‘Jihad Olympics’ Take Two: Al-Qaeda Shows Its Muscle in Mali

Security forces rescues hostage in Mali (Photo: Video screenshot)

Security forces rescues hostage in Mali (Photo: Video screenshot)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Nov. 26, 2015:

When al-Qaeda struck a hotel in Mali exactly one week after the Islamic State’s attacks in Paris, it was another competition in what we’ve dubbed the “Jihad Olympics.” Al-Qaeda’s latest assault also doubled as an attack ad against the Islamic State (ISIS), contrasting its relative mercy towards Muslims with the Islamic State’s complete disregard for Muslim casualties.

Watch Clarion Project’s National Security Analyst, Prof. Ryan Mauro, on FOX News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” as news broke of the attacks in Mali and the anchor noted our correct prediction of Al-Qaeda’s responsibility:

Responsibility for the attacks was claimed by two al-Qaeda branches: al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al-Mourabitoun. The Macina Liberation Front, a group that has links to Al-Qaeda but has not formally sworn allegiance, later also took credit.

Aside from the obvious fact that al-Qaeda believes it is required by Allah to carry out attacks like what we saw in Mali, the timing strongly suggests it wanted—and desperately needed—to show it still has a pulse. Success is seen as Allah’s endorsement, so al-Qaeda’s decline since 2001 and the rise of the Islamic State since 2014 have potentially existential consequences for the group.

Success wins arguments between Islamists. There are lengthy debates between Islamists referencing Islamic scripture and legal rulings and scholars’ interpretations, but at the end of the day, there’s no stronger argument than success (a.k.a. Allah’s blessing).

Temporary setbacks may be shrugged off as tests of faith, but undeniable defeat will cause even the most confident-sounding jihadist to privately question how he has offended Allah. This can be seen in letters between senior al-Qaeda leaders and public criticism from former al-Qaeda supporters, including a mentor to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

A second purpose of the Mali attacks was to serve as the jihadist equivalent of a political attack ad against the Islamic State. al-Qaeda made sure to release hostages who could recite verses from the Quran in order to minimize Muslim casualties, regardless of whether those Muslim hostages support the group or not.

Al-Qaeda supporters online immediately pointed this out. al-Qaeda derides the Islamic State as being equivalent to the Khawarij (or Kharijites), a puritanical Islamic sect that waged war against the ruling caliph and branded rival Muslims as apostates deserving of death. The comparison stings ISIS enough that its propaganda regularly addresses it.

Of course, the parallels can just as easily be seen with al-Qaeda and all the Muslim blood it has on its hands. The private communications of al-Qaeda leaders indicate they believe that its targeting of Muslims was frowned upon by Allah and so decided to calibrate their massacres. Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban’s condemnation of the Pakistani Taliban’s massacre of Muslim children in Peshawar is an example of this course correction.

The “Jihad Olympics” can produce the desired headlines, such as news that al-Qaeda has delivered a “severe blow” to the Islamic State in the Golan Heights area by suicide bombing the leadership of one of its militias (the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigades). But the terrorist-on-terrorist violence comes with a price.

Attacks like those in Paris and Mali are benchmarks in the competition that each group must achieve, especially as its capabilities are doubted. The Islamic State attacked an Italian priest in Bangladesh not only because he is a legitimate target in their minds, but because Bangladesh is a focal point of a new al-Qaeda affiliate that attacked two publishers there only weeks earlier.

The competition and inter-jihadist bloodshed only raises the pressure on each group to attack Western targets. And the gold medal in this “Jihad Olympics” will unfortunately be won by whoever does the most damage inside Western countries, especially the United States.

Video: Stephen Coughlin unveils the dreadful lessons of ISIS’s Paris massacre

tg (1)

We should expect to see large scale acts of terrorism culminating at the end of the year – Coughlin


This special edition of The Glazov Gang was joined by Stephen Coughlin, the co-founder of UnconstrainedAnalytics.org and the author of the new book, Catastrophic Failure.

He came on the show to discuss The Dreadful Lessons of ISIS’s Paris Massacre, shedding troubling light on Jihadists’ dire warning to America.

[See also Stephen on the Glazov Gang special: How “Rules of Engagement” Get U.S. Soldiers Killed.]

Also see:

Must Read Report – Islamic State: ‘The Threat to the United States’

isis-marching-AP-640x480 (2)Breitbart, by Jordan, Schachtel, Nov. 23, 2015:

A Mclean, Virginia-based defense think-tank has published a prescient white-paper on the Islamic State terror group, which has been made available exclusively to Breitbart News prior to its release.

The Threat Knowledge Group (TKG), headed by Katherine C. Gorka, its President, and Dr. Sebastian Gorka, the Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University and a Breitbart Contributor, released a comprehensive study Monday titled “ISIS: The Threat to the United States.”

After last week’s attacks in Paris that killed over one-hundred people and wounded hundreds more, particular national attention has turned to national security issues, as the American people continue to fear that the United States is becoming more vulnerable to jihadist attacks.

“The scope and lethality of the Paris attack changes everything. The U.S. will have to take the domestic threat of ISIS much more seriously now,” Threat Knowledge Group President Katherine Gorka told Breitbart News.

“We wanted to do this study because we felt that the Administration was downplaying the domestic threat of ISIS, focusing instead on ‘right-wing extremism.’ The problem with that is that it means law enforcement is not prepared. They’re looking out the window while the threat is coming in the door,” she added.

Threat Knowledge Group supports the Defense Department and FBI with strategic analysis and training, and this latest report unveils the Islamic State’s recruitment network inside of the United States.

They found that over 250 people from the United States have attempted to join ISIS, according to a report from the House Homeland Security Committee. Also, some 82 individuals in the United States have been interdicted by federal agents as part of ISIS plots, according to a database compiled by Threat Knowledge Group.

And the FBI already has almost 1,000 active ISIS investigations in the United States, the report adds.

In its study, TKG also compares and contrasts the Islamic State with Al Qaeda.

The report notes that “ISIS is a fully-fledged insurgency” and has been able to achieve far more than Al Qaeda has in its past. In such a short amount of time, ISIS has been able to recruit a force of tens-of-thousands of jihadis while also controlling territory, a feat that Al Qaeda has never accomplished by itself.

ISIS has trumped Al Qaeda’s recruiting capacity as well, according to the report. TKG found that from March 2014 to November 2015, ISIS arrests occurred over three times more often than for Al Qaeda members, with 4.1 ISIS cases per month compared to Al Qaeda’s monthly 1.5 average.

In an ultra-important measure to establish legitimacy in the Islamic world, ISIS “successfully declared the Caliphate after 90 years of absence, and it is growing,” the report adds.

The study also delves into several other issues related to understanding ISIS as a jihadi organization, covering topics such as “What ISIS believes in” and “Who is ISIS recruiting?”

TKG warns that the United States must steel itself for the “difficult times ahead” and be ready to counter the threats posed by ISIS inside of the United States. They recommend that U.S. officials follow five steps in countering the current threat environment.

In summary, TKG recommends that American officials should:

  1. “Stop downplaying the seriousness of the threat.”
  2. “Recognize that ISIS is targeting youth, and do more to protect youth from radicalization.”
  3. “Target the ideologues.”
  4. “Better utilize open-source intelligence.”

TKG Report the ISIS Threat

Travel Abroad Is Safe, Provided You Teleport Into Rural New Zealand

shutterstock_93273712.sized-770x415xcPJ Media, by Claudia Rosett, Nov. 24, 2015:

Over the years since President Obama first took office, he has lectured Americans about the receding tide of war, al Qaeda on the run, and, more recently, ISIS (or, as the administration has it, ISIL) being degraded, slated for ultimate destruction, and, even more recently, “contained.” Meanwhile, the world is getting ever more dangerous. Over the past six months alone, the State Department in its efforts to keep up with the turmoil and threats has issued more than three dozen travel warnings for Americans thinking of visiting places from Eritrea to Mali, Lebanon, Colombia, Sudan, El Salvador, Nigeria, Tanzania, Cameroon, Burma, Nepal, Mali, the Philippines, Kenya, Turkey… and of course Syria, Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

Now, in the aftermath of the ISIS terrorist attacks on Paris, with ISIS threatening strikes on America, and Brussels heading into its fourth day on lockdown, the State Department is taking a more wholesale approach. Today, as PJ Media’s Bridget Johnson reports, the State Department issued a “Worldwide Travel Alert,” warning U.S. citizens of “possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats.”

