Al-Qaeda-Inspired Group Launches as Islamic State Alternative in Pakistan

AFP/STR

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, Sept. 12, 2017:

Former al-Qaeda fighters have launched a new group in terrorist safe haven Pakistan for jihadists who have severed ties with the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch in the region.

Although the new group claims it has no official links to al-Qaeda or any other foreign terrorist group, it concedes that Osama bin Laden, the former al-Qaeda leader who was killed by the U.S. military, inspired its ideology, reports Voice of America (VOA).

ISIS and al-Qaeda are considered to be enemies.

Two former al-Qaeda members who had grown disgruntled with the terrorist group this year reportedly assembled the new jihadist group, dubbed Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan.

“The group was allegedly created to operate as a platform for militants who have parted ways with IS [Islamic State] in the country, it said in an online statement. It claimed to be active in several parts of the country,” notes VOA.

In an announcement disseminated through a Twitter account, Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan declared, “We give glad tidings to Muslim Ummah [community] that a large number of Mujahideen [jihadists] from Karachi, Punjab, and tribal areas are leaving ranks of IS and announce disassociation with [it].”

ISIS has “spread differences” and “secession instead of unity,” said the new terrorist group, which has vowed to continue its struggle through “jihad” against “infidel and apostates.”

VOA concedes that it was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the Twitter account linked to the newly formed jihadist organization.

However, the counterterrorism department of the Karachi police has acknowledged the new group’s existence, revealing that it maintains a presence in the Pakistani territory between Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.

Pakistani authorities believe the newly-emerged group primarily operates out of Pakistan’s largest city Karachi, which is also considered to house a significant presence of terrorists affiliated with the South Asia-based al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) branch.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Saeed, the head of the Rangers paramilitary security force in Karachi, told local reporters that among the members of the new group are individuals with masters degrees in applied physics.

As it expanded its foothold in Pakistan, the local Islamic State branch known as the Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) reportedly recruited from a pool of individuals with sophisticated skills at universities across the country, including students, doctors, lawyers, journalists, and businessmen, and also used women for its fundraising operations.

Maj. Saeed revealed that Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan also has female members.

Terrorist groups in the region, namely the Pakistani Taliban or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have been engaged in efforts to recruit female jihadists, taking a page from ISIS’s playbook.

The U.S. military has linked TTP with the Islamic State, noting that the majority of ISIS-K members are former Pakistani Taliban jihadists.

Afghan and Pakistani Taliban members considered themselves to belong to two distinct groups with separate goals and led by different people.

The formation of the new jihadist group is a testament to the ongoing presence of al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, nearly 16 years after the U.S. military was deployed to defeat the terrorist organization in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the American homeland.

Despite the trillions of American taxpayer dollars invested in defeating the Afghan Taliban and its ally al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the thousands of U.S. military service members killed and injured trying to carry out that mission, the two groups are believed to have grown stronger in recent years.

In its latest assessment of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001, the Pentagon notes:

The Afghanistan-Pakistan border region remains a sanctuary for various groups, including al Qaeda, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e- Tayyiba, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), ISIS-K, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Sanctuary on the Pakistan side and presence on the Afghan side remain a security challenge for both countries and pose a threat to regional security and stability.

Echoing Indian and Afghan officials, the Pentagon has long accused Pakistan of harboring terrorist groups, particularly the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their ally the Haqqani Network, considered one of the top threats facing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Islamabad denies the allegations.

Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan, the newly formed terrorist group, has already been linked to several terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi, notes VOA, citing counterterrorism authorities in Islamabad.

The name “Ansar al-Sharia” has been used by jihadists groups in various countries affiliated with al-Qaeda.

In particular, the allegedly dissolved al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya that the U.S. believes was behind the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans called itself Ansar al-Sharia in Libya (ASL).

Nevertheless, the newly-formed Ansar al-Sharia Pakistan insists it is not officially linked to any foreign terrorist organization, particularly al-Qaeda.

Pamela Geller: SEPTEMBER 11th, sixteen years later and so much worse

Geller Report, by  Pamela Geller, September 11, 2017:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history took place when four commercial airliners were hijacked by Muslim terrorists. The first two planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, hit the western side of the Pentagon, just outside Washington, D.C. The fourth hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed down in a field in rural Pennsylvania, never reaching its intended target because its crew and passengers fought back against the terrorists. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks, a number that would almost certainly have been significantly higher if not for the actions of those aboard Flight 93.

It’s a day the left would rather we ignore. It’s a day that Islamic supremacists secretly and not so secretly celebrate. It’s a day the elites call a day of service. In service to whom? The attackers? The simpering soft selling and apologetics is a deliberate distraction and a diversion from discussing the enemy and their ideology.

September 11th is  national day of mourning. Period.

At 8:45 am on September 11, 2001, Muslim terrorists hijacked American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel and crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more on the building’s higher floors.

Eighteen minutes later at 9:03 am, a second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center and sliced into the south tower and explodes.

At 9:45 the jihadis struck the nerve center of the U.S. military, Flight 77 slams into the Pentagon.

10:05 a.m.: The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris forms and slowly drifts away from the building.

10:10 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked. crashed down in a field in rural Pennsylvania, never reaching its intended target because its crew and passengers fought back against the terrorists. The hijackers were targeting the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland or several nuclear power plants along the Eastern seaboard.

After a brief discussion, a vote was taken and the passengers decided to fight back against their hijackers, informing several people on the ground of their plans. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett Jr., told his wife over the phone, “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.” Another passenger, Todd Beamer, was heard over an open line saying, “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.” Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant, called her husband and explained that she had slipped into a galley and was filling pitchers with boiling water. Her last words to him were: “Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” (History)

10:28 a.m.: The World Trade Center’s north tower collapses from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.

11:18 a.m.: American Airlines reports it has lost two aircraft. American Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard. Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, had 58 passengers and six crew members aboard. Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.

An aerial view of the damage at the Pentagon two days after Sept. 11, 2001

Two women hold each other as they watch the World Trade Center burn following a terrorist attack on the twin skyscrapers in New York City on September 11, 2001. #
AP Photo/Ernesto Mora

11:26 a.m.: United Airlines reports that United Flight 93, en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, has crashed in Pennsylvania. The airline also says that it is “deeply concerned” about United Flight 175.

11:59 a.m.: United Airlines confirms that Flight 175, from Boston to Los Angeles, has crashed with 56 passengers and nine crew members aboard. It hit the World Trade Center’s south tower.

On a beautiful, bright blue sunny morning, a perfect day in mid-September. Nothing was ever the same.

My life changed on that one day, in one moment.

The World Trade Center was burning.

The Pentagon was burning.

The World Trade Center was a city all its own. It had it’s own zip code, 10048. It was populated by 50,000 people at the height of the day, and 200,000 more people visited it every day.

The building was an architectural marvel.

When those gleaming towers were attacked, I stood in front of my TV, paralyzed. And when the Towers came down in a blinding cloud of flesh, bone, paper, steel — shreds of life — I wept.

I didn’t know who we were at war with. But I did know that life as we knew was was over, dead. It had become history, a memory, on that morning. War had come came to America.

The horror and death was on a scale that was unimaginable in America. People, who just hours earlier, had their morning joe, kissed their wives or husbands, took their children to school, maybe grabbed a McMuffin and hurried into the city to get to their desks, were faced with the most shocking, horrific imminent death. Men and women waving shirts or jackets stood on the gashed edge of a gaping wound at the top floors of the towers. No one could get to them. No one could help them. The heat from the flames of the airplane turned into a fireball that left people with no choice. Burn to death or jump. Hundreds jumped to their deaths. “It looked like they were blinded by smoke… they just walked to the edge and fell out.”

When they hit the pavement, their bodies were not so much broken as obliterated.

Eyewitnesses talked of a couple who held hands as they fell.

One woman, in a final act of modesty, appeared to be holding down her skirt. Others tried to make parachutes out of curtains or tablecloths, only to have them wrenched from their grip by the force of their descent.

The fall was said to take about ten seconds. If someone fell head down with their body straight, as if in a dive, it could be 200mph. When they hit the pavement, their bodies were not so much broken as obliterated.

The sound of the bodies hitting the pavement was deafening. I did not hear them at the time — but in the beginning, in the news reports, before all the news regarding the jumpers were censored and scrubbed, I heard the sound then. Years later, when I was editing my Ground Zero Mosque movie, I included that footage in the film, and that sound is horrifying.

I thought about John Florio, that big brave firefighter who worked out at my gym. He would come in every morning with a tiny infant and leave her in the windowed childcare center. I wondered if he had rushed to Manhattan when he heard about the attack, to help out.

John Florio had, and he had died there.

The memories are vivid still.

The jihadis came to conquer America and looking back sixteen years later, they have had a good measure of success. The media, universities, schools, culture, etc has submitted to a good measure of islamization. Those who oppose jihad and sharia are demonized and smeared by hate groups like the SPLC and terror-tied CAIR. Our names are dragged through the mud. Our reputations are ruined.

Sixteen years later, look where we are.  For years, public schools didn’t each talk about 9/11.  Now they do. The lessons “emphasize the good that grew out of the “tragedy,” In the UK,  teachers “scared” to teach about 9/11 for fear of being labeled “Islamophobic.” Terror-tied groups like the Muslim Student Association areholding a celebratory cake sale at Hunter College today.

In one of the most celebrated plays in recent memory, Disgraced,  the lead character, Muslim-American Amir Kapoor, admits he felt a “blush of pride” on September 11th. The play received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work – Play or Musical and a 2013 Obie Award for Playwriting. But cartoonists, writers, poets, journalists, are targeted for death for opposing the most brutal and extreme ideology on the planet. We can’t talk about this.

Millions of Americans have, without even realizing it, internalized the idea that it is “racist” and “bigoted” to resist jihad terror. People are used to granting Muslims special accommodations in the workplace. On campuses nationwide, Muslims are presented as victims of the American “Islamophobic” war machine. Movies studiously avoid depicting jihadis as villains.

Our public schools proselytize for Islam, teaching our children the shahada and the five pillars of Islam. American university have become unsafe for Jews because of harassment and intimidation from Muslim groups. But there are no school lessons about 9/11 – the largest terrorist attack on American soil. School children know nothing about it. They know more about the attack on Pearl Harbor, a military installation,  than they do about the multiple 9/11 attacks on the homeland. It’s unfathomable. But that is how deeply the fear of insulting Islam has crippled the nation.

The cultural adherence to the blasphemy laws under the sharia (under the guise of speech)  in the media, movies, music mirrors the oppression rampant in totalitarian socialites. Social media giants like Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter exact stiff and swift penalties on those who dare criticize Islam. The Geller Report’s article and posts have been scrubbed from Google search. Google has changed its search results for terms such as “jihad” and “sharia”  to show “only positive explanations of Islamic concepts” and conceal criticism of  Islam. Google Adsense has banned my account and websites like mine. Google search  is blacklisting and has admitted to working with alt-left smear groups to silence opposition. And it’s not just me, it’s all criticism of jihad and sharia. Vice President of Facebook Joel Kaplan traveled to Pakistan and met with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to assure Pakistan that it will remove “hateful and provocative material.”

