Judge Pirro interviews Emerson on hostage taking, Administration rescue efforts and Al Qaeda-ISIS competition

 

IPT, by Steven Emerson
December 6, 2014

Judge Jeanine: American hostage Luke Somers, a freelance photographer ,was killed late Friday during a rescue attempt by US special forces. Somers was abducted last year and was being held by al Qaeda in Yemen. The murder raises new questions about how the US military will be able to respond to a spike in overseas kidnappings by terrorists. With me now, the founder of the Investigative Project Steve Emerson, and former CIA covert operation officer Mike Baker. All right, Mike. We’ve got two rescues attempts, the American hostage dead. Is there some truth to what the White House says about our intel not being as good as it should be?

Mike Baker: Well, you know, it’s an odd thing to say if they are in fact pushing and saying it wasn’t us. Part of it is they were concerned that they were getting some flack for not approving the initial unsuccessful raid quick enough. You could argue that, look, you control very little in a hostage rescue situation. Intel is never perfect in any of these things. We tend to be conditioned by feature films and beach books to think this is just a pretty simple thing, you find your target, go and rescue them. We have had a very good success rate. But things go wrong and you can never guarantee success when you’re talking about an operation like this.

Judge Jeanine: Alright Steve, same question. Is it good to say that we couldn’t find the guy twice?

Steve Emerson: Well it’s not good to say it, but on the other hand I will give them credit for actually trying to carry out the operations, especially for a president that has eschewed extra judicial operations. I’m glad they’re doing it but the reality is, as Mike pointed out, you’re relying on local intelligence initially, and that local intelligence is going to shift and it’s not going to stay stagnant. It’s going to shift and you’re not going to be able to rely on it when you’re on the ground immediately. However, the reality is it does put us in a position where we’re seen as a paper tiger now. Number two, they’re going to take precautions now to make it almost impossible now to rescue other hostages.

Judge Jeanine: That was my point, Steve and Mike. I’m sure you would agree with me. There’s in point in saying we tried but didn’t get them other than to tell the enemy, you know what we’re coming after our guys. But Steve I want to ask you a question, then Mike I’m gonna go back to you. The group behind this, Steve, is al Qaeda. We’re not talking ISIS now. We’re not talking Syria and Iraq. How were these guys different from ISIS?

Steve Emerson: Well they’re not different from ISIS. Actually they’re in competition and what they realized is that ISIS enriched itself by the tune of tens of millions of dollars by taking hostages and getting them to be paid by ransom money. This is exactly what was going on with this set of hostages. They were going to get paid ransom money, had a set of demands. And al Qaeda realized ISIS was getting a lot of fame and recruitment. So now they [are] in competition [with ISIS….and its] now it’s open season on Americans around the world. So al Qaeda now is in rivalry with ISIS in the same type of tactics, and you can be sure that al Qaeda is going to be killing Americans no matter where they are. Not necessarily directed by al Qaeda core but by al Qaeda- inspired people like in Abu Dhabi as we saw just last week, a woman who was killed. And Americans killed in the Sinai like the Israelis have been killed around the world.

Judge Jeanine: And Mike it seems as Steve is saying that Americans are going to be more at risk of being taken hostage. What can we do about this?

Mike Baker: Well, Americans and our allies, Westerners all over. But we do what we continue to do. It’s a little unusual to say, also, that, you know, well, this unsuccessful raid makes us a paper tiger. It doesn’t make us a paper tiger. It’s just the reality of it. Again, every operation, every hostage rescue attempt presents its own difficulties. And we have the best trained personnel in the world in trying to conduct these operations. But I think we’ve gotten to this place in our lives where the administration and everyone else wants a zero risk world. But it doesn’t work that way.

Judge Jeanine: I understand, Mike, that you want to take that side. But I think when you tell the world that we tried and we lost twice, there’s no point in it. (crosstalk). Hillary Clinton thinks we need to empathize with our enemies. What do you think, Steve? Real fast, we’re coming up against a hard break.

Steve Emerson: I think we should empathize with our friends first.

Judge Jeanine: Mike?

Mike Baker: It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Judge Jeanine: I couldn’t agree more. Steve and Mike, thanks for being with us.

Also see:

FAULTY INTELLIGENCE?

The raid was the third failed rescue attempt of an American hostage in five months and followed a Nov. 25 mission that was unsuccessful because Somers had been moved before U.S. commandos arrived.

In that raid, U.S. commandos and Yemeni troops swooped before dawn into a cave in the eastern province of Hadramout and freed eight people.

Seven of the eight turned out to be al Qaeda members who had been held captive by the militants on suspicion of being government spies, two senior Yemeni officials told Reuters. The eighth was a Yemeni computer specialist, they said.

Al-Ahmadi, Chief of Yemen National Security Bureau, said after the seven were freed they told Yemen authorities they were members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the militant network’s arm in the country, and that they had been accused by their own organization of spying for the government.

Thet were detained by AQAP “not as hostages but as suspects,” a senior Yemini security official said.

Reuters could not independently confirm his description of those being detained. American officials declined to address the question. Officials at the White House and Pentagon did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment.

The seven — five Yemenis, a Saudi and an Ethiopian – are now being held by Yemen’s government, the officials said. It is unclear if the United States was aware that al Qaeda members suspected of being government informants were among the people rescued in that raid.

The raid, along with Saturday’s mission and a failed attempt to rescue American journalist James Foley in July, have raised questions over the quality of intelligence used by Washington in attempts to free American hostages.

 

American and South African Hostage Killed in Yemen during Rescue Attempt

ISIS Study Group:

Luke Somers

Luke Somers

The United States military conducted a raid using Special Operations Forces to try and free US hostage Luke Sommers from AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) affiliates in Yemen. The raid was conducted in conjunction with the Yemeni military. Pierre Korkie a South African was also killed during the raid. It is unclear if the hostages were executed just

Pierre Korkie

Pierre Korkie

prior to the raid or during the raid. However, it is likely that they were killed during the rescue attempt because negotiations had been underway by the Gift of the Givers organization to free Pierre. According to the Gift of the Givers organization Pierre was to be set free on Sunday. Pierre’s wife had earlier been a captive and the organization had negotiated her release. The US had attempted to the rescue due to the recent video released by AQAP that it would kill Sommers on Saturday if the US did not meet AQAP’s demands which were not included in the video released statement.

The US had made a previous attempt to secure the release of Sommers near the Saudi Arabia border in another raid that freed a total of 8 captives which included Yemenis, a Saudi national and one Ethiopian national. Somers and five others were not found at that site. Sommers had been kidnapped in September 2013 while leaving a supermarket in the capital city of Sanaa. Somers had worked as a free lance photographer for the National Yemen news agency since the 2011 uprising in the country.

The US had also conducted a drone strike earlier in the morning in prior to the Special Operations raid to free Luke Somers. It is estimated that the drone strike killed up to 10 militants. The drone strikes in Yemen are disliked because in addition to killing militants there are said to be high casualty rates among civilians. The raid may have taken place in the Shabwa Province in the vicinity of Wadi Abdan where helicopters were said to have been seen flying shortly after the drone strike.

Links to Related Stories:

American hostage ‘murdered’ during failed rescue attempt in Yemen

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/12/06/us-hostage-in-yemen-died-in-failed-rescue-attempt-sister-says/

American Hostage Luke Somers Killed in US Rescue Attempt

http://abcnews.go.com/International/american-hostage-luke-somers-killed-us-rescue-attempt/story?id=27397528

AQAP threatens to execute American hostage

 

LWJ, By

In a new video released by its media wing, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) threatened to kill American hostage Luke Somers if the US government does not meet its demands. The latest video features senior AQAP leader Nasser bin Ali al Ansi, who delineates what he calls American “crimes” throughout the Muslim world, and then includes a clip of Somers giving a statement.

Al Ansi begins his anti-American diatribe by citing alleged American “crimes against the Islamic world.” He notes US support for the “Zionist occupiers,” as well as “massacres and crimes” in a host of Muslim countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia. Al Ansi also mentions the “Crusader campaign … relying on aircraft,” a reference to the covert US drone program that has intensified in Yemen since 2012.

Al Ansi then turns to the US-led raid on a cave in the Hajr as-Say’ar district of Hadramout province that sought to free a number of hostages held by AQAP during the night between Nov. 24 and Nov. 25. Eight hostages were rescued in that operation, which was reportedly carried out by US Special Forces, including members of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six, and Yemeni counterterrorism agents.

Last week Yemeni officials confirmed that an unnamed American, Briton, and South African were said to be among the hostages and were moved prior to the operation. The Yemeni Defense Ministry’s website quoted a Yemeni soldier who clarified that intelligence information indicated that AQAP had been holding 11 hostages. The remaining American hostage in question is apparently Luke Somers, who is featured in the latest AQAP video. Somers, a British-born American photojournalist, has been held by AQAP since his abduction in Sana’a in September 2013.

After condemning the American raid that sought to free Somers as “this latest foolish action” which killed an “elite group of mujahideen,” al Ansi gives the American government an ultimatum: meet AQAP’s demands within a timeframe of three days or Somers will “meet his inevitable fate.” Although al Ansi does not specify AQAP’s demands, he claims that the American officials “are aware” of them.

Al Ansi concludes his statement by personally warning President Barack Obama and the American government “of the consequences of proceeding in any other foolish action.”

Following al Ansi’s preface, Somers is shown providing a brief statement in which he pleads for his life. Somers states: “It’s now been well over a year since I’ve been kidnapped in Sana’a. Basically. I’m looking for any help that can get me out of this situation. I am certain my life is in danger. So as I sit here now, I ask, if anything can be done, please let it be done.”

Although some analysts may interpret the latest AQAP video as a reaction to or imitation of the Islamic State’s hostage execution tactics, such analysis ignores recent developments in Yemen. AQAP’s threat to execute Somers is a clear response to the recent US-led raid in Hadramout that freed eight hostages.

Mindful that the US is currently searching for the remaining hostages, AQAP is trying to use Somers as a negotiating card in an effort to extract concessions from the US administration. The video also is an attempt to show that there is a price to pay for US raids to free hostages held by AQAP.

Also see:

Reshuffling the Deck in the Middle East

A man shuffling a deck of cardsCSP, By Kyle Shideler:

The New York Times wrote on Friday offering a brief glimpse at an underreported front in inter-Islam civil war currently spreading across the Middle East:

Yemen’s Shiite rebels on Friday overran an al-Qaida stronghold after days of battling the militants for the city in the country’s central heartland, a Yemeni official and a tribal leader said. The capture of the city of Radda, in the in the province of Bayda, came with the help of a Yemeni army commander, the two said. The Shiite rebels known as Houthis have been fighting both al-Qaida militants and Sunni tribes over the past few days. The rebels, who in September gained control of the capital, Sanaa, earlier this week overran a key Yemeni port city on the Red Sea.

The action, mirrored similar instances in the past when units in Yemen’s army suspected of links with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Houthi ally, facilitated stunning rebel advances from their home base in northern Saada province. The army commander who helped the Houthis in Radda is said to be a loyalist of the ousted Saleh, who was deposed after the country’s 2011 uprising. Saleh and his party have joined ranks with the Houthis against a common enemy — the Islamist Islah party and its allied tribe of Al-Ahmar, traditional power brokers in Yemen.

Also Friday, fierce clashes erupted in Ibb province, nearly 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Sanaa between the Houthis and tribesmen allied with the Islah party, leaving eight dead, according to other security officials in the province.

The Islah Party is Yemen’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s co-founder is Abdul_Majeed al-Zindani, who is a specially designated global terrorist, and an original spiritual mentor of Osama Bin Laden.

President Obama referred to Yemen and Somalia as models of success to be emulated in Syria. And while my CSP colleague Nik Hanlon handedly covered the problems with the Somalia comparison, Yemen is indeed an apt model for comparison, although not in the way meant by the President. In Yemen the struggle is between Shia militia fighters- backed by Iran and on behalf of a President who was ousted in Western -championed Arab Spring- are advancing against the joint forces of Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. The same is true in Syria, where Muslim Brotherhood-linked fighters, such as the Islamic Front, fight side by side with Al Qaeda-linked Ahrar Al-Sham and AQ’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al Nusra against Iranian IRGC and Shia Militias on behalf of Bashar Assad.

As in Yemen and Syria, so too in Libya, although instead of Iranian-linked Shia, the “counterrevolution” in Libya is led by a former general of Qaddafi’s, Khalifa Haftar, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt in a fight against Al Qaeda’s affiliate Ansar al-Sharia-Libya, and the Muslim Brotherhood-backed militias. The same U.A.E air force that was trumpeted as a partner in the air strikes against ISIS,  conducted air strikes against the Libyan rebels with whom the U.S. had partnered against Qaddafi. But then, in this conflict ironies abound, as when Saudi Arabia bombs the “barbaric” ISIS in airstrikes launched in part following the beheading of Americans, while engaging in a rash of beheadings of their own.

Analysts who examine the current situation as a series of national struggles in separate countries have missed the boat entirely. Everywhere across the region, scores are being settled, and battle lines being drawn and redrawn. What is at stake is not just who will be the next leader of Syria, or Libya, or Yemen. It’s who will be represented as the leader(s) of Islam. Will they be Sunni or Shia? Does ISIS represent a Kharijite deviation as the Muslim Brotherhood accuses, or are the Ikhwan a Murji’ah deviation as ISIS concludes? Do they both represent a takfiri deviation, as the governments Saudi, Egypt and U.A.E and their state-sponsored clerics declare or are these same governments the apostate regimes that ISIS/AQ/MB claim them to be?

These are deeply profound doctrinal questions which are being hashed and rehashed in online screeds over the intricacies of Shariah law, but which will ultimately be settled with violence, just as they have been historically settled for hundreds of years.

For our purposes,  we should realize that the internecine conflict currently being waged does not mean that any of these forces are ultimately pro-Western or allies to be trusted. The same governments which are fighting ISIS paid for the mosques, staffed by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated imams, at which the current group of ISIS fighters with Western passports were educated and indoctrinated. The Syrian rebels- including Muslim Brothers, that are fighting Assad and ISIS were also providing security for an Al Qaeda cell- The so-called Khorasan Group- whose purpose was a mass casualty attack on U.S. or allied soil. The Shia militias fighting ISIS on the outskirts of Baghdad were the ones using Iranian-manufactured Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) to kill hundreds of Americans. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leading the defense of Baghdad against ISIS also taught Al Qaeda how to use truck bombs to carry out the U.S. embassy attacks.

And on and on.

The reshuffling of the deck will continue in the Middle East for the time being, and it’s important to track the players, and understand their doctrinal differences and the basis for their conflict. But that is not the same as imagining that one of them represents a trump card for the West to play.

INTEL DETECTS AL-QAEDA INTENTIONS TO SMUGGLE EXPLOSIVES ONTO U.S.-BOUND AIRLINER USING WESTERN RECRUITS

alqaeda-ReutersBreitbart, by EDWIN MORA, Sep. 14,2014:

A cell of seasoned al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan has joined forces with al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate to pilot innovative methods aimed at smuggling explosives onto U.S.-bound airliners, according to U.S. officials.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials and classified intelligence assessments, the Associated Press revealed that the group’s brutal Yemen affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has been working with an al-Qaeda offshoot from Afghanistan and Pakistan known as the Khorasan group.

A U.S. official said the al-Qaeda coalition is contriving ways to pack uncharged telephones and laptops with “hard-to-detect explosives” that can dodge airport security and detonate unimpeded.

“The fear is that the Khorasan militants will provide these sophisticated explosives to their Western recruits who could sneak them onto U.S.-bound flights,” said AP.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reportedly sent the Khorasan extremists into Syria to enlist Americans and Europeans who possess passports that facilitate boarding planes en route to the U.S.

According to an anonymous U.S. official, in a direct response to information on the cooperation between the Khorasan group and AQAP, the U.S.Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in July, moved to prohibit passengers from bringing uncharged devices onto U.S.-bound flights coming from Europe and the Middle East.

AQAP has already placed three bombs on U.S.-bound planes, but ultimately failed in bringing the airliners down.

The Khorasan cadre of fighters was recently described by the Los Angeles Times as a ruthless wing of the Pakistani Taliban clique led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur charged with intelligence gathering.

In a July 15 article, the Los Angleles Times provided a glimpse into the group’s vicious tactics, revealing how it has killed an undetermined number of civilians in their own torture chambers and detention centers.

The group “recorded confessional statements by those accused of spying. Beheaded bodies were found hanging from trees, bearing warnings not to bury them for three days, contravening Islamic custom.”

“A doctor who said he had treated fighters said the militants devised new techniques to terrorize residents,” also mentioned the LA Times, gruesomely adding:

One morning he saw 29 human heads placed in a row outside the government hospital in Miram Shah, opposite a security base. Later, militants began kicking the heads.

During his weekly address delivered on September 13, President Obama alleged that his administration has inflicted damage upon the core al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

“Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, we took out Osama bin Laden, much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and leaders of al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia,” said Obama. “We’ve prevented terrorist attacks, saved American lives and made our homeland more secure.”

However, the AP article highlighted that the al-Qaeda movement still poses a threat to the West.

Furthermore in January, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate panel that the expansion of al-Qaeda’s ideology through its affiliates makes the terrorist group a “formidable threat.”

Of concern to intelligence officials are the score of Americans and Europeans who have gone joined the fight on the side of various extremist factions in Syria.

“Some of those Westerners’ identities are unknown and therefore they are less likely to draw the attention of intelligence officials when they purchase tickets and board a crowded jetliner heading for European and American cities,” warned the AP report.

The Khorasan group went into Syria to link up with the al-Qaeda branch there, the Nusra Front.

According to The Long War Journal, Khorasan “refers to a region that encompasses large areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran. Jihadists consider the Khorasan to be the area where they will inflict the first defeat against their enemies in the Muslim version of Armageddon. The final battle is to take place in the Levant – Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.”

Also see:

 

Terrorist tanker training?

9_3_2014_ring8201_c0-136-3826-2366_s561x327By Bill Gertz:

U.S. intelligence agencies last month reported that a group of 22 Yemeni-Americans were training in Houston to be seamen on oil tankers, raising terrorism concerns over the unusual activity.

The Department of Homeland Security issued an Aug. 26 report from its National Terrorism Advisory System about the case.

“Reporting revealed that 22 students of Middle Eastern descent from Michigan and California were enrolled in recent maritime training courses in Houston, TX to obtain training, licensing, and/or mariner ratings during calendar year 2014,” the report said. “All students were naturalized U.S. citizens from Yemen.”

The report said the U.S. government received confidential information from intelligence sources indicating suspicions about the Yemeni-Americans attending the seamanship classes. Most of the men were from Dearborn, Michigan, and their training in Texas was considered unusual because other marine training schools are located closer to Michigan.

An investigation revealed that all the students worked on oil carriers in the Great Lakes and came to Texas because similar schools in Michigan had closed. Twenty of the students were from Dearborn, and two were from Oakland, California.

The training they received allows them to qualify for work on ocean-going oil tankers and ships.

“Database checks did not reveal any nefarious connections,” the report said.

However, the report was circulated to DHS-related intelligence units throughout the country, and law enforcement agencies in Detroit, San Francisco and Houston.

Yemen is a hub for the terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has carried out two failed terrorist attacks on U.S. airliners in recent years.

Security officials are concerned al Qaeda-linked terrorists may be preparing an attack using a hijacked oil tanker, either by blowing it up or using it as an environmental weapon.

Read more at Washington Times

Rogers: Competing Terror Groups Multiply Danger to U.S.

 

By Patrick Goodenough:

(CNSNews.com) – The terrorist threat facing the United States is greater now than it was before 9/11 and the failure to address the jihadist problem as “an ecosystem” is helping it to spread and become more dangerous, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers warned Sunday.

“The difference here is that, before 9/11, there were single-level threat streams coming into the United States – some pretty serious,” the Michigan Republican said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “Obviously, they got in and conducted the attacks on 9/11.”

“Now you have multiple organizations, all al-Qaeda-minded, trying to accomplish the same thing,” he said, citing the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda affiliated such as the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

 

“Thousands of individuals now signing up with ISIL to fight their jihad in Syria and Iraq have Western passports. That’s what’s so dangerous about this,” he said.

“We also know that they want to conduct an attack. But so does al Qaeda. And so now you have two competing terrorist organizations. Both of them want to get their credentials to the point where they can say, ‘We are the premier terrorist organization.’ Both want to conduct attacks in the West for that reason.”

“And guess what?” he added. “That means we lose at the end. If either one ever those organizations is successful, we lose.”

He pointed to concerns raised by Attorney-General Eric Holder recently about a rising terror threat from Yemen – “one of the things that keeps him up at night. I would concur with him. That is an attack that many believe is going operational. And that is what we should be worried about.”

Rogers said he believed the terrorist danger to the U.S. now is greater that before 9/11 because “the threat matrix is so wide. And it’s so deep. We just didn’t have that before 9/11.”

He observed that ISIS controls territory the size of Indiana, possesses sophisticated weaponry and is reported to have “as much as billion dollars in both precious metals, currency, and, by the way, selling oil on the black market to the tune of about a million dollars a day.”

Rogers pointed to parallels between ISIS’ viciousness and that of other terrorist groups.

“This is exactly the kind of thing – beheading people, convert or die, burning religious relics from the past – just the sheer brutality of it is exactly what AQAP pitches. It’s what Boko Haram [in Nigeria] pitches. When they took those 300 girls, that’s what that was all about.

“That’s what they’re practicing and putting into practice. That’s why this policy of not dealing with it as an ecosystem, I think, is wrong and has caused the spread and danger of these organizations.”

Syria and Iraq ‘one war’

Rogers argued that the U.S. would not solve the problem of ISIS without confronting the terrorist group both in Iraq and in Syria.

“I think the president said they’re not related. They are absolutely related,” he said.

Rogers noted that the caliphate declared by ISIS in June has its envisaged capital in Syria (the northern city of Raqqa, which has been under ISIS control for more than a year), and took issue with any attempt to distinguish between the Iraq and Syria situations.

“To say they’re not related, I think just diminishes our opportunity for a strategic victory.”

Read more at CNS News

FBI Foils Islamist Terror Shooting in New York

FBI-Agents-HPBY RYAN MAURO:

On May 31, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen was arrested in Rochester, New York as he aspired to shoot U.S. soldiers and Shiite Muslims. He was angry at U.S. foreign policy, but the basis of his worldview was a belief in Islamist doctrine and that Shariagovernance must be fought for.

The criminal complaint says Mufid E. Elfeegh illegally purchased two unregistered firearms silencers so he could go on a shooting rampage against U.S. troops that returned from Iraq and Shiite Muslims. He expressed support for Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra, and Ansar al-Islam.

The complaint says Elfeegh sent out tweets “stating that people will have an honorable life under sharia law and that with grenades in their hands they are ready to die for the sake of Allah.”

He made it clear that he was fighting for the sake of global conquest by his version of Islam. He said that ISIS, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria and Iraq, “will one day rule the world with the will of Allah.”

His targeting of the U.S. was largely because he views the country as standing in the way of this objective.

“Al-Qaeda said it loud and clear. We are fighting the American invasion and their hegemony over the earth and its people,” he was recorded saying.

Read more at Clarion Project

CNN: U.S. Facing a ‘Triple Threat from Al Qaeda’

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
May 20, 2014 5:47 pm

CNN’s Pentagon corespondent Barbara Starr reported Tuesday on a “triple threat from al Qaeda” the United States faces in Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.

Syria has become a “hot bed” for training camps and planning of external attacks, and a “growing threat” from al Qaeda exists in Yemen. Starr said there is a concern al Qaeda there are capable of attacking the U.S. embassy in Yemen, as well as inside the U.S. itself.

Also, an American-born terrorist known as Abdullah al-Shami is essentially the head of al Qaeda’s external planning operations in Pakistan and is being closely monitored by American intelligence.

“This is not al Qaeda on the run,” Starr said. “This is someone they’re watching very closely.”

US targets AQAP master bomb maker in 2 strikes in Yemen

 

April 19, 2014 - People gather near a destroyed car that was carrying militants in the Sawmaa area of al-Bayda province, Yemen.AP

April 19, 2014 – People gather near a destroyed car that was carrying militants in the Sawmaa area of al-Bayda province, Yemen.AP

By 

The US targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s top bomb maker in one of two strikes that took place in Yemen over the past two days. Unnamed Yemeni officials have speculated that Ibrahim Hassan Tali al Asiri, who has built innovative bombs for the Yemeni terror group, may have been killed, but the reports are unconfirmed.

The strike that targeted Asiri took place after midnight last night on a highway between the districts of Markhah and Bayhan in Shabwa province, according to Barakish. The unmanned Predators or Reapers targeted a car as it traveled on the highway, and killed four AQAP fighters.

Asiri is reported to be among them, but his death has not been confirmed by AQAP or Yemeni officials. Initial reports suggest that the helicopters picked up four bodies, presumably to identify them. Although Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi sent a message of “thanks, praise, and appreciation” to the Yemeni antiterrorism unit for carrying out the strike, eyewitnesses confirmed that US drones targeted and fired on the AQAP vehicle.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said that Asiri is at the top of the list of the most dangerous AQAP leaders and is actively being targeted. Asiri is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and was behind the failed Christmas Day 2009 airliner attack as well as the design for an underwear bomb that is nearly undetectable and was to be detonated on an airliner. Asiri has said that he has trained other operatives in AQAP to build bombs.

Drones target AQAP training camp in the Al Mahfad district

In the other strike, which took place yesterday, US drones struck an AQAP training camp in the Al Mahfad district of Abyan province. Reports in the Arabic press claim that more than 30 AQAP militants were killed in the strike aimed at a training camp hidden in the mountainous areas between Shabwa and Abyan provinces. A source in Yemen’s Security Council said the strike was carried out after Yemeni intelligence received information regarding the presence of AQAP operatives at the camp who were actively planning to attack vital military and civilian installations.

The same Yemeni source said that AQAP operatives from various nationalities were killed in the drone strike. Local eyewitnesses said they had noticed a big gathering of suspected AQAP militants in the area of the camp the night before. They also claimed that following the strike AQAP militants hastily collected the bodies of those killed.

Reports in the Arabic media also describe a Yemeni air force bombardment of the camp that lasted for a few hours after the drone strike.

In related news, in the evening before the strike on the training camp, the Yemeni Defense Ministry arrested 10 AQAP militants in Shabwa. In an official statement issued after the third strike this weekend, authorities said the 10 militants were headed to the training camp that was targeted in Al Mahfad.

The US also hit AQAP training camps in the Al Mahfad area on April 1.

The Al Mahfad district is a known stronghold for AQAP. In the spring of 2012, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters and leaders regrouped in the Al Mahfad area after being driven from cities such as Zinjibar, Jaar, Lawdar, and Shaqra during a Yemeni military offensive that began in the spring of 2012 [see Threat Matrix report, AQAP regroups in Abyan province]. AQAP controlled the cities in Abyan, as well as other cities and towns in neighboring Shabwa province, after launching its own offensive in 2011.

AQAP remains entrenched in the Al Mahfad area despite several Yemeni military operations that attempted to dislodge the terror group. The US launched three drone strikes in Al Mahfad in 2013; one in May, one in June, and one in July.

Read more at Long War Journal

Al Qaeda’s general manager threatens America in video of large gathering

WuhayshiBy 

A video released by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in late March has garnered renewed attention in the media. The video, entitled “The First of the Heavy Rain,” features two AQAP leaders, as well as lower-level fighters who escaped from a Yemeni prison in February 2014.

Nasir al Wuhayshi, who is both the emir of AQAP and al Qaeda’s overall general manager, is shown speaking to a gathering of more than 100 people. “O brothers, the Crusader enemy is still shuffling his papers, so we must remember that we are always fighting the biggest enemy, the leaders of disbelief, and we have to overthrow those leaders, we have to remove the Cross, and the carrier of the Cross is America,” Wuhayshi says, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Ibrahim al Rubaish, a Saudi who was once held at Guantanamo and now serves as a top sharia official in AQAP, is also shown speaking in the video. Rubaish praises the newfound freedom of some jihadist fighters, including those shown in the video, but he laments the fact that others remain imprisoned in Guantanamo and elsewhere.

The video has sparked the media’s interest because it is a brazen display of AQAP strength inside Yemen. Wuhayshi is a hunted man and he is presumably on America’s list of potential targets for drone strikes. Yet, he felt comfortable enough in his home country to lead a large, public gathering of his followers.

“Core” al Qaeda in Yemen

Wuhayshi served as Osama bin Laden’s aide-de-camp and protégé in pre-9/11 Afghanistan. He fled to Iran, where he was detained, sometime after the Battle of Tora Bora. Wuhayshi was eventually transferred to Yemeni custody, but he escaped from prison in 2006.

Al Qaeda has long sought to wage insurgencies in Muslim countries it considers ripe for a jihadist takeover. Yemen and Saudi Arabia have been high on al Qaeda’s list of target countries. However, a fierce counterterrorism campaign in Saudi Arabia that began in 2003 quashed al Qaeda’s early efforts in the Arabian Peninsula. Al Qaeda also struggled, at first, to establish a full-scale insurgency in Yemen. But prison escapees such as Wuhayshi and Guantanamo returnees such as Rubaish have replenished al Qaeda’s leadership in the Arabian Peninsula and contributed to al Qaeda’s resurgence.

In early 2009, Wuhayshi and other jihadists announced the rebirth of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, swearing allegiance to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in the process. Ayman al Zawahiri had previously recognized Wuhayshi as al Qaeda’s top man in the Arabian Peninsula.

In the summer of 2013, Zawahiri appointed Wuhayshi to the position of al Qaeda’s general manager. Wuhayshi’s appointment to the role of general manager was accompanied by a large-scale threat that forced the closing of American diplomatic facilities around the world. The US learned of this threat when intelligence officials captured video of Zawahiri communicating, via a complex Internet-based system, with more than 20 of his subordinates, including Wuhayshi.

Al Qaeda’s general manager serves a “core” function within the group. The role was previously held by senior terrorists in South Asia. According to declassified documents captured in Osama bin Laden’s compound, the duties performed by al Qaeda’s general manager include coordinating military and media activities, and communicating with al Qaeda’s “regions,” or branches, as well as with allies such as the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. [For a more complete discussion of the general manager’s role, see LWJ report, AQAP’s emir also serves as al Qaeda’s general manager.]

In another recent video, Abu Sulayman al Muhajir, a sharia official in the Al Nusrah Front, explains that al Qaeda also has a leader who oversees the organization’s efforts in various geographic locations, or regions. The Al Nusrah Front is al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.

Al Qaeda “draws up its plans and its strategy based on what we call al Qalim, or locations,” Sulayman says in the video. And a leader, who swears bayat (an oath of allegiance) to Ayman al Zawahiri, is chosen to oversee each of these locations. In addition, Sulayman explains, al Qaeda appoints another leader who “overlooks all of these different locations,” and this position is called Masul al Qalim. [See LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front official explains al Qaeda’s strategy, conflict with former branch.]

This leadership role described by Sulayman is filled by someone other than al Qaeda’s general manager, according to US intelligence officials. Both the general manager and the Masul al Qalim have deputies on their staff to support their work.

Such roles, and what they say about how al Qaeda is actually organized, are generally not reflected in the public discourse. It is commonly argued that there is a “core” of al Qaeda in South Asia and this entity is distinct from al Qaeda branches elsewhere. But Wuhayshi serves as one of al Qaeda’s most senior leaders from Yemen. And his role is part of the same leadership structure that includes Zawahiri, other deputies, and various supporting councils. These leaders are located not just in South Asia, but also elsewhere.

Read more at Long War Journal

U.S. May Have Missed Opportunity to Take Out Top Al Qaeda Leaders

Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-10.06.28-AMBY: Washington Free Beacon Staff:

April 16, 2014 10:14 am

Al Qaeda leaders were able to hold a large meeting somewhere in south Yemen despite U.S. drone warfare targeting that region, according to a video published on Hot Air.

The video comes from a CNN report:

A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.

U.S. officials won’t comment on that, but every frame of the video is now being analyzed by the United States.

In the middle of the clip, the man known as al Qaeda’s crown prince, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, appears brazenly out in the open, greeting followers in Yemen. Al-Wuhayshi, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has said he wants to attack the United States. But in the video, he looks unconcerned that he could be hit by an American drone.