The warning applies not only to the threats from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (or whatever else we’re calling the Jayvee team these days) but also to threats from “unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations, but conducted on an individual basis” (in business, we’d call that a franchise). State’s worldwide travel warning gives examples of the kinds of events and locations that have been targeted this past year by “extremists,” and are presumably to be avoided, including “large sporting events, theaters, open markets, and aviation services.” State is advising Americans to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation,” and to avoid both crowded places and “large crowds.”

So, what might this translate into in practice?

Two things come to mind. On the lighter side, for the sake of the State Department I hope no one allows this travel warning to reach the university campuses of the United States. Trigger warning: State’s advice is on a collision course with those “safe spaces” that are now the prime mission of the academy. There’s a “conversation” in the making here that could rival the final moments of HAL the computer, in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Then there’s the broader question: For Americans who wish to travel, or even do business abroad, in this brave new world, with its “receding tide of war” and whatnot, what’s still safe to do?

Tough one. Aviation is threatened, and so are crowded places, so forget airplanes and airports. Forget most travel terminuses generally, because they are often crowded, and though State did not mention it in this global alert, past jihadi attacks have also targeted trains (Madrid) and other forms of public transportation (London), as well as hotels (Mumbai, Mali). Theaters and sporting events are potentially places of danger. So is anyplace that might attract a large crowd. So forget popular entertainment, busy hotels, lively restaurants, or major tourist attractions.

Open markets, as State reminds us, are also places of potential peril. So don’t figure you’re safe if you duck away from the train station, or the hotel, or the main tourist square, to go shopping among the locals. And be especially careful during the holiday season, or at “holiday festivals or events” — which, if you check the calendar of holidays worldwide, pretty much means that you should be especially careful most of the time, as well as pretty much anywhere.

So, for Americans who wish to travel safely abroad in this era of Obama’s outstretched hand, amid U.S. “engagement” with the world and the ending of “overseas contingency operations,” what’s left? Go figure. Maybe while sheltering in place some American tech wizard will come up with a way to teleport travelers direct to such havens as New Zealand — way out there in the Pacific, with lots of gorgeous terrain, inhabited by 4.5 million people and 30 million sheep. Though even there, in this era of the receding tide of war, the authorities have been warning of individuals with links to “extremist” groups — so maybe you still want to avoid the cities.


Jihadists storm Radisson hotel in Malian capital

map lwj

Long War Journal, by Caleb Weiss, Nov. 20, 2015:

Jihadist stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in downtown Bamako in the early morning today, killing at least three people and taking more than 170 hostage. Malian commandos have assaulted the hotel in an effort to end the siege. The counterattack is still underway.

The attack began when gunmen penetrated a security barrier outside the hotel. Quoting a witness, the BBC reports that “They [the jihadists] were in car with a diplomatic license plate. They were masked. At the gate of the hotel, the guard stopped them and they start firing.”

The jihadists then shot their way into the hotel. Once inside, the gunmen reportedly made their way through the hotel “floor by floor, room by room” according to Reuters. The attackers were heard yelling “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is greatest,” in Arabic while fanning out through the hotel.

An estimated 80 hostages were freed after they were able to correctly recite verses of the Koran. The tactic of separating Muslims from other hostages is one that is often used by al Qaeda to avoid killing Muslims.

Malian special forces are reported to have assaulted the building after cordoning off the area. Additionally, the French GIGN, the elite counterterrorism unit of the National Gendarmerie, are being deployed to Bamako to assist Mali in the hostage crisis. US Special Forces are reported to have rescued six US citizens.

The exact number of gunmen involved in the attack on the Radisson Blu is unclear, with reports varying between two and 13 fighters.

The Radisson Blu Hotel, which is US-owned, is popular with foreign nationals, including French tourists and businessmen. A number of French, Chinese, and Indian citizens were staying at the hotel when the attack began.

Al Murabitoon, an al Qaeda group led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed credit for the attack and demanded the release of jihadist prisoners as well as an end to French intervention in northern Mali. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda group claims credit for attack on hotel in Mali’s capital.]

The hostage crisis is the second to occur in Mali this year. The previous hostage crisis was executed in August, when jihadists from Al Murabitoon, stormed a hotel in the central Malian town of Sevare. The siege left at least 12 people dead. Al Murabitoon also targeted a nightclub in Bamako earlier this year.

Today’s attack took place just weeks after , the leader of Ansar Dine, released an audio statement calling for attacks on the French and their interests in Mali. Ghaly called for the increased targeting of French interests to avenge French intervention in the country.

“May your explosive belts respond to them, and your directed devices, and your loud car bombs,” he said. He ends his statement by saying that the Muslims must expel the “Crusaders” to “take revenge for honor of our noble Prophet.”

Ansar Dine, a front for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has also claimed several attacks in southern Mali this year, including two near the border with the Ivory Coast. One of the those attacks targeted a police station near the border, which left at least one Malian police officer dead. Additionally, the Macina Liberation Movement, which a front for Ansar Dine, has also been behind several attacks in southern and central Mali this year. [See map above for more information.]

Assaulting hotels is a common tactic of al Qaeda, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Islamic State, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other jihadist groups. Many of the hotels targeted by jihadists are frequented by Western tourists, Western government officials, or are host to local government figures.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda’s official branch in North Africa, has a history of kidnapping Westerners, many from Malian hotels. This includes the Swede Johan Gustofsson, South African Stephen McGowan, and the Dutchman Sjaak Rijke. The three, along with a German national, were kidnapped from a hotel in Timbuktu. Rijke has since been released, but Gustofsson and McGowan are still being held.



Al Qaeda group claims credit for attack on hotel in Mali’s capital by Bill Roggio

Al Murabitoon, an al Qaeda group that operates in West Africa, has claimed responsibility for this morning’s suicide assault on a luxury hotel in Bamako, Mali. Al Murabitoon claimed it executed the hotel siege in conjunction with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda’s official branch in North Africa.

The al Qaeda group claimed the Bamako attack in a statement that was sent to Al Jazeera. According to Al Murabitoon, the operation was carried “in coordination with the Sahara Emirate of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”

Al Murabitoon said its fighters would release hostages held at the hotel for “the liberation of the mujahideen in Bamako’s prisons.” Additionally, Al Murabitoon demanded that Malian and French forces stop “the oppression of the people of northern Mali.” The jihadists threatened to execute the hostages if its demands are not met and said it would release a complete statement on the attack at a later time.

Today’s attack began when jihadists, purportedly driving a vehicle with diplomatic plates, penetrated the Radisson Blu’s security perimeter and then shot their way into the hotel. Once inside, the gunmen are sad to have searched the hotel “floor by floor, room by room” according to Reuters. The attackers were heard yelling “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is greatest,” in Arabic while fanning out through the hotel.

The jihadists are said to have taken 170 hostages, including number of American, French, Chinese, and Indian citizens. An estimated 80 hostages were freed after they were able to correctly recite verses of the Koran. The tactic of separating Muslims from other hostages is one that is often used by al Qaeda to avoid killing Muslims.

Malian special forces as well as US Special forces are said to have assaulted the hotel in an effort to free the hostages. Six Americans are said to have been freed by US Special Forces.

Al Murabitoon is led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran African jihadist who is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri and has denounced the Islamic State. Belmokhtar and Al Murabitoon have been behind several spectacular attacks in West Africa over the past several years, including the January 2013 suicide assault on the In Amenas gas facility in southeastern Algeria, and the May 2013 suicide assaults in Niger that targeted a military barracks and a uranium mine. Scores of people were killed in these attacks.

