pledged allegiance" to ISIS it was likely to have been the Nusra Front, which did precisely that back in August of this year. Many within the Nusra Front were unhappy about the decision to effectively merge the two groups at the time, and resisted it - causing some tension between different factions within the group ever since.
 
He also revealed how many Islamists are motivated to join the conflict and were encouraged on the battlefield itself by a saying - or "Hadith" - attributed to Mohammed, the founder of Islam, in which he declared that "if Islam in the Greater Syria region is corrupted, there will not be any correct Islam anywhere in the world."
 
The fact that such fundamentalist religious sentiments are shared by Al Qaeda-linked and independent Islamist rebel groups alike illustrates just how easy the ideological journey into the fold of Al Qaeda would be for many foreign fighters - a trend he claimed is on the increase.
 
And crucially - despite saying that he himself did not share such beliefs - he warned that "the same people with the same 9/11 ideology" existed among the large contingent of European Muslim extremists currently fighting in Syria. Alarmingly, he claimed that "Europeans" were the third-largest group of foreign jihadis in Syria, after "the Saudis and Chechens".
 
"Yes, I think they would be a danger to the West," he said, "I wouldn't want them to go back."

Algeria Kills High-Ranking Al Qaeda Leader

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 07 December 2013 10:42
Algerias Al Qaeda LeaderAlgerian officials killed a high-ranking Al Qaeda leader Wednesday in a high-speed chase through the Southern Algerian desert, Al Arabiya reports. 
 
An official from the city of Tamanrasset spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity and claimed that two four-wheel-drive vehicles - one of which was carrying Khalil Ould Addah, also known as Abu Bassen - were hit on their way from Mali to a regional meeting of North African Al Qaeda leaders.
 
"The trail of the two all-terrain vehicles was being followed closely by the army that wanted to take them alive but at the last minute the decision was made to use helicopters to bomb their vehicles," he told the Associated Press. 
 
Addah's precise role in the group is unclear, but he was clearly a prominent figure. Al Qaeda’s branch in the Sahara - known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is led by Yahya Abou el-Hammam, an Algerian, and Ould Addah was likely one of his trusted commanders, according to Jean-Paul Rouillon, an expert on the group.
 
AQIM branch emerged out of the radical Islamist groups trying to overthrow the Algerian government during the 1990s. Its top officials are believed to be in hiding in the northern Kabyle mountain region, near Algiers. 
 
In January, Al Qaeda-linked groups attacked a southern Algerian natural gas facility at Ain Amenas, taking hundreds hostage before the army attacked, killing nearly all the terrorists. Canadian nationals were reported to be involved, including 24 year-old Aaron Yoon, who was recently extradited by a Mauritanian court.
 
At least 40 hostages, many of them from Western countries, died in the standoff. After French forces assembled in Mali, the group threatened more attacks on Algerian citizens if Western involvement in the hostage crisis would not stop. 

American Jihadist in Syria: Entire World Will Be Muslim

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 05:59
Western jihadests - ReutersA US citizen, who joined the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) in Syria, has sent a video message to the West expressing his desire to wage total war against the "infidels" and impose Islamic rule over the entire world. 
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The video features "the American Abu-Dj'ana," brandishing a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a bayonet, who says the following:
"This is a message to people in the West from the Mujahideen (lit. "holy warriors") in Syria. We came here from different countries to protect this land, this Islamic land; to spread the Law of Allah on earth; and to dedicate our lives for Jihad in order so that we can get to heaven."
 
"We are coming to kill all the infidels in the West and beyond to spread Allah's law (Sharia) and the book of Allah (Koran) and to raise them to the highest level," he continues. 
 
"We came to kill anyone that stands in our way. The flag that says that 'there is no God but Allah' will be raised over Parliament Buildings and in capital cities around the world [. . .] with these simple weapons we will liberate this country and this people and  bring Islamic law to control all the world - Europe, U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Africa. "
 
Western states have grown increasingly worried over the influx of foreign fighters - many of them from Europe and North America - to take part in the Syrian civil war. Although many of them are fighting with non-Al Qaeda-aligned groups, a growing number are joining the ranks of its affiliates such as ISIS and the Nusra Front. Western intelligence officials worry about "the day after", when those battle-hardened Islamists return to their home countries, posing a real security threat there.
 
Videos like these, showcasing Western-born Islamists fighting for Al Qaeda in Syria, are still rare, but have become increasingly common as ISIS and the Nusra Front seek to bolster their presence and encourage new recruits, in the face of mounting losses both against government forces and Kurdish militias in northern Syria.
 
Over 11,000 children alone have been killed in the bloody conflict, which has raged in the region since 2011. Foreign nationals have been pouring into Syria to engage in the Civil War, which has mushroomed from a national conflict into an all-out holy war between various Islamic factions. Even among the rebels, there has been a marked lack of unity, with Al Qaeda groups like this one dividing the rebel camps, as some rebels focus more on domestic issues and less on a global Jihad campaign. 

Ten Egyptian Soldiers Killed in Sinai Bombing, Over 100 Injured

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 19:45
Car bomb in SinaiTen Egyptian soldiers were killed Wednesday when a bomb exploded as they were traveling near El Arish in central Sinai. Over 100 soldiers were injured.
 
The soldiers were riding in two trucks when a roadside bomb went off. Ambulances rushed to the scene to transport the injured to the hospital. No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Egyptian officials strongly suspect radical Islamist terrorists as being responsible.
 
The soldiers were part of the many patrols the Egyptian army has sent to Sinai to rout out the last vestiges of Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups that have taken refuge in the area. However, the Egyptian campaign has been less than a resounding success. Terror cells have repeatedly attacked Egyptian soldiers and army units, killing dozens in the months since the Egyptian army booted former President Mohammed Morsi from office.
 
The Islamist groups have a strong presence in Sinai, which is almost impossible to patrol thoroughly. Last month, the army arrested 27 members of a group the government said was planning to murder Egypt’s Interior Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, in September. The group was affiliated with the Sinai Peninsula-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, Arab media reported, and had also involved in a church bombing in the capital last week, in addition to other terrorist attacks in the country, the report said.
 
Sources in Egypt said that in recent weeks, Muslim Brotherhood members had begun cooperating with members of Al Qaeda and other Islamist terror groups. The Brotherhood members have been receiving training and arms from Al Qaeda and other groups, the sources said.

Morsi Trial Could Incriminate Obama Administration

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 07 November 2013 09:56
First day in trial
 
On Monday deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was flown from his prison to stand trial for high treason and other suspected crimes. During course of this trial, alliances and connections could be revealed that incriminate foreign powers, in particular the US, that publicly claim to keep their hands clean of terrorist activity.
 
As Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, president of the Egyptian Christian movement Voice of the Copts, noted in a press statement:
 
"In a country where no regulation or law exists to govern taping of conversations...judges dismissed by Morsi and now reinstated will be presented with tape recordings of Morsi’s discussions with Aymen Al Zawahiri of Al Qaeda."
 
This damning evidence will likely demonstrate that Morsi collaborated with Al Qaeda, and "if found guilty of conspiring with foreign entities against the welfare of the Egyptian state, Morsi will be assigned the death penalty and, since he is non-military, sentenced to hang," according to Ramelah.
 
But who else could the trial uncover as co-conspirators?
 
"Potentially the US administration, the European Union...and others," warned Ramelah. "With the expected court examination of tape recordings and documents, Morsi’s backers and supporters will be exposed unless back room deals are brokered in advance."
 
Ramelah said one of the suspicions the evidence could confirm is that the Obama Administration gave $8 billion to the Muslim Brotherhood to establish a Hamas presence in Sinai.
 
Another known incident the court will surely focus on is the recent delegation of US Senators who tried to pressure Egypt's interim government into releasing Morsi and reinstalling him as president.
 
Egyptians initially had nothing but appreciation for America's backing of their pro-democracy revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. But when Obama then turned around and "aided the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power," said Ramelah, the US began to be viewed as a foreign conspirator against the interests of Egyptians.

Iraq: 7 Members of One Family Killed in Another Day of Violence

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 27 October 2013 14:40
A series of car bombs killed at least 16 people and wounded dozens of others.AFPAttacks in Iraq killed 10 people on Saturday, seven of them from the same family, security and medical officials told the AFP news agency.
 
In the Dura area of southern Baghdad, gunmen armed with silenced weapons shot dead a father, mother, four sons and the wife of one of them at their home, the officials said.
 
The father was a member of the Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda militia, who joined forces with the United States from late 2006 and are frequently targeted by Sunni terrorists, who view them as traitors.
 
In another attack in the Mansur area of west Baghdad, a lawyer was killed by a magnetic “sticky bomb” attached to his car.
 
In a third incident, gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims in Balad, north of Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 11. It was unclear if they were Iraqis or not.
 
Shiites are also often targeted by Sunni terrorists, who consider them apostates.
 
More than 580 people have now been killed in Iraq this month, and 5,300 since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.
 
A study released this month by academics based in the United States, Canada and Iraq found that nearly half a million people have died from war-related causes in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
 
The past few months have seen an upsurge in terrorism, with the recent wave of bloodshed triggered after authorities in April forcibly cleared a protest tent-village erected by Sunni Muslims, who were demonstrating against what they see as the marginalization of their community by the Shiite-led government.
 
The uptick in violence, particularly towards the Shiite population - rivals the anti-Shiite campaign waged by the founder and former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in the years immediately following the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
 
Zarqawi was eventually killed in a U.S. air force bombing raid, but the brutality of his attacks against Iraqi civilians - contributed towards a backlash against Al-Qaeda which seriously hampered the group's operations and forced it to "tone-down" its anti-Shiite campaign somewhat.
 
Now, a resurgent Al Qaeda has drawn on the wave of sectarian hatred fueled by the Syrian civil war to increase its operations in Iraq and Syria, merging various Islamist factions in the regions to become the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (Levant) or ISIS.
 
Last month, sixteen members of the same Shiite family were killed south of Baghdad.
 
Unknown terrorists blew up two adjacent houses belonging to brothers from a Shiite family in Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, after shooting dead sixteen members of the same family, according to eyewitnesses.
 
Eight women and six children are believed to be among the dead.

Al-Qaeda Trying to Get Qaddafi's Arsenal

Category: Reports
Created on Saturday, 26 October 2013 20:41
al Qaeda flagAl-Qaeda terrorists are trying to get their hands on a weapons arsenal that was left behind by former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.
 
According to the report, Qaddafi’s arsenal which remains in an abandoned desert warehouse in southern Libya, includes 4,000 surface-to-air missiles, each capable of downing a passenger jet, and thousands of barrels of uranium yellowcake.
 
An inventory collected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accounted for 6,400 yellowcake barrels, the report said.
 
Bharuddin Midhoun Arifi, a commander of 2,000 fighters in the city of Sabha, was one of the main inheritors of the regime’s abandoned weapon reserves.
 
He was quoted as having told the British Times, “Sometimes I’m afraid that Al-Qaeda will get me. Other times I fear that the Americans or French or British will fire missiles from the sea to destroy all I control.”
 
Arifi claimed that Al-Qaeda had most recently offered 1 million dollars for some of the weapons, an offer which he said he turned down.
 
“I told them…this belonged to my government,” he was quoted as having said.
 
The most pressing matter to Western officials, according to Al Arabiya, is the surface-to-air missiles getting into the hands of Al-Qaeda, an unchecked power in the region enjoying its new freedom in a post-Qaddafi Libya.
 
“Al-Qaeda was terrified of Qaddafi,” said Colonel Faraj Adem, a senior army officer. “None would dare try to enter Libya’s borders. But now Qaddafi has gone, and with him our border security, Al-Qaeda is free to come and go as they please. They are choosing this area to rebuild their weapon stocks and become strong once more. There is no control of weapons stocks here. You want to buy a MANPADS? It’s easy.”
 
During the 2011 civil war in Libya which ultimately resulted in Qadaffi’s death, it was confirmed that the former Libyan strongman had ten tons of mustard gas stockpiled, and it was feared he might use it on opposition forces seeking to bring an end to his regime.
 
Subsequent reports indicated that Iran had supplied Qaddafi’s government with hundreds of special artillery shells for chemical weapons that Libya kept secret for decades.
 
Lawlessness has prevailed in Libya since Qaddafi’s downfall, with jihadists setting up and holding training camps in the country.
 
There have been several attacks in the country, the most well-known of which is the terror attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi.
 
Terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate on September 11, 2012, killing the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
 
Exactly a year later, a car bomb was detonated in Benghazi, damaging the exterior of Libya's Foreign Ministry building and the Central Bank of Libya.

Experts Warn of Al Qaeda Biological Weapons Threat

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 19 October 2013 10:59
Chemical Weapons
 
As international attention in Syria focuses on efforts to dismantle the Assad regime's chemical weapons stockpile, British experts are warning of another, potentially more lethal threat.
 
Experts from the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) have issued a stark warning over what they say is the "clear and present danger" of Al Qaeda gaining possession of the Assad regime's stockpile of biological weapons, claiming to have substantial evidence that Al Qaeda-linked groups may already have possession of toxic agents.
 
Unlike chemical weapons, which utilize chemical agents to poison victims, biological weapons make use of diseases, toxins and other contagious agents. Biological weapons have the potential to kill far greater numbers, and are also far harder to detect or protect against.
 
Both are banned under international treaties, but the Syrian government possesses active programs in both fields. However, whilst the use of chemical weapons during the Syrian civil war has been seen on numerous occasions - most notably, but by no means exclusively, during the August 21 attack which killed more than 1,000 people in a number of Damascus suburbs - biological weapons have not been used by either side.
 
That is likely because bioweapons are notoriously difficult to control or contain.
 
But the HJS report, released on Tuesday, says that jihadists in Syria are actively seeking to gain control of the regime's biological weapons' stockpile and, chillingly, suggests they may already have done so.
 
The report claims that the Assad regime is losing control of its bioweapons arsenal, in part because it was never centrally-controlled in the way the country's chemical weapons stockpile has been.
 
"Unlike chemical weapons, maintained in military designated stockpiles which are generally identifiable and which Assad maintains command and control over, the structure of Syria's biological warfare programs are latent, compartmentalized and spread across its remaining bio-pharmaceutical infrastructure. The programs are designed to be highly agile to allow swift production if required."
 
Worryingly, the report suggests that the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front may already have possession of "biological pathogens or weaponized agents either of which would pose a threat to the international community."
 
It points to the widespread looting of bio-pharmasuitical laboratories throughout the country, and cites a "credible eyewitness" as claiming to have personally witnessed "a looted pharmaceutical laboratory," near Aleppo, where Syria's biological weapons program is concentrated, "which was probably a cover for a biological weapons production site."
 
The fact that a Malaysian Al Qaeda operative named as Yazid Sufaat, identified as "Al Qaeda's primary biological weapon expert", was arrested in February as he attempted to enter Syria, was said to indicate the clear interest that the group has in developing such a program in the country.
 
Other Al Qaeda branches, most notably in Yemen and North Africa, have previously attempted to obtain such weapons, and the group's founder, Osama Bin Laden, had expressed an interest in them prior to the infamous 9/11 attacks.
 
While the report does not cite any clear and definitive evidence of Al Qaeda physically possessing biological agents, the circumstantial evidence paints a fairly alarming picture.
 
On the other hand, analysts will find some solace in the fact that neither Al Qaeda nor any other terrorist group has successfully manufactured and deployed biological weapons to lethal effect.
 
But HJS's Associate Fellow Dr Bellamy van Aalst, a former EU and NATO bio-defence consultant, warned against complacency, in light of the relative availability of already-weaponized and readily-deployable biological weapons in Syria.
 
“Establishing the extent to which Assad may have developed biological WMDs is extremely difficult, given that their production is indistinguishable from benign biological lab processes.
 
“But this is certainly a risk to which we should not turn a blind eye. If Assad has been developing biological weapons, as the evidence suggests, and if those weapons fall into the hands of extremists, global health security could be in grave danger.”

Syria: 41 Killed in Clashes Between Kurdish, Islamist Groups

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 17 October 2013 08:29
Ghouta massacre1
 
At least 41 people have been killed in renewed clashes between Kurdish militias and Al Qaeda-linked terrorists.
 
The clashes took place in the oil-rich Hasake province in northern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
 
The Observatory claimed that at least 29 Al Qaeda fighters and 12 Kurdish fighters had been killed in the clashes between the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) and Islamist fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) and the Nusra Front.
 
The Observatory added that among the dead was a local Nusra Front commander of Egyptian origin, and claimed that the YPG had succeeded in capturing an ISIS checkpoint Tuesday.
 
