The Life of Adam Gadahn, an American Al Qaeda Spokesman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jewish Politicos Spend Ramadan With Anti-Gay Imam at Al-Qaeda-Linked Mosque

mosque (1)Frontpage, by Joe Kaufman, July 1, 2015:

Ramadan makes for the strangest of bedfellows, but for politicians who are hungry for votes, a radical mosque headed by an anti-homosexual imam is not such a bad place for a photo op. That is just what happened earlier this month, when Florida State Representative Rick Stark and Vice Mayor of Pembroke Pines, Florida Jay Schwartz joined imam Maulana Shafayat Mohamed and others for a Ramadan meal at Darul Uloom, a South Florida mosque where at least five al-Qaeda operatives have passed through.

On June 22, 2015, an iftar (break-the-fast) dinner was held at the Darul Uloom mosque in Pembroke Pines. The event was sponsored by Emerge USA, a group that attempts to dupe politicians into attending its functions by seducing them with a “Muslim vote.” In reality, though, regardless of the group’s patriotic-sounding name, Emerge is nothing more than a front for anti-American and anti-Israel Islamists.

A founder and co-chair of Emerge, Khurrum Wahid, is a South Florida attorney who has become known for representing various high profile terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda. Wahid previously served as a legal advisor for the national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR has been linked to Hamas leadership and has been cited by the U.S. government for its involvement with Hamas financing. CAIR was also recently named to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) list of international terrorist organizations.

Co-founder and trustee of Emerge, Saif Ishoof, is a former organizer and contact for the extreme anti-Israel group, March for Justice. While with March for Justice, Ishoof organized an event at the University of Miami, in October 2002, which labeled then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “the world’s longest standing terrorist” and Israel an “illegitimate state.” Ishoof said he was “outraged” that his former university would host then-senior advisor to Sharon, Raanan Gissin, referring to Gissin as “a mouthpiece of state sponsored terrorism.”

Acting on its sinister mission, Emerge invited a number of local politicians to speak at at an event hosted by the Darul Uloom mosque, an Islamic center with ties to terrorist-related and viciously anti-Semitic individuals. The group had takers, including at least two with Jewish backgrounds.

One of the politicians was Florida State Representative Rick Stark. Another was Vice Mayor of Pembroke Pines Jay Schwartz. And yet another was Judicial Candidate Andrea Gunderson, who in a woeful act of self-debasement, wrapped her head in a big purple scarf to emulate a Muslim woman’s hijab (head covering). Each addressed the crowd in front of a large Emerge USA backdrop.

Read more

Birthday for A Caliphate

Reuters

Reuters

Breitbart, by Dr. Sebastian Gorka, June 29, 2015:

After Friday’s deadly jihadist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, Prime Mister David Cameron has stated that ISIS is an existential threat to the West. Today’s anniversary of the re-establishment of the Caliphate give us good cause to assess the threat to America in this, the first part of a two part piece by Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

One year ago, a man unknown to most of the world achieved a feat that has eluded Islamic extremists for the previous 90 years.

On June 29, 2015 Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, after almost a century of absence, formally reestablished the theocratic empire of Islam in a sermon from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in Mosul. In the last year, his terror group, ISIS, which today we should call by its new name of the Islamic State, has grown to become the most dangerous insurgency of the modern era.

On September 10th, 2001 it would have been impossible to imagine that humans would soon be crucifying each other again, or that there would be an anti-American terrorist group able to capture and hold territory in multiple nations of the Middle East without Washington or her allies and partners being able to stunt its growth. We are now living in such a world. A world where innocent prisoners are burnt or drowned alive, or unbelievably decapitated with the use of detonating cord. A world in which hundreds of thousands have been killed in a civil war in Syria and an insurgency in Iraq, both together driving millions of survivors into refugees camps or into the hands of human traffickers.