Belmokhtar and his unit are listed by the US as a specially designated global terrorist and a Foreign Terrorist Organization, respectively.

The Sahara branch of AQIM is led by Yahya Abu Hammam, who is listed by the US as a specially designated global terrorist for playing a “key role in the group’s ongoing terrorist activities in North Africa and Mali.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

Geller: Obama’s Version of America Is the ‘Shameful’ One


Breitbart, by Pamela Geller, Nov. 16, 2015:

Barack Obama implied Monday that opponents of his mad scheme to fill this country with Syrian refugees (including an untold number of active Islamic jihadists) were motivated by religious prejudice.

Obama said:

And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

But he does. In 2011, our international organization, Stop Islamisation of Nations (SION), appealed to the Obama Administration and the United Nations to grant emergency asylum to the real refugees of jihadi wars. Our call was met with deafening and deadening (literally) silence.

Obama’s American compassion.

In his speech at the G20 Summit in Turkey on Monday, Obama took a harsher tone with Republicans than he has with ISIS. In the wake of the Paris jihad slaughter, he is obsessed with… importing more Muslims, not defeating the Islamic State. And he calls anyone opposed to increased Muslim migration — namely the GOP — “shameful.” But it is Obama who is shameful. He’s the one who has applied a religious test to migrants. He has refused Christians seeking refuge from jihad genocide. He has refused to meet with Middle Eastern Christian leaders. They are the true victims of the jihadi wars.

Obama took to the world stage to push for more Muslim migration and to scold anyone who tied terrorism to Islam. Why is he admonishing us? We didn’t tie Islam to terrorism. The jihadists are the ones who have done that. Devout Muslims are waging war in the cause of Islam by their word and deed, so why is Obama blaming us?

Obama’s American compassion.

As the number of Christian and religious minorities who are refugees began to rise in concert with the ascent of Islamic supremacist groups, and as the violence continues against non-Muslims under the sharia, part of Obama’s anti-freedom foreign policy is to suppress the horror of what is happening under his watch. He has gone so far as to remove the Religious Freedom Section from the State Department’s Human Rights reports.

Obama’s American compassion.

Obama then went on to angrily school us on the meaning of America, admonishing opponents of his disastrous and suicidal refugee resettlement plan: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are.”

Was abandoning our ambassador and our soldiers in Benghazi American? Leaving Americans to die instead of rescuing them is the definition of anti-Americanism.

Blaming the First Amendment after a jihad terror attack is the opposite of Americanism.

Abandoning our closest ally in the Middle East is the opposite of Americanism. Ousting Mubarak and Qaddafi to install terror regimes is the opposite of Americanism. Aiding“moderate al Qaeda” (as if there really were such a thing) in Syria is the opposite of Americanism.

Who the hell is Barack Hussein Obama to tell us what is American and what isn’t?

While never holding Muslims to account for jihad, Obama has excoriated Christians for… the Crusades. Is that American?

The Islamic State has posted the names and addresses of U.S. soldiers, FBI agents, Navy SEALs, and other defenders of freedom. They have issued a fatwa (death sentence) against my supporters and me. Our assassins will gain entry under Obama’s refugee plans. Is that American?

Obama demands that we believe his lies. He insists that the refugees are fleeing the war in Syria when, in fact, four out of five of the migrants who have recently come to Europe are not Syrian. He insists that they are all fleeing war — how does he know? ISIS vowed last February to send a half-a-million-man army to Europe via refugee migration — and now they have done it. How does Obama know who they are and why they are coming? How can he possibly vet them, when he refuses to acknowledge the jihad ideology and scrubbed all counter-terror material of any mention of jihad and Islam? How can our intelligence agencies determine if they are jihadists?

Obama’s America — what is Obama’s America?

An America that supports BDS?

An America that abandons her allies?

An America that supports terrorism?

An America that partners with terrorist groups?

An America that denigrates America on the world stage?

That’s not America. That’s not American. Contrary to Obama’s claims, that’s what’s really shameful.

Pamela Geller is the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publisher of PamelaGeller.com and author of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America and Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. Follow her on Twitter here. Like her on Facebook here.

Also see:


If there is a positive side to the rise of ISIS, it is that the West has had its head jerked from the sand and has been made to witness a bottomless, bloodthirsty evil: crucifixions, beheadings, enslavement of women, live burial of children, mass executions. Even John Kerry, a man not known for grasping (or admitting) the truth about jihad, acknowledges that this brutality “underscores the degree to which [ISIS] is so far beyond the pale with respect to any standard by which we judge even terrorist groups.” But as one analyst writes, this violence is not “whimsical, crazed fanaticism, but a very deliberate, considered strategy” – one that seems to derive in part from a book called The Management of Savagery.

In the spring of 2004 a strategist who called himself Abu Bakr Naji published online The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Ummah Will Pass (later translated from the Arabic by William McCants, a fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center). The book – what theWashington Post calls the Mein Kampf of jihad – aimed to provide a strategy for al-Qaeda and other jihadists. “The ideal of this movement,” wrote Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker, “as its theorists saw it, was the establishment of a caliphate that would lead to the purification of the Muslim world.”

Naji believed that a civil war within Islam would lead to that Sunni caliphate, so he recommended a merciless campaign of violence in Muslim lands to polarize the population, expose the inability of the state to maintain control, attract followers, and create a spreading network of “regions of savagery.”

“The management of savagery” refers to controlling the chaos that results from that breakdown of order. The requirements for the administration of savagery are:

  • Establishing internal security
  • Providing food and medical treatment
  • Securing the borders against the invasion of enemies
  • Establishing Sharia law
  • Establishing a fighting society at all levels and among all individuals.

The manifesto proposes that the jihadists exhaust an overstretched America through a patient war of attrition and a manipulation of the media to dismantle the superpower’s “aura of invincibility.” It demands that the enemy be made to “pay the price” for any and all attacks carried out against the jihadists, even if the retribution takes years, in order to instill in the enemy “a sense of hopelessness that will cause him to seek reconciliation.” No mercy must be shown: “Our enemies will not be merciful to us if they seize us. Thus, it behooves us to make them think one thousand times before attacking us.”

Shocking violence is a key element of that strategy. “The beheadings and the violence practiced by [the Islamic State] are not whimsical, crazed fanaticism, but a very deliberate, considered strategy,” writesBritish analyst Alastair Crooke. “The seemingly random violence has a precise purpose: It’s [sic] aim is to strike huge fear; to break the psychology of a people.” For example, Naji recommends that in instances in which hostage demands are not met, “the hostages should be liquidated in a terrifying manner, which will send fear into the hearts of the enemy and his supporters.”

Naji believed that “we need to massacre” others as Muslims did after the death of Muhammad. “We must make this battle very violent,” the book says. “If we are not violent in our jihad and if softness seizes us, that will be a major factor in the loss of the element of strength.”

But the violence isn’t intended merely to terrify, but to “drag the masses into battle.” Naji’s strategy requires polarizing the Muslim world and convincing any moderates who had hoped for U.S. protection that it is futile.

Paradoxically, this violence is actually a part of Allah’s mercy to all mankind. Putting apostates and infidels to the sword is merciful compared to the wrath that Allah himself would rain down:

Some may be surprised when we say that the religious practice of jihad despite the blood, corpses, and limbs which encompass it and the killing and fighting which its practice entails is among the most blessed acts of worship for the servants… Jihad is the most merciful of the methods for all created things and the most sparing of the spilling of blood.

Among those who are hostile to this mercy are “infidels among the Jews and the Christians and others who accused Islam of severity and mercilessness in all of its religious practices,” as well as “those who say that Islam is a religion of mercy and peace and that jihad is immoderate and excessive and that it has nothing to do with Islam!” Clearly Abu Bakr Naji is one of the many misunderstanders of Islam who didn’t get the memo about its peaceful nature.

In Naji’s conclusion, he stresses that “our battle is a battle of tawhid [the oneness of Allah] against unbelief and faith against polytheism. It is not an economic, political, or social battle.” [Emphasis added] The recent documentary feature released by ISIS called Flames of War, used as a recruiting tool for Muslim brethren in the West, confirms their religious aim and motivation. In addition to missing the memo about Islam meaning peace, apparently Naji also neglected to read all the memos from Western apologists about Islamic terrorism being spawned by poverty and Western oppression and exploitation.

Unfortunately, it seems that President Obama and Secretary Kerry, who continue to insist that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, never got Abu Bakr Naji’s memo either – the one entitled The Management of Savagery.



Thus, we need to massacre (others) and (to take) actions like those that were undertaken against the Banu Qurayza and their like. But if God should give us power and we take control and justice spreads, how tender the people of faith will be at that time and they will say to the people: “Go, for you are free.”

The Management of Savagery – Think Defence, by David Hume Footsoldier, March 16, 2015:

Also see:

Al Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine May Answer Metrojet 9268 Questions

Hidden-bomb-article-display-bBy Brian Fairchild, Nov. 6, 2015:

There is currently much speculation as to whether Metrojet Flight 9268, downed over the Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015, was the victim of Islamic State terrorism, and if so, how the attack was conducted.  The Islamic State has claimed credit for the attack, and the US and UK governments report that there is reason to believe that the plane was destroyed by an on-board explosion.  The investigation appears to be focusing on the usual suspects, such as baggage handlers, catering company employees, or other back-room personnel.  Ironically, the Islamic State’s nemesis, al Qaeda, may well have provided the answer to these questions approximately 10 months ago when it published the thirteenth issue of Inspire magazine.

That issue, which went to press on Christmas day in 2014, provided step-by-step instructions on how to destroy passenger airliners by making a simple, yet powerful bomb in a private residence using readily available products from commercial stores.

All the products needed to build the bomb were painstakingly listed, and the authors provided detailed instructions, aided by photographs, text, and graphs, on how to extract the explosive chemicals from the commercial products, and then how to cobble them together to construct the main charge, the detonator, the quick burning fuse, and the explosive starter.

The section of the magazine dealing with the bomb was titled The Hidden Bomb, because the authors intended the device to be fashioned into a brassier, underwear, or hidden in male and/or female body cavities.  The device contains no metal parts and was specifically designed to defeat airport metal detectors, scent detectors (including dogs), and pat-downs by airport personnel.   The authors advised, however, that the bomb could be detected by body-imaging machines, and so warned jihadists to avoid airports that utilized this technology.

The al Qaeda bomb makers also advised jihadists to destroy the plane at the highest altitude, and to maximize the explosive properties of the bomb by detonating their devices over the wings where the gas tanks are located, or in the rear of the plane in order to destroy the tail section and the ability of the plane to be steered.

Thus far, the technical investigation of the incident indicates that the plane was destroyed at 31,000 feet in a sudden and catastrophic event.

Brian Fairchild was a career officer in CIA’s Clandestine Service.  He has served in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Afghanistan.  Mr. Fairchild writes periodic intelligence analyses on topics of strategic importance.

Pete Hoekstra at The Heritage Foundation discussing his new book ‘Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya’

architects-of-disasterIPT, by Pete Hoekstra
The Heritage Foundation
November 2, 2015

In his new book, Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra offers a thorough analysis of how a disastrous foreign policy led to Libya becoming a failed state on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Now serving as the Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Hoekstra details how America’s tragic intervention in the North African country turned an island of relative stability into a nexus of radical Islamist terrorist training, ideology, and weapons transfers; sowed the seeds of ISIS in Syria and Iraq; and led to the humanitarian crisis in Europe.

Hoekstra reflects on the truth behind former Secretary of State Clinton’s shifting claims before the House Select Committee on Benghazi about whether a spontaneous anti-Muslim video or well-coordinated al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists were behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. facility. Drawing upon insider sources and a depth of experience, Hoekstra offers a penetrating look at how a naïve foreign policy resulted in catastrophe.

The US Didn’t Create ISIS — Assad and Saddam Did

basharalassadonline-newsit2_1Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Nov. 4, 2015:

The Russia-Iran-Assad axis and its useful idiots in the West claim that the United States created ISIS. Some of the loonier conspiracy sites that gleefully repost Russian propaganda allege that the Caliph of ISIS is a Jewish Mossad agent named Elliot Shimon or a CIA agent named Simon Elliot.

Elliot doesn’t exist, but ISIS’ Deputy Caliph Abu Ali al-Anbari, who was Saddam’s major general and a Baathist member, does. The Caliph’s right hand man, Abu Muslim al Turkmani, was also a Baathist and a lieutenant colonel in Saddam’s military intelligence organization before being killed by a drone strike.

Considering the history between Saddam and the USSR, it is likely that one or both of the Caliph’s deputies received training from Russian intelligence advisers during their careers. Turkmani’s DGMI in particular was closely entangled with the KGB. One of the reasons ISIS is much better than its Sunni Islamist opponents is that its top people had been trained by Soviet experts.

The ISIS blowback doesn’t lead to America, but in a completely different direction.

Before the Islamic State’s current incarnation, it was Al Qaeda in Iraq and its pipeline of suicide bombers ran through Syria with the cooperation of Assad’s government.

Assad and Al Qaeda in Iraq had a common enemy; the United States. Assad had a plan to kill two birds with one stone. Syrian Islamists, who might cause trouble at home, were instead pointed at Iraq. Al Qaeda got manpower and Assad disposed of Sunni Jihadists who might cause him trouble.

Meanwhile Al Qaeda openly operated out of Syria in alliance with the Baathists. While Syria’s regime was Shiite and Iraq’s Sunni, both governments were headed by Baathists.

The Al Nusrah Front, the current incarnation of Al Qaeda in the area ever since the terror group began feuding with ISIS, named one of its training camps, the ‘Abu Ghadiya Camp”. Abu Ghadiya had been chosen by Zarqawi, the former leader of the organization today known as ISIS, to move terroriststhrough Syria. This highway of terror killed more American soldiers than Saddam Hussein had.

The Al Qaeda presence in Syria was backed by Assad’s brother-in-lawAssef Shawkat, who had served as Director of Military Intelligence and Deputy Defense Minister.  His real job though was coordinating Islamic terrorist organizations. During the Iraq War, he added Al Qaeda to his portfolio.

Handling terrorists without being burned is a tricky business though and the blowback kicked in.

In 2008, a US raid into Syria finally took out Abu Ghadiya and some of his top people. A year later, General Petraeus warned that, “In time, these fighters will turn on their Syrian hosts and begin conducting attacks against Bashar al-Asad’s regime itself.”

Shawkat was killed by a suicide bomber three years later. Assad’s support for terrorists had hit home. Those Sunni Islamists he had sent on to Iraq who survived returned with training and skills that made them a grave danger to his regime.

Exactly as Petraeus had predicted.

Anti-American Leftists who claim that the US created ISIS were cheering on its early terror attacks as the work of a Baathist “Resistance”. ISIS these days is accompanied by top Baathists including General al-Douri, a close Saddam ally. The same outlets claiming that we created ISIS celebrated the “Resistance” campaign against NATO “neo-colonialism” when what they were really celebrating was ISIS.

Putin’s regime has claimed that it is fighting ISIS, but it was supporting Assad back when Syria was a conduit for ISIS to attack Americans. The Baathists in Syria and Iraq had both been Soviet clients and it was the USSR which turned international terrorism into a high art.

The United States has gotten plenty of the blame for supporting Mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the USSR, but the USSR had started the practice much earlier and had signed on to the Red-Green alliance. As Primakov, a top Soviet leader and KGB figure closely involved with the Muslim world, had said, the “Islamic movement” has a “radical trend which is strongly charged with anti-imperialism.”

It’s no coincidence that ISIS has thrived best in countries that were former Soviet clients whose governments attempted to fit Primakov’s definition by walking a fine line between Socialism and Islam. Nor is it a coincidence that in addition to its beheadings and sex slavery, ISIS plays up its free medicalcare and price controls. ISIS is still offering Socialism and Islam with a bigger emphasis on Islam.

While Baathism is often described as secular, it actually sought to blend Islam with its politics. It was a leftist Islamism that emphasized Socialism in contrast to the rightist Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood whose leaders were often businessmen and landowners with a more capitalistic bent.

These distinctions, which led the USSR to build ties with the Baathists while Western countries got involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, were more style than substance. The preference of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Turkish AKP for crony capitalism as the next best thing to a lost former feudalism did not make them friendly to the West. And the Baathists were tribal dictators who cloaked their clannish authoritarianism and familial feuds in a blend of hollow Socialist and Islamic platitudes.

Critics claim that there would be no ISIS if Saddam were still in power, but the Iraqi dictator helped create ISIS through his alliances with Islamists. ISIS did not suddenly rise out of the ruins of his regime. Instead it grew within Saddam’s regime as the dictator responded to his setbacks against Iran and Saudi Arabia, two Islamist states, by reinventing Iraq and Baathism as explicitly Islamist entities.

During the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam had begun building ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, hoping to bridge the old split between Baathists and Brotherhood and meet Shiite Islamism with Sunni Islamism.

After the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein went in a blatantly Islamist direction. The man in charge of his “Return to Faith” campaign was General Al-Douri, who would be the key ally that Al Qaeda used to move its people through Syria and who would live long enough to fight alongside ISIS as it retook Tikrit.

Allah Akbar was added to the Iraqi flag and Islamic education was embedded into the system from elementary schools to Islamic universities. It is likely that the Caliph of ISIS owes his own Islamic education to Saddam’s newfound interest in the Koran.

By the mid 90s, Saddam endorsed a Caliphate and implemented Sharia punishments such as chopping off the hands of thieves.  When ISIS amputates hands, it’s just restoring one of Saddam’s Sharia policies.

Everyone knows about Saddam’s palaces, but fewer know about his campaign to build the world’s biggest mosques. One of the biggest of these had a Koran written in Saddam’s own blood. This mosque would become a major center for ISIS allied operations run by a Muslim Brotherhood organization.

The Caliph of ISIS was recruited into the Muslim Brotherhood by his uncle. And like so many Jihadist leaders, he moved on to Al Qaeda. His own Baathist-Islamist background made him the perfect man to take Saddam’s vision of a Pan-Islamic state with Sharia and Socialism for all to the next level.

Saddam’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood helped create ISIS, just as Assad’s backing for Al Qaeda did and much as Gaddafi’s LIFG deal with the Brotherhood paved the way for his own overthrow.

Barzan, Saddam’s brother and the leader of his secret police, had warned him that his alliance with Islamists would lead to the overthrow of his regime. And that is what likely would have happened. American intervention changed the timetable, but not the outcome.

ISIS is a Baathist-Islamist hybrid that devours its creators, turning on Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, and at times even threatening its Baathist allies. Its hybrid of Socialism and an Islam so medieval and brutal that it even frightens Al Qaeda and the Brotherhood has its roots in Saddam’s Iraq. Televising new and more extreme tortures was a tactic that was more Saddam than Osama.

Even ISIS’ most revolutionary step, declaring its leader the Caliph, echoes Saddam’s effort to don the vestiges of the Abbasid Caliphate by linking himself to Caliph Al-Mansur. The difference between Saddam and ISIS is that it is willing to follow through on the symbolism.

For Saddam, Islam was a means. For ISIS it is an end. ISIS is Saddam’s Islamized Iraq without Saddam. It uses Saddam’s tactics and infrastructure for purely Islamic ends.

ISIS is blowback, but not against America. It’s the outcome of two Russian client states that climbed into bed with terrorists only to see the terrorists take over their countries. Saddam and Assad were both warned about the consequences of their alliance with Islamists.

Saddam aided the Muslim Brotherhood in trying to topple Assad’s father, yet learned no lessons from it. Assad aided the Al Qaeda attacks on Americans, but didn’t consider what would happen when Al Qaeda turned its attention to him. Both regimes sowed the Islamist seeds of their own destruction and made inevitable their transformation into Islamic terror states.

Al Qaeda chief calls for jihadist unity to ‘liberate Jerusalem’

Ayman al Zawahiri says the jihadists must strike the West and build states in the Levant and Egypt in order to “liberate” Jerusalem.

Ayman al Zawahiri says the jihadists must strike the West and build states in the Levant and Egypt in order to “liberate” Jerusalem.

The Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, November 2, 2015:

Al Qaeda has released a new audio message from Ayman al Zawahiri, who addresses recent events at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The audio speech is embedded in a video that is nearly 16 minutes long and features archival footage of Osama bin Laden, a still image of Zawahiri, and scrolling text throughout.

Zawahiri begins by alleging that “Muslims everywhere” are upset by the “Jews’ repeated attacks on the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque,” according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal. He then praises the knife attacks that have been carried out against Jews, saying they are “a new epic of jihad,” in which people “defend Palestine and Al Aqsa with knives, cars, stones, and everything they own.” Zawahiri asks Allah “to bless these martyrdom-seekers who dare to stab the Jews even as they are almost certain that they will be killed at the Jews’ hands.”

The al Qaeda leader argues that two things are required to “liberate” Jerusalem. First, the jihadists must strike “the West, and especially America, in its heartland” and also attack Western interests everywhere they are found. Zawahiri cites a number of previous attacks in the West as part of his call for more terror, including the September 11, 2001 hijackings and the Boston Marathon bombings carried out by the “two Tsarnaev brothers.”

Second, Zawahiri says that Muslims must establish a “state” in Egypt and the Levant in order to “mobilize the ummah to liberate Palestine.” The al Qaeda chieftain uses this point to emphasize one of his key themes. Establishing such states, based on al Qaeda’s radical version of sharia law, “requires unity,” avoiding “disputes and ending “hostilities” between “the mujahideen.” This is a reference to the infighting between the Islamic State, led by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, and its jihadist rivals in Syria and elsewhere.

Therefore, Zawahiri once again calls for jihadist unity against the “mujahideen’s” common enemies. He does not endorse Baghdadi’s self-declared “caliphate.” He has already set forth his extensive critique of Baghdadi’s state in previous messages. And he takes a swipe against Baghdadi’s state again in his latest message, saying that al Qaeda is fighting to resurrect the caliphate based on the “prophetic method,” which requires shura (consultation). Baghdadi did not consult recognized jihadist authorities before declaring that his organization now rules over a “caliphate” covering large portions of Iraq and Syria.

But Zawahiri wants the fighters within Baghdadi’s ranks to stop fighting Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and its allies, as well as jihadists elsewhere, so that they can focus on the supposed alliance between America, Europe, Russia, the “Rejectionists” [meaning Shiites and Iran], and the Nusayri [a derogatory reference to Bashar al Assad’s Alawite regime]. Zawahiri alleges that all these parties are “coordinating their war against us” in a joint alliance. He asks why the jihadists are not able to set aside their differences and “direct” all of their “efforts” against them.

Addressing jihadists “from every group” around the world, Zawahiri says that the Levant and Egypt are the “two historical gates of Jerusalem” and the battle in those two areas is a fight against the “Crusader-Rejectionist alliance.” The ummah [community of worldwide Muslims] must support this battle however it can, Zawahiri says, because it is a battle “to show” what it means for Muslims to wage an “acceptable jihad” that elevates Allah’s sharia and does “not empower the secularist and national regimes.”

Zawahiri wants to build popular support for the jihadists’ efforts, seeing this as key to their victory. “It is a political jihad battle so we could convince the ummah that our conduct is in line with what we call for and does not contradict it and does not drive away the Muslim people from the mujahideen,” Zawahiri says. Thus, the jihadists must “hone our conduct in order to convince our Muslim people that we are really keen to be ruled over by sharia if we are called to implement it” and do not label other Muslims as non-believers. The jihadists must convince Muslims that they “are the most merciful of people toward our people” and “do not seek to oppress Muslims.”

Al Qaeda’s bottom-up approach is, therefore, very different from the Islamic State’s. While they both want to build governments based on sharia law, al Qaeda is much more focused on building legitimacy for its ideological project in the hearts and minds of Muslims. Al Qaeda and its allies want to gradually implement sharia law and eventually resurrect a caliphate. Zawahiri’s organization has adopted this strategy, in part, because it knows that most Muslims are not pining for al Qaeda-style rule.

Through its top-down authoritarianism, the Islamic State seeks to convince Muslims that it is a caliphate today and that its version of sharia law, with its graphic executions and punishments, is divinely justified. (Al Qaeda generally avoids propaganda that focuses on its implementation of sharia’s penalties, whereas the Islamic State explicitly advertises its decapitations and amputations.) From the Islamic State’s perspective, Muslims who do not accept its legitimacy as a “caliphate” are to be terrorized into submission.

Zawahiri is not only critical of the Islamic State, with its hard stance, but also other Islamist groups that have adopted softer approaches to achieving their goals.

In this “political jihad battle,” Zawahiri says, the Muslim people should be shown that groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, salafists who support the Egyptian regime, and Rached Ghannouchi (a Tunisian Islamist who co-founded the Ennahda Movement in his home country) have erred by allying themselves with the secular governments and corrupt politicians who oppress Muslims. Zawahiri also accuses these Islamists of submitting themselves to agreements that recognize Israel’s legitimacy, “because they have realized that the price for reaching power is the acceptance of the secular constitutions and submission to Israel.”

The “mujahideen in Palestine” should fight to build an Islamic government, Zawahiri says, arguing that a “secular government that rejects sharia” in Jerusalem would be unacceptable.

Toward the end of his message, Zawahiri again ties Jerusalem to the jihadists’ efforts in the Levant and Egypt. “We must work to establish a Muslim government in the lands neighboring Israel,” he says, and the jihadists’ infighting distracts from this key mission.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.19.35 AM

Archival footage of Osama bin Laden is included at the beginning and the end of the al Qaeda production. The clip at the end is used to emphasize that al Qaeda seeks to resurrect a caliphate. A common misconception in the West is that while the Islamic State seeks to conquer territory, al Qaeda only plots terrorist attacks.

“Today, praise be to Allah…we are redrawing the map of the Islamic world to make one state under the banner of the caliphate, Allah willing,” bin Laden says in the clip. From Zawahiri’s perspective, the jihadists’ battles in the Levant and Egypt are key to making this goal a reality.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

Also see:

Al Qaeda appears ‘moderate’ compared to Islamic State, veteran jihadist says

Screen-Shot-2015-10-25-at-10.45.16-AM-1024x724The second edition of Al Risalah magazine features an interview with Usama Hamza Australi, an al Qaeda veteran sent to Syria to train fighters for Al Nusrah Front.

(Jihadology: Click the following link for a safe PDF copy: al-Risālah Magazine #2)

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, October 25, 2015

Jihadists in Syria have released the second edition of Al Risalah, an English-language magazine. The publication, which was distributed via social media earlier today, is a thinly-veiled piece of al Qaeda propaganda. It isn’t officially published by the organization, but its al Qaeda messaging is obvious.

Al Risalah’s newest edition includes an interview with a jihadist known as Usama Hamza Australi, who is originally from Queensland, Australia. “I’ve been a member of Al Qaeda for approximately fourteen years – since mid-2001 until today,” Australi says. “I’m currently in Syria as a member of Al Qaeda Central (AQC), working on their behalf with [Al Nusrah Front].”

Al Qaeda’s decision to send veterans to Syria, where they help steer Al Nusrah Front, an official branch of the group, has been well-documented. Yet, not all of these experienced jihadists have been publicly identified. In the interview, Usama Hamza Australi reveals not only his own personal role, but also additional details about al Qaeda’s operations. And he confirms a point The Long War Journal hasrepeatedly made: Al Qaeda is using the Islamic State to reposition itself as a supposedly more “moderate” jihadist organization.

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 10.58.22 AM

“One of the greatest things about IS [Islamic State] its that before people saw al Qaeda and the Mujahideen (in general) as the extremists, and those that abstain from jihad as the normal ‘moderate’ Muslims (following the middle-way),” Australi explains. “But now the truth has come out — the Mujahideen are in fact upon the correct and ‘moderate’ path, with IS being the extremists.”

Australi concludes: “So I think that IS is a blessing in disguise for the Muslim Ummah [worldwide community of Muslims].”

Of course, al Qaeda’s end goals are similar to the Islamic State’s. Both want to build an Islamic caliphate based on their radical version of sharia law. Al Qaeda simply disagrees with the Islamic State’s methodology, believing that caliphate-building is a longer-term project that requires the approval of the broader jihadist community. (Al Qaeda ideologues criticize Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and the Islamic State for failing to win the approval of recognized jihadist authorities before declaring a caliphate over large parts of Iraq and Syria.) Al Qaeda also argues that sharia law should be implemented slowly in order to give Muslims, many of whom do not desire jihadist-style governance, the time to acclimate to laws they have not lived under.

Australi makes some of these arguments in his interview. It is “obligatory upon us to fight jihad and to establish an Islamic Caliphate, this being our ultimate goal,” he says. Al Qaeda will not “compromise” when it comes to the Quran and “will not stop until our goal is reached.” That goal is the “full” implementation of sharia law.

Australi continues: “But you have to understand there’s a way of implementing this – which is the way of the Prophet…and (then) you have the way of the Islamic State group.” The proper jihadist “ways can be corrupted, especially with the takfir methodology and ideology.”

By comparing themselves to the Islamic State, al Qaeda leaders have repeatedly portrayed themselves as representing a “correct” and “moderate” path, as Australi puts it. This helps al Qaeda attempt to build more popular support for its cause, while masking the true extent of its designs in Syria and elsewhere. Australi goes so far as to declare al Qaeda “merciful,” as compared to the Islamic State.

“I truly believe that al Qaeda’s methodology is the right way, the way of mercy, the way of forgiveness, the way of da’wah [proselytizing], the way of strength,” Australi says, “and strength is not just in killing.”

Al Qaeda’s guerilla warfare

Australi began his career in the Australian military before leaving for Afghanistan. Once there in mid-2001, he was taken in by the Taliban before joining al Qaeda’s ranks. He lavishes praise on the Taliban, arguing that the only real differences between the Taliban and al Qaeda were cultural and easily overcome. Australi fought in Afghanistan, including during the Battle of Tora Bora in late 2001, but says that he didn’t receive much military training at first. Instead, he was indoctrinated in al Qaeda’s ideology.

Over time, Australi did receive guerrilla warfare training and was taught Arabic. From 2003 to 2014, he worked for al Qaeda in Waziristan and Afghanistan. “We conducted operations from artillery (mortar) strikes, to ambushes, to assaults and raids on Afghani (apostate Northern Alliance and others of their like), American and NATO forces in Afghanistan,” he says. Australi became so trusted that he met with some of al Qaeda’s most senior leaders, including Abu Yahya al Libi, Sheikh Mahmood, Hafiz Sultan, and Mustafa Saeed. He eventually became a trainer himself.

Today, Australi works as a trainer for “Jaish Nusra,” which he says is a “purely military force (wing)” within the Al Nusrah Front “organization as a whole.”

“I was sent from AQC to assist with [Al Nusrah Front], I’m working with Jaish Nusra as a military trainer and advisor,” Australi says. He goes on to describe what this training entails. “Training tactically, working in small…I hate to use the word ‘Commandos’…high standard infantry tactics, long range patrols, reconnaissance patrols, ambushing, raids, sabotage, harassment behind enemy lines, reaction to combat, how to fight with the enemy in a guerrilla warfare scenario, targeting convoys, targeting installations behind enemy lines with no support, and so on.”

“These were some of the things I trained in for a number of years with the Australian military, and then experienced (in the battlefield) for almost fifteen years in Afghanistan (and here in Syria),” Australi explains. “I’m also involved in military operations…I’m a trainer who still lives to fight (smiles). Any chance I get to fight I’m certainly there, and any input, then I am certainly there.”