The YPG has been engaged in a prolonged and bloody struggle for control of Kurdish-majority regions in northern Syria against Islamist groups, many of whom are linked to Al Qaeda.
 
Not long after the start of the uprising against the Assad regime, government forces pulled out of Kurdish areas to focus on attacks by Sunni Arab rebels against major regime strongholds.
 
Kurdish militias quickly moved in to take control - in particular the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) - the military wing of the People's Council of Western Kurdistan (PYD) - declaring their opposition to both the regime and the rebel movement, both of whom they say aim to continue a process of discrimination and "Arabization" against Syria's Kurdish population.
 
Arab and Islamist groups within the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) initially made a grab for Kurdish areas but were beaten back.
 
But the most recent clashes over the past several months have been between the YPG and Al Qaeda-linked groups, after the latter began a concerted and violent campaign to install their own independent "emirates," or Islamic mini-statelets in the oil-rich region. That was met with fierce opposition by Kurdish forces, who responded by ejecting Islamist forces from the border town of Ras al-Ain, near the Turkish border, among other areas.
 
Frequent battles have continued since then, amid claims of war crimes by Islamist forces against Kurdish civilians.
 
The PYD recently announced plans for an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria.
 
Bus bomb blast kills 21
 
Meanwhile, in the south of the country, a bus bomb has killed 21 people in Syria's southern Deraa province, near the border with Israel.
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that "Four children and six women [were killed] in a blast that detonated as their vehicle went past Tal al-Jumua" in the Nawa area.
 
The bombing took place in rebel-held territory near to a besieged pro-regime outpost, and opposition activists have blamed regime forces for the attack.

American Islamist Jailed for Al Qaeda Fundraising

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 05 October 2013 14:43
Sabirhan HasanoffA joint US-Australian citizen has been jailed for 18 years for his part in an Al Qaeda fundraising ring.
 
Between the years 2007 and 2009, 37 year-old Sabirhan Hasanoff helped funneled around $67,000 to Al Qaeda affiliates in various countries, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni franchise of the Islamist terror group considered its most dangerous branch by US authorities.
 
He and another man, Wisam El-Hanafi, also sent bomb-making equipment to terrorist operatives overseas.
 
In addition, Hasanoff, originally from Uzbekistan, made plans to travel to Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia to engage in "jihad" or holy war. He also carried out surveillance of the New York Stock Exchange at the behest of an unnamed Al Qaeda leader, in preparation for a potential attack there.
 
He was arrested back in 2010 in the United Arab Emirates, and subsequently  handed over to US authorities.
 
In 2012, both Hasanoff and El-Hanafi pled guilty to one count of providing and attempting to provide material support and resources to Al Qaeda, and an additional count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to Al Qaeda.
 
Both men were residents of Brooklyn, New York, and were apparently influenced by another American Islamist, Anwar al-Awlaki, a former AQAP leader who regularly called on Muslims in the west to carry out "lone-wolf" style terrorist attacks, independent of any formal Al Qaeda network if need be. 
 
Awlaki is believed to have incited or inspired a number of such attacks and attempted attacks by Muslim extremists in western countries, including the infamous "Fort Hood Massacre," in which US Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others in a shooting spree at an army base in Fort Hood, Texas.
 
Awlaki was himself killed in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Al-Qaeda Battles for Control on Israel’s Border

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 11:50
Members of Liwa Hamzah AFPOne of the largest terrorist groups operating in the Sinai Peninsula has joined Al-Qaeda.
 
The group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (“The Army of Islam in the Beit Al-Makdas Region”), has announced its loyalty to Al-Qaeda, and particularly, to the Al-Qaeda leadership in Iraq.
 
The group in question has carried out many attacks targeting Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. It has also attempted to attack Israel by infiltrating the border, shooting over the border, and firing rockets on Israeli towns.
 
If the ties between the Sinai group and Al-Qaeda prove stable, it will indicate the trend of growing Al-Qaeda strength in the states around Israel.
 
Israel’s defense leaders have previously expressed concern over Al-Qaeda’s strength among Syrian rebel groups, some of which have gained ground next to Israel’s northern border and the Golan.
 
A second Islamic group fighting the Egyptian army in the Sinai, the Al-Furkan Brigades, is ideologically close to Al-Qaeda, but not officially linked to the global terror network. The Al-Furkan Brigades released a video to YouTube this week with footage of some of its attacks on the Egyptian army, including the killing of a senior Air Force officer.
 
The video also showed the killing of an Egyptian civilian who was accused of cooperating with the army.

At Least 42 Killed in Baghdad Car Bomb Attacks

Category: News
Created on Monday, 30 September 2013 17:00
A series of car bombs killed at least 16 people and wounded dozens of others.AFP (File)At least 42 people have been killed and scores wounded in a series of car bomb blasts in Baghdad, as the country faces one of its bloodiest years since 2003.
 
In a familiar pattern, neighborhoods with a Shia Muslim majority were targeted by more than a dozen car bombs. The attacks took place during rush hour, and ripped through markets, car parks and places where laborers were gathered for the start of the working day.
 
The worst attack took place in Sadr City district, where seven people were killed and 75 injured in an attack on a crowded vegetable market.
 
As is often the case in such attacks, no organization has officially claimed responsibility, but the suspicion has already fallen on Al Qaeda-linked Sunni terrorists, who have been blamed for a wave of similar attacks this year. 
 
Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan vowed to defeat the Al Qaeda-linked groups he said were capitalizing on domestic and regional strife to sow violence in Iraq.
 
"Our war with terrorism goes on," he declared in an interview with the Associated Press.
 
At least 5,000 people have been killed in Iraq so far this year, in a campaign of violence not seen since the peek of the conflict between western forces and Iraqi insurgents in 2008.
 
Western forces have since withdrawn from Iraq, but have left behind a country that is far from stable - wallowing in a political stalemate and a widening sectarian chasm between the country's Shia majority and Sunni minority. Under Saddam Hussein's rule, the Sunni minority - which comprises around 40% of the Iraqi population - was empowered at the expense of the Shia majority.
 
Since Saddam's ouster the country's Shia majority has risen to the top of Iraq's political pile, and many Sunnis now complain of discrimination at the hands of authorities. This - along with the raging sectarian conflict in neighboring Syria - has fueled an Al Qaeda resurgence in Iraq. That has meant a serious escalation in sectarian attacks targeting the Shia population, which in turn has provoked a crackdown by security forces on the Sunni areas suspected of harboring the terrorists.
 
But that government crackdown - in spite of many tactical successes in dismantling local Al Qaeda cells - seems to have done little to quell the overall wave of violence. If anything, the perception that authorities are targeting the Sunni population is fanning the flames of resentment, and amplifying Al Qaeda's call to arms.
 
Many have expressed concern that violence could return to the levels seen in 2006 and 2007, when open conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups left tens of thousands of people dead.

Multiple Blasts Kill 23 in Iraq

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 28 September 2013 15:48
iraq-car-bomb (file)Officials say at least 23 people have been killed in blasts targeting outdoor markets in Iraq's capital Baghdad. Al Qaeda are thought to be behind the attacks. 
 
Three bombs exploded simultaneously in the Shiite village of Sabaa al-Bour, located almost 20 miles north of Baghdad. Police have reported that bombs went off at the entrance to the town's busy market area, with another detonated inside killing 16 people and wounding 41 more.
 
The BBC reported seven people were also killed by bomb in the Sunni Dora district, south of Baghdad. The report also said an attempt by the Iraqi government to arrest some Al Qaeda members in Baghdad had failed to halt the torrent of attacks on the country in recent weeks. 
 
Eight people were killed in three terrorist attacks in Iraq on Tuesday, continuing a wave of violence that has sparked fears of a return to all-out sectarian conflict.
 
Last Friday, a double bombing at a Sunni mosque north of Baghdad killed 18 people. The next day, a Shiite Muslim funeral in Baghdad was targeted by bombers; 73 people were killed.
 
In total, over 610 people have been killed in terrorist attacks in Iraq in September, and over 4,400 have died since the beginning of 2013, according to the AFP news agency, which based the numbers on data from Iraqi security and medical sources.
 
There are fears of a return to the all-out Sunni-Shia sectarian violence that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people. Iraq's population is around 65% Shia with 35% Sunni Muslim. It is thought Sunni aligned Al Qaeda have been responsible for the majority of violence against Shia areas of the country. 

Kenya: Four Year Old Boy Confronts Terrorists, and Escapes Alive

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 06:17
Kenya- Terrorists -child Escapes Alive
 
As Kenyan security forces continue to battle Somalian Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, more stories have emerged, shedding light on the horrific events of the assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, which have killed at least 62 people and left more than 170 wounded.
 
Gunmen - and, it is emerging, at least one female terrorist - stormed the mall, hurling grenades and firing indiscriminately with AK 47s as the building was packed with both locals and tourist, as visitors enjoyed the end of the weekend.
 
Chillingly, eyewitnesses have told of how the gunmen selected many of their victims deliberately - forcing people to prove whether or not they were Muslims by reciting Islamic prayers or by answering questions from the Qoran. They then executed those found to be non-Muslims, and allowed Muslim shoppers to escape.
 
Other escapees said that the terrorists mutilated the bodies of their dead victims, chopping off hands and even burning their faces to mask their identities.
 
But there are also stories of remarkable bravery.
 
One such story is that of four year-old Elliot Prior from Berkshire in Great Britain who, in an astonishing show of courage, confronted and even chastised one of the gunmen - and escaped with his life.
 
According to the Daily Mail, Elliot had been hiding with his sister Amelie and their mother Amber under a table in a grocery store, with Amber sheltering her children under her own body for an hour and a half, when they were discovered by the terrorists, one of whom shot her in the thigh. 
 
But when the terrorists asked if there were any children still alive in the store, Amber stood up and answered in the affirmative, in the hope that they would be spared.
 
It was at that point that little Elliot confronted the terrorists, telling them that they were "bad men."
 
Bizarrely, upon learning that Amber was of French origin, the gunmen began to plead with her for forgiveness, insisting that Islam "is not a bad religion" and urging her to convert.
 
"He told me I had to change my religion to Islam and said 'do you forgive us? Do you forgive us?'," she told The Independent newspaper.
 
"Naturally, I was going to say whatever they wanted and they let us go."
 
Then, in an act which stood in stark contrast to the brutal massacre they had just committed, the terrorists handed the brother and sister chocolate bars before they fled with two other children, including a 12-year-old boy who initially refused to leave his dead mother behind.
 
Kenyan security forces are still battling terrorists as they move to clear the mall, amid claims that at least some of the attackers are citizens of western countries, including two Americans and a British woman.
 
In an interview with PBS Newshour, Kenya's foreign minister Amina Mohamed said that "two or three" of the attackers were American, and that another was a British woman who had "done this many times before."
 
That has raised speculation in the UK of the potential involvement of Samantha Lewthwaite, a British convert to Islam and the widow of one of "7/7 bombers" who attacked London's transportation system in July 2005.
 
She has been on the run in Africa for two years after she was accused of plotting to bomb tourist sites in Kenya, and has evaded capture on a number of occasions, mocking her pursuers on social media.
 
Mohamed claimed that the Americans were 18 or 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin, and lived "in Minnesota and one other place".

Dozens Killed in Al Qaeda Assault in Yemen

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 22 September 2013 10:44
Al Qaeda Assault in YemeMilitary sources in Yemen have said that at least 40 policemen and soldiers have been killed in the south of the country in simultaneous attacks by Al Qaeda. 
 
One Al Qaeda assault targeted a special forces camp at Maifaa in the Shabwa province, killing eight policemen, at the same time as gunmen attacked two army posts 15 kilometres (9 miles) away, killing at least 32 soldiers, the sources said.
 
"Soldiers were captured" when the terrorists attacked the army posts in the Al-Nusheiba area, witnesses told the AFP news agency by phone.
 
The Yemeni authorities accuse Al-Qaeda of launching near-daily deadly attacks on the army and police in the south and east, where the radical Islamist network is active.
 
Al Qaeda strengthened its presence in Yemen after 2011, taking advantage of a weakness in the central authority following the uprising that forced out veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
 
On Sunday, a court in the capital jailed three Al Qaeda terrorists for plotting to assassinate Saleh's successor President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi as well as the American ambassador.
 
Yemen is the ancestral home of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.  Washington views Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula as the deadliest wing of the global terrorist network.

Egypt Arrests Al-Qaeda Head in Sinai

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 September 2013 16:02
Egypt Arrests Al-Qaeda Head in SinaiEgyptian forces on Saturday arrested the commander of an Al-Qaeda-linked group in the Sinai peninsula, officials told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.
 
A senior Egyptian official said that Muhammad Ibrahim, 40, was appointed as the leader of Al-Qaeda in Sinai after escaping from prison following the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
 
Ibrahim, also known as Adel Habbara, was driving a truck from Rafiah to El-Arish when he was ambushed by Egyptian security forces, according to Ma’an.
 
"He tried to reach for two grenades in his pocket, but an officer jumped at him and bowled him over before other officers controlled him and grabbed the grenades," the official said.
 
Ibrahim was traveling with two other gunmen at the time of his arrest.
 
Egyptian authorities accuse Ibrahim of masterminding the 2005 attack on the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, which killed some 88 people.
 
He is also accused of planning the August 2012 attack which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in Rafiah, and is believed to have personally executed soldiers in an attack earlier this month in which 25 soldiers were killed.
 
The Sinai has become increasingly lawless since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, and the terror attacks have only increased since the removal of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in July. Egypt's army is currently engaged in an offensive in Sinai to curtail the surge in violence.
 
Since Morsi was ousted, Muslim Brotherhood-linked Gaza terrorists have been infiltrating the Sinai to attack Egyptian army outposts.
 
The army has been sealing the smuggling tunnels which are used to transfer goods, weapons and terrorists between the Sinai and Gaza. Hundreds of tunnels, however, remain open and active under the border between Egypt and Gaza.
 
On Sunday, Egyptian forces destroyed 13 homes next to the border with Gaza, in order to prevent the use of the houses as cover for smugglers into and out of the region.

Al-Qaeda Vowed to 'Change the Face of History'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 23 August 2013 18:53
11-22-11A vow by Al-Qaeda to carry out an attack that would "change the face of history" was behind this month's closures of Western embassies, the president of Yemen revealed Friday, according to Reuters.
 
In the first public disclosure by a government leader of details of the intercepted call that prompted the U.S. alert, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said that Nasser al-Wuhayshi, head of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, made the pledge to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on July 29.
 
Many U.S. and other Western diplomatic missions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia closed temporarily as a precaution.
 
Wuhayshi spoke by phone with Zawahiri, who is believed to be based in Pakistan, while attending a meeting of 20 Al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen's Maarib province, Hadi said.
 
"When I was in Washington, the Americans told us that they had intercepted a call between Ayman al-Zawahiri and Wuhayshi, in which Wuhayshi told Zawahiri that they would carry out an attack that would change the face of history," the president told police cadets in remarks which state television aired on Friday.
 
"I told the Americans this would be in Yemen," he said, apparently reflecting a belief among some analysts that AQAP lacks the ability to launch big attacks outside the country.
 
Hadi added that two cars, each carrying seven tonnes of explosives, were later identified in Yemen by security forces.
 
The first, intended to attack the Mina al-Dhabba oil terminal in southeast Yemen, was destroyed.
 
The second car was headed for the capital Sanaa and is still unaccounted for, though Hadi said authorities had arrested the cell which was in charge of smuggling it into the city.
 
"This made them (the Americans) scared and they closed their embassies in the whole region, because they heard Wuhayshi say he would carry out an attack that would change the course of history," Hadi said.
 
The New York Times reported recently that the Obama administration’s decision to close the diplomatic missions resulted from intercepted electronic communications in which Zawahiri ordered Wuhayshi to carry out an attack a Middle East embassy.
 
U.S. sources have said that while some type of message between Zawahri and AQAP was intercepted recently, there were also other streams of intelligence that contributed to the security alert.
 
The U.S. embassy in Sanaa reopened on August 18. It was one of about 20 U.S. embassies and consulates that closed.

Words vs. Bullets: How Obama Fights Terrorism

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Friday, 16 August 2013 19:59
izhar-khan-hafiz-muhammed-sher-ali-khan-2011-5-16-16-10-55
 
One of the biggest questions about fighting terrorism is whether the US intends to fight it on the military level or on the ideological level. And what does the ideological level mean.
 
