Osama bin Laden’s son says al Qaeda has grown despite 15 years of war

Screen-Shot-2016-07-09-at-2.25.44-PMLong War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, July 10, 2016:

In a newly released audio message, Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza says that the number of “mujahideen” around the globe has grown despite a decade and a half of war. Hamza also threatens revenge for the death of his father, claiming that America has not yet witnessed al Qaeda’s retaliation.

Hamza’s speech was released yesterday by al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab. It is the latest speech by Osama’s heir, who was given a starring role in al Qaeda’s productions last August.

The SITE Intelligence Group translated the 21 minute, 40 second audio, which is accompanied by images of various jihadists.

The message is titled, “We Are All Osama.” The same phrase was chanted during the al Qaeda-inspired protests at American diplomatic establishments in Cairo, Tunis, Sanaa, and elsewhere in September 2012. The cover of the tenth issue of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine focused on this theme, celebrating the US Embassy protests and assaults. Footage from these rallies was also included in Hamza’s first official al Qaeda message last year.

At the beginning of the 9/11 wars, Hamza says, the “mujahideen were besieged in Afghanistan.” But today the “mujahideen are in Afghanistan and they have reached Sham [Syria], Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia, the Indian Subcontinent, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, and Central Africa.” With the possible exception of Iraq, al Qaeda’s official branches and affiliated groups have a presence in each of the areas listed by Hamza.

“The followers of the thought of Sheikh Osama, may Allah have mercy on him, which is represented by targeting the head of global disbelief that supports the Jews, have increased in number within a decade and a half, and became double in number,” Hamza claims, according to SITE’s translation. Osama bin Laden’s “followers today number in the hundreds of thousands, and his loved ones and supporters number in the millions, and that is due to the grace of Allah the Almighty.”

Hamza says he discussed the US drone campaign in northern Pakistan with Abu Yahya al Libi, a senior al Qaeda official who was killed in an airstrike in June 2012. The increase in the “Crusader American drone strikes” in Waziristan resulted in “convoys of martyrs departing one by one, and the killing of the sheikhs of jihad became rampant,” Hamza laments. But Libi reassured Hamza that this was the path al Qaeda had chosen, with its leaders sacrificing themselves so that their “nation” (meaning the ummah, or worldwide community of Muslims) may live.

Hamza describes his father as the “Reviver Imam.” Al Qaeda regularly uses this honorific and its variants, including the “Reviving Sheikh,” to describe Osama bin Laden. The title is intended to mean that bin Laden helped reinvigorate the idea of jihad within Muslim-majority countries.

“It was possible for the Reviver Imam, may Allah have mercy on him, to live a comfortable life, enjoying his fortune and wealth that reached millions of dollars,” Hamza says of his father, according to SITE. “But he and his companions preferred to have what is available within Allah in the hereafter. They preferred to defend the religion and support the vulnerable, especially our people in Palestine.”

Al Qaeda often tries to tie its agenda to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but in realty the group has devoted only a small part of its resources to the Palestinian cause.

Hamza directly threatens retaliation against the US for the May 2011 raid on his father’s compound in Pakistan. “If you think that your sinful crime that you committed in Abbottabad has passed without punishment, then you thought wrong,” Hamza claims. “What is correct is coming to you, and its punishment is severe.” He then qualifies his threat, saying “it is not revenge for Osama the person,” but “revenge for those who defended Islam and its sanctities and honor” and “for whoever revived jihad in the cause of Allah.”

Osama’s son taunts President Obama and his administration, claiming that Obama’s “arrival was accompanied with a huge media campaign, but it was hollow, containing many lies.” Obama “declared that he will end the wars, and that his era is an era of peace, and that he will close the open files that his predecessor left for him,” meaning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other issues. But Obama “is now leaving the White House and also leaving open files for his successor,” Hamza says, because he was “incapable” of solving them and “because the force of the mujahideen stands before him.”

Images of various jihadists are shown throughout Hamza’s speech. Many of them are portrayed as “martyrs,” such as Abdullah Azzam (widely considered the godfather of modern jihadism), Abu Khalid al Suri (a veteran al Qaeda operative who doubled as a senior official in Ahrar al Sham until his death in 2014), Mullah Omar, and others. The photo of Abu Khalid al Suri can be seen in the upper right hand corner of the screen shot at the beginning of this article.

Screen-Shot-2016-07-09-at-2.18.27-PM-768x843But some of the images are of jihadists who are presumably alive. One of them is Fayez al Kandari, whose picture is sandwiched between two photos of Osama bin Laden. A screen shot of Kandari’s image, as included in al Qaeda’s video, can be seen on the right.

Kandari is an ex-Guantanamo detainee who was held at the American detention facility in Cuba until January 2016, when he was transferred to his home country of Kuwait. [See LWJreport, ‘High risk’ Guantanamo detainee transferred to Kuwait.]

Another jihadist who is alive and shown in the video is Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (also known as the “Blind Sheikh”), who is imprisoned in the US for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a follow-on plot against New York City landmarks. As Sahab’s production begins with an old clip of Rahman reciting a verse from the Quran. Al Qaeda regularly agitates for Rahman’s release, as he was one of Osama bin Laden’s earliest and most influential ideological backers.

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

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Homeland Security Advisory Council: Covering for the Enemy Threat Doctrine

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton

America is at war and we continue to be prevented from identifying and understanding our enemies as a result of influence operations targeting our bureaucratized counterterrorism apparatus.

The latest evidence of this long-standing and, unfortunately, very effective influence campaign comes from the revelation that the “Countering Violent Extremism Subcommittee” of the Homeland Security Advisory Council to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a recommendation that urges rejecting use of Islamic terms such as “jihad” and “shariah” in communications about the threats that we face….

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/homeland-security-report-calls-rejecting-terms-jihad-sharia/

This is nothing new. We have heard CIA director John Brennan reject the term “jihadist” and the State Department under Condoleezza Rice rejected the use of the term as well.

We have covered the damaging efforts by our enemies to prevent the actual correct use of the term “jihad” extensively here on Terror Trends Bulletin in the past…

https://terrortrendsbulletin.com/2013/01/13/cairs-new-disinformation-campaign-on-jihad/

But the effort to suppress even mere mention of the word “shariah” is actually much more damaging than the suppression of the word “jihad.” That’s because shariah is THE enemy threat doctrine.

To understand our enemies, their motivations, their intentions and their strategy, one must study shariah. Shariah is everything to the jihadists. It is the code that they follow and its full implementation is their goal.

Forbidding the use of the term shariah, much less suppressing study of shariah in the present conflict is the equivalent of forbidding intelligence agencies from studying Mein Kampf in World War II or the works and words of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao during the Cold War.

Anyone who would recommend that we avoid studying and talking about shariah simply must have a nefarious purpose.

By way of review, shariah is Islamic law. The terms shariah and Islamic law are completely interchangeable; they refer to exactly the same thing. Shariah is an immutable theo-political-legal-military code derived from the Islamic doctrinal trilogy, made up of the Quran, the Sirah (the biography of the prophet Mohammed) and the Hadith (traditions, sayings and stories compiled about the life of Mohammed).

Every single Jihadist terrorist group in the world–without exception–has as its stated goal the imposition of shariah: the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, HAMAS, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Lashkar e Taiba, Abu Sayyef, Jemaah Islamiyah, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al Shabaab–all of them.

So, while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be carefully avoiding the use of the term shariah, our enemies have been using it quite commonly, frequently and prominently, as if to illustrate the absurdity of the DHS recommendation.

What follows is a compilation of quotes from jihadi leaders and Al Qaeda and Islamic State documents that reveal the central importance of shariah to their movement. This is why Americans must familiarize themselves with shariah.

SHARIAH ACCORDING TO THE JIHADISTS THEMSELVES

• The sharia has forbidden us from taking infidels as confidants, inducting them into our secrets.
• The sharia forbids us from appointing infidels to important posts.
• The sharia forbids us from adopting or praising the beliefs and views of the infidels.
• The sharia forbids us from assisting infidels against Muslims; even the one who is coerced has o excuse to fight under the banner of infidels.
• The sharia commands us to battle infidels—both original infidels and apostates, as well as hypocrites. As for waging jihad against the infidels who have usurped the lands of Islam, this is a duty considered second only to faith, by ulemaic consensus.
• The sharia does not accept the excuses made by hypocrites—that they befriend the infidels because they fear the vicissitudes of time.
• We are duty-bound by the sharia to help Muslims overcome the infidels.

Ayman al-Zawahiri
Al Qaeda leader

Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser and purported successor Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview in Afghanistan, Barack Obama

Democracy is based on the principle of the power of creatures over other creatures, and rejects the principle of God’s absolute power over all creatures; it is also based on the idea the men’s desires, whatever they may be, replace God absolutely, and on the refusal to obey God’s law. In Islam, when there is a disagreement or a difference of opinion, one refers to God, his Prophet, and the commands of sharia.

Ayman al-Zawahiri
Al Qaeda leader

Read more

Why All The Jihadi Attacks? Why Now?

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton, June 13, 2016:

Way back in February of 1998, Osama Bin Laden declared a Jihad against Jews and Crusaders in a written document entitled the “World Islamic Front Statement.”

In that document he specifically stated:

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it

Despite this, with just a few notable exceptions over the years, few Muslims answered Bin Laden’s call to kill Americans.

Bin Laden was of course killed by U.S. Special Operations forces in May 2011.

Since then, we have seen many more attacks here in the U.S.

Why? If Osama Bin Laden was not able to inspire Muslims to attack and kill Americans, why are we seeing so many such attacks in recent years? Such as:

• The Orlando night club massacre

• The San Bernardino massacre

• The Chattanooga massacre

• The failed Garland, Texas attack

• The Queens, New York hatchet attack on police officers standing on a street corner

• The Philadelphia attack on a police officer sitting in his squad car

• The Moore, Oklahoma beheading of a grandmother at the hands of a Muslim co-worker

These are just a few of the incidents in recent years that have, unfortunately, been categorized as “lone wolf” terrorist attacks by our recalcitrant news media.

In fact, the term “lone wolf” does not exist in Islamic doctrine. What DOES exist in Islamic doctrine is the fact that Jihad is an individual as well as a collective obligation.

