Come the F*ck On: al Qaeda Is Not Our Ally!

Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

Daily Beast, by Robin Simcox, July 24, 2015:
A new argument among jihad analysts has it that the makers of 9/11 are now a handy bulwark against ISIS. Um, no.
Enemies becoming friends is seemingly all the rage these days. First Cuba. Then Iran. Now, there are those arguing that al Qaeda must also be brought into the fold. That’s right: the same group which fly planes into our buildings, blows up our tube networks, embassies and longs for the return of the Caliphate.

The argument seems to be catching on. The journalist Ahmed Rashid has recently taken to the pages of the New York Review of Books (“Why we need al Qaeda”) and the front cover of The Spectator (“Al Qaeda to the rescue”) to question whether al Qaeda “might be the best option left in the Middle East for the US and its allies.” The argument goes that the U.S., regional Arab powers and Turkey have a shared enemy in Bashar al-Assad, Iran and its proxies. Al Qaeda not only shares these enemies, it is at the frontline of this fight in Syria and Yemen.

Rashid also says that al Qaeda is going through “dramatic changes” and are now taking a “soft line” on certain issues. Charles Lister from Brookings has also explored potential al Qaeda moderation—with the headline used in his May article for the Huffington Post, “An Internal Struggle: Al Qaeda’s Syrian Affiliate is Grappling with its Identity,” making the group sound more like a 16 year-old goth from Portland than a murderous terrorist organization.

Other, less savory figures have spoken out on other ways in which al Qaeda may be useful. Moazzam Begg—the former Guantanamo Bay detainee—cites Rashidwhile arguing that “the most credible voices against IS have been Islamic clerics traditionally associated with al Qaeda”: Abu Qatada and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi. These two jihadist theologians’ fatwas have been used to justify barbaric violence for decades. Yet Begg laments the UK government’s reluctance to reach out to such figures, arguing that it would help avert a repeat of the massacre of British tourists that just occurred in Tunisia.

This is largely unsurprising coming from Begg, who has long argued the Islamist cause. Yet as others view al Qaeda as a potentially constructive partner, it is worth exploring this thesis on its merits.

The examples of moderation cited by the likes of Rashid are anything but. A statement from Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, the head of al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, saying that he was under instructions not to use Syria “as a base to launch attacks on the West or Europe” is highlighted as a sign of progress. However, even this concession—as deeply generous as it is—is not because of a lack of desire to kill more Westerners; it is “so as not to muddy the current war” in Syria. A change in tactics should not be confused for a change in strategy.

The al-Nusra Front also remains proud of al Qaeda’s past successes when it comes to mass murder. A propaganda video they just released is heavy on video footage from 9/11—an attack described in the video as “the most effective solution”—and speeches by Osama bin Laden.

Rashid also mischaracterizes the nature of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s behavior in Yemen. He describes AQAP’s capture of territory in Hadhramaut, southeast Yemen, as “remarkably tame,” arguing that they “inflicted little damage, executed nobody, declined to run the local government and instead installed a council of elders to govern.” The residents of Hadhramaut—especially those in Mukalla—seem to remember things differently. Last month, they saw two Saudis murdered in public by the group and then strung up from a bridge, accused of being ‘spies’. There has also been recent reports from those living under AQAP rule in Mukalla that they have burned down markets; intimidated local residents and blown up local mausoleums.

Step outside the Middle East and there are a host of other examples demonstrating that al Qaeda is as brutal as it ever was. Look at the intensity of al-Shabaab’s attacks in Somalia, or the six UN peacekeepers killed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali earlier this month. The families of the “blasphemers” murdered by al Qaeda’s newest branch in the Indian Subcontinent also probably do not see much evidence of the group’s supposed “soft line”.

After the wars we have waged against the group over the past fourteen years and the blood that has been shed across the world by al Qaeda, it is remarkable to have to argue that they are not a constructive partner in anything the U.S. would ever want to achieve in the Middle East. Then again, we live in strange times. Who would have thought that the U.S. would be willing to militarily partner with the very same Iranian militias in Iraq that were killing their soldiers in the same theater ten years ago?

Something similar cannot be allowed to happen again. Al Qaeda is not our ally. It remains as committed as ever to our destruction and we should never forget it.

Iran Is Working with al Qaeda

‘FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF, IS YOUR GOVERNMENT STILL HARBORING AL QAEDA OPERATIVES?’

‘FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF, IS YOUR GOVERNMENT STILL HARBORING AL QAEDA OPERATIVES?’

So why are we working with Iran?

Weekly Standard, by Thomas Joscelyn, August 3, 2015:

On July 21, the Pentagon announced that Muhsin al-Fadhli, an al Qaeda operative who had been wanted for more than a decade, was killed in an airstrike in Syria earlier in the month. Fadhli has been dead at least once before. In September 2014, the United States launched airstrikes against his so-called Khorasan Group (a cadre of al Qaeda veterans plotting attacks against the West), and some officials told the press that Fadhli had perished. That wasn’t true. Still, Defense Department officials are confident they got their man on July 8. The DoD doesn’t usually issue formal press releases for this sort of thing unless there is significant intelligence backing up its claims. The department wasn’t fully forthcoming, however. Its short biography of Fadhli was missing a key word: Iran.

Before relocating to Syria, Fadhli led al Qaeda’s network in Iran. The Treasury Department revealed this fact in a terrorist designation issued October 18, 2012. Fadhli, Treasury reported, “began working with al Qaeda’s Iran-based facilitation network in 2009 and was later arrested by the Iranians.” But he was “released by the Iranians in 2011 and went on to assume the leadership of the facilitation network.”

“In addition to providing funding for al Qaeda activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Treasury said, Fadhli’s network was “working to move fighters and money through Turkey to support al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Syria.” Fadhli leveraged “his extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey.”

Iran didn’t simply turn a blind eye to Fadhli’s activities. The Treasury Department explained that a deal requires al Qaeda’s men to report to the regime. “Under the terms of the agreement between al Qaeda and Iran, al Qaeda must refrain from conducting any operations within Iranian territory and recruiting operatives inside Iran while keeping Iranian authorities informed of their activities.” Al Qaeda benefits from this relationship. “In return” for accepting Iran’s terms, Treasury continued, “the Government of Iran gave the Iran-based al Qaeda network freedom of operation and uninhibited ability to travel for extremists and their families.” Iranian authorities enforce these terms, which were negotiated “with the knowledge” of Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man, by detaining al Qaeda members who do not comply.

There has been surprisingly little discussion of this during the debate over President Obama’s nuclear accord with Iran, even though al Qaeda’s presence on Iranian soil greatly complicates Obama’s vision of a post-deal world.

It is no secret that the president believes the deal with Iran could open the door to a better relationship between the regime and its “Great Satan,” America. “Iran may change,” Obama told the New York Times’s Tom Friedman in an interview published in April, though he tried to tone down his optimism by “emphasizing that the nuclear deal that we’ve put together is not based on the idea that somehow the regime changes.” Still, Obama said Iran could be “an extremely successful regional power” and a “responsible international player,” as long as “it did not engage in aggressive rhetoric against its neighbors,” “didn’t express anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiment,” and “maintained a military that was sufficient to protect itself, but was not engaging in a whole bunch of proxy wars around the region.” Of course, a “responsible” Iran wouldn’t support al Qaeda either.

President Obama and his advisers like to pretend that critics of their Iran deal are warmongers who don’t want a diplomatic resolution or have otherwise been compromised by “lobbying.” But opponents of the deal are rightly concerned about Iran’s clear record of illicit nuclear activities and its decades of anti-Americanism (including killing U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan), antisemitism, and revolutionary fervor, which the regime zealously exports throughout the region. (Iran has actually increased its support for proxy wars during Obama’s tenure in office.)

Iran’s agreement with al Qaeda—exposed by Obama’s own administration, not critics of the Iran deal—puts these concerns into stark relief. It is the administration, after all, that declared Muhsin al-Fadhli a threat to Americans who needed to be killed.

Since 2011, Obama’s Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly said that Iran works with al Qaeda. On July 28, 2011, Treasury unmasked “Iran’s secret deal with al-Qaeda,” saying it allows al Qaeda “to funnel funds and operatives through [Iranian] territory” and is “another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism.” Yasin al-Suri, the head of the Iran-based network at the time, and several of his al Qaeda colleagues were designated terrorists. On December 22, 2011, the State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Suri’s capture—one of the richest rewards offered for any terrorist. “Iranian authorities maintain a relationship with al-Suri and have permitted him to operate within Iran’s borders since 2005,” State said.

On February 16, 2012, the Treasury Department designated Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) for its support of al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in Iraq. According to Treasury, the “MOIS has facilitated the movement of al Qaeda operatives in Iran and provided them with documents, identification cards, and passports.” In addition, it “provided money and weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) .  .  . and negotiated prisoner releases of AQI operatives.” (AQI evolved into the Islamic State, the al Qaeda offshoot that controls significant territory in Iraq and Syria.)

As the Obama administration continued to shed light on al Qaeda’s operations inside Iran, Suri was sidelined. The Iranians placed him under some form of arrest in late 2011. At this point, as Treasury explained in the aforementioned October 18, 2012, designation, Fadhli took over.