All this while the global jihad rages. There have been 31, 714 deadly Islamic attacks since 9/11. Appeasement, submission and accommodation is not working. On the contrary, it has emboldened the enemy. Terrorism works.

We have our work cut out for us.

Read more

Al-Qaeda to U.S. Muslims: ‘No Escape from Coming Confrontation’ to Avoid ‘Concentration Camps’

(Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb photo)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, Aug. 17, 2017:

An al-Qaeda leader warned American Muslims that they’re headed for “concentration camps” unless they pick up arms and fight, quoting late American al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki stating that “surely your situation is becoming similar to that of the embattled Muslim community of Spain after the fall of Grenada.”

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leader Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, aka Algerian Abdelmalek Droukdel, made the comments in this week’s new issue of the English-language Inspire magazine from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which included a lengthy how-to on attacking the train system with a homemade derailment tool placed on the tracks.

“How many lone jihad operations have had the impact of changing policies, bringing about the fall of political parties or even governments in some of the strongest and most influential countries of the world! This is why the martyrdomseeker

and Inghimasi (storm trooper) instills more fear in the hearts of the enemy than other fighters,” Wadoud said in a Q&A. “It is due to the positive results of lone jihad operations that we invite the sons of our Ummah [Muslim community] to adopt this new method of jihad and hold on to it firmly.”

He said that though the United States “is impossible to invade for a power outside the American Continent since it is surrounded by 6000 kilometers of the Atlantic Ocean,” lone jihad operations are “uncostly in terms of lives and expenses for Muslims, its impact on the enemy is significant and almost disproportional.”

“There is little doubt that this type of jihad enrages the disbelievers even more when a revert from their own race or nationality carries out such an operation… someone who had once been part of their community before Allah guided him to Islam and jihad,” Wadoud continued. “This is enraging for the enemies of Islam because it proves that Islam transcends their narrow nationalism and a Muslim’s loyalty is to his religion and not to his homeland. This aspect is harder for them to digest than the operation itself, so let us reflect on it. This is one of the weak spots in which there is enragement of the disbelievers.”

“Due to the edge that a Muslim living in the West enjoys, many scholars and leaders of jihad have encouraged carrying out martyrdom operations in the West. The reward and station of such an individual is no less than the reward of those who migrate to the theaters of jihad.”

Wadoud discussed how “crime rates in America are much higher than other nations, and it comes as no surprise that most crimes are of a racist nature.”

“And this is something that Obama on the eve of his departure from the White House himself admitted frankly,” he added. “The inescapable result of Trump’s victory and the coming to power of his likes in Western countries means that the room for co-existence in the West is being eroded with every passing day. And this does not affect Muslims alone, but all races other than the ‘white race’ (as they love to portray themselves). With the permission of Allah, this trend will prove to be in the interest of Muslims, since it will awaken the conscience of the Ummah and make it cognizant of the reality of Western Crusader savagery.”

He argued “there is no escape from the coming confrontation,” and Muslims have to lead the battle.

The AQIM leader added that if President Trump “sticks to his antagonistic policies towards Islam and crosses the limits in his attacks on Muslims, his fate will be no different from that of Bush, if not worse.”

Wadoud said U.S. Muslims put “false hope” in Hillary Clinton as “in terms of their enmity for Islam, they are all equal.”

“So both Democrats and Republicans are serpents carrying lethal venom, but the former prefers a gentle delicate façade, while the latter reveals its true colors,” he explained. “…Trump’s blunt statements and his hostile stance towards Islam and Muslims may be beneficial in ways that only Allah knows. His rash candidness is a powerful reminder to the Islamic Ummah of the reality of these disbelievers.”

Trump, Wadoud continued, “given his repulsive racist nature, read the popular scene correctly.”

“His election campaign was based on appealing to the natural racist tendencies of the American voter. In doing so, Trump’s campaign exploited the absolute political ignorance of the masses in America, where a single emotional speech is sometimes sufficient to change the outlook of many. This is why we saw that his outspokenness often touched the limits of audacity in several statements he made. He understood that the ordinary American had become tired of the grey zone visible in the policies of the Democrats. So he knew how to play with their feelings and rally their emotions,” the terror leader added.

“He succeeded in raising issues which trouble them, foremost being the loss of security experienced by the American public on American soil as well as abroad. Trump succeeded twice: first when he instilled fear of Islam amongst the masses, second when he convinced them that he is their sole hope against this danger.”

New Threats from Al Qaeda: Inspire 17 Magazine

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton. Aug. 13, 2017:

Al Qaeda has issued its latest edition of Inspire magazine, Inspire 17.

The magazine is published by the media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but it covers Al Qaeda operations worldwide. In particular, Inspire 17 features the emir of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abu Musab Abdel al-Wadoud.

However, this latest issue of Inspire is noteworthy in that the most prominent personality in the magazine is Hamza bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden. Hamza bin Laden is emerging as a global leader of Al Qaeda and has specifically vowed to take revenge on the U.S. for killing his father.

Here is a brief summary of the highlights of Inspire 17:

Al Qaeda claims that they will be concentrating on targeting Western nations’ transportation infrastructure, seeking to disrupt the movement of people and cargo.

While Al Qaeda says that they will be targeting all aspects of transportation, air, sea and land, as well as local and international, Inspire 17 focuses on rail transport.

As implied by the name “inspire” Al Qaeda seeks to inspire individual Jihadis to take action. They suggest attacking transport vehicles such as trains and aircraft, lines of transport, such as railways, and stations, terminals and transit points, such as train stations, subway terminals and airports.

Bin Laden specifically states: “I urge my Mujahideen brothers everywhere, especially Lone Jihad heroes; I say to them: Target America.”

