Saudi Game of Thrones: King Appoints Son Crown Prince After Power Struggle

Saudi Interior Ministry via AP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, June 22, 2017:

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz made a surprise announcement on Wednesday morning that his son Mohammed bin Salman, 31, would become the new crown prince of the kingdom.

As it happens, Saudi Arabia already had a Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef. Nayef is over 25 years senior to Mohammed bin Salman and was also the deputy prime minister and interior minister of Saudi Arabia. He was stripped of all these positions at once.

He appeared to handle his demotion quite well, having no doubt seen the writing on the wall ever since Salman became deputy crown prince. “I am content,” said Nayef to his replacement, as quoted by Al Jazeera. “I am going to rest now. May God help you.”

To the dismay of the Western world, Nayef was considered one of the most pro-American of the Saudi royal family. He received counterterrorism training from the FBI and Scotland Yard in the eighties, maintained good relations with U.S. officials, and was instrumental as both an operational leader and spokesman in the Saudi war against al-Qaeda after 9/11.

His commitment to fighting the terrorist group did not waver after a 2009 suicide bomb attack against him. The CIA was sufficiently impressed with his work to give him a counterterrorism medal in February, personally awarded by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

The new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been nicknamed “Mr. Everything” because he has been put in charge of just about everything in Saudi Arabia. He was the chief architect of the “Saudi Vision 2030” plan intended to make his country less dependent on oil money, a plan regarded as the biggest change to the Saudi economy in the country’s history.

Nayef, on the other hand, has been nicknamed “The Prince of Darkness” because of his role in Saudi intelligence. Saudi dissidents find nothing whimsical about the nickname, as they blame Nayef for using the al-Qaeda crackdown as a pretext for imprisoning the politically inconvenient.

The Saudi Vision 2030 plan put Mr. Everything at the helm of some $2 trillion in overseas investments on the reasonable proposition that breaking the country’s dependence on oil would involve buying a tremendous amount of stock in companies that do not sell oil and are not headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Among his many duties, Salman is the chairman of the national oil company, Saudi Aramco – the first member of the royal family to have such a direct role in managing the all-important corporation.

Mohammed bin Salman was popular when the reform program was launched, and he remains popular today. The UK Daily Mail notes that Saudi Arabia’s enormous youth population sees him as a rock star, a symbol of hope and prosperity for the future.

The Daily Mail floats rumors that Salman and Nayef were engaged in a fairly bitter power struggle behind the scenes, and it might not be over yet, even after the king moved to resolve it in Salman’s favor before his death. The deciding factor might simply have been that the king likes Salman better, and is impressed by his charisma, erudition, and 16-hour-day work ethic.

Another advantage to Salman is that his youth and energy suggest a certain stability for Saudi Arabia for decades to come. The previous king, Abdullah, was the world’s oldest monarch at the time of his death in early 2015 at age 90; King Salman is currently 81. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman puts a younger face on the monarchy and might well end up occupying the throne for five decades.

Middle East Eye cites analysts who say the king wanted to reassure Western governments, regional allies, and business partners there would be “continuity in foreign and economic policies.” There was evidently very little confidence that Nayef would have offered such continuity.

Also, Middle East Eye observes that Nayef had a testy relationship with a crucial Saudi ally, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, while Salman and Zayed have become close friends.

Most intriguingly, a Saudi citizen told MEE that President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia played a role in reshaping the monarchy, as King Salman took the occasion to convince Trump the new crown prince is “the right horse to back” despite Nayef’s favorable reputation in Washington.

The monarchy moved quickly to secure Salman in his new position, announcing that 31 of 34 royals supporting his ascension and arranging a meeting in Mecca for them to formally pledge allegiance within a matter of hours. The senior Islamic council swiftly endorsed the decision, followed by welcomes from the leaders of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim allies. The Saudi stock market added its congratulations by climbing over five and a half percent.

Some other Middle Eastern powers were less enthusiastic about the shift in Saudi leadership. Iranian state media grumbled that Crown Prince Salman’s ascension was a “soft coup” in which the “son becomes the successor of the father,” which would seem to betray a fundamental Iranian misunderstanding of how hereditary monarchy works.