What we are seeing are in fact individual acts of Jihad–acts of war, not criminal acts. We continue to deny this at our peril. There is a doctrinal basis for the enemy that is waging war against us. This form of warfare does not require formal ties between fighters or units (organizations) waging the war.

The concept of Jihad being an individual obligation is longstanding and has its basis in mainstream Islamic law (Shariah). We can see this from a widely-read and used text of Shariah sold annually at the convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Muslim organization in the United States, which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing prosecution in U.S. history: the U.S. v the Holy Land Foundation. In that trial, ISNA was identified as a Muslim Brotherhood front group. Interestingly, ISNA’s Canadian wing was shut down in 2013 for funneling money to a Jihadist terrorist group in Kashmir.

The name of the Shariah text is A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence by Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan and published by Al-Maiman Publishing House in Saudi Arabia. Al-Fawzan is a member of the Board of Senior Ulema in Saudi Arabia and also a member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research in the kingdom.

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Volume One of this work has a chapter devoted to Jihad. On page 473, the basis in Shariah for individual Jihad is explained in detail and reveals for us why we are seeing this escalation of attacks:

For a Muslim, there are certain cases in which jihad is an individual duty:

1) When a Muslim is present at the battlefield, it is obligatory for him to fight and he is prohibited to leave the battlefield and flee.

2) When enemies attack a Muslim country…

3) When a Muslim is needed to help his fellow Muslims fight their enemies.

4) When a Muslim is called by the ruler (or the one in authority) to fight in the Cause of Allah, for the Prophet (PBUH) said:

Whenever you are called for fighting in the cause of Allah, you should go immediately.

As you can see, these four circumstances are quite broad and all could be interpreted as existing right now. But numbers 2, 3 and 4 are particularly relevant right now and serve as the doctrinal basis for why Muslims have suddenly begun rising up in violent Jihad in the West:

• The Islamic State has called on Muslims to wage Jihad because the Islamic State is under attack. This applies to 2 and 3 above.

• Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State has issued calls on Muslims in the West to rise up in Jihad. This applies to 4 above and is the key difference between the days of Bin Laden and today.

Bin Laden may have been admired by many Muslims, but he never declared himself as a Caliph and his calls for Jihad were mostly ignored. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s calls are being answered because he has declared himself as the Caliph and many Muslims recognize him as such. That is why were are seeing acts of individual Jihad that we mostly did not see before.

And that is why the U.S. and the West cannot tolerate the existence of the Islamic State over the long-term. It has become the flame attracting moths. It will only gain more legitimacy and strength if it is allowed to persist. In short, it must be destroyed.

In closing, the concept of Jihad as an individual obligation didn’t start with Bin Laden in 1998. It has been recognized by Jihadi ideologues for many years. Here are some relevant quotes from significant Jihadis through the years, including Bin Laden:

And ulema [Muslim legal scholars] have throughout history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty…On that basis, and in compliance with Allah’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it…We, with Allah’s help, call on every Muslim who believes in Allah and wishes to be rewarded to comply with Allah’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.

Osama Bin Laden
Ayman al-Zawahiri, Amir of the Jihad Group, Egypt
Abu-Yasir Rifa’I Ahmad Taha, Egyptian Islamic Group
Mir Hamzah, Jamiat ul Ulema-e-Pakistan
Fazlur Rahman, Jihad Movement in Bangladesh
23 February 1998

Indeed, every person should according to Islam prepare himself/herself for jihad, and every person should eagerly and patiently wait for the day when Allah will call them to show their willingness to sacrifice their lives. We should ask ourselves, is there a quicker way to heaven? Only Islam can save mankind from itself. And jihad on the individual and international scale will be a necessary part of this process of change.

Dr. A.M.A. Fahmy
International Islamic Forum
1949

Jihad is an obligation from Allah on every Muslim and cannot be ignored or evaded.

Hasan al-Banna
Founder of the Muslim Brotherhood
1948

The establishment of an Islamic State is obligatory. If that state cannot be established without war, then that becomes an obligation also. So it is obligatory for every Muslim to seriously strive for the return of the caliphate.

Jihad becomes an individual duty in three situations:

1. First, when two armies meet.
2. Second, when the infidels descend upon a country.
3. Third, when the Imam calls upon people to fight.
Know that when jihad is an individual duty, there is no requirement to ask permission of parents to wage jihad.

The Neglected Obligation
Muhammad Al-Salam Faraj
Leader of Jamaat al-Jihad, Egypt
1981

The Book commands Muslims to wage their war with the spirit of a religious duty and obligation. This Quranic injunction adds new facets and depths to the concept of a total war. It makes a Muslim citizen answerable both to the state and to Allah in the fulfillment of this divine obligation.

The Quranic Concept of War
Brigadier General S. K. Malik, Army of Pakistan
1979

There is agreement among scholars that when the enemy enters an Islamic land or a land that was once part of the Islamic lands, it is obligatory on the inhabitants of that place to go forth to face the enemy. But if they sit back, or are incapable, lazy, or insufficient in number, the individual obligation spreads to those around them. Then if they also fall short, it goes to those around them, and so on and so on, until the individually obligatory nature of jihad encompasses the whole world. The individually obligatory nature of jihad remains in effect until the lands are purified from the pollution of the disbelievers.

The obligation of jihad today remains an individual obligation on all until the liberation of the last piece of land that was in the hands of Muslims but has been occupied by the disbelievers.

Join the Caravan
Abdullah Yusuf Azzam
“Father of Global Jihad”
Founding member of Al Qaeda
1987

Individual jihad has recurred throughout Islamic history. In the time of the Crusades…groups of mujahideen responded to the crisis. Many isolated expeditions and groups carried out the obligation of jihad.

Individual jihad using the method of urban or rural guerilla warfare is the foundation for sapping the enemy and bringing him to a state of collapse and withdrawal. It will pave the way for the desired strategic goal.

What mandates these methods as a strategic opinion is the imbalance of forces between the resistance and the large invading alliance of unbelievers, apostates and hypocrites.

We fight them for the sake of incidents to cause political pressure and psychological collapse, so that they leave our lands. Carrying out a small operation every month against the enemy will have more of an impact on him than a big operation every year or two.

Toward a New Strategy in Resisting the Occupier
Muhammad Khalil al-Hakaymah
Al Qaeda Chief of External Operations
Killed by US air strike in Pakistan in 2008

Successful jihad will only happen within an ummah [Islamic nation or community] in which the fighting creed is firmly established and clarified. This must happen in order to attain the “Revolutionary Jihadist Climate” that will spontaneously give rise to instruments of resistance.

Violent jihad is as an individual duty obligatory upon every Muslim. All the ulema have said this…”

The Call to Global Islamic Resistance
Abu Musab al-Suri
Al Qaeda propagandist
Captured in Pakistan 2005

Also see:

1979: Annus Horribilis—Modern Jihad Goes Global

Chanting "Long Live Khomeini" and "Death to the Shah," 100,000 people gather in front of the mosque inside the Bazaar on Monday, Jan. 15, 1979 in Tehran for a massive rally against the Shah. Troops stood by as demonstrators showered them with flowers, and kisses. (AP Photo)

Chanting “Long Live Khomeini” and “Death to the Shah,” 100,000 people gather in front of the mosque inside the Bazaar on Monday, Jan. 15, 1979 in Tehran for a massive rally against the Shah. Troops stood by as demonstrators showered them with flowers, and kisses. (AP Photo)

Washington Free Beacon, by Dr. Sebastian Gorka, April 9, 2016:

Three momentous events mark 1979 as the year in which modern jihad, having evolved over the course of the century, emerged as a global movement: the establishment of a theocratic regime in Iran, the siege of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. While the conditions for an Islamist explosion had existed for a long time, these events were the spark.

On April 1, 1979, following the overthrow of the shah and the return of the fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in France, the Shiite populace of Iran voted in a national referendum to become an Islamic republic. A new constitution outlined the central role of divine revelation in determining Iran’s laws, which would be based on the Koran and the Sunnah, the traditions of Islam. Then on November 4, a crowd of student protesters who were loyal to Khomeini and committed to taking their revolution to the “great Satan,” America, stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took sixty-six Americans hostage. Most of them would remain in captivity until the day Ronald Reagan took Jimmy Carter’s place in the White House. Focused on rescuing their imprisoned countrymen, Americans had a poor understanding of the broader picture in Iran. The elderly Khomeini was not seen as a serious alternative to the royal Pahlavi family, who were friendly to the United States. But the revolutionary cleric and his new guard of religious fanatics were able to exploit the ancient Persian reserves of pride and resilience, quickly imposing a Shia version of theocracy in which Islam and politics were totally reintegrated. The mullahs of Tehran became the center of political as well as religious power in Tehran.

Demonstrators hold up a poster of exiled Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini during an anti-shah demonstration in Tehran in 1978 / AP

Demonstrators hold up a poster of exiled Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini during an anti-shah demonstration in Tehran in 1978 / AP

The Shia of Iran thus demonstrated to the world—including the Sunnis, many of whom would be envious—that the theocratic caliph- ate was viable in the modern world. It also demonstrated that Muslims not only should but could reject the Western separation of politics and faith. Modernity’s separation of Allah’s writ and governance could be reversed.

Just as important, the success of the Iranian revolution and the embassy attack proved that the United States, and by inference all other great powers, was not invulnerable. The Muslim world did not have to be the powerless victim of Western machinations, such as interference in Iran’s domestic affairs and overarching control of the geopolitics of the Middle East.

Twelve days after the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran, about three hundred armed Islamists, inexperienced and ill- equipped, seized control of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam and the equivalent of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. These men were interested in a holy war not against infidel Christians or Jews but against their fellow Muslims. Led by a man who would later declare himself the long-awaited mahdi—just as Mohammed Ahmad had done years before in Khartoum—these jihadists invoked the principle of takfirism to declare any Muslim who disagreed with them an apostate, a false Muslim, starting with the royal family, the house of Saud, whom they saw as puppets of the infidel West. Their war was first with their fellow Muslims who had fallen away from the path of purity. The militants managed to hold the Grand Mosque for almost two weeks, a stunning accomplishment. But it was only after the siege was finally broken and most of the jihadists killed—with the covert assistance of French commandos—that the implications of this jihadi attack and the breadth of the conspiracy became clear.