The Islamic State that is at the center of this tragedy is a unique threat for four reasons:

  • Firstly, it is the richest group of its kind in modern history. No other sub-state actor has the resources available to IS. Since capturing city after city in Iraq it has netted close to a billion dollars from state coffers, augmenting this stupendous sum with illicit oil salesransoms, and the sale of plundered antiquities. This income will allow IS to continue operations for years to come, and not just in Iraq and Syria. (Note: according to the official 9/11 commission report, that stupendous attack only cost Al Qaeda $500,000).
  • Second, it is the first ever transnational insurgency. In the modern era of guerrilla warfare, the insurgent force was defined by its desire to defeat an incumbent government and replace it. This was true of Mao Tse Tung in China, or the FARC of Colombia, and all the other insurgencies of the 20th century. The Islamic State is an international insurgency recruiting as it does from Muslim communities all around the world and enjoying the sponsorship of more than one foreign government. However, it is also a transnational insurgency. Not only does it hold territory in both Iraq and Syria, with the intent of displacing both the Assad government and the government in Baghdad, it has the goal of destroying all regimes that it deems to be un-Islamic. The fact that Nigeria’s Boko Haram was recently accepted into IS and subsequently changed its name to The West Africa Province of the Islamic State means that Abu Bakr is now technically the Caliph or emperor of not only all IS land in the Middle East, but also former Boko Haram territory in Africa.
  • Third, in its ability to recruit jihadi fighters, the Islamic State has out surpassed Al Qaeda in every measure. Exact figures are impossible, but the best estimates are that, in the space of less than a year, the Islamic State has drawn 20,000 foreign fighters from around the globe, including Western Europe, Australia and North America. Al Qaeda, the original jihadi group responsible for the 9/11 attacks, did manage to attract foreign recruits, but never in the tens of thousands.
  • Lastly, and most problematically for any hope we may have for defeating IS, the Islamic State has built a global Social Media-based propaganda platform that is very sophisticated and effective and that the nations its wishes to destroy – America included – have been impotent to combat.

Alone, these four attributes would make any irregular threat like IS/ISIS a formidable enemy. Where it is located makes it a strategically deadly one.

Just like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has a very deep eschatology. The Sunna, or traditions of Islam, go into great detail about how the world will end and how all humans will be finally judged on the final day by Allah. Before that end comes, the religion is explicit that there will be a great final holy war, or Jihad, in the land of Al Shaam, the Arabic word for Greater Syria and the Levant, or the territory in which Abu Bakr has successfully established his new Caliphate. In fact, between its origins as Al Qaeda in Iraq and its current name of the Islamic State, the group specifically referred to itself as The Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham. As a result, Abu Bakr, the leader of the new Caliphate, has the eschatology of a faith followed by over 1 billion Muslims on his side. He knows that, by being successful on the ground that all Muslims know is the site of the last holy war before judgement day, he can rely on a steady stream of recruits for as long as there is no opposing ground force set against him in Al Sham.

Plainly put, in the last 12 months since he declared the new Caliphate, Abu Bakr has achieved more than Al Qaeda did in the preceding 13 years. Also, instead of being the “JV team” to Ayman al Zawahiri’s professional team, it is America that has presented itself as the amateur foe.

After Abu Bakr and his Al Qaeda in Iraq franchise was kicked out of the original terror group by Zawahiri for disobeying his orders, he took his small terrorist force in Syria from Iraq and used the civil war there to train and expand his force. As the bloodshed mounted both there and in an Iraq increasingly divided by the corruption and brutality of the Maliki regime, hundreds of thousands of local residents fell victim to the depredations of the competing fighting forces. Yet America decided not to respond. Having pulled our forces out of Iraq in 2011, we were unready and unable to respond to the growing threat. At the same time, President Obama made repeated statements about “red lines” that President Assad was not to cross. The lines were crossed but without triggering a US response. Not until thousands of Yazidis were hounded by ISIS up to the top of Mount Sinjar did the President decide to act by deploying air assets to target ISIS units on the ground.

The delay in an American response has cost America’s reputation in the Gulf dearly, perhaps more dearly than anything done by the administration of George W. Bush. As it was recently explained to me by a very senior U.S. General with responsibilities in the region: “Our Sunni allies just don’t trust us anymore. The region already runs on conspiracy theories, but after the Sunni see more than 200,000 of their people murdered in the last three years and we do nothing until a minority sect is attacked, they draw the conclusion that we are on the side of the mullahs and the Shia revival.”

If one agrees with the summary by Prime Minister Netanyahu that the violence on the Middle East and North Africa cannot be understood unless seen as “a game of thrones” for the crown of the caliphate between the Shia and Sunni extremists, then it is obvious that giving the impression that we have already chosen sides will only feed the flames of war. Especially when this impression is apparently confirmed by every additional concession made by the White House to Tehran in the hopes of closing a nuclear deal with the Revolutionary Republic.