Reuters suggests Iran correctly sees Salman’s ascension as a sign of more aggressive Saudi policy toward Tehran and its projects, such as the Houthi rebellion in Yemen and whatever the Qatari royal family has been up to for the past decade. Nayef’s focus was on al-Qaeda, while Salman has been an outspoken enemy of Iran, supporter of Saudi intervention in Yemen, and critic of Qatar. In fact, he is seen as one of the prime movers behind Saudi Arabia’s decision to isolate Qatar.

The Saudis will probably let Iran’s criticism roll off their backs, but Turkey is more problematic. The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is fairly close to Nayef but still working on building a relationship with Salman. It is not going terribly well, as Salman has refused every Turkish invitation to visit Ankara since he was named deputy crown prince.

Erdogan has expressed support for Qatar, putting it at odds with one of Salman’s major policy initiatives, and he disagrees with Salman’s dim view of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Middle East Eye cites Turkey-watchers who foresee a potentially serious conflict between Erdogan and Salman over Turkey’s least favorite Middle Eastern faction, the Kurds. Either as a power play, or because he sincerely favors their cause, Salman may support the Kurds in Syria – which would inflame Turkish fears of the Kurds carving out chunks of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq to form an independent state. Turkish media is reportedly speculating that Salman will threaten to put Saudi Arabia’s chips on the Kurds unless Erdogan backs away from supporting Qatar.

CNN notes that if Salman does succeed his father, he will be the first Saudi king who is not the son of national founder Ibn Saud, who became King Abdul Aziz al-Saud. Naming Mohammed bin Salman as his heir allowed King Salman to reshape the line of succession for decades, and perhaps centuries, to come.

It also puts Saudi Arabia more firmly under the guidance of the most liberal leader it has ever had, with respect to everything from women’s rights to representative government. Granted, that’s a fairly low bar to clear in one of the world’s most repressive countries, but it’s good to see a future king trying to clear it at a moment when the United States is realigning Middle East policy back toward Saudi Arabia and its allies

Zawahiri lectures on global jihad, warns of national boundaries

LONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | June 10, 2017

Sometime in the last few years, al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri got an editor. Known for his long-winded lectures, Zawahiri has increasingly recorded shorter messages with more focused arguments. The latest of these came yesterday, when As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, released the seventh episode in Zawahiri’s “Brief Messages to a Victorious Nation” series. The message is titled, “One Ummah, One War on Multiple Fronts.”

Zawahiri emphasizes a core part of his organization’s ideology: jihad is an obligation for Muslims around the globe, especially when non-believers infringe of Muslim lands. Of course, many Muslim authorities are deemed illegitimate in this view of the world, as they do not adhere to the same version of Islam espoused by the jihadists.

The message opens with images of: Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; Izz Ad-Deen Al-Qassam, a Syrian Islamic thinker who preached jihad; Abdullah Azzam, co-founder of the predecessor to al Qaeda and godfather of modern jihadism; al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Suri, an ideologue whose teachings are influential; Abu Muhammad al-Turkistani, a co-founder of the al Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic party; and Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Zawahiri and As Sahab portray these men as part of the same jihadist tradition, stretching back into the early 20th Century.

“Our Ummah today is up against a global war in which Western and Eastern (Orthodox) Crusaders, Chinese, Hindus, Safavi Rawafidh [meaning the Iranians and allied Shiites] and secular nationalists are partners in crime,” Zawahiri says. “From the coasts of al-Maghreb (Western North Africa) to Eastern Turkistan, you will find a Muslim world confronted by aggression, occupation, repression, bombardment, and international alliances working hand[s] in gloves with client regimes, which are outside the pale of Islam and work for the interests of the leading international criminals.”

Al Qaeda has repeatedly argued that Muslims are confronted by this supposedly grand alliance. It is an enlargement of the alleged “Zionist-Crusader” conspiracy that Osama bin Laden first made the cornerstone of his thinking in the 1990s.

Zawahiri is forced to explain how so many parties, which are often at odds with one another, are really part of the same unified effort.

“In terms of peculiarities, one region may differ slightly from another, but there are obvious common denominators, namely fighting Islam in the name of the ‘Fight against Terrorism’ and subservience to an ‘International System,’ cleverly crafted by the victors of World War II for the mutual division and theft of the natural resources of the world – specifically the Muslim world,” Zawahiri says.

The al Qaeda leader argues that the US is still the main enemy. “You will find that the major role in this criminal alliance belongs to the Americans, and then the roles gradually differ as per the power wielded by each partner and its stakes in the system,” he claims.

