Al Qaeda in Syria/Iraq Doubles in Size as ISIS and Al Nusra Kiss and Make Up

isis-qaeda-450x287Front Page, by Daniel Greenfield:

ISIS didn’t just beat the Iraqi military. It also beat Syria’s dominant Al Qaeda group, the Al-Nusra Front, which like ISIS had also been spawned from Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Al-Nusra Front began shooting at ISIS when the latter invaded Syria and claimed authority over it. But now they kissed and made up.

It’s all one big happy Al Qaeda family.

The number of Islamist extremists fighting for ISIS could double after al-Qaeda’s 15,000 strong offshoot in Syria is said to have pledged allegiance to the militant group.

Al-Qaeda’s Syrian offshoot Wednesday made an oath of loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) at a key town on the Iraqi border, a monitor said.

News of the merger between ISIS and the al-Nusra front were made by both the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and an Islamist website this afternoon.

Images widely shared by ISIS supporters online appeared to show al-Nusra’s alleged leader in the Albu Kamel region, Abu Yusuf al-Masri, embracing ISIS fighters after apparently taking an oath of allegiance.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the overall leader of al-Qaeda, has previously disowned ISIS and proclaimed the al-Nusra Front as its official Syrian affiliate.

An internal report of ISIS’ activities last year put its total number of fighters in Iraq and Syria at 15,000. With al-Nusra boasting a similar sized or possibly even larger force, today’s merger could double the total number of militant Sunni Islamists fighting under the ISIS banner in the Middle East.

Hardest hit are all the “news stories” about how ISIS was too “extreme” for Al Qaeda. So much for that. But nothing to worry about.

As Barack Hussein Obama once said, “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

The jayvee team is taking over two countries and has its own air force.

 

A new definition for al-Qaeda

 

Image Credit: AEI's Critical Threat's Project

Image Credit: AEI’s Critical Threat’s Project

above image source: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/09/the-al-qaeda-network-today/

 

 

Washington Post, By Katherine Zimmerman, Jan. 31:

What exactly is al-Qaeda? And who cares? Confusion about how to define the terrorist group is rife. Was al-Qaeda involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead? The Obama administration says no. Are the groups proliferating around Africa and the Middle East really part of the al-Qaeda that toppled the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon?

There is no simple answer. Al-Qaeda is a global terrorist organization that relies on secrecy to survive. Even al-Qaeda members are confused about each other’s status: The leader of the group in Yemen had to ask his Algerian counterpart for clarification about Ansar al-Din’s relationship to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The covert nature of the network intentionally obscures many relationships.

Here’s the problem: According to recently declassified testimony of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the House Armed Services Committee in October, the U.S. military regards itself as legally barred from going after the perpetrators of the Benghazi attacks (and, presumably, others who attack Americans) unless they are affiliated with al-Qaeda. The Obama administration’s parsing of words to deny al-Qaeda’s direct involvement effectively precludes a military response in these situations.

But the United States can neither disrupt nor defend itself from an enemy it cannot define. Nor are we safer because of arbitrary definitions. The question demands an answer: What is al-Qaeda?

Al-Qaeda’s leadership regulates the use of its name and resources; it has formally and publicly recognized affiliates in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and West Africa. In each of these cases, the regional leadership pledged loyalty to the al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who accepted their oaths. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki may have been right when she said last month that “they don’t give out T-shirts or membership cards,” but any sensible definition of group membership must surely recognize the explicit and public exchanges of oaths of loyalty and command between Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri, on the one hand, and the leaders of overt franchises on the other.

Many experts disagree about the extent to which locally oriented militants are officially part of al-Qaeda. The White House has focused on terrorists currently targeting the United States, which form a small subset of the overall al-Qaeda movement. In the course of the debate over Benghazi, that focus has narrowed further to the question of whether “al-Qaeda core” ordered a specific attack.

There is even disagreement over the definition of “core” al-Qaeda. Most administration officials suggest that it is the small group keeping company with Zawahiri in Pakistan. Others define it as veteran members of the al-Qaeda network, active before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But this core has long been dispersed, with only a small part still in Pakistan. Some members now lead regional franchises: Nasir al-Wuhayshi, bin Laden’s former secretary, is both emir of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaeda’s general manager.

In reality, al-Qaeda’s goals are furthered by the so-called core, affiliates and local groups that enjoy no formal relationships with the Zawahiri contingent. The Jamal Network in Egypt, al-Mulathamun in the Sahel and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have a direct but informal relationship with al-Qaeda. The TTP poses a particular definitional problem because it has neither sought nor received formal membership in al-Qaeda, yet it conducted the attempted Times Square bombing in May 2010.

The greatest al-Qaeda threat to the United States is AQAP, which has attempted to attack the U.S. homeland three times since 2009 and whose leader is clearly a member of al-Qaeda core, despite his location in Yemen. Still, most of AQAP’s efforts in recent years have gone into seizing control of parts of Yemen, making it “locally focused.” And what to make of al-Shabab, the formally recognized affiliate in Somalia that does not use the al-Qaeda name? It has been fixated on Somalia but has conducted attacks throughout the region and recruits directly, and in English, from the American Somali community.