In his definitive account, The Siege of Mecca, Yaroslav Trofimov reports that the attackers were not simply a collection of embittered loners or isolated fundamentalists. They shared their hatred of the Saudi regime and their “apostate” countrymen with an influential group of Saudi clerics, key members of the ulema, the religious leaders of the country. These clerics lamented the loss of faith that had made the global community of Muslims, the ummah, weak, allowing it to be dominated by the infidel West. Recall that the Saudi state was founded on a compact between the house of Saud and the fundamentalist cleric Mohammed ibn Abd al Wahhab. In the eyes of these puritanical clerics, the behavior of the royal family and the spread of Western influence across the Arabian Peninsula were signs that it was time for that compact to be revoked. The clerics encouraged a turn to violence, offering a religious sanction for jihad against the house of Saud and the other “apostate” Muslims of Saudi Arabia.

After the siege of the Grand Mosque was put down, the jihadis’ connection to the influential Saudi clerics was unearthed and the individual imams were identified by Saudi intelligence. The king then invited them to the palace, where instead of having them incarcerated or beheaded, he made them an offer that was difficult to refuse. He proposed a new compact: The propagation of jihadist ideology within the country, on Islamic soil—dar al Islam—would be utterly haram, or forbidden. In exchange for a promise that the ideology would never again threaten the kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the house of Saud, the government would support its propagation in infidel lands (dar al harb) around the globe. This commitment, backed by a massive influx of petrodollars, made the kingdom the most important force behind the spread of fundamentalist and radicalized Islamic ideology around the world.

Afghans protesting Soviet involvement in their country invading their embassy in Tehran, Jan. 6, 1980 / AP

Afghans protesting Soviet involvement in their country invading their embassy in Tehran, Jan. 6, 1980 / AP

The third pivotal event of 1979 was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on December 24. The Marxist government of Afghanistan, a Muslim nation, was battling an internal threat from indigenous fundamentalist groups. Afghans had become increasingly discontent with the regime’s socialist reforms, and by December 1979 ancient clans and tribes of skilled warriors were attacking government institutions and assets. Having signed a treaty of friendship with the Afghan regime the year before, the Soviet Union decided it was time to step in and assist its “ally.” Thirty thousand troops rolled in on Christmas Eve, a number that would grow to a hundred thousand.

While the upheavals in Iran and Saudi Arabia had an important psychological effect on future jihadists, the conflict in Afghanistan had the most direct influence on modern jihad. It was there that the ideas of a global jihad were forged and the original jihadist army coalesced, in no small part because of the massive resources that poured in from America and Saudi Arabia to support the indigenous mujahideen. In his essay “Martyrs: The Building Blocks of Nations,” Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s boss and the real founder of Al Qaeda, attested to the importance of the Afghan holy war:

Some thought that the Earth had become devastated and that this ummah had been drained of the thirst for martyrdom. Therefore, Allah exploded the Jihad on the land of Afghanistan and groups of youths from the Islamic World marched forth to Afghanistan in search of Jihad and martyrdom.

The Jihad initially began as a few drops, until Allah decided to ignite the sparks within this blessed people and explode the Jihad, blessing with it the land of Afghanistan and the rest of the Muslims until its good encompassed the whole World.

Azzam, bin Laden, and their small band of Arabs—no more than a few hundred—transformed a conflict between Moscow and the tribes of Afghanistan into a global movement for Islamic jihad in which Muslims of different languages, cultures, and countries coalesced into one brotherhood in pursuit of one objective—the victory of Islam and the word of Allah across the earth. Without Azzam’s new ideas about jihad, legitimized by his scholarly prestige, and bin Laden’s access to millions of dollars in funding, Afghanistan’s jihad might have stayed within its borders. Together, these two men were able to take their enterprise global and start a fire that still rages today, more incandescent than ever.

ABDULLAH AZZAM: THE SCHOLAR MARTYR

Abdullah Azzam / AP

Abdullah Azzam / AP

Abdullah Azzam was born into a Palestinian family who had to flee the West Bank after the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War of 1967. He became a disciple of the Muslim Brotherhood, studying during his formative years the incendiary works of its founder, Hassan al Banna (1906–1949) and those of Sayyid Qutb, finding in them the expression of his own rage and sense of victimhood. Studying in Syria and Egypt and teaching in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, he came into contact with the leading Islamist movements of the day, weaving their disparate intellectual threads together into a cohesive doctrine, which he eventually published in 1984 as a fatwa titled Defense of the Muslim Lands. The foundational work for the global jihad of the twentieth century, Azzam’s Defense contains the key assertions at the heart of every jihadist enterprise:

  • Muslims have been humiliated at the hands of impure regimes and colonial powers.
  • Islam will suffer ultimate defeat if Muslims do not take on jihad as a personal obligation.
  • The only way for Islam to be saved is for the caliphate to be reestablished for the glory of Allah.

Muslims are the people who have been entrusted with the final revelation of God, Azzam writes, and Islam is the only religion destined for the whole of humanity. Yet Muslims have been humiliated and subjugated. The unclean, the polytheists, those who do not believe in Allah, he says,

have duped the dull masses of Muslims by installing their wooden-headed puppets as false figureheads of states that remain under their control.

Colonialism has taken on a new face.

They have come from every horizon to share us amongst them like callers to a feast. There is no greater humiliation for the people expected to lead humanity to redemption.

The unbelievers have thus joined together to humiliate the Muslims, and the only way Muslims can fight back is to come together under a unified caliphate “in order to make victorious Allah’s religion of Islamic monotheism.”

Defense of the Muslim Lands begins with an epigraph justifying violent jihad in the words of Mohammed: “But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.” If there were any doubt about Azzam’s emphasis on martyrdom in service to Allah, he clarified it in his “Martyrs: The Building Blocks of Nations”:

History does not write its lines except with blood. Glory does not build its lofty edifice except with skulls. Honor and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses.

For Azzam, nothing is more honorable than for a Muslim to die fighting in the collective effort to reestablish the caliphate. In the short term, however, he was concerned about drawing more fighters to Afghanistan, so in Defense of the Muslim Lands he emphasizes the personal obligation of every Muslim to jihad. Insisting that his call for universal holy war is supported by a wide array of Muslim scholars, he details the lengthy process he went through to get this approval. During the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, he recalls, he delivered a lecture before more than one hundred scholars from around the Muslim world, “from whom there was not a single objection.”

This broad scholarly support of Azzam’s teaching was important for two reasons. The approval of theulema, the learned men and scholars, established the validity of his fatwa before the Muslim world. At the same time, it showed that support for Azzam’s notion of jihad extended far beyond the “Arab mujahideen,” the foreign jihadis fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. The scholars Azzam consulted may not have joined him on the battlefield, but their approval allowed his call to jihad to resonate across the globe. As one scholar wrote in his endorsement of the fatwa, “Therefore it is incumbent upon every Muslim today, capable of carrying a weapon, to march forward to jihad to aid his or her Muslim brothers in Afghanistan and in every place in need, even though his or her parents do not permit it. …”

Azzam himself understood the crucial role of ideologues in the battle. He knew victory could not be achieved by the sword alone. Expounding on the Hadith, the stories and sayings of Mohammed, he stated that “the ink of the scholar is worth more than the blood of the martyr.” He continued:

Indeed nations are only brought to life by their beliefs and their concepts, and they die only with their desires and their lusts.

The life of the Muslim ummah is solely dependent on the ink of its scholars and the blood of its martyrs.

What is more beautiful than the writing of the ummah’s history with both the ink of a scholar and his blood, such that the map of Islamic history becomes colored with two lines: one of them black, and that is what the scholar wrote with the ink of his pen; and the other one red, and that is what the martyr wrote with his blood.

And something more beautiful than this is when the blood is one and the pen is one, so that the hand of the scholar which expends the ink and moves the pen, is the same as the hand which expends its blood and moves the ummah.

The extent to which the number of martyred scholars increases is the extent to which nations are delivered from their slumber, rescued from their decline, and awoken from their sleep.

In this file photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, Lebanese people gather at the scene of an attack claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades / AP

In this file photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, Lebanese people gather at the scene of an attack claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades / AP

Like other ideologues before him, Azzam appreciated the importance of ideas and beliefs on the battlefield. People, he knew, will not fight for territory or treasure alone; they have to believe in the righteousness of their cause. It was Azzam who would elaborate the ultimate justice of jihad and provide the rationale for thousands, indeed tens of thousands, to join the battle for Allah against the infidels.

Azzam’s influence stretched well beyond the Afghan war. Even after he was assassinated in Pakistan in 1989, his call to universal war strengthened and catalyzed Al Qaeda’s growth into a global brand, eventually spawning ISIS and, in 2014, the creation of the new Islamic State—the caliphate reborn.

Elaborating on the importance of Azzam in launching the global jihadist movement, the publishers of the English-language version of Defense of the Muslim Lands write in their introduction:

Abdullah Azzam was greatly influenced by the Jihad in Afghanistan and the Jihad was greatly influenced by him. To it he concentrated his full effort, that he ultimately became the most prominent figure in the Afghani Jihad aside from the Afghan leaders. He spared no effort to pro- mote the Afghan cause to the whole world, especially throughout the Muslim ummah…. He changed the minds of Muslims about Jihad in Afghanistan and presented the Jihad as an Islamic cause which concerns all Muslims around the world [emphasis added].

Due to his efforts, the Afghani Jihad became universal, in which Muslims from every part of the world came to fight.

Azzam had dedicated his own life to jihad, and his clerical credentials were impeccable. His doctorate in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), which gave him full authority to issue fatwas, was from the most important theological institution in the Sunni world, Al Azhar in Cairo. His prestige was one reason that Defense of the Muslim Lands, from the time it was issued until the summer of 2014, when ISIS reestablished the caliphate, was the modern jihadi movement’s most effective tool for mobilizing support.

Another reason was that the logic of Azzam’s fatwa was flawless. Azzam had translated the geopolitical crisis of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan into a religious mandate for action. The USSR was a kuffar, an infidel nation, and the worst kind—driven by an atheist dogma that denied not only Allah but all transcendental truth. This infidel superpower had invaded dar al Islam, sacred Muslim land. The government in Kabul may have been made up of socialists, but the nation was part of Khorasan, ancient Islamic territory. Its invasion by infidel forces demanded that the global community of Muslims wage a holy war to repel the kuffar invaders.