Zawahiri preaches unity in the face of these overwhelming odds. He quotes an Islamic verse — “And hold on strongly to the rope of Allah and be not divided amongst yourselves” — that al Qaeda routinely peppers throughout its productions.

And he says the “jurists” long ago “ruled that the lands of the Muslims have the status of a single domain.”

Zawahiri continues: “There is a consensus amongst the jurists that if the disbelieving enemy occupies a Muslim land, it becomes obligatory on its residents to defend that land, and if they find themselves unable to do so, this obligation expands in a circular fashion to those nearest to them, and so on until it encompasses Muslims all over the globe.”

Muslims “have always risen up to defend their lands regardless of nationality or race,” he continues. And this was the “prevailing norm until the demise of the Ottoman state, which had defended the lands of Islam for five centuries.”

“After the fall of the Ottomans,” Zawahiri says, “the concept of nation-states with boundaries demarcated by the infidel occupiers started holding sway, and among Muslims arose some proponents of this notion. This is why the callers of the Islamic revival actively fought against this concept.” (Supporters of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State were quick to point out online that Zawahiri wanted to keep the jihad in Iraq separate from the war in Syria, which they say contradicts his stance.)

The al Qaeda emir then lists the men he counts as key revivalists, pointing out that they waged jihad far outside of their native lands.

Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian, organized “battalions for the liberation of Palestine.” Izz ad-Deen al-Qassam, a Syrian, waged “jihad in Palestine.” Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian, awakened “the ummah to defend Afghanistan” and declared “most unequivocally that jihad has been a Fardh Ayn (a compulsory individual obligation) since the fall of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain).”

“Then emerged the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban’s state], and we saw Afghans and emigrants alike pledging allegiance to it,” Zawahiri says. “Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Suri – both Arabs – and Abu Muhammad al-Turkistani” pledged “allegiance to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Afghani (may Allah have mercy on each one of them).”

“So may Allah reward these pioneers, who revived the spirit of one united ummah confronting a disbelieving enemy,” Zawahiri says toward the end of his talk.

He then warns that some seek to divide the jihad according to national boundaries, which is unacceptable. It is an argument he has made in other recent productions. While it is a general point that al Qaeda has made often in the past, it is likely something that Zawahiri wants to emphasize, once again, as jihadi ideologues are currently debating the appropriate course in Syria.

“But today, there are some who want to push us back behind the lines of division drawn by disbelieving occupiers…Pakistan for Pakistanis, Syria for Syrians, Palestine for Palestinians…in the interest of whom, may we ask?” Zawahiri concludes: “May Allah help us gather our strength, bring our hearts closer, unite our ranks, and not deprive us of victory because of our sins.”

Zawahiri’s message was released with an English transcript. As Sahab and al Qaeda’s regional branches have increasingly released English-language content over the previous year. It is an indication that their media efforts have been substantially improved after facing multiple disruptions in 2014 and in the years thereafter.

[For context on the debate regarding the jihadist project in Syria, see FDD’s Long War Journal reports: Pro-Al Qaeda ideologue criticizes joint bombings by Russia and Turkey in Syria; Hay’at Tahrir al Sham leader calls for ‘unity’ in Syrian insurgency; and Ayman al Zawahiri warns against ‘nationalist’ agenda in

Screen shots from “One Ummah, One War on Multiple Fronts”:

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

***

Al Qaeda preaches world conquest of all religions and peoples. @billroggio @thomasjoscelyn @followfdd John Batchelor Show

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Recommends ‘Cheaper, Lighter’ Afghanistan Approach

AFP

Breitbart, by Kristina Wong, June 12, 2017:

Blackwater founder and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince is recommending, as the Trump administration debates its Afghanistan War approach, that the U.S. military go back to its light footprint approach in Afghanistan.

Prince told the “Breitbart News Sunday” radio program that the approach – which would see CIA, special operators, and contractors working with Afghan forces to target terrorists – would be more effective and save the U.S. billions of dollars annually.

“I say go back to the model that worked, for a couple hundred years in the region, by the East India company, which used professional Western soldiers who were contracted and lived with trained with and when necessary fought with their local counterparts,” he said.

Prince said the most effective time the U.S. had in Afghanistan against terrorism was the first 12 months after the September 2001 attack, where CIA, special operators, and contractors worked with local Afghan forces with air support.

