Jihadi John Identified as Mohammed Emwazi

February 26, 2015 / /

Mohammed Emwazi was born in Kuwait in 1988 and moved to the UK in 1994. He was raised in a middle class family in Queens Park, London, UK. He is also graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming in 2009. Emwazi’s family was at least considered lower middle class and some reporting states upper middle class. This puts him a far cry from the underprivileged stereotype that US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf calls underprivileged without opportunity individual.

Jihadi John aloneMohammed Emwazi AKA: Jihad John

Source: ISIS Study Group

Emwazi already had terrorist associations dating back to at least 2005 as a small group of people he was associated with had links to individuals that were linked to personalities involved in the attempted 21 July 2005 subway bombings in London. He became noticed after his association with Bilal el-Berjawi became known. Bilal el-Berjawi was already a known terrorism personality associated with Al Shabaab in UK circles before his death in a US drone strike in Somalia. Emwazi himself attempted to travel to Tanzania and is believed to have been attempting to join or train with Somalia based Al Shabaab.

Mohammed Emwazi also has an alias Muhammad ibn Muazzam which he was identified under in 2010 by the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html). This is also something that is associated with terrorist activity and he had done this while traveling to Tanzania in August 2009. The infamous Jihad John has numerous connections to terrorist personalities in Al Shabaab or sympathizers in the UK.

An associate of Emwazi trained with Al Shabaab in 2007 and was under the program TPIMS (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures). Ibrahim Magag was a known financier and forged passports. TPIMS is a program that involves restrictions including overnight residence at a specified address, GPS tracking, reporting requirements, restrictions on travel, movement and association, communication, finance, work and study. Magag was able to escape by taking a taxi. His whereabouts are unknown and is possible and likely he left the country. His ability to forge passports definitely could have assisted in the ability exit the country.

Police Launch Manhunt for ‘Terror Suspect’ Who Went Missing on Boxing Day…While Under Close Surveillance

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255394/Ibrahim-Magag-Police-launch-manhunt-terror-suspect-went-missing-Boxing-Day–close-surveillance.html

Ibrahim Magag, 28, absconded from a terrorism prevention and investigation measure noticeIbrahim Magag

Source: The Guardian

Two more associates were of high enough value to have been targets in US drone strikes in Somalia. Bilal el-Berjawi and Mohamed Sakr were also associated with Mohammed Emwazi while he lived in the UK. Bilal el-Berjawi was a senior Al Qaeda operative in the Somalia region and fought with AL Shabaab. He had traveled between terrorist organizations in Africa and the UK at least five times before having his citizenship revoked in 2010. He and Sakr had traveled to Kenya in 2009, but were sent back to the UK under investigation and then Sakr fled the UK in October 2009.

Terrorist Who Radicalized ISIS Executioner Jihadi John Passed Freely Between UK and African Terror Hot Spots for Three Years

http://www.capitalbay.com/news/733232-terrorist-who-radicalised-isis-executioner-jihadi-john-passed-freely-between-uk-and-african-terror-hot-spots-for-three-years.html

261E8D3C00000578-2970392-Bilal_al_Berjawi_Capitalbay

Bilal el-Berjawi

Source: Capital Bay

Bilal was associated with a key figure in the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Bilal was a recruiter and trainer for Al Shabaab and likely a commander at the time of his death in January 2012 in the vicinity of Mogadishu. Mohamed Sakr was killed by another drone strike in Somalia in February 2012.

British Al Qaeda Member Killed in US Drone Attack in Somalia

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jan/22/british-al-qaida-suspect-drone-somalia

Mohamed Sakr-thebureauinvestigatesMohamed Sakr

Source: The Bureau Investigates

Emwazi’s computer programming skills are also something that sets him apart from the unskilled, uneducated individual Ms Harf talked about. His technical skills are likely involved in the production of the horrid execution videos that he stars in. He is more than the “star” of these gruesome productions, he likely is acting in a directorial capacity as well as editing the final production. There is a strong possibility that he is directly associated with Ahmed Abousamra that is a key figure in the Al Hayat Media Center. Jihad John is more like a public spokesperson than he is anything else. That is why he appears in the videos so frequently or does voice overs for them.

There is a high probability that if Jihad John is located that key figures within Al Hayat Media Center may be in close proximity such as Ahmed Abousamra making Jihad John an even higher value target. Abousamra is a central figure in the social media and propaganda machine of the Islamic State and they likely collaborate in some fashion on the productions.

The Man Behind the ISIS Media Curtain Ahmad Abousamra

The Coalition Forces should stop being concerned with bringing him to justice through a court system and should be more concerned with his direct elimination. He has been located on more than one instance by an armed unmanned aerial vehicle which could have launched a hellfire missile to kill the terrorist spokesperson. Mohammed Emwazi is not a criminal he is a terrorist combatant regardless if he takes part in actual fighting. It is highly doubtful he takes place in any actual combat as their other spokesman Abu Mousa who was killed in combat at Taqba Air Base in Syria.

Taqba Air Base and The Death of Abu Mousa

The Islamic State isn’t likely to take the chance of losing their posterchild for recruiting and propaganda in combat action as they lost Abu Mousa shortly after his remarks about flying the flag of the Islamic State over the White House. He died like a week later. Jihad John may play tough guy on the screen but he is likely not such a tough guy off the screen.

He was earlier identified as former British Rapper Abdel-Majed Bary shortly after the first execution video came out of American journalist James Foley. Several images reportedly showed Bary holding images of him holding a severed head in Raqqa, Syria where the Islamic State had massacred Syrian military personnel and placed 50 of their heads on a fence in town center. There was some speculation that this was not the same person as in the execution videos as Jihad John has a lazy left eye. Sometimes so lazy it looks as if he can’t keep it open.

Connections to Emwazi before his move to Syria in 2012 were to Al Shabaab figures and likely the organization itself prior to the harassment he was supposed to have endured on his trip to Tanzania. The connections to Abousamra and Islamic State came in 2012 after he joined the terror organization in 2012. As we have pointed out in previous articles the Islamic State makes assessments of recruits based on not only their potential fighting skills, but also their technical skills. Emwazi’s computer technical skills likely scored him a non fighting position within the organization and has made him a death cult start within its ranks and to potential new recruits. A spokesman for CAGE had tried stating that Emwazi was driven to radicalization due to harassment by MI5, but as we have shown his ties to known terrorist personalities date back to as early as 2005, but he came up on the radar in 2009.

Jihad John Connections

Mohammed Emwazi connections

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Foley Executioner Identified as abdel-Majed Abdel Bary

Links to Related Articles:

British Muslims on Safari Stopped by MI5

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html

ISIS Militant ‘Jihadi John’ Identified, US Officials Say

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/middleeast/isis-jihadi-john-identity/index.html

al Shabaab Calls for Attacks in the West

Published on Feb 22, 2015 by EnGlobal News World

Group behind Somali mall attack calls to target the West. Reaction from former FBI special agent Tim Clemente

 

Watch the new Al Shabaab video at Jihaology.net: “The Westgate Siege – Retributive Justice”

 

CSP, by Phil Kittock, Feb. 23, 2015:

One day after a double-bombing in Mogadishu, al-Shabaab released a video calling for attacks on malls in the West including the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The video addressed the deadly 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Kenya which killed over 60 people and lasted four days. At the end of the video, a masked figure asks:

“If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world?”