Azzam reasoned that because there was no caliph to declare jihad against the USSR or any other infidel group, Muslims could not wait for direction from the outside. No longer an action declared by an imperial leader, jihad was thus “democratized.” Azzam’s fatwa became the most important document sanctioning and requiring holy Islamic war for the next three decades.

OSAMA BIN LADEN: TARGETING THE WORLD

While Abdullah Azzam forms one pillar of modern jihad, Osama bin Laden forms the other. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan brought Azzam into the foreign fighter movement, and the first Gulf War, a dozen years later, propelled his onetime deputy, bin Laden, to the leadership of a global terror organization targeting America and American interests around the world.

The scion of a prominent Saudi family—his father was one of the wealthiest building contractors in the desert nation and a friend of the king—Osama bin Laden was working for the family firm when radicals stormed the Grand Mosque in Mecca. While he had likely come into contact with the ideas of Sayyid Qutb as well as with Azzam, he was not yet fully radicalized, and he saw the siege as a treasonous act against a legitimate Islamic government. But when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan one month later, something snapped. He later told an interviewer, “When the invasion of Afghanistan started, I was enraged and went there at once. I arrived within days, before the end of 1979.” Though it is improbable that he actually arrived in Afghanistan “within days” of the Soviet invasion, it is likely that he traveled there in great secrecy to deliver support for the mujahideen from wealthy Gulf donors, keeping his family in the dark about his mission.

AP

AP

Azzam was the older, revered scholar and teacher, while bin Laden was a twenty-three-year-old ascetic with access to many millions of dollars in funds from his own family and from donors throughout the Middle East. By the early 1980s, bin Laden was a conduit for external funding and a key figure in the recruitment of fighters, bringing thousands of men through Pakistan to Afghanistan in support of the holy war against the atheist Soviet Union.

The pairing of Azzam and bin Laden was critical to the success of the enterprise. Azzam was not the first to talk about jihad, but with bin Laden’s financial and operational assistance, he gave the ideology a longer reach than it had ever had before. The Saudis and many other Arab Muslims felt an obligation to support the jihad for religious purposes, and bin Laden could facilitate their support. At the same time, the United States was providing covert support to the indigenous mujahideen of Afghanistan to weaken the Soviet regime. For the time being, the interest of the capitalist West coincided with that of the Wahhabi fundamentalists. Both saw the Soviet Union as their enemy. By the end of the 1980s, having lost more than fourteen thousand soldiers in a vicious unconventional war in a region that had brought defeat to invaders as disparate as Alexander the Great and the British Empire, the Kremlin decided that the war in Afghanistan was no longer worth it. American Stinger missiles, Pakistani intelligence, and small arms from China had made the local Afghan fighters a force to be reckoned with. In the view of the new Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, they could not be defeated without inordinate cost to the USSR.

But the “Arab Muj,” who had come from outside Afghanistan to fight in this new holy war, especially Osama bin Laden, would draw another conclusion. Less than a year after the last Soviet troop convoy had left the territory of Afghanistan, Abdullah Azzam, the leader of the MAK, the organization that had recruited more than fifty-five thousand foreign fighters to come and wage war in Afghanistan, was dead, and bin Laden inherited the jihadi organization that would soon become Al Qaeda. But bin Laden had a different interpretation of what had just happened in Afghanistan—what it meant for the future of all Muslims and the fight against infidels everywhere.

For the wealthy Saudi, who had just spent a decade in a war zone fighting the overwhelmingly more numerous and better equipped Soviets, there was only one way to interpret the victory of the jihadists: they truly were warriors of Allah, true mujahideen, fighters in a holy war supported by God. There was no other way to explain the victory over the superior forces of a superpower. It would be inconceivable for bin Laden and his ilk to conclude that the war was in fact won because another infidel superpower, the United States, had facilitated the victory of the local Afghans through a covert program supported by his lazy countrymen safe and sound back in Saudi Arabia. His certainty that the Arab mujahideen were now vindicated as God’s own fighters eventually spurred bin Laden to broaden his jihadi horizons. But only after another war broke out.

Kuwaiti demonstrators holding placard which shows Saddam Hussein as bloodthirsty during a rally in Damascus, Syria / AP

Kuwaiti demonstrators holding placard which shows Saddam Hussein as bloodthirsty during a rally in Damascus, Syria / AP

The following year saw Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invade Kuwait. His occupation of the neighboring nation also put the Saudi kingdom and its royal family at risk, as many believed that after the fall of Kuwait, Saddam would next invade Saudi Arabia. By this point Osama was losing faith in the elite of his homeland, but the king had been a close friend of his father’s, and far more important than that, Saudi Arabia was the home to the holiest and most precious sites in all Islam, the cities of Mecca and Medina, where Mohammed had established the first caliphate. The kingdom had to be protected from Saddam Hussein, a Baathist thug who modeled himself more on Stalin than Mohammed.

Bin Laden met with King Fahd and the Saudi defense minister, asking them not to depend on non-Muslim (infidel) assistance from the United States and offering to defend Saudi Arabia with his own legion of seasoned Arab mujahideen. But the king declined and instead invited America and its allies to deploy their troops to the Arabian Peninsula. This deployment, however, required a fatwa, issued by the royal court’s domesticated clerics, the first of its kind in Islamic his- tory. Although stationing infidel troops in the land of Mecca and Medina had been utterly haram, or forbidden, since the time of the first caliphate, now it was decreed permissible. For bin Laden, this meant the crusaders were back, but this time they had been invited by the king himself. Islam had been betrayed and sullied by its own royal leadership. This decision changed the world, moving bin Laden to turn his guerrilla band into an international terror organization that would bring jihad to the streets of America.

Bin Laden now began publicly to denounce the king, his father’s close friend, as a lackey of the infidels. Attempts to silence him failed, and eventually he was banished from the kingdom and stripped of his Saudi citizenship. After the Gulf War, he moved to Sudan and took his organization—renamed Al Qaeda, “The Base”—with him.

Al Qaeda now had a new target. Instead of killing infidels who had dared to invade Muslim lands, as with the Soviets in Afghanistan, the holy war would be taken directly to the infidel, either in his own land or in locations abroad that offered an easy target.

While the operations against the infidels were planned in secret, bin Laden decided to come out of the shadows and publicly issue a fatwa of his own, Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places, urging all Muslims, just as his mentor Abdullah Azzam had, to take up the fight and become jihadis themselves. Al Qaeda may have been born in the mountains and villages of Central Asia in a war with an occupying military, but now the enemy was everywhere, its ranks including office workers in New York, embassy employees in Africa, and American sailors in Yemen. The following decade would witness the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the suicide attack against the USS Cole in the Port of Aden in 1999.

Modern jihad had finally gone global. And then came September 11, 2001.

This essay was excerpted from Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War by Sebastian Gorka, available from Regnery Publishing on April 11.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized authority on national security, strategy, and counterterrorism. He is one of the world’s leading experts in asymmetric warfare. Gorka serves as the Major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University where he teaches on irregular warfare.

***

Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, by Sebastian Gorka, PhD

Excellent talk given in 2013: 

Bin Laden Willed His Fortune to Jihad, Worried His Wife’s Teeth Were Bugged

AP

AP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, March, 1, 2016:

Over a hundred documents seized in the 2011 special-forces raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan were released to the public on Tuesday, including a handwritten will. The al-Qaeda mastermind made some provisions for his family but wanted most of his $29 million fortune devoted to “jihad, for the sake of Allah.”

Canada’s Globe and Mail reports this document appears to have been composed in the late 1990s and covered money bin Laden had stashed in Sudan.

Two of bin Laden’s top al-Qaeda associates were to be rewarded with one percent of the $29 million apiece. He also “set down specific amounts in Saudi riyals and gold that should be apportioned between his mother, a son, a daughter, an uncle, and his uncle’s children and maternal aunts.”

He encouraged his family to spend his money on holy war.

“I hope for my brothers, sisters and maternal aunts to obey my will and to spend all the money that I have left in Sudan on jihad, for the sake of Allah,” bin Laden wrote.

The Globe and Mail notes another, much more recent, letter in which Osama bin Laden asked his “precious father” to care for his wife and children if he died.

“I entrust you well for my wife and children, and that you will always ask about them and follow up on their whereabouts and help them in their marriages and needs,” he wrote to his father in 2008, adding a plea for forgiveness “if I have done what you did not like.”

“If I am to be killed, pray for me a lot and give continuous charities in my name, as I will be in great need for support to reach the permanent home,” he wrote to his father in the same letter, according to the Associated Press.

The AP quotes another letter from bin Laden, addressed to “the Islamic community in general,” in which he praised jihad as a success following the 9/11 attack.

“Here we are in the tenth year of the war, and America and its allies are still chasing a mirage, lost at sea without a beach,” he wrote, evidently about a year before U.S. special forces raided his compound, shot him, and dumped his body at sea, far away from any beaches.

“They thought that the war would be easy and that they would accomplish their objectives in a few days or a few weeks, and they did not prepare for it financially, and there is no popular support that would enable it to carry on a war for a decade or more. The sons of Islam have opposed them and stood between them and their plans and objectives,” bin Laden continued.

In other letters, bin Laden said the U.S. was stuck in a quagmire in Afghanistan, much like the Soviet Union before it, and viewed the overthrow of dictator Moammar Qaddafi as a great opportunity for jihad in Libya.

In fact, he credited al-Qaeda with defeating Qaddafi, who bin Laden described as a “truly vile hallucinating individual who troubles us in front of the world.” As it turned out, bin Laden was right about post-Qaddafi Libya presenting great opportunities for jihad, thanks to Obama foreign policy, but it would be ISIS that exploited those opportunities, not their progenitors in al-Qaeda.

Despite the sunny outlook for jihad offered by bin Laden in many of these letters, Reutersnotes that other correspondence painted al-Qaeda’s fugitive leader as paranoid and under intense pressure.

He warned his lieutenants to look for tracking devices in everything from ransom payments to his wife’s teeth. He advised al-Qaeda operatives to remain indoors “except on a cloudy, overcast day” to evade U.S. surveillance satellites.

He also exhorted his subordinates to carry out massive terror attacks on American soil to follow up on 9/11, ignoring their protests that al-Qaeda lacked the capability to execute such missions. As one U.S. official put it, bin Laden was “somewhat out of touch with the actual capabilities of his organization.”