Al-Qaeda today is the realization of bin Laden’s broader vision. He did not limit himself only to the founding and running of al-Qaeda but imagined a network uniting like-minded groups extending far beyond state borders. The al-Qaeda operatives around bin Laden’s successor in Pakistan are — at least for the time being — hemmed in by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and they are under siege from Afghanistan-based U.S. drone attacks. But the al-Qaeda network — a defined set of groups running from West Africa to Southeast Asia — carries on bin Laden’s legacy and remains a danger.

An excessively narrow definition of al-Qaeda is just as dangerous as one that includes every Sunni Muslim extremist group. Clearly not all parts of the broader al-Qaeda network are equally dangerous. Nor does dealing with each automatically require the use of military force. Decisions to use force against al-Qaeda must be shaped by strategy and prioritization, like any other national security decision. But excluding large portions of the al-Qaeda network from consideration and hiding behind semantics guarantees strategic failure. Defining the enemy down is not the answer.

Katherine Zimmerman is a senior analyst at the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project and authored the report “The al-Qaeda Network: A New Framework for Defining the Enemy.”

Also see:

Al Qaeda Leader Urges Unity for Sake of Islamic State

imagesAl-Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has posted a 103-minute message on militant websites calling on Muslims to unite to create an Islamic state.. The audio was produced by al-Qaeda’s media arm, As-Sahab, and was presented alongside video footage showing Iranian Revolutionary Guards captured in Syria.

Zawahiri urged Muslims to use the “Arab Spring” to come together and wage jihad. He specifically praised the mujahideen in Syria, exhorting them to step up their fight against the “criminal secular” regime of President Bashar Assad. He also issued a warning to France that its military intervention in Mali will be bogged down.

“I warn France that it will meet in Mali, with God’s permission, the same fate America met in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Al-Zawahiri said.

Al-Qaeda is unhappy that France launched a military operation in Mali last January after being asked to intervene by the country’s interim president. Since then, French and Malian troops have liberated main towns in the north, but remnants of al-Qaeda-linked cells remain active there in some of the vast rural areas.

Read more at The Clarion Project

Also see:

 

Algeria in Jihadi Flames

algeria-1_2454515b-450x334By

Emboldened by America’s projection of weakness abroad, Islamists apparently linked to al-Qaeda reportedly continue to hold about 40 foreign hostages including seven Americans seized Wednesday at a natural gas field in Algeria.

At press time, conflicting media reports had been emerging from the region. Some claimed that the hostages have been freed; others, that several hostages have been killed.

The mass kidnapping at a BP (formerly British Petroleum) gas site near the Libyan border, which may very well have been accomplished with U.S.-supplied weapons left over from the ouster of the late Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, seems to be a spillover from a failed French drive to remove Islamist militants from nearby Mali.

According to the Wall Street Journal, France’s target in Mali was Algeria-based Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, which has “claimed responsibility for the Algeria kidnappings, calling it retaliation.”

The northern portion of Mali is important to the Islamofascists because it is one of their recently acquired strongholds that serves as a showcase for the reimposition of Shariah law in the region. It is a beachhead for Islamist world revolution.

Al-Qaeda forces, working with Qaddafi’s former mercenaries, previously took over northern Mali, an area about the size of Texas. Africa, writes FrontPage Magazine’s Daniel Greenfield, is now “to Islamic Colonialism in the 21st Century what it was to European Colonialism in the 19th Century.”

The kidnapping episode also undercuts President Obama’s spurious claim that al-Qaeda is somehow on the run and virtually irrelevant thanks to his policies. During the past election cycle Obama bragged over and over that “al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead.” That path now seems to be long and winding.

Each passing day it becomes increasingly clear that the Obama administration, which spends much of its time apologizing for past U.S. policies, isn’t serious about combating Islamism. The fact that the administration itself is a hotbed of Islamist activity, according to various investigative reports, no doubt has something to do with it.

Read more at Front Page

 

Related articles

Did the US have enough indicators and warnings for Algeria?

arc-of-instability1

 

by

In the intelligence world, indicators and warnings are essential. They are key pieces of data expressing enough insight allowing an analyst to determine threats, proposed threat levels, and assist in forecasting. With the ongoing hostage situation still unfolding in Algeria (still ongoing as this is being written), it’s critical to question whether the US or our Western allies had enough indicators and warnings to caution citizens living and or working in Algeria.

In May, Homeland Security Today published a piece titled West Africa: Al Qaeda’s New Home. It revealed how Al Qaeda shifted its base from Afghanistan and Pakistan into West Africa—specifically Mali. There was enough information found within to allow any open source intelligence analyst to obtain what is known as “chatter.” That chatter could be observed as the first warning.

Then, in October, Homeland Security Today released another article title The Quint-Border Region: The World’s Most Under-Reported Terror Hot Spot. Within it, five key nations were identified in western Africa demonstrating unprecedented amounts of activities which have unfolded over the years via Al Qaeda linked terrorist groups. These incidents were sheer warnings.

The first week of December could arguably be construed as one of the biggest indicators demonstrating how austere the region has truly become. Online media outlet Magharebia divulged in an article title Belmokhtar breaksaway from AQIM. Anyone who ever worked intelligence knows when key leaders break away from a large terror group, they later form their own. And that’s exactly what Mokhtar Belmokhtar did.