“That really put the Taliban and al Qaeda on the back heels,” he said. “The more we’ve gone into a conventional approach in Afghanistan, the more we are losing.”

Prince, who has advised the Trump campaign, argued that the light footprint approach was more effective.

“[It] literally puts them side by side, living in the same base. Believe me – if you’re a trainer, and your life depends on the success of the unit, you are going to make sure the men are paid, fed, equipped,” he said.

Prince also argued that the light footprint approach would also be “much cheaper, more sustainable” – about 10 percent of the current costs.

“We’re spending, this year as a country, $45 billion there… That’s a staggering amount of money, and this is a time when [the Department of Defense] needs more money to reset equip and airplanes and boats and tanks and everything else,” he said.

Prince argued that today’s approach is not working.

There are currently about 8,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan conducting a train-and-advise mission as well as a counterterrorism mission. After former President Obama declared the combat mission over in December 2014, the Taliban have made a comeback, and now control about a third of the country.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has also established a nascent presence on the ground there.

“The way the U.S. Army does it now, is the Americans live on one base, the Afghans live on another base, they act have to fly over to the other base, maybe see them once or twice a week, they don’t really go on missions with them anymore and it really lives the indigenous units hanging,” he said.

“So they go out on patrol, they can’t get the fires support, they can’t get resupply, they can’t [be medically evacuated], they miss the basic soldiering that would let them be successful,” he said.

He said many of the 300,000-plus Afghan forces supported by the U.S. are “ghosts” – with corrupt officials pocketing the money instead. Plus, he said supporting that many forces is beyond Afghanistan’s capability.

The approach Prince recommended tracks with one that some of Trump’s advisers are advocating for – a focus on the counterterrorism mission versus nation building, with special operators training Afghan forces.

Another approach under consideration, backed by National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, is surging an additional 3,000 U.S. troops, and hitting the Taliban harder to force it back to the negotiating table.

Prince also recommended putting a U.S. leader in charge of Afghanistan that would extend past the limited tours that U.S. military commanders normally have there, and relaxing rules of engagement.

“We’ve had 17 different commanders in a 15-year period. No great football team or sports teams changes its coaches every year, yet we’ve done that more than every year and with predictable results,” he said.

He also recommended pushing Afghans to sustain is own economy, including passing a mining law necessary to take advantage of the $1 trillion in minerals the country is estimated to have.

Prince said that, currently, Afghanistan’s economy is 90 percent dependent on donor aid, and its security budget totally dependent on the U.S.

“There is gold, copper and iron ore, and a bunch of rare earth elements, lithium — all very high value stuff and oil and gas as well,” he said. “But all the experts at the State Department have yet to get the Afghans to pass a mining law.”

Meanwhile, he said the Taliban is raking in money from opium, hashish, gold, lapis, marble, and pistachios.

“The Taliban has dominated each of those spaces, each of those parts of the economy and that’s what they use to fund their entire insurgency and that’s why they’re able to pay well, and to grow and to flourish, and it’s really, really frustrating.”

The U.S. first invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, after the Taliban allowed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to plan the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York that killed 2,996 people and wounded more than 6,000 others.

The CIA and special operators led the successful invasion, toppling the Taliban from power and establishing a presence there from which to go after al Qaeda. Many fled into Pakistan, including bin Laden, who was later killed there in 2011.

But since then, the U.S. and NATO countries have had a presence of more than a hundred thousand troops there. Former President Barack Obama in 2009 ordered a troop surge of around 30,000 into the country, simultaneously announcing they would begin to withdraw in 18 months – a timeline that angered U.S. military commanders who felt it was a signal to the Taliban to wait coalition forces out.

After U.S. troops began withdrawing and Obama declared the end of the U.S. combat mission in 2014, the Taliban has made a comeback and now control at least a third of the territory and about as much of the population.

Today, Prince said, there are about 20 different terrorist groups there.

“The Taliban continues to be aligned 100 percent to al Qaeda and its where number terrorist attacks — the most notable one being the 9/11 attacks, emanated from Afghanistan,” he said.

“We have to accept that Afghanistan is a very rough place. It’s resident to 20 different terrorist org and there’s a lot of bad things that emanate from there so getting to a manageable state.”

Prince noted that the Taliban has retaken Sangin, a district in southern Afghanistan that U.S. troops fought hard to pacify, and recently held a victory parade out in the open.