Wars have ideological components. Propaganda likely predated the written word. Undermining an enemy's morale can be a very effective means of turning the tide of battle. But in warfare, the ideology is there to further military aims, while in an ideological war the military is a tool for achieving ideological victories over the enemy.
 
It's a fundamental distinction that cuts deep into the question of what we are doing in places like Afghanistan and what we hope to accomplish there.
 
The dichotomy between words and bullets could occasionally be somewhat ambiguous during the Bush Administration, but there was a general understanding that we were on a mission to kill terrorists and their allies. If by killing them, we could discredit their ideology and dissuade fellow terrorists from following in their footsteps, so much the better.
 
The Obama Administration has shifted the primacy of the conflict to the ideological sphere. Like the rest of the left, it would rather fight ideological wars, which are its strength, than military conflicts, which aren't.
 
The left believes it understands ideas, but is much weaker when it comes to military affairs. Even Stalin did his best to avoid an open conflict with Hitler. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union remained afraid of superior Western firepower and technology and pulled back from any test of American determination that risked breaking out into open warfare.
 
The left doesn't really understand ideas, but it does understand word games. To alter language is to alter the consensual reality of a subject population. The Oceanian reality of the media may not do anything to the reality in Afghanistan, but it certainly shifts the reality in America. And while that may not matter in the long run, in the same way that Baghdad Bob's pathetic bleatings did nothing to slow down the American advance, it does delay the recognition of the inevitable.
 
Americans are mostly in the dark on the War on Terror. They know that something has gone wrong with it, but they have trouble putting their fingers on it. They have a sinking sense that it, like the rest of the country, is headed in the wrong direction (the Iraqis no doubt had that sinking feeling too) but they don't know which direction is the right one or what's wrong with the direction they're headed in.
 
Word games confuse that sense of direction and orientation. Like a magician's trick, they leave you with the sense that you are being deceived, but not the knowledge of how.
 
One of the first word games that Obama's crack national security team pulled was to try and retire "terrorism" from the vocabulary to avoid any questions about why they were failing to deal with a problem… that suddenly no longer existed.
 
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that, motivated by a touch of nuance, she was moving away from the word "terrorism" to '"man-caused" disasters'.
 
Napolitano's explanation for this clumsy word game was that she wanted "to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur"; as long as the risk was kept as undefined as possible.
 
Islamic terrorism receded into the distance. The great challenge was CVE or Countering Violent Extremism.
 
Violent extremism was a little more specific than man-caused disasters, but not by that much. The shift however was a more significant one. We were no longer fighting a war, but working to counter attitudes and ideas. And that would be achieved in ways that included everything from sponsoring Muslim rappers to dispatching the NASA chief on a new mission to seek out Muslim self-esteem.
 
The Department of Homeland Security's three broad CVE objectives were understanding violent extremism, partnering with local Muslim communities and with local law enforcement. The first objective, understanding violent extremism, did not mention Islam, demonstrating that this understanding was actually going to be a very deliberate misunderstanding.
 
Avoiding any mention of Islam had always been the first objective of the ideological component of the war and it was the area where the ideological component of fighting terrorism most blatantly clashed with the practical component.
 
Since September 11, the evolving tactic of the ideological war was to minimize the effectiveness of terrorism by mentioning it as little as possible and denying its Islamic cred by refusing to associate it with Islam. Meanwhile the practical side of the war required informing as many people as possible of the threat and taking swift and decisive action against a defined enemy.
 
During the Bush Administration, the ideological component blunted the military component, but did not overshadow it. Under Obama, the military component receded into the ideological war with new barometers of success that did not depend on winning battles, but winning hearts and minds.
 
There was no reason to believe that the ideological program of denial was in any way effective. The vast majority of Muslims did not get their news from America. Nor were they likely to be fooled by politically correct distortions of news events
 
Whether a State Department spokesman chose to call Bin Laden an Islamic terrorist, a violent extremist or an extremely naughty boy would have no impact on the Muslim world. It would only have an impact on Americans. .
 
And that was not accidental.
 
Where the military campaign was aimed at Muslim terrorists, the ideological campaign was aimed at altering the American understanding of Islam to be more harmonious with liberal foreign policy. And once the ideological campaign succeeded in changing American attitudes, it was assumed that the Muslim world would react differently to this new America.
 
An ideological war that depended on winning over Muslims by modifying the behavior and thinking of Americans was based on the belief that Muslim terrorism originated from Americans, rather than Muslims. Muslim terrorism was only a reaction to American attitudes and policies. The only way to stop Muslim terrorism was to eliminate the ways in which Americans brought the terrorism on themselves
 
The ideological program was damaging enough before it dominated the field, but it became truly lethal afterward. In keeping with this American behavior modification doctrine, soldiers in Afghanistan were pressed into more confining Rules of Engagement that endangered their lives. And once American soldiers changed their behavior, the doctrine went, the Afghan hearts and minds would be won.
 
The Bush Administration believed that the Muslim world had to change to accommodate America. Its nation building program was excessively ambitious and idealistic, but its logic was American, rather than Post-American.
 
The Obama Administration however believed that America had to change to accommodate the numerous grievances of the Muslim world. Bush’s military campaign had been meant to transform the Muslim world into a place more amenable to American ideas, while Obama’s campaign was meant to transform America into a place whose ideas would be less likely to provoke the Muslim world.
 
Asking the Muslim world to change, let alone forcing it to change, risked provoking it even more. Instead those elements of American policy that were the most offensive would be jettisoned. Americans would be taught to be more accepting of Islam. And in time that might lead Muslims to be more accepting of America.
 
The United States was no longer fighting a war against terrorists; instead it was fighting an ideological war against Americans. Muslim behavior was no longer being modified; American behavior was.
 
CVE tried to show Muslims that they had options besides terrorism by empowering political Islam while Americans were told that they had fewer options than ever. While the Muslim Brotherhood was gifted the keys to Cairo, Damascus and other Arab Spring countries, Americans were being told that Muslim terrorism was a figment of their Islamophobic imaginations
 
Meanwhile Al Qaeda had successfully transformed itself into a network of global franchises, some of which were far stronger than the old core had ever been. Never one to miss a word game trick, Obama used this transformation to declare that Al Qaeda, by which he meant an organization that had become supplemental to requirements, was on the path to defeat.
 
Al Qaeda in Iraq was stronger than ever and its Syrian affiliate was on the road to taking over the country. In Mali, Al Qaeda armed with Libyan weapons had nearly taken another country.
 
Faced with these facts, Obama hid behind his failed capture attempt of Bin Laden, transforming the bid to give the terrorist leader a civilian trial into an act of personal heroism. But these were just more words with no policy behind them.
 
Obama had conceded Afghanistan. The Middle East was up for grabs and lone wolf attacks had become an effective Al Qaeda strategy. America had changed, as much as it could without completely giving up, but it was actually doing worse than it had before. The ideological war was broken and the military war lay squashed under its rubble.
 
Obama had repeatedly renamed terrorism. He had called his Libyan War a no-fly-zone and ended the Iraq War twice by renaming the mission. But these sorts of dime store Orwellianisms, like the proverbial "Man-Caused Disaster", were a dead end.
 
The ideological program that Obama came into office with had little content beyond blaming America. Empowering Islamists and isolating Al Qaeda was supposed to work by neutering American foreign policy and letting the will of the people carry the day. Now Egypt's Brotherhood regime has fallen, there are setbacks in Syria and Tunisia may go back to being a free nation.
 
Obama changed America, but he couldn't change Al Qaeda. A military war had been transformed into an ideological war, and its only casualties were American ideas. No new moderate political Islam had pushed Al Qaeda out of the spotlight because it didn't exist.
 
The only element of the program that still worked were the drone strikes and the strikes were also the most contentious element because they killed terrorists. The triumph of word games over war games had been so complete that the only objectionable element of military policy under Obama was the one that worked
 
 
Daniel GreenfieldDaniel Greenfield
The writer is a popular New York City based freelance commentator and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He blogs at sultanknish.blogspot.com

Jihadists: Israeli Air Strike in Sinai Killed 4

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 11 August 2013 09:09
Israel Military helicopter in SinaiAnsar Bait El Maqdis, an Al Qaeda affiliate in the Sinai peninsula, vowed revenge Saturday after four of its members were killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike as they prepared to launch a missile at Israel.
 
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis said four of its members belonging to Sinai tribes had been killed by Israeli drones on Friday.
 
Egypt's military denied on Friday that there had been any Israeli strikes inside Egyptian territory.
 
The terror group accused the Egyptian army of coordinating the attack with Israel, and threatened more strikes against the Jewish state.
 
"How can the Egyptian army allow the Zionist unmanned planes to cross into Egyptian territory," the statement said.
 
A funeral was held for the terrorists on Saturday, with the bodies of the four driven through several border towns in north Sinai.
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Dozens of men on pick-up trucks flying a black Jihadi flag paraded through the towns, in an act of defiance to the army, witnesses told AFP.
 
Terrorists based mainly in north Sinai near Israel's border have escalated attacks on security forces and other targets since July 3, when the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and installed a new government.
 
But the army has been reluctant to confront the terrorists inside towns in order not to provoke the tight-knit tribes, military sources say.
 
There have been conflicting reports about the source of Friday's attack.
 
Officials told AFP the strike came from the Egyptian military, as part of their campaign to curtail a surge in violence and rein in militant activity in the lawless Sinai.
 
Witnesses said Egyptian military helicopters hovered above the site after the blasts.
 
On Friday, the Egyptian military said two explosions were heard in the Sinai peninsula, close to the border with Israel, and that it would investigate their cause.
 
"There is no truth whatsoever to any Israeli strikes inside Egyptian territory and the claim that there is Egyptian and Israeli coordination on the matter is utterly baseless," military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Aly said in a statement on Friday.

Yemen: Fresh Drone Strike Keeps Up Pressure on Al Qaeda

Category: News
Created on Friday, 09 August 2013 08:05
dronweA drone strike  - the sixth such strike in two weeks - has killed at least six people travelling in a convoy in Mareb province, in southeastern Yemen.
 
Four of the dead are believed to be Al Qaeda terrorists, and the remaining two are civilians.
 
Speaking to CNN, an unnamed security official explained that "Mareb was a previous stronghold for al Qaeda, and a number of members of the group still live in the province."
 
According to Yemeni security sources, terrorists from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) shot down an army helicopter in the same province this past Tuesday, underlining the continued threat posed by the group.
 
Drone strikes in Yemen have killed at least 29 people in recent weeks, according to "official sources" in the country.
 
Planned attacks
 
It is unclear whether today's strikes are related to a recent decision by the US government to shut down 24 of its embassies across the Middle East, as a response to an imminent threat of attack by Al Qaeda terrorists.
 
That attack was apparently ordered directly by Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Al Qaeda's central leadership in Pakistan, in a conference call with the heads of several Al Qaeda branches in the Middle East and North Africa, it emerged Wednesday.
 
Zawahiri was said to have issued direct orders to AQAP - which the US government designates as the most dangerous branch of Al Qaeda - to attack western targets in Yemen. 
 
Also on Wednesday, Yemeni authorities claimed to have foiled another major AQAP attack.
 
A Yemeni government spokesman was quoted as saying the plot involved blowing up oil pipelines and taking control of certain cities – including two ports in the south, one of which accounts for the bulk of Yemen's oil exports and is where a number of foreign workers are employed.

Western Jihadists Play Key Role in Seizing Syrian Airbase

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 08 August 2013 17:42
Western jihadests - ReutersThe group is known to be comprised of North Americans and Europeans and is in close alignment with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams, the leading al-Qaeda backed group in Syria according to The Telegraph.
 
The Syrian rebels targeted this large airbase in Aleppo for almost a year. The group of jihadists were able to infiltrate the perimeter via suicide bombings and anti-tank missiles, according to the report.
 
"The value of this base is hugely symbolic," said Charles Lister, an analyst following the Jaish al-Muhajireen since the beginning of their rise to prominence. He continues, "It's the first big base seizure by the opposition for several months. But because it is under the control of the Jihadist groups it shows the importance of their role in the fighting."
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Photographs and videos have surfaced of the Jaish al-Muhajireen group in which its commander Abu Musab calls for support from fellow Muslims to help their battle against the regime in a clear British accent.
 
In a related incident, an American passport and identification documents were found at an Al Qaeda base in Northern Syria. The US passport belongs to Amiir Farouk Ibrahim and was discovered between 15 other identification documents of foreigners.
 
This raises a question as to the extent of how many foreign fighters are involved in this conflict already and the consequences this might bring their countries of origin upon their return. 

Al-Qaeda Head Blames U.S. for Egypt Coup

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 08 August 2013 09:31
Ayman al-Zawahiri - terrorist leader
 
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has accused the United States of "plotting" with Egypt's military, secularists and Christians to overthrow Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, AFP reported on Saturday.
 
Zawahiri made the comments in an audio recording posted on militant Islamist forums.
 
In his first public comment on the July 3 coup in Egypt, the Al-Qaeda boss, himself an Egyptian, said, "Crusaders and secularists and the Americanized army have converged... with Gulf money and American plotting to topple Mohammed Morsi's government."
 
In the 15-minute recording, Zawahiri also accused Egypt's Coptic Christian minority of supporting the Islamist president's ouster to attain "a Coptic state stripped from Egypt's south."
 
Egypt's Christians, who make up six to 10 percent of the country's population of 82 million, have regularly complained of discrimination and marginalization. There have been many attacks, some of them lethal, against Copts in Egypt.
 
Zawahiri also attacked Egypt’s Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate and former UN nuclear watchdog chief who was an opposition leader during Morsi's single year in office.
 
ElBaradei is the "envoy of American providence," Zawahiri said, labeling the former International Atomic Energy Agency chief as "the destroyer of Iraq," reported AFP.
 
Zawahiri, who belonged to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, criticized Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement for going soft on applying strict Islamic law.
 
Morsi's "Muslim Brotherhood government strove to please America and the secularists as much as it could, but they were not satisfied with it," said Zawahiri, who is believed to be hiding somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
 
"They did not trust it (Morsi's government) because they did not forget the Brotherhood's slogan: 'Jihad is our war, and death in the path of God is our highest aspiration'," he said, according to AFP.
 
"The Brotherhood abandoned that slogan, substituting it with the slogan 'Islam is the solution,' but the Crusaders and secularists did not forget," he said.
 
"What happened is the biggest proof of the failure of democratic means to achieve an Islamic government," he said of the coup.
 
"I call for them to be united... to make Islamic law rule."
 
So far, the White House has been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ouster of Morsi a “coup,” noting that it will need to “review what has taken place.”
 
Last week, the Obama administration told lawmakers that it does not plan on defining the overthrow of Egypt’s government as a coup, meaning the United States could continue providing $1.5 billion in annual military and economic aid to Egypt.

Interpol Alert: Al Qaeda Linked to Jail Breaks

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 08 August 2013 09:20
al Qaeda flagInterpol issued a global security alert on Saturday, citing prison breaks across nine nations in the past month, reported the New York Times.
 
The international police organization said that Islamist terror group Al Qaeda is suspected of playing a role in some of the jailbreaks, and asked for help to determine whether the operations “are coordinated or linked.”
 
Interpol asked that its 190 member nations “closely follow and swiftly process any information linked to these events and the escaped prisoners.” It also cited the anniversaries of high profile terrorist attacks by Islamists, and noted that a similar security alert was issued by the State Department on Friday.
 
It said that it would be “prioritizing all information and intelligence in relation to the breakouts or terrorist plots.”
 
Al Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate carried out carefully synchronized operations at two prisons, in Abu Ghraib and Taji, in late July. The group used mortar fire to pin down Iraqi forces, sent suicide bombers to penetrate their defenses and then sent an assault force to free the inmates, Western experts said.
 
A few days later, more than 1,000 prisoners escaped from a prison near Benghazi, Libya.
 
Shortly after that, as many as 150 fighters armed with guns and grenade launchers “blew holes in the perimeter wall of a century-old prison at Dera Ismail Khan, just outside Pakistan’s tribal belt,” said the Times, citing Pakistani police.

Syrian Kurds Capture Al Qaeda Head in Syria

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 July 2013 13:57
Kurdish YPG fightersSyrian Kurdish rebels say they’ve captured the emir of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – the merged organization representing the jihadist Syrian rebel groups linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq.
 
A photo of the captured leader was posted on the Twitter mini-social networking site by the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG), one of two Syrian Kurdish rebel groups which is preparing to declare autonomy in Syria.
 