Belmokhtar broke away from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magrheb and formed his own Islamist group called Al Muwaki un bi Al-Dima (Signatories of Blood). A video tape of the one eyed Islamist was created and delivered to at least one international media outlet explaining his intent.

Belmokhtar is no small fish in the Islamic terror world. He is a highly skilled and trained fighter who quickly moved up the ranks in Al Qaeda after fulfilling his mission in Afghanistan back in 1991. He eventually returned to Algeria where he was born and later assisted in a horrifically violent coup of Mali’s government.

Only a few weeks after Magharebia posted their news about Belmokhtar’s split from AQIM, the Jamestown Foundation released a very well written report on the situation in West Africa, specifically revealing Belmokhtar’s future endeavors.

With this information, why did the United States State Department’s Office of Securityand Cooperation release just two travel warnings for Algeria in 2012? Worse, why were they created in May and September having nothing more recent knowing the entire West African region was imploding?

Yes, these two travel warnings could have also sparked interest for an intelligence analyst to create something more suitable for the Western free world, specifically Americans living and working in the region.

The truth is, America and our western allies knew how volatile the entire west African region had become. Yet for some reason, similar to Benghazi, they sat on the back of their heels proving to be inept protectors of their citizens.

Now, as the tragedy in Algeria continues to unfold, reports have revealed at least 35 hostages and 15 terrorists were killed in Algerian military led airstrikes. This reporting remains extremely vague and maintains limited details.  As mentioned last night on Canadian Television News, this tragedy would end in bloodshed.

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled Veteran is author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors.

Mali Islamists Hit in Lightning Strikes by French

Map showing Mali's location in Africa (Source: CIA)

Map showing Mali’s location in Africa (Source: CIA)

Determined to win and win in a short time, French fighter planes began lightning strikes on Islamist strongholds in northern Mali Friday. Since then, the strikes have intensified, as have the amount of ground troops – now at 550 – that France has brought in for support.The French specifically stepped in as radical Islamists, who had taken over northern Mali last April, began a successful expansion campaign into the central region of the country, threatening to reach Bamako, the capital.

Seven other countries have joined the effort, including the U.S., who is providing communications support, and Britain, who is sending aircrafts to help transport troops from neighboring countries.

Since taking over the northern part of the country (an area greater than the size of France), the Al Qaeda-linked groups have imposed the most extreme form of Sharia (Islamic) law on the territory, amputating arms for those accused of thievery, public whippings of women for wearing perfume or makeup, flogging men for smoking cigarettes, and stoning to death individuals accused of adultery. Alcohol, music and watching sports on television have also been forbidden. The Islamists began their campaign in the region by smashing historic tombs and shrines located in Timbuktu.

See RadicalIslam.org’s related report Mali Islamists Amputate Thief’s Hand. Threaten 60 More

Tens of thousands of Malians have fled the region, with those left behind having to deal with the horrors of everyday life under the Islamists.

“France’s goal is to lead a relentless struggle against terrorist groups,” the ministry said, “preventing any new offensive of these groups to the south of Mali,” said France’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Mali map (Source: CIA)

Mali map (Source: CIA)

The Islamists rapid expansion into central Mali prompted the French to take action to prevent Al Qaeda terrorists from establishing large terrorist bases from which to launch attacks in Europe and link to other Islamist groups in Somalia, Yemen and northern Africa.

France’s goal is also to provide support to Malian government forces, who are hoping to soon be joined by troops from other African nations to take back their country.

Read more a Radical Islam

The Truth About Libya – Failed Foreign Policy

Published on Oct 20, 2012 by

A joint SecureAmericaNow.org – A RightChange.com Production. America was attacked on September 11th, 2012 by Al Qaeda at our consulate in Libya. Our consulate was burned and four Americans including our ambassador were murdered. President Obama and his administration denied it was a terrorist attack for weeks. Since then, Americans have learned that Obama and his administration knew it was an act of terror all along and chose to tell the public it was because of a Youtube video protest. It’s time for Obama to tell the truth on Libya. We can’t afford more apologies, excuses, and weakness.

Libyan Leaks: Secret Document reveals Al-Qaeda ‘brother’ put in control of U.S. Embassy in Tripoli

 

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

By Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack:

A treasure trove of secret documents has been obtained by a Libyan source who says that secularists in his country are increasingly wanting to see Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama on November 6th. This charge is being made despite Muslim Brotherhood losses in Libyan elections last July which resulted in victory for the secularists. One of those documents may help explain this sentiment.

It shows that in supporting the removal of Gadhafi, the Obama administration seemed to sign on to an arrangement that left forces loyal to Al-Qaeda in charge of security at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli from 2011 through at least the spring of 2012.

The National Transitional Council, which represented the political apparatus that opposed Gadhafi in 2011 and served as the interim government after his removal, made an extremely curious appointment in August of 2011. That appointment was none other than Abdel Hakim Belhaj, an Al-Qaeda ally and ‘brother’. Here is a copy of that letter (translation beneath it):

Translated, the document reads:

National Transitional Council – Libya 8/30/11

Code: YGM-270-2011

Mr. Abdel Hakim Al-Khowailidi Belhaj

Greetings,

We would like to inform you that you have been commissioned to the duties and responsibilities of the military committee of the city of Tripoli. These include taking all necessary procedures to secure the safety of the Capital and its citizens, its public and private property, and institutions, to include all international embassies. To coordinate with the local community of the city of Tripoli and the security assembly and defense on a national level.