Long War Journal has more:

Ex-Guantanamo detainee prominently featured in al Qaeda propaganda

Ibrahim al Qosi, a senior AQAP leader and spokesman, delivered a two-part critique of the Saudi government earlier this month.

Ibrahim al Qosi, a senior AQAP leader and spokesman, delivered a two-part critique of the Saudi government earlier this month.

The Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Feb. 15, 2016:

Ex-Guantanamo detainee Ibrahim al Qosi has become a prominent fixture in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) propaganda since early December, when he first revealed that he is a senior leader in the group. Qosi most recently delivered a two-part critique of the Saudi monarchy, entitled “A Message to Our People in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.”

Qosi begins his nearly 50-minute lecture, which was posted online on Feb. 6, by denouncing the Saudi government’s execution of more than 40 “mujahideen” in January. The men were killed, he says, because they declared jihad against the “Crusaders” and opposed American interests around the globe.

Qosi then discusses al Qaeda’s jihad against the Saudi regime, saying Osama bin Laden was motivated by America’s supposed “occupation” of Arabia’s two holiest sanctuaries. Bin Laden repeatedly warned the Saudis about the American presence, but the monarchy resisted calls to end the alliance. According to Qosi, more than 400 scholars signed a letter decrying the situation.

After bin Laden spent “years” living outside of Saudi Arabia, he decided to call for jihad against the “American occupiers,” but not the Saudi government or military. Qosi says bin Laden limited his call for holy war to the Americans because he wanted to avoid “internal strife and confusion” among Muslims, who may not have understood his motivations.

Bin Laden never recognized the Saudi monarchy’s legitimacy, Qosi claims, he simply didn’t want Muslims to fight amongst themselves. (In his conspiratorial telling, Qosi says the real reason for the Americans’ initial presence in Saudi Arabia – that is, to stop Saddam Hussein’s expansionist campaign in the early 1990s – was merely an “excuse.”)

Qosi’s testimony echoes that offered by another bin Laden loyalist, Nasir al Wuhayshi, who explained al Qaeda’s rationale for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In an interview recorded prior to his death in June 2015, and published just recently, Wuhayshi said al Qaeda’s leaders decided not to target the “tyrants” ruling in Muslim-majority countries because they wanted to avoid any potential internal discord. [See LWJ report, AQAP publishes insider’s account of 9/11 plot.]

Qosi, who served Osama bin Laden in a variety of roles prior to 9/11, offers an anecdote that he says demonstrates the Saudis’ duplicity. Saudi intelligence attempted to convince Yunus Khalis, a veteran jihadist who reportedly hosted bin Laden in Afghanistan after al Qaeda’s leadership left Sudan in 1996, to betray the al Qaeda master and turn him over. The Saudis left “disappointed” when Khalis refused the offer, Qosi claims.

Despite supporting the jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan, Qosi explains, the Saudi government resisted the jihadists’ campaign against the Americans. He argues that the truth of the American campaign against the ummah (worldwide community of Muslims) was revealed when US warplanes took off from Saudi soil to strike in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the aftermath of the “blessed” 9/11 attacks, Qosi claims, the mujahideen “youth” tried to keep the Saudi government in check without striking the security forces. But the Saudi regime supposedly sided with the “Crusaders,” betraying their historical duty to protect Muslim land.

Qosi clearly wants young Muslims to pay attention to his testimony, as he praises the youth for waging jihad in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina (during the mid-1990s), and Somalia. He contrasts their dedication to the jihadists’ cause with the Saudi monarchy’s alleged betrayal, arguing that the government is allied with forces opposed to the mujahideen in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.

Although the Saudi government claims to be leading the charge against the “Safavid” (Shiites and Iranians) project throughout the Middle East, Qosi argues, it maintains diplomatic relations with the Iraqi government at a time when Shiite forces throughout Iraq are committing “massacres.” He criticizes the Saudis for hosting a conference for Syrian rebels in December, arguing this only served Bashar al Assad’s interests by giving the Syrian dictator an opportunity to stay in power. Qosi complains that the Saudis even support the Lebanese Army despite its close affiliation with Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist group that is fighting the Sunni jihadists in Syria. And the House of Saud has also supposedly sold out the Palestinian cause by supporting a “two-state solution.”

AQAP’s spokesman chastises the Saudi scholars who refuse to speak out in public against the royals. Al Qaeda knows there are “sincere” men in their ranks, Qosi says, but they keep their criticisms private because they are afraid of the government’s powerful interior ministry. Qosi calls on clerics who are not in the government’s pocket to emulate the example of Sheikh Faris al Zahrani, one of the al Qaeda ideologues executed in early January, and speak out against the royals. Sheikh Faris “took a stand” against the government’s alleged perfidy, Qosi claims, and others should follow suit.

Although al Qaeda initially limited its attacks to the Americans on Saudi soil, the jihadists’ campaign expanded after the 9/11 attacks to include the Saudi security forces and the royals. But Qosi claims that the Saudi government has wrongly blamed al Qaeda for targeting mosques, which is against the organization’s “well-known policies.” (Al Qaeda has repeatedly contrasted its own guidelines for waging jihad with the Islamic State’s tactics. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men deliberately target mosques, especially Shiite houses of worship, but Ayman al Zawahiri has prohibited his fighters from doing the same.)

Qosi ends his lecture by calling for the youth to join the jihad in Yemen, saying AQAP will “welcome any noble muhajir” (immigrant or foreign fighter) who abandons “the world behind him.”

“We wage jihad” and stand together against the “Crusader-rejectionist [Shiite] campaign,” Qosi says.

Several appearances in AQAP propaganda

Qosi was transferred from Guantanamo to his home country of Sudan in July 2012. His first public appearance as an al Qaeda leader came in a video, “Guardians of Sharia,” which was released online by AQAP in early December. [See LWJ report, Ex-Guantanamo detainee now an al Qaeda leader in Yemen.]

AQAP has released other messages from Qosi since then.

In a message released in mid-December, he congratulated al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al Murabitoon on their merger. Both groups operate in North and West Africa and were loyal to Zawahiri prior to their unification. They operated under different command structures, however, because AQIM emir Abdulmalek Droukdel and Al Murabitoon leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar had frequent disagreements. Interestingly, Qosi referred to Belmokhtar as being still alive by saying “may Allah preserve him.” Belmokhtar has been reportedly killed on numerous occasions, including in Libya last June. The jihadists, including AQIM, claim he has not perished. And Qosi credited Belmokhtar for Al Murabitoon’s decision to join AQIM, saying he put the interests of the ummah ahead of his own private concerns so that the “Crusader-Shiite” campaign could be confronted with “one sword.”

In addition to praising the AQIM-Al Murabitoon joint venture, Qosi reaffirmed AQAP’s pledge of allegiance (bayat) to Taliban emir Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour and swore to Zawahiri (whom he referred to as “our sheikh”) that AQAP would continue to wage jihad on all fronts.

Qosi also eulogized Abu al Hasan al Bulaydi, a senior AQIM sharia official, in a video released in late December. He lamented Bulaydi’s death as a “great tragedy” and threatened the West.

As The Long War Journal has previously reported, al Qaeda has relocated part of its global management team from South Asia to Yemen. Therefore, some jihadists have been both AQAP leaders and managers in al Qaeda’s global network. It is possible that Qosi, who served directly under Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, is serving in that capacity today.

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

Also see:

AQAP publishes insider’s account of 9/11 plot

Screen-Shot-2016-02-10-at-7.35.56-AM-768x523Long War Journal, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN, February 10, 2016:

Sometime before his death in a US drone strike in June 2015, Nasir al Wuhayshi recorded an insider’s account of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. As the aide-de-camp to Osama bin Laden prior to the hijackings, Wuhayshi was well-placed to know such details. And al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Wuhayshi led until his demise, has now published a version of his “untold story.”

A transcript of Wuhayshi’s discussion of the 9/11 plot was included in two editions of AQAP’s Al Masra newsletter. The first part was posted online on Jan. 31 and the second on Feb. 9. The summary below is based on the first half of Wuhayshi’s account.

Wuhayshi began by explaining al Qaeda’s rationale for attacking America. Prior to 9/11, the jihadists’ cause was not supported by the Muslim people, because the mujahideen’s “goals” were not widely understood. The jihadists were divided into many groups and fought “tit-for-tat” conflicts “with the tyrants.” (The “tyrants” were the dictators who ruled over many Muslim-majority countries.)

While the mujahideen had some successes, according to Wuhayshi, they were “besieged” by the tyrants until they found some breathing room in Afghanistan. The “sheikhs” studied this situation in meetings held in Kabul and Kandahar, because they wanted to understand why the jihadists were not victorious. And bin Laden concluded they should fight “the more manifest infidel enemy rather than the crueler infidel enemy,” according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal. Wuhayshi explained that the former was the “Crusader-Zionist movement” and the latter were the “apostates” ruling over Muslims.

While waging war against the “apostate” rulers was not likely to engender widespread support, no “two people” would “disagree” with the necessity of fighting “the Jews and Christians.” If you fight the “apostate governments in your land,” Wuhayshi elaborated, then everyone – the Muslim people, Islamic movements, and even jihadists – would be against you because they all have their own “priorities.” Divisions within the jihadists’ ranks only exacerbated the crisis, as even the mujahideen in their home countries could refuse to fight.

Wuhayshi then cited Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, a prominent pro-al Qaeda ideologue, who warned that the “capability” to wage “combat” in Muslim-majority countries did “not yet exist.” So, for instance, if al Qaeda launched a “jihad against the House of Saud,” then “many jihadist movements” would oppose this decision. Al Qaeda’s fellow travelers would protest that they were “incapable” of defeating the Saudi government. And these jihadists would complain they did not want to “wage the battle prematurely,” or become entangled “in a difficult situation.”

For these reasons and more, according to Wuhayshi, bin Laden decided to “battle the more manifest enemy,” because “the people” would agree that the US “is an enemy” and this approach would not sow “discord and suspicion among the people.” Bin Laden believed that the “Islamic movement” would stand with al Qaeda “against the infidels.”

Wuhayshi’s explanation of bin Laden’s reasoning confirms that attacking the US was not al Qaeda’s end goal. It was a tactic, or a step, that bin Laden believed could unite the jihadists behind a common purpose and garner more popular support from “the people.”