Suri wasn’t in Iranian custody for long, however. In January 2014, State and Treasury Department officials interviewed by Al Jazeera warned that Suri was back on the street and “more active than ever.” Curiously, according to these officials, Iran allowed Suri to funnel cash and fighters to the Nusra Front, an official branch of al Qaeda that is engaged in a vicious fight against Iran’s proxies in Syria; it is not clear why. On February 6, 2014, Treasury officially confirmed that Suri had “resumed leadership of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network after being temporarily detained there in late 2011.” Treasury also designated one of Suri’s subordinates inside Iran.

Then, on August 22, 2014, the Treasury Department designated yet another al Qaeda leader who had operated in Iran, a Saudi known as Sanafi al-Nasr. Treasury said that Nasr served as the “chief of al Qaeda’s Iran-based extremist and financial facilitation network” in early 2013. (This was just after Fadhli left for Syria and before Suri resumed his leadership position.) Like Fadhli, Nasr relocated to Syria, where he became a senior member of the Nusra Front. He is also part of the Khorasan Group.

It is likely that Iran had the power to stop terrorists such as Fadhli from leaving Iranian soil. He had been imprisoned in Iran before and could have been again. The regime chose not to, for whatever reason.

Obama’s State Department has repeatedly pointed to this collusion in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism. Previous editions, such as the one published last year, referred to al Qaeda’s network inside Iran as a “core facilitation pipeline” that enables al Qaeda “to move funds and fighters to South Asia and also to Syria.” However, State’s most recent report, published earlier this year, says that Iran “previously allowed” al Qaeda to maintain this network. The implication is that Iran’s deal with al Qaeda is a thing of the past, although the department did not explicitly state this.

Has Iran changed its policy with respect to al Qaeda? There is no clear indication it has, despite the fact the two are at loggerheads in countries such as Syria and Yemen. Iran’s ally, the Assad regime, certainly wants al Qaeda terrorists like Fadhli taken out. And CNN reported last year that Syrian forces had captured Fadhli’s bodyguard, who supposedly offered up intelligence on his boss’s anti-Western plotting. But U.S. intelligence officials contacted by The Weekly Standard in recent months say they think the Iranians continue to allow al Qaeda jihadists to operate inside their country. If the Obama administration has evidence the situation has changed, they should present it.

In the meantime, congressmen and senators worried that the influx of cash Iran will receive under the nuclear deal will make it easier for the regime to sponsor terrorism should be asking some pointed questions. Do Iran and al Qaeda still have a deal in place? Is Yasin al-Suri still facilitating al Qaeda’s operations from inside Iran, as the administration itself warned just last year? Why should we trust the Iranian regime to abide by the terms of the nuclear deal if it is working with al Qaeda terrorists who threaten us?

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Why ISIS May Be More Dangerous Than al-Qaeda Ever Was

Islamic-Terrorism-Feature-edit-1250x650

Daily Signal, by Chelsea Scism, July 13, 2015:

It’s been only two years since the Islamic State began to claim territory in the Middle East, and the organization, also known as ISIS, already has become more successful and much more dangerous than al-Qaeda ever was in its 20 years of operations.

It controls more territory, has acquired more money and has recruited more people than al-Qaeda ever did. That was the conclusion of a panel of experts who gathered last week at The Heritage Foundation to discuss ISIS and what America needs to do to defeat the terrorist group.

The experts outlined four primary reasons ISIS is a more serious threat than al-Qaeda.

First, ISIS is a “self-generated, fully-fledged, transnational insurgency,” which is much more than a mere terrorist group, said Dr. Sebastian Gorka, chair of military theory at Marine Corps University. Because it views its mission as re-establishing a caliphate, it seeks to hold territory, which al-Qaeda did not. It now holds a swath of Iraq and Syria that is larger than the United Kingdom.

Second is the wealth. Gorka said ISIS raided the Iraqi National Bank a second time recently and netted an additional $823 million in cash, making it the “richest non-state threat group in modern human history.”

Considering the 9/11 attacks cost al-Qaeda just $500,000, this means ISIS is capable of more.

Members of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front walk along a street in the northwestern city of Ariha, after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the area in Idlib province May 29, 2015. (Photo: STRINGER/REUTERS/Newscom)

Members of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front walk along a street in the northwestern city of Ariha, after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the area in Idlib province May 29, 2015. (Photo: STRINGER/REUTERS/Newscom)

Third is the raw numbers. ISIS has recruited between 16,000 and 20,000 fighters from 90 different countries in the past nine months, numbers that al-Qaeda could only have dreamed about. It recruited 6,000 in just the month of Ramadan, according to Sara Carter, a senior reporter at the American Media Institute who has embedded with troops on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and says the organization is “working day and night” to bolster its numbers.

Finally, there is the caliphate, re-established by ISIS after a 90-year absence. Gorka called this the “pinnacle of extremist Islamist threat.”

Katherine Zimmerman, a research fellow and lead analyst on al-Qaeda at the American Enterprise Institute, put the development in starker terms.

“ISIS sees itself as uniting the jihad,” she said.

And unlike al-Qaeda, whose mission is to “break the West,” Zimmerman said ISIS’ more comprehensive plan aims to break Muslim states too in order to build its own vision of the caliphate.

What should the U.S. do about this looming threat? Much more than it is doing now, the panel agreed.

“It’s not something that you can win with drone strikes alone,” Carter said.

Gorka said the U.S. also must take the fight to the ideological domain. He suggested the Pentagon learn more about Islam and work strategically against ISIS propaganda.

“You can’t defeat an ideology unless you’re able to exploit it,” Carter said in support.

Additionally, the experts agreed ISIS must be challenged on the ground by local troops under the guidance of embedded American troops as advisors.

“And it isn’t just, of course, a reality thousands of miles away,” Gorka said. “With Garland, Texas, and with all the current cases that the FBI director has admitted we are investigating in America, this is very much a threat to the United States as well.”

Chelsea Scism is a reporting intern for The Daily Signal and member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

You can also see the C-Span recording of the event which is very nice and includes links to various segments.

Also see:

 

The Jihadist Blowback Against the Islamic State

cbc5c365-6298-4aa0-b2be-a6264acb6d49_16x9_600x338Stratfor, by Scott Stewart, July 9, 2015:

Last Ramadan saw the proclamation of the caliphate as a triumphant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appeared in Mosul’s Great Mosque to declare himself the leader of all Muslims worldwide. This Ramadan, things have changed dramatically for the organization. Al-Baghdadi is keeping an extremely low profile because of the coalition bombing campaign over Iraq and Syria, while the Islamic State is on the strategic defensive, struggling financially and to hold the territories it conquered.

Although many often refer to the Islamic State as the wealthiest terrorist group ever, they fail to understand that the organization is really an insurgency rather than a terrorist group — and that fighting a war on several fronts and governing territory, especially large cities such as Mosul, Raqqa and Ramadi, requires an incredible amount of money, resources and manpower. The Islamic State’s resource burn rate is magnitudes larger than that of a true terrorist group or even a small insurgency. Coalition airstrikes against oil collection points, oil tankers and mobile refineries have put a serious dent in the Islamic State’s economy. Though the group does earn considerable revenue from taxation, extortion and smuggling, these revenue sources — which are obtained mostly from the people the group rules — are limited and will breed increased resentment against the group as they are ramped up.

This Ramadan also brought a new challenge to the Islamic State when the al Qaeda pole of the transnational jihadist movement launched a widespread ideological campaign to undercut the Islamic State’s support base. These ideological efforts have been impressive, at least to this middle-aged American analyst. It remains to be seen, however, if they will have the desired impact on wealthy jihadist donors and young recruits.

Resurgence

The first ideological salvo fired this Ramadan was the second issue of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s Resurgence Magazine. The 92-page publication was a “special issue” containing a lengthy interview that the publisher, Hassaan Yusuf, had conducted with Adam Gadahn, aka “Azzam the American,” an English-language spokesman for the al Qaeda core group who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan in January.

While the interview was ostensibly a biography of Gadahn, Yusuf was able to cleverly shape it into a hit piece on the Islamic State. For example, Yusuf quoted Gadahn talking about al Qaeda’s interactions with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. While Gadahn discussed al Qaeda’s conflicts with al-Zarqawi, it emphasized that he was a strong proponent of jihadist unity and that he should not be held responsible for the “deviation” of those who claim to follow him today. The interview contained many scathing indictments of the Islamic State, such as:

  • Declaring Muslims to be outside the fold of Islam is not a trivial matter or something to be taken lightly.
  • Spilling the blood, taking the wealth and violating the rights of Muslims is not a trivial matter or something to be taken lightly.
  • When you declare yourselves to be “the” Islamic State, you are responsible if your actions and behavior distort the image of the Islamic system of government in the eyes of the Ummah and the world.
  • Ignorance of Sharia and misinterpretation of Islamic texts.

Interestingly, many of the arguments directed against the Islamic State used language that was not typical for Gadahn: specifically, terms that were beyond his educational level and normal lexicon. This likely indicates that these sections were later inserted by Yusuf, who is quite erudite, eloquent and apparently very well educated. Yusuf’s writing uses advanced American idiomatic English, and it would be unsurprising to learn that he had earned an advanced degree from an American university, perhaps even an Ivy League school. Gadahn, by contrast, never attended university, and while he often sought to sound sophisticated in public statements, his efforts were transparent and his usage came across as unnatural.