Mustafa Muhammad Abdul Jalil

President, National Transitional Council – Libya

Official Seal of National Transitional Council

Copy for file.

As for Belhaj’s bonafides as an Al-Qaeda ally, consider the words of the notorious Ayman al-Zawahiri. In a report published one day prior to the date on the memo above, ABC News quoted the Al-Qaeda leader as saying the following – in 2007 – about the man the NTC put in control of Tripoli in 2011:

“Dear brothers… the amir of the mujahideen, the patient and steadfast Abu-Abdallah al-Sadiq (Belhaj); and the rest of the captives of the fighting Islamic group in Libya, here is good news for you,” Zawahiri said in a video, using Belhaj’s nom de guerre. “Your brothers are continuing your march after you… escalating their confrontation with the enemies of Islam: Gadhafi and his masters, the crusaders of Washington.”

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was founded by Belhaj.

In a BBC report from one month earlier – on July 4, 2011 – a man named Al-Amin Belhaj was identified as an NTC spokesman and said the following:

“Everyone knows who Abdel Hakim Belhadj is. He is a Libyan rebel and a moderate person who commands wide respect.”

Abdel Hakim Belhaj had been identified in a video report embedded in the the BBC article as…

“…about the most powerful man in Tripoli.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj is many things but moderate is not one of them.

Interestingly, according to a report by the Jamestown Foundation in 2005, the man who attributed the ‘moderate’ label to Abdel Hakim Belhaj was actually a leader with the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood:

This last week Al-Amin Belhadj, head of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, issued a press release on the Arabic language section of Libya-Watch, (Mu’assasat al-Raqib li-Huqquq al-Insan) calling for urgent action on behalf of 86 Brotherhood members imprisoned since 1998 at Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison and on hunger strike since October 7.

The nexus between Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood comes into clearer focus when one looks at the Libyan Ambassador to the United States. His name is Ali Sulaiman Aujali. He had the following to say about Belhaj according to an ABC News report:

“(Belhaj) should be accept(ed) for the person that he is today and we should deal with him on that basis… people evolve and change.”

Really? How many times do westerners have to fall for this line before they trip over it?

Read more at shoebat.com

Walid Shoebat is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and author of For God or For Tyranny

Ben Barrack is a talk show host and author of the book, Unsung Davids, which features a chapter on Walid Shoebat

Obama’s National Security Advisor

By Alan Caruba:

If you are wondering why the Obama administration was slow  acknowledge the attack on our Benghazi consulate that killed our Libyan  ambassador and three others and concocted lies about it, it helps to know who is  advising the President. My commentary from March 14, 2012, provides part of  the answer:

There’s a YouTube video of John Brennan, the President’s national security  advisor, praising Islam and the Arab culture to an unidentified group of Arabs  that is so revealing that it should be probable cause for his removal from  office. At one point, he addresses them in fluent Arabic, a language acquired in  his studies and CIA posts over the years.

When the British Empire  spanned much of the globe there was a turn for men who embraced the culture and  nations to which they were assigned. They were deemed to have “gone native”,  often wearing Arab garb and becoming apologists for their actions. Among the  most famous was Lawrence of Arabia, but there were many others such as  Lieutenant-General, Sir John Bagot Glub, widely known as Glub Pasha, best known  for leading and training Jordan’s Arab Legion from 1939 to 1956, the same Legion  that took part in attacks on Israel after it declared independence in 1948.
In the video, Brennan waxes poetic about Arab culture. In 1977 Brennan had  received a degree in political science from Fordham University. During his  studies he had spent his junior year learning Arabic and taking Middle Eastern  studies courses at the American University in Cairo. He received a Master of  Arts degree in government with a concentration in Middle East studies from the  University of Texas at Austin in 1980.

His career in the Central  Intelligence Agency was one in which he reached the highest rungs as an analyst,  serving at one point as a daily intelligence briefer for President Bill Clinton.  In 1996, he was the CIA station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, when the Khobar  Towers, a housing complex was blown up by a truck bomb, killing nineteen U.S.  servicemen billeted there. He would serve under CIA Director George Tenet as the  director of its newly created Terrorist  Threat Integration  Center from 2003 to  2004. He would serve as director of the CIA’s National Counterterrorism  Center  from 2004 to 2005.

One might assume from such an impressive resume that  Brennan was the idea man to be appointed President Barack Hussein Obama’s chief  counterintelligence advisor with the title of Deputy National Security Advisor  for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

One might assume that, but  Brennan, from his earliest days in that post made a number of statements and  authored a USA Today opinion editorial that revealed deeply felt sympathies for  the very people who were and are attacking Americans at home and overseas. In  his USA Today opinion, Brennan criticized “Politically motivated criticism and  unfounded fear-mongering that only serve the goals of al Qaeda.”