Nor can these threats any longer be relegated to events happening far away. As the targeting of Pamela Geller’s free speech event in Garland, Texas by two armed jihadis demonstrates, those who wish to impose a puritanical and violent version of Islam upon America and her citizens are already here. And Garland is not a one-off. The FBI has confirmed that the Bureau already has ongoing IS-related investigations underway in every state of the Republic. Recently, the first IS recruiter was arrested in New Jersey. And in preparation for this article I had a research assistant simply collect all open-source reports of IS arrests and plots uncovered in the US in the last 24 months. We found 56!

When will America take the threat of a hyper-violent organization with tens of thousands of adherents who wish to destroy America seriously? When did we take Al Qaeda seriously? On September 12th, 2001. At the moment, short of a mass-casualty attack occurring on US soil in a way that links the perpetrators directly to the Islamic State, it seems highly unlikely that the Obama administration will truly take the fight to IS. Of the 400+ troops the White House has decided to deploy to Iraq to help train the trainers, less than 150 will in fact work on that mission, with the rest providing security to the trainers. The Islamic State has more than 30,000 active jihadis, more than half of whom were recruited from abroad. And the most powerful nation in the world can only spare an extra 150 trainers? As another senior officer recently commented in front of a meeting of US generals: “Every day that ISIS still exists and the most powerful nation in the world does nothing, we can chalk another propaganda victory up to the jihadis.”

Consequently, it seems unavoidable that IS will continue to grow and spread its barbarity until a new Commander-in-Chief is sworn in. The good news is that in an election campaign that is already underway and which almost each day sees the cornucopia of at least the Republic candidates increase, national security is at last back on the front burner, or rather both front burners. As a result we may have a chance after November 2016 to engage our newest enemy in the way the jihadists deserve.

The details of a possible strategy that could be used to measure the candidates will follow in Part Two.

Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. You can see his briefing from the Global Counterterrorism Summit on Why ISIS is Much More Dangerous than Al Qaeda here and follow him on Twitter at: @SebGorka.

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

terror-threat_58536

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

***

And don’t forget the threat of Al Qaeda:

ISIS Declares Governorate in Russia’s North Caucasus Region

ISW mapISW, by Harleen Gambhir, Jun 23, 2015:

ISW assessed in early June 2015 that one of ISIS’s most likely courses of action during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan would be to declare a governorate in Russia’s North Caucasus. ISIS indeed announced the creation of a new governorate, called Wilayat Qawqaz (Caucasus) in the region on June 23, 2015, after several senior militants in the area pledged allegiance to ISIS. The announcement pits ISIS against the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, an official al-Qaeda affiliate that has operated in the mountainous region of southwestern Russia since 2007. ISIS has been setting conditions to establish this governorate in support of its regional expansion campaign since at least January 2015. ISIS’s statements and actions over the next few weeks will indicate whether the organization intends to launch operations through its new Caucasus affiliate, or whether it simply intends to use the pledge as an opportunity to assert its global vitality and reach.

ISIS’s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani declared the creation of a new wilayat, or governorate, in the North Caucasus region of Russia on June 23, 2015. Al-Adnani named “Abu Mohammad al-Qadari” the leader of the group, and congratulated “the soldiers of the Islamic State” in the Caucasus. Adnani’s statement followed the circulation of a Russian-language audio statement on Twitter on June 21, in which supporters of ISIS in the regions of “Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and KBK (Kabarda, Balkaria and Karachay)” pledged allegiance to ISIS’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. These areas represent four of the six subdivisions that constitute the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus (IEC) militant group. Militants in these four most frequently conducted domestic attacks in support of the IEC’s stated goals of establishing a Caucasus emirate under sharia law and waging global jihad. The two IEC subdivisions where supporters have not formally pledged to ISIS are Cherkessia and Nogay steppe, which have claimed few attacks since the IEC’s founding.

ISIS’s announcement is especially damaging in light of the IEC’s current leadership vacuum. Russian security forces killed the IEC’s leader, Aliaskhab Kebekov, in April 2015 and it is unclear whether Kebekov’s rumored successor, Magomed Suleymanov, retains popular support within the Caucasus. ISIS’s declaration may catalyze the disintegration of the IEC, giving ISIS new opportunities to launch operations in the region.

Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If they did that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Department: Terror Attacks Increased 35% Between 2013 and 2014

French riot police officers run past a burning truck in Paris suburb, Aulnay-sous-Bois, early Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005. Britain's struggle to contain Muslim extremism points up a chilling trend across Europe: the rise of radical Islam, and with it, a willingness among a small but dangerous minority of young people to answer the call to jihad. From the squalid suburbs north of Paris to the gritty streets of Sarajevo, young disaffected Muslims are increasingly receptive to hard-liners looking to recruit foot soldiers for holy war, European counterterrorism officials and religious leaders warn. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

French riot police officers run past a burning truck in Paris suburb, Aulnay-sous-Bois, early Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005. Britain’s struggle to contain Muslim extremism points up a chilling trend across Europe: the rise of radical Islam, and with it, a willingness among a small but dangerous minority of young people to answer the call to jihad. From the squalid suburbs north of Paris to the gritty streets of Sarajevo, young disaffected Muslims are increasingly receptive to hard-liners looking to recruit foot soldiers for holy war, European counterterrorism officials and religious leaders warn. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Washington Free Beacon, by Blake Seitz, June 19, 2015:

The Associated Press reported Friday that terror attacks have increased 35 percent between 2013 and 2014. Deaths due to terrorist attacks have spiked by 81 percent.

The news comes from the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism, which will be officially released later on Friday.

Terror attacks in 2014 were “exceptionally lethal,” with 20 attacks claiming more than 100 victims.

The AP reports that “increased terror activity has been observed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria,” with the highest number of attacks occurring in Iraq, where the Islamic State has capitalized on the power vacuum created by U.S. withdrawal in 2011.

CNN reports that the publication singles out Islamic State and Boko Haram as terrorist groups gaining momentum, stealing recruits from traditional terror groups like Al Qaeda.

The report claims that the four-year-old Syrian civil war, which has claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced 40 percent of the country’s population, was a catalyst for terror and unrest elsewhere in the Middle East.

According to the report, more than 16,000 foreign fighters entered Syria in 2014, most of whom went to fight for IS.

The report claims that this number “exceeded the rate of foreign fighters who traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any point in the last 20 years.”

The Islamic State’s strength is a matter of much debate, but some analysts estimate the group has more than 50,000 fighters—enough to replace battlefield casualties it has sustained from intense fighting in Syria and Iraq.

While much of the increased terrorist activity has occurred in the disorderly Middle East, Americans traveling abroad were not safe from harm. Twenty-four Americans were killed by terror attacks in 2014.

Also see:

New AQAP Leader Named – What to Expect

Wuhayshi Source: Associated Press

Wuhayshi
Source: Associated Press

June 18, 2015 /

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

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

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

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

– DEC 2014 attack targeting the Iranian Ambassador to Yemen.

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

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

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

– Several attempts to target the US Ambassador to Yemen.

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

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

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

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

rimi

Qasim al-Raymi
Source: The ISIS Study Group

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 8.40.42 PM

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

Other Related Articles:

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

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

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

***

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

***

Also see:

The Extreme View that IS and Al Qaeda Can Become Moderate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Strikes Target Top Al Qaeda Leaders

1434377792682.cached

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

***

Joscelyn joke

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

Also see:

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

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

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

PJ Media by Patrick Poole, June 7, 2015:

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

Agence France Presse reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tweets2

tweet1

So what changed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some are happy with this development:

tweet3

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

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

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

How Far Do Iran’s Tentacles of Terror Reach?

A fighter from the Iranian backed Iraqi shiite militia group Asaib Ahl al Haq (The League of the Righteous). (Photo: © Reuters)

A fighter from the Iranian backed Iraqi shiite militia group Asaib Ahl al Haq (The League of the Righteous). (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Elliot Friedland, June 4, 2015:

The Islamic Republic of Iran operates a global network of terrorism, as far away from Iran as South America and the U.S.

It has carried out attacks worldwide on American and Jewish targets. The current defense minister orchestrated the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon which killed 241 American troops.

Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah was also behind the 2012 Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria which killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver, according to an inquiry led by the Bulgarian government.