Mutlu Civiroglue, a Washington-based Kurdish journalist, posted the announcement, along with the tweet: “Captured Amir of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) Abu Musab is currently under YPG custody! 
 
For more than a year, Syrian Kurds have been threatened by the Islamic extremists who long ago split from the more secular and so-called “moderate” National Syrian Council opposition forces.
 
The Kurdish National Council, a pro-opposition umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish parties, in January condemned what it said was an ongoing assault “against unarmed civilians” by jihadist insurgents on the city of Ras al-Ain along Syria’s border with Turkey. The Kurds called on the Free Syrian Army to “pressure these militants to stop this criminal war which is detrimental to the Syrian revolution,” AFP reported at the time.
 
Clashes between the Al Qaeda-linked jihadists and the Kurdish forces have continued for nearly a year, with ISIS having seized the town months ago. 
 
Last week, Kurdish forces ousted them in a bloody battle, retaking parts of the city that for months had been under control of the Islamists who intended to declare an independent Islamic state in northern Syria, to be divided into emirates.
 
But YPG has been joined by PYD, Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party, and Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization both in Turkey and the United States. And linked together, the three are now planning to declare an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria, with a transitional administration for the next three months, to be followed by elections for a “permanent” government within six months.
 
PKK issues "final warning" to Ankara
 
Once that is accomplished, it is not clear what the implications will be for Turkey across the border. On Friday, Kurdish rebels issued what they said was a “final warning” to Ankara to take concrete steps to advance a peace settlement or be responsible for what follows after 30 years of tensions.
 
Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was engaged in talks with the Turkish government last October to halt the conflict, which has so far left 40,000 dead and many more wounded in Turkey’s southeastern region, where there is a high Kurdish population.
 
Ocalan, known by his followers as APO, suffers from an eye ailment and is imprisoned on the island of Imrali, south of Istanbul.
 
Turkey is calling on the PKK to withdraw its fighters to the Iraqi Kurdistan side of the border before it will launch reforms set out under the talks. The PKK is demanding the AK Party-led government abolish an anti-terrorism law under which thousands were jailed for having links to the PKK, as well as grant full Kurdish-language education, and lower the threshold of votes needed by parties to enter the parliament.
 
The Kurdish nation is the largest people without a state in the Middle East. The region of Kurdistan is occupied by Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, though the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq has a large degree of autonomy from the Iraqi central government.

Clashes Escalate Between Free Syrian Army, Al Qaeda

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 July 2013 15:49
Syrian rebels patrol in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur -AFPTensions between rival Syrian rebel groups boiled over Saturday near Ras al-Hosn, in the north of Idlib province.
 
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) clashed with jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), exposing a growing rift between Al Qaeda-affiliated groups and their Syrian rebel counterparts.
 
Saturday's clashes were only the most recent example of the escalating hostilities between the FSA - whose goals in the 2-year Syrian uprising are more localised and whose leadership is considered more "moderate" - and Al Qaeda-affiliated groups such as ISIS, whose ranks are made up largely of foreign fighters.
 
ISIS and other radical Islamist rebels, such as the Nusra Front, reject what they see as the "un-Islamic" notions of nationalism espoused by the FSA, in favour of the imposition of strict Islamic Law (sharia) in the region. They further view the Syrian conflict as merely one stage in a larger war against the "enemies of Islam", including Shia Iran, Israel and western powers. The FSA, though made up of a variety factions with differing views of how a future Syria should look, remains focussed purely on ousting the Assad regime and ending decades of domination by his minority Allawite faction and its allies.
 
These latest clashes apparently occurred after ISIS fighters attempted to seize weapons from a local FSA battalion, and came only days after the Al Qaeda franchise apparently assassinated an local FSA commander. 
 
According to the Observatory, last week "dozens" of FSA fighters were killed in a battle against ISIS, after which the FSA battalion chief was beheaded.

Al-Qaeda Linked Rebels Kill Free Syrian Army Officer

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 July 2013 09:05
Syrian supporters of the Al-Nusra group - AFPThe Syrian rebels are continuing to turn on one another. Syrian rebels linked to Al-Qaeda killed a senior figure in the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Thursday, an FSA source told Reuters.
 
Kamal Hamami, a member of the Free Syrian Army's Supreme Military Council, known by his nom de guerre Abu Bassel al-Ladkani, was meeting with members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the port city of Latakia when they killed him, Qassem Saadeddine, a Free Syrian Army spokesman, told the news agency.
 
"The Islamic State phoned me saying that they killed Abu Bassel and that they will kill all of the Supreme Military Council," Saadeddine said from Syria.
 
"He met them to discuss battle plans," Saadeddine added.
 
Reports earlier this week indicated that local infighting between Islamist rebel factions – and between the jihadists and the more moderate opposition forces – has begun in Syria.
 
The violence is taking place despite the fact that the civil war between the opposition fighters and loyalists defending President Bashar Al-Assad has not yet ended.
 
A merger formed between the Islamic State of Iraq, and al-Sham (ISIS), the Syrian unit, has been working to swallow northern Syrian real estate over the past year.
 
It also is becoming increasingly clear that ISIS has swallowed the local Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front), which once was the largest faction in the Islamist Front for the Liberation of Syria – the 13-member rebel coalition that broke away from the main opposition force.
 
Members of Al-Nusra have performed atrocities during the ongoing civil war, including publicly beheading a Catholic priest who was accused of collaborating with the Assad regime.
 
There has been growing pressure to arm the Syrian rebels, particularly since the U.S. government confirmed that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel forces on multiple occasions, thus violating the “red line” set by Obama.
 
However, there has also been reluctance by some to arm the rebels, out of a fear that the weapons may end up in the hands of the radicals.

Tensions in Syrian Rebel Factions Over Teen Killing in Aleppo

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 June 2013 08:51
Muhammad Qattas coffee standThe execution of a 15 year old coffee vendor in the streets of Aleppo earlier this week has sparked rage among residents and galvanized moderate Syrian rebels to condemn the radical Islamist factions that have taken over the city.
 
Muhhamad Qatta' was first beaten and tortured, and then shot to death publicly in front of a crowd near his coffee stand after he refused to give someone a free cup of coffee. "Even if Muhammad came down from heaven, I would not give you a coffee on credit," he told the person. Three men, including the one who asked for the coffee, declared he had committed blasphemy by insulting the prophet of Islam, Muhhamad, according to a witness. The boy was then kidnapped by the men, and returned shortly after to the site, where he was summarily shot in the head and the neck. His executors announced to the crowd the same fate awaited anyone else found guilty of a similar transgression.
 
Witnesses said two of the men spoke classical Arabic – but the boy’s horrified parents, who were in the crowd at the time, said the third was a resident of Aleppo, according to the BBC.
 
Louay Meqdad, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), called the public killing of the young teen by Al Qaeda-linked rebels an act of terrorism. He emphasized the group responsible was not connected to the FSA, according to the pan-Arabic Aljazeera news network, and said the perpetrators should turn themselves in to the "legitimate authorities" in Aleppo.
 
The question, however, is, who the FSA considers to be the "legitimate authorities" in Aleppo. The city is currently controlled by the same radical Islamist rebel faction that earlier in the year declared the city would become a separatist Shari’a (Islamic law) state – and which sometimes fights together with the FSA when it becomes necessary to unite to fight off Syrian government forces.
 
The FSA and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have both blamed the "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham" – a group formed as the result of a merger between Syrian Islamists and Al Qaeda in Iraq.
 
The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) activist network in Syria also condemned the murder, calling it a "heinous crime."
 
As the secularist groups attempt to distance themselves from the execution, residents in Aleppo told reporters they found little difference between the brutality of radical Islamists shooting a teenager to death for a flippant remark about Muhammad, and the brutality of government troops doing the same more than two years ago over an Arab Spring slogan scrawled on a wall – the one that ignited the uprising in the first place.

Al-Qaeda Plot to Use Toy Planes in Chemical Attack Foiled

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 08 June 2013 22:39
al Qaeda flagIraqi officials have claimed that they have uncovered an al-Qaeda plot to carry out poison gas attacks in the Middle East, Europe and North America.
 
The attacks could have possibly been carried out by remote-controlled toy planes, which were seized at two workshops in Baghdad, the BBC reported.
 
Mohamed al Askari, a spokesman for Iraq's defense ministry, said on Saturday that five suspects were detained over operations at the two facilities, where they were allegedly planning to produce sarin and mustard gas using instructions from another Al Qaeda group, according to Sky News.
 
The suspects had materials and formulas to make the gases, Askari said, adding that they had a network to smuggle the toxins out of Iraq, but had yet to produce any weapons.
 
All of the arrested men had confessed to the plot and said they had received instruction from another al-Qaeda offshoot, Askari said.
 
Their arrests were due to cooperation between Iraqi and foreign intelligence services.
 
According to the BBC, Al-Qaeda detonated 16 crude chlorine bombs in Iraq between October 2006 and June 2007.

Al-Qaeda Syrian Rebel Group Now Sitting on Israeli Border

Category: News
Created on Friday, 07 June 2013 16:03
Kuneitra crossingThe IDF verified reports Thursday morning that Syrian rebel forces had conquered parts of the Golan city of Kuneitra, placing them directly on the border with Israel. IDF officials said that the takeover of the area by rebel forces was a “significant development.”
 
During the battle between rebel and Syrian army forces, a mortar shell fell on a UN observer base in the area. A UN worker was injured. IDF officials have advised agricultural workers in the border area to stay away from the border until the security situation can be clarified.
 
In recent months, there has been a shakeout among the various Syrian rebel groups, and one of the dominant ones that has emerged is Jabhat al-Nusra – closely identified with Al Qaeda. The Sunni Islamist group is seeking to take over as much of Syria as possible and place it under Sharia Islamic law.
 
Several weeks ago, the group took up positions close to Syria's border with Israel. In a video released on Youtube, the group's soldiers are seen conducting training exercises in the Dar'a area of southern Syria, right next to the Heights. In the exercise, the soldiers are seen attempting to take over a building, using weapons and bombs. They are also seen singing Arabic songs in praise of terror, and swearing revenge on the “unbelievers” - the Alawite group that runs Syria, as well as Shi'ite Muslims who, according to Sunni views, hold an incorrect interpretation of Islam.
 
The video provides evidence of a well-trained, motivated fighting force, military experts said. The group is clearly better equipped and trained than the other rebel groups, the experts said, and apparently has incorporated a large number of Sunni Muslim defectors from the Syrian army.
 
While the group says that putting the “Syrian house in order” is its first order of business, it says that it eventually plans to deal with the “Zionist enemy” and end the “occupation,” first of the Golan, and then of the “rest of Palestine.”

Israel's New Neighbor: Syrian Al-Qaeda Rebel Group

Category: News
Created on Monday, 27 May 2013 17:08
al-Qaeda terroristsIn recent months, there has been a shakeout among the various Syrian rebel groups, and one of the dominant ones that has emerged is Jabhat al-Nusra, closely identified with al-Qaeda. The Sunni Islamist group is seeking to take over as much of Syria as possible and place it under Sharia Islamic law.
 
Now, the group has taken up positions close to Syria's border with Israel, adjacent to the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. In a video released on Youtube, the group's soldiers are seen conducting training exercises in the Dar'a area of southern Syria, right next to the Heights. In the exercise, the soldiers are seen attempting to take over a building, using weapons and bombs.
 
They are also seen singing Arabic songs in praise of terror, and swearing revenge on the “unbelievers” - the Alawite group that runs Syria, as well as Shi'ite Muslims who, according to Sunni views, hold an incorrect interpretation of Islam.
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The video provides evidence of a well-trained, motivated fighting force, military experts said. The group is clearly better equipped and trained than the other rebel groups, they said, and apparently has incorporated a large number of Sunni Muslim defectors from the Syrian army.
 
While the group says that putting the “Syrian house in order” is its first order of business, it says that it eventually plans to deal with the “Zionist enemy” and end the “occupation,” first of the Golan, and then of the “rest of Palestine.”

The New Syria: Flogging in the Town Square

Category: Islam
Created on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 09:35
Public Punshiment (file)The rebellion against Syrian strongman Bashar Assad is turning increasingly Islamist in nature, seeing as the rebel forces are largely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and salafist Islam.
 
Videos streaming in daily from Syria document this Islamist influence, which comes in the form of executions and torture carried out in the name of Islam, among other things.
 
The embedded video, from Saraqeb in the Idlib province of northwestern Syria, shows the carrying out of sentences handed down by a rebel sharia field court.Hundreds of local residents gathered to hear the sentence being pronounced by a rebel. Two residents were found guilty of offenses against sharia and sentenced to 40-50 lashes each.
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The elder man was convicted of having his daughter, who had divorced her first husband, married to a second man during the "cooling off" period of three months required by sharia law. He did this ten days before the 3-month period had ended and was sentenced to 50 lashes.

Egypt: Terrorists Planned to Bomb Cairo Embassies

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 16 May 2013 19:57
USembassy-cairoTerrorists who were arrested in Egypt over the weekend were planning to attack the U.S. and French embassies in Cairo, Egyptian officials said Wednesday. The three are members of a terror organization, but Egyptian officials stopped short of admitting that the terrorists belonged to Al Qaeda.
 
The U.S. embassy in Cairo warned American citizens to watch their steps while visiting the country. A recent knife attack on an American outside the embassy, along with the uncovering of the plot, “serve as yet another reminder of the need to exercise good situational awareness,” the embassy said in an e-mail.
 
Reports said that Egyptian officials had arrested three Egyptians with Al-Qaeda links in the plot. According to Egypt's Middle East News Agency (MENA), the two were in possession of 10 kilos (22 pounds) of explosives. The terrorists planned to use the explosives in car bombs that were to be aimed at the U.S. and French embassies, officials said. “The investigations revealed that the suspects were intending to carry out terrorist bomb operations inside Egypt via suicide operations, penetrating the security cordon in front of the American and French embassies with a car bomb,” MENA was quoted in the reports as saying.
 
The terrorists had escaped from prison in 2011, during the riots that took place in the wake of protests that led to the removal of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak from office.
 
Despite the arrests, Egyptian officials stressed that there was “no Al Qaeda infrastructure in the country,” and that the arrested terrorists operated without the benefit of a large, local network.

Three Saudis Imprisoned for Plotting to Kill Americans

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 08:13
Saudi security forces -AFPAn anti-terror court has sentenced three Saudis to six years in prison each for plotting to kill American nationals at the height of a campaign of Al-Qaeda attacks in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006, a witness said, according to AFP.
 
The court in Riyadh issued its ruling late on Sunday, said a witness at the hearing during which two other men were acquitted.
 
The three convicted were found guilty of having "supported the actions of the deviant group and planned the assassination of seven Americans in the kingdom," the court ruled, using the official term to designate Al-Qaeda.
 
It said they also planned to enter Iraq "to carry out terrorist acts", according to AFP.
 
Saudi courts started in July 2011 to try hundreds of suspects for the wave of Al-Qaeda attacks which rocked the country from 2003 until 2006 when authorities launched a massive campaign of arrests targeting the jihadist network.
 
Around 3,000 suspects are being tried or due to go on trial, according to Saudi authorities.

Radical Egyptian Cleric: Boston Bombing Meant to Send a Message

Category: Islam
Created on Friday, 19 April 2013 21:49
Murgan Salem al-GoharyA radical Egyptian Salafi cleric said that the terror attack in Boston this week was meant to send a message to the West, that terrorists are alive and well.
 
The cleric, Sheik Murgan Salem, also warned that similar attacks were expected in France. Salem made the comments during an interview on Tahrir TV on April 16, 2013. The interview was translated and posted to the internet by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
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“Obviously, I do not know who carried out that operation, but if it was done by the mujahideen, it serves as a message to America and the West: We are still alive,” he said.
 
“Contrary to what you say, we have not died. The [Americans] wanted to send a message to the entire world that they had finished off the mujahideen – not just the mujahideen of Al-Qaeda, but the mujahideen all over the world. I do not know who carried out this attack, but if it was indeed the mujahideen, it was meant as a clear message to America and to the West,” continued Salem, who said the terror attack “was not up to the standards of Al-Qaeda. It was extremely amateurish. The standards of Al-Qaeda are much higher.”
 
The cleric goes on to say that he was “like one family” with both former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as well as current leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
 
“From what I saw on the news,” said Salem, “this was the work of amateurs. I do not know who did it, but they have managed to get the message across: We can reach you whenever and wherever we want.”
 