Not all jihadists agreed with bin Laden’s strategy. In February 1998, bin Laden launched a “Global Islamic Front for Waging Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders.” Wuhayshi claimed that a “majority of the groups agreed to” the initiative, but some, like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), opposed it. (However, some senior LIFG members were folded into al Qaeda.)

Gamaa Islamiya (IG), an Egyptian group, initially agreed to join the venture, but ultimately rejected it. As did other groups in the Arab Magreb, according to Wuhayshi. (Some senior IG leaders remained close to al Qaeda and eventually joined the organization.)

Although Wuhayshi claimed that a “majority” of jihadist organizations agreed with bin Laden’s proposal, only three ideologues joined bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri in signing the front’s infamous first fatwa.

In August 1998, just months after the “Global Islamic Front” was established, al Qaeda struck the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. According to Wuhayshi, bin Laden held a series of meetings around this time, as he sought to convince as many people as possible that attacking America was the right course. Some jihadists objected, believing it would ensnare them in a trap. But bin Laden pressed forward, telling those who didn’t agree that they wanted to fight “lackeys” without confronting “the father of the lackeys.” Al Qaeda’s path “will lead to a welcome conclusion,” Wuhayshi quoted bin Laden as saying.

The “initiative against the Crusaders continued” after the US Embassy bombings, Wuhayshi said, and the number of people who supported it increased “dramatically.” During this period, the “Global Islamic Front” launched operations against the “Crusaders” on the ground and at sea, but the idea to strike “from the air with planes” had not yet been conceived.

The origins of the 9/11 plot

Wuhayshi traced the genesis of the 9/11 plot to both Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who would come to be known as the “mastermind” of the operation.

But he also credited Abdullah Azzam for popularizing the concept of martyrdom in the first place. Azzam was killed in 1989, but is still revered as the godfather of modern jihadism. After the mujahideen had defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan, they considered “hitting the Americans,” Wuhayshi claimed. Azzam “spoke harshly about the Western military camp.” Azzam also “introduced” the jihadists to a “new tactic.” Wuhayshi recommended that people listen to Azzam’s “final speech,” in which he reportedly said: “God gave me life in order to transform you into bombs.”

Years later, on Oct. 31, 1999, bin Laden watched as the co-pilot of EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed the jet into the Atlantic Ocean, killing more than 200 people on board. Bin Laden, according to Wuhayshi, wondered why the co-pilot didn’t fly the plane into buildings. After this, Wuhayshi claimed, the basic idea for 9/11 had been planted in bin Laden’s mind.

In reality, the EgyptAir crash came after the outline of the 9/11 plot had been already sketched. For instance, the 9/11 Commission found that KSM “presented a proposal for an operation that would involve training pilots who would crash planes into buildings in the United States” as early as 1996. “This proposal eventually would become the 9/11 operation.” In March or April 1999, according to the Commission’s final report, bin Laden “summoned KSM to Kandahar…to tell him that al Qaeda would support his proposal,” which was referred to as the “planes operation.”

Indeed, Wuhayshi recounted how KSM and his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, plotted to attack multiple airliners in the mid-1990s. In the so-called Bojinka plot, KSM and Yousef even conceived a plan to blow up as many as one dozen airliners. Wuhayshi recalled how Yousef placed a bomb on board one jet as part of a test run. Their plot failed and Yousef was later captured in Pakistan. Yousef has been incarcerated for two decades after being convicted by an American court for his role in Bojinka and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wuhayshi prayed for his release.

Wuhayshi told a story that, if true, means KSM had dreamed of attacking the US since his youth. When he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait, KSM wrote a play in which a character “ponders how to down an American aircraft.” Wuhayshi claimed to have searched for this play online, but he and another “brother” failed to find it.

Still, Wuhayshi insisted that KSM wrote the play, showing he was already thinking of ways to strike America as a young man.

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

Analysis: Osama bin Laden’s son praises al Qaeda’s branches in new message

Screen-Shot-2015-08-14-at-7

This image appears throughout much of Hamzah bin Laden’s newly-released audio message. Hamzah’s face is not shown in the production.

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, August 18, 2015:

In the months leading up to his death in early May 2011, Osama bin Laden was worried about the fate of his son Hamzah. Files recovered in the terror master’s Abbottabad compound show that he repeatedly discussed ways to prevent Hamzah from falling into the hands of al Qaeda’s enemies. Osama wanted his son to avoid Waziristan, where the drones buzzed overhead, at all costs. And he suggested that Hamzah flee to Qatar, where he could lie low for a time.

Last week, more than four years after Osama’s death, al Qaeda released a lengthy audio message by Hamzah.

Osama’s son does not show his face in the al Qaeda production. This is most likely for security purposes. Most of the videos and pictures circulated online show Hamzah as a young boy, before he could possibly understand the true extent of his father’s mission. But it is clear from his new statement to the world that Hamzah has taken up his father’s business. Hamzah’s lengthy speech has been translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 7.51.07 AM

Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s emir, offers a brief introduction for Hamzah, describing him as “a lion from the den of [al Qaeda].” A screen shot of the still image used during Zawahiri’s speech can be seen on the right.

Before turning over the mic to Hamzah, Zawahiri apparently alludes to the massacre at Charlie Hebdo’soffices in Paris in January. Zawahiri asks Allah to “reward our brothers in” al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) “for they have fulfilled his promise and healed the chests of the believers.” This language is a reference to al Qaeda’s current campaign against alleged blasphemers, who have supposedly wounded “believers” with their words and images. AQAP claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo assault, saying it was carried out according to Zawahiri’s orders.

Hamzah then begins to speak about current affairs. However, an Arabic transcript posted with the message indicates his audio was recorded in May or June of this year, meaning it is somewhat dated. Indeed, Hamzah praises Taliban emir Mullah Omar, saying he is the “hidden, pious sheikh” and “the firm mountain of jihad.” Hamzah asks Allah to “preserve” Omar, indicating that he thought the Taliban chieftain was alive when his audio was recorded.

Hamzah also renews his bayat (oath of allegiance) to Omar.

“From here, in following my father, may Allah have mercy on him, I renew my pledge of allegiance to Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar, and I say to him: I pledge to you to listen and obey, in promoting virtue and waging jihad in the cause of Allah the Great and Almighty,” Hamzah says, according to SITE’s translation.

According to some sources, including Afghan intelligence, Omar passed away in April 2013, or more than two years before the Taliban officially announced his death. If true, then this means that Hamzah and al Qaeda’s senior leadership reaffirmed their loyalty to a corpse.

It is possible that Omar did die in 2013 and al Qaeda somehow did not know this. Given al Qaeda’s close relationship with the Taliban’s new leadership, including Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who served as Omar’s deputy and is now his successor, this would more than a little surprising. It is also possible that al Qaeda’s leaders knew Omar was dead and decided to pretend that he was alive for their own sake, as part of an attempt to unite the ranks in the jihadist community. Or, it could be the case that Omar finally perished more recently than the Afghan government and other sources have said.

In any event, Hamzah clearly refers to Omar as if he was alive just a few months ago.

While praising Zawahiri as a jihadist leader, Hamzah does not swear allegiance directly to him. This is different from the leaders of each regional branch of al Qaeda, all whom have sworn their fealty to Zawahiri.

While al Qaeda’s branches respected Mullah Omar as the “Emir of the Faithful,” their loyalty has always been to al Qaeda’s overall emir, who, in turn, has pledged his allegiance to Omar. Zawahiri first pledged himself to Omar and, earlier this month, to Mansour. Therefore, al Qaeda’s regional operations are loyal to Mansour through Zawahiri.

Hamzah honors the leader of each al Qaeda branch. He begins with Nasir al Wuhayshi, who led AQAP until he was killed in a US drone strike in June, just weeks after Hamzah’s recording session. Wuhayshi was succeeded by Qasim al Raymi, who quickly reaffirmed his own allegiance to Zawahiri. Interestingly, Hamzah refers to Wuhayshi as al Qaeda’s “deputy emir,” indicating that he held the same position that Zawahiri himself once did under Osama bin Laden.

In addition to being the head of AQAP, Wuhayshi’s role as al Qaeda’s global general manager from 2013 onward has been widely reported. But under bin Laden that job was separate from the deputy emir’s slot. Al Qaeda’s general manager at the time of bin Laden’s death was Atiyah Abd al Rahman, who was subsequently killed in a US drone strike. Wuhayshi’s status as deputy emir of al Qaeda was never publicly announced by the group.

Osama’s heir continues with a roll call of other al Qaeda regional emirs, including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) Abdulmalek Droukdel, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s (AQIS) Asim Umar,Shabaab’s Abu Obaidah Ahmed Omar, and Al Nusrah Front’s Abu Muhammad al Julani. Hamzah does not mention Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State, but he clearly had Baghdadi’s men in mind when addressing Julani, whom he describes as the “bold commander.”

“We thank your jihad, your firmness, and your great, unique sacrifices through which you have revived the feats of the ancestors of Islam,” Hamzah says to Julani, according to SITE. “But we were pained and saddened…due to the sedition that pervaded your field, and there is no power or strength but with Allah. We advise you to stay away as far as possible from this sedition.” Here, Hamzah is clearly referring to the infighting between the jihadists in Syria. The conflict has repeatedly pitted Julani’s Nusrah against Baghdadi’s Islamic State.

A standard motif in al Qaeda’s productions is to call for influential and well-known jihadists to be freed from their imprisonment. Thus, Hamzah tips his hat to  Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman (a.k.a. the “Blind Sheikh,” who is imprisoned in the US on terrorism charges), Sheikh Suleiman al Alwan (a famous al Qaeda-affiliated cleric detained in Saudi Arabia), and 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (held by the US at Guantanamo).

Hamzah spent a number of years in detention in Iran. And he calls for some of the al Qaeda leaders he was detained with there to be freed.

“And from among my sheikhs through whose hands I was educated: Sheikh Ahmed Hassan Abu al Kheir, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al Masri, Sheikh Saif al Adl, and Sheikh Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, may Allah release them all,” Hamzah says. His mention of Saif al Adl, one of al Qaeda’s most senior military commanders, is especially intriguing. Hamzah indicates that al Adl is imprisoned. Various reports have claimed that al Adl was freed from Iranian custody, but his status at any given time has always been murky. Abu Ghaith, a former al Qaeda spokesman, is imprisoned in the US, but was also detained inside Iran for a time.