But America is not the only target mentioned in the magazine. It sets a priority order for targets in the following order: “everyone who transgresses against our religion,” Jewish interests, US, NATO, Russia.

Al Qaeda specifically instructs its followers to target civilians, as opposed to military targets: “In targeting civilians, there is much advantage and benefit for attaining goals of Jihad that cannot be attained when targeting the military.”

The emir of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abu Musab Abdel al-Wadoud is quoted as singling out France for attack: “France! Do you know time for settling debts has approached? Do not think you will escape punishment! Start preparing to pay what you owe to Muslims, in cash and in kind.”

France has conducted a robust military campaign against AQIM for several years now.

The impact on Western and American lifestyles from increased security measures is not lost on Al Qaeda: “O Mujahideen, it is time we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with air.”

Concentrating on rail, the magazine describes a austere technique for attacking trains by derailing them from railroad tracks by positioning an item on them that will alter the course of the train’s wheels.

Unlike previous terror attacks on rail infrastructure, such a technique would not require explosives.

The magazine points out the merit of derailing high speed trains and lists Acela in the US, Class 395 Javelin in the UK and TGV in France as high speed trains to attack.

The magazine also suggests prioritizing derailing trains with HAZMAT cargo in cities and towns in the USA.

The following passenger trains are listed as specific targets: Lake Shore Limited, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, Acela Express, Amtrak Cascades, Cardinal, Carolinian, City of New Orleans, Crescent, Pacific Surfliner, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle. It also depicts a map of US rail lines by Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CSX, BNSF and Amtrak.

AQAP publishes guide for derailing trains in the US, Europe

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Aug. 13, 2017:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released the 17th edition of its Inspire magazine, in which the group calls on supporters to strike trains in the US and Europe.

The editors of Inspire say that followers can choose from one of three modes of attack. They can directly target the train from “either inside or from outside,” or target “the rail itself so as to derail the train,” or assault train stations, which “are always crowded and cause major interruption towards the transportation system.”

The latest issue of Inspire focuses mainly on the second means of attack, providing readers with step-by-step instructions for building a train derailment device. An 18-page guide to building a derail tool is included in the 97-page electronic magazine and signed by the “AQ Chef,” a name that has been attached to previous AQAP ideas, such as a how-to guide for building bombs that was published in Inspire years ago. The “AQ Chef” claims that the magazine’s “train derail” design is similar to the “industrial” tool “used by the track management staff” when they need to derail a train with faulty breaks.

The instructions begin with the building of a mold and end with the construction of a metal derail device. “We will keep away from using any electronic tools or tools that are specially used in construction…so as to remove any traces for suspicion,” the do-it-yourself guide reads.

This “weapon” has several advantages, according to AQAP. It is “[e]asy to design” and easy to “hide your tracks from forensics after the operation.” It will supposedly befuddle security agencies and leave the enemy “confused and disoriented.”

Interestingly, AQAP touts the fact that this type of “operation” does not require “martyrdom” and therefore “can be repeated.”

Hours after the new Inspire magazine was released online, the New York Police Department (NYPD) Counterterrorism Bureau responded with a series of messages on its official Twitter feed.

“We’ve known about the content & threats presented in the current issue of AQAP’s Inspire 17 prior to its release,” one NYPD tweet, seen on the right, reads. “Our robust multi-layered counterterrorism apparatus is designed to protect our air, land, waterways and railways in #NYC,” another tweet reads.

AQAP touts potential economic damage

Al Qaeda has long argued that its attacks and guerrilla warfare are intended to wear down the West, in part by driving up the costs of security and waging war. The adjustments made to airline security since the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackings have been costly. Al Qaeda’s failed attempts to bring down airliners in the years that followed have also driven costs up.

In this vein, AQAP has repeatedly promoted the detrimental economic effects of its operations. In 2010, for instance, Inspire’s editors claimed that the $4,200 spent on an attempt to blow up cargo planes forced the West to spend billions of dollars in additional security. This made the operation effective even though no one was killed and the plot was thwarted, according to AQAP. [See FDD’s Long War Journalreport, AQAP releases a ‘special issue’ of Inspire magazine.]

Similarly, Inspire’s authors tout the intended economic impact of their plan, pointing to the large numbers of passengers carried on commuter trains and the valuable freight that is often transported by rail. One page summarizes the main “passenger train routes in America,” while another displays a map of “US railroad lines by ownership.”

“O Mujahideen,” AQAP’s men write, “it is time that we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their Air transportation.” Train derailments will “[c]ontinue to bleed the American economy [with] more losses, increase the psychological warfare and make it worry, fear and weaken much more.”

“We have to expose more of their vulnerabilities in their security,” Inspire’s editors explain. “And when they spend millions of dollars to tackle a vulnerability we should be ready to open a new [one] – by the strength of Allah.” In this manner, the jihadists claim, “we can make their economy bleed and wage a psychological warfare by breaching vulnerabilities in their security.”

AQAP’s editors recognize that most derailments don’t cause significant damage, but they argue that some accidents caused by train derails have been especially costly. Moreover, it is very difficult for authorities to protect the extensive railroad system, making it a prime target for disrupting the American economy.

To make their case, Inspire’s authors point to a 2004 report authored by the United States General Accounting Office (GAO). “There are over 100,000 miles of rail in the United States,” the report’s authors noted. “The extensiveness of the infrastructure creates an infinite number of targets for terrorists.”

Even so, Inspire’s authors warn followers that “railroad management staff still have some security measures” in place, including the regular deployment of “a rail inspection car on the railroad so as to inspect the rails.” AQAP says the “Lone Mujahid” can “overcome this security measure” by placing “the derail tool on the rails approximately 10 minutes before the train passes by.” The jihadist should also be “well aware of the timing and schedule of the train,” including the “route the targeted train will take.” This “information is widely and publicly available for all.”

Al Qaeda has targeted trains in the past

Targeting trains is hardly a new idea, of course. On Mar. 11, 2004, al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists placed ten bombs in backpacks and bags on board commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 people and wounding nearly two thousand more.

In 2009, US officials thwarted an al Qaeda plot against commuter trains in the New York City area.

In 2013, Canadian authorities arrested two men who were plotting to derail trains traveling between Toronto and New York City. Canadian officials determined that the two jihadists, who were subsequently convicted on terrorism charges, received “support from al Qaeda elements located in Iran” in the form of “direction and guidance.”

In addition to trains and planes, al Qaeda has also attacked other transportation nodes in the past. The July 7, 2005 London bombings, which are referenced in the new edition of Inspire, targeted commuters during rush hour.

Other al Qaeda figures promote “Lone Jihad” attacks in Inspire

Inspire features commentary from several prominent jihadist figures, including Hamza bin Laden, the son of the al Qaeda’s founder. The terrorist publication includes the text of Hamza’s “advice for martyrdom seekers in the West,” which was released in May.

An essay by former Guantanamo detainee and current AQAP leader Ibrahim al-Qosi is titled, “imminent threat…” Al-Qosi, who worked for Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11, praises the “fear, terror and death” caused “by new creative and destructive Lone Jihad operations,” which are “executed by men from your own homeland.” Al-Qosi explains the logic behind such attacks, saying that they are carried out by “[m]en whose boots have not touched the lands of Jihad in Afghanistan or Sham and whose names have never been in the FBI or CIA black lists.” In other words, “Lone Jihad” operations do not rely on jihadists who may have been detected by authorities because of their suspicious travels.

In another piece, Ibrahim Ibn Hassan al-Asiri, a senior AQAP leader and bomb maker, explains “the importance of focusing on specific kinds of targets” in the transportation sector. Al-Asiri is a notorious explosives specialist and is suspected of crafting some of AQAP’s clever devices, including the underwear bomb used in a failed bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009. Al-Asiri calls on his “Mujahideen brothers everywhere, especially the Lone Jihad heroes” to follow in the footsteps of various terrorists. “Target America,” he advises.

Inspire also includes a lengthy interview with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) emir, Abu Musab Abdul Wadoud (a.k.a. Abdelmalek Droukdel). Like the others, Wadoud stresses the efficacy and necessity of “lone” jihadist attacks. “This method of jihad is one of the modes of conflict between us and the West – something both new and old – a way of hemming in the enemy and breaking its strength, and this mode of asymmetrical warfare was pioneered by our predecessors centuries ago,” Wadoud says. “The Lone Jihad has proven its effectiveness and ability to repel aggression.”

As FDD’s Long War Journal previously reported, the Islamic State has had more success than al Qaeda in inspiring or guiding “Lone Jihad” operations in recent years, despite the fact that AQAP was a key innovator in this regard. This has forced AQAP to praise a string of attacks carried out in the Islamic State’s name, even though AQAP opposes Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate. In the latest edition of Inspire, AQAP continues to laud operations claimed by the Islamic State and its supporters, such as the June 2016 Orlando massacre, the July 2016 truck assault in Nice, France, the September 2016 attacks in the New York-New Jersey area and Minnesota, as well as the March 2017 terrorist incident near the British parliament in London. In a number of cases, “lone jihad” terrorists were first exposed to AQAP’s ideas but later claimed that they acted on behalf of the Islamic State.

Al Qaeda is attempting to regain the initiative with respect to “lone jihad” operations. In May, AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi released a lengthy plea for more attacks in the West. Al Qaeda quickly followed Al-Raymi’s message with the aforementioned speech by Hamza bin Laden.

And the latest edition of Inspire is intended to further buttress these efforts, with multiple al Qaeda figures praising the “lone jihad.”

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

Al Jazeera: The Terrorist Propaganda Network

by John Rossomando
IPT News
August 4, 2017

Al Jazeera’s support for terrorism goes far beyond on-air cheerleading. Many of its employees have actively supported al-Qaida, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Concerns over the network’s consistent pro-terrorist positions prompted several Gulf States to demand that Qatar shut it down in June.

Sheikh Said Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of Qatar’s government information office, called such demands “a condescending view [that] demonstrates contempt for the intelligence and judgment of the people of the Middle East, who overwhelmingly choose to get their news from Al Jazeera rather than from their state-run broadcasters,” Al-Thani wrote in Newsweek.

But a week earlier, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash detailed Al Jazeera’s connections to terrorists and terror incitement in a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Al Jazeera violates a 2005 U.N. Security Council resolution that called on member states to counter “incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism,” Gargash charged.

The network has given a platform to terrorists like Osama bin Laden, Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mohammed Deif, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah and others, Gargash wrote.

“These have not simply been topical interviews of the kind that other channels might run; Jazeera has presented opportunities for terrorist groups to threaten, recruit and incite without challenge or restraint,” Gargash wrote.

Al Jazeera Incites Terrorism

Al Jazeera took credit for the wave of Arab Spring revolutions in early 2011. Network host Mehdi Hasan noted in a December 2011 column that Al Jazeera gave a regional voice to the irate Tunisian protesters who ousted their dictator that they would not have otherwise had.

Faisal Al-Qassem, host of Al Jazeera’s show “The Opposite Direction,” boasted that television, not the Internet or Facebook, was responsible for the revolutions. Al Jazeera’s influence during the Arab Spring and the subsequent revolutions is a factorin the effort by Qatar’s Gulf neighbors to clip its wings.

Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi used his widely viewed Al Jazeera a program to incite the masses against their dictators.

“We salute the [Tunisian] people, which has taught the Arab and Islamic peoples … the following lesson: Do not despair, and do not fear the tyrants, and more feeble the than a spider-web. They quickly collapse in the face of the power of steadfast and resolute peoples,” Qaradawi said in a Jan. 16, 2011 Al Jazeera broadcast. “The tyrants never listen and never heed advice, until they are toppled.”

He likewise called on former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down on his program later that month.

“There is no staying longer, Mubarak, I advise you (to learn) the lesson of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,” Qaradawi said referencing Tunisia’s toppled dictator.

A month later, Qaradawi issued a fatwa calling for the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Libya still has not recovered from the toppling of Gaddafi in 2011.

Qaradawi urged the overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad after demonstrations began in Syria that March, sparking the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Even before the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera acted as a platform for violent terrorists.

Qaradawi’s endorsement of suicide bombings aired on Al Jazeera. The network also glorified a female Palestinian suicide bomber whose 2003 attack killed 19 people at an Arab-owned restaurant in Haifa as a “martyr.”

It also broadcast a 2006 speech by al-Qaida leader Abdel Majid al-Zindani at a pro-Hamas conference in Yemen, even though the United States and United Nationsalready had designated him as a terrorist. Proceeds from the conference benefited Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and the widow of slain Hamas leader Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi also attended.

“What is our duty towards this righteous jihad-fighting people, the vanguard of this nation? What is our duty? What is our obligation? ” al-Zindani asked. “The Hamas government is the Palestinian people’s government today. It is the jihad-fighting, steadfast, resolute government of Palestine.

“I don’t have it in my pocket right now, but I am making a pledge, and as you know, I keep my promises. So I’m donating 200,000 riyals. What about you? What will you donate? Go ahead.”

Defector Alleges Qatari Intel Runs Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera is not just another news organization like CNN, Fox News or the BBC, Qatari intelligence whistle-blower Ali al-Dahnim told Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper in April. Qatar’s state security bureau both finances and operates Al Jazeera, he claimed. -“By and large, its [Al Jazeera] news content comes under the sway of security officials, rendering it as a mouthpiece for Qatar’s security and intelligence apparatus,” Al-Dahnim said on Egyptian television. “Not to mention its free publicity to hardened terrorists such as Osama bin Laden who used to use Al Jazeera as an outlet to disseminate his terror messages to the world.”

Al Jazeera English likewise pushes the Qatari government’s favored narratives, such as exaggerating the global importance of its emir.

Its short-lived affiliate, Al Jazeera America (AJAM), aired pro-Palestinian propaganda. During the 2014 Gaza crisis, AJAM host Wajahat Ali pushed Hamas’ talking pointsabout the territory’s population density without a single reference to how the terrorist group used mosques and civilian buildings to launch rockets.

“I think it is simply providing one side of a story. It doesn’t rise to Soviet propaganda, but it certainly is propaganda for one side,” Temple University journalism professor Christopher Harper told the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 2014.

Muslim Brotherhood Shapes Al Jazeera Narrative

Al Jazeera has been “hijacked” by the Muslim Brotherhood, Tunisian intellectual Khaled Shawkat alleged in 2006. Shawkat claimed to have spoken with numerous Al Jazeera journalists who told him that Qatar’s rulers handed the network over to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Most of them agreed that ‘loyalty’ [to a group] had come to supercede ‘qualifications,’ and that journalists with no Muslim Brotherhood background had to choose one of two options: [either] adapt to the new work conditions and swear loyalty to the representative of the supreme guide [of the Muslim Brotherhood’ at Al Jazeera, or leave,” Shawkat wrote, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Around the same time, a top UAE official complained to American diplomats that Qatar had acquiesced to Al Jazeera staff who were “linked to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and jihadists,” a State Department cable noted.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan “said although the Qatari royal family finances Al Jazeera, the people ‘controlling’ it were the same ones financing Osama bin Laden, Hamas, and Iraqi jihadists,” the cable said.

Numerous Al Jazeera employees resigned in 2013 in protest over the channel’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood orientation. Former Al Jazeera journalist Fatima Nabil chargedthat she and her colleagues “had the feeling that the channel is partisan in favor of political Islam, and in most cases selectivity is exercised in broadcasting the text messages [of viewers] on the channel, and even more so in the selection of guests and interviewees.”

The Qatari government controls the network’s coverage, former Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Mohamed Fawzi, arrested by Egyptian authorities in 2013 on terrorism charges, told the Washington Times this year. Al Jazeera actively worked with Brotherhood members in Egypt, Fahmy claimed.

Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour allegedly supported a secret Muslim Brotherhood group in the UAE that aimed to stir up unrest and chaos, Egypt’s Youm 7reported. Qatar provided fugitive members of the Muslim Brotherhood with passports and money. Abdulrhaman Khalifa bin Sabih, the former leader of the secret Muslim Brotherhood organization in the UAE, told Youm7 that an Al Jazeera employee named Mohammed al-Mukhtar al-Shankiti trained him to use social media to spread demonstrations and unrest in the Emirates.

Al Jazeera reportedly enabled the secret Muslim Brotherhood group to link with foreign media and communicate with them because they lacked the means to do so on their own.

Al-Arabiya recently noted that Mansour emphasized the commonalities between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida during a 2015 interview with then Jabhat al-Nusra (Now called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) leader Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, as evidence of his Brotherhood sympathies.

Al-Arabiya claimed that Al Jazeera’s organizing the interview with al-Joulani served the purpose of improving his image so he can take over after Assad falls, and that it proved a Qatari connection with the Nusra leader.

Emails seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan also show the importance al-Qaida gave to Al Jazeera. One email noted that while other networks were hostile to the terrorist group, it could not afford to turn Al Jazeera into an enemy.

“Although sometimes it makes mistakes against us, their mistakes are limited. By clashing with it, it will be biased and damage the image of the Muslim Mujahidin,” bin Laden wrote under the alias “Zamarai.”

Alleged al-Qaida Members on Al Jazeera’s Staff

Al Jazeera Islamabad bureau chief and Syrian native Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan – identified in a leaked National Security Agency PowerPoint as a member of both al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood – helped Al Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansour secure the interview with Joulani. Zaidan denies belonging to al-Qaida. He met with bin Laden several times after 9/11.

Zaidan, however, periodically writes for a website connected with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Numerous emails retrieved from bin Laden’s compound showed that al-Qaida viewed Zaidan as an asset. Al-Qaida leaders discussed what they wanted to ask Zaidan, including a 2010 email in which an al-Qaida leader said he hoped to use Zaidan to talk Al Jazeera into running a documentary on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Zaidan isn’t the first Al Jazeera journalist accused by the U.S. government of belonging to al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sami Muheidine Mohamed al-Haj worked in Al Jazeera’s Doha newsroom in 2000. He also served as a money courier for al-Qaida under the cover of his employment with Al Jazeera and a beverage company.

Pakistani authorities captured al-Haj in December 2001 because his name appeared on a watch list, and turned him over to U.S. forces in January 2002. U.S. authorities transferred al-Haj to Guantanamo Bay for questioning, including for information about Al Jazeera’s contacts with bin Laden.

A leaked Guantanamo Bay file describes al-Haj as a member of both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida.

He belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura council and was involved in plans to distribute weapons to terrorists in Chechnya. A photo showed Al-Haj in Al Jazeera’s Kandahar, Afghanistan office with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.

Another email captured in the raid on Bin Laden’s compound describes an Al Jazeera cameraman referred to as “Siraj” as a member of the al-Qaida linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, who was imprisoned in Iran. The LIFG maintained a network inside Iran in the 2000s.

Networks have their biases. But none comes close to Al Jazeera’s persistent role as the biggest promoter of terrorist propaganda next to social media.

State Department: Iran continues to host al Qaeda’s ‘core facilitation pipeline’

The US government has repeatedly identified al Qaeda’s leadership in Iran. From left to right: Yasin al Suri, Atiyah Abd al Rahman, Sanafi al Nasr, Muhsin al Fadhli and Adel Radi al Harbi. Only Yasin al Suri is believed to be alive, but still others continue to operate in Iran.

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, July 23, 207:

Since July 2011, the US Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly stated that the Iranian regime allows al Qaeda to maintain a key facilitation network on its soil. This formerly clandestine network is the result of a specific “agreement” between the Iranian government and al Qaeda’s leadership.

On July 19, the State Department once again pointed to the relationship. “Since at least 2009,” State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 reads, “Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through the country, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.”

Iran also “remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members it continued to detain and has refused to publicly identify the members in its custody,” Foggy Bottom said, echoing language found in previous reports.

In its terrorism reports for 2015 and 2014, the State Department implied that al Qaeda’s Iran-based network was a thing of the past, saying the Iranian government “previously allowed AQ facilitators to operate.” But Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, released last week, subtly revised that language.

It is often assumed that the two sides can’t cooperate because of theological differences. However, the relationship has been repeatedly documented by official sources, such as the 9/11 Commission, US courts, intelligence agencies and various others. At times, al Qaeda itself has conceded that there is a level of collusion, despite the group’s blistering anti-Iranian rhetoric. A key al Qaeda defector offered his own explanation of the arrangement in a newsletter published by the Islamic State. After the Islamic State and al Qaeda became bitter rivals, the so-called caliphate even accused al Qaeda of prohibiting terrorist attacks inside Iran.

A document presumably authored by Osama bin Laden in 2007 refers to Iran as al Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.” That same letter referred to the “hostages” held by Iran, meaning those al Qaeda figures who were held in some form of detention and not allowed to freely operate. Bin Laden was not against attacking Iran in principle; he simply did not think the costs of such action were worth it.

Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda has survived for years, despite numerous disagreements and conflicts between the two. For instance, one file recovered in bin Laden’s Abbottabad lair shows that he was troubled by Iran’s attempt to expand across the Middle East and he conceived of a plan to combat the Shiite jihadists’ growing footprint. Al Qaeda has also kidnapped Iranian diplomats in order force hostage exchanges. Several high-level al Qaeda leaders were reportedly released as part of one such exchange in 2015, although their status beforehand inside Iran was murky.

Most importantly, the two sides are clearly at odds in Syria and Yemen, where they have fought each other and affiliated proxies for several years.

Yet, throughout all of this, Iran has allowed al Qaeda to maintain a key facilitation hub.

In July 2016, for instance, the US Treasury Department sanctioned three senior al Qaeda leaders “located in Iran.” One of them, Faisal Jassim Mohammed Al Amri Al Khalidi (a.k.a. Abu Hamza al Khalidi), has served as al Qaeda’s “Military Commission Chief” — meaning he was one of the most important figures in the group’s international network. Al Khalidi was identified in Osama bin Laden’s files as part of a “new generation” of leadership al Qaeda groomed to replace their fallen comrades. As Treasury’s July 2016 designations made clear, some of al Qaeda’s most important men continued to operate inside Iran. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Treasury designates 3 senior al Qaeda members in Iran.]