In May 2013, a 500-page report by an Argentine state prosecutor named Alberto Nisman said Iran has an “intelligence and terrorist network” in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Trinidad, Tobago and Suriname and elsewhere.

He had been investigating a terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center in 1984 that killed 84 people. Iran and Hezbollah are believed to be behind the attack.

Nisman was found shot in the head in his apartment in January 2015, hours before he was due to present evidence that the President of Argentina was complicit in covering up Iran’s involvement in the attack.

So far police have been unable to determine if his death was murder or suicide. Many suspect that it was an organized assassination.

Iran has been on the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism since 1984 and has consistently ranked as the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

It supports a plethora of groups of different ideologies and sizes, trying to position itself as a pan-Islamic regional power. Iran has varied support for different groups over the years, depending on which best align with their strategic interests.

Among them are:

·         Al-Qaeda (International: SalafistWahhabi) – Since the early 1990s Iran has allowed members to operate freely in Iran and traffick fighters and materials through Iranian territory.

·         Hezbollah (Lebanon: Shiite-Khomeinist) – founded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and used as a proxy force against Israel and more recently, to shore up the ailing Assad regime in Syria.

·         Hamas (Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood) – Iran sends tens of millions of dollars as well as missiles and other armaments as part of its proxy-war against Israel.

·         The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (West Bank: Secular-Left-wing) – Provided financial and logistical support as part of an effort to strengthen all “Palestinian resistance groups” opposed to Israel.

·         Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood splinter group) – Funded and trained the group since its foundation in 1981, but recently cut them off as the group failed to condemn the Arab League’s invasion of Yemen, where Iran is backing the Shiite Houthi rebels.

Iran also funds networks of Shiite militias in Iraq. Initially created to fight against the Americans during the Iraqi insurgency, some of the more powerful groups include Jaish al-Mahdi (Army of the Messiah or Mahdi Army) and its splinter group Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous), Khitaeb Hezbollah and the Badr Organization.

They carried out attacks against the American forces in Iraq and now fight the Islamic State. They have also massacred Sunni civilians and have been accused of war crimes by rights groups.

An Amnesty International report entitled ‘Absolute Impunity’ details the atrocities perpetrated Iran’s Shiite militias in Iraq.

In some cases, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) directly perpetrates acts of terrorism. Congress has even considered legislation requiring the State Department to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The IRGC is currently on the Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals involved in terrorism. It was added in 2007.

Its support of global terrorism is part of the Islamic Republic’s commitment to jihad, which is enshrined in the constitution. The preamble includes a commitment to “the establishment of a universal holy government and the downfall of all others.”

Unless this commitment changes neither will Iranian support of terror.

Join our campaign to say NO to a nuclear Iran. Join us on the right side of history.

Uncovered: Bin Laden Concerned About Reformist Muslims

Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro. June 2, 2015:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a list of declassified letters and open-source reading material found inside Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan compound. Among the items were documents that likely include the name of Clarion Project counter-terrorism analyst Ryan Mauro and other files indicating that the Al-Qaeda chief was concerned about modernist Muslim reformers.

Three of the 10 miscellaneous documents that were retrieved are from the 2007 Intelligence Summit held in St. Petersburg, Florida, specifically the conference advertising, exhibitor prospectus and participants map. As one of the featured speakers, Mauro’s name and biography would be in the material. The event was billed as the most prestigious intelligence conference in the country.

It is unclear why the event caught Bin Laden’s attention but it was likely the section of the event called the Secular Islam Summit, which featured anti-Islamist Muslims and former Muslims calling for a reformation in Islam in accordance with secular-democracy and modern human rights. The Summit unveiled the St. Petersburg Declaration rejecting Sharia governance and Islamism.

Muslim speakers at the event included Iranian activist Manda Zand Ervin who is featured in our film, Honor Diaries; Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a former associate of current Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri;  Tashbih Sayyed, editor-in-chief of Pakistan Today and The Muslim World Today; Hasan Mahmud of the Free Muslims Coalition, Jordanian writer Shaker al-Nabulsi and Iraqi politician Mithal al-Alusi.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and designated terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates, attacked the Secular Islam Summit.

CAIR board chairman Parvez Ahmed claimed it had no legitimacy and inaccurately characterized its speakers as entirely former Muslims and foes of Islam. CAIR criticized the event for drawing a connection between Islamic teachings and terrorism and accused it of promoting Islamophobia.