He goes on to name several western malls, before encouraging viewers to “hurry up, hasten towards heaven and do not hesitate.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has said that US intelligence has not yet identified a credible threat, but urged shoppers to exercise caution in light of the video. The Mall of America has implemented heightened security, according to their statement. However, the lack of a credible, organized threat does not preclude the possibility of a “lone wolf” attack on any of the aforementioned sites or others throughout the West. A lone gunman or small group could wreak havoc in a soft target such as a major shopping mall before being taken down by law enforcement personnel. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has the largest Somali population in the US, and has been a recruiting ground for al-Shabaab in the past. However, US officials currently do not believe that extremists within the country are likely to respond to this video with an attack.

This threatening video serves as evidence that al-Shabaab will continue to pursue both local objectives in Somalia as well as global jihad against the West. The group emerged as a militia aligned with the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Mogadishu in 2006 and splintered off as an independent organization after Ethiopian forces dismantled the ICU. Under former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, al-Shabaab announced its formal relationship with al-Qaeda. Despite this shift towards a balance of international and national interests, most of al-Shabaab’s attacks have come in East Africa- particularly in countries involved in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which has collaborated with Somali forces to drive al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu and the key port of Kismayo. Godane was killed in September of 2014 but it appears that his successor, Ahmed Umar, is continuing al-Shabaab’s dual mission.

The death toll from al-Shabaab’s latest major attack has reached 25, with around 40 wounded. Two bombers struck a Mogadishu hotel on February 20th – one using a vehicle to deliver explosives to the front gate and another who detonated their device inside. An al-Shabaab spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack which killed the deputy mayor of Mogadishu and two lawmakers.

*****

American Malls Are Threatened by Somalian Terrorists — and the DHS Secretary Is Warning Shoppers of the Danger, The Blaze, by Zach Noble, Feb. 23, 2015:

It’s a chilling, very specific message — and it had Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warning shoppers of the threat.

After Somalia-based terror group al-Shabab released a video calling for attacks on shopping malls throughout the U.S., U.K. and Canada, Johnson took to CNN Sunday morning to advise caution.

“If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson told CNN’s Gloria Borger. ”There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it’s the environment we’re in, frankly.”

The Minnesota Mall of America was one of the malls listed by name in al-Shabab’s Saturday video, and has promised to boost security measures.

As CNN noted, al-Shabab could have special pull in Minneapolis due to the city being home to America’s largest Somali population.

The call to shopping mall violence harkens back to al-Shabab’s 2013 terror attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya — an attack in which several Americans were reported to have participated.

In 2013, For the Record reported that terror group al-Shabab could be planning an attack on The Mall of America:

 

****

Al Shabaab Threatens Mall Attacks in the US, Canada and UK, by Jerry Gordon, at NER:

In NER articles in 2009 and 2013 we drew attention to the possible US Mall attack scenarios.  After the devastating 2013 Westlake Mall episode, we wrote:

Could a Nairobi type Swarming attack happen in the US?

Because there were allegations that there may have been émigré Somali Americans in the Westgate Mall attack, that raises serious questions from counterterrorism agencies in the US whether returning Jihadis could undertake a Nairobi type swarming attack on a mall here. In May 2013, two returning Al Shabaab US recruits were convicted in a Minneapolis Federal court and given lengthy sentences on charges including in one case, conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure.

A CNN report endeavoring to answer this “what if” question chronicled a series of actions at American Malls, some of which have been thwarted, but others have not. It noted these:

In the past few years, federal prosecutors say they have thwarted two planned attacks on malls, each of which would have been carried out by single attacker:

–Nuradin M. Abdi, a Somali citizen living in Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced in 2007 to 10 years in prison after admitting he sought terrorist training in Ethiopia to carry out attacks, including a never-attempted attack on a mall in 2002.
–Derrick Shareef of Rockford, Illinois, was sentenced in 2008 to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to plotting to set off grenades at a Rockford shopping mall. Shareef was a convert to Islam who was recorded saying he wanted to kill “infidels.”

But attacks which have succeeded in causing casualties at American malls in recent years have been carried out by young lone gunmen with no apparent cause to promote:

–A 19-year-old man killed eight people and then himself at an Omaha, Nebraska, mall in December 2007.
–An 18-year-old man killed five people before he was killed by police at a mall in Salt Lake City, Utah, in February 2007.
–A 22-year-old man killed two people and then himself at a mall near Portland, Oregon, in December 2012.

“Soft targets always attract the terrorists because they’re usually not defended,” said Lt. Col. Rick Francona, CNN’s military analyst. “It’s a very effective way of causing a lot of panic, a lot of damage very quickly and achieving the objective of terrorizing people.”

One possible target could be the giant Mall of America (MoA) complex in Bloomington, Minnesota. It lies within easy reach of the largest Somali émigré community in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul with more than two dozen Al Shabaab recruits, 10 of whom have been killed.

The CNN article noted what precautions the MoA has taken against this possibility:

“I think that if you’re looking for a hundred percent safety, you should probably wrap yourself in bubble wrap and never leave home,” said Doug Reynolds, security director of the Mall of America.

A strategy to minimize the damage a lone attacker or an armed group could do before authorities arrive can be seen twice a month at the giant mall in Bloomington, Minnesota, which is visited by 43 million people a year.

A voice comes over the public address system and announces that everyone, customers included, should take shelter in back rooms of the mall’s stores. Employees lock doors and lower security gates.

“If something bad should happen here, we don’t want our response to start with law enforcement will be here and will protect you,” Reynolds said. “We want to know what can be done before law enforcement gets here.”]

The Al Shabaab Nairobi type swarming attack is eerily reminiscent of the Black Friday swarming attack scenario we discussed in our June 2009 article, Foot Soldiers of Islam involving returning Al Shabaab US recruits engaged in an action not unlike the Nairobi Mall attack.  We noted:

We saw in the tragedy in Mumbai, India, [on November 29, 2008], the devastation, death and destruction wrought by a ‘swarming attack’ of a limited number of Kashmiri and Pakistani extremists. Counter terrorism experts and the FBI consider such swarming attacks as a high risk in America.

[ . . .]

The casualties from such orchestrated swarming attacks could be devastating and the economic impacts, significant. Currently, we don’t have local counter terrorism forces trained in weapons and tactics to combat Mumbai-type swarming attacks in high risk communities in this country.  We need to make that an important counter terrorism priority, including penetration of such local Jihadi networks.

****

At Clarion Project, Ryan Mauro analyzes the new al Shabaab video in terms of the group’s desire to compete with the Islamic State, their desire to attack within the United States and ability to do so:

Al Shabaab calls for attack on Mall of America in new video

Published on Feb 22, 2015 by EnGlobal News World

Fox News, Feb. 22, 2015:

A new video from Al Shabaab purportedly shows the terror group calling for an attack on Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn.

According to Fox 9, the mall is one of three similar targets the terror group specifically names, including West Edmonton Mall in Canada and the Oxford Street shopping area in London.

The video purportedly shows 6 minutes of graphic images and the terrorists celebrating the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed more than 60 people.

The narrator, his face wrapped in a black-and-white kaffiyeh-type scarf and wearing a camouflage jacket, spoke with a British accent and appeared to be of Somali origin. He accused Kenyan troops in Somalia of committing abuses against Somali Muslims.

He ended the video by calling on Muslim men to attack other shopping malls in Western countries.

An image of the Mall of America is shown in the video, alongside its GPS coordinates. The mall says it is ramping up its security in response.

“We will continue to monitor events with the help of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” Mall of America said in a statement. “As always, we take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. Mall of America has implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be. We will continue to follow the situation, along with law enforcement, and will remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations.”

Jim Kallstrom, the former assistant director of the FBI’s New York office, said the FBI has a “huge job in front of them.

“You look at the Mall of America, you look at all the malls then you start to backtrack and say you know it would be nice if we knew what comes and goes into the country,” Kallstrom told Fox News on Sunday. “We don’t have a clue.”

The Department of Homeland Security and FBI issued a joint statement Sunday saying that both agencies were aware of the video.

“In recent months, the FBI and DHS have worked closely with our state and local public safety counterparts and members of the private sector, to include mall owners and operators, to prevent and mitigate these types of threats,” the statement read.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on NBC’s Meet The Press that “there needs to be an awareness.

“We’re in a new phase now, and I’m afraid that this most recent video release reflects that,” Joshnson said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week.

Al Shabaab, Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, claimed responsibility for a Friday attack on a hotel in Somalia’s capital that killed 25 people and wounded 40, the country’s government said Saturday.

One Islamic extremist rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the gate of the Central Hotel, and another went in and blew himself up, a statement from Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke’s office said.

Government officials were meeting at the Central Hotel at the time, and the statement said Mogadishu’s deputy mayor and two legislators were among the dead. It was unclear whether the government’s report of 25 dead included the two bombers.

Despite the loss of key strongholds in Somalia, Al Shabaab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, continues to stage attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere.

The group, designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department in 2008, has close ties to Al Qaeda through its senior leaders. It has attracted several radical volunteers from Minneapolis and Americans began traveling to Somalia in 2007 to join the group.

Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, condemned the Friday attack and said it would not derail efforts by his government to restore peace to Somalia, which is recovering from decades of war.

This is the second attack on a hotel in Mogadishu in less than a month. On Jan. 22, three Somali nationals were killed when a suicide car bomber blew himself up at the gate of a hotel housing the advance party of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited the country days later.

Al Shabaab controlled much of Mogadishu during the years 2007 to 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia’s capital and other major cities by African Union forces.

In Kenya, the government dismissed the Al Shabaab video.

“They’re using propaganda to legitimize what cannot be legitimized. When you lead a group to go and attack a shopping mall and kill innocent shoppers that cannot be legitimized, those were not soldiers,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said.

“Muslims also died in the Westgate attack. It’s in our interest to ensure Somalia is stabilized because the instability affects us. The video is cheap propaganda trying to re-write history and to get more support from those support them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Also see:

al Qaeda, al Shabaab, and ISIS: Recruiting and Taking Ground

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By Nicholas Hanlon:

The recent interplay between al Shabaab and the African Union military mission in Somalia offers new data on the role of ground troops, the holding of territory, and Islamist recruiting.   After conventional ground forces deprived the al Qaeda linked group of its last stronghold in Baraawe, al Shabaab retaliated with a failed assassination attempt on the Somali president in Baraawe.  To a more tragic effect, they succeeded in killing thirteen innocent civilians in Mogadishu with a car bomb yesterday.  The loss of Baraawe was a big loss for al Shabaab.  They once enjoyed control of two major port cities where they could earn money in exports and bring in weapons and new recruits unchecked.

It is important to keep in mind that as far back as 2007, the FBI was mobilizing to counter al Shabaab’s successful recruiting of Americans among the Somali refugee community.  In 2010, fourteen people were indicted for trying to support al Shabaab.  Individuals among them came from California, Alabama, and Minnesota.  One of the attackers at Westgate Mall in Kenya last year was believed to be from Kansas City, Missouri.

It also helps to keep in mind that al Shabaab was started by lieutenants of Osama Bin Laden.  Now, ISIS internet recruiting strategies are being compared to Al Qaeda’s as next-generation in technical innovation.   Why? The giant terrorist recruiting boon has long since begun.  That fact overshadows the differences between the groups and highlights their overarching unity of purpose.

Harken back to when the pillar of our now president’s foreign policy debate was that Gitmo caused terrorist recruiting.  If only we could close down Gitmo, we could stem terrorist recruiting world wide.  Another re-hashing of counter recruiting strategy also emerges.  Namely, did invading Iraq serve the cause of terrorist recruitment on a grand scale?  Would another boots on the ground campaign amplify recruiting once again in Syria?

Consider the basic elements at work: 1. Globalized social media with a propaganda capability 2. Freedom and ease of individual travel  3. Porous borders and poorly governed territory

Now apply those elements to each case regarding Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and al Shabaab in Somalia.  These categories clearly do not represent the complexity or all of the scenarios involved in the current threat matrix but do serve for an acceptable base line comparison.

In Afghanistan al Qaeda has good propaganda instincts but it is first generation stuff and there is physical distance between terrorist strongholds and a communications infrastructure.  Freedom and ease of individual travel is made difficult by remoteness and lack of transportation infrastructure.  The low level of governance, however, falls in the plus column.

In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is not only the benefactor of al Qaeda and former al Qaeda, they have more travel infrastructure and communications infrastructure.  It is much easier for Americans and Europeans to travel in and out, gain battle experience, and receive training before they return home.  Add to their globalized propaganda capability a free microphone from HBO’s Vice.  Their ability to take territory and govern speaks for itself.  But here is the twist.  Upon return, their media capability extrapolates as it already had been doing among the Somali jihadists.

Al Shabaab in Somalia had success early on with recruiting and importing foreign fighters due to the absence of an opposing force on the ground and control of vital seaports.  The freedom of individual travel beget effective globalized social media even without great communications infrastructure.   The FBI remains deeply concerned about those who have joined the jihad in Somalia carrying out attacks in the U.S. after returning.

What does all of this say to the debate about putting boots on the ground?  Does military intervention not play right in to Islamist strategy?  To be fair, let us quickly paraphrase the Iraq invasion strategy.  The idea was that it is better to fight terrorists with voluntary soldiers on foreign soil than to leave them unchecked and able to mobilize over seas to then launch attacks on U.S. soil.

It may sound simplistic but the ground force operations in Iraq and Afghanistan gave us an intelligence capability and a special forces capability we would have never had otherwise.  Without it, we would have never gotten Bin Laden and a lot of other bad guys.  That capability is no where near what it was since before the Iraq withdrawal.   Further, the U.S. had the un-articulated strategic advantage of new strike capabilities in a theater where we needed more geo-strategic leverage.  That’s gone too.

For the sake of argument, however, let’s say that the Iraq invasion did bring more terrorists out of the woodwork then would have ever otherwise confronted the U.S. unprovoked.   As Sam Harris has recently highlighted, the same ideas animate the overarching actions of all three groups; al Qaeda, al Shabaab, and ISIS.  It is a strategy for global dominance.  In Somalia, early al Shabaab had an ideological enemy, the Siad Barre military regime, long before U.S. foreign policy provided the foil.   His rise had to do with the Soviets whose foreign policy also provided the foil for Bin Laden’s early propaganda successes.

It will  help Islamist propaganda generally when they can use a Western or secular foreign policy or ideology as a foil.  Letting them determine when and where to fight is to concede that jihadists will name the tune that the West will dance to.  As the list of no-good options grows, there is healthy debate and a lot of good reasons why we should not invade  Iraq for a third time.  But a recruiting coup is not one of them.  The factors listed above can account for a robust propaganda and recruiting capability for ISIS, al Shabaab, and al Qaeda.  Further, thanks to social media, the viral effect is in effect.  That ship has sailed and Western leaders are in more dissarray than ever as to what to do about it.

Baraawe reminds us that taking territory away from Islamist terrorist groups can deprive them of money, weapons, and new recruits in the short term.  Iraq teaches us that if we don’t hold the ground taken from Islamist groups, they will take it back.  Neither case address the blood lust or sense of righteousness for their cause in the long run.  Yet their ideas can draw fighters to their banner with or without a U.S. presence on the ground.  A counter ideology capability for the West will not likely emerge in the American political climate.

ISIS Militants Eye Attacks on US Via Mexican Border

Inside a tunnel under the U.S.-Mexican border

Inside a tunnel under the U.S.-Mexican border

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed reports that Islamic State (commonly known as ISIS) social media accounts are talking about infiltrating the U.S. through the Mexican border, but says it has no intelligence about a specific plot.

In late August, it was reported that a warning bulletin had been issued to security personnel near the U.S.-Mexico border about an impending attack by the Islamic State using car bombs. The report stated that the Islamic State had established a presence in Juarez, Mexico, a city near Texas devastated by drug cartels.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reacted by denying the report, with a spokesperson saying, “We are aware of absolutely nothing credible to substantiate this claim.”

However, a Texas Department of Public Safety bulletin dated August 28 was then leaked that stated that the Islamic State’s social media accounts were discussing entering the U.S. through Mexico in order to carry out an attack.

“Social media account holders believed to be ISIS militants and propagandists have called for unspecified border operations, or they have sought to raise awareness that illegal entry through Mexico is a viable option,” it states.

It says that 32 Islamic State accounts on Twitter and Facebook discussed a possible attack via Mexico in a one-week period. One of those is an account operated by an Islamic State supporter in Mosul, Iraq.

Read more at Clarion Project

U.S. Hit on Al-Shabaab Terror Head Called ‘Game-Changer’

Ahmed Abdi Godane, left, leader of Al-Shabaab, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike

Ahmed Abdi Godane, left, leader of Al-Shabaab, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike

By Ryan Mauro:

The Pentagon has confirmed that a U.S. airstrike killed Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia. The affiliate is known for its recruitment of Americans. The group has chosen a new leader and reasserted its allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

Al-Shabaab is best known for the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya, killing 63 people. The group is fighting to turn Somalia into a sharia-based state.

The new leader’s name is Sheikh Ahmad Umar Abu Ubaidah. In a statement, the group pledged to retaliate against the U.S. for the assassination of Godane, who has led the group since 2008 and was one of its founders.

“Avenging the death of our scholars and leader is a binding obligation on our shoulders that we will never relinquish nor forget, no matter how long it takes,” the statement read.

Al-Shabaab said he was chosen unanimously, likely to tamper down speculation that a previous internal rift in the organization would be revived. Last year, an important American member of Al-Shabaab named Omar Hammami (also known as Abu Mansur al-Amriki) was killed by the group after a public falling out.

The U.S. airstrike happened 105 miles south of Mogadishu outside the city of Barawe. The U.S. obtained specific intelligence about an Al-Shabaab meeting he was attending and the convoy he was traveling in. Ten other Al-Shabaab terrorists were killed, including five senior commanders.

Witnesses said U.S. commandos arrived after the airstrike and captured the bodies. After the attack, Al-Shabaab began carrying out mass arrests in search of a spy and reportedly beheaded some people found with cell phones.

Western and Somali officials sound optimistic that the killing of Godane will have a profound impact on Al-Shabaab operations.

The Pentagon described it as a “major symbolic and operational loss.” Abdi Aynte, head of the Mogadishu-based think tank Heritage Institute, explained that Godane centralized control of the group. He said his death “is definitely a game changer for al-Shabaab and probably a turning point for the organization.”

Read more at Clarion Project

Also see:

US targets Shabaab’s leadership in southern Somalia

Al Shabaab soldiers sit outside a building during patrol along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern Mogadishu, March 5, 2012. CREDIT: REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR

Al Shabaab soldiers sit outside a building during patrol along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern Mogadishu, March 5, 2012.
CREDIT: REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR

By

The US military is rumored to have targeted Shabaab emir Ahmed Abdi Godane and other senior leaders of al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia as they met at a training camp south of the capital. The US military confirmed it conducted an operation in Somalia yesterday, but did not detail the nature or outcome of the attack.

“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said yesterday.

Somali officials have said that an airstrike, possibly carried out by the remotely piloted Predators or Reapers, hit a training camp between the villages of Dhay Tubako and Haway along the Shabelle River south of Mogadishu.

The governor of Lower Shabeelle told a Somali-language news site that Godane, who is also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubayr, and Shabaab leaders Muhammad Abu Abdallah, the group’s shadow governor of Lower Shabelle; Muhammad Abu Sham, Godane’s aide; Ali Muhammad Gulled, a logistics officer; Muhammad Husayn Nur (a.k.a. Abu Hamza Al Ayman); Sheikh Muhammad Dulyaden; Iqri Ubayd, a Sudanese operative; and Mubarak Abdallah, a Yemeni, were all present at the camp during the strike.

Shabaab has not released a statement noting the recent death of any senior or mid-level leaders. But the group’s intelligence service, known as the Amniyat, is reported to have rounded up 15 people in the area who are suspected of spying on the group for the US. Shabaab has brutally executed US “spies’ in the past.

US has targeted top Shabaab and al Qaeda leaders in Somalia before

In the past, the US has targeted top Shabaab leaders in drone and conventional airstrikes, as well as special operations raids.

Most recently, on Jan. 26, the US killed Sahal Iskudhuq, a senior Shabaab commander who served as a high-ranking member of the Amniyat, in an airstrike in Barawe, a known stronghold of Shabaab.

The last confirmed US drone strike in Somalia took place on Oct. 29, 2013. The remotely operated US drones killed Anta Anta, also known as Ibrahim Ali Abdi, and two lower-level commanders. Anta Anta was a master bombmaker and suicide operations coordinator for the terror group.

Read more at Long War Journal

ISIS, AL-SHABAAB, AL-QAEDA, MUSLIM RADICALIZATION NETWORKS PROPEL SAN DIEGO TO #4

Douglas-McArthur-McCain-APby MICHELLE MOONS:

Recent discovery of terrorist ISIS fighter Douglas McAuthur McCain’s body in Syria has spurred investigation into the radicalization of Muslims within the United States.

San Diego is fourth on a list of five cities with the most “known or suspected terrorists,” according to recently leaked classified government documents. Following the 9/11 attacks, investigations in San Diego uncovered terrorists and their links to terrorist organizations al Qaeda, al-Shabaab, and ISIS, among others.

Classified government documents obtained by The Intercept include statistics on watch-listed individuals in the U.S. The 2013 document, prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), lists the top five cities with the highest number of known or suspected terrorists (KST) in the U.S. (in order): New York, New York; Dearborn, Michigan; Houston, Texas; San Diego, California, and Chicago, Illinois.

NCTC reports have noted the high level of terrorist activity in Somalia, as terrorist groupal-Shabaab has intermittently controlled various key regions of Somalia. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention document cites Office of Refugee Resettlement statistics that list Minnesota, California, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. as locations where the majority of Somalis have settled in the U.S. Thousands have come to the U.S. as refugees under the banner of fleeing war and persecution in their home country. Current population estimates of Somali-born individuals living in the U.S. range from 35,760 to 150,000.

In fiscal year 2014 so far, October 1-July 20, 290 Somalis either turned themselves in or were caught trying to sneak into the U.S. undetected through official ports of entry, according to a leaked U.S. Customs and Border Protection report obtained by Breitbart Texas. In 2010, KPBS reported on circuitous routes taken by Somalis looking to cross into the U.S. over the southwest border. Those routes would take Somalis through locations including Cuba and Tijuana, Mexico before crossing into the U.S.

In November, 2013, three Somali men in San Diego, cabdriver Basaaly Saeed Moalin, local mosque imam Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, and money transmitter Issa Doreh were sentenced for crimes involving conspiring to or providing material support to the Islamic Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. An FBI press release described jihadi group al-Shabaab as “a violent and brutal militia group that engages in suicide bombings, targets civilians for assassination, and uses improvised explosive devices.”

Somalia has been marked “a desirable haven for transnational terrorists, something al-Qaeda has tried to capitalize on before, and is trying again now,” according to a Council on Foreign relations analysis.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said of the three men sentenced, “Months of intercepted phone conversations included discussion of suicide bombing, assassinations, and jihad,” according to the release. Evidence at trial showed that the defendants “conspired to transfer the funds from San Diego to Somalia through the Shidall Express.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the U.S. Attorney’s office were commended by multiple people involved in the 2013 case for their tireless and effective efforts to dismantle the effort to provide support for terrorists.

A fourth man, San Diego cabdriver Ahmed Nasiri Taalil Mohamud, was also convicted for charges of conspiracy. “Moalin, a taxi driver, reportedly taught weekend classes at the local Somali mosque. Mohamud, an imam, has led prayer services at Masjid Al-Ansar for the past 10 years,” according to a 2010 post on the Anti-Defamation League website. Masjid Al-Ansar is located just over a block from Masjid Nur.

Breitbart recently reported that Masjid Nur is the mosque associated with Douglas McAuthur McCain, an American recently killed fighting for ISIS in Syria. McCain was from Minnesota, but worked and went to college in San Diego.

August 29, Breitbart Texas released a newly leaked document from the Texas Department of Public Safety, warning federal agents of ISIS’s active efforts to exploit weaknesses in the U.S. southwest border. The warning referred to “Outright calls for ISIS to infiltrate the southwestern border through Mexico to stage terrorist attacks.” Though the report focused on Texas, Breitbart Texas confirmed agents received the ISIS terror warning across the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

Read more at Breitbart

Also see:

Radicalization in US: First Americans Killed Fighting for ISIS

Facebook pictures of Abdirahmaan Muhumed (left) and Douglas McAuthur McCain taken before they were radicalized

Facebook pictures of Abdirahmaan Muhumed (left) and Douglas McAuthur McCain taken before they were radicalized

Jihad against the West cannot be attributed to policy disagreements; it is based on a doctrine of perpetual warfare.

By Ryan Mauro:

The U.S. government has confirmed that Douglas McAuthur McCain has become the first American to die fighting alongside the Islamic State. Now, a second American, Abdirahmaan Muhumed, has been killed in Syria. The two died in the same fighting near Aleppo against rival rebel forces.

Muhumed is a Somali-American from Minneapolis, Minnesota. A news outlet confirmed in June that he was in Syria fighting for the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). He said he was “happy” with being called a terrorist.

Muhumed began posting photos of himself with the Islamic State and holding weapons in January. His friends did not see any previous signs of extremism and said he was known as Abdifatah Afweyne. Muhumed told MPR News that the Islamic State is “trying to bring back the khilaffa [caliphate]” and “Allah loves those who fight for his cause.”

Minnesota Somali-American activist Abdirizak Bihi confirms that Islamic State members are reaching out to Somalis in the area. He has blamed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for inhibiting his anti-radicalization work and the subsequent U.S. government investigations into the matter.

“They [the Islamic State] are brainwashing them to marry them off to jihadists,” Bihi said. “They call them to help out as nurses, help out the wounded — but the real catch is they will be sexually exploited,” he explained.

Bihi’s information is reminiscent of the arrest of a Colorado woman, Shannon Maureen Conley, who was intercepted as she planned to go to Syria via Turkey to marry an Islamic State member she met online. Conley planned to live with him, work as a nurse and give military training to the group.

Muhumed’s death comes shortly after the U.S. government said that Douglas McAuthur McCain became the first American member of the Islamic State to die.

Read more at Clarion Project

Also see:

 

 

Al Qaeda in Afghanistan And Pakistan: An enduring threat

By 

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade on al Qaeda’s network in Africa and the threat it poses to the US.

Chairman Poe, Ranking Member Sherman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the enduring threat posed by al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is widely assumed that al Qaeda’s presence in South Asia does not, in fact, pose an enduring threat to American interests. The slaying of top al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, and more than a decade of war and other counterterrorism operations have supposedly hobbled the organization. However, while I have no doubt that al Qaeda has sustained heavy losses, I do not think that bin Laden’s heirs are a spent force. On the contrary, al Qaeda lives.

In the hearing today I am going to build on my previous testimony before this subcommittee last July. During that hearing (“Global Al Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges”), we discussed the structure of al Qaeda and the challenges we face in the future. Today, I wish to emphasize five main points:

1. Al Qaeda is an international network that is comprised of a “general command,” regional branches, as well as various other organizations and personalities.

It may seem odd, but more than a dozen years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there is no commonly accepted definition of al Qaeda. The term “core” al Qaeda is often used, but this concept is a Western invention and imprecisely defined. And the way it is employed does not accurately convey how al Qaeda is structured. When analysts and officials speak of the “core” of al Qaeda, they are generally referring to Ayman al Zawahiri and the lieutenants who surround him in South Asia. Some go even further, arguing that Zawahiri is the only “core” al Qaeda leader left. Such arguments are not based on evidence.

Al Qaeda operates what it calls a “general command,” which consists of the organization’s senior leadership and their lieutenants, several committees, a Shura (advisory) council of the group’s most trusted advisers, as well as a supporting staff that includes, for example, couriers. We regularly see statements issued by al Qaeda’s “general command,” but few stop to ask what al Qaeda means by this. The “general command” performs various administrative functions, in addition to overseeing the organization’s international operations. For instance, al Qaeda’s amniyat is part of the group’s internal security and counterintelligence apparatus. The amniyat in northern Pakistan is notorious for hunting down suspected spies.

 Nasir al Wuhayshi,

Nasir al Wuhayshi,

This cohesive organization is not confined to South Asia. Jihadists who are, by any reasonable definition, “core” al Qaeda members are dispersed throughout the world. For example, Nasir al Wuhayshi, who heads al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is as “core” as they come, having served as Osama bin Laden’s protégé and aide-de-camp. In addition to serving as the emir of AQAP, Wuhayshi is the general manager of al Qaeda, which is a “core” function in al Qaeda’s hierarchy, that is, within the “general command.” The general manager of al Qaeda is given broad powers to oversee the organization’s operations.

The “general command” of al Qaeda has designated several regions for waging jihad, and an emir is appointed to oversee the organization’s efforts in each of these regions. The emir of each region has much latitude in deciding how to organize his group’s day-to-day efforts, but he swears bayat, an oath of allegiance, to al Qaeda’s overall emir (currently Zawahiri). The emirs of each region report to al Qaeda’s senior leadership, including the general manager. What many refer to as al Qaeda’s formal “affiliates” are really branches of al Qaeda that have been assigned to fight in these regions. The formal branches of al Qaeda, each designated its own region, are: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AQAP, the Al Nusrah Front in Syria, and Al Shabaab. All of them have sworn loyalty to Ayman al Zawahiri. In addition to these regions, al Qaeda also maintains facilitation networks in countries such as Iran.

Thus, the brief sketch of al Qaeda I have drawn here is one of a much more cohesive international organization than is often assumed. Like all other human organizations, however, al Qaeda has faced obstacles in trying to hold this network together. For instance, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) was al Qaeda’s branch inside Iraq, but the group’s emir had repeatedly disobeyed orders from the “general command.” This led to ISIS being disowned by the group. ISIS is currently fighting the Al Nusrah Front and its allies in Syria.

In addition to the formal branches of al Qaeda, there are other organizations that are part of al Qaeda’s international network even though they have not publicly sworn bayat to the leadership. Indeed, al Qaeda has often hidden its precise organizational relationship with groups that are being groomed for an alliance. Both the Al Nusrah Front and Al Shabaab, now formal branches of al Qaeda, did not make their operational connections to al Qaeda’s senior leadership known at first. Al Qaeda also employs multiple brands so as to obfuscate the extent of its influence. In Yemen, for instance, AQAP adopted the name “Ansar al Sharia.” This brand name was intended to convey the idea that the group is the true protector and enforcer of sharia law. Other groups calling themselves Ansar al Sharia have been established in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. There are still other groups that have adopted al Qaeda’s ideology, but are probably not operationally connected to the “general command” or al Qaeda’s branches.

I begin with this overview because the enduring threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan extends far outside of the region.

2. Al Qaeda is, at its heart, a clandestine organization, but careful analysis reveals that it has a deep bench of talent from which it draws.

Since its founding in 1988, the organization has attempted to conceal its operations. This has made it difficult to assess some very basic aspects of al Qaeda. The group does not, for instance, publish an organizational chart or make its total roster known. If you watch al Qaeda carefully enough, however, you can see that the group has consistently replaced top leaders lost in the 9/11 wars. In some cases these replacements are not as competent, while in other cases they may even surpass their fallen comrades.

Nasir al Wuhayshi, the aforementioned general manager of al Qaeda, is a seasoned veteran who replaced others in that role after they were killed or captured. Wuhayshi is, by all appearances, an all too competent leader. Still, the American-led counterterrorism effort has certainly disrupted al Qaeda’s international network, delivering severe setbacks in some areas. Al Qaeda’s problems with ISIS stem, to a large degree, from the fact that the U.S. and its allies took out its predecessor organization’s top leadership in 2010. The leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) were loyal to al Qaeda’s “general command” but were replaced with leaders who had not been vetted by al Qaeda’s senior leaders.

Read more at Long War Journal

Recognizing the risks of Somali remittances

Somali HawalaBy  A.D. Kendall:

Last week, Bell State Bank in North Dakota announced that it would stop doing business with companies that remit money to Somalia.  The move follows decisions by Minnesota banks in 2011 to stop providing Somali remittance services, and an attempt by Barclays last year to cut off its partnership with Dahabshiil, a money transfer company with primary operations in Somalia.  The banks have been challenged in courts on both sides of the Atlantic, and advocacy groups have heavily criticized the banks’ decisions on humanitarian grounds.

Indeed, humanitarian considerations are of the utmost importance.  Unfortunately, money transferred to Somalia, particularly through Dahabshiil, all too often falls into the wrong hands and perpetuates the cycle of violence in Somalia.  Banks should stand fast in their original decisions, and here are five reasons why:

1.  The risks are real.  The frequency of cases involving Somalis in the West transferring funds to al-Shabaab over the last few years presents genuine concerns to financial institutions.  For instance, four men in California were found guilty last year of transferring money to al-Shabaab through Shidaal Express, a Somali hawala business.  Two Somali women in Minnesota were sentenced in 2013 for sending money to al-Shabaab through several remittance channels including local hawala dealers and Dahabshiil.  A Saudi-American was also indicted last year for wiring money to al-Shabaab.  In 2012, a man in London admitting transferring £8,900 to fighters in Somalia.  Danish intelligence revealed in 2012 that the equivalent of thousands of dollars a day is sent to terrorist organizations outside of Denmark—mostly to Somalia, and often unwittingly.

Apart from the risks on the ground in Somalia, Western banks have real reasons for concern that if they continue relationships with Dahabshiil, they could subsequently be fined by regulators at a future date if political winds change.  U.S. banks are surely aware, for example, that decisions on whether to fine, settle with, or prosecute banks with lax compliance programs have a great deal to do with the shifting political and prosecutorial priorities of whoever happens to be in charge at the Department of Justice and the financial regulatory agencies.  One official may take a very friendly view toward facilitating Somali remittances this year, but a different person will be calling the shots two years from now.

2. The risks are not decreasing.  Gone are the days of 2012 when al-Shabaab appeared to be on the ropes in 2012 both financially and militarily.  Al-Shabaab was able to turn around its financial situation after the fall of Kismayo by cutting deals with occupying forces.  Al-Shabaab continues to profit from imposing taxes on commodities such as charcoal and sugar, and their role as ivory trade middlemen between poachers and buyers appears to be growing.  Al-Shabaab is still capable of carrying out devastating strikes such as the Westgate Mall attack and the recent assault against Somalia’s presidential palace that left 11 dead.