Commenting on Brennan’s USA Today opinion, Jeb Babbin, in an article for Human Events  on February 11, 2010, wrote of Brennan and the Obama administration’s  incomprehensible national security actions, “Consider their consistent record of  bad decisions only one year into Obama’s presidency: to close the terrorist  detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; to move Khalid Sheik Mohammed and  four other al Qaeda varsity out of the military commissions system and try them  in civilian criminal court; to war against the intelligence community; to put  the White House in charge of interrogations of captured terrorists; and, most  recently, the hasty decision to put the Christmas Day underwear bomber, Umar  Farouk Abdulmutallab, in civilian custody thus preventing professional  intelligence interrogators from having access to him.”

Babbin  characterized Brennan’s USA Today article as “a string of fibs and misleading  statements so easily disproved (that) it leaves observers wondering about  Brennan’s sanity.”

Read more at Family Security Matters

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Alan Caruba  writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The  National Anxiety  Center, and he blogs at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. His book, Right  Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy“, is published by Merrill  Press.
John Brennan praises President Obama’s counterterror policies in April 2012 before 9/11 Embassy attacks and subsequent cover up:

He says Al Qaeda is in decline and that “the Al Qaeda core is simply no longer relevant”. He says that the American people are safer today because of this administration’s efforts. He closes by saying that Al Qaeda is the antithesis of the peace, tolerance and humanity that is the hallmark of Islam.

The inept Benghazi cover up was all about protecting the president’s image on foreign policy ahead of the elections. And it has Brennan’s fingerprints all over it.

Related articles

Pre-9/11/12 Benghazi Attack Pentagon Report: Al Qaeda Jihadists Significant Threat to Libya

Andrew Bostom:

The nonpareil national security investigative reporter Bill Gertz brings to our attention an internal 54 pp. Pentagon report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon., “AL-QAEDA IN LIBYA: A PROFILE—A Report Prepared by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress under an Interagency Agreement with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office’s Irregular Warfare Support Program, August, 2012.”

Prepared and issued before the murderous 9/11/12 attacks, which left 4 dead—the US ambassador Chris Stevens, two former US Navy Seals (Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods), and a US Air Force veteran (Sean Smith)—the report emphasized how Al Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL), working via a large, powerful, and well-established jihadist infrastructure in Libya, sought to capitalize on the US and NATO-supported insurrection which toppled the Libyan despot Qaddafi, and fulfill its goal of making Libya part of an eventual transnational caliphate.

The report highlighted an ominous July, 2012 public jihadist rally, while emphasizing, with resigned sobriety, how such jiadist/Al-Qaeda discourse resonates with a significant swath of the Libyan population

In June 2012, Ansar al-Sharia staged a large-scale rally and military show of force involving dozens of military vehicles, with Islamists wearing the Afghan mujahidin’s traditional outfit. Some leaders described themselves as Islamists and called for implementation of sharia similar to that which the Taliban had implemented in Afghanistan or al-Qaeda in Somalia and Yemen. The military show of force consisted of a parade in which some 30 battalions from Benghazi, Darnah, Misrata, Al-Nufilyah, Ajdabiyah, and other Libyan towns took part in the first meeting in support of sharia in Benghazi. Islamist leaders pointed out that the aim of the military parade was to terrorize (Arabic: irhab) those who do not want to be judged by God’s law. Islamist leaders urged the Transitional National Council to clarify the identity of the state as Islamic or secular. Such a system of local affiliates might use neighborhood mosques as a support infrastructure for a religious and popular movement that could frighten politicians attempting to run on a moderate Islamic platform. …A weak Islamist-dominated central government is unlikelyto confront such a radical movement, at least in the short term. The minister of religious affairs expressed his government’s weakness when he lamented the “hijacking” of mosques by extremist imams imposed by militiamen. Two of these local Islamist-oriented militias—Ansar al-Sharia and al-A’hrar Libya—are the tip of the iceberg. They broadcast typical al-Qaeda–type propaganda on the Internet, and they have adopted the black flag, which symbolizes commitment to violent jihad promoted by AQSL.

AQSL’s discourse may attract a sizable audience, especially among disenchanted former rebels, insecure tribal leaders, and Salafist clerics that could be turned into a support network and recruiting tool for jihadists. As demonstrated by ongoing rallies of supporters of the implementation of sharia, the Salafist movement is gaining ground in Libya and is most likely to adopt an uncompromising stance with regard to sharia and secularism close to the one typically promoted by al-Qaeda.

The  report’s EXECUTIVE SUMMARY features these 10 points of emphasis, which raise serious questions about both the callous inattention to security for US diplomatic and ancillary personnel in Benghazi, as well as the abysmal failure of imagination regarding overall US policy in Libya, which has abetted the most fanatical jihadist movement extant—Al Qaeda itself.

1. Al-Qaeda has tried to exploit the “Arab Awakening” in North Africa for its own purposes during the past year. Al-Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL), based in Pakistan, is likely seeking to build a clandestine network in Libya as it pursues its strategy of reinforcing its presence in North Africa and the Middle East, taking advantage of the “Arab Awakening” that has disrupted existing counterterrorism capabilities. Although AQSL’s previous attempt to co-opt the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was inconclusive, the Libyan Revolution may have created an environment conducive to jihad and empowered the large and active community of Libyan jihadists, which is known to be well connected to international jihad.