Genieve Abdo, a keynote speaker at a CAIR fundraiser, took CAIR’s stance in the Washington Post. She applauded CAIR for having “denounced any notion of a Reformation as another attempt by the West to impose its history and philosophy on the Islamic world.”

Abdo argued that CAIR is more representative of Muslims and so the Secular Islam Summit should be dismissed. She also cited another curious figure as a preferable source over the Summit’s: The radical imam of New York-based Masjid at-Taqwa, Siraj Wahhaj.

Abdo portrayed Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood as the future of Islam. She advised the West to accept that its “hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western.”

“The political future of the Arab world is likely to consist of Islamic parties that are far less tolerant of what has historically been the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the region and that domestically are far more committed to implementing sharia law in varying degrees,” Abdo wrote.

Bin Laden’s bookshelf also included a RAND Corporation study titled Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies by Cheryl Benard. It concluded that U.S. should support Muslim modernists first; support Muslim traditionalists against the fundamentalists; confront and oppose fundamentalists and selectively support secularists.

Bin Laden either requested these materials about Muslim movements against Islamism or his closest aides felt they would peak his interest. At the very least, he was not dismissive of their significance otherwise they would not have invested time to retrieve and presumably review them.

If the highest echelons of Al-Qaeda viewed anti-Islamist Muslim activists as worth paying attention to, then so should we.

****

Here are the videos of the conference: (Playlist)

Secular Islam Summit – Press Conference PT1

Secular Islam Summit – Press Conference PT2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 1 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 1 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt3

Secular Islam Summit Panel 3 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 3 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 3

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT1

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT2

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT3

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

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

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

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

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

Their newest warning posted online vows to target:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Das contributed to mukto-mona.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Terrorist Fighters Pose Domestic Risk, Finance Jihad

ftfCSP, by Olivia McCoy, May 27, 2015:

Relatives of a Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) reportedly transferred up to $15.47 million USD to finance the Islamic State. Australian national, Khaled Sharrouf traveled to Syria to fight on behalf of the Islamic State. According to a report by the United Nations Security Council, the sister and brother-in-law of Khaled Sharrouf owned a money transfer business. This business was used to send money to countries surrounding Syria. The report is unclear which countries were sent the money and whose money was being transferred.

The Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, says that there will be a no tolerance policy for jihadists trying to return to Australia or individuals financing the Islamic State.

However, this isn’t the first case of the Islamic State being financed by private donors. The Islamic State generates a portion of its funding from private donors in the Gulf. These private donors, stemming from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, have provided funds to pay for the salaries of over 100,000 Islamic State jihadists.

The UN estimates that there are over 25,000 FTFs that have joined al-Qaeda-linked terror organizations, principally the Islamic State. Roughly 22,00 of those FTF’s are operating out of Syria or Iraq. FTFs themselves can be a source of financing for terror groups. Often times FTFs travel to Syria on behalf of Islamic State, bringing all of their money with them and donating it to the Caliphate upon arrival.

According to the UN Report, dated May 19th, 2015, in the past three years the numbers of FTFs have drastically risen. Since the middle of 2014 to March of 2015 there was a 71 percent increase in foreign fighters. This year alone, there have been 40 individuals in the U.S. involved in international related-terror cases.

In March of 2015, Keonna Thomas of Philadelphia was arrested because of plans to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State and provide financial and material aid. She had been in contact with an Islamic State fighter in Syria who recruited her. The FBI arrested her just days before she was scheduled to depart.

FTFs are a major threat because in addition to helping further the terror group’s agenda abroad they also pose a risk domestically. Prior to departing for the Middle East to join the Islamic State, individuals are often in contact with representatives or handlers that they would meet prior to joining. This is hazardous because the handlers may instead tell FTFs to stay in their domestic countries and provide instructions on waging jihad domestically. The leader of the Islamic State himself called for domestic action in a speech released on May 14th:

“And we call upon every Muslim in every place to perform hijrah to the Islamic State or fight in his land wherever that may be.”

Countries with direct flights to locations such as Turkey should strengthen security checks against individuals coming through customs, as should countries that serve as  transit points, such as Spain and Morocco. Stopping FTFs is important because it not only prevents the Islamic State’s force from growing but also cuts off a key source of funding.

Also see: