The Long War Journal‘s Thomas Joscelyn appears on FOX News to discuss the Bowe Bergdahl – Taliban prisoner exchange and the five dangerous Taliban leaders who were released, the first American suicide bomber in Syria, and the overall war
The Long War Journal‘s Thomas Joscelyn appears on FOX News to discuss the Bowe Bergdahl – Taliban prisoner exchange and the five dangerous Taliban leaders who were released, the first American suicide bomber in Syria, and the overall war
Eli Lake’s report at The Daily Beast, titled “As Obama Draws Down, Al Qaeda Grows in Afghanistan,” is today’s must read article. A quick excerpt:
As President Obama outlines what he promises to be the end of the war in Afghanistan, new U.S. intelligence assessments are warning that al Qaeda is beginning to re-establish itself there.Specifically, the concern for now is that al Qaeda has created a haven in the northeast regions of Kunar and Nuristan and is able to freely operate along Afghanistan’s only major highway–Route One, which connects the airports of Kandahar and Kabul.
“There is no doubt they have a significant presence in northeast Afghanistan,” Mac Thornberry, the Republican vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told The Daily Beast. “It’s a lot of speculation about exact numbers, but again part of the question is what are their numbers going to be and what are there activities going to be when the pressure lets up.”
If Thornberry’s warnings prove correct, then Obama is faced with two bad choices. He either breaks his promise to end America’s longest war or he ends up losing that war by withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan too soon, allowing al Qaeda to re-establish a base of operations in the country from which it launched 9/11.
For years, the official intelligence community estimate was that a little more than 100 al Qaeda fighters remained in Kunar Province, a foreboding territory of imposing mountains and a local population in the mountains at least that largely agrees with al Qaeda’s ascetic Salafist philosophy.
But recent estimates from the military and the U.S. intelligence community have determined that al Qaeda’s presence has expanded to nearby Nuristan and that the group coordinates its operations and activities with allies like the Pakistan-based Taliban and Haqqani Network.
Read the whole thing. Long War Journal readers will know that for years we have reported on al Qaeda’s extensive presence in Afghanistan; al Qaeda’s collusion with the Taliban, Haqqani Network, the Pakistani Taliban, and other groups; and US and Coalition efforts to dismantle the network using targeted raids.
And we’ve repeatedly criticized the often-repeated meme that al Qaeda has just 50-100 fighters in Afghanistan. Using press reports, press releases from the International Security Assistance Force, and al Qaeda’s own statements, we have detected the presence of al Qaeda and allied groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group, and Lashkar-e-Taiba in 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Sadly, in June 2013 ISAF stopped issuing press releases on its raids that targeted al Qaeda, cutting off one important source of information that detailed al Qaeda’s presence.
Now, I’d argue that al Qaeda isn’t expanding into Kunar and Nuristan, but has merely capitalized on the US pullback from Kunar that took place beginning in 2009 [see this report from 2011 for some background on the withdrawal]. Keep in mind that the US began this withdrawal even as special operations forces were actively targeting what ISAF identified as al Qaeda “camps” in the province. For more on this, see LWJ report, ISAF captures al Qaeda’s top Kunar commander, from April 2011.
It seems that some US officials are finally starting to come around to the analysis of al Qaeda’s presence that has long been provided by The Long War Journal. Unfortunately, that may be too little and too late, as President Obama has set the stage for the US to exit Afghanistan and significantly reduce, if not end, its capacity to target al Qaeda and allied groups in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Our coverage of a recent press briefing conducted by the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, Marie Harf, has struck a nerve. Since we published our piece on Friday, Jan. 24, Ms. Harf has responded to us in emails and on Twitter. We have published a reply from Ms. Harf, in full, here.
She says that we have “misconstrued” or “entirely misread” her comments. On Twitter, she accused us of making “false claims.”
Ms. Harf is flat wrong. We quoted Ms. Harf’s full comments, at length, for all of our readers to see. And our characterization was entirely accurate.
Ms. Harf’s response is telling and actually reinforces both of our key points. Zawahiri is operationally tied to terrorists in Syria and Ms. Harf mistakenly tried to dismiss his relevance. More importantly, the Obama administration has not offered a precise definition of al Qaeda’s “core” – even though this concept is the linchpin of the administration’s assessment of the al Qaeda threat. We encourage journalists to ask more questions about what administration officials mean, precisely, when they speak of al Qaeda’s “core.”
Al Qaeda, Zawahiri, and Syria
In her response, Ms. Harf does not dispute our well-documented claim that Zawahiri is, in fact, operationally tied to terrorists inside Syria. In her initial briefing she tried to downplay this possibility. She now claims, however, that our criticism of her comments is “patently false” because she said, in effect, “I didn’t know and that I needed to check with our team.”
We put Ms. Harf’s words (“Not to my knowledge”) in bold in our original piece, making it easy to see that she was speaking from her own personal knowledge. Still, it is absolutely clear from the transcript that Ms. Harf was trying to downplay the idea that Zawahiri had any operational relevance – not only in Syria, but also elsewhere.
Consider the full context surrounding her claim, “… I don’t know of more of an operational link between Zawahiri and folks in Syria.”
With respect to Zawahiri’s message, Ms. Harf began by saying, “I haven’t seen it.” She soon added, “I haven’t, quite frankly, seen the Zawahiri message.” But she also claimed that “this is not new rhetoric we’ve heard from Zawahiri.”
This is odd and shows how quick she was to dismiss Zawahiri’s importance. If she hadn’t seen, heard, or read a transcript of Zawahiri’s message yet, how did she know it was nothing new?**
Ms. Harf then proceeded to argue that the message she hadn’t seen was unimportant. We will again quote from the transcript of Harf’s press briefing:
…I think [Zawahiri] spends, at this point, probably more time worrying about his own personal security than propaganda, but still is interested in putting out this kind of propaganda to remain relevant.So we’ve seen al-Qaida in the past try to take advantage for propaganda purposes of local – of conflicts in places like Iraq, places like Yemen, and places like Syria, to use that for propaganda purposes. But beyond that, I don’t know of more of an operational link between Zawahiri and folks in Syria.
So, from the State Department deputy spokesperson’s perspective, Zawahiri is more concerned about “his own personal security” than putting out propaganda (there is no room for an operational Zawahiri here). Zawahiri’s message was “nothing new,” and simply “propaganda” intended “to remain relevant.” It was also similar to other pieces of al Qaeda “propaganda” because the group tries “to take advantage … of local … conflicts in places like Iraq, places like Yemen, and places like Syria, to use that for propaganda purposes.”
Ms. Harf’s response, therefore, was an aggressive attempt to downplay the operational relevance of Zawahiri and al Qaeda’s senior leadership not only with respect to Syria, but also in other hotspots such as Iraq and Yemen. We obviously disagree.
It was after all of this that Ms. Harf said, “But beyond that, I don’t know of more of an operational link between Zawahiri and folks in Syria.”
Our interpretation of Ms. Harf’s comments was, therefore, spot on. The specific comment we criticized came after a string of similar claims, all intended to dismiss Zawahiri as more or less irrelevant.
Read more at Long War Journal
Yesterday, State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf made two ridiculous claims about al Qaeda during a briefing with reporters. First, she claimed that there are no “operational” links between al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and jihadist groups in Syria. And second, she said that Zawahiri is the only remaining member of “core” al Qaeda. From the briefing[emphasis ours]:
QUESTION: Okay. And then, secondly, there were some reports that Ayman Zawahiri has recorded another message – it’s on militant websites – telling militants to unite in Syria. Are you aware of these and do you have any response?MS. HARF: I haven’t seen it. I think – a few points: Obviously, we are concerned about the terrorist threat in Syria. We’re concerned about al-Qaida affiliated elements from taking advantage of the situation there to conduct terrorist attacks. I haven’t, quite frankly, seen the Zawahiri message. Did you say it was an audio message?
MS. HARF: Okay. I’ll take a look or a listen to that when I get back.
And look, this is not new rhetoric we’ve heard from Zawahiri. He’s – core al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, besides Zawahiri, has essentially the entire leadership been decimated by the U.S. counterterrorism efforts. He’s the only one left. I think he spends, at this point, probably more time worrying about his own personal security than propaganda, but still is interested in putting out this kind of propaganda to remain relevant.
So we’ve seen al-Qaida in the past try to take advantage for propaganda purposes of local – of conflicts in places like Iraq, places like Yemen, and places like Syria, to use that for propaganda purposes. But beyond that, I don’t know of more of an operational link between Zawahiri and folks in Syria.
QUESTION: So you’re not seeing any kind of operational command and control between core al-Qaida and what the militants in Syria –
MS. HARF: I’ll check with our folks. Not to my knowledge. But again, I want to check with our team just to make sure what the exact – on operational. We certainly know that elements in Syria take – al-Qaida elements in Syria take inspiration from folks like Zawahiri and from some of the language that we hear from him, and that, I’m sure, it’s the same kind of language that’s on this audio that I will take a look at when I get off the podium.
But beyond that, again, we’ve been very clear that because of the Assad regime’s climate it’s created in Syria, we are increasingly concerned about the terrorist threat. Certainly.
First, Harf claims that there is no “operational link between Zawahiri and folks in Syria.” There is plenty of evidence demonstrating that this isn’t true.
Zawahiri stepped into the leadership dispute between the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) last year. He demanded that the leaders of both organizations file a report with him. They each complied. He then issued a ruling in late May that ISIS and its emir, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, disagreed with and openly defied. The dispute with ISIS is more nuanced than most analysts let on, but it is obviously a very serious disagreement. (We have covered this in-depth, and will have more on this in the near future.)
Read more at Long War Journal
BY: Adam Kredo:
A top jihadi leader is urging Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to cease peaceful demonstrations and take up arms against the Egyptian military, which he dubbed “an army of infidels and apostates,” according to a translation of his remarks.
Egyptian Muslims should “come and respond to the call of jihad” and “come and shed blood for the sake of establishing Allah’s law,” Sheikh Abu al Mundhir al Shinqiti said recently according to the Arabic media.
Waging jihad against the Egyptian military is “a religious duty and divine obligation,” he said.
Shinqiti is a well-known radical thinker and jihadist who is close with the spiritual adviser of prominent terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.
Shinqiti’s call for jihad in Egypt came as the country’s court system upheld a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood, a decision that some fear could spark increased violence in a country already reeling from months of civil discord.
Shinqiti said that it is acceptable under Islamic law to kill Egyptian soldiers because “this army is apostasy from Islam and a pledge of allegiance to the enemies of Allah,” according to his remarks, which were translated from Arabic and republished by theLong War Journal.
“Muslim women married to a member of the army should know that their marriage is nullified because [their husbands] are apostates,” Shinqiti said.
Terrorism expert Aaron Zelin said that Shinqiti’s call for violence could reverberate on the ground in Egypt, where the military continues to struggle against pro-Muslim Brotherhood agitators and other terrorist forces.
“I believe Abu Mundhir al Shinqiti’s release is quite serious,” said Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). “It is very important for jihadis on the ground for one of the top global jihadi scholars to confer legitimacy on the jihad in Egypt and the Sinai.”
Read more at Free Beacon
A document found after Somali troops killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda’s former leader in East Africa and a senior Shabaab commander, details a plot to conduct multiple Mumbai-like attacks that target civilians in London. The plot highlights how al Qaeda and Shabaab seek to strike civilian targets outside Somalia, and foreshadowed Shabaab’s attack on the Eastgate Mall in Kenya this week.
The document and several others found in Fazul’s possession after he was killed by Somali troops at a checkpoint in Mogadishu in June 2011 were obtained by the Toronto Star. A copy of the document was also obtained by The Long War Journal. The Canadian newspaper reported that “dozens of documents, Internet frame grabs and media reports in English, Arabic, Somali and Swahili, along with more than 50 video clips” were also found in Fazul’s car.
Fazul’s document detailing a plot in London is titled “International Operations.” In the opening paragraph, he notes how Shabaab’s external terror teams are to emulate “the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai.” In the Mumbai attack, small teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters armed with assault rifles, grenades, and bombs fanned out across the city and attacked civilians. More than 170 people were killed during the Mumbai siege, which lasted for three days. Shabaab targeted train stations, a theater, two posh hotels, and a Jewish center during the attack.
“Our objectives are to strike London with low cost operations that would cause a heavy blow amongst the hierarchy and Jewish communities using attacks similar to the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai,” the first paragraph of Fazul’s memo said. “These will either be many individual random untraceable operations or the group will be trained to cause maximum damage to a single target.”
The Long War Journal noted on the first day of the Shabaab siege on the Westgate Mall that the attack was very similar to the Lashkar-e-Taiba assault on Mumbai in November 2008.
Read more at Long War Journal
AL QAEDA: THE REPORTS OF MY DEATH ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED
Watchdog Wire, By Jerry Gordon:
Earlier today I watched a C-SPAN reprise of a Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) panel that featuring FDD Senior fellow, Tom Joscelyn, director of The Long War Journal, and Eli Lake, senior national security correspondent for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
Watch the C-Span FDD panel: ”A Look at Al Qaeda and its Affiliates”.
I caught a discussion by Eli Lake about a story that both he and colleague Josh Rogin had broken at The Daily Beast. It concerned, “an electronic conference between leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branches featuring advanced encryption methods with video, voice, and chat capabilities.” MEMRI had posted a related story out of Lahore, Pakistan that an Al Qaeda “data hub” with a similar command and control net connecting what the Obama Administration has taken to call the “core” of Al Qaeda with its ‘affiliates’. The latter includes the alphabet soup of AQAP in Yemen, AQIM in the Maghreb, Book Harem in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Somalia and the latest Jihadi group in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
As The Counter Jihad Report quoted Jocelyn saying,” It’s indisputable that [al Qaeda has] made more gains now than at any point in their history,”
The FDD panel was endeavoring to assess the validity of the 2012 Obama Presidential meme of “bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is on the run”. Clearly, given the spate of AQ prison breaks across the Ummah in Libya, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen, releasing thousands of fighters the Jihadist group has not been flattened. This despite the Obama Administration conduct of counterterrorism, drone and special ops and secret war campaigns. AQ appears to be alive and flourishing. Moreover, AQ’s genetic ideological source, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been metastasizing from the Arab Spring genesis of early 2011 attempting to assume political power in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
AQ has become the go to opposition military force in Syria and has re-ignited sectarian warfare in Iraq. Only Egypt’s military has overthrown elected MB leader, President Mohammed Morsi, now in jail along with the spiritual Leader of the MB, Mohammed Badie. Meanwhile the Egyptian MB has engaged in a futile uprising against Egyptian Gen. Adel Fattah al-Sisi’s army and security forces. AQ has fomented sectarian warfare in Iraq after the Obama Administration took French leave in 2009 without putting in place a status of forces agreement. Now, even the al Maliki government in Baghdad is suggesting that it may need US counterterrorism assistance. The AQ opposition forces in Syria are fighting Assad’s military, the IRGC Al Quds force and attacking the latter’s ally Hezbollah in both Syria and Lebanon.
So what to make of all of these Jihadist activities by AQ? Note this exchange between Tom Jocelyn and Eli Lake at the FDD panel:
Eli Lake: “Earlier this summer, Yemeni authorities were able to apprehend a carrier from AQ as he was uploading what appeared to be information from an important business meeting between high level AQ officials. It was a recording of a 7-hour remote internet conference. It opened with a message from Al-Zawahiri where he assessed that the U.S was in a similar situation to the Soviets in 1989.”
“There is no doubt about that AQ has lost a lot of senior leaders in the region, however, they have adapted and Zawahiri has shown he has the ability to manage and delegate.”
Tom Joscelyn: “The whole distinction between AQ core and affiliates is something we have been trying to shed light on for some time now. The core is not well defined; it sort of vaguely refers to the leadership and the councilors around them. However, if you think about it, you realize AQ is not so stupid to keep the whole of their leadership in one locale.”
“Why did so many people get it wrong? When you look back at the history of the post- 9/11 world, you see assessments that have consistently been wrong regarding the capabilities of AQ; when you look at their literature, AQ defines themselves as political revolutionaries, they want to wield political power.”
Lake: [Al Qaeda has] high levels of encryption. They are constantly aware of internet security. No one is allowed to use any type of wireless broadcast. They have developed some pretty impressive technology.”
Joscelyn: “What needs to be pointed out is the fact that the leadership has a way of reaching out to affiliates worldwide.”
“We are acting as if though the affiliates are something that AQ just stumbled upon. They have been part of their overall strategy for some time.”
“[O]ur enemy gets a say in this fight, and if we keep defining them narrowly as terrorists we are just going to keep picking off senior leadership without cracking the base of the organization.”
Lake: “[AQ and Iran] are like two rival cartels who share the interest of making sure that the FBI is weak. … [T]hey can cooperate when they see it is clearly in their shared interest.”
Joscelyn: “If you look at it right now, obviously Syria is a huge disagreement between the two. What is interesting is how many times the two have been able to put aside their differences in order to collude.”
The Washington Free Beacon noted differences between Lake and Jocelyn on what AQ’s objective is:
Lake said he remained hopeful that peaceful Muslims like the protesters in Egypt would reject the Islamist ideology, pointing to the necessity for groups such as AQAP to employ violent thugs to enforce Sharia law.
Joscelyn countered that al Qaeda continues to achieve victories despite the rejection of jihad by younger generations of Muslims.
“They’re not just terrorists—they’re political revolutionaries—and they want power for themselves.”
At a critical point in the panel discussion, FFD President and moderator Cliff May offered a useful historical analogy from WWII about fighting the no name war against AQ’s Jihadist ideology:
In 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill got together — they could see that they would defeat the Axis powers. They had no intention of destroying the populations of Germany, Italy and Japan, but they decided that they needed to destroy or defeat what they called the philosophies, what we call ideologies today, that were responsible for WWII. When we talk about ‘violent extremism,’ and we don’t grapple with the ideologies that are behind the regimes, movements and groups that are attacking the West. We are not taking up that task; we are not discrediting or delegitimizing those ideologies.
Jocelyn’s acknowledgement that the AQ doctrine is revolutionary and seeks to impose political governance based on Sharia is I believe a correct analysis. Thus the Administration’s AQ core /affiliates paradigm is inaccurate. All we are engaged in are endless whack a mole counterterrorism .campaigns. Rather AQ is more like a revolutionary mafia endeavoring to spread its doctrine through opportunistic forays into the soft underbelly of the Ummah. The on again off again relations between AQ and the Islamic Regime in Tehran is a reflection of the diverse but underlying commonality in the fundamentalist Jihadist doctrine. May’s historical reference to the Quebec Conference in 1943 between Roosevelt and Churchill and the decision to destroy fascist militarist doctrine sent a message to the TV and FDD panel audience: “it’s the doctrine, stupid”.
Jocelyn knows that the “core Jihadist” doctrine of AQ has to be destroyed and replaced. Unfortunately, its thin religious veneer allows it to escape prosecution in the West, because it looks like an attack on a “religion” rather than what it is a totalitarian political ideology.
Given the attendance by the policy wonk community from both the Hill and the NGO’s, clearly FDD did a service both inside and outside the Beltway.
Jerry Gordon is Sr. Vice President of World Encounter Institute and Sr. Editor for the New English Review. He is a former Army Intelligence officer who served during the Vietnam era. Mr. Gordon has published widely in such outlets as: FrontPageMagazine, The American Thinker, WorldNetDaily, ChronWatch, New English Review and its blog The Iconoclast, Israpundit and others. He has been a frequent guest discussing Middle East issues on radio in both the U.S. and Canada. He is co-host of the Middle East Roundtable series on Northwest Florida talk radio 1330 – AM WEBY in Pensacola. He is a graduate of both Boston and Columbia Universities. He holds an MBA in Finance from the Columbia University Graduate School of Finance. He ended his investment banking career in Manhattan as Vice President and Director BMO Capital – a US subsidiary of the Bank of Montreal, where he developed a cross border merger and acquisition and private financing practice involving clients in Canada, the US, UK and Israel. He is the author of a collection of interviews with notable personalities in the counter-jihad movements in Canada, the US, titled The West Speaks.
BY: Daniel Wiser:
A remote conference between more than 20 senior al Qaeda leaders that prompted temporary closures of several U.S. embassies in the Middle East earlier this month indicates that the terrorist organization remains committed to expansion and threatening the West, national security experts said Tuesday.
Daily Beast senior national security correspondent Eli Lake and Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) senior fellow Thomas Joscelyn said at an FDD panel discussion that al Qaeda has retained central management as its affiliates spring up across the Middle East and Africa.