Much of the rest of Hamzah’s talk is devoted to the supposed Zionist-Crusader alliance that al Qaeda has made the centerpiece of its mythology. Hamzah’s words contain echoes of his father’s speeches from nearly two decades ago, when al Qaeda’s founder first declared war on America and the West. Like his father, Hamzah calls for continued attacks in the West. And he encourages so-called “lone wolf” attackers to strike.

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“One operation from a loyal knight from your knights who chose his target and did well in his selection, and did his job and did well in his job, it would shake the policy of a great nation in a dire fashion,” Hamzah says. “So then, what would tens of operations do?”

Towards the end of the video, al Qaeda includes footage of various protests from throughout the Middle East. The protesters, many of whom are young men, can be heard chanting, “Obama, Obama, We are all Osama!” (A screen shot of this video footage can be seen on the right.)

Al Qaeda clearly hopes that Hamzah will help represent this new generation of al Qaeda followers.

***

Uncovered: Bin Laden Concerned About Reformist Muslims

Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro. June 2, 2015:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a list of declassified letters and open-source reading material found inside Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan compound. Among the items were documents that likely include the name of Clarion Project counter-terrorism analyst Ryan Mauro and other files indicating that the Al-Qaeda chief was concerned about modernist Muslim reformers.

Three of the 10 miscellaneous documents that were retrieved are from the 2007 Intelligence Summit held in St. Petersburg, Florida, specifically the conference advertising, exhibitor prospectus and participants map. As one of the featured speakers, Mauro’s name and biography would be in the material. The event was billed as the most prestigious intelligence conference in the country.

It is unclear why the event caught Bin Laden’s attention but it was likely the section of the event called the Secular Islam Summit, which featured anti-Islamist Muslims and former Muslims calling for a reformation in Islam in accordance with secular-democracy and modern human rights. The Summit unveiled the St. Petersburg Declaration rejecting Sharia governance and Islamism.

Muslim speakers at the event included Iranian activist Manda Zand Ervin who is featured in our film, Honor Diaries; Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a former associate of current Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri;  Tashbih Sayyed, editor-in-chief of Pakistan Today and The Muslim World Today; Hasan Mahmud of the Free Muslims Coalition, Jordanian writer Shaker al-Nabulsi and Iraqi politician Mithal al-Alusi.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and designated terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates, attacked the Secular Islam Summit.

CAIR board chairman Parvez Ahmed claimed it had no legitimacy and inaccurately characterized its speakers as entirely former Muslims and foes of Islam. CAIR criticized the event for drawing a connection between Islamic teachings and terrorism and accused it of promoting Islamophobia.

Genieve Abdo, a keynote speaker at a CAIR fundraiser, took CAIR’s stance in the Washington Post. She applauded CAIR for having “denounced any notion of a Reformation as another attempt by the West to impose its history and philosophy on the Islamic world.”

Abdo argued that CAIR is more representative of Muslims and so the Secular Islam Summit should be dismissed. She also cited another curious figure as a preferable source over the Summit’s: The radical imam of New York-based Masjid at-Taqwa, Siraj Wahhaj.

Abdo portrayed Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood as the future of Islam. She advised the West to accept that its “hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western.”

“The political future of the Arab world is likely to consist of Islamic parties that are far less tolerant of what has historically been the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the region and that domestically are far more committed to implementing sharia law in varying degrees,” Abdo wrote.

Bin Laden’s bookshelf also included a RAND Corporation study titled Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies by Cheryl Benard. It concluded that U.S. should support Muslim modernists first; support Muslim traditionalists against the fundamentalists; confront and oppose fundamentalists and selectively support secularists.

Bin Laden either requested these materials about Muslim movements against Islamism or his closest aides felt they would peak his interest. At the very least, he was not dismissive of their significance otherwise they would not have invested time to retrieve and presumably review them.

If the highest echelons of Al-Qaeda viewed anti-Islamist Muslim activists as worth paying attention to, then so should we.

****

Here are the videos of the conference: (Playlist)

Secular Islam Summit – Press Conference PT1

Secular Islam Summit – Press Conference PT2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 1 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 1 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt3

Secular Islam Summit Panel 3 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 3 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 3

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT1

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT2

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT3

Yemen isn’t on Verge of Civil War, It Already is – And Saudi Arabia Will Get Involved

March 21, 2015: Members of a militia group loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, known as the Popular Committees, chew qat as they sit next to their tank, guarding a major intersection in Aden, Yemen. (AP)

March 21, 2015: Members of a militia group loyal to Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, known as the Popular Committees, chew qat as they sit next to their tank, guarding a major intersection in Aden, Yemen. (AP)

March 25, 2015 / /

Once again the American media is a day late and a dollar short in covering foreign policy matters. Now every major media outlet in the country is openly asking the question of whether or not Yemen is “on the edge of a civil war.” The problem with that is they’re still behind the power curve. Why? Because Yemen already is in a civil war and it has been going on for the last several months, only you wouldn’t guess from American media outlets since they were focused on more important things like Bruce Jenner’s transition into “womanhood” – but we digress. Follow-on forces continue to be flown into Taiz for the main Houthi push to take Aden, which we assess can begin within days. This will be a multi-pronged offensive, as we’re already seeing with forces elsewhere moving to isolate pro-Hadi forces in other areas. Hadi’s forces were able to temporarily halt the Houthi advance – although this will change as Hadi’s forces continue to get worn down. Those areas weren’t even one of the major objectives. If anything the forces currently advancing have the port of al-Mukha as one of their primary objectives prior to the main push for Aden being initiated.

What Yemen’s Coming Apart at the Seams Means to Arabian Peninsula

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5737

Forces Loyal to President Hadi Halt Houthi Push Towards Yemen’s Aden

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/hadi-forces-check-houthi-push-towards-yemens-aden-n329681

hadi faction

Pro-Hadi forces manning a checkpoint in Aden
Source: al-Jazeera

The Gulf nations led by Saudi Arabia are reported to have agreed to a possible deployment of ground troops to support Hadi’s faction and confront the growing Iranian influence on the Arabian Peninsula. The Gulf nations had previously sent a multi-nation ground force to support the Bahraini government against Iranian proxies a few years ago, so there’s a precedence for this sort of thing. Also, Saudi Arabia has waged limited air campaigns along the Yemeni border off and on in the past for lesser reasons. The current buildup of Saudi ground forces suggests that they may be planning a proactive defense of the border region to keep the Houthis on their side of the border, but will likely initiate a ground campaign if Aden is perceived to be on the verge of falling – which might happen in the coming days. We assess that the violence will exceed anything the Saudis dealt with in previous operations that they conducted against the Houthis in 2009 and 2010. If it comes to that (and let’s be honest, does anybody truly think “negotiations” with Iran and its proxies will succeed?), we expect the initial ground deployments to consist of SOF personnel to perform an advise and assist role. That ground presence will likely grow in both role and numbers as the violence continues to escalate. Currently, the Saudis are providing financial support to Hadi’s faction and may be looking to provide lethal aid to keep the loyal military units in Aden propped up.

Saudis Vow “Necessary Measures” in Yemen if Peace Talks Fail

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/8b9fa25a-d17f-11e4-86c8-00144feab7de.html#axzz3VMsKd8Ml

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia building up military near Yemen border – U.S. officials

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/24/us-yemen-security-usa-saudi-idUSKBN0MK2S120150324

Gulf states send forces to Bahrain following protests

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12729786

Analysis: What is behind Saudi offensive in Yemen

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/saudi-arabia/091114/saudi-arabia-offensive-yemen-houthis

Saudi Forces Bomb Yemeni Rebels on Southern Border

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB125746088928732009

KSA capable of deterring attackers: Saudi King

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/11/08/90588.html

Saudi jets bomb Yemeni Houthis

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2009/11/20091151323886933.html

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The Saudi Army: Ready to rock and roll
Source: thefewgoodmen.com

Saudi Arabia’s actions are hardly surprising given the clear and present threat the Iranian regime and its proxies pose to the region. Houthi fighters are reportedly serving in the ranks of the Iranian regime’s “Foreign Legion” known as the Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas (LAFA) in Syria against anti-Assad forces. Those Houthi fighters reportedly received pre-deployment training at Hezbollah camps in Lebanon much like Iraqi proxies such as Kitab Hezbollah (KH) and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS). Should the Saudis get involved militarily, and we think its only a matter of time before they do, we could very well see the Houthis applying what they learned from that Hezbollah training. We’ll also likely see more from the IRGC-Qods Force and its proxies like what we saw in 2009 with Hezbollah operatives shot down a Yemeni fighter jet in 2009. Its been a few years since that incident and the Iranian regime now has firm control of Sanaa’s international airport with regular flights coming and going between there and Tehran – meaning more weapons (and Qods Force personnel) are being brought into the fight.

Iranian Regime Consolidates Houthi Gains, Begins Work Forming Houthi Intel Proxy

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5580

Yemen’s Houthi Rebels: The Hand of Iran?

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1992

Shia Proxy Threat to US ISIS Strategy in Saudi Arabia

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1837

Yemeni Fighter Planes Shot down by Hezbollah’s Elements

http://www.yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=1391

Syrian Army Takes Advantage of US Airstrikes in Counter-Offensive

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2788

hezbollah_24 mar

Hezbollah has been operating in Yemen for several years now – and their OP-Tempo is steadily increasing
Source: al-akhbar.com

As of this writing Hadi has the support of roughly 5,000 Yemeni Army personnel against a Houthi force numbering from 13,000-15,000 men. Those pro-Hadi Army personnel suffer from a lack of ammo, equipment and poor morale, so its debatable just how long they can hold out with no external support – which is a big reason why we assess the Saudis will become more involved. Here, air support will be key for both sides and the Saudis and UAE will be the most likely participants of any Gulf-led air campaign. However, the Saudis are not as capable as their UAE counterparts in terms of conducting sustained external operations.