2. AQSL’s strategic goals remain restoration of the caliphate, instituting sharia, and ending the Western presence in Muslim lands. Al-Qaeda’s primary goal in Libya is to establish an Islamic emirate as part of its overall objective to reestablish the caliphate.

3. AQSL in Pakistan issued strategic guidance to followers in Libya and elsewhere to take advantage of the Libyan rebellion. AQSL’s strategic guidance was to:

- gather weapons,

- establish training camps,

- build a network in secret,

- establish an Islamic state, and

- institute sharia.

4. AQSL in Pakistan dispatched trusted senior operatives as emissaries and leaders who could supervise building a network. Al-Qaeda has established a core network in Libya, but it remains clandestine and refrains from using the al-Qaeda name.

5. Ansar al-Sharia, led by Sufian Ben Qhumu, a former Guantanamo detainee, has increasingly embodied al-Qaeda’s presence in Libya, as indicated by its active social-media propaganda, extremist discourse, and hatred of the West, especially the United States.

6.  Al-Qaeda adherents in Libya used the 2011 Revolution to establish well-armed, well-trained, and combat-experienced militias. Militia groups, led by Wisam Ben Hamid and Hayaka Alla, have adopted similar behavior, with, however, fewer advertised grudges against the West. The only open-source material that has linked these groups, aside from their jihadist credentials and their defense of sharia, is their attachment to the flag that has come to symbolize al-Qaeda.

7. The al-Qaeda clandestine network is currently in an expansion phase, running training camps and media campaigns on social-media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube. However, it will likely continue to mask its presence under the umbrella of the Libyan Salafist movement, with which it shares a radical ideology and a general intent to implement sharia in Libya and elsewhere.

8. Al-Qaeda affiliates such as AQIM are also benefiting from the situation in Libya. AQIM will likely join hands with the al-Qaeda clandestine network in Libya to secure a supply of arms for its areas of operations in northern Mali and Algeria.

9. The July 2012 elections failed to generate a strong and unified national leadership that could address the chronic insecurity posed by the multiplicity of local militias, which al-Qaeda’s clandestine network has probably infiltrated.

10. Al-Qaeda’s clandestine network is highly likely to recruit and train local and foreign jihadists to be sent to Syria

Libyan Jihadists Per Capita and by Hometowns as of 2005 During the Iraq War:

Al Qaeda’s plan for Libya highlighted in congressional report

By Thomas Joscelyn

An unclassified report published in August highlights al Qaeda’s strategy for  building a fully operational network in Libya. The report (“Al Qaeda in Libya: A  Profile”) was prepared by the federal research division of the Library of  Congress (LOC) under an agreement with the Defense Department’s Combating  Terrorism Technical Support Office.

Al Qaeda’s senior leadership (AQSL) in Pakistan has overseen the effort. AQSL  “issued strategic guidance to followers in Libya and elsewhere to take advantage  of the Libyan rebellion,” the report reads. AQSL ordered its followers to  “gather weapons,” “establish training camps,” “build a network in secret,”  “establish an Islamic state,” and “institute sharia” law in Libya.

Each part of this strategy is being implemented, and al Qaeda’s plan has  advanced to the final stages. The three conceptual phases of an al Qaeda  affiliate’s development are outlined in a chart prepared by the US military and  shown here.

The chart shows that, according to the US military, al Qaeda’s operatives in  Libya have already completed many of the tasks set forth by AQSL.

“AQSL in Pakistan dispatched trusted senior operatives as emissaries and  leaders who could supervise building a network,” the report notes. They have  been successful in establishing “a core network in Libya,” but they still act  clandestinely and refrain from using the al Qaeda name.

The report finds that al Qaeda “will likely continue to mask its presence  under the umbrella of the Libyan Salafist movement, with which it shares a  radical ideology and a general intent to implement sharia in Libya and  elsewhere.”

Senior terrorists and others involved in effort

Al Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al Zawahiri, has overseen the effort to establish a  robust presence in Libya. Other senior al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan have also  been involved. Abu Yahya al Liba and Atiyah Abd al Rahman, two top al Qaeda  operatives who have been killed in drone strikes, helped guide the project prior  to their demise. Some al Qaeda operatives have been tasked with taking over, or  forming, katibas – or fighting battalions. Others oversee al Qaeda’s  project and coordinate with senior leaders operating elsewhere.

Go to The Long War Journal to read the rest including profiles of other al Qaeda operatives in Libya

The Changing Face of Al Qaeda

By Kerry Patton On January 17, 2012 at Front Page

Osama Bin Laden, the presumed mastermind behind the creation of Al Qaeda, originally formalized a global network of militants mostly comprised of Muslim Brotherhood members. These Brotherhood members, like Ayman al-Zawahiri, tapped into their own personal networks which later socially conditioned and recruited a mass movement of followers. Many were active militant fighters while many more were passive supporters to a newly established global terror network. Interestingly enough, many have argued that the original Al Qaeda Network no longer exists.