Lake and fellow Daily Beast correspondent Josh Rogin reported Tuesday that the electronic conference between leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branches featured advanced encryption methods with video, voice, and chat capabilities.
In a web recording of the seven-hour meeting, which was seized from an al Qaeda courier captured by U.S. and Yemeni intelligence officials, al Qaeda network leader Ayman Al-Zawahri compared the United States’ regional position in the Middle East to the Soviet Union on the eve of its collapse in 1989.
Additionally, he exhorted participants in the conference to capitalize on America’s declining influence in the region before announcing that Nasser al-Wuhayshi, leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), will be general manager of the group as it implements a new phase in al Qaeda’s war strategy.
President Barack Obama has repeatedly asserted that al Qaeda is “on the way to defeat” after drone strikes killed some of the group’s senior leaders.
“While there have been victories, the threat of al Qaeda is far from over at this point,” Lake said.
Joscelyn said the proliferation of al Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Yemen, Mali, Somalia, and other countries is not something the group “stumbled upon” but “has long been part of their strategy.”
However, the group’s various regional branches have shifted their strategy in recent years to increase their effectiveness, Joscelyn noted. Affiliates like AQAP have adopted the “Hamas model” of providing governance and services to disaffected residents of Yemen.
Meanwhile, AQAP has continued to attempt terrorist attacks on the United States by planting underwear bombers on U.S.-bound airliners.
“They’re able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.
The Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday that thousands of foreign jihadists—including Americans and Europeans—have flooded into civil war-torn Syria to join the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front, raising concerns among U.S. officials that these fighters will receive training for executing terrorist attacks upon return to their home countries.
Additionally, a report from the Long War Journal, a project of FDD, found that at least 15 Salafi jihadist groups—some affiliated with al Qaeda—have begun to occupy the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The groups have reportedly attacked Israeli Defense Forces along Israel’s border and fired rockets into the country.
“It’s indisputable that [al Qaeda has] made more gains now than at any point in their history,” Joscelyn said.
Read more at Washington Free Beacon
IPT, by John Rossomando:
An Egyptian official has warned Hamas that Egypt will take “the appropriate measure” in response to its “silence” following calls by the Gaza-based Jaishal-Ummah (Army of the Nation) to wage “jihad” against Egypt’s military rulers.
The Egyptian media has accused Hamas of conspiring to support the Muslim Brotherhood since Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, an accusation which Hamas has denied.
“We condemn Hamas’s decision to allow extremist groups in Gaza to announce jihad against Egypt, and we believe that this decision to allow such Gaza-based groups to publicly attack Egypt verifies the Egyptian allegations that Hamas allows [groups] from Gaza to pose a threat to Egyptian national security,” the official was quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency as having said.
Just last month Egyptian troops intercepted what they said was a shipment of Hamas rockets intended for Muslim Brotherhood fighters in Cairo.
Abu Hafs al-Maqadisi, the group’s leader, made his call Thursday in the wake of the Egyptian military’s move to liquidate the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-ins in Cairo that left over 600 dead. Maqadisi called on Egyptians to overthrow “the tyrant” and establish an Islamic state and expressed his hope that one of al-Sisi’s bodyguards would kill him, according to The Long War Journal.
Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, a former mentor of the late jihadist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood by the military showed that al-Qaida’s bullets rather than ballots strategy had been vindicated.
Posters on jihadist bulletin boards have suggested that now was the time for jihadists to go to Egypt to exact revenge against the Egyptian military.
“It is no longer possible to turn a blind eye to the obvious fact that they [secularists and the idolatrous disbelievers] are hostile to Islam and they wage war against it and they hate it,” Abdullah Muhammad Mahmoud of the jihadi group Dawa’at al-Haq Foundation for Studies and Research wrote in a jihad forum, the Long War Journal reported. “If jihad isn’t declared today to defend the religion, then when will it be declared?!” He continued: “Will Muslims wait until they are prevented from praying in mosques?! Will they wait until the beard becomes a charge that is punishable by imprisonment?! Will they wait until their sons enter prisons in the tens of thousands to be tortured and spend tens of years of their lives in their depths?!
“O Muslims of Egypt, if you don’t do jihad today, then only blame yourselves tomorrow.”
Hamas for its part condemned the Egyptian military’s assault on the Muslim Brotherhood encampments, but has stopped short of publicly calling for its people to fight against the Egyptian military. Hamas has also called on the Arab League and the United Nations to intervene in Egypt to “stop the bloodshed.”
Another Hamas figure described the Egyptian military’s action as “a U.S.-Zionist conspiracy.”
Long War Journal, By THOMAS JOSCELYN & BILL ROGGIO:
On Aug. 7, the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake and Josh Rogin reported that the US government’s decision to shutter more than 20 diplomatic facilities was based in part on intercepted communications between al Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al Zawahiri, and “more than 20 AQ operatives.” Citing three US officials “familiar with the intelligence,” Lake and Rogin described the communications as “a conference call that included the leaders or representatives of the top leadership of al Qaeda and its affiliates calling in from different locations.”
Several US officials contacted by The Long War Journal have confirmed that the Zawahiri-led communication first reported by the Daily Beast did in fact occur.
As both Lake and Rogin have subsequently reported, the communication was much more complex than a typical “conference call,” which they used as a shorthand description.
The original Daily Beast article set off controversy and speculation, with many assuming that such a communication would not take place because it would compromise al Qaeda’s operational security. But much of that speculation was fueled by the idea that what had transpired was akin to an ordinary business call. It was not.
The Long War Journal is withholding additional technical details at the request of US officials.
Journalists at major media organizations contacted by The Long War Journal say that US government officials have warned against pursuing the story. Some journalists have been told that the idea of a “conference call” is “not credible.”
Thus far, however, there does not appear to have been any official denial by the US government.
The original press reporting stated that the communication was between al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and Nasir al Wuhayshi, who heads al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Zawahiri appointed Wuhayshi to the position of al Qaeda’s general manager during the discussion. [See LWJ report, AQAP's emir also serves as al Qaeda's general manager.]
But subsequent press reporting indicates that additional al Qaeda operatives were involved in the conversation. NBC News previously reported that “a third al Qaeda operative who was part of the communication did express a willingness to die in a suicide attack — a request that had been denied in the past.”
This means, of course, that NBC‘s sources have confirmed that the discussion was not limited to Zawahiri and Wuhayshi.
Other press reporting has rightly observed that al Qaeda has long maintained a sophisticated Internet-based communications infrastructure. A segment aired on Aug. 8 by CNN detailed how al Qaeda operatives communicate over the Internet.
Writing for The Week, Marc Ambinder noted that early reports said a courier had been intercepted and that this “might — might — mean that the US got its hands on a copy of the tape” without actually intercepting a communication in real-time.
Many of the details concerning how the communication was obtained, and what exactly was said during it, remain unreported.
By Thomas Joscelyn
In an interview with the Cairo-based publication Al Shuruq al Jadid in late October, Ahmed Ashush, the founder of Ansar al Sharia Egypt, praised al Qaeda and defended the terrorist organization against criticisms. Ashush also named Mohammed al Zawahiri, the younger brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, as one of the jihadist leaders who remained true to his ideology during his time in prison.
The interviewer asked, “Does Egyptian Salafi-jihadism represent an extension of the al Qaeda organization?”
Ashush first offered to “correct the view of the al Qaeda organization,” according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal. Ashush proceeded to call al Qaeda the “House of Honor,” the “Title of Glory,” and the “Home of the Nation’s Dignity.”
“We must perpetuate [Osama] bin Laden whether alive or dead,” Ashush continued. “If the revolutions of the Arab Spring were fair they would have adopted bin Laden as the symbol of heroism and sacrifice.”
Ashush declared, “We are honored to be an extension of the al Qaeda organization in its beliefs, principles, and concepts.”
The senior Egyptian jihadist went on to describe al Qaeda itself as an “extension” of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), which has long been headed by Ayman al Zawahiri and merged with Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Ashush named two EIJ leaders, Abu Ubaidah al Banshiri and Abu Hafs al Masri, as co-founders of al Qaeda. Both served as al Qaeda military chiefs prior to their demise.
Ashush’s embrace of al Qaeda is consistent with his past rhetoric and behavior. Since his release from an Egyptian prison, Ashush has repeatedly praised al Qaeda.