Resurgence shows that in Yusuf, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent has an articulate propagandist who likely retains contacts in the United States. He is certainly a much deeper thinker than figures like Gadahn or Inspire magazine editor Samir Khan ever were. Yusuf accordingly will be an important figure to note and track.

Al Risalah Magazine

The second major ideological assault against the Islamic State was launched with the introduction of Al Risalah, a new English-language magazine by Jabhat al-Nusra. Risalah, which means “letter” in Arabic, has the stated purpose of dispelling “from the minds of
 the Muslims some of
 the mistaken notions
 and doubts promoted by the kuffar, hypocrites and deviant groups present amongst our midst, who aim to distort and destroy the clear and pure message of Islam and Jihad in the way of Allah.”

The “hypocrites and deviants” the magazine focuses most intently upon hail from the Islamic State, which the magazine refers to as the Dawlat al-Baghdadi, or state of al-Baghdadi. The publication repeatedly criticizes the Islamic State for spreading dissension and attacking Jabhat al-Nusra/al Qaeda in Syria, when the latter are genuine jihadists. It also castigates the Islamic State for dividing and attacking fellow jihadists in Yemen, the Caucasus, Afghanistan and Libya. “They have made their khilafa a sword, which splits the Ummah, and not a khilafa, which gathers the Ummah together.”

Being produced by Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, Al Risalah naturally contains several articles authored by senior al-Nusra leaders, such as a eulogy for former al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wahayshi written by al-Nusra leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani. The magazine also features articles from a number of other interesting figures, including a female jihadist who immigrated to Syria from the United Kingdom and an American jihadist named Abu Hudaifa al-Amreeki. Another article was written by Qaari Ikram, a senior Taliban religious authority.

The magazine devotes a great deal of space to refuting the ideology and actions of the Islamic State and argues that the Islamic State cannot be the legitimate caliphate since al-Baghdadi did not consult with the leaders of the global jihadist movement before proclaiming himself caliph. An article entitled “Khilafa One Year On” specifically noted that the caliphate had not been restored and quoted a Hadith from Sahih Bukhari that says “if any person gives the pledge of allegiance to somebody (to become a caliph) without consulting the other Muslims, then the one he has selected should not be granted allegiance, lest both of them should be killed.” The article also criticizes young Islamic State supporters for believing things posted on social media over the opinions of respected jihadist clerics, such as Abu Qatada and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, and even of treating such scholars with contempt and disrespect.

This theme of disrespecting elder jihadists and even cursing at them was made in other articles, including an interview with Chechen jihadist Muslim Shishani and an article by Qaari Ikram titled “This is al Qaeda or Have They Forgotten.”

Ikram was particularly pointed in countering the argument repeatedly made by Islamic State figures that Ayman al-Zawahiri and the present al Qaeda leadership have strayed from the path charted by Osama bin Laden. Ikram notes that unlike the Islamic State leaders, he knew bin Laden — as well as other al Qaeda leaders — and observed his methods and beliefs in favorable conditions and under pressure. Based upon this firsthand knowledge, Ikram asserts that bin Laden and the other al Qaeda leaders would have condemned the Islamic State for attacking other jihadists, for the indiscriminate killing of non-Muslim women and children, and for the killing of Muslim women and children. He also berated them for being bloodthirsty, deceitful and divisive and for being excessive in declaring takfir (declaring a Muslim to be an unbeliever).

An article called “Halab Under Fire” by Abu Hudaifa al Amreeki specifically charged the Islamic State with helping the administration of Syrian President Bashar al Assad by attacking Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist groups north of Aleppo (Halab is an ancient name for Aleppo). This forced other jihadists to divert forces away from their attack on loyalists in Aleppo to counter the Islamic State attack.

Turning the Tables on the Islamic State

Members and sympathizers of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have begun to use social media more aggressively. They launched a campaign on Twitter this week to criticize Abu Belal al-Harbi, the leader of the Islamic State in Yemen, accusing him of treason. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb also issued a statement this week criticizing the Islamic State’s actions in Libya. Whether such efforts will make much headway against the Islamic State’s powerful social media juggernaut, however, is not clear.

I found some compelling arguments against the Islamic State’s ideology and practices while reading these materials. But whether potential jihadist recruits and wealthy jihadist donors will take the time to read them and be swayed — or whether they will continue to feed off the Islamic State’s dramatic videos and short social media posts — remains to be seen.

Perhaps some of the more mature jihadists and foreign financiers will in fact take time to read these magazines and the reasoned arguments put forth in them. But for many of the younger recruits, the lure of bloody mayhem and Yazidi sex slaves may prove too strong for al Qaeda’s arguments to overcome.

The Life of Adam Gadahn, an American Al Qaeda Spokesman

661092076Center for Security Policy, by Jennifer Keltz, June 29, 2015:

Last week, Al Qaeda confirmed the death of Adam Gadahn, an Al Qaeda member who was killed in an airstike this past January. He was also known as Adam Pearlman or by his nom de guerre Azzam the American. Throughout his time in Al Qaeda, Gadahn maintained a high profile, appearing regularly in videos and calling for Americans to conduct attacks within the United States. The White House confirmed his death back in April.

Adam Gadhan was born on September 1, 1978 in Oregon to Philip and Jennifer Gadahn, and he died in January 2015. He was married to a Muslim woman from Afghanistan, with whom he had at least one child. He spent much of his own childhood on a goat farm in Winchester, California with his parents, who had a number of religious influences and avoided modern technology. He was homeschooled and received a strict upbringing. His father sold meat slaughtered under strict Islamic dietary rules.

At the age of 18, Gadahn moved to Orange County to live with his grandparents, who wereJewish. He began attending services at the Islamic Society of Orange County, where he fell under the influence of Khalil Deek and Hisham Diab. In 1995, Gadhan converted to Islam and became involved in Deek and Diab’s charity organization, Charity Without Borders. At the time of his conversion, he posted a testimonial on the internet explaining why he converted, citing a tense relationship with his parents and a rejection of Christianity. The witness for his conversion was the mosque chairman, Haitham Bundakji. Two years later, Gadahn was kicked out of the mosque for hitting Bundakji, to which he plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery. He was sentenced to two days in jail and 40 hours of community service.

Gadahn travelled to Pakistan in 1998 and ended up at a terrorist training camp. The last time that he contacted his parents was in 2002, and on May 26, 2004, his name was released by the FBI as being a part of a terror cell planning to disrupt the 2004 US election. In 2004 and 2005, he appeared disguised in a number of videos where he received praise from Osama Bin Laden and threatened attacks against the US and Australia, and he began to appear undisguised in 2006. Also in 2006, he was charged with treason and providing material support for terrorism; a $1 million award was announced for information leading to his capture. Throughout the rest of his life, he appeared in many more Al Qaeda videos, where he renounced his US citizenship, discussed his Jewish ancestry, praised terrorist attacks, and encouraged Muslims in the West to carry out their own attacks at home.

Gadahn never exhibited indications as a child that he would one-day become such a notorious figure, and part of his desire to join the Islamic community in Orange County likely came from his unhappiness with his parents. However, had he never attended the mosque or fallen into the wrong hands while there, he may not have become the violent terrorist that he was at the time of his death.

The Islamic Society of Orange County was founded in 1976, and is the largest Muslim community center in Southern California, serving over 10,000 Muslims. It was founded by Mahboob Khan, a senior Muslim Brotherhood official in the US until the time of his death who had invited Al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri to speak at another Californian mosque that he ran, the An-Noor Mosque in Santa Clara. His son, Suhail Khan, advocates for the implementation of Sharia in America.

The current religious director of the Islamic Society of Orange County is Muzammil Siddiqi, who is involved with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). Both the ISNA and NAIT were listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial, which found the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development guilty of providing support to Hamas. The ISNA and NAIT are also listed as friends of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US in its Explanatory Memorandum, which outlines its goals to wage “civilization jihad” against Americans. The FCNA also has ties to Islamist terrorism through its leadership, which has been involved directly and indirectly in terrorist activity. Siddiqi himself served as a chairman of the Department of Religious Affairs at the Muslim World League Office of the UN, an office created by the Saudi royal family to spread Wahhabi Islam, from 1976 to 1980. In 2000, he said that Jerusalem belonged to the Muslims, and he has expressed interest in the implementation of Sharia law and advocated for jihad. Siddiqi has been the director at the Islamic Society of Orange County since 1981, eclipsing Gadahn’s time there.

Gadahn’s attendance at the terror-tied mosque laid the groundwork for the violent indoctrination that was to come later through Khalil Deek and Hisham Diab. The two were neighbors in the Little Gaza section of Anaheim and were important Al Qaeda figures. They ran a sleeper cell operation in Orange County and hosted top Al Qaeda officials when they visited the US, including Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman (who is currently serving a life sentence at the Supermax penitentiary in Colorado for numerous terrorism-related convictions). With Siddiqi as translator, Abdel-Rahman gave a lecture at the mosque in December 1992, months before he was indicted for his participation in the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Should Gadahn have not become involved with Diab and Deek, he still would have been exposed to jihadist ideology at the mosque itself.