“They had a victory parade in broad daylight with hundreds of Taliban and dozens of vehicles. They did it in broad daylight an they were unafraid of someone attacking them,” he said. “The terrorists have to fear waking up the next morning.”

Analysis: The Islamic State’s first major terrorist attacks inside Iran

LONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN, June 7, 2017:

Note: A version of this article was first published by The Daily Beast.

A team of terrorists struck the Iranian Parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini earlier today. At least 12 people were killed, according to Iran’s state media. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps blamed Saudi Arabia, further escalating tensions in the region. The Islamic State (ISIS) quickly claimed responsibility for the assault via its Amaq News Agency, which released statements and a short video from one of the attacks as it was still ongoing. Amaq says that two suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests at Khomeini’s mausoleum, while inghimasis (well-trained fighters who “immerse” themselves in battle) raided the parliament.

The attack is a significant development, to grossly understate the matter. Tehran had long avoided being hit by the types of “martyrdom” operations that routinely rock the neighboring capitals of Baghdad and Kabul.

This is no accident. The Iranian government’s security services are ruthlessly effective at suppressing all forms of opposition, including both legitimate protesters and those with ill-intentions.

More important, perhaps, is the fact that the Iranian regime cut a secret deal with al Qaeda.

Osama Bin Laden’s organization and its spin-off, the so-called Islamic State, have fought against Iran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria for years. Killing Shiites is a blood sport for ISIS’s Sunni jihadists. And Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate reportedly has attempted to strike inside the mullahs’ country before. The group routinely agitates against the Iranians in its videos and propaganda statements. Yet, it wasn’t until now that ISIS successfully attacked the heart of Tehran.

Al Qaeda’s leadership long sought to rein in the anti-Shiite violence in Iraq. Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy and successor of emir of al Qaeda, even tried to persuade Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, to stop targeting Shiite civilians. Zarqawi hoped to provoke a full scale, sectarian civil war in Iraq. When his men blew up the revered Golden Mosque in Samarra in 2006 they very nearly accomplished that goal. Despite the U.S. “surge” that averted complete disaster in the years that followed, sectarian violence has plagued Iraq ever since.

Zarqawi was killed in June 2006—less than a year after Zawahiri tried to convince him to stop targeting Shiite civilians. Zarqawi’s heirs continued his sectarian strategy inside Iraq. But until 2014, they abided by an order from al Qaeda’s leaders to avoid terrorist operations inside Iranian territory and against Shiites outside of Iraq. The two sides formally split in early 2014. At that point, the organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) gained strength, waging a campaign against Shiites throughout the region—and accusing al Qaeda of being soft on them.

In May 2014, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani, delivered a stinging rebuke of al Qaeda leaders that exposed their cozy relations with Tehran.

“Let history record that Iran owes al Qaeda invaluably,” Adnani bristled, saying he and his men had “complied with your [al Qaeda’s] request not to target [the Shiites] outside Iraq, in Iran and elsewhere.” Adnani, who was killed in an American airstrike last year, explained that ISIS was “acting upon the orders of al Qaeda to safeguard its interests and supply lines in Iran.”

After al Qaeda’s general command disowned ISIS in February 2014, Baghdadi and Adnani no longer considered themselves bound by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s edicts. ISIS began launching indiscriminate attacks against Shiite Muslims far outside of Iraq, and it started eyeing operations inside Iran as well.

To this day, however, al Qaeda avoids attacks inside Iran—at least those that can be directly attributed to the organization. (It is possible that al Qaeda supports other regional groups that occasionally target Iranian security forces on their home turf.)

Files recovered during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan explain this reticence. One of the documents corroborates Adnani’s testimony regarding al Qaeda’s orders.

In October 2007, bin Laden wrote a letter to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the immediate predecessor to Baghdadi’s ISIS. The missive was likely addressed to Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (a.k.a. Abu Ayyub al Masri), who led the ISI at the time. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took charge of this same group in 2010, after Abu Hamza was killed.

Bin Laden disapproved of the ISI’s threats against Iran. “I have a few remarks concerning the matter of your threats to Iran, and I hope that you and your brothers will accommodate it,” bin Laden wrote. The al Qaeda founder continued (emphasis added): “You did not consult with us on that serious issue that affects the general welfare of all of us. We expected you would consult with us for these important matters, for as you are aware, Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel, and communication, as well as the matter of hostages.”

Bin Laden was not against targeting Iran in principle. He simply thought the cost was too high and the benefits al Qaeda received from the relationship were significant.

The “main artery” bin Laden referenced was later targeted in a series of terrorist designations, reward offers and other official statements by the U.S. Treasury and State Departments.

In July 2011, Treasury first identified the al Qaeda leaders, including one known as Yasin al-Suri, who ran the facilitation network inside Iran at the time. Treasury explained that they operated under a formerly “secret deal” between the terror organization and the Iranian government. The Obama administration also referred to the Iranian hub as al Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline,” which allowed the jihadist organization to shuttle personnel and funds throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Al Qaeda operatives involved in plots targeting the West have moved through Iran as well.

The leadership of the network has evolved over time for several reasons. In December 2011, for instance, the State Department offered a $10 million reward for Suri, making him one of the most wanted terrorists on the planet. Al Qaeda was forced to reshuffle its deck and place another veteran in charge, but Suri eventually assumed command once again.

In the years that followed, several prominent al Qaeda figures in Iran went on to hold key positions elsewhere, including inside Syria. Indeed, designated terrorists such as Muhsin al-Fadhli and Sanafi al-Nasr, both of whom led the network in Iran for a time, became key players in the so-called “Khorasan Group.”

In 2014, the Obama administration ordered airstrikes targeting the “Khorasan Group,” saying that members of this al Qaeda wing were planning attacks in the West. Both Fadhli and Nasr were killed in American bombings in Syria.

The deal between al Qaeda and the Iranians has survived the wars in Syria and Yemen, despite the fact that they are on opposite sides in those bloody conflicts. It is one of the great curiosities in the jihadist world. There is no question that al Qaeda and Iran’s proxies are at each other’s throats in those countries. Al Qaeda has even kidnapped Iranian diplomats to force exchanges for senior jihadists and family members who were held in some form of custody inside Iran.

Still, even though the two sides frequently clash, their collusion is ongoing. In July 2016, for example, Treasury revealed that Abu Hamza al-Khalidi, al Qaeda’s “Military Commission Chief”—one of the most senior positions in the group—is located in Iran alongside some of his comrades. Another file recovered in bin Laden’s lair refers to Khalidi as part of a “new generation” of leaders groomed to replace their fallen comrades.

As Adnani’s May 2014 message demonstrated, ISIS has been keen to highlight al Qaeda’s unwillingness to strike Iran. The two Sunni jihadist groups remain at odds and ISIS wants to undermine al Qaeda’s legitimacy among Sunni fanatics who may not understand why bin Laden’s heirs would refrain from directly attacking Iran. Other files recovered in Abbottabad show that bin Laden devised plans to undermine Iran’s regional position. But this doesn’t go far enough for some.

According to Treasury, the predecessor to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s ISIS had its own relationship with Iranian intelligence during the height of America’s involvement in the Iraq War. But ISIS doesn’t remind its audience of this inconvenient fact. Instead, ISIS criticizes al Qaeda for its willingness to compromise with the Iranians.

In 2016, for example, ISIS’s Naba magazine carried a series of interviews with an al Qaeda defector known as Abu Ubaydah Al Lubnani, who claimed that “Iranian intelligence” was in complete control of al Qaeda’s safe houses inside the country. Interestingly enough, Lubnani himself transited through Iran to the lands of the self-declared caliphate after leaving al Qaeda’s ranks. But the purpose of Lubnani’s interviews was to indict ISIS’s rivals as being soft on the Iranians.

Other propaganda disseminated by ISIS has similarly sought to portray the group as the vanguard of Sunni opposition to Iranian-backed forces throughout the region.

There is no question that after today’s attacks inside Tehran, ISIS will ramp up its messaging along these lines. ISIS can finally claim to have brought the Sunni jihadists’ war to Iran, something al Qaeda has been unwilling to do.

[For a timeline of U.S. government designations and other statements concerning Iran’s agreement with al Qaeda, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: Treasury designates 3 senior al Qaeda members in Iran.]

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

And Now Jihad in Australia…

 

Jihadist Yacqub Khayre, KIA by Australian police

Terror Trends  Bulletin, by Christopher  Holton, June 5, 2017:

We can now add Melbourne, Australia to the long list of Western cities victimized by jihad during the Muslim “holy” month of Ramadan.

Late yesterday afternoon, Yacqub Khayre, 29, an Australian citizen of Somali descent–who came to Australia as a child refugee at the age of 4–killed one innocent victim and took another hostage before being killed by police in a shootout and siege that lasted some 2 hours.

Khayre killed a Chinese-Australian man in the lobby of an apartment building in the affluent  Brighton area of Melbourne. He then took a woman hostage in the building. Within two hours he was shot dead by police after opening fire on them.

Initial reports of the incident indicated that it was not “terrorist-related,” however those reports turned out to be inaccurate.

It turns out that Khayre called a local television station during the stand-off stating, “This is for the Islamic State, this is for Al-Qaeda.”

Subsequently, the Islamic State media arm, Amaq, claimed credit for the attack, stating,””The executor of the Melbourne attack in Australia is a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried out the attack in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition states.”

Once again, it turns out that Yacqub Khayre was known to authorities, had a long history of violence, had previously been charged with a terror offense but acquitted and was known to have connections in the past, with “violent extremists,” (which is of course a misnomer for Jihadists)

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Also see:

Islam’s Conquest of America One Town at a Time

Understanding the Threat, by John  Guandolo, June 5, 2017:

From Minneapolis (MN) to Hamtramck (MI) to Falls Church (VA) to Paterson (NJ) and many other towns and cities across the fifty states, the Islamic Movement is quietly conquering America.

The federal government sleeps, many state governments – including those controlled by Republicans – do their best to accommodate muslims waging Civilization Jihad against America, and the hard-left Marxists – including nearly all of the local and national media – are collaborators in the enemy’s efforts.

As UTT has previously reported, Minneapolis, Minnesota is currently enemy-held territory and will require force to take back.

Somali Muslims in Minneapolis

Hamtramck, Michigan is a small suburb of Detroitistan, and is the first town in America to have a majority muslim city council.  This formerly Polish-Catholic town has been overrun by sharia-adherent muslims who have already achieved accommodations for sharia in the community.

Falls Church, Virginia is home to the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas’ Dar al Hijra Islamic Center.  The Muslim Brotherhood leader of Dar al Hijra, Sheikh Shaker Elsayed (former President of the MB’s Muslim American Society), recently gave a lecture promoting female genital mutilation.  Dar al Hijra is a jihadi factory whose property is owned by the MB’s bank NAIT (North American Islamic Trust).

Al Qaeda’s Anwar al Awlaki was the Imam of the Dar al Hijra beginning in January 2001 and serving for over a year there.

The community around Dar al Hijra has been taken over by sharia-adherent muslims.  Law enforcement calls the two twin apartment buildings in the area “Taliban Towers,” and the number of jihadis in this area of Northern Virginia, only minutes from the nation’s capital, is significant.

Historically, Paterson, New Jersey has been a melting pot of Irish, Germans, Dutch, Italians, Eastern Europeans and others.  Christians and Jews made a home in this town approximately 20 miles outside of New York City.

Now, estimates put the number of muslims in Paterson at over 30% of the total population.  This number – possibly over 40,000 – makes Paterson, New Jersey the town with the one of the highest concentrations of muslims in the United States.  Many Turks and Syrians are a part of the muslim community, but the majority are Palestinians/Hamas.  Many citizens are concerned for their safety and security.

Muslims on the streets of New York City near Trump Tower on June 1, 2017

What do these four communities – Paterson, Falls Church, Minneapolis, and Hamtramck – have in common?

  1. Muslims concentrated their efforts in these communities, built up their numbers, and then asked for accommodations.  Once their numbers were significant enough, they made DEMANDS of local officials to accommodate sharia.
  2. Islamic leaders (read: Muslim Brotherhood et al) purchased numerous plots of land in these communities – often with funds from Saudi Arabia – and began building of Mosques/Islamic Centers, Islamic schools, etc.
  3. Once the mosques were built, land immediately around the mosque was purchased for muslims and, over time, muslims began occupying the land around the mosque up to a radius of approximately 3 miles.
  4. Islamic organizations (read: Muslim Brotherhood) began outreaching to local Christian and Jewish leaders, as well as law enforcement and elected officials with positive results.  The majority of Pastors and Rabbis stood/stand with jihadis (“terrorists”) and publicly defend them because the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Interfaith Outreach” efforts work; many elected officials believe they “have to” meet with jihadi leaders to show how “progressive and open minded” they are; and law enforcement remains unaware of the grave threat growing like a cancer in their communities.
  5. Collaborators in the media wrote/write glowing stories about how wonderful the jihadis muslims are and defend them right up to and, in some cases, after they kill Americans (eg New York Times defending Anwar al Awlaki after the U.S. government killed him because he was the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen).
  6. Elected officials defend and even promote the jihadis. Example: Mayor Jones in Paterson, NJ raised the Palestinian flag over the City Hall and declared “Palestinian-American Day.”