“I do not rule out the possibility that this was carried out by people born in the U.S. I do exclude the possibility that it was done by the Al-Qaeda organization. This is not the work of Osama Bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahiri. I think it was done by people resentful of the policy and arrogance of America and Europe. It is not just America,” he said.
 
“The Americans have passed their arrogance over to France. France, which led the first Crusade, is now leading the war against Islam and the Muslims. They must taste the bitter retribution for their deeds. This is not a threat, but a warning of what might happen to them,” said Salem.
 
“France has accepted the banner of arrogance and enmity to Islam, so it will taste what it deserves,” he continued. “I cannot be held responsible for over one million [Muslims] in the West, who were harmed by French and American policy. More than one million [Muslims] were born in the West. I cannot be held responsible for them. I do not know what they may do. The [Westerners] are facing a deluge, and they will be destroyed.”
 
Three people were killed in Monday’s explosions, which U.S. President Barack Obama condemned on Tuesday as "an act of terror."
 
Investigators said the bombs were hidden in pressure cookers put in backpacks. The attackers packed the bombs with metal pellets and nails to cause maximum suffering.
 
An eight-year-old boy who was killed in the bombing attack was identified as Martin Richard.
 
He was waiting, together with his mother and sister, to give his father, who was participating in the race, a hug as he crossed the finish line when the bombs went off.
 
In addition to killing Martin, the bomb took his sister’s leg and injured his mother.
 
Massachusetts resident Krystle Campbell, 29, was also named as one of the dead. The third victim was a Chinese student.
 
A leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday linked the Boston bombings to an anti-Islam conspiracy.
 
In a post on his personal Facebook page Muslim Brotherhood Vice President Essam el-Erian suggested the attack was part of a global plot to discredit Islam, citing violence in Mali, Syria, Somalia and other Muslim nations.
 
“Our sympathy with the families of the victims, and the American people do not stop us from reading into the grave incident,” he wrote.
 
The Freedom and Justice Party officially condemned the Boston attacks, saying they “categorically” rejected the “intolerable” attack, claiming it violated the principles of Islamic Sharia law.
 
The Pakistani Taliban, meanwhile, denied involvement in the Boston marathon bombing, but openly applauded the heinous attack. 
 
“Wherever we find Americans we will kill them, but we don’t have any connection with the Boston explosions,” Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said, according to reports.

US Budget Cuts Could Delay Trial of Bin Laden Son-In-Law

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 April 2013 20:14
Suleiman Abu Ghaith0The highly anticipated New York trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law could be delayed because his court-appointed lawyers have been hit by U.S. budget cuts, they said Monday.
 
Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan called the revelation that a package of United States federal government cuts known as the sequester could imperil a start to the trial this year "stunning," the AFP news agency reported.
 
Martin Cohen, an attorney for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, allegedly a senior propagandist in the Al-Qaeda network, said he doubted he could be ready by Kaplan's suggested trial date in September.
 
"The lawyers for the federal defenders are to be furloughed for five-and-a-half weeks," he told a hearing, saying it would be "very difficult to be ready for September."
 
Cohen suggested a January date for the trial as an alternative.
 
Kaplan said it was "extremely troublesome to contemplate the possibility of a case of this nature being delayed because of sequestration."
 
Abu Ghaith has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill U.S. nationals.
 
He was brought in and out of the Manhattan court with his hands cuffed behind his back and wearing a blue prison smock. He did not speak during the hearing, but listened to proceedings through an English-to-Arabic interpreter, according to AFP.
 
Defense lawyers have questioned whether the bearded former comrade of the late Bin Laden could get a fair jury trial in a courthouse just a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, where nearly 3,000 people died in the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks.
 
Cohen said his team was considering asking Kaplan to move the trial elsewhere because of "the prejudicial nature of the trial in New York."
 
Asked later by journalists if a fair trial was possible, Cohen said: "These are questions that we're mulling over."
 
Once a trial does get underway, it could take as much as five weeks, with up to four weeks spent on the prosecution case, lawyers for both sides told the court, according to the news agency. 

Turkish Police Foil Al-Qaeda Plot to Bomb US Embassy, Synagogue

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 April 2013 19:22
US Embassy in AnkaraTurkish police have uncovered and foiled an alleged plot by Al-Qaeda to bomb the United States embassy in Ankara, as well as a synagogue and other targets in Istanbul, Turkish media reported on Friday.
 
As a result of a February raid in Istanbul and the northeastern city of Corlu, police had arrested 12 people, including eight Turks, two Azeris and two Chechens, and seized 22 kilograms of explosives, CNNTurk reported.
 
Police also found documents that allegedly revealed plans by the group, which they described as a Turkish cell of Al-Qaeda, to attack a synagogue and a museum in Istanbul.
 
The embassy in Ankara was the target of a suicide bombing on February 1, which killed a Turkish security guard. That attack was claimed by a radical Marxist and anti-US armed group, The Revolutionary People's Liberation Front (DHKP-C), blacklisted by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization.

Al-Qaeda Chief Wants Islamic State in Syria

Category: News
Created on Monday, 08 April 2013 09:13
Ayman al-Zawahiri - terrorist leaderThe leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has urged rebels to fight to establish an Islamic state in Syria, AFP reported.
 
The message came in an online audio message Sunday, in which the Al-Qaeda chief also warned France against its military intervention in Mali.
 
"Let your fight be in the name of Allah and with the aim of establishing Allah's sharia (law) as the ruling system," he said, in his first message posted on the Internet since last November.
 
"Do all that you can so that your holy war yields a jihadist Islamic state," said Zawahiri, adding that such a state would help to re-establish the Islamic "caliphate" system of rule.
 
"The enemy has begun to reel and collapse," he said, referring to forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad.
 
Islamist rebel groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, which has links to Al-Qaeda, have eschewed the main opposition National Coalition.
 
Al-Nusra is one of 13 factions in the radical Islamist rebel council that announced its secession from the main opposition force and declared its own Islamic state in Aleppo.
 
Zawahiri's message will not sit easily with Western powers, who have expressed fears of extremist Islamism playing a growing role in the Syrian conflict and are reluctant to arm the rebels on the ground.
 
Assad's regime has long dismissed the rebels as "terror" groups backed by Western powers and driven by Al-Qaeda-style ideologies.
 
The United Nations says more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria's two-year conflict, which broke out after the army unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent, turning the uprising into a bloody insurgency.
 
Zawahiri in his message also warned France over its military involvement against Islamists in Mali, AFP reported, saying it will be defeated in the same way, according to him, the Americans were defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
"I call upon our Muslim nation in Mali to hold and be patient, and hopefully, effect a new defeat to the global crusade," said Zawahiri.

North Africa Al-Qaeda Branch Launches Twitter Account

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 31 March 2013 20:05
Twitter icon - AFPIraqi Influx Doubles Syrian Al Qaeda-Linked Rebel Faction
 
Syria’s Al Nusra Front, allied with Al Qaeda, has more than doubled and is continuing to grow with the influx of jihadists from abroad.
 
Chana Ya'ar
 
Syria’s Al Nusra Front rebel faction, allied with Al Qaeda, has more than doubled and is continuing to grow with the influx of Syrian jihadists returning from abroad.
 
The group was the lead faction among those who recently invaded the buffer zone along the Syrian-Jordanian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights.
 
Listed in the United States as an officially banned terrorist organization, Al Nusra Front has become increasingly attractive to individual jihadists and small radical Islamist groups.
 
The most recent recruits flowing in are Sunni Muslims previously sent to Iraq to advance the interests of President Bashar al-Assad, according to a report published Thursday in the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
 
According to the report, jihadists have been flowing into Syria in “small numbers and isolated groups,” and thus their movements have remained largely under the radar of the international community until late last year.
 
Prior to its decision to list Al Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization, Turkey reportedly warned the U.S. government that doing so would increase the group’s “popularity” and raise its attraction for Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in the region.
 
Al Nusra does not cooperate with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), which fights on behalf of the more “moderate” Syrian National Coalition (SNC).
 
But there have been several occasions upon which the FSA has collaborated with Al Nusra, specifically in the conquest of Raqa, and in attacks on Aleppo. Most recently, the jihadists have had open access to the no-man’s-land buffer zone between Syria and Israel – an area that until recently was considered off limits to anyone but the United Nations peacekeepers’ force.
 
SNC coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib has urged the U.S. to reconsider its blacklisting of Al Nusra, and issued a statement in December 2012 warning his Western backers: “We can have ideological and political differences with certain parties, but the revolutionaries all share the same goal: to overthrow the criminal regime (of President Bashar al-Assad).”

Iraqi Influx Doubles Syrian Al Qaeda-Linked Rebel Faction

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 30 March 2013 16:23
Al Nusra terrorist in Raqa - ReutersSyria’s Al Nusra Front rebel faction, allied with Al Qaeda, has more than doubled and is continuing to grow with the influx of Syrian jihadists returning from abroad.
 
The group was the lead faction among those who recently invaded the buffer zone along the Syrian-Jordanian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights.
 
Listed in the United States as an officially banned terrorist organization, Al Nusra Front has become increasingly attractive to individual jihadists and small radical Islamist groups.
 
The most recent recruits flowing in are Sunni Muslims previously sent to Iraq to advance the interests of President Bashar al-Assad, according to a report published Thursday in the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
 
According to the report, jihadists have been flowing into Syria in “small numbers and isolated groups,” and thus their movements have remained largely under the radar of the international community until late last year.
 
Prior to its decision to list Al Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization, Turkey reportedly warned the U.S. government that doing so would increase the group’s “popularity” and raise its attraction for Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in the region.
 
Al Nusra does not cooperate with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), which fights on behalf of the more “moderate” Syrian National Coalition (SNC).
 
But there have been several occasions upon which the FSA has collaborated with Al Nusra, specifically in the conquest of Raqa, and in attacks on Aleppo. Most recently, the jihadists have had open access to the no-man’s-land buffer zone between Syria and Israel – an area that until recently was considered off limits to anyone but the United Nations peacekeepers’ force.
 
SNC coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib has urged the U.S. to reconsider its blacklisting of Al Nusra, and issued a statement in December 2012 warning his Western backers: “We can have ideological and political differences with certain parties, but the revolutionaries all share the same goal: to overthrow the criminal regime (of President Bashar al-Assad).”

Syrian Rebels Vow to Conquer Golan, Refugees Refuse Israeli Aid

Category: News
Created on Monday, 11 March 2013 18:20
Golan HeightsSyrian refugees might be desperate, injured and even starving – but they won’t accept Israeli aid, as rebels vow to reconquer the Golan Heights.
 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor says Israel has offered to send humanitarian aid into Syria via the International Committee of the Red Cross, as the desperation of civilians fleeing the violence grows. Nevertheless, Palmor told the Turkish Hurriyet daily newspaper, the refugees are still unwilling to accept assistance from Israel, which had coordinated with the Red Cross to send humanitarian aid into the country.
 
But at the private level, aid organizations are coordinating between Israel and Jordan to provide assistance to the refugees who have crossed the border into the Hashemite Kingdom, Palmor noted. “This shows that the Israeli public wants to help Syrians no matter what politics dictates,” he pointed out. Jordan cannot possibly provide on its own all the assistance the refugees need, its own officials have repeatedly pointed out.
 
But while Israelis are trying to help those who have been mistreated the most by the Syrian government, and hurt the worst by the savage civil war raging across the border, Syrian rebel fighters are vowing to wage war against Israel once their battle against President Bashar al-Assad is over.
 
In a video posted on the Internet a couple of weeks ago, a small group of jihadist rebel fighters was filmed against the backdrop of the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights – the buffer zone that for some 40 years has served to keep the border quiet between Syria and Israel.
 
“We are in the occupied Golan Heights, which the traitor [former President] Hafez Assad (the present president’s father) sold to Israel 40 years ago,” a rebel spokesman tells the viewer, waving around his assault weapon. These lands are blessed and the despicable Assad family promised to liberate them, but for 40 years the Syrian army did not fire a single bullet.
 
“We will open a military campaign against Israel,” the bearded rebel spokesman vows, as his fellow fighters fire their weapons, some of them yelling “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is Great).  We will fire the bullets that Assad did not, and we will liberate the Golan.”
 
On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz warned that terrorist groups fighting Assad's regime alongside other rebels are "becoming stronger" and voiced concern they could turn on Israel in the future.    "The situation in Syria has become exceptionally dangerous. The terrorist organizations are becoming stronger on the ground," he told AFP. "Now they are fighting against Assad but in the future they could turn against us." 
 
Israel’s military establishment has been preparing for some time for the day that Bashar al-Assad may fall, with IDF units carrying out military exercises throughout the country.
 
In the northern Negev, the sounds of artillery fire could be heard echoing through the hills of the wadis in the early hours of the morning on Monday, as troops prepared for the possibility of battle in the Golan Heights.
 
As early as July 2012, IDF military intelligence director Maj.-Gen. Avi Kochavi warned that Al Qaeda operatives had moved into the buffer zone and was transforming it into a staging area for future attacks on Israel. Kochavi likened the situation to that taking place in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, noting that just as the Cairo government was finding it difficult to extend its authority to the lawless Sinai, so too Damascus seems no longer able to control rebel forces in the demilitarized zone of the Golan Heights.
 
Another sign of the chaos is last week's kidnapping of 21 United Nations peacekeepers, held by rebels for three days in southern Syria. The Filipino peacekeepers - part of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) that has been monitoring the ceasefire line between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights since 1974 - were seized by the Martyrs of Yarmouk rebel brigade on Wednesday. They crossed into Jordan on Saturday, having been freed after extensive negotiations. 
 
A flood of foreign jihadists – most linked to Al Qaeda -- has flowed into Syria to join the rebels in the battle against Assad loyalists, just as Iranian-backed Lebanese Hizbullah terrorist guerrilla fighters and elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards have joined forces with the Syrian Army soldiers.
 
Kochavi has estimated that should Assad fall, both local and foreign rebels would aim straight at Israel with the huge caches of ordnance that have been stockpiled along the border.
 
Meanwhile, the United States, Britain and France have begun training and equipping Syrian rebel fighters in Jordan at special military camps, albeit opposition fighters affiliated with “moderate, mainstream” groups and not those linked to the radical Islamist camps. At least 200 members of the Free Syrian Army have already received training so far, with plans for a total of 1,200 FSA members to be trained by the project’s end. 

Bin Laden's Son in Law Detained by U.S. Authorities

Category: News
Created on Friday, 08 March 2013 13:42
Suleiman Abu GhaithOsama bin Laden's son-in-law has been detained by U.S. authorities and is due to appear in court in New York on Friday on charges he plotted with the Al-Qaeda leader to stage attacks on Americans, AFP reports.
 
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, reportedly a 47-year-old Kuwaiti and allegedly one of the chief propagandists of the Al-Qaeda network, stands accused of conspiring "to kill nationals of the United States," the U.S. State Department said.
 
Attorney General Eric Holder said the arrest showed that the United States would never relent in its pursuit of the militants who launched the attacks of September 11, 2001.
 
"No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice," Holder said, according to AFP.
 
"To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message," he said.
 
"There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
 
Abu Ghaith’s capture is unusual as President Barack Obama's administration has focused on killing Al-Qaeda figures in bombing raids using unmanned drone aircraft, primarily in the tribal belt of Pakistan.
 
A Turkish newspaper had reported earlier that Ghaith was seized by U.S. authorities at a hotel in Ankara last month and was deported to Jordan, before being taken to the United States.
 
FBI and CIA officials declined to comment on how Bin Laden's son-in-law ended up in behind bars on American soil.
 
Republican lawmakers immediately denounced the Obama administration for not sending the suspect to the U.S. military's prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he could be held indefinitely and prosecuted under special military tribunals.
 
"When we find somebody like this, this close to bin Laden and the senior Al-Qaeda leadership, the last thing in the world we want to do, in my opinion, is put them in a civilian court," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, according to AFP.
 
"This man should be in Guantanamo Bay," Graham added.
 
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, agreed.
 
"Al Qaeda leaders captured on the battlefield should not be brought to the United States to stand trial. We should treat enemy combatants like the enemy -- the U.S. court system is not the appropriate venue," Rogers said.
 
U.S. authorities accuse Ghaith of assisting Bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda chief who was killed in a 2011 raid by American commandos, and of taking to the airwaves to promote Al-Qaeda's war against America after the 9/11 attacks.
 
According to the indictment, he allegedly threatened Americans, warning them that a "great army is gathering" and "the storms shall not stop, especially the airplanes storm."
 
The indictment also stated Ghaith was "smuggled successfully from Afghanistan into Iran" in 2002.
 
Ghaith is one of a number of Al-Qaeda terrorists who were known to be in Iran after the 9/11 attacks but their precise status -- and whether they were placed under house arrest by the Iranian authorities -- has remained unclear.

Al Qaeda Mastermind of Algeria Gas Plant Attack Killed in Mali

Category: News
Created on Monday, 04 March 2013 07:26
Former AQIM leader Mokhtar BelmokhtarThe former Al Qaeda terrorist mastermind of an attack in January on an Algerian gas field has been killed in a military assault in Mali.
 
Military spokesperson General Zacharia Gobongue announced in a statement on Chad national television Saturday that Belmokhtar died in an assault that “completely destroyed the main base used by jihadists and narco-terrorists... several of the terrorists were killed, including the chief, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the ‘one-eyed.’"
 
Belmokhtar, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, had organized and masterminded the terror attack on the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria. The gas installation, located in southern Algeria, is jointly run by the British BP oil giant, together with the Algerian national Sonatrach, and Norway’s Statoil. Belmokhtar's Masked Brigade terrorist group said the attack came as retaliation for Algeria's willingness to allow French fighter jets to use Algerian air space to cross into Mali. 
 
The Islamist rebel base in which he was killed was located in northern Mali, where most of the fighting is taking place.
 
French military officials who are leading the offensive against the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group trying to overthrow the Malian government said it could not immediately confirm Belmokhtar’s death.
 
One day earlier, Chad President Idriss Deby announced that his military forces had killed Abou Zeid, the second-in-command of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the leader of the Al Qaeda-linked forces fighting foreign troops in northern Mali.
 
Chad is among several African nations fighting alongside France and Canada to defend Mali against an attempted coup by terrorist forces.
 
Abou Zeid, an Algerian national, is accused of killed two Western citizens – UK national Edwin Dyer in 2009, and French citizen Michel Germaneau in 2010. 
 
As with Belmokhtar’s reported demise, Abou Zeid’s death has not yet been confirmed. However, a U.S. official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity that the report appeared “very credible.”

NYT: US to Train and Equip Syria's Rebel Forces

Category: News
Created on Friday, 01 March 2013 10:47
Syrian rebels of shoulder-launched missile systems including the U.S.-made Stingers. AFPThe United States is training and equipping Syrian opposition forces in their war to oust President Bashar al-Assad, according to a report published by The New York Times.
 
Obama administration officials were quoted by the newspaper on Wednesday as saying the U.S. intends to offer the armed rebels non-lethal assistance and equipment for the first time.
 
It is not known, however, in which country the activity is taking place.
 
U.S. aid to the rebel groups is allegedly expected to include military vehicles, communications equipment and night vision gear, according to the report.
 
Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Wednesday at a joint news conference with French counterpart Laurent Fabius that Syria’s opposition needs “more help” in its struggle against loyalist forces.
 
Speaking to reporters in Paris ahead of a meeting with the Friends of Syria group in Rome, Kerry added the U.S. wanted to speed up a political transition in the country, the AFP news agency reported.
 
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), one of two main opposition forces in the country, is slated to meet for talks Thursday with a group of foreign leaders. 
 
It is not clear whether the second rebel group, the 13-member Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria, will attend the meeting.  In the past, the group -- which includes the Al-Nusra Front terrorist organization and a number of other groups linked to Al Qaeda -- has publicly rejected any cooperation with the Western-backed SNC . 

Do You Know What is Happening in Mali?

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Monday, 21 January 2013 20:22
Islamist terroristsDuring the third debate of the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney talked about Mali and the danger al-Qaeda represented there. The Obamamedia laughed and derided Romney, carrying Barack Obama’s water and continued advancing the fraud that Obama had decimated al-Qaeda, even though al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists had taken over an American consulate and killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya just weeks prior.
 
Surprise!!!! Al-Qaeda in Mali is a serious enough threat that the French, THE FRENCH!, have invaded Mali to fight them there.
 
It looks like Romney was indeed correctly focused on foreign threats, al-Qaeda is not decimated but in fact very much alive, and the Obama administration is as blind, or more likely deceptive, about Mali as it was about Benghazi.
 
Or is Obama giving cover to Islamists in Mali like he does in Egypt and the Palestinian Authority?
 
…and liberal American Jews still think Obama’s the Messiah. Even though the country that gets screwed the most by Obama, Hillary Clinton and their Islamist-empowering policies is Israel.
 
Meanwhile in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu appreciates and supports France’s counter-terrorist operation in Mali. But we can’t blame Obama for not being fully engaged on international terrorism right now. His attention is laser-focused on shredding the 2nd Amendment.
 
Here is the story:
 
France Intervenes in Mali
 
by Amy Farina • Jan 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm
 
 
France continued to assist the Malian government in its fight against Islamist extremists this week, carrying out a series of airstrikes and ground operations after the militants overran the village of Diabaly, bringing them closer to the capital city of Bamako. The French first directly intervened Friday with aerial bombing raids after the Malian government asked for assistance as Islamist extremists began a southern offensive that threatens to overtake the Northwest African country.
 
Mali has been in trouble for months. Last March, Malian soldiers overthrew the democratically elected President Amadou Toumani Toure. The coup, just a month before elections, was in response to the government's failure to deal effectively with the Tuareg separatist rebellion in the north. But only one month later, in April, the Tuareg rebels -- empowered by arms and fighters from Libya following Moammar Qaddafi's ouster -- seized the northern region of Mali and declared independence. The Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the Islamist group Ansar Dine then united, declaring north Mali an Islamic state that strictly follows Sharia law. The Islamists soon took control of the rebellion, however, and their continuation to push south towards the capital forced Bamako to ask France for assistance.
 
France has thus far committed 1,700 troops to the mission in Mali including the 800 troops that are already stationed there. Ghana, Togo, Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Nigeria have committed to sending troops as well. The U.S., for its part, has committed logistical support but said it will not send troops to Mali at this time. U.S. policy forbids military aid to countries where the existing government was put in place as a result of a coup. Because of this, no support can go directly to the Malian government until a leader is elected.
 
France plans to remain in Mali until stability is returned. As French President François Hollande said: "We have one goal. To ensure that when we leave, when we end our intervention, Mali is safe, has legitimate authorities, an electoral process and there are no more terrorists threatening its territory." According to the UN, since March 2012 approximately 230,000 people in Mali have been displaced by the instability and fighting.
 
And is Algeria next?
 
Phyllis Chesler0Prof. Phyllis Chesler
Prof. Phyllis Chesler is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness (Doubleday, 1972), The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and most recently, The New Anti-Semitism. She is the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network.

Death Toll Skyrockets in Algeria's Al Qaeda Attack

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 20 January 2013 15:31
In Amenas gas installation -ReutersThere has been a surge in the death toll in the attack by Al Qaeda-linked terrorists on a gas installation in southern Algeria, authorities say.
 
The Algerian government previously informed journalists that 32 hostages and 23 terrorists were killed in the siege by Algerian special ops forces intended to free nationals from ten different countries taken captive by the terrorists last week. But 25 have been discovered at the site of the four-day hostage standoff between Algerian forces and Al Qaeda-linked terrorists. According to Algerian state television, some of the hostages were executed by the terrorists.
 
The terrorist group attacked the In Amenas gas field installation, located deep in the Sahara Desert, allegedly in retaliation for Algeria’s agreement in allowing French fighter jets to pass through its air space to reach Mali. France is assisting the Malian government in its fight against radical Islamic terrorists who are trying to overthrow the government. A number of African nations have also joined in the battle as well. 
 
The Masked Brigade, an armed group who took hundreds hostage at the In Amenas facility, said Friday that they would trade captives from the United States for the release of two terrorists jailed in the United States. A spokesman for the group named the two as Aafia Siddiqui, from Pakistan, and Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian referred to as the “blind sheikh.”
 
The Mauritanian ANI news agency reported that sources close to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, believed to be behind last Wednesday's raid, had proposed that France and Algeria negotiate “an end to the war being waged by France in Azawad”, northern Mali.
 
According to Algerian Minister of Communications Mohamed Said, the death toll – and the final count of personnel held hostage by the Al Qaeda-linked terrorists – was considerably higher than first reported. “I am afraid unfortunately to say that the death toll will go up,” Said was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. He added that a final death toll would be released in the coming hours.
 
At present, the government has said that 107 foreign nationals were held hostage by the terrorists, led by Belmokhtar, believed to be a former member of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In addition, 685 Algerian hostages, initially held, were freed prior to the siege by Algerian forces.

34 Hostages, 15 Terrorists Dead in Rescue by Algerian Army

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 17 January 2013 17:48
In Amenas gas installation -ReutersAt least 35 hostages and 15 terrorists were reportedly killed Thursday afternoon in a rescue attempt by the Algerian army at the In Amenas gas field installation.
 
Troops surrounded the gas facility and helicopters bombarded the terrorists and their vehicles from the air, as they tried to move their hostages, the Mauritanian ANI news agency reported.
 
Members of the group, an offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), belonged to the Khaled Aboul Abbas Brigade, led by former AQIM leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar.ֲֲֲ They had demanded the Algerian government provide them and their hostages with safe passage out of the area, but Algeria refused.
 
The installation is jointly operated by British giant BP, the national Algerian Sonatrach oil company, and the Norwegian Statoil firm.
 
Some 30 Algerian workers had earlier managed to escape their captors, according to the pan-Arabic Al Jazeera news network. The British Guardian newspaper reported that an additional 25 hostages also managed to escape during the siege by Algerian forces.
 
The terroristsֲ said they were holding theֲ hostages -- citizens from approximately 10 different nations -- in retaliation for the military offensive by France in nearby Mali.
 
Algeria has allowed French fighter jets to use its airspace to assist the Malian government in its battle against radical Islamic jihadist rebels, a point noted by terrorists in their statement to media.
 
“Forty-one Westerners, including seven Americans, French, British and Japanese citizens have been taken hostage,” the operative told journalists. “The operation was in response to the blatant interference by Algeria and the opening of its air space to French aircraft to bomb northern Mali.”

Al Qaeda Terrorists Kill 3, Hold Americans, Others Hostage

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 17 January 2013 17:34
Al Qaeda-linked terrorists are holding Americans and other foreign nationals hostage after seizing a gas field in the southern Algerian town of In Amenas.
 
Three people were killed in the attack.ֲֲ 
 
Seven U.S. nationals are among the hostages, a terrorist said in a phone call to a news outlet, but the claim could not be verified. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement, “The best information that we have at this time is that U.S. citizens are among the hostages,” The New York Times reported.
 
In addition, France, Ireland, Japan, Britain and Norway have said their citizens are also being held.
 
Oil giant BP confirmed in a statement that its installation, jointly operated with Algerian and Norwegian oil firms, was “attacked and occupied by a group of unidentified armed people.” The company added that some of its personnel were believed to be “held by the occupiers.”
 
A total of 41 people from approximately 10 different countries were taken, a terrorist told the AFP news agency by telephone.
 
The group, an offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), operates in Northern Africa. “We are members of Al Qaeda and came from northern Mali,” the operative said. He added that his cell belonged to the Khaled Aboul Abbas Brigade, led by former AQIM leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
 
The group, formed to attack those involved in the military operation against radical Islamist jihadists in Mali, is demanding an end to the offensive.
 
Algeria has opened its airspace to allow French fighter jets to assist Mali’s government in its war against the rebel jihadists. The terrorists who claimed credit for the attack specifically noted Algeria’s involvement in allowing French fighter jets into its airspace, ABC News reported.
 
“Algeria will not respond to terrorist demands and rejects all negotiations,” Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said in a statement on local television Wednesday.ֲֲ 

Al Qaeda Wants to Kill Another US Ambassador

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 30 December 2012 14:47
Yemen map0Al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen offer $160,000 in gold for killing the US ambassador, three months after the US envoy to Libya was murdered.
 
The US State Dept. presumably will take the matter more seriously than it did when senior officials ignored events leading up to the brutal killing of Christopher Stevens on September 11.
 
The al-Malahem terrorist website also offered $23,000 to anyone who murders an American soldier, but the offer is valid for only six months.
 
The website posting followed a US drone strike in Yemen that killed three AQ terrorists, including a senior Al Qaeda member, Saleh Mohammed al-Ameri. The bounties were set to "inspire and encourage our Muslim nation for jihad," the statement said.
 
A day earlier, five others were killed, and the US army carried our four drone strikes during the week, although the military followed its usual practice of not confirming the counterterrorist operations. More than 40 aerial strikes have been carried out this year in Yemen, according to the Long War Journal.
 
Saturday’s attack on a vehicle "completely obliterated" and the bodies left charred,” according to local tribesmen quoted by BBC.
 
Al Qaeda plotted in 2008 and 2010 to blow up American airliners, and the Obama administration is fighting a tough battle to keep the Yemeni government in power while Al Qaeda terrorists have effectively taken over the southern part of the country.
 
However, the US drone attack strategy has also killed many innocent civilians and has stoked anti-American hatred among many Yemeni tribesman
 
The Arab Spring revolution in 2011 left the country in shambles as competing tribes fought for control and terrorists took advantage of the vacuum of the power to gain territory.
 
The Los Angeles Times wrote last week, “The danger in the drone program is the potential for U.S. intelligence and airstrikes to be manipulated by Yemenis seeking to weaken the competing clans and political factions.
 
“For example, Obama and his top generals felt misled in 2010 when Obama signed off on an airstrike against a senior militant that killed six people, including the deputy governor of Mareb province. The strike was based entirely on intelligence provided by the Yemenis, who had not told the U.S. that the governor would be there, a former senior U.S. official said.”
 
It quoted Ahmed al Zurqua, an expert on Islamic militants, Saudi Arabia saying, “The drones have not killed the real Al Qaeda leaders, but they have increased the hatred toward America and are causing young men to join Al Qaeda to retaliate.”

Al Qaeda Grows as Assad Forces Shell Civilians Across Syria

Category: News
Created on Friday, 21 December 2012 07:27
As the Assad regime becomes increasingly desperate, its forces are starting to shell civilians in every major city across the country.
 
Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are attacking civilians and rebel forces alike around Hama, Homs and Aleppo, according to a report issued Wednesday by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Nearly 50,000 people have died since the savage civil war began in March 2011, with a simple scrawled grafitti message of protest by a teen on a wall in Dera'a. 
 
Large-scale electricity and water shortages have been reported across Syria, an increasing concern as the frigid winter sets in. In Aleppo, the country's northern commercial hub, power has been unavailable for the past week, and there have been reports of no running water for the past five days, UNRWA said. Every major artery to the city has been cut off in clashes between government and rebel forces with the exception of the Damascus-Aleppo highway.
 
Meanwhile, the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization is taking advantage of the chaos in the country to stage a comeback there, much as it did in Libya during the revolution that deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi last year.
 
Syria's Al-Nusra Front terror organization is an affiliate of Al Qaeda, believing in the hope of reviving the Islamic Caliphate that will build a Muslim Empire to eventually rule the world. It is one of 13 factions in the radical Islamist rebel council that announced its secession from the main opposition force several weeks ago.
 
The United States added the Al-Nusra Front to the official list of terror organizations last week.
 
The greater danger lies in its ability to draw others to its ranks: The group is gaining popularity as Assad's Alawite faction, an offshoot of the Iranian affiliated Shi'ite Islam, falls out of favor. Al-Nusra is beginning to recruit from the ranks of Sunni Muslims, who until now have remained moderate and loyal to the mainstream rebels. Al-Nusra Front was responsible for the deadly suicide and car bombings recently in Damascus, Dera'a, Homs and Hama, according to the SITE Intelligence group. Dozens were killed in these attacks; in one suicide bombing, 60 alone were murdered.
 
Air strikes, clashes and shelling also continued for a sixth day inside Yarmouk, a suburb of Damascus that began as a refugee camp for Arabs who had fled Israel in times of war, and their descendants. Originally home to more than 150,000 residents, Yarmouk has become a ghost town over the past week, with some 90 percent of its people having fled the violence.Free Syrian Army fighters pose with their weapons

Top General Warns: African Al-Qaeda to 'Export' Violence to US

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 17 November 2012 20:37
al-Qaeda terroristsTop United States General Carter Ham urged a global fight against the Al-Qaeda terrorist group based in Africa on Wednesday, saying it could "export violence" to the West, AFP reported.
 
Ham, the head of the U.S. Africa Command, reaffirmed the suspicion that the Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was linked to the deadly September 11 attack on the American mission in Benghazi, which resulted in the murder of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three others.
 