And Ayman al Zawahiri is so fond of Ashush that clips of the Ansar al Sharia Egypt leader are frequently included in al Qaeda’s videos. A Sept. 10 video starring Ayman al Zawahiri featured a clip of Ashush praising Osama bin Laden. A two-part al Qaeda video released on Oct. 24 included nine video clips showing Ashush and other Egyptian jihadists.
During his interview with Al Shuruq al Jadid, Ashush did not shy away from al Qaeda’s terrorism.
Al Qaeda is “fighting a criminal enemy,” Ashush claimed, and only the terrorist group has prevented Muslim countries from being divided “into mini-States” ruled by “the Jews and the Christians.” The US has authored this anti-Muslim conspiracy, according to Ashush. “Al Qaeda is the one that stopped the American scheme aimed at splitting Egypt into four States and dividing all Islamic countries.”
Ahush’s organization, Ansar al Sharia Egypt, is dedicated to implementing sharia law and rebuilding the Islamic Caliphate. As he made clear during his interview, Ashush is also deeply hostile to the West.
“We are at war with the United States and Israel and all the Worldly Rulers whom they appointed in the countries of the Muslims to carry out their imperialist blueprint in our countries,” Ashush said.
Ashush has used the name “Salafi Vanguard” to describe his efforts and those of his compatriots. Ashush described the group as part of the jihadist “current,” explaining that they chose this name to prevent any jihadist who has renounced his ideology from speaking for them.
“Those who speak in the name of the current are those who remained firm and did not change inside prison,” Ashush said. “Sheikh Mohammed al Zawahiri is among them.”
Read more at the Long War Journal
by: Ryan Mauro
On October 18, The Obama Administration again confirmed that the Shi’ite Iranian regime is working with the Sunni-Salafist Al-Qaeda terrorist group when the Treasury Department blacklistedtwo Al-Qaeda leaders operating in Iran. In July 2011, the administration revealed that Iran had struck a “secret deal” with Al-Qaeda, blowing apart the myth that the hostility between Sunni and Shi’ite Islamists precludes them from helping each other fight a common enemy.
The Treasury Department sanctioned two Al-Qaeda operatives in Iran: Muhsin al-Fadhil, the leader of the network there, and Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi. David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, describes the Iran-based network as “critically important” to Al-Qaeda operations and he stated that Iran permits its existence. The Obama Administration has repeatedly stated that Iran and Al-Qaeda work together, as chronicled by the Long War Journal.
This network has been in Iran since at least 2005, formerly under the leadership of Yasin al-Sura, with funding coming from supporters in Kuwait and Qatar. The Obama Administration disclosed the “secret deal” in July 2011. Al-Qaeda agreed not to attack Iran or to recruit operatives within the country, but it is free to use Iranian territory to move personnel and money as long as the regime is kept abreast of the activity. Strangely, this activity includes supporting Al-Qaeda elements in Syria, which are trying to topple Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, an Iranian ally.
Al-Fadhil became the leader of the network in late 2011. He began working with Al-Qaeda operatives in Iran in 2009 and was arrested by the regime. Apparently, a partnership grew while he was locked up because he took over the network shortly after he was let loose. He previously worked for Al-Qaeda in Iraq and took part in attacks on U.S. Marines in Kuwait and a French oil tanker in October 2002.
Al-Harbi oversees the movement of Al-Qaeda operatives to Afghanistan and Iraq. He also has helped Al-Qaeda with its Internet-based operations.
The Obama Administration’s accusations means there is bi-partisan agreement that the Iranian regime is sponsoring Al-Qaeda, as contradictory as it may seem. The Iranian regime helps Al-Qaeda operations in Iraq, even though these operations include massacring Shi’ites and destabilizing the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government that is increasingly close to Iran. The regime also helps Al-Qaeda operatives that are fighting against Iran’s ally in Syria. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but much of what Islamists do doesn’t make sense to Westerners.
The 9/11 Commission Report confirms that Iran and Al-Qaeda have had a relationship since late 1991 or early 1992 when its representatives began meeting in Sudan. It didn’t take long for senior Al-Qaeda operatives to go to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps operate, to learn how to make better bombs. In the fall of 1993, another group of Al-Qaeda terrorists went there to learn about explosives, intelligence and security. Osama Bin Laden was especially keen to learn how the Iranians carried out truck bombings.
Read more at Radical Islam
Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org’s National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.