Previous designations and other statements by Treasury and State Departments

The State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 is the latest instance in which a branch of the US government has officially recognized al Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline” inside Iran, or other dealings between the two. In 2009, Treasury acknowledged that several al Qaeda operatives were living inside Iran. Then, beginning in July 2011, both the Treasury and State Departments repeatedly targeted the Iran-based network, saying it operated as part of a formerly “secret deal” between Iran and al Qaeda’s leadership.

Below is a brief timeline of designations and other official statements by the US government.

Jan. 2009: Treasury designated four al Qaeda members in Iran, including Osama bin Laden’s son Saad, who was later killed after relocating to Pakistan. “It is important that Iran give a public accounting of how it is meeting its international obligations to constrain al Qaeda,” Stuart Levey, who was then Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said at the time.

July 2011: Treasury targeted Iran’s formerly “secret deal” with al Qaeda, designating six jihadists who were involved in al Qaeda’s operations inside the country. One of them is known as Yasin al Suri, “a prominent Iran-based al Qaeda facilitator” who operates “under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government.” The agreement was negotiated with Atiyah Abd al Rahman’s permission. Rahman was a top al Qaeda lieutenant who was killed in a US drone strike in mid-2011. “Rahman was previously appointed by Osama bin Laden to serve as al Qaeda’s emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials,” Treasury noted.

“Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today,” David S. Cohen, who was then Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a press release. “By exposing Iran’s secret deal with al Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism,” Cohen emphasized.

Dec. 2011: The State Department announced a $10 million reward for Yasin al Suri, making him one of the most wanted terrorists on the planet. “Under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Government of Iran, Yasin al Suri has helped move money and recruits through Iran to al Qaeda leaders in neighboring countries in the region,” Robert Hartung, the State Department Assistant Director for Threat Investigations and Analysis, explained during a briefing.

Feb. 2012: The Treasury Department designated the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) for a number of reasons, including the assistance it provided to al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq. According to Treasury, the “MOIS has facilitated the movement of al Qaeda operatives in Iran and provided them with documents, identification cards, and passports.” In addition, the MOIS has “provided money and weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)…and negotiated prisoner releases of AQI operatives.”

July 2012: In its Country Reports on Terrorism 2011, the State Department reported that “Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior AQ members it continued to detain, and refused to publicly identify those senior members in its custody.” Iran “also allowed AQ members to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iranian territory, enabling AQ to carry funds and move facilitators and operatives to South Asia and elsewhere.”

October 2012: Treasury explained that Yasin al Suri had been temporarily sidelined as the chief of al Qaeda’s network in Iran. His replacement was Muhsin al Fadhli, a veteran Kuwaiti operative, who later relocated to Syria as part of al Qaeda’s “Khorasan Group” and was killed in an American airstrike. Treasury named Adel Radi Saqr al Wahabi al Harbi as one of Fadhli’s men inside Iran. Harbi also eventually relocated to Syria, where he served as the military commander of Jund al Aqsa, an al Qaeda front group, until meeting his own demise.

Treasury explained how the deal between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda works. “Under the terms of the agreement between al Qaeda and Iran,” Treasury reported, “al Qaeda must refrain from conducting any operations within Iranian territory and recruiting operatives inside Iran while keeping Iranian authorities informed of their activities.” As long as al Qaeda didn’t violate these terms, “the Government of Iran gave the Iran-based al Qaeda network freedom of operation and uninhibited ability to travel for extremists and their families.”

Treasury’s Cohen explained in a press release that the designation of Harbi “builds on our action from July 2011” and “further exposes al Qaeda’s critically important Iran-based funding and facilitation network.” Cohen added: “We will continue targeting this crucial source of al Qaeda’s funding and support, as well as highlight Iran’s ongoing complicity in this network’s operation.”

May 2013: In its Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, the State Department said that Iran “allowed AQ facilitators Muhsin al-Fadhli and Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and to Syria.” Fadhli “began working with the Iran-based AQ facilitation network in 2009,” was “later arrested by Iranian authorities,” but then released in 2011 so he could assume “leadership of the Iran-based AQ facilitation network.”

Jan. 2014: Treasury and State Department officials told Al Jazeera that Yasin al Suri was once again in charge of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network.

Feb. 2014: Treasury identified another Iran-based al Qaeda facilitator, Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov, who is an Uzbek and part of the Islamic Jihad Union. Sadikov “provides logistical support and funding to al Qaeda’s Iran-based network,” according to Treasury.

Apr. 2014: In its Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, the State Department once again noted that the Iranian regime hosted al Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline” and “remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al Qaeda (AQ) members it continued to detain,” while also refusing “to publicly identify those senior members in its custody.”

Aug. 2014: Treasury designated a senior al Qaeda leader known as Sanafi al Nasr, who “served in early 2013 as chief of al Qaeda’s Iran-based extremist and financial facilitation network.” Nasr relocated to Syria in 2013 as part of al Qaeda’s “Khorasan Group” and was killed in an American airstrike in 2015.

June 2016: The State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2015 is released. “Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members it continued to detain and refused to publicly identify the members in its custody,” the report read. State added: “Iran previously allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.” The implication of the language (“previously allowed”), which was included in the 2014 report as well, was that al Qaeda no longer operated its facilitation network inside Iran. However, al Qaeda did in fact continue to operate its pipeline inside Iran. Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 removed the phrase “previously allowed” from its summary.

July 2016: The US Treasury Department designated three senior al Qaeda figures “located in Iran”: Faisal Jassim Mohammed Al Amri Al Khalidi (a.k.a. Abu Hamza al Khalid), Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi, and Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn. Treasury explained that it took the action to “disrupt the operations, fundraising, and support networks that help al Qaeda move money and operatives from South Asia and across the Middle East.”

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

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