"If we, the international community, don't find a way to help the Africans address this threat, it's going to worsen," he said.
 
"That network will become stronger and they will gain capability to export violence throughout a broader region (other) than Africa and certainly the high potential to export violence into Europe and to the USA," he added.
 
Ham said while the network did not pose an "imminent threat" on US soil, it did so for U.S. interests worldwide.
 
"That network has already killed four Americans," he said, referring to the Benghazi bombing.
 
"That to me says that there is an imminent threat,” he continued. “So that is why I think there's a degree of urgency to the international community finding a way to help the Africans address this problem."
 
Ham also discussed African and international efforts toward a possible military intervention in northern Mali, which is controlled by AQIM and other terrorist groups. 

Reports of Islamic Emirate in Sinai 'Misleading Public'

Category: News
Created on Monday, 12 November 2012 07:08
Islamic Jihad rallyMuhammad al-Zawahiri, the younger brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, said that news reports suggesting that his Egyptian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is planning to establish an Islamic emirate in Sinai were inaccurate and were misleading the public.
 
In statements to Al Arabiya, Zawahiri denied that his group was “Takfiri,” meaning that it accuses people with opinions different from its own of apostasy.
 
He also denied reports that his group was planning to carry out terrorist bombings in Cairo, describing such reports as part of a media campaign against his group.
 
He said media and security entities in Egypt should be cleansed of former regime figures. “The seditions that some parties are trying to ignite will destroy the nation as a whole and those parties need to put national interests at the top of their concerns,” he said, according to the report.
 
He claimed that his group, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, is trying to spread its message of Islam with lectures, conferences and books and not with weapons.
 
Zawahiri also noted that his group has no plans to take part in forming a political party or taking part in the elections because it does not believe in “the concept of democracy.”
 
“We reject the current democracy that gives sovereignty to people, because sovereignty is to God only, and this is what we demand,” he said. “But we recognize the democracy that seeks to establish justice, equality and human dignity because it is compatible with the teachings of the Islamic religion.”
 
“Our only demand is that sovereignty be to God and that everything that is against God's law is illegitimate,” he added, according to Al-Arabiya.
 
Al-Zawahiri has previously called for Jihad against the Jews, as is customary among those belonging to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
 
In a television interview, which aired on Egypt’s CBC TV on October 4, Zawahiri said, “Fighting Israel, fighting the Jews is a religious duty incumbent upon all.”
 
“The Egyptian government should have been fighting the Jewish enemy. Perhaps due to circumstances – its weakness, its interests – the Egyptian government ignored a religious duty incumbent upon it. Not just the Egyptian government – the Jordanian one as well. This is a religious duty incumbent upon all Muslims,” he added. 

Al-Qaeda Forms All-Female Brigade to Attack West

Category: News
Created on Monday, 29 October 2012 10:57
Muslim womenAl-Qaeda has formed an all-female 'Burkha Brigade' to infiltrate and hit Western military bases and targets, as they are less likely than men to attract suspicion.
 
A film posted online shows the all-female unit of al-Qaeda using an alarming array of weapons, including machine-guns, grenade rocket launchers and sniper rifles during their training session at an unknown location.
 
The women are thought to have been recruited from the war-torn Russian republic of Chechnya by an al-Qaeda-linked group, with bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, The Sun reported Sunday.
 
The report has raised concerns that the global terror network has formed all-female units because they are less likely to attract suspicion than men and can more easily infiltrate security barriers.
 
Women also remain less conspicuous as they generally hide the explosives beneath the abaya — the black cloak worn from head to toe, according to The Sun.
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In September, a female suicide bomber in Afghanistan rammed an explosive-laden car into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing at least 12 people, including eight South Africans.
 
In August, a 30-year-old Russian actress who converted to Islam killed Dagestan’s top Muslim spiritual leader Sheikh Said Afandi and six others in a suicide attack.

Al-Qaeda Leader Calls for Increased Kidnappings of Westerners

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 28 October 2012 08:44
Ayman al-Zawahiri - terrorist leaderAl Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has called on Muslims to increase efforts to kidnap Westerners in exchange for imprisoned jihadists, citing the success in the abduction of American aid worker Warren Weinstein in Pakistan.
 
In an undated two-hour video posted on jihadist websites, al-Zawahiri called for the abductions as part of a vow not to "spare any efforts" to free Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
 
"God the great and almighty granted us success to capture the Jewish American Warren Weinstein," al-Zawahiri said according to the terror monitoring group SITE intelligence.
 
"We are seeking, by the help of God, to capture others and to incite Muslims to capture the citizens of the countries that are fighting Muslims in order to release our captives," he said.
 
Al-Zawahiri also called for Egyptians to rise up against Israel.
 
"I call on every free and honorable (person) in Egypt to participate in every protest against the Israeli Embassy, against the peace treaty with Israel, against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and against every siege of Gaza," al-Zawahiri said.
 
"Islamic movements and masses must be at the forefront of those protests and the first to sacrifice for their sake," he added.
 
The video is the latest in a series released by al-Zawahiri, who was al Qaeda's No. 2 leader under Osama bin Laden. He took over leadership in June 2011 following bin Laden's death, according to statements posted on jihadist websites.
 
Al-Zawahiri is believed to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan's tribal region that borders Afghanistan.
 
He was indicted in absentia for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000 others, according to the National Counterterrorism Center, part of the U.S. federal government.
 
The FBI is offering a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture, the same amount as the reward for bin Laden.
 
Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the August 2011 abduction of Weinstein from his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore.
 
Months later, al-Zawahiri made a number of demands of the United States in exchange for Weinstein's release, including the release of Abdel-Rahman. Washington has maintained it will not negotiate with terrorists.

U.S. Embassy Employee in Yemen Shot Dead

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 11 October 2012 07:51
Shooting illustrativeAn employee of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, was shot dead by masked gunmen Thursday morning, American security sources said. According to sources quoted by news agencies, the attack was conducted in a manner similar to others by Al Qaeda in Yemen.
 
The employee, Qassem Aqlan, a Yemeni citizen, was on his way to work when gunmen riding motorcycles sidled up to his vehicle and opened fire. Aqlan headed an embassy security team. The attack occurred in the center of Sanaa, Yemen's capital, security sources said.
Among other things, sources quoted by Israel Radio said, Aqlan was leading an investigation into an attack on the Embassy last month. Hundreds of rioters stormed the embassy, overcoming security forces and installations, ostensibly protesting the “Innocence of Muslims” movie that had been posted on the Internet. Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi apologized to the U.S. for the attack, and opened a joint investigation with U.S. officials to determine ways to prevent future attacks. Aqlan was leading the American team investigating the riot.
The identity of the attackers in Thursday's attack was not immediately clear, but security sources said that Al Qaeda topped the list of suspects. The U.S., along with the Yemen Army, has been battling Al Qaeda forces throughout the country, in an effort to suppress the terror group's increasing control of the countryside and interior of Yemen.

FBI Still Not Granted Access to Site of Libya Attack

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 27 September 2012 18:01
Remains of Benghazi Consulate -REUTERSMore than two weeks after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, FBI agents have still not been granted access to investigate the crime scene, sources said.
 
"They've gotten as far as Tripoli now, but they've never gotten to Benghazi," CNN National Security Analyst Fran Townsend said Wednesday, citing senior law enforcement officials.
 
Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that an FBI team had reached Libya earlier in the week.
 
"In fairness to the secretary, it may be that she wanted to be coy about where they were in Libya for security concerns. That's understandable. But the fact is, it's not clear they've been in Libya for very long," Townsend told CNN.
 
"They had difficulty, and we understand there was some bureaucratic infighting between the FBI and Justice Department on the one hand, and the State Department on the other, and so it took them longer than they would have liked to get into country. They've now gotten there. But they still are unable to get permission to go to Benghazi," she said.
 
FBI agents have requested for the crime scene to be secured, but that, too, has not yet occurred.
 
"The senior law enforcement official I spoke to said, 'If we get there now, it's not clear that it will be of any use to us,'" she told CNN.
 
While the FBI has conducted interviews with State Department and U.S. government personnel who were in Libya at the time of the attack, they have been denied their request to directly question individuals in the custody of Libyan authorities, she added.
 
Speaking to reporters last Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney clarified that the assault was, in fact, a "terrorist attack."
 
Addressing a special meeting at the U.N. on Wednesday, Clinton suggested there was a link between the Qaeda franchise in North Africa and the attack. She was the highest-ranking Obama administration official to publicly make the connection.
 
“Now with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions,” Clinton said. “And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi.”
 
Officials later said the question would be officially settled only after the F.B.I. completed a criminal inquiry, which is expected to take months.
 
They said they had not ruled out the involvement of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate of the international terrorist group with origins in Algeria, in an attack the administration initially described as a spontaneous protest turned violent.

Al Qaeda Calls Murder of US Ambassador 'The Best Gift'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 09:31
protesters carry an al Qaeda flag - ReutersAl Qaeda's affiliate in North Africa called the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens a "gift” and urged Muslims to continue killing U.S. government representatives.
 
In a statement, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb praised the killing of Stevens, calling it "the best gift you (can) give to his arrogant and unjust administration."
 
"We encourage all Muslims to continue to demonstrate and escalate their protests ... and to kill their (American) ambassadors and representatives or to expel them to cleanse our land from their wickedness," the group said in the statement.
 
It further threatened attacks in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania, and condemned the United States for “lying to Muslims for more than 10 years, saying its war was against terrorism and not Islam.”
 
In the most recent attack, a suicide bomber in Kabul rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying South African aviation workers to the airport, killing at least 12 people.
 
The Islamist terrorist group Hizb-i-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for the film “Innocence of Muslims,” which portrays Islam and the Prophet Mohammad in a negative light. 

4 Rioters Dead, 34 Wounded at US Embassy in Yemen

Category: News
Created on Friday, 14 September 2012 10:03
Protesters climb US Embassy fence in Sanaa -ReutersYemeni police Thursday shot dead four protesters and wounded 34 others when they opened fire on a crowd attempting to storm the US embassy in Sana'a to protest a film mocking Islam, a security official said.
 
The White House, meanwhile, said it was doing everything it could to protect its diplomats in Yemen, where witnesses reported that roads leading to embassy were closed down as the area was calm later in the evening.
 
"Four people were killed and 34 others were wounded in the clashes that lasted from morning until late in the evening" in the area around the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, the official said, adding that eight of them were "seriosuly injured."
 
Rioters chanting “O Messenger of Allah, O Mohammed...” launched a second assault on the American compound following an attack rebuffed by security forces earlier in the day.
 
President Abdurabuh Mansour Hadi apologized to U.S. President Barack Obama and to the American people for the acts of “a mob” and ordered an investigation into the attack.
 
"Those who are behind [this attack] are a mob that are not aware of the far-reaching plots of Zionist forces, especially those that made a film insulting the prophet,” Hadi said.
 
Some protesters said they saw three vehicles being torched by some of the demonstrators after they breached the compound through an unguarded security gate.
 
 
 
After being evicted from the complex on their first attempt, protesters retreated about 100 meters (330 yards) from the gate and gathered at a checkpoint where they chanted anti-Jewish slogans.
 
"O Jews, Khaybar, Khaybar. The army of Mohammed will return!” they chanted, referring to a 7th century CE war in the western Arabian Peninsula in which the Muslims were said to have defeated the Jews.
 
They then launched a second assault on the embassy compound, prompting police to fire on the crowd, killing one and wounding five others. Earlier in the day, six police officers and 13 protesters were wounded in clashes during the first attempted assault on the complex.
 
The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen comes as violent demonstrations entered a third day at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, where security forces have been firing tear gas cannisters to maintain control over the mobs.
 
Meanwhile, Americans mourned the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other American diplomats who were brutally murdered Tuesday night in a similar attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
 
Protesters claimed the destruction of the consulate and torching of vehicles parked at the site was ignited by rage over an amateur satirical video produced in the United States that mocked the life of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, founder of Islam, and included themes of sexuality, murder and violence.
 
But there is growing speculation that Al Qaeda terrorists were among the frenzied mob that carried out the murderous assault in Benghazi on Tuesday night, rather than simple demonstrators.
 
Moreover, there is increasing speculation that the continuing violence at other U.S. embassies around the region might signal a campaign of attacks previously promised by the international terrorist organization to mark the eleventh anniversary of its “9/11” attack on America.
 
Violence by hundreds of demonstrators has broken out at U.S. missions in Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen, as well as in Egypt and Libya this week, all using their rage over the film, “Innocence of Muslims” as the excuse for the riots.
 
The obscure film, allegedly produced by California real estate developer Sam Bacile, whose identity is becoming increasingly mysterious, as he cannot be located. The video was reportedly released at least six months ago in English, but went unnoticed until it was translated into Arabic and a trailer posted on the YouTube website a few days prior to September 11. Clips of the film were also apparently broadcast on an Egyptian television channel over the weekend. Coptic Christians have since been accused of promoting the film, as has controversial Florida-based 
Christian Pastor Terry Jones, who in the past burned copies of the Qur'an.

Yemen's US Embassy Attacked by Protesters

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 September 2012 08:15
Yemens US Embassy Attacked by Protesters - APThe U.S. Embassy has been attacked by a mob in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, with "protesters" who ripped down the American flag.
 
Hundreds have reportedly stormed into the embassy compound, tearing off the embassy's sign from the outer wall. Gunfire was allegedly exchanged between security guards and protesters, according to various media reports, with an unknown number of wounded reported.
 
The mob tore down the American flag and ripped it to shreds before putting it to the torch. They also set fire to a building, but allegedly were forced to retreat while trying to trash computers and furniture.
 
The international Al Qaeda terrorist organization's most active Middle Eastern branch, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is based in Yemen.
 
Yesterday (Wednesday), protesters massed in the streets of the capital to denounce terror attacks and to show support for Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's decision to replace security officials in Sana'a.
 
In the wake of reports that Libyan security personnel had directed terrorists to the building where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his staff were holed up, Hadi replaced security officials and some ministers late on Tuesday.
 
State media reported the apparent move was made in an effort to reduce the influence of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh following an Al Qaeda assassination attempt earlier in the day on the life of Yemeni Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, who has won acclaim in the flight against the terror organization. A car bomb ripped through his motorcade in the early morning hours, killing 13 people, while traveling through the capital.
 
The bombing followed by one day the targeted assassination in Yemen of AQAP second-in-command, Sa'id al-Shahiri, released from the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay when President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the facility. Also Tuesday, the eleventh anniversary of the “9/11” Al Qaeda attacks on America, Al Qaeda released a video confirming the killing on June 4 of the international terror organization's second-in-command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan national.

Al-Qaeda Affiliate: We Fired Grads on Eilat

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 18 August 2012 17:03
Impact of Grad Katyusha missileAs the anarchy in the Sinai Peninsula continues, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group with branches in Gaza and in Sinai claimed responsibility on Thursday evening for firing Grad missiles on the city of Eilat on Wednesday.
 
The group, Ansar Beit al-Makdas, said in a statement it published:
 
“Allah was successful through your brothers the Mujahideen from the Ansar Beit al-Makdas organization, who on Wednesday evening sent two Grad rockets towards the city of Um Rash Rash (the Arabic name for Eilat -ed.). The brothers did everything necessary so that the missiles would hit targets in populated areas, as evident in the enormous horror of the Jews.
 
“But as usual the Jews are hiding their losses, and in their reports and releases they claimed that the rockets fell in open, unpopulated areas,” the organization continued. “Jews, expect from us actions that will hurt you and persecute you, for you will have no confidence from today until the rights return to their owners.
 
“You know, Jews, that nothing can stop us with Allah’s help, from fighting you and torturing you, and even if all the armies of the world will come under your command, and even if there were a barrier between us and you, with the power and the help of Allah we will get to you.
 
“Everyone knows that our weapons, our readiness and our jihad have a fixed target and are fighting those who cursed Allah, stole our communities, our holy places and hurt our dignity,” concluded the statement.
 
It was the second time in one day that a group had taken responsibility for the missile fire on the tourist city. An unknown organization calling itself the "Salafi Sinai Front" issued a statement on Thursday morning in which it claimed responsibility for firing the missiles. The terror group also condemned the Egyptian military’s operation inside the Sinai Peninsula.
 
Eilat has been the target of missile attacks from Sinai in the recent past. Two months ago, the remains of a Grad missile were discovered a few dozen kilometers north of Eilat, near Uvda. They were apparently fired from Sinai or Jordan.
 