The video started appearing on jihadist websites recently, drawing the attention of U.S. officials and global terrorism experts. U.S. officials say they believe it’s authentic.

Hot Air writer Ed Morrisey wonders if the United States may have missed a “golden opportunity to take out a large number of al Qaeda leaders.”

Did the U.S. know about this [meeting] ahead of time? If they did, they must have either had difficulty arranging the logistics of an attack — or perhaps had other assets in place for other reasons. 

Morrisey speculates that the lost opportunity could have been caused by the effort to transfer the drone program from the CIA to the Defense Department.

The Tribal Paradigm – They are Finally Beginning to Understand

yemen-regions-2By Mordechai Kedar:

I will begin on a personal note: I sometimes wonder if the things that I publish on this honorable stage reach decision makers in Israel, the Arab world or the world at large. I am usually fairly skeptical, because the conduct of Western politicians indicates a rather poor understanding of Middle Eastern matters, and the rulers in this region prefer their personal interests over the general good.

For years I have been claiming that the only thing that can save the population of the Middle East from sinking into a morass of violence, blood, tears and fire is to partition the dysfunctional states into emirates with a homogeneous population and traditional leadership emerging from within the people, not appointed by colonialists, whether from historical times or modern times. Only this type of framework can offer its citizens a reasonable quality of life.

Lately a glimmer of hope has begun to shine, with the government of Yemen deciding to divide the state into six regions, each of which with its own capital city: the region of Hadramawt and its capital Al Mukalla, the region of Saba (the modern name for the historical kingdom of Sheba) with its capital of Ma’rib; the region of Aden with its capital the port city of Aden; the region of Janad with its capital Taez; the region of Azal with its capital of Sana’a; the region of Tehama with its capital the port city of Hudaydah. The idea of partition has won the overwhelming support of the decision making bodies in Yemen.

In a federation of tribal regions, the general good must take precedence over any specific tribe and resources must be shared

The Basic principles behind the proposal:

  • Equality of citizenship for all citizens of the state, meaning that no tribe – even that of the president of the country – will have preferred status over any other tribe.
  • The regions will be autonomous and no region will attempt to interfere in the matters of any other region.
  • Regions with natural resources will cooperate in the exploitation of these resources with regions that have fewer such resources, especially regarding oil.
  • Regions will seek to achieve social and economic harmony in order to satisfy the needs of the population and grant it a life of dignity.
  • The authorities to be vested in the branches of government in each region and on every level will be determined in a federal constitution.

For our purposes, the important point in this plan is the fact that it is the fruit of the people of Yemen’s own public thought process and is based on familiarity with the social characteristics specific to each individual region. Each region has a solid social basis with familiar and legitimate leadership that is capable of establishing a way of life based on law and order that will be acceptable to the great majority of the population. Each region is capable of maintaining itself economically.

The capital of the federation will be Sana’a. Its municipal management will not be under the control of any of the regions, and the constitution will assure its neutrality and its independence. The city of Aden will have special status in the federal constitution, in order to assure that the port located in this city will serve all of the regions equally.

Each region will be able to partition itself into administrative districts according to its own considerations, that is, according to the internal distribution of its population. The purpose of this is to allow the tribes and their leaders to express themselves on the public stage.

The federal state will have a parliament in which each region will be represented. The natural resources of the well-endowed regions (in oil and minerals) will be managed transparently and fairly so that the state will be able to enjoy these resources, and the regions which do not have natural resources will not feel that they are economically marginalized members of the federation.

Free movement of goods, capital and services will encourage entrepreneurship and economic development

Each region will have economic freedom. Citizens, goods, capital and services will be able to move about freely, without customs-related barriers or prohibitions on imports or exports between regions, in order to encourage commercial activity and entrepreneurship.

The federal government will be responsible for conducting inter-regional activity, and it will watch for the development of pockets of economic neglect, because these pockets could become a source of public anger that may eventually cause violence to be directed against the general public.

The borders of the regions were determined by a committee of experts, who partitioned north Yemen into four regions and south Yemen into two. The committee is headed by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has been the president of Yemen for the two last years. At the meeting of the committee held in late January of this year (2014) he called on the members of the committee to act impartially, giving priority to the general good of the citizens of Yemen over the local interests of any sector of the population.

The fact that the president of the country was personally involved in the work of the committee is very important, because it clearly illustrates that he operates in a totally differently way from the failed policy of his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Salah, who insisted that the country remain one unit under his and his tribe’s sole control. Hadi, in contrast, tries to find a way to transfer authorities from the central government to the local leadership, thus responding to the sensitivities of a population that has never undergone a process of obscuring tribal identities.

Who will be responsible for privately owned weapons and recent jihadi immigrants?

This is the plan, and it has a broad and solid basis in social logic in a land as divided as Yemen, but the devil – as always – is in the small details, for example: who will deal with the weapons that are freely traded in the Yemenite markets, will it be the federal government or perhaps this will be assigned to the local government, which is, in many cases, managed by cousins of the weapons dealers. This matter is especially important, since in Yemen every man has at least one automatic, long barrel weapon, and whenever he feels that something of his was taken from him he uses his weapon freely.

The second question that casts a shadow on the plan is who will deal with the aliens who have entered Yemen from all over the Islamic world under al-Qaeda leadership; will it be the federal government or perhaps the local friends of these foreign jihadists. This matter will be especially problematic if responsibility for security is transferred to local governments, because then local militias will be able to impose their agenda on the population while claiming to be the “regional police”.

One one hand, local militias are supposed to be a legitimate force to impose the local interests on all of the people of the region and on their behalf, however – on the other hand – they may become crime organizations under the leadership of “war barons” dealing in drugs, weapons, goods and currency, sowing fear and terror among the population while being camouflaged as “local police”, who are acting within their authority and responsibility.

Conflicting ideals: the cohesive tribal unit vs. the greater Arab nation

Arab intellectuals who see the plan view it with significant doubt and great suspicion, because – in their opinion and according to their approach – the Arab nation must go in the direction of erasing the differences between the groups and unifying the people under the concept of one great Arab nation.

However, the deteriorating situation in Syria, Iraq and Libya, countries where there is a great deal of tribalism, prompts Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the president of Yemen, to go forward in the direction of partitioning the country. He and his associates do not want Yemen, which is similarly socially divided, to deteriorate as well into the situation that exists in Syria, Iraq and Libya, so they decided to take preemptive steps by increasing regional autonomy of the various sectors of the population, despite the implicit recognition that with this plan, traditional frameworks are given priority over the modern ideas of unity and social blending. Hadi and his associates understand well that they must tailor the country according to the “social dimensions” of the population, and not continue imposing upon the population a state that does not reflect the traditional social characteristics of most of its citizens.

Hadi takes a strategic decision not to fight the natural tendencies of the citizens

President Hadi has made a strategic decision: instead of shaping the people to fit the criteria of the state he has decided to shape the state according to the principles of the people. He is cooperating with the people and with its established inclinations, and does not forcibly try to impose upon the people a political template that most of the people of Yemen are not interested in.

In my opinion Hadi will enter the pantheon of leaders who have understood – sometimes after difficult and bloody struggles – that there is room to challenge the artificial political frameworks that had been determined by colonialist superpowers according to Europe’s interests, and to begin to establish frameworks according to the desires of the peoples of the Middle East.

And if, in a given place, the public is loyal to the tribal framework, then the most correct thing is to allow the the tribal framework to manage the life of its population according to its own principles and by means of its own traditional leadership. Is this scheme impervious to danger? No, however the modern political scheme has been proven to be a failed plan with no chance of success, and the hundreds of thousands of fatalities in Syria, Iraq and Libya are the irrefutable proof of this.

Hadi is willing to try the tribal paradigm, which we have been claiming for years is the only one capable of granting the people of the Middle East a reasonable way of life, and from this honorable stage, we wish him great success.

Mehanna Ruling Draws Line Between Speech and Material Support

Gitmo Parting Gifts: Job Training & Islam Classes

en_0501_martin_640x480-450x336By :

In another triumph of idiocy, the Obama administration is negotiating with the Yemeni government to release Guantanamo Bay and Afghan terrorists to a “rehabilitation” facility to be constructed outside Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a. According to the Los Angeles Times, the detainees “would undergo counseling, instruction in a peaceful form of Islam, and job training in Yemen before any decision on freeing them,” would be made.

The deal is part of the president’s ongoing effort to close Guantanamo Bay. He reiterated that intention on November 4, asking Congress to once again consider lifting restrictions on detainee transfers. Speaking on behalf of the president, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney contended that Congress has “significantly limited our ability to responsibly reduce the detainee population and ultimately close the facility.”

Rightfully so. Unlike the Obama administration, Congress recognizes that many nations refuse to repatriate potential terrorists, as well as the reality that some released prisoners rejoin the ranks of those seeking to destroy the West. A report released early last month by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) revealed that out of the 603 terrorists released from Gitmo, 100 have been “confirmed of reengaging” in terrorist activities, and another 74 are “suspected of reengaging.”

In other words, as many as 174 thugs we had already risked Americans lives to capture are now free to pursue jihad against our soldiers all over again. Not only is such a reality apparently a reasonable tradeoff for an Obama administration determined to elevate politics over the safety of Americans, it is a willful determination to ignore the threat that Yemen itself presents and has presented for quite some time.

In 2009, Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) joined Republicans calling for a halt of Gitmo prisoner transfers to Yemen because it was “too unstable.” Nine days earlier, the Obama administration had released 12 detainees from Guantanamo Bay, six of whom ended up in Yemen. Four days after that, Yemen-trained “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Northwest flight 253, and a Yemen-based al Qaeda affiliate claimed credit for the attempt. Furthermore, ABC News revealed that the Christmas Day plot was abetted by two Gitmo detainees released to Saudi Arabia in 2007.

At the time Obama blamed it all on a “systemic failure” of Yemen’s security apparatus. He imposed a moratorium on releasing detainees to Yemen in January 2010, and promised not to release any detainee who posed a threat to the American people. Yet in spite of the ongoing terror threat emanating from that nation, Obama lifted his moratorium on May 23, 2013. He did so despite the belief of intelligence officials that the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen represents the greatest threat to the U.S. homeland and that the affiliate’s creation was abetted by several former Gitmo detainees released in 2006.

But it gets worse. According to al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) expert Gregory Johnsen, the formation of AQAP was the result of a merger between a “handful of former Gitmo detainees, primarily Saudi citizens” who slipped into Yemen, and al Qaeda members who staged a 2006 break from a maximum security prison in Sana’a. Regardless, the president remained defiant. “I think the lifting of the moratorium reflects a changing U.S. policy that reflects a changing Yemen,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in August.

Thus, the president is continuing the effort to create a de facto “half way house” for the Yemeni prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Yemenis comprise more than half the facility’s remaining 164 inmates.

Read more at Front Page