With the help of Diab’s wife, the Diab and Deek formed Charity Without Borders, which received tax-exempt status as a religious organization and a $75,000 state grant to distribute fliers about recycling, as a front to be used to funnel money to terrorist groups overseas. Gadahn was listed as a crew member in the Charity’s records in 1998, the same year that he went to Pakistan to go to a terrorist training camp. Charity Without Borders was shut down following 9/11.

Adam Gadahn provides a case study into the effects that violent ideology can have on marginalized youth. Growing up, he had very little access to the internet, so he did not become indoctrinated until he was able to begin attending a mosque that was under Muslim Brotherhood control. However, his descent into the world of Al Qaeda and terror is becoming a more common occurrence as more people have access to terrorist-run websites and then fall into the networks that terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood have created. The fact that Siddiqi, Diab, and Deek all ended up in Orange County together is no coincidence. As shown very clearly in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Explanatory Memorandum, these Islamist organizations are creating grids of interconnected groups all espousing the same jihadist propaganda. Countries must expand their counterterrorism efforts to attack these networks, many of which are run by the Muslim Brotherhood, that are at the root of the spread of jihadist ideology in Western society today.

Morell: July 4th Terror Warnings Are ‘Not Routine,’ Wouldn’t Be Surprised if U.S. is Attacked

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Washington Free Beacon, by David Rutz, June 29, 2015:

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said Monday on CBS This Morning there was “nothing routine” about July 4 terrorist attack warnings by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, adding that he would not be surprised if “we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack.”

Federal authorities issued warnings across the U.S. of potential terroristic targeting of Independence Day celebrations, USA Today reported:

While there was no specific or credible threat of attack, the official said the intelligence bulletin prepared by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI alerted local colleagues to the ongoing threats posed by the Islamic State and other homegrown extremists. The official was not authorized to comment publicly.

The bulletins are frequently issued in advance of major U.S. holidays out of an abundance of caution and concern that operatives may exploit the timing to generate greater attention.

“This one really resonates with me for two reasons,” Morell said. “One is there’s been about 50 people in the last 12 months who have been arrested in the United States for being radicalized by ISIS, wanting to go fight there, or wanting to conduct an attack here, so there’s a lot of people out there who are seeing themselves as aligned with ISIS. Number two, you have this ISIS call to arms during Ramadan. We are right in the middle of Ramadan, call to arms, conduct attacks against our enemies, so I’m worried about this one.”

Co-host Norah O’Donnell asked what that meant for Americans over the 4th of July weekend.

“I don’t want to tell Americans what to do or what not to do, but Norah, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States,” he said. “That’s how serious this is.”

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And don’t forget the threat of Al Qaeda:

ISIS Is Following a Plan Laid Out Ten Years Ago by Al-Qaeda, and It’s All Working

-, -:  (FILES) -- A TV grab from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel dated 17 June 2005 shows Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri delivering a speech at an undisclosed location with a machine gun next to him. Al-Zawahiri, in a video posted on the Internet 29 September 2006, called US President George W Bush a liar who had "failed in his war against Al-Qaeda", Al-Jazeera television reported. The previous day, Islamist websites on the Internet had said there would be a new video message posted by Zawahiri entitled " Bush, the pope, Darfur and the Crusades."  AFP PHOTO/AL-JAZEERA  -- QATAR OUT & INTERNET OUT --  (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

-, -: (FILES) — A TV grab from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel dated 17 June 2005 shows Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri delivering a speech at an undisclosed location with a machine gun next to him. Al-Zawahiri, in a video posted on the Internet 29 September 2006, called US President George W Bush a liar who had “failed in his war against Al-Qaeda”, Al-Jazeera television reported. The previous day, Islamist websites on the Internet had said there would be a new video message posted by Zawahiri entitled ” Bush, the pope, Darfur and the Crusades.” AFP PHOTO/AL-JAZEERA — QATAR OUT & INTERNET OUT — (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

PJ Media, by Robert Spencer, June 19, 2015:

It has been almost a year since June 29, 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) declared the formation of a new caliphate and dropped the second half of its name, rebranding itself as simply the Islamic State. It has survived nine months since Barack Obama vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” it.

It has survived, and has continued to attract Muslims from all over the world, even after virtually every major world leader and Islamic group has condemned it as un-Islamic. And it shows no sign of going anywhere anytime soon.

All this is well-known. What is less known is that the plan for the restoration of the caliphate was sketched out ten years ago by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and has been followed out more or less exactly by the Islamic State.

The claim to reconstitute the caliphate is the key to the Islamic State’s success — the importance of this cannot be overstated.

The revival of the caliphate is, in the eyes of those who support it and have longed for it all these years, a return to the form of government of the glory days of Islam. From Muhammad’s death through Islam’s Golden Age up until the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after the end of World War I, Muslims were ruled by a caliph, the successor to Muhammad as spiritual and political leader of Islam.

And the declaration of the caliphate, and its placement in and around Syria and Iraq, was not an invention of the Islamic State, or incidental to what it perceived as its mission from the beginning. In reality, a new caliphate had long been an aspiration dear to the hearts of many jihadi terrorists, including al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden’s lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri wrote to the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq (which ultimately became the Islamic State), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on July 9, 2005:

It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established in the manner of the Prophet in the heart of the Islamic world, specifically in the Levant, Egypt, and the neighboring states of the Peninsula and Iraq; however, the center would be in the Levant and Egypt.

Zawahiri also heaped praise on Zarqawi for helping bring that state — the revived caliphate — closer to reality:

If our intended goal in this age is the establishment of a caliphate in the manner of the Prophet and if we expect to establish its state predominantly — according to how it appears to us — in the heart of the Islamic world, then your efforts and sacrifices — God permitting — are a large step directly towards that goal.

Zawahiri then offered Zarqawi his “humble opinion that the Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals,” the first of which was to “expel the Americans from Iraq.” The second stage, wrote Zarqawi, would be exactly what the Islamic State ended up doing nine years later:

The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate — over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans, immediately upon their exit and before un-Islamic forces attempt to fill this void, whether those whom the Americans will leave behind them, or those among the un-Islamic forces who will try to jump at taking power.

Following the establishment of this state, the third stage would be to “extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq,” followed by the fourth stage, which “may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.”

Zawahiri wrote in an extremely deferential manner to Zarqawi, repeatedly assuring the Iraq commander that his analysis was not “infallible.” Nonetheless, he did not hesitate to give him direction, emphasizing that:

The mujahedeen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal.

If they did that:

We will return to having the secularists and traitors holding sway over us. Instead, their ongoing mission is to establish an Islamic state, and defend it, and for every generation to hand over the banner to the one after it until the Hour of Resurrection.

Zawihiri summed up the “two short-term goals” as “removing the Americans and establishing an Islamic amirate in Iraq, or a caliphate if possible.” Attaining them, he wrote, would ensure possession of “the strongest weapon which the mujahedeen enjoy — after the help and granting of success by God,” which was “popular support from the Muslim masses in Iraq, and the surrounding Muslim countries.”

But al-Qaeda itself hesitated to declare a caliphate for fear that the Americans would nip it in the bud. A letter from Osama bin Laden, found in the trove of documents at the Abbottabad compound and declassified in May 2015, explained:

We should stress on the importance of timing in establishing the Islamic State. We should be aware that planning for the establishment of the state begins with exhausting the main influential power that enforced the siege on the Hamas government, and that overthrew the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan and Iraq despite the fact this power was depleted. We should keep in mind that this main power still has the capacity to lay siege on any Islamic State, and that such a siege might force the people to overthrow their duly elected governments. We have to continue with exhausting and depleting them till they become so weak that they can’t overthrow any State that we establish. That will be the time to commence with forming the Islamic state.

Bin Laden saw the restoration of the caliphate as the ultimate goal of al-Qaeda’s activities:

[T]he result that we deployed for … to reinstate the wise Caliphate and eliminate the disgrace and humiliation that our nation is suffering from.

But he argued against “insisting on the formation of an Islamic State at the time being” — and instead wanted his followers:

… to work on breaking the power of our main enemy by attacking the American embassies in the African countries, such as Sierra Leone, Togo, and mainly to attack the American oil companies.

Bin Laden was overcautious. The Islamic State established itself as the new caliphate and has thrived, and no one seems to have the will to do what is necessary to “degrade and destroy” it in any real sense. And so its first anniversary is unlikely to be its last.

New AQAP Leader Named – What to Expect

Wuhayshi Source: Associated Press

Wuhayshi
Source: Associated Press

June 18, 2015 /

al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Emir Nasir al-Wuhayshi aka “Abu Basir” was confirmed to have been killed in Mukalla sometime around 09 JUN. AQAP had initially hid the news of Wuhayshi’s death because they’re concerned about intelligence assets operating in the area – especially since they were rounding up people they suspected of being “spies” prior to his death. When the airstrike occurred, they began to panic and suspect that someone was still on the ground directing the Saudi-led coalition – which led to even more people being executed. Wuhayshi is respected by the leadership of both AQ and the Islamic State (IS), and had actually served as a bit of a calming voice of reason in Yemen who advocated a truce so that they can target their primary threats: Iran and their Houthi proxies.