As Al Qaeda grew long after the Russian-Afghan war, many of its leaders became empowered. They split off moving into strategically positioned bases around the world. Their mission was to embolden Al Qaeda’s radicalized views of Islam in an attempt to create a “World Caliphate.” Needless to say, many leaders in this movement sought to achieve this strategic objective through government infiltration, passive social conditioning, and even through means of violent terror activities.

With time, an internal struggle existed within the original Al Qaeda network. Some members believed joining forces with non-Sunni Islamic persons would only strengthen their ultimate goals. Others believed working with such persons was off limits. Still, additional non-Sunni terror groups aligned with former Al Qaeda elements. Examples of these non-Sunni factions include Hezbollah, Colombia’s FARC, and even cartels such as Los Zetas in Mexico. Of course, many times these newly “joined forces” are not always direct. Many times, the joining of forces comes through third party initiatives.

Like most mass movements, they are formed by a handful of individuals simply seeking power. These individuals groom members, yet, like street gangs, when certain members feel they have enough power, they move onto their own initiatives. These initiatives often involve the creation of their own groups. These groups are separate from their original mother group, yet at times maintain some allegiance, as seen in several Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs.  Such a move has been seen between Ayman al-Zawahiri and the Muslim Brotherhood recently.

This means that Al Qaeda is no longer the terror network we once knew it to be. Today, Al Qaeda can arguably be construed as a label for radical Sunni Islamic factions. As an example, Somalia’s Al Shabaab Islamic terror group is a single terrorist organization yet members have a history serving within the Al Qaeda network. It is a completely separated organization yet often labeled as one falling within the Al Qaeda domain due to some continued ties between the two.

Understanding an elementary example of Al Shabaab, one should ponder then whether it is reasonable to include the non-Sunni factions known to be aligned with Al Qaeda as elements within Al Qaeda itself. As an example, it is known that Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group, has close ties with Al Qaeda.  In fact, today, many CT professionals understand how closely tied Al Qaeda has become with Iran itself.

The Iranian-Hezbollah-al Qaeda relationship is known. Most recently, U.S. courts revealed the 9-11 alliance. Surprisingly, no counterterrorist specialist will ever claim Hezbollah or Iran is part of Al Qaeda.

Why won’t an agreement be made claiming Hezbollah falls under Al Qaeda? The simplest reason often obtained is that “Hezbollah is Shiite and Al Qaeda is Sunni.” Amazingly, professionals will observe one ideology stemming from religious differences but not through any other known ideology—especially, the ideology of power.

So a few key questions must be asked when attempting to understand what Al Qaeda truly is today. First, is Al Qaeda still the terrorist network it was once believed to be? Secondly, has too much emphasis on ideology been placed on today’s different radical Islamic terrorist organizations? Lastly, should counterterrorist professionals even stress about Al Qaeda any longer as one large terror movement or should they simply concentrate on the hundreds of terrorist groups in existence?

The later of these questions is likely the most debatable of those listed needing to be answered. Unfortunately, an entire shift in critical thinking would need to occur throughout an entire global system of those attempting to defeat a possible monster that, well, may no longer exist as we once believed. Shifting cognition within such a mass global system would entail a complete overhaul of social and cultural constructs. As any social psychologist knows, making such a move takes a long time to achieve.

In the end, Al Qaeda is possibly no longer who we once knew it to be. Arguably, Al Qaeda is nothing more than a label placed on Sunni Islamic terrorists groups. We now know that these groups have joined forces with non-Sunni terrorist factions. Who will be the maven to pitch this thought in an attempt to change counterterrorists’ ways of thinking?

Kerry Patton is the co-founder of the National Security Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization pending 501c (3) status. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security, and has interviewed current and former terrorists. He is the author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies and the children’s book American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook.

Know Your Ansar al-Sharia

By AaronY. Zelin

From Sana to Benghazi, Cairo to Casablanca, new jihadist groups have adopted the same name in recent months. Is it all just a coincidence?

There is a new trend sweeping the world of jihadism. Instead of adopting unique names, groups increasingly prefer to call themselves ansar, Arabic for “supporters.” In many cases, they style themselves Ansar al-Sharia — supporters of Islamic law — emphasizing their desire to establish Islamic states. Yet despite the fact that these groups share a name and an ideology, they lack a unified command structure or even a bandleader like the central al Qaeda command (or what’s left of it), thought to be based in Pakistan. They are fighting in different lands using different means, but all for the same end, an approach better suited for the vagaries born of the Arab uprisings.

The name Ansar al-Sharia shot into the news last week in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, when the local organization Katibat Ansar al-Sharia was accused of perpetrating it — charges the group denied. Many reports seem to have confused Benghazi’s Ansar al-Sharia with another Libyan group, based in Derna.

The naming trend actually started in Yemen, when al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the powerful and ambitious local al Qaeda branch, established the front group Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen in April 2011. It is possible this was born out of Osama bin Laden’s musings over whether to rebrand al Qaeda. None of the names in the documents captured from the late al Qaeda leader’s compound mentioned Ansar al-Sharia as a potential example, however. More recently, one of the preeminent global jihadi ideologues, Shaykh Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, put his stamp of approval on the new wave of Ansar al-Sharia groups.