Although it is widely believed that al Qaeda is primarily a terrorist organization that is solely focused on attacking the West, the reality is that al Qaeda has devoted most of its resources to waging insurgencies. As the 9/11 Commission found, most of al Qaeda’s trainees from the mid-1990s on were trained in guerrilla warfare, just like Usama Hamza Australi. And the training Australi offers in Syria today, as his own description shows, is of the same variety.

“I insist that [Al Nusrah Front] trains the brothers in the highest standards of guerrilla warfare (tactics) because I believe that if they can handle the harshest, most difficult, and most intense military situations,” Australi says, “then they will be able to handle any other situation with more ease.”

As for the future, Australi believes Jaish Nusra “is going back to the old style of fighting that [Al Nusrah Front] first became renowned for in the beginning of the Syrian War.” This includes “very strong assaults, strong ‘shock and awe’ tactics” and hitting “the enemy with force.”

“We go into areas that the enemy doesn’t expect, and show the enemies of Allah that Jaish Nusra is here to stay,” Australi crows, “and if we enter into a battle we’re here to stay until it’s victory or Shahada [martyrdom].”

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

Also see:

Are we losing Afghanistan again?

Taliba-Paktia-e1445435515840Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, Oct. 21, 2015:

Editor’s note: The following article was originally published at The New York Times Opinion Page on Oct. 21, 2015.

“ALLAH has promised us victory and America has promised us defeat,” Mullah Muhammad Omar, the first head of the Taliban, once said, “so we shall see which of the two promises will be fulfilled.” When his colleagues admitted this summer that Mullah Omar had died, Al Qaeda and affiliated groups around the globe remembered those words — victory is a divine certainty — in their eulogies. And in Afghanistan today, though the majority of Afghans still do not identify with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, Mullah Omar’s bold defiance in the face of a superpower is beginning to look prescient

Since early September, the Taliban have swept through Afghanistan’s north, seizing numerous districts and even, briefly, the provincial capital Kunduz. The United Nations has determined that the Taliban threat to approximately half of the country’s 398 districts is either “high” or “extreme.” Indeed, by our count, more than 30 districts are already under Taliban control. And the insurgents are currently threatening provincial capitals in both northern and southern Afghanistan.

Confronted with this grim reality, President Obama has decided to keep 9,800 American troops in the country through much of 2016 and 5,500 thereafter. The president was right to change course, but it is difficult to see how much of a difference this small force can make. The United States troops currently in Afghanistan have not been able to thwart the Taliban’s advance. They were able to help push them out of Kunduz, but only after the Taliban’s two-week reign of terror. This suggests that additional troops are needed, not fewer.

When justifying his decision last week, the president explained that American troops would “remain engaged in two narrow but critical missions — training Afghan forces, and supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of Al Qaeda.” He added, “We’ve always known that we had to maintain a counterterrorism operation in that region in order to tamp down any re-emergence of active Al Qaeda networks.”

But the president has not explained the full scope of what is at stake. Al Qaeda has already re-emerged. Just two days before the president’s statement, the military announced that it led raids against two Qaeda training camps in the south, one of which was an astonishing 30 square miles in size. The operation lasted several days, and involved 63 airstrikes and more than 200 ground troops, including both Americans and Afghan commandos.

“We struck a major Al Qaeda sanctuary in the center of the Taliban’s historic heartland,” Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, a military spokesman, said. General Shoffner described it as “one of the largest joint ground-assault operations we have ever conducted in Afghanistan.” Other significant Qaeda facilities are already being identified in local press reporting.

Recently, Hossam Abdul Raouf, a chief lieutenant of the Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, confirmed in an audio message that Qaeda’s senior leadership has relocated out of northern Pakistan — no secret to the military and the C.I.A., which have been hunting senior Qaeda figures in Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the year.

The Taliban are not hiding their continuing alliance with Al Qaeda. In August, Mr. Zawahri pledged his allegiance to Mullah Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. Within hours, Mullah Mansour publicly accepted the “esteemed” Mr. Zawahri’s oath of fealty. And Qaeda members are integrated into the Taliban’s chain of command. In fact, foreign fighters affiliated with Al Qaeda played a significant role in the Taliban-led assault on Kunduz.

The United States made many mistakes in the 9/11 wars. After routing the Taliban and Al Qaeda in late 2001, President George W. Bush did not dedicate the resources necessary to finish the fight. President Obama was right in December 2009 to announce a surge of forces in Afghanistan, but it was short-lived. Al Qaeda is not nearly as “decimated” in South Asia as Mr. Obama has claimed.

We don’t think 5,500 troops is enough. No one is calling for a full-scale occupation of the country. But a force of as many as 20,000 to 25,000 would far better support our local Afghan allies, helping them defend multiple provincial capitals at the same time and fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban in their strongholds.

While many believe that Al Qaeda is solely focused on attacking the West, it has devoted most of its efforts to waging insurgencies. This is the key to understanding how it has been able to regenerate repeatedly over the past 14 years. Al Qaeda draws would-be terrorists from the larger pool of paramilitary forces fighting to restore the Taliban to power in Afghanistan or to build radical nation-states elsewhere. Therefore, the mission of the United States is bigger than the one Mr. Obama envisions. Drones and select counterterrorism raids are not enough to end the threat.

Al Qaeda and like-minded groups were founded on the myth that the Soviet Union was defeated in Afghanistan because of the mujahedeen’s faith in Allah alone. This helped spawn a generation of new wars and terrorist attacks, most of which have targeted Muslims. Should the Afghans suffer additional territorial losses, Mullah Omar’s words will appear prophetic. And a new myth, one that will feed the Taliban’s and Al Qaeda’s violence for years to come, will be born.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

Also see:

US military confirms it killed senior al Qaeda strategist Sanafi al Nasr in airstrike in Syria

Sanafi al Nasr, sitting on the far left in the picture above, has been killed in a US airstrike.

Sanafi al Nasr, sitting on the far left in the picture above, has been killed in a US airstrike.

The Long War Journal, by  BILL ROGGIO AND THOMAS JOSCELYN | October 18, 2015:

The US military confirmed that it killed Sanafi al Nasr, a senior al Qaeda strategist who was dispatched by the jihadist group years ago to Syria, in an airstrike in the war torn country on Oct. 15. Nasr’s death, and that of two other jihadists, was first reported by al Qaeda members late last week.

The US Department of Defense confirmed that Nasr was killed in “an airstrike in northwest Syria.” The US military described Nasr as “a Saudi national and the highest ranking leader of the network of veteran al Qaeda operatives sometimes called the ‘Khorasan Group.’”

“Al Nasr was a long-time jihadist experienced in funneling money and fighters for al Qaeda. He moved funds from donors in the Gulf region into Iraq and then to alQaeda leaders from Pakistan to Syria,” the press release announcing his death stated. “He organized and maintained routes for new recruits to travel from Pakistan to Syria through Turkey in addition to helping al Qaeda’s external operations in the West. Al Nasr previously worked for al Qaeda’s Iran-based facilitation network. In 2012 he took charge of al-Qaeda’s core finances before relocating to Syria in 2013.”

The US military claimed that Nasr “is the fifth senior Khorasan Group leader killed in the last four months.” Among those senior al Qaeda leaders killed by the US in Syria killed is Muhsin al Fadhli, a Kuwaiti who served alongside Nasr in al Qaeda’s so-called “Khorasan Group.”

Jihadists on Twitter first reported Nasr’s death on Oct. 17 and claimed that two other al Qaeda members, Abdul Malik al Jazrawi (a Saudi) and Abu Yasir al Maghrebi (a Moroccan), were killed alongside the strategist. Additionally, the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, posted a picture purportedly showing a car struck by the “Crusader coalition” in Al Dana, a town in northern Syria west of Aleppo. [See Threat Matrix report, Jihadists claim senior al Qaeda strategist killed in Syria.]