Read more at The Terror Finance Blog

A.D. Kendall has been blogging about terrorist financing since 2009 at moneyjihad.wordpress.com Follow him on twitter @MoneyJihad

Congress Warned About Evolution of Jihadist Networks

download (73)By Rodrigo Sermeño:

WASHINGTON – Terrorism experts warned Congress last week that Islamist terrorist groups are expanding in complex networks across the Middle East, highlighting the evolving nature of the threat these organizations pose to the region.

Seth Jones, a national security analyst with the RAND Corporation, told the House Armed Services Committee that there has been an increase in the number of Salafi jihadist groups, particularly in North Africa and the Levant. Al-Qaeda is the largest one, and all emphasize the importance of returning to a pure Islam and believe that violent jihad is a religious duty.

He said that while about a half-dozen terrorist groups have sworn allegiance to al Qaeda’s core, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, there now exists various Salafi jihadist groups that have not formally pledged allegiance to the militant group, and yet they share a common goal of establishing an extreme Islamic emirate.

“They are committed to establishing an Islamic emirate, and several of them have plotted attacks against the U.S., against U.S. embassies, against U.S. diplomats, against U.S. targets overseas,” Jones said.

Among these groups are also al-Qaeda-inspired individuals and networks, including the Boston Marathon bombers, who had no direct ties to the terrorist organization but listened to al-Qaeda’s propaganda and used it to plan attacks.

“I think there’s been a tendency among some journalists and pundits to lump all Sunni Islamic groups under the title al-Qaeda, which I think has clouded a proper assessment of the movement,” Jones said.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate hearing recently there are at least five al-Qaeda franchises in 12 countries that “this movement has morphed into.”

According to data compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, more then 6,800 terrorist attacks killed more than 11,000 people in 2012, making it the most active year of terrorism on record.

Bill Braniff, a terrorism analyst at the University of Maryland, said the six most lethal groups in 2012 – the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda in Iraq, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al-Shabaab – were responsible for approximately 5,000 deaths.

He noted that these groups are generally considered affiliates of al-Qaeda, and yet al-Qaeda itself has not been directly responsible for an attack since 2012.

Braniff said that a dozen of the 20 most lethal terrorist organizations and half of the 20 most active organizations had connections to al-Qaeda in 2012, suggesting that al-Qaeda remains a “central hub in a network of highly lethal and active terrorist groups.”

“What should we take from these seemingly contradictory developments?” he said. “Did al-Qaeda succeed by inspiring widespread jihadism, or has it lost to a variety of more parochial, albeit popular, actors?”

Braniff warned that it would be wrong to conclude that because al-Qaeda itself is not carrying out violent attacks that the group’s strategy has become ineffective.

“This has been the most active two years in the history of modern terrorism and al-Qaeda remains at the historical, organizational and ideological center of the most lethal terrorist threats of our time,” Braniff said.

Several Republicans have accused the Obama administration of downplaying the threat from al-Qaeda, its affiliates and the groups that it has inspired.

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said that while President Obama has declared that al-Qaeda was on a path of defeat, the organization currently controls over 400 miles of territory in the Middle East – the most in its history.

“While the president seeks an end to war on terrorism and is not providing the leadership necessary for our efforts in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda seeks a continued war against the United States and the west. This is the reality and this is what our policy and strategy must address,” McKeon said.

Read more at PJ Media

Global Terrorist Threat Set To Grow In 2014 – Analysis

By 

January 6, 2014

The past year has been the most violent since the beginning of the current wave of terrorism. Al Qaeda, though truncated, has become more influential globally via the web, guiding its associates to strike official and civilian targets. With the western withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 the Taliban-led terrorist sanctuary is likely to be revived to threaten stability and security worldwide.

By Rohan Gunaratna

SINCE September 11, 2001 the global terrorist threat has been growing exponentially. According to START, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, there were 5,100 terrorist attacks in the first six months of 2013, following the 8,400 attacks in 2012, which killed nearly 15,400 people. “The wave of violence shows few signs of ebbing,” reported the US-based START.

The western kinetic operations have failed to reduce the global threat. Indeed, the threat of international and national terrorism is projected to grow in 2014. With half of the countries in the world suffering from political violence and ideological extremism, terrorism will remain the Tier-One national security threat to the stability of most countries.

Hubs of global terrorism

Afghanistan and Syria are emerging as the two most important hubs of global terrorism that threaten the security of South Asia, West Asia and North Africa. Just as the anti-Soviet multi-national Afghan mujahidin campaign formed the foundation of contemporary terrorism, the blowback from the civil war in Syria is likely to produce the next generation of fighters – both guerrillas who attack government forces and terrorists who attack civilians.

The conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as India, are the most violent in South Asia. Next are the Middle East: Syria and Iraq; and Africa: Nigeria and Somalia. Since 9/11 over a million people, combatants and non-combatants, have been killed or injured, mostly Muslims, by terrorists and US-led coalition forces fighting insurgents and terrorists. According to START, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan suffered more than half of the 2012 attacks (54%) and fatalities (58%). The next five most targeted countries were India, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and Thailand. The threat is projected to escalate in 2014 and grow even further following the US-led coalition’s withdrawal from Afghanistan at year end.

Counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism efforts since 9/11 have had mixed results. Al Qaeda has weakened but the Al Qaeda family has grown in strength, size and influence. About 30-40 threat groups in Asia, Africa, Middle East and the Caucasus are emulating the Al Qaeda ideology of global violence and methodology of suicide attacks.

While the core Al Qaeda led by Dr Ayman al Zawahiri has transformed from an operational to an ideological and training organisation, the associate groups carry out the bulk of the attacks. Although the death of Osama bin Laden demonstrated that any terrorist can be hunted down, the death of the Al Qaeda leader did not reduce the growing threat.

Threat landscape

SMOKE OVER NAIROBI, KENYA WESTGATE SHOPPING MALL ON 23 SEPTEMBER 2013. PHOTO BY ANNE KNIGHT, WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

SMOKE OVER NAIROBI, KENYA WESTGATE SHOPPING MALL ON 23 SEPTEMBER 2013. PHOTO BY ANNE KNIGHT, WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

The deadliest terrorist groups in the world belong to the Al Qaeda family with the Taliban (both Afghan and Pakistan) heading the list. Others are Al Nusra Front in Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Shabaab in Somalia. The Al Qaeda ability to influence associate groups was brought to international attention by the brutal attack on the Westgate Mall in Kenya by Al Shabaab. With the decentralisation of the threat Northern Africa is emerging as a new epicentre of terrorism and extremism.

The “Arab Spring” has become a nightmare with multiple Al Qaeda-linked groups emerging throughout North Africa and the Middle East, including Al Nusra in Syria. With 12,000 Sunni and a comparable number of Shia foreign fighters in Syria the threat to the West and the rest of the world will grow.