Yemen al-Qaeda chief al-Wuhayshi killed in US strike
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33143259

AQAP excutes “spies” blamed for leaders’ deaths
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/06/aqap-executes-alleged-spies-blamed-for-leaders-deaths.php

His successor has been identified as Qasim al-Raymi, who is one of the last surviving original members of AQAP. Raymi is one of the primary planners for external operations targeting the West (United States, France etc). He’s also a known “risk-taker” – more so than Wuhayshi ever was. This is no doubt a reflection of Raymi’s past experience in Afghanistan – where he first met Wuhayshi and Osama bin Laden. If the French don’t know who this guy is, he’s the individual who planned the attack on Charlie Hebdo Magazine. Here’s some of his other highlights:

– DEC 2014 attack targeting the Iranian Ambassador to Yemen.

– 05 DEC 2013 attack on the Yemeni Defense Ministry. He actually apologized for that one. Really.

– Tried to blow up an American airliner on 25 DEC 2009 (the infamous “underwear bomber incident”).

– Was the point-man in a 2007 attack in Marib that killed 8 Spanish tourists (we have no idea why anybody would vacation in Yemen but hey, whatever floats your boat).

– Several attempts to target the US Ambassador to Yemen.

New AQAP chief Rimi a veteran Al Qaeda fighter and recruiter
http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/new-aqap-chief-rimi-a-veteran-al-qaeda-fighter-and-recruiter

AQAP Claims Responsibility For Attack on Iran’s Ambassador to Yemen
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3476

Did Abdulmutallab Talk to Radical Cleric?
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/did-abdulmutallab-talk-to-radical-cleric/

Deadly attacks hit Yemen defence ministry in Sanaa
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25228729

rimi

Qasim al-Raymi
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Perhaps the most important thing about Raymi replacing Wuhayshi is that he doesn’t share his late-superior’s sentiments about a truce with IS. In fact, Raymi has serious beef with Yemeni IS Emir Abu Abdullah al-Harbi in recent weeks. The issues between the two stem from Harbi accusing Raymi of being an informant who has been feeding the Saudi-led coalition intelligence to coordinate their airstrikes – which is rather interesting considering AQAP’s sudden sense of urgency in trying to identify where the leaks are occurring within the organization. We suspect this is partly retaliation for Raymi accusing Harbi of “headhunting” his best guys after experiencing a wave of defections last month.

Despite the loss of Wuhayshi and other leaders, AQAP still retains the capability to conduct attacks outside of Yemen – the United States and Europe in particular. Raymi also brings the necessary continuity for launching such attacks. However, we assess that Raymi will instead choose to increase AQAP’s OP-tempo on the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen and Saudi Arabia) instead, at least for the near-term. Even before Wuhayshi’s death, Raymi has been successful in overseeing AQAP’s expansion in the country. With Wuhayshi gone, that expansion will accelerate. We suspect that he may decide halt the IS expansion into Yemen militarily by declaring war on Team Baghdadi before they become a bigger threat. Should Raymi be sent to meet Allah, we assess that either Abu Hamza al-Jarjubari or Khalid Batarfi will replace him.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 8.40.42 PM

Khalid Batarfi: Possible replacement for Raymi
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Other Related Articles:

Houthis w/IRGC Technicians Fired Missile into Saudi Arabia, AQAP Expansion Continues
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7081

AQAP and Qods Force Make Their Moves in Yemen as Saudis Struggle to Maintain Coalition
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6078

GCC SOF Teams Alerted For Deployment, AQAP Gains Strength and Iran Preps For Attacks Against Saudi Arabia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6056

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FDD Senior Fellow Bill Roggio discusses the death of the AQAP emir and the significance moving forward. – The Arlene Bynon Show (Sirius XM) – June 16, 2015

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Also see:

The Extreme View that IS and Al Qaeda Can Become Moderate

1569667742CSP, by Jennifer Keltz, June 15, 2015:

Last week, articles suggesting the US should ally itself with Al Qaeda and should consider the Islamic State (IS) as a legitimate power were published by the prominent news sources The Wall Street Journal and Foreign Policy. These articles are part of a growing trend, demonstrated by an earlier 2014 Foreign Affairs article, calling for greater US complacency in regards to violent jihadist groups.

The recent pieces present different, equally dangerous ideas, and should be addressed individually.

Yaroslav Trofimov, of the Wall Street Journal, reports influential policy thinkers and U.S. Allies are discussing the possibility of a US alliance with the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra). They say that many secular, Western-backed militants fighting in Syria already work closely with Nusra on the battlefield. They also point to Middle Eastern governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, that work closely with Nusra to help topple IS and the Assad regime, which has a horrible human-rights record. This perspective fails to recognize that these are Sunni states and their backing of Nusra has more to do with their desire to weaken Shia Iran and Syria than to help Syrian civilians.

The report presents Nusra as the lesser of two evils: in comparison to IS, its religious views are “certainly radical” but “aren’t nearly as extreme.”

The policy-makers in question lack a greater perspective of the Syrian conflict and of Nusra and Al Qaeda. Its Al Qaeda affiliation demonstrates that, while it may have local goals now, it ultimately wants to install Islamic regimes all over the world, and indeed has the same end goal as IS.

The only reason why Nusra is not attacking the West is because Al Qaeda Central ordered it to refrain from doing so. That does not mean that it is not planning to attack in the future. Any group that must be ordered to not attack the US is not a group with which the US should be aligned.

In an unrelated op-ed in Foreign Policy, Stephen M. Walt, a Harvard professor, asks his audience to consider what the US should do if IS “wins.” He believes IS is likely to establish itself and retain power, similarly to how the USSR and People’s Republic of China started as revolutionary movements before establishing themselves as states.

Walt believes the US should treat IS and its worldview in the way that it treated the USSR and communism throughout the twentieth century – with containment. He ignores history: the Soviets never abandoned efforts to violently spread their ideology, from the 1919 invasion of Poland to the 1989 retreat from Afghanistan.

Walt states that IS is not powerful on a global scale, and its foreign recruitment of 25,000 from a world population of 7 billion is not that large. In fact, he says he would rather see all of the people that desire to join IS actually join it because this would put them all in one place, where they can be isolated from the rest of society. Unfortunately, he only considers IS’s foreign recruitment. Size estimates of the organization range from the tens- to hundreds-of-thousands.

Walt ignores IS’s calls for its international followers to attack Western people and civilizations, and that its followers are listening. A quick Google search shows that it inspired attacks in Texas, New York (where one woman “couldn’t understand why U.S. citizens like herself were traveling overseas to wage jihad when they could simply ‘make history’ at home by unleashing terrorist attacks”), Australia, Canada, and elsewhere.

Though its ranks may be small in comparison to the world population, with its strategic use of the internet and media it has permeated through Western society. The US is not as far away from IS’s violence as Walt wants to think. The widespread use of the Internet means that containment can never truly happen and its ideas will still spread, leading more people to want to join. Additionally, recognizing IS as a state would legitimize it, leading to increased recruitment.

He states IS has few resources, and can now no longer surprise its enemies. However, it brings in millions of dollars daily from oil alone, and it has other sources of income. It is also much larger and better-resourced than Al Qaeda was at the time of the 9/11 attacks, which had a core membership between 500-1000 people. IS is therefore expected to have capabilities far beyond those of Al Qaeda in the early 2000s.

Walt’s argument that IS would self-moderate if it became an actual country is important to his argument for containment. He explains it would need to self-moderate in order to gain legitimacy amongst other nations and to be welcomed into international politics and the world economy. This argument lacks an understanding of the IS worldview.

Cole Bunzel, in “From State to Caliphate: The Ideology of the Islamic State,” describes it as “the view that the region’s Shi’a are conspiring with the United States and secular Arab rulers to limit Sunni power in the Middle East.” In IS’s declaration of return of the caliphate, “This is the Promise of Allah,” they laid out its founding principles and described it in verse:

“We took it forcibly at the point of a blade/…We established it in defiance of many./ And the people’s necks were violently struck,/ With bombings, explosions, and destruction,/ And soldiers that do not see hardship as being difficult…”

Fundamental to IS’s beliefs is that they cannot be compromised because they are mandated by Allah.  Founded upon religious beliefs, which do not appeal to logic but instead to faith, IS cannot and will not become more moderate. Its members view the western concept of “moderation” as the antithesis of what their divinely-conceived worldview requires. It already operates as a pseudo-state anyway; international recognition is irrelevant to its purpose for existence.

The points of view expressed in the two op-ed pieces mentioned are dangerous if left unaddressed. They display a shallow and dangerous understanding of the nature of the Jihadist organizations, their methods, and their goals.