Shinqiti, who is of Mauritanian origin, published an article in mid-June titled “We Are Ansar al-Sharia,” calling Muslims to establish their own dawa (missionary) Ansar al-Sharia groups in their respective countries and then to unite into one conglomerate. It should be noted that most of the Ansar al-Sharia groups were already created beforehand. The most prominent of these organizations are the ones in Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya, along with newer versions in Egypt and Morocco to a lesser extent.

The rise of these Ansar al-Sharia groups points to an end of al Qaeda’s unipolar global jihad of the past decade and a return to a multipolar jihadosphere, similar to the 1990s. One key difference, however, is that jihadi groups are now more ideologically homogenous — in the 1990s, jihadis thought locally and acted locally, while many now talk globally and act locally. These newer groups are also more interested in providing services and governance to their fellow Muslims.

Distinguishing between these differing groups is crucial for better understanding the new landscape of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the trajectory of new salafi-jihadi groups that are not necessarily beholden to al Qaeda’s strategies or tactics. Although there are no known formal or operational links between these disparate organizations, it is possible they may try to link up in the future based on ideological affinity and similar end goals. For now, though, conflating them would be premature. Here’s a guide to the major groups going by this name.

Read more about Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

 

The world’s not better off

By Frank Gaffney:

Eleven years after 9/11, President Obama would have us believe that, at least with respect to our national security, we are better off than we were when he came to office. Specifically, he now claims that al Qaeda – the terrorist organization that killed nearly 3,000 Americans on that terrible day – is “on the path to defeat.”

That contention is, of course, predicated in part on the laudable fact that al Qaeda’s founder, Osama bin Laden, is dead, as are a number of the organization’s other senior leaders. The President deserves credit for achieving such successes.

But they do not mean even that the group that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks are nearly defeated. In fact, its franchises are going – and growing – concerns in places like Libya, Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, Mali and Pakistan, to say nothing of the theaters We have abandoned (Iraq), or are in the process of abandoning (Afghanistan).

More importantly, even if it were true that al Qaeda is being defeated, a net assessment would clearly show that, on Mr. Obama’s watch, the world has become much more hospitable to its ideology and goals, and much less safe for America and our interests.

That is the case in no small measure because of the help Team Obama has given to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that fully shares al Qaeda’s ambitions to impose its totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine known as shariah on the rest of the world under the rule of a Caliph. As the Center for Security Policy has documented in a free online video-based curriculum entitled The Muslim Brotherhood in America: the Enemy Within, that help has taken myriad forms including: recognizing and engaging the Brotherhood in Egypt; helping it come to power there; and providing $1.5 billion in aid after the Brotherhood’s political party dominated Egyptian parliamentary elections and on the eve of the election of its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, to the presidency.

The Obama administration is preparing to do still more for the Brothers in Egypt now that they have established effectively complete control in one of the Middle East’s most strategic nations. It is engineering another $1 billion in debt relief at U.S. taxpayer expense and over $4 billion in assistance from international financial organizations (a substantial chunk of which will come out of our hides, too).

It is also warning Israel not to object to Egypt’s remilitarization of the Sinai, in blatant violation of the peace treaty between the two nations signed at Camp David in 1979. And it is preparing to roll out the red carpet for Brother Morsi in New York and the White House later this month.

Are such steps a problem – especially collectively? After all, the Muslim Brothers are, according to Mr. Obama’s administration, the sort of benign Islamists with whom we can safely deal since they have, in the words of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, “eschewed violence.”

In point of fact, the Brothers have no more eschewed violence towards infidels and even Muslims who stand in the way of their geopolitical ambitions than they are, in another unforgettable example of Gen. Clapper’s cluelessness, “a largely secular organization.” These rabid and avowed Islamists are perfectly prepared to use violence – think Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian franchise – when they believe it will conduce to success.

Until that time, shariah requires its adherents to pursue the same goals through means that are best described as pre-violent, rather than non-violent. And it is the steady progress that the prime practitioners of this approach – which the Brotherhood calls “civilization jihad” – have made unnoticed, or at least un-countered, by President Obama and his subordinates that has actually made the world vastly more dangerous than it was when they came to office.

Just how dangerous may be on display when President Obama hosts Mohamed Morsi. It will be interesting to see whether he emboldens that Islamist, as he has others, by bowing to him. But what will be far more important than such symbolic gestures is what further concessions Mr. Obama offer, concessions that – according to the doctrine of shariah – are interpreted as tangible signs of our submission?

One that will be at the top of Mr. Morsi’s agenda is his demand that the United States release one of the most world’s most dangerous jihadists, Omar Abdul Rahman. Better known as the “Blind Sheikh,” this terrorist was convicted of leading, among other conspiracies, the first, lethal attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Presumably, President Obama would not dare pardon or transfer Abdul Rahman to Egypt before his “last election,” but he may feel free to do so afterwards – when he has, in his words, “more flexibility.”

Either way, the Morsi visit will be a “teachable moment” for every American. All other things being equal, it will demonstrate tangibly that eleven years after 9/11 – notwithstanding the tactical successes achieved by our courageous servicemen and women, lethal drones and intelligence and homeland security professionals, we are losing, not winning, the war against those who are driven by shariah to wage jihad, of either the violent or stealthy kind, against us. We better pray it will prompt the American people to insist on a fundamental course correction two months from now.

Obama, a National Security Disaster