Jihadis celebrating “Palestinian-American Day” in Paterson, NJ

Al Qaeda jihadi Anwar al Awlaki (R) and citizen Patricia Morris (L) who organized a “vigil” at the MB/Hamas Dar al Hijra Islamic Center after the 9/11/01 attacks on the United States

Cities which stand up against this onslaught, at least under the previous administration, find themselves fighting a lawsuit from the Department of Justice and U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups.  In Bernard Township, NJ the town council said no to Islamic leaders’ request to build an Islamic center/mosque for a number of reasons.  The DoJ and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Center of Basking Ridge sued and forced the city to allow the mosque be built.

As each day goes by the problem gets worse and the enemy digs in and enhances their fighting positions in the United States.

UTT encourages all Americans to pay attention to what is going on around them in their community.  The enemy is inside the wall.  A muslim representing an Islamic organization has a 99.9% probability of being a jihadi because all of the prominent Islamic organizations in the United States are jihadi/hostile as a matter of fact.  Islamic leaders may give a friendly appearance, but they want what ISIS an Al Qaeda want – an Islamic state under sharia.

What are you doing to prevent your town from surrendering to the jihadis in your community?  Are you holding your leaders accountable?  Are you boldly speaking truth?  Do you understand the threat?

Sheriffs and Pastors are the most important people in this war.  We will attain victory when sheriff’s and their deputies understand the threat and aggressively go after it.  Law Enforcement can only do this if the citizens also understand the threat.  Pastors are the key to ensuring that happens, so they must speak truth in love to open the eyes of the American people.

***

Report: Global Terrorism Has Tripled Since 2011, Now At An All Time High

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 1, 2017:

The Institute for Economics and Peace has released their annual “Global Peace Index” for 2017, reporting some shocking findings.

According to the report, global terrorism has nearly tripled since 2011, and terrorism is now at an all-time high.

The Voice of America reports:

Worldwide terrorism is at an all-time high, and violence cost the global economy $14.3 trillion last year, with a $2.5 trillion impact in the United States alone.

These new figures from the latest Global Peace Index, a report on conflict and security, indicate that world peace has been deteriorating for the past decade, largely driven by terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The study says the decline interrupts long-term improvements the world had been making since the end of World War II.

According to the report, the annual number of terrorism incidents has almost tripled since 2011.

Deaths from terrorism have risen more than 900% since 2007 in the 35 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Of those members, 23 nations experienced terrorism related deaths over the past year.

Those countries include Denmark, Sweden, France and Turkey.

One eye-popping graphic from the report (p. 36) shows that terrorism deaths in OECD countries has increased 900 percent since 2007.

This is quite a turn-around from this time last year during the presidential campaign when the media was trumpeting major declines in terrorism.

Only a few were willing to acknowledge the growing terrorism problem developing in the West:

As I noted here at PJ Media after the terror attack in Nice last July, attacks in the West were occurring at a rate of one every 84 hours.

After last month’s suicide bombing in Manchester, among other recent attacks, it appears that another “Summer of Terror” may be in the offing.

But wait!? Didn’t we hear from President Obama that Osama bin Laden was dead, and al-Qaeda had been decimated? The Islamic State was the “JV team”?

In fact, we did.

Going back to April 2013, we had senior Obama State Department officials telling us that the “War on Terror” was over, and the primary reason was that Obama’s Arab Spring had unleashed the forces of democracy by encouraging hardcore Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, to take over in several critical countries in the Middle East.

[…]

The so-called Arab Spring and the Syrian War – both openly cheered and supported by the Obama administration – unleashed deadly and destructive forces whose full manifestation are only now being seen.

This new data documents the terrorism that has ripped open the Middle East, southeast Asia and Africa. Now it is literally exploding across Europe.

And it may take more than hugs and hashtags to roll it back.

Read more