U.S. Strikes Target Top Al Qaeda Leaders

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Exclusive: U.S. Strikes Hit Suspected ISIS-Al Qaeda Gathering

Daily Beast, by Kimberly Dozier and Jamie Detmer, June 15, 2015:

Supposed rival extremists were together when the U.S. tried to take out an infamous jihadi chieftain. Which raises the question: just how much are ISIS and al Qaeda really at odds?
A weekend volley of U.S. airstrikes on a farmhouse in eastern Libya didn’t just target a notorious, one-eyed al Qaeda leader. Mokhtar Belmoktar—nicknamed “the Uncatchable”—was gathered together with a “Star Wars bar” of al Qaeda and ISIS members, a senior administration official tells The Daily Beast.

“He was meeting with more than 20 locals and core al Qaeda and ISIL members,” the official said, using an alternate acronym for the terror group. “He was apparently trying to bring them together,” to get the disparate militant groups to cooperate, the official added, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss sensitive operation publicly.

The jihadi gathering—and subsequent attack on that get-together—highlighted how close on-the-ground ties are between the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s affiliate in Libya and militants in the North African nation aligned with its supposed rival, al Qaeda. It’s one of numerous instances in past year of ISIS and al Qaeda foot-soldiers moving closer to one another when it serves both their purposes. From Syria to Paris, members of the two extremist outfits, bitter enemies at the top levels, are forming ad hoc tactical alliances.

The farmhouse struck by the U.S. was 12 miles from the town of Ajdabiya. The house was frequented by militants from supposedly competing groups, including members of a militia implicated in the 2012 assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, security officials in Libya told The Daily Beast. They spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to describe the operation publicly.

On Sunday the Pentagon announced that the U.S. had mounted its first airstrike in Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against the country’s strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Officials said the main target of the strike was the militant leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar—the mastermind behind the deadly attack on a natural gas plant in Algeria in 2013 that left 38 hostages dead.

The strike was carried out by two F-15 fighter jets that launched multiple 500-pound bombs in the attack, as first reported by The Associated Press and confirmed by a Pentagon official Monday.

The White House declined requests for comment Monday on the suspected presence of al Qaeda and ISIS fighters meeting together.

It remains unclear whether the one-eyed jihadi militant was killed. Officials with the internationally recognized Libyan government now based in the eastern towns of Tobruk and Beida say the infamously elusive militant was killed. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the outcome of the strike on the farmhouse—owned by a local luminary of Ansar al-Sharia, the militia involved in the storming of the U.S. mission in Benghazi—is still being assessed.

Washington has good reason to be careful in announcing Belmokhtar’s death. The terror leader’s demise has been reported—and retracted—before. The most credible account came in March 2103 when Chad’s president announced the veteran jihadist leader had been killed by his forces in northern Mali. The 43-year-old Belmokhtar, also known as Khaled Abou El Abbas, is thought to have survived an assassination attempt in Qasr Ben Gashir in northwestern Libya last year. A militant spokesman Monday once again denied Belmoktar had been killed.

Read more

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Joscelyn joke

Sources: Top Al-Qaeda Leader, NASIR AL-WUHAYSHI, Killed In Yemen:

Also see:

U.S. Acting as Air Support to Al-Qaeda in Syria Against ISIS

Al Nusrah leader Abu Muhammad al Julani interview with Al Jazeera June 3, 2015 Source: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/06/inheritedjihad.php

Al Nusrah leader Abu Muhammad al Julani interview with Al Jazeera June 3, 2015 Source: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/06/inheritedjihad.php

PJ Media by Patrick Poole, June 7, 2015:

U.S. coalition aircraft struck ISIS positions in support of Syrian rebels, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official Syria affiliate, along with another prominent jihadist group, Ahrar al-Sham. This is a dramatic shift from just a year and a half ago, when Obama administration officials said they would support Islamist groups as long as they weren’t allied with Al-Qaeda.

Agence France Presse reports:

US-led aircraft bombed Islamic State group fighters as they battled rival Syrian rebels, including Al-Qaeda loyalists, for the first time, a monitoring group said on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the overnight raids in northern Aleppo as an intervention on the side of the rival rebels, which include forces who have been targeted previously by US-led strikes.

“The coalition carried out at least four strikes overnight targeting IS positions in the town of Suran,” the Britain-based Observatory said.

“It’s the first time that the international coalition has supported non-Kurdish opposition forces fighting the Islamic State,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

He said at least eight IS fighters were killed in the strikes and another 20 were injured.

This is also the first time that the U.S. has openly acted as air support for Al-Qaeda.

It needs to be stressed that U.S. airstrikes have targeted Jabhat al-Nusra in just the past month. Now we are effectively their air force. Nusra was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in December 2012.

Some may remember the breathless media reports last September that a previously unmentioned terror group operating inside Syria was plotting attacks on the U.S. and other Western targets, described by U.S. officials as the “Khorasan group.” As Al-Aan TV later revealed, the “Khorasan group” was nothing more than an elite group of foreign fighters working as part of Jabhat al-Nusra.

Thus began a series of U.S. strikes targeting al-Nusra:

Sept. 23: An airstrike killed Nusra leader Abu Yousef al-Turki.

Nov. 13: A Nusra base near Idlib was hit killing two.

Nov. 19: A storage facility controlled by Nusra was struck near the Turkish border at Harem.

March 9: A local Nusra headquarters in Bab al-Hawa was targeted close to the Turkish border.

May 20: Two Nusra buildings in Tawama were destroyed, killing 15 fighters.

This dramatic shift in U.S. policy towards al-Nusra has not gone unnoticed:

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So what changed?

Undoubtedly Nusra’s role in the opposition to ISIS was the topic of conversation at last month’s U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council’s meetings at Camp David. Nusra’s role in the Syrian opposition, particularly in the northwest part of the country, has grown considerably. If anyone could direct the Al-Qaeda franchise to cease plans directed at Western targets to allay fears of the Obama administration, it would be their Gulf sponsors.

Perhaps the result of those discussions was a two-part Al Jazeera interview with Nusra commander Abu Muhammad al-Julani. Speculation by some in the D.C. foreign policy community was that Julani was going to renounce the group’s allegiance to Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri.

But, as Tom Joscelyn at the Long War Journal noted, Julani made clear that Jabhat al-Nusra was Al-Qaeda’s operation and would remain so in submission to Zawahiri. Yet some in the D.C. foreign policy circles still insist that Nusra is becoming more “pragmatic.”

As I reported here at PJ Media in March, there is a major effort on the part of academics and journalists to rehabilitate Al-Qaeda’s image in the face of a growing ISIS threat.

And now, with Julani doubling-down on his allegiance to Al-Qaeda and Zawahiri, the U.S. is in the awkward position of providing air support to the very terror group, along with other “moderate” jihadists, in their struggle over territory with ISIS.

So our official policy is now to support the terrorists in Column A to fight (for now) the terrorists in Column B.

Some are happy with this development:

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I have reported here at PJ Media extensively over the past year about the shifting allegiances and alliances with terror groups by U.S.-backed Syrian rebel groups. In fact, much of the recent gains made by Jabhat al-Nusra against the Assad regime have come as a result of U.S. TOW anti-tank missiles that had been provided to other groups that later fell into Nusra hands.

There are no assurances that Julani and Nusra will remain in the anti-ISIS camp. In fact, Julani previously served as one of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies and nothing prevents some kind of reconciliation down the road.

Barack Obama’s schizophrenic — and at times, contradictory — policy towards Syria has led us to this point where U.S. forces are serving in support of anti-ISIS elements, including Al-Qaeda. Not fourteen years after 9/11, is this what American signed up for?

Here Are al-Qaeda’s Guidelines for Which ‘Blasphemers’ to Assassinate

aqiswarningPJ Media, By Bridget Johnson On May 28, 2015:

Two weeks after the latest murder of a blogger for professing disbelief in the Islamic prophet or simply promoting a secular society, al-Qaeda’s new chapter in southeast Asia has issued an update about who will be targeted next.

The bloggers hacked to death in brazen, public attacks thus far have all been in Bangladesh — one of the three victims in less than three months was an American citizen — but the English-language posting of the terrorists’ target list suggests that forthcoming attacks may not be limited in scope.

Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh considers itself a “brother” of al-Qaeda, as Ayman al-Zawahiri has united South Asia jihadist groups under al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. The chapter was announced last September after what al-Zawahiri said was two years of set-up work with regional Islamist leaders, with a consultative council already operating for a year before the official announcement.

Their newest warning posted online vows to target:

  • “Those who are insulting our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Allah (S) and our religion Islam. We have no problem with the atheists bloggers, atheism or with other religions or belief but we will not tolerate insulting out Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We are targeting those who are insulting our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the name of atheism.”
  • “People who are not allowing to follow the rulings of shariah. He/She might be a teacher of a University, College or School. He/She might be a leader of a certain area or locality or a political party. He/She might be a Judge, Advocate, Engineer or Doctor etc.”
  • “Those who are presenting Islam wrongly in His/Her writings or talks and trying to keep Muslims far from the real teaching of Islam which is one of the main agendas of crusaders in the Muslim nations all over the world. He/She might be a well known writer. He/She might be a poet or free thinker or so called intellectuals. He/She might be an editor of a newspaper of magazine. He/She might be a actor, journalist, producer, director or actor etc.”
  • “Those who are opposing, lowing and presenting wrongly the rulings of shariah by his/her talks or writings using media or any other means of publications.”
  • “Those who are trying to destroy Muslim social values by introducing and spreading the nudity and zina [sex outside of marriage] among the Muslim youths.”
  • “Those who are tying to remove the shariah rulings from the existing Islamic systems, values, cultures and economics.”
  • “Those who are trying to stop the establishment of Islamic rulings (Shariah).”