In April, the remains of a rocket were discovered by residents, about ten meters from residential buildings. No one was hurt.

World Jihad in Sinai

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 14 August 2012 18:23
Sinai desertInternational terrorist groups with roots in Libya, Sudan and Iraq are working to take over the Sinai Peninsula, according to a report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Efforts to turn the region into a major launching point for attacks are being encouraged by Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri, it stated.
 
The report noted a recent attack near the border as evidence of terrorists’ attempts to take advantage of the anarchy and growing anger in Sinai.
 
Gaza terrorist groups are heavily involved, it noted. “Palestinian terrorist groups active in the Gaza strip are accessible to local Bedouin organizations in Sinai which affiliate themselves with the global jihad, and have both financial and ideological motives."
 
Hamas generally attempts to force international jihad terror groups, including “rebel” groups in Gaza, into following its relatively restrained approach to terrorism, the authors said. Hamas has occasionally declared ceasefires with Israel, apparently fearing a repeat of the Cast Lead counterterror operation of 2008-2009.
 
However, they continued, Hamas leaders are happy to see other groups carry out attacks with no “address” – that is, with no single known terrorist group behind them.
 
Such attacks have included rocket attacks, attacks on Israelis near the border, and weapons smuggling from Sinai to Israel.
 
“Hamas and other organizations are careful to hide this type of activity, and sometimes even to deny it, in order to avoid exposing themselves to an Israeli response,” they noted. In addition, the groups seek to avoid “complicating their relationships with Egypt, particularly in the era after the election of Mohammed Morsi as Egyptian president.”

Sinai Terrorists Planned Mass Slaughter

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 29 July 2012 17:53
Border fortification near Egypt.Terrorists who attacked workers at the Sinai border fence, murdering one, had hoped to infiltrate Israel and slaughter Jewish families. The terror group had already picked its target: the town of Nitzana, near the Israel-Egypt border.
 
The Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group behind the June 18 attack revealed its full plan in a video published online.
 
The video includes footage of the preparation for the attack. Two terrorists are seen training in the desert. Others seek out a site to attack.
 
Commanders tell the terrorists to break through the fence, fire two counter-tank missiles at the IDF vehicles at the scene, and reach the nearby town of Nitzana. There, they were to murder as many residents of the town as they were able.
 
Nitzana is home to 50 families. Several youth programs operate in the town, including two Hebrew-language learning programs for young immigrants to Israel.
 
The terrorists launched their attack on June 18. They murdered Israeli-Arab Said Fachachte who was working on the border fence, but failed to infiltrate Israel.
 
Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed concern that the attack indicated “a severe weakening of Egypt’s control of Sinai.”

Al-Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Egypt Pipeline Attacks

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:29
Gas pipeline explosion illustrativeA branch of the Al-Qaeda terror group based in Sinai claimed responsibility on Wednesday for the repeated attacks on the pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Jordan and Israel.
 
The claim of responsibility by the group, which calls itself “Supporters of Jerusalem”, came three days after the pipeline was blown up for the 15th time since the 2011 uprising in Egypt which resulted in the fall of president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
 
The group released a video in which it claimed responsibility for the attacks and said that they were meant to “protect state resources and the rights of the poor.”
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The video describes how the terrorists, under the cover of darkness and taking advantage of the absence of any military obstacles in the region, conducted systematic preliminary observations of the pipeline and then placed the explosives and blew them up while calling “Allahu Akbar.”“We struck a mortal blow to the economy of the Zionist entity,” says the organization's commander. “This blow caused billions in losses that are expressed in a rise in electricity prices, a rise in the prices of all goods and a reduction of the Zionists’ military budget.”
 
Officials at the Egyptian natural gas company Gasco said this week they have no plans to repair the damaged gas pipeline.
 
Several months ago, Egyptian security officials arrested a man in connection with the repeated attacks on the pipeline. It is unknown whether he is related to the Supporters of Jerusalem group.
 
Following the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood as the dominant power in Egypt, Cairo canceled a 20-year agreement to supply Israel with gas. A senior official in the Egyptian army, which held power in Egypt after Mubarak’s fall, later said the agreement was not cancelled but only suspended.

Al-Qaeda Linked Group Claims Responsibility for Burgas Terror

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 21 July 2012 17:41
Scene of Burgas attack (Reuters)The Muslim terrorist group Ka’adat el-Jihad claimed responsibility Saturday for a terrorist bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria. The bombing in Bulgaria last week killed five Israelis, one a pregnant woman.
 
The Lebanese paper El-Nashra reported that the group, which has ties to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility in an email to the Arab press.
 
The email also reportedly bragged that the entire month of Ramadan will be a month of “holy war” and violence. “This is a month of war against the Jews and their American helpers, the enemies of Allah,” it stated.
 
The missive went on to term the victims of the Burgas attack as “Jewish tourists, who rape the holy lands.”
 
Ka’adat el-Jihad terrorists wrote that they will continue to target Israeli and American targets “until they are expelled from the lands of Islam.”
 
Investigators have collected DNA from the body of the terrorist who blew up the bus in Burgas. However, he has not yet been identified.
 
bulgarian-bomber-assistantBulgarian police have publicized a composite sketch of the terrorist, and are asking the public’s help in identifying him. Police are also searching for a second suspect.

Al-Qaeda Could Obtain Syrian Chemical Weapons, Jordan King Warns

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 19 July 2012 22:26
AbuallahKing Abdullah II of Jordan warned Wednesday that the situation in Syria is spinning out of control and in a worst case scenario al-Qaeda could obtain some of the regime’s chemical weapons.
 
“Our information is that there is a presence of al-Qaeda in certain regions inside Syria, and has been there for a while,” he told CNN.
 
“And, again, one of the worst case scenarios as we are obviously trying to look for a political solution would be if some of those chemical stockpiles were to fall into unfriendly hands,” he warned.
 
The Jordanian king said that while the bomb attack that killed core members of the Syrian regime was a "tremendous blow" to President Bashar al-Assad, it would not yet lead to the downfall of the regime
 
A bomb attack in Damascus on Wednesday killed key Syrian officials, including Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and General Hassan Turkmani, head of the regime's crisis cell on the uprising.
 
“Definitely this shows some cracks in the system, but again, I don’t think we should jump to any conclusion writing the regime off in the near future,” he said.
 
“I think as we continue to pursue the political option, the realities on the ground may have overtaken us. Therefore I think the clock is ticking,” he said.
 
“I think we should continue to give politics its due. But if we haven’t already passed that window, I think we’re getting very close to it.” 
 
“If it breaks down, if civil order breaks down to the point of no return, then it will take years to fix Syria. And I have a feeling we're seeing signs of that over the past three weeks,” he warned.
 
“The only people that can bring us back from that brink are obviously the president and the regime. And I believe this is the last chance that they have,” he added.
 
The United States also expressed concern regarding Assad's chemical stockpile, warning that any official involved in its use would face the consequences. 

‘Arab Internal Disputes Fuel Anti-Israel Terror’

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 15 July 2012 08:32
scene of terrorist attack near the Sinai borderA growing terrorist state in Sinai and disputes among Arabs in Lebanon increase the likelihood of more missile attacks on Israel, says a defense analyst.
 
Dr. Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is a lecturer at The Israeli National Defense College and an assistant professor at the Washington-based Institute of World Politics, wrote in Globes that the Middle East will become even more volatile if Iran loses its key ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.
 
He noted that Israel recently has been under missile and rocket attacks from two fronts in the south –  Gaza and the Sinai. Dr. Bailey added that it is probable that Hamas can no longer control Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza, while the Egyptian government has lost control of the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel from south of Gaza and to the east.
 
Al Qaeda apparently has fired rockets on Israel from the Sinai Dr, Bailey wrote. He left unanswered the question of why the attacks are taking place.
 
“Were they contracted by someone?” he asked. “Did they simply decide on their own to traverse all of Egypt in order to fire missiles, perhaps looted from Libyan arsenals, at Israel? Are they under any central discipline, or are they simply using the Al Qaeda label, as is becoming common in Africa and elsewhere? Who is paying and supplying them?”
 
The situation in southern Lebanon, controlled by Hizbullah, is less complicated but more precarious than ever, according to Dr. Bailey.
 
He wrote, “Various incidents have indicated growing hostility between Hizbullah, which is Shia, and the Syrian rebels, who are Sunni.
 
“Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah support the besieged Alawite government of Bashar al-Assad. If it falls, Iran will have lost a most valuable ally, indeed its only ally in the Sunni/Arab world, and Hizbullah will have lost a protector. What then?
 
What is clear…is a resurgence of virulent sectarianism, which will represent both an opportunity and a threat to Israel. Playing factions off against each other is becoming a real possibility.
 
As Muslim governments and terrorist organizations try to divert attention from their internal problems, Dr. Bailey concludes, “Stay tuned to Radio Beirut.”

Yemen suicide bombing kills 22 inside Sana’a police academy

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 July 2012 07:51
police academy in the Yemeni capital SanaaA suicide bomber killed at least 22 people, mostly cadets, inside a police academy in Sana’a on Wednesday in an attack that bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, police investigators said.
 
The investigators said dozens of people leaving the academy at the end of the day’s training sessions, were injured in the attack also.
 
“The suicide bomber blew himself up at the police academy in Sana’a and killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens,” an official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
 
Medics at the scene said dozens more were wounded in the explosion at the entrance to the police academy, according to Reuters.
 
In May, a suicide bomber in army uniform struck at the heart of Yemen's military establishment, killing more than 90 people during a rehearsal for an army parade in the capital Sana’a.
 
The attack was claimed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which U.S. officials have described as the most dangerous franchise of the global militant network.
 
Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda have vowed to carry their fight across Yemen after a U.S.-backed military offensive in May drove them out of strongholds they took last year during protests against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule.
 
A number of attacks since the recent offensive indicate that the militants still pose a serious threat.

Al Qaeda Says Tunisia's Constitution Violates Quran

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 10:30
Islamic swordTunisia's ruling Islamist party has "violated" the Quran by accepting a constitution that is not based solely on Islamic law, Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has said in a new message.
 
A 12-minute Al Qaeda audio-tape posted on jihadist websites accused Tunisia's ruling Ennahda party of being a western stooge that "allows nudist beaches and night clubs".
 
"Tunisia's Islamic party 'Ennahda' violates the sacredness of the holy Muslim Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad by accepting a constitution that does not have Islamic law as its sole basis," says a male voice, purportedly that of Zawahiri.
 
"Ennahda's Islam is that of the US State Department, the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council," the message said.
 
In October last year, Ennahda won the first democratic elections since the uprising, taking 37 percent of the vote or 90 seats in the 217-member assembly.
 
The assembly was tasked with rewriting the constitution, appointing a president and forming a caretaker government. Ennahda's nearest rival, the secularist Congress for the Republic, won 30 seats.
 
Since the ouster in January 2011 of long-time leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, there has been a resurgence of hardline Islamists in the country.
 
Some radical groups have been holding demonstrations to demand an introduction of the Islamic Sharia law in the country.
 
In May, a group attacked bars and other places selling alcohol in Sidi Bouzid, the town where the Tunisian revolution began. They also attacked a police station with clubs and Molotov cocktails in Jendouba.

Al Qaeda an Imminent and Growing Threat

Category: News
Created on Friday, 08 June 2012 12:18
ClintonHeadscarfUS Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that Al-Qaeda is still a serious and imminent threat, and is spreading geographically. 
 
"The core of Al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks may be on the path to defeat, but the threat has spread, becoming more geographically diverse," Clinton said ahead of a counter terrorism meeting.
"We will always maintain our right to use force against groups such as Al-Qaeda that have attacked us and still threaten us with imminent attack," she added.
Although the group been dealt blow after blow after its core leadership ranks were destroyed, Clinton said, "the danger from terrorism remains urgent and undeniable."
Clinton was referring to the recent killing of Al-Qaeda number two Abu Yahya al-Libi Tuesday, after a U.S. drone strike dealt one of the most decisive blows to the group since the killing of its mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

AQAP Recruiting Suicide Bombers

Category: News
Created on Friday, 08 June 2012 08:14
Members of an al Qaeda-linked group inside a mosqueAl-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has begun posting Internet advertisements offering training for suicide bombers to target the U.S., Israel and France.
 
Volunteers are asked to get in touch via e-mail with details about their own experience and proposed targets, and were posted on a variety of jihadist forums, including al-Fida'a, Shmoukh al-Islam and Honein.
 
“The aim of this training is to continue with our brothers who are seeking to carry out operations that make for great killing and slaughtering of the enemies of Islam,” said the advertisement attributed to Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
 
“It is clear now that the individual jihad, or what is called the lone wolf, has become more widespread and its features have started showing -- in summary, it is a complete jihadist operation to be carried out by a single bomber.”
 
It said the targets of the attacks were “those who are fighting the Muslims and Islam” and specifically pointed to “economic, military and media interests of the enemy.” 
 
“Their identity must be, according to priority, American, Israeli, French and British.”
 
Al-Qaeda and its regional offshoots often use jihadist Internet forums to post statements claiming responsibility for attacks, and to communicate with followers.
 
It was unclear how previous experience as a suicide bomber would be interpreted by AQAP recruiters.

More IDF Multi-Front Operations Likely

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 24 May 2012 18:01
israel-f-16-jets-parkedAn Israeli military expert says the likelihood is growing that Israel will need to launch more multi-front operations.
 
Israel Air Force Headquarters Chief Brigadier General Hagai Topolansky told a national security conference Tuesday the Jewish State is likely to extend its operations beyond its borders as well.
 
"In the 80s and 90s we operated to deal with situations in places as far away as Iraq,” Topolansky told the audience at the Fisher Institute in Herzliya.
 
"In the past decade, we went as far away as Iran,” he added. “I hope [our operations] won't have to be extended any farther [than that].”
 
Earlier this month, the IDF issued call up orders for six battalions to guard the Egyptian and Syrian borders, with authorization for more if needed.
 
The orders were approved by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as part of a request to call up as many as 22 battalions. A military spokesperson said the call up came following  intelligence assessments calling for increased deployment of more troops.
 
Israeli defense personnel are also closely watching Lebanon as loyalists to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad clash with anti-government factions in Lebanese territory.
 
The growing Syrian civil war has begun to carry over into neighboring Lebanon.
 
Pro- and anti-Syrian factions within the Lebanese population have been clashing in the streets of Tripoli.
 
Violence also began this week to spill over into the capital of Beirut for the first time as well, giving rise to speculation the guns might eventually be pointed at Israel. Thousands of refugees and Syrian Army deserters have poured into Lebanon, which is dominated by the Hizbullah terrorist organization and other pro-Syrian factions.
 
If Assad falls, as Israeli officials believe he will, the IDF may face Al Qaeda-linked fighters at the border near the Golan Heights. If the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations launch an attack on southern Israel, a second front will open -- as happened during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Were the Palestinian Authority's ruling Fatah faction in Ramallah to launch a simultaneous attack in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, a third front would be added, and with that, a multi-front war against Israel could easily be sparked, possibly even with additional Arab nations joining in. 

 

Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution Fighters Arrive in Syria

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 17 May 2012 12:13
It's a year and five months after Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution launched the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings that overturned four governments and now threaten to topple the regime of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. 
 
At least five Tunisians have been killed this month in the revolution – the Syrian revolution, that is. A sixth may also be dead.
 
All are from the southeastern Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane, along the border with Libya, and the families of five have already received anonymous phone calls about their sons, confirming their deaths.
 
A video eulogizing the men with a music bed of Qu'ranic verses was posted on Facebook, stating the “martyrs” were killed in Homs. The black flag of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization was seen on the video as well.
 
But the bodies were not returned to the families, and no other proof of their deaths was provided. Their families said that all were devout Sunni Muslims, and at least two were jailed for links to Islamist radicals.
 
According to a Syrian envoy to the United Nations, 26 “Arab fighters” were arrested and “confessed” to Al Qaeda sympathies, Reuters reported. Of those, another envoy to the U.N. said 19 were from Tunisia.
 
Homs DevastationA security source in Ben Guerdane confirmed to the news agency “There are some youths who are going to Syria via Ben Guerdane. They are religious... What we know is that more than 10 left from here.”
 
Relatives of the five who were killed in Homs defended the right of their sons to die in holy martyrdom.
 
But one, Mokhtar Mars, pointed out to Reuters that dying for the cause in Homs may not be the same as jihad elsewhere: “If there was a real jihad, don't imagine a single Muslim would not go -- if it was a jihad against Israel. But in Syria, you may have to fight other Muslims.”

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