Nasr’s death has deprived al Qaeda of an important leader. In addition to serving as a senior strategist, Nasr, a Saudi whose real name is Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, was long known for his active role in promulgating propaganda and messages online.

The Long War Journal first reported in March 2014 that he had risen through al Qaeda’s ranks to become a senior leader and that he had relocated to Syria from the Khorasan, an area that encompasses Afghanistan and Pakistan. As The Long War Journal reported at the time, Nasr, a third cousin of Osama bin Laden, led the “Victory Committee,” which is responsible for developing and implementing al Qaeda’s strategy and policies. Declassified files recovered in bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound show that the al Qaeda master had ordered the creation of a committee to serve that function. [For more information on Nasr’s biography and al Qaeda role, see LWJ report: Head of al Qaeda ‘Victory Committee’ in Syria.]

The US Treasury Department later confirmed Nasr’s relocation to Syria and his role as an al Qaeda strategist in an official terrorist designation. [See LWJ report, Treasury designates 2 ‘key’ al Qaeda financiers.]

In September 2014, the US government said that it had bombed the so-called “Khorasan Group” in Syria. The government’s claims caused widespread confusion, but the “Khorasan Group” is really just an elite cadre of al Qaeda operatives from around the globe. The Long War Journal reported shortly after the airstrikes were launched that Nasr was a leading figure in the “Khorasan Group.” [See LWJ report,Senior al Qaeda strategist part of so-called ‘Khorasan group.’]

Nasr is or was a well-known critic of the Islamic State, al Qaeda’s jihadist rival. In July, for instance, he was one of more than a dozen signatories on a statement vowing to continue to oppose the Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s self-declared “caliphate.” The statement was authored by leading Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham leaders, as well as a handful of other allied jihadists. [See LWJ report, Officials from Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham vow to continue fight against Islamic State.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

Tags: , , , , ,

Obama surrenders the Middle East to Russia, and it matters

20150928_obamaputinmiddleeast_Family Security Matters, by Dr. Robin McFee, Sep. 29, 2015:

Putin asserts it is difficult to defeat ISIS without the current Syrian government. Whether that government is a puppet of Iran and Russia, is currently irrelevant. Putin is correct. Syria could act as a magnet to draw in ISIS fighters, and a kill box within which to defeat them, or at least eliminate a not insignificant number of their fighters.

Putin has doubled down on Syria in recent days. No news there. He has had bases in that beleaguered nation for years. He is in a good position to weaken ISIS in the process – to a far greater degree than the US has been willing to do.

Speaking of which, Obama, not having learned anything from his many foreign policy misadventures in the region, has decided to invest in Syrian “rebels” who somehow have become virtuous patriots – instead of merely another assemblage of Jihadists, former mujahideen, current members of the various Al Qaeda franchises, and to be clear, NOT friends of democracy or freedom fighters. Obama just doesn’t get it. There are no freedom fighters or prodemocracy plays in that region. It is a war of the roses based upon religion, anti-West sensibilities, adherence to Sharia, tribal power skirmishes, and territorial control. The old saw ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is both tired, misrepresentative of the landscape, and a dangerous game for amateurs to play.

Syria is an important place – geographically and geopolitically. Putin knows this. More importantly, Assad is his ally. Putin – spy master, politician, businessman, diplomat, quasi-dictator, martial artist, energy expert, possible assassin, and global force to be reckoned with – recognizes the importance of supporting your allies. We could learn something from him, as we continue to abandon our friends, and give benefits to our enemies. Reputations matter. Consider this….If you had to select a second for a street fight, would you pick Putin or Obama? A sad reality, but who does the world trust more? Not who does the world use more, or misuse more, or abuse more, but trust or fear more.

Like Assad or not, he has created a vortex within which ISIS is being drawn in. Al Qaeda is in play there as well. We ought to think of it as an opportunity to let savages kill each other, and their teams become severely degraded. Instead we are arming, at ridiculous expense, a handful (think meaningless) of jokers to represent our interests over there.

Yes Assad is an unsavory fellow, using chemical weapons. He isn’t alone. And to his credit – even bad guys have their good points – he has protected Christians far more than any other dictator in the region.  Putin is supporting Assad. And?

As an aside, think Christians have had any political patronage in Iraq lately? Or Iran? How are Christians faring in other Moslem nations with few exceptions, like Morocco? A bit closer to home, how are Christians treated in the US? While Obama is yammering about human rights, and taking in refugees from the Middle East (let us not forget much of this mess is his fault), he is about to deport Christian refugees, and has been hesitant to allow Christians under siege in Iraq to enter the US. Double standard anyone?

Like it or not, the world is one big Stratego ® or Risk ® game board. It is winner take all. The good guys can choose to be benevolent victors, and good trade partners, even good neighbors, but at the end of the day it is all about which team controls the natural resources, the transit routes, influences decisions, trade deals, and leads globally with manufacturing and distribution infrastructure that wins the game.

We are losing the game, and badly. This is not to be gloom and doom, but to remind that our future, and that of our children depends upon the economic and security future we create and pass along. The two are inextricably intertwined. One cannot separate the economy, energy, immigration, and security issues. Within that construct, the Middle East matters to our economy and security – unfortunately.

We blew Iraq – which has been and remains an extremely important nation in the history of the Arab and Middle Eastern world. Located in a strategic crossroads, and a former ally we misread (thank you Barack Obama), and abandoned a vital piece of real estate. Not to mention our feckless behavior has emboldened the behaviors of radical Islamists, including ISIS.

As for ISIS or Assad or Libya or…There are no consequences that our enemies face when doing barbaric acts against Americans or our interests. Obama’s laughable lines in the sand, and threats aimed at ISIS, ISIL, Russia, Assad or fill in the blanks, they are as fragile as a sand castle near the ocean during a tropical storm.  And as meaningless!

Could you, would you trust Obama if your life depended on it? Ask Pastor Saeed, who languishes in Iran, when he and 3 other Americans could easily have been ransomed for, say $150 billion dollars?! That is what BHO is giving Iran. Ask the Iraqis who risked their lives to provide intelligence to our military, and are now isolated, hunted, alone. Ask the Christians who are being butchered by ISIS and other Islamists in the region. Where is Obama? Where is the United States? Russia has provided more moral clarity on the issue than we have. Wow, the world is upside down, when that can be said!

The vacuum created when Obama placed politics over patriotism and popularity over leadership by removing our military from Iraq, and then added stupidity to idiocy, by reaching out to Iran to help us fight ISIS (tacitly giving Tehran the political cover to enter, and likely capture much of Iraq), and capped it off with a moronic two year diplomacy play that has been a major financial and political coup for Tehran, and completed the process of colossal foreign policy failures by mishandling Syria, betraying Israel, ignoring Egypt as well as Morocco, the Kurds, and screwing up North Africa, has set the stage for a new sheriff to emerge…Putin.

All small entities need a big brother. Whether it is Israel, or Bahrain, or the Kurds (Putin supports), Libya or Syria or the Falklands, most countries recognize it is a dangerous world with unsavory neighbors. Even the vaunted Israeli military recognizes it cannot control the region alone. It needs an ally. It used to be the United States without question. Now Israel has to play Oliver asking for more soup every time it needs something from Obama’s United States. Putin recognizes this, and has reached out to most of the countries in the Middle East, and starting with North Africa, establishing or reestablishing affiliations and alliances. Consider for a moment how Putin treats Netanyahu and Israel with more concern, and respect than POTUS; a deft, radical departure from prior Russian/Soviet strategy. And Vladimir has, in at least small ways, used his powerful influence to stem some of the attacks from Iran’s proxies.

Make no mistake about it – Iran, Syria, Turkey are all critical to Russia’s energy, security, and geopolitical strategy. Poking the US in the eye in the process is just a bonus for Putin. Israel offers potential for Russia, too. Keep a watch on that.

Obama has surrendered leadership of the Middle East to Russia. Pure and simple!  And we should not blame Putin for that. He is doing what the leader of Russia is supposed to do – look out for the interests of his nation.

Read more