The al-Qaeda chapter claims it won’t target any people just for not being Muslim, but declared open season on “those who are trying to insult our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Allah (S) and our religion by any means such as writings, talks or physical works.”

Ananta Bijoy Das, a science writer whose numerous books included one on evolution, was hacked to death by four men wielding machetes and cleavers May 12 as he went to work in the city of Sylhet.

AQIS issued a statement afterward announcing they were “delighted” to be responsible for “one Islamophobic atheist blogger sent to hell.” They accused Das of “taunts” to Islam.

Das knew his life was in danger, and tried to get a visa to go to Sweden for a press-freedom event. Swedish officials denied the request last month, afraid that the writer wouldn’t return to Bangladesh.

In February, Bangladeshi-American secularist blogger Avijit Roy was hacked to death on a Dhaka street. “The target was an American citizen.. 2 in 1. #America recently martyred 2 of our brothers in #Khurasan & #Shaam. #Revenge+#Punishment,” Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh tweeted afterward.

Roy was a dual U.S.-Bangladesh citizen who lived in Georgia and was in Bangladesh for a month. His wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, was with him at the time of the attack and was severely wounded, with one of her fingers severed by the pair of machete-wielding attackers.

His blog in the 90 percent Muslim country, mukto-mona.com, translates to “free thinking” and featured atheist, humanist and nationalist writers. He was also an author whose books included The Philosophy of Disbelief and The Virus of Faith — further stoking outrage of Islamists.

Das contributed to mukto-mona.com.

After Roy’s murder, secular blogger Washiqur Rahman wasn’t going to take it from the Islamists. He posted a Charlie Hebdo Muhammad cartoon and used the hashtag #IamAvijit. Rahman was hacked to death at the end of March.

Two suspects out of three attackers were seized at the scene of the crime: students at an Islamic school who said they were acting on orders to kill Rahman.

Al-Qaeda issued a video at the beginning of this month saying AQIS was behind those assassinations and more, including the February 2013 murder of secularist Bangladeshi blogger Rajib Haider.

“Praise be to Allah, these assassinations are part of a series of operations initiated by the different branches of al-Qaeda on the orders of our respected leader Sheikh Ayman al Zawahiri (may Allah protect him),” AQIS leader Asim Umar said. “It is equally part of our commitment to fulfill the oath of Sheikh Osama [bin Laden] (may Allah have mercy on him).”

The assassination campaign, Umar stressed, is teaching “a lesson to blasphemers in France, Denmark, Pakistan and now in Bangladesh.”

Though not specifically mentioned by the al-Qaeda directive, the message was released two days before Friday’s “Draw Muhammad” event outside of a Phoenix mosque.

Trove of Bin Laden documents released

binladen-562x281Fox News, May 20, 2015:

U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday released a trove of documents recovered during the 2011 raid on Usama bin Laden’s compound — offering a rare window into the operations of Al Qaeda and bin Laden’s involvement in leading the network from his Pakistan hideaway.

The documents include dozens of letters, some from  bin Laden himself, as well as accounting information and even what appears to be an application form for prospective Al Qaeda members. That form, which asks a series of detailed questions, includes the line: “Who should we contact in case you became a martyr?”

CLICK TO READ THE DOCUMENTS

The correspondence itself shows bin Laden continued to be engaged from his hideout and sought to direct operations. Shortly before he was killed in the May 2011 raid, a letter shows him celebrating the Arab Spring revolutions which had toppled Tunisia’s leader at that point and were mounting in several other countries.

“These are gigantic events that will eventually engulf most of the Muslim world, will free the Muslim land from American hegemony, and is troubling America whose Secretary of State declared that they are worried about the armed Muslims controlling the Muslim region,” bin Laden wrote, according to a translated version.

Bin Laden, writing to a follower identified as Atiyah, called for more Al Qaeda involvement in these countries once their leaders were deposed. He described the events as “critical to our nation,” advising against being “fully occupied with the Afghanistan front.” Bin Laden wrote, “we should give our main attention to the Muslim nation’s revolution …” He called for supporting the rebellions and pursuing an “education stage” whenever rulers were deposed, by “mobilizing” writers and technicians to guide those nations.

Another message, undated and unsigned, speaks to similar themes.

The letter lashes out against Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president who would soon be toppled. “The regime destroys the souls of the people from the palace,” it says. “Just as an unarmed man is killed by gunfire. [Mubarak] does as he wishes with the blood of the Muslims.” The letter details Al Qaeda’s plans, including a call to immediate action and an ominous warning that “disagreeing is bad for all.”

The letter says Ayman al-Zawahiri, now believed to be running Al Qaeda, is the appropriate person “from our ranks” to intervene because he is a “man of Egypt.”

The correspondence also includes letters among the bin Laden family members. One 2010 letter offers a glimpse into the Al Qaeda leader’s surveillance worries. In it, he urges his wife to “leave everything behind, including clothes, books, everything that she had in Iran” before arriving, warning about eavesdropping and the possibility that the Iranians would “implant a chip in some of the belongings that you might have brought along with you.”

Other documents show the day-to-day operations in Al Qaeda. One identified as “Instructions to Applicants” appears to be a form for Al Qaeda prospects. It asks for basic biographical information, as well as for information about “hobbies,” whether they know experts in chemistry, where they’ve traveled, and even “do you wish to execute a suicide operation?” This is followed by the question about whom to contact in case the applicant becomes a “martyr.”

Yet another document, a message in response to one of then-President George W. Bush’s State of the Union addresses, warned that the “motives that led to 9/11 are still there.” The message, presumably from bin Laden, said the 9/11 hijackers “are not exceptional freaks of history, but are the vanguards of a nation that rose up for Jihad, and there are millions of their brothers eager to seek the same path.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the document release, titled “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf,” follows a “rigorous interagency review.”

The office said the intelligence community “will be reviewing hundreds more documents in the near future for possible declassification and release.”

The documents, recovered from the compound four years ago, are being released now because legislation mandated their declassification.

Also see:

U.S. aided arms flow from Benghazi to Syria

A Syrian Kurdish fighter in Kobani, Syria, in January Associated Press

A Syrian Kurdish fighter in Kobani, Syria, in January Associated Press

WorldMag.com, By J.C. DERRICK, May 18, 2015:

WASHINGTON—Documents released today confirm the Obama administration knew weapons were flowing out of Benghazi, Libya, to Syrian rebels in 2012 even though the rebels had well-publicized ties to al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.

Previous reports, including one by WORLD in 2013, have linked U.S. involvement in Libya to arms flowing into Syria, but the new documents provide the first verification that contradicts administration officials and congressional Democrats who maintained there was no evidence to support it. The documents provide further confirmation that the CIA and the State Department—under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—received immediate intelligence that the attack was committed by al-Qaeda- and Muslim Brotherhood-linked brigades, even as Clinton and other officials claimed it was the result of rioting against a Muslim-bashing video.

“Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya, to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria,” says an October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document released with heavy redactions. It notes the activity took place weeks before terrorists attacked the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, killing four Americans in September: “The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were [500] sniper rifles, [100] RPGs, and [400] 125 mm and 155 mm howitzers missiles.”

Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group, obtained the cache of more than 100 documents after filing a lawsuit in federal court. The judge who ordered the release, Ketanji Brown Jackson, is a 2013 appointee of President Barack Obama.

“These documents are jaw-dropping,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said. “No wonder we had to file more FOIA lawsuits and wait over two years for them.”

Administration officials—including the CIA’s former acting director in sworn congressional testimony last year—have argued that initial intelligence showed no evidence of a pre-planned attack at Benghazi. But new documents undercut that assertion. A DIA memo dated September 12, 2012, says the attack was planned at least 10 days in advance to “kill as many Americans as possible” in revenge for a U.S. air strike that killed a militant leader in Pakistan and to commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

That document, also heavily redacted, was circulated to top administration officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, four days before U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice went on several national television shows claiming the attack was the result of a spontaneous protest.

Clare Lopez, a member of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi—a group of former intelligence officers, military personnel, and national security experts—told me it comes as no surprise that Benghazi was a retaliatory attack since al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a video had called on the “sons of Libya” to avenge his deputy’s death. Lopez said the Judicial Watch release is “very significant,” because it “begins to peel back a little more of the layers of the onion about what was going on in Benghazi, and why that mission [facility] was there.”

Lopez, a former CIA officer who is now a vice president at the Center for Security Policy, said the commission has confirmed it was not the CIA but the State Department that managed the gun-running operation. According to Lopez, the department put up between $125,000 to $175,000 for each surface-to-air missile it funneled out of Libya to the Syrian battlefield.

The new revelations raise the stakes in the ongoing Benghazi investigation, which threatens to extend deep into the 2016 presidential campaign season. Republican members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, created a year ago following another Judicial Watch release, say the administration is stalling in its production of documents. Democrats have accused Republicans of moving at a “glacial pace” to unnecessarily drag out the probe.

Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 race, has agreed to testify before the panel, but the Republicans who control the committee say they won’t call her until they receive all relevant documents.

Monday’s disclosure includes startling detail showing that U.S. intelligence agencies know about militant activities down to the measurements of a room where al-Qaeda collects documents in Libya. The militants responsible for the Benghazi attacks controlled large caches of weapons “disguised by feeding troughs for livestock” and trained “almost every day focusing on religious lessons and scriptures including three lessons a day of jihadist ideology.”

A DIA report from August 2012 detailed the “dire consequences” of unfolding events in the Middle East, and predicted the rise of ISIS and a possible caliphate 17 months before Obama called the group a “JV team.
“This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters,” the document reads. “ISI could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”

J.C. is a reporter in WORLD’s Washington Bureau. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.

Also see:

Texas Attack Is Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism, Suspect ID’d as Elton Simpson of Phoenix

Simpson was arrested in 2010 on terror-related charges, but given probation. No time served.

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole. May 4, 2015:

BE SURE TO SEE UPDATES BELOW

The name of one of the suspects in last night’s shootout outside a Dallas-area free speech event has been released.

ABC News 13 in Phoenix has ID’d Elton Simpson as the individual who posted a message with #texasattack to his Twitter account just before the shooting.

twitter.com_2015-05-03_23-53-45a

They report:

A controversial cartoon contest in north Texas yesterday depicting the prophet Mohammed ended in deadly gunfire.

ABC News can confirm that one of the suspects is Elton Simpson, an Arizona man who was previously the subject of a terror investigation. He’s from Phoenix and television stations in Phoenix are reporting the second shooter was Simpson’s roommate. We’re still waiting on his name.

The FBI believes Simpson sent out a tweet using the hashtag #texasattack about a half hour before shooting.

ABC News adds that police have been executing search warrants at Simpson’s home in Phoenix overnight.

It appears that this attack is yet another case of what I have termed “known wolf” syndrome, when the suspect is already known to law enforcement and intelligence. Virtually every terror attack in the West over the past year has been by one of these “known wolf” suspects.

The Dallas Morning News reports:

Simpson was well known to the FBI, ABC News reported. Five years ago he was convicted for lying to federal agents about his plans to travel to Africa, “but a judge ruled the government did not adequately prove he was going to join a terror group there.”

Simpson was apparently known to the FBI since 2006:

ha tweet

UCLA Law professor Eugene Volokh actually wrote about Simpson’s case back in 2011. Quoting from the judicial opinion:

On January 13, 2010, a grand jury indicted Defendant Elton Simpson for knowingly and willfully making a materially false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”). The indictment also charged that the statement involved international and domestic terrorism. The indictment specified that on or about January 7, 2010, the Defendant falsely stated to special agents of the FBI that he had not discussed traveling to Somalia, when in fact he had discussed with others traveling to Somalia for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad. The Government is charging Mr. Simpson with making a false statement in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1001. The Government is also charging that the false statement involves international or domestic terrorism as defined under section 2331, so that he is eligible for a sentence enhancement pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §1001. […]

… The problem … is that the Government has not established with the requisite level of proof, that the Defendant’s potential travel to Somalia (and his false statement about his discussions regarding his travels) was sufficiently “related” to international terrorism. Rather, the Government missed several steps to meeting its burden for establishing this charge. As a result, the Court cannot find the Defendant eligible for the sentence enhancement.

According to ABC News, Simpson was convicted of lying to the FBI, but was placed on probation and never went to prison.

I’ve been chronicling these recent “Known Wolf” terrorism cases here at PJ Media:

Oct. 24, 2014: ‘Lone Wolf’ or ‘Known Wolf’: The Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Failure

Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Jan. 7, 2015: Paris Terror Attack Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 3, 2015: French Police Terror Attacker Yesterday Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 15, 2015: Copenhagen Killer Was yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Feb. 26, 2015: Islamic State Beheader ‘Jihadi John’ Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Apr. 22, 2015: Botched Attack on Paris Churches Another Case of “Known Wolf” Terrorism

This was also the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing I gave back in late January sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET):

The suspect had tweeted that he had been arrested in 2010. His Twitter account has been deactivated, but I’m trying to find the screenshot of the tweet I made last night. I’ll post here when I find it.

From a U.S.-based jihadist supporter:

jihadi tweets

UPDATE: ABC has posted a picture of Simpson

Here is the court decision in that prior 2010 case:

UPDATE #2: Dallas Morning News adds more detail, including his known association with Al-Qaeda traitor Hassan Abu Jihad:

Simpson told agents in 2010 that he planned to study Islam at a madrassa in South Africa, records show. He said he would be gone for five years and didn’t have “firm plans” for what he would do after his studies.

But in a 2007 recorded conversation, Simpson spoke about fighting non believers for Allah. He also spoke about Afghanistan and Iraq and “Jewish oppression of Muslims.” And he criticized those who “don’t believe that they should be over there fighting.”

The FBI also got him on tape in 2009 speaking to someone about his plans.

“It’s time to go to Somalia, brother,” he said. “We know plenty of brothers from Somalia…I’m telling you, man. We gonna make it to the battlefield, akee, it’s time to roll.”

Simpson said non believers, known as “kuffar,” are “fighting against us because they don’t want us to establish sharia,” records show.

And he told an associate that he could sell his car to finance a trip overseas to fight.

“That’s a plane ticket right there. Bye-bye America,” Simpson said.

Simpson in 2009 also told someone he sent a link to someone else about “how they gonna use the car with bombs on it.” He said he was going to school at the time but that it was “just a front.” […]

When FBI agents visited Simpson in 2010, he asked them about an acquaintance, Hassan Abu Jihad, who was appealing his 2008 federal conviction in Connecticut for providing material support to terrorists.

Abu Jihad also was found guilty of “communicating national security information to persons not entitled to receive it,” records show. He was sentenced in 2009 to 10 years in federal prison. Simpson told agents he was concerned about Abu Jihad’s future.

Simpson said he knew Abu Jihad when the man lived in Phoenix previously. Abu Jihad was arrested in Phoenix in 2007.

************

Police searching car, apartment after shooting outside Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas (foxnews.com)

Police in Texas were still checking a car for possible explosives early Monday and authorities reportedly were searching the Phoenix home of the two suspects who were killed in an attack on an art exhibit that inflamed radical Muslims.

The City of Garland, Texas said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that the men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center on Sunday night and began shooting at a security officer. Garland Police Department officers returned fire, killing both gunmen, the statement said.

The statement did not say whether the shooting was related to the event, a contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

One of the suspects was known to U.S. intelligence and had been part of a recent terror investigation for allegedly trying to travel to Africa, home of the Al Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab, sources told Fox News.

Officials have been at the Phoenix apartment complex – some 1,100 miles from the Garland, Texas, crime scene — since late Sunday night and are reviewing computer records from materials found at the residence. Police tape continues to surround the area, KSAZ reports.

Authorities also are investigating Twitter messages from overseas posted prior to the event calling for violence. The tweets were posted by a 25-year-old American jihadi with al-Shabaab, investigators told Fox News.
FBI spokesman Perryn Collier on Monday confirmed that the Phoenix residence is being searched for indications of what prompted the shooting.

The FBI said the men involved in the shooting were roommates, according to 12 News.

Authorities said they were worried that the suspects’ car in Garland could contain an incendiary device. Several nearby businesses were evacuated as a precaution and a bomb squad was on the scene early Monday. Police had cordoned off a large area and at least three helicopters circled overhead.

The Garland Independent School District, which owns and operates the Culwell Center, identified the wounded security officer as Bruce Joiner. The district said in a statement that Joiner — who was shot in the ankle — was treated and released from a local hospital.

The FBI said the men involved in the shooting were roommates, according to 12 News.

Authorities said they were worried that the suspects’ car in Garland could contain an incendiary device. Several nearby businesses were evacuated as a precaution and a bomb squad was on the scene early Monday. Police had cordoned off a large area and at least three helicopters circled overhead.

The Garland Independent School District, which owns and operates the Culwell Center, identified the wounded security officer as Bruce Joiner. The district said in a statement that Joiner — who was shot in the ankle — was treated and released from a local hospital.

Roby said he then heard two single shots.

Geller told the AP before Sunday’s event that she planned the contest to make a stand for free speech in response to outcries and violence over drawings of Muhammad. Though it remained unclear several hours after the shooting whether it was related to event, she said Sunday night that the shooting showed how “needed our event really was.”

In January, 12 people were killed by gunmen in an attack against the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions and used depictions of Muhammad. Another deadly shooting occurred the following month at a free speech event in Copenhagen featuring an artist who had caricatured the prophet.

Geller’s group is known for mounting a campaign against the building of an Islamic center blocks from the World Trade Center site and for buying advertising space in cities across the U.S. criticizing Islam.

When a Chicago-based nonprofit held a January fundraiser in Garland designed to help Muslims combat negative depictions of their faith, Geller spearheaded about 1,000 picketers at the event. One chanted: “Go back to your own countries! We don’t want you here!” Others held signs with messages such as, “Insult those who behead others,” an apparent reference to recent beheadings by the militant group Islamic State.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.