Stemming from the developments in Syria, the Shia-Sunni conflict is threatening to break out into a regional conflict, involving Bahrain and Lebanon. Further afield in the Caucasus terrorists mounted year-end attacks in Volgograd, Southern Russia, hitting a railway station and a trolley bus. Shumukh al-Islam, the top forum for Al Qaeda-affiliated propaganda, praised the timing of the attacks. The SITE Monitoring Service reported the terrorists as saying Russians are not safe “since their country continues to supply arms to the malicious combatant regime of the doomed apostate Bashar”. From the Caucasus the terrorists are travelling through Turkey to Syria to fight against the Bashar al Assad regime.

Read more at Eurasia Review

Rohan Gunaratna is Head of RSIS’ International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), Singapore. He is author of “Inside Al Qaeda” published by Columbia University Press.

Steve Emerson interviewed on Sun News – Canadians leaving for Jihad

SunVideo at IPT:

Brian Lilley: We’ve told you in the past about Canadians joining foreign struggles. We’re talking about the international jihad. Now international media are taking note, Israel National News putting out a report the other day saying on Thursday reports were released that a Canadian citizen described only as Abu Abd Al-Rahman was killed in March in the city of Aleppo. Al-Rahman is one of many Canadian and other foreign jihadists journeying to Syria to join the bloodbath. Do we need to be concerned that our international allies are taking note of the growing jihadi movement in Canada? Steven Emerson is with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, joins us now from our studies in Washington. Mr. Emerson, we’ve been taking note of this global trend. How worried should we be that Israel, the United States other allies might be noticing it as well?

Steve Emerson: Well in Canada with the dubious distinction of your Mayor of Toronto with his exception –

Lilley: [Laughs.] Yeah.

Emerson: – Canada is probably the highest contributor of expatriates. That is Canadian citizens, to jihadist movements around the world, with the exception of the United States. There probably are at least 100 Canadians of Islamic origin or converts that have volunteered for the jihad in Syria over the past two years. And the reason that there is concern is that these jihadists not only acquire training overseas and engage in jihad, but are liable, are likely to become radicalized even more than they have been in terms of going over there when they return back to Canada, as we’ve seen in dozens of terrorist plots that have occurred in the last decade in Canada. As a Canadian intelligence report that was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act recently revealed, there are more terrorists per capita in Canada, Islamic terrorists, than there are any place in the world, with the exception of the United States.

Lilley: See and that part is shocking me, given what I read about in terms of a ghettoization of British culture, in terms of certain areas of London being referred to as Londonstan and the radicalization going on there, I would have thought the U.K. would have been far away ahead of both Canada and the U.S. So this is shocking news, not only to me but lots of other Canadians.

Emerson: Well what’s interesting here, you raise an interesting point, because in London and in other parts of Europe, there really has been a radicalization of the communities to the point where there are no-go areas that are Muslim areas only. And there are Muslim patrols that actually attack anybody who is a Westerner or somebody who is dressed in Western attire. This is something a little bit different than in Canada or the United States where you don’t have the same concentration within the communal structure of the radicals, but you do have a radical cultural ideology that is basically, that is proliferating from community, community, and ends up resulting in either lone-wolf plots, that is Islamic terrorist plots that are not directed from without but come from within, or you end up having people volunteer for jihad overseas, which has been dominating, shouldn’t be dominating, but actually has been proliferating in the last decade, particularly in the last three or four years as new jihad fronts have opened up in Al-Shabaab, you know that’s in Africa –

Lilley: Somalia.

Emerson: – in Somalia, that’s in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, even in other areas. Even in Europe you’ve seen Americans or North Americans, that is those with Canadian passports, volunteer to carry out plots with their European compatriots, which is a very troubling developing that only witnessed in the last three or four years.

Lilley: OK, so in Canada we have long had ministers, such as former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, say we don’t have to be as worried about radicalization as they do in places like Europe, whether it’s Germany or Britain, because we’ve had a more successful integration of disparate communities. Should we be buying that line or does the fact that we are such a large contributor to the jihad put that, make that stand out as a bald-faced lie?

Emerson: Well I wouldn’t say it’s a bald-faced lie. There has indeed been more successful integration coupled with the fact that there’s been less of a concentration of jihadist immigration to North America, including Canada and the United States than let’s say in London or let’s say in Belgium or in Germany or Italy, where almost every week there’s a jihadist plot that’s interrupted. But the corollary of this is that there really is a cultural jihad that has not diminished but rather spread in different communities in Canada, in Toronto, in Montreal, in Ottawa, as well as in different parts of the United States. And you’ve seen that in the increase in number of lone-wolf attacks, these are attacks by Islamists who basically decide they’re gonna carry out jihad in the United States or in Canada for the sake of jihad. And if you look at the numbers, the numbers have been increasing actually in the last one-half decade than decreasing. So I think, look, the bottom line is, to the extent that these plots are interdicted and stopped, you know people don’t feel the threat. As soon as one plot is successful, I can guarantee you, all the complacency in the world will stop immediately in Canada or the United States.

Lilley: Alright, Steve great talking to you as always. The Investigative Project on Terrorism. You can find out more from their website. We’ll chat again soon my friend.

Islamist Terrorists Shifting from Web to Social Media

AP453232788832-540x360By Bill Gertz:

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are grappling with terrorists who are moving from websites to microblogs as a way to spread propaganda, recruit members, and communicate.

U.S. officials familiar with efforts to monitor social media say Islamist terrorists have increased their use of social media in recent months.

Currently, numerous U.S. and allied intelligence agencies are engaged in large-scale efforts to monitor online activities by Islamists, jihadists, and terrorists.

Based on those agencies’ reports, the intelligence services are having a difficult time balancing the need to keep track of terrorist group members and their statements when the Twitter and Facebook accounts are shut down for advocating violence or otherwise promoting illegal activities.

On the one hand, spy agencies want social media to allow some of the terrorists’ Twitter and Facebook accounts to remain open to keep tabs on them. The postings often can provide clues to online friends’ and followers’ locations and in some cases they can be traced electronically.

In most cases, terrorists’ accounts that are closed or suspended for advocating violence are quickly re-opened using slightly different names.

But problems arise when social media accounts used by terrorists are taken offline, complicating real-time intelligence monitoring. In many cases it takes up to 18 hours to locate the new accounts that reappear under new names.

“They often come to us and say ‘do not take down these accounts,’” one social media executive said of the U.S. government.

The problem of counterterrorism monitoring of social media took center stage last month during the attack by the Somali al Qaeda Al Shabaab on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. In the midst of the deadly attack, which killed 68 shoppers and storekeepers, Al Shabaab opened multiple Twitter accounts, each replacing one that was deactivated by the site.

In all, the group operated seven Twitter accounts that were closed before another was opened.

The social media communications by Al Shabaab were the first time a terrorist group made public statements during an ongoing attack. The messages by the group were mainly propaganda statements explaining the goals of the attack. But all were closely followed by international news media and security services for clues to the group’s plans and operations.

read more at Free Beacon