As US relocates embassy to Jerusalem, al Qaeda leader condemns international system

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, May 14, 2018:

On the eve of the opening of the US government’s embassy in Jerusalem today, al Qaeda released a new message from its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The al Qaeda emir noted at the outset of his speech that there has been a “big uproar” over the Trump administration’s decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Trump has been “clear and frank,” revealing “the true face of the modern Crusade, which does not deal with retreat and reconciliation,” according to Zawahiri.

However, Zawahiri quickly pivoted away from the controversy over the embassy relocation, reiterating al Qaeda’s longstanding conspiracy theory: The entire international system is hostile to Muslims. Just being part of the United Nations makes one complicit in this alleged scheme, according to bin Laden’s successor.

Indeed, the title of Zawahiri’s speech, “Tel Aviv Is Also the Land of Muslims,” underscores his point. The embassy relocation is a small issue relative to the vast “Zionist-Crusader” conspiracy al Qaeda claims to oppose.

Zawahiri reminds his “Muslim and mujahidin brothers and the sincere scholars” that “all of the countries of the Islamic world which are members in the United Nations have recognized Israel by signing the United Nations Charter, which confirms the unity and territorial integrity of each of its states, including Israel.” From al Qaeda’s perspective, this is the original sin of the United Nations.

The al Qaeda leader claims that, by signing the UN charter, nations have agreed to leave “ruling by Sharia.” That is, they have agreed that they will not abide by the draconian laws Zawahiri and his ilk prefer. Instead, these nations are “satisfied” with governing and “ruling” according to the “decisions of the [UN] Security Council and the General Assembly,” including the decision in 1947 to partition the land.

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are both “Islamic land,” in Zawahiri’s telling. True believers need “to liberate Palestine” and “all the other abodes of Muslims” after declaring the entire “criminal international tyrannical system” to be illegitimate. Zawahiri again calls for Muslim unity, a frequent al Qaeda motif, such that the ummah (worldwide community of Muslims) engages in “battle…on multiple fronts, not as separate groups that retreat before the imperatives of the greatest criminals.”

Zawahiri reminds listeners that Osama bin Laden identified America as the leader of this supposedly corrupt international system and, therefore, as the “first enemy of the Muslims.” Bin Laden first declared that Americans “would not dream of security until we actually live it in Palestine, and until all the disbelieving armies depart from the land of Muhammad.”

The goal is establish “the caliphate,” Zawahiri says, after uniting “around the word of tawhid.” This will require both dawa (proselytization) and jihad. And Muslims must not confuse their enemies for their friends, fighting “the battle of consciousness before the battle of weapons,” remaining “free of illusions.”

In the past, al Qaeda leaders have called on Muslims to use Syrian soil to “liberate” Jerusalem. The group uses this theme as a rallying cry for jihadists in Syria.

Zawahiri’s message is the 9th episode in his “Brief Messages To A Victorious Ummah” series, during which he has covered a variety of topics. Although Zawahiri can be long-winded, the lectures in this program are mercifully short.

Although the lecture series has been running since Aug. 2016, Zawahiri and his propagandists in As Sahab clearly timed the release of this episode to coincide with the US embassy relocation to Jerusalem. It demonstrates that, at times, al Qaeda is still able to time its media to current events. Zawahiri also remains a somewhat prolific commentator, regularly releasing messages from his hideout.

An English translation of the message was distributed via Telegram by Al-Tamkin Media, a propaganda outfit that regularly translates messages from al Qaeda’s senior leadership. The quotes in this article were adapted from Al-Tamkin’s rough translation.

Al-Qaeda Recruitment Lectures Offered in Google Play Store App

Anwar al-Awlaki (Al-Qaeda video)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, April 16, 2018:

An app that has been dowloaded more than a thousand times on Google Play hooks up users with a selection of audio lectures and video addresses from American al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki.

Al-Awlaki, the New Mexico native who remains a powerful recruitment force spanning terrorist group loyalties, was killed in an airstrike in Yemen in 2011. ISIS fighters frequently quote the leading al-Qaeda member online. Lone jihadists are often found to have consumed al-Awlaki lectures, including 2016 Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi and Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the Ohio State student who rammed pedestrians on campus in 2016.

In a November anti-extremism crackdown, YouTube pulled tens of thousands of videos of al-Awlaki’s myriad sermons and Q&As that had been uploaded to the site. A search on the site now finds al-Awlaki videos that were posted 3 to 4 months ago, after the company’s purge.

The Google Play app titled “Anwar Al Awlaki Lectures” is filed under “entertainment” and rated E for everyone.

(Google Play screenshot)

The app’s audio selections include “Stop Police Terror,” which was a Friday sermon delivered by al-Awlaki at the East London Masjid on Dec. 26, 2003, “The Experiences and Ultimate End of Those Who Followed and Opposed the Prophet,” “The Quran – The Book Of Tolerance,” “Brutality Towards Muslims,” “Giving and Investing in the Hereafter,” and “It’s a War against Islam.”

It also includes segments from al-Awlaki’s six-hour “Constants on the Path of Jihad” lecture, which has been cited as the jihadist recruitment and incitement material in numerous terrorism cases including the 2007 plot to attack Fort Dix: “Jihad will continue until the Day of Judgment,” “Jihad does not depend on an individual or individuals,” “Jihad is not dependent on a particular land,” “Jihad is not dependent on a battle,” “Victory is not limited to military victory.” The app table of contents leaves out the sixth part of the “Constants” lecture: “Defeat in jihad does not necessarily mean military defeat.”

The al-Awlaki videos include the 2010 interview he gave to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Al-Malahem Media, in which al-Awlaki praised the Fort Hood operation and called for more attacks on America. “The Americans do not want an Islam that defends the causes of the Islamic nation, or an Islam that calls for jihad, for the implementation of the shari’a… they want an Islam that is American, liberal, democratic, peaceful, and civilized,” he said. An ISIS video is also included in the play list.

The Google Play app was last updated on Dec. 28 though the reviews indicate the app was available dating back to at least January 2017. It has a user rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.

One reviewer states that he or she has “been waiting ever since Google too [sic] down the anwar al awlaki app, I loved it so much. Alhamdulilah you have this app!!!!”

“Greatest scholar of this generation,” added another.

In January, PJM discovered key propaganda texts from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula posted for free download on the Barnes & Noble website, including the inaugural issue of a magazine linked to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Reviews posted on the e-books indicated that they’ve remained on the bookseller’s website for years, despite clearly indicating in the titles that al-Qaeda materials were being offered. Barnes & Noble removed the e-books soon after the PJM report was published.

Also see:

Taliban kills dozens in suicide assault in Kabul

Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, April 19, 2016:

The Taliban targeted a unit responsible for providing security for Afghan officials in a coordinated suicide assault in the Afghan capital today. The Taliban claimed credit for the deadly attack, in which at least 28 people were killed and more that 300 were wounded, according to reports on the ground.

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack on its official propaganda outlet, Voice of Jihad, and said it was part of Operation Omari, the 2016 spring offensive named after Mullah Omar, its founder and first emir. The Taliban reported a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle at the gate, which allowed armed fighters to breach the compound. This is a tactic that has been effectively employed by the Taliban and other jihadist groups throughout the world over the past decade.

“Amid the ongoing ‘Omari’ annual campaign at around 09:00 am local time this morning, a martyrdom seeking unit of Islamic Emirate launched a heavy attack on 10th directorate intelligence building located in PD1 of Kabul city,” the statement said. “The operation began when a martyrdom seeker detonated his explosives laden vehicle at the gate of the building, removing all barriers and killing the guards followed by a number of other martyrdom seekers rushing inside and engaging the remaining enemy targets.”

The Taliban’s account was substantiated by press reporting from Afghanistan. According to TOLONews, the compound that was attacked belonged to a “Secret Service Unit tasked with protecting VIPs.” Afghan officials said the attack began when a suicide bomber detonated at the gate, and one or more Taliban fighters then penetrated the perimeter and began firing on the survivors inside the compound. At least 28 people were killed and 327 more were wounded, according to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.

The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan claimed that the attack was proof that the Taliban were unable to fight Afghan forces face to face “on the battlefield.”

“Today’s attack shows the insurgents are unable to meet Afghan forces on the battlefield and must resort to these terrorist attacks,” General John Nicholson, the commander of Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, said in an email sent to The Long War Journal. “We strongly condemn the actions of Afghanistan’s enemies and remain firmly committed to supporting our Afghan partners and the National Unity Government.”

However, the Taliban are openly engaging Afghan forces on the battlefield on multiple fronts throughout Afghanistan. In the south, the Taliban controls nearly half of Helmand province and has pressured Afghan forces to retreat from key district there. The provincial capital of Lashkar Gah is under siege. In the north, the Taliban launched a coordinated offensive in all seven districts of Kunduz just after announcing the commencement of Operation Omar last week. The Taliban are also fighting in the open in multiple provinces in the east and west.

The Long War Journal estimates that the Taliban controls or hotly contests more than 80 of Afghanistan 400 plus districts.

Today’s attack in Kabul is the largest of its kind since Aug. 7-8, 2015, when the Taliban launched two suicide bombers and a suicide assault over the course of 24 hours. Forty-four people, including 20 Afghan police recruits, 15 Afghan civilians, eight US-contracted Afghan personnel, and a US Army Green Beret were killed when the Taliban targeted a police academy, a US Special Forces base, and a residential district. [See LWJ report, Taliban continues terror attacks in Afghan capital.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

***

Also  see:

Al Qaeda in Syria/Iraq Doubles in Size as ISIS and Al Nusra Kiss and Make Up

isis-qaeda-450x287Front Page, by Daniel Greenfield:

ISIS didn’t just beat the Iraqi military. It also beat Syria’s dominant Al Qaeda group, the Al-Nusra Front, which like ISIS had also been spawned from Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Al-Nusra Front began shooting at ISIS when the latter invaded Syria and claimed authority over it. But now they kissed and made up.

It’s all one big happy Al Qaeda family.

The number of Islamist extremists fighting for ISIS could double after al-Qaeda’s 15,000 strong offshoot in Syria is said to have pledged allegiance to the militant group.

Al-Qaeda’s Syrian offshoot Wednesday made an oath of loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) at a key town on the Iraqi border, a monitor said.

News of the merger between ISIS and the al-Nusra front were made by both the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and an Islamist website this afternoon.

Images widely shared by ISIS supporters online appeared to show al-Nusra’s alleged leader in the Albu Kamel region, Abu Yusuf al-Masri, embracing ISIS fighters after apparently taking an oath of allegiance.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the overall leader of al-Qaeda, has previously disowned ISIS and proclaimed the al-Nusra Front as its official Syrian affiliate.

An internal report of ISIS’ activities last year put its total number of fighters in Iraq and Syria at 15,000. With al-Nusra boasting a similar sized or possibly even larger force, today’s merger could double the total number of militant Sunni Islamists fighting under the ISIS banner in the Middle East.

Hardest hit are all the “news stories” about how ISIS was too “extreme” for Al Qaeda. So much for that. But nothing to worry about.

As Barack Hussein Obama once said, “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

The jayvee team is taking over two countries and has its own air force.

 

A new definition for al-Qaeda

 

Image Credit: AEI's Critical Threat's Project

Image Credit: AEI’s Critical Threat’s Project

above image source: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/09/the-al-qaeda-network-today/

 

 

Washington Post, By Katherine Zimmerman, Jan. 31:

What exactly is al-Qaeda? And who cares? Confusion about how to define the terrorist group is rife. Was al-Qaeda involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead? The Obama administration says no. Are the groups proliferating around Africa and the Middle East really part of the al-Qaeda that toppled the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon?

There is no simple answer. Al-Qaeda is a global terrorist organization that relies on secrecy to survive. Even al-Qaeda members are confused about each other’s status: The leader of the group in Yemen had to ask his Algerian counterpart for clarification about Ansar al-Din’s relationship to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The covert nature of the network intentionally obscures many relationships.

Here’s the problem: According to recently declassified testimony of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the House Armed Services Committee in October, the U.S. military regards itself as legally barred from going after the perpetrators of the Benghazi attacks (and, presumably, others who attack Americans) unless they are affiliated with al-Qaeda. The Obama administration’s parsing of words to deny al-Qaeda’s direct involvement effectively precludes a military response in these situations.

But the United States can neither disrupt nor defend itself from an enemy it cannot define. Nor are we safer because of arbitrary definitions. The question demands an answer: What is al-Qaeda?

Al-Qaeda’s leadership regulates the use of its name and resources; it has formally and publicly recognized affiliates in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and West Africa. In each of these cases, the regional leadership pledged loyalty to the al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who accepted their oaths. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki may have been right when she said last month that “they don’t give out T-shirts or membership cards,” but any sensible definition of group membership must surely recognize the explicit and public exchanges of oaths of loyalty and command between Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri, on the one hand, and the leaders of overt franchises on the other.

Many experts disagree about the extent to which locally oriented militants are officially part of al-Qaeda. The White House has focused on terrorists currently targeting the United States, which form a small subset of the overall al-Qaeda movement. In the course of the debate over Benghazi, that focus has narrowed further to the question of whether “al-Qaeda core” ordered a specific attack.

There is even disagreement over the definition of “core” al-Qaeda. Most administration officials suggest that it is the small group keeping company with Zawahiri in Pakistan. Others define it as veteran members of the al-Qaeda network, active before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But this core has long been dispersed, with only a small part still in Pakistan. Some members now lead regional franchises: Nasir al-Wuhayshi, bin Laden’s former secretary, is both emir of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaeda’s general manager.

In reality, al-Qaeda’s goals are furthered by the so-called core, affiliates and local groups that enjoy no formal relationships with the Zawahiri contingent. The Jamal Network in Egypt, al-Mulathamun in the Sahel and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have a direct but informal relationship with al-Qaeda. The TTP poses a particular definitional problem because it has neither sought nor received formal membership in al-Qaeda, yet it conducted the attempted Times Square bombing in May 2010.

The greatest al-Qaeda threat to the United States is AQAP, which has attempted to attack the U.S. homeland three times since 2009 and whose leader is clearly a member of al-Qaeda core, despite his location in Yemen. Still, most of AQAP’s efforts in recent years have gone into seizing control of parts of Yemen, making it “locally focused.” And what to make of al-Shabab, the formally recognized affiliate in Somalia that does not use the al-Qaeda name? It has been fixated on Somalia but has conducted attacks throughout the region and recruits directly, and in English, from the American Somali community.

Al-Qaeda today is the realization of bin Laden’s broader vision. He did not limit himself only to the founding and running of al-Qaeda but imagined a network uniting like-minded groups extending far beyond state borders. The al-Qaeda operatives around bin Laden’s successor in Pakistan are — at least for the time being — hemmed in by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and they are under siege from Afghanistan-based U.S. drone attacks. But the al-Qaeda network — a defined set of groups running from West Africa to Southeast Asia — carries on bin Laden’s legacy and remains a danger.

An excessively narrow definition of al-Qaeda is just as dangerous as one that includes every Sunni Muslim extremist group. Clearly not all parts of the broader al-Qaeda network are equally dangerous. Nor does dealing with each automatically require the use of military force. Decisions to use force against al-Qaeda must be shaped by strategy and prioritization, like any other national security decision. But excluding large portions of the al-Qaeda network from consideration and hiding behind semantics guarantees strategic failure. Defining the enemy down is not the answer.

Katherine Zimmerman is a senior analyst at the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project and authored the report “The al-Qaeda Network: A New Framework for Defining the Enemy.”

Also see:

Al Qaeda Leader Urges Unity for Sake of Islamic State

imagesAl-Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has posted a 103-minute message on militant websites calling on Muslims to unite to create an Islamic state.. The audio was produced by al-Qaeda’s media arm, As-Sahab, and was presented alongside video footage showing Iranian Revolutionary Guards captured in Syria.

Zawahiri urged Muslims to use the “Arab Spring” to come together and wage jihad. He specifically praised the mujahideen in Syria, exhorting them to step up their fight against the “criminal secular” regime of President Bashar Assad. He also issued a warning to France that its military intervention in Mali will be bogged down.

“I warn France that it will meet in Mali, with God’s permission, the same fate America met in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Al-Zawahiri said.

Al-Qaeda is unhappy that France launched a military operation in Mali last January after being asked to intervene by the country’s interim president. Since then, French and Malian troops have liberated main towns in the north, but remnants of al-Qaeda-linked cells remain active there in some of the vast rural areas.

Read more at The Clarion Project

Also see:

 

Algeria in Jihadi Flames

algeria-1_2454515b-450x334By

Emboldened by America’s projection of weakness abroad, Islamists apparently linked to al-Qaeda reportedly continue to hold about 40 foreign hostages including seven Americans seized Wednesday at a natural gas field in Algeria.

At press time, conflicting media reports had been emerging from the region. Some claimed that the hostages have been freed; others, that several hostages have been killed.

The mass kidnapping at a BP (formerly British Petroleum) gas site near the Libyan border, which may very well have been accomplished with U.S.-supplied weapons left over from the ouster of the late Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, seems to be a spillover from a failed French drive to remove Islamist militants from nearby Mali.

According to the Wall Street Journal, France’s target in Mali was Algeria-based Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, which has “claimed responsibility for the Algeria kidnappings, calling it retaliation.”

The northern portion of Mali is important to the Islamofascists because it is one of their recently acquired strongholds that serves as a showcase for the reimposition of Shariah law in the region. It is a beachhead for Islamist world revolution.

Al-Qaeda forces, working with Qaddafi’s former mercenaries, previously took over northern Mali, an area about the size of Texas. Africa, writes FrontPage Magazine’s Daniel Greenfield, is now “to Islamic Colonialism in the 21st Century what it was to European Colonialism in the 19th Century.”

The kidnapping episode also undercuts President Obama’s spurious claim that al-Qaeda is somehow on the run and virtually irrelevant thanks to his policies. During the past election cycle Obama bragged over and over that “al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead.” That path now seems to be long and winding.

Each passing day it becomes increasingly clear that the Obama administration, which spends much of its time apologizing for past U.S. policies, isn’t serious about combating Islamism. The fact that the administration itself is a hotbed of Islamist activity, according to various investigative reports, no doubt has something to do with it.

Read more at Front Page

 

Related articles