Forming the bulk of Hadi’s supporters are the “Popular Committees” led by Abdul-Latif al-Sayid al-Bafqeeh. His faction had been working closely with the military in combatting AQAP in the Abyan-area when the Houthis launched their offensive to take Sanaa. Hadi didn’t order his security forces to combat the Houthis when they stormed Sanaa because he couldn’t trust his own men and didn’t know how strong his support was in the capital – which ultimately led to his and several Arab nations’ diplomatic missions being relocated to Aden. Bafqeeh is considered a local hero in the South for his opposition to AQAP and the Houthis. Although his estimated 6,700-man force adds much-needed bodies to Hadi’s beleaguered loyalist Army force, they’re not as well-trained as former President Saleh’s forces or even the Houthis. These Popular Committees were able to keep the Houthis from seizing Aden’s airport and are currently engaged in several battles north of the city – but they’re plagued by the same ammo and equipment shortage as the pro-Hadi Army units. There’s also some questions regarding Bafqeeh’s true allegiances, as he’s previously worked with AQAP when Saleh was in power. He claims to have left the group due to the leadership refusing to provide sufficient financial support. He also had this rather interesting comment when describing his reasons for his previous AQAP associations:

“when the regime was oppressive and brutal … People then joined al-Qaida to avenge themselves against the government. I and my men pulled out before we got involved with them.”

This pretty much cuts to the heart of what we’ve been saying about AQAP and the Islamic State (IS) being viewed more favorably by a local populace who feel threatened by the Iranian regime – which is every bit as bad as the two Sunni jihadist organizations. The problem with Bafqeeh is that he’s already shown that his allegiances are subject to change – so what will happen should IS offer him cash incentives to pledge allegiance to Baghdadi like they have with others? Something to think about as the Saudis ramp up their lethal aid to the Pro-Hadi crew. This will become a bigger factor later on as IS continues to gain more momentum in follow-on attacks to last week’s Sanaa Mosque bombings, especially if Hadi’s faction becomes even more weakened than it is. They have everybody’s attention now, and are fashioning themselves as the “protectors of the Sunni populace” against the Iranian regime. In the end people are people and like everybody else, the Yemeni Sunnis want to be part of a “winner.” Unfortunately, the factions they view as being the “strongest” just might be AQAP and IS.

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Abdul-Latif al-Sayid al-Bafqeeh
Source: Associated Press

This great news for Iran’s strategic campaign to dominate the Middle East as it allows the Qods Force’s objective of forcing Saudi Arabia and the terror financiers residing there to divert resources from the anti-Assad war effort in Syria back closer to home. Control of key Yemeni real estate also allows the Iranian regime to have more options in disrupting international shipping if they so desire. Using Sanaa as a major support hub, the Qods Force and Hezbollah will be able to provide greater levels of material support to cells operating inside Saudi Arabia to destabilize the new King’s government while targeting IS support nodes throughout the country. With all the fighting taking place in the country, if this isn’t a civil war already, then what is it? Now think about this – President Obama’s “Yemen Success Story” being touted as the “model for future operations in the War Against Terror” has seen millions of dollars in equipment “disappearing,” Hadi being run out of the capital, parliament dissolved, US embassy evacuated and the last of our troops pulled out of the country. The cherry on top is that IS now has a foothold in the country and Iran emerged as the big winner by supporting terrorism and fomenting regional unrest. What we’re seeing in Yemen is Iran exporting their “Islamic Revolution” to the Arabian Peninsula by implementing the “Lebanon Model.” We were also told during the 2008 US Presidential election that he was going to “fundamentally transform America – and the world.” Is this the “fundamental transformation” he was talking about?

A veteran militia leader in southern Yemen emerges as key ally of president against rebels

http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/03/24/in-south-yemen-a-militia-leader-is-presidents-top-ally?page=2

BRIEF CLASHES IN ADEN AS POPULAR COMMITTEES SET UP CHECKPOINTS

http://www.yementimes.com/en/1861/news/4902/Brief-clashes-in-Aden-as-popular-committees-set-up-checkpoints.htm

YEMEN’S USE OF MILITIAS TO MAINTAIN STABILITY IN ABYAN PROVINCE

https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/yemens-use-of-militias-to-maintain-stability-in-abyan-province

Millions in U.S. military equipment lost as Yemen heads down Syria’s path

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/03/24/millions-in-u-s-military-equipment-lost-as-yemen-heads-down-syrias-path/

UPDATE – Reporting that just broke a little while ago suggests that Hadi fled his Aden-based residence. No word yet on his current whereabouts, but if he leaves the country, he could be making a mad dash for either Saudi Arabia or UAE. Should that happen, it would signal the Saudis to initiate the first phase of their military intervention. Oh, and the airfield our troops were stationed at has fallen to the Houthis now. More to follow…

Officials tell AP: Yemen president flees Aden home

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c55bb2a7eabe4311b2eb40ba1c3f2abd/report-rebels-seize-yemen-air-base-used-al-qaida-fight

Other Related Articles:

Poised to Fill Yemen’s Power Vacuum – Iran Tightens Grip on the Peninsula

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4517

The Islamic State’s Arabian Peninsula Campaign

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4558

President Obama’s Yemen “Success” Story

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4751

IRGC-Qods Force: The Arabian Peninsula Campaign and the Failure of Obama’s Foreign Policy

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4478

Obama Peddles Osama’s Propaganda

The Blaze, by Benjamin Weingarten, March 20, 2015:

Without America there would be no Islamic State.

Indeed, without America there would have been no Cold War. Without the Cold War there would have been no need to arm and train the Mujahideen against the Soviets. Without the Mujahideen there would have been no Al Qaeda. Without Al Qaeda there would have been no Iraq War. And without the Iraq War there would have been no Islamic State. Or as President Barack Obama put it:

ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq which grew out of our invasion which is an example of unintended consequences which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.

Such is the pretzel logic to which one must subscribe if one is to believe the president.

Which is to say that Barack Obama’s argument during a recent interview with VICE News is patently absurd.

(Image Source: VICE News/YouTube screengrab)

(Image Source: VICE News/YouTube screengrab)

But there is something worse than the absurdity of the president’s remarks, his implicit banal Bush-bashing and unwillingness or inability to ever take responsibility for anything – the least of which includes his failure to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq.

President Obama’s argument in the main is that America’s actions in the Middle East create terrorists. But by invoking “blowback,” he is parroting precisely the propaganda that Al Qaeda, Islamic State and other jihadist groups want us to repeat, while ignoring the self-evident truth that their actions come not from without but from within. In so doing, as when he raised the scepter of The Crusades, the president provides a veneer of legitimacy and even moral standing to genocidal Islamic supremacists who seek to destroy Western civilization and create a global caliphate.

The words of Osama bin Laden himself are germane to this argument. Witness what Al Qaeda’s godfather said during a May 1998 interview with ABC’s John Miller:

The call to wage war against America was made because America has spear-headed the crusade against the Islamic nation, sending tens of thousands of its troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques over and above its meddling in its affairs and its politics, and its support of the oppressive, corrupt and tyrannical regime that is in control. These are the reasons behind the singling out of America as a target.

…The wrongs and the crimes committed against the Muslim nation are far greater than can be covered by this interview. America heads the list of aggressors against Muslims.

…They rip us of our wealth and of our resources and of our oil. Our religion is under attack. They kill and murder our brothers. They compromise our honor and our dignity and dare we utter a single word of protest against the injustice, we are called terrorists. This is compounded injustice.

In a particularly nauseating portion of the interview in which Miller implores bin Laden to “give us the true picture that clarifies your viewpoint” – as opposed to the “distorted picture of Islam, Muslims and of Islamic fighters” presented by “American politicians,” bin Laden continues [emphasis added]:

The leaders in America and in other countries as well have fallen victim to Jewish Zionist blackmail. They have mobilized their people against Islam and against Muslims. These are portrayed in such a manner as to drive people to rally against them. The truth is that the whole Muslim world is the victim of international terrorism, engineered by America at the United Nations. We are a nation whose sacred symbols have been looted and whose wealth and resources have been plundered. It is normal for us to react against the forces that invade our land and occupy it.

Ignored however is the rest of bin Laden’s message [emphasis added]:

…[O]ur call is the call of Islam that was revealed to Mohammed. It is a call to all mankind. We have been entrusted with good cause to follow in the footsteps of the Messenger and to communicate his message to all nations.

…In our religion, we believe that Allah has created us for the purpose of worshipping him. He is the one who has created us and who has favored us with this religion. Allah has ordered us to make holy wars and to fight to see to it that His word is the highest and the uppermost and that of the unbelievers the lowermost. We believe that this is the call we have to answer regardless of our financial capabilities.

This too answers the claims of the West and of the secular people in the Arab world. They claim that this blessed awakening and the people reverting to Islam are due to economic factors. This is not so. It is rather a grace from Allah, a desire to embrace the religion of Allah.

…I am one of the servants of Allah. We do our duty of fighting for the sake of the religion of Allah. It is also our duty to send a call to all the people of the world to enjoy this great light and to embrace Islam and experience the happiness in Islam. Our primary mission is nothing but the furthering of this religion.

This bin Laden interview is crucial because it illustrates the two-sided nature of Al Qaeda’s rhetoric and the rhetoric of jihadists more broadly — appealing on the one hand to the West’s materialism, and on the other to the Middle East’s idealism.

Indeed one of the primary but underappreciated elements of the global jihad is the subtle psychological warfare in which bin Laden engages above by way of the materialist argument.

Understanding the West’s unhealthy sense of guilt and shame, bin Laden portrays jihadists as the oppressed to our oppressor, the victim to our aggressor. Bin Laden knew that repeating such arguments — regardless of their veracity — would have a profound effect on the Western consciousness over time.

Conversely, playing on our moral relativism, multiculturalism and religious tolerance, bin Laden knew that we would fail to internalize his idealist worldview: A worldview formed by the Islamic doctrine that animates jihadists and lays bare their goals, strategies and tactics.

We have accepted the former (materialism) but ignored the latter (idealism), which explains in part why we are losing to the global jihad.

If you disagree with this assertion, consider that we in the West ask “Why do they hate us?” We search in vain for “root causes” of radicalization, and tell ourselves that a group that calls itself Islamic State and follows Muhammad literally perverts Islam or has nothing to do with it at all.

Meanwhile, our enemies self-identify as Islamic jihadists — a jihad compelled by the corpus of Islamic texts – whose end goal is to make the entire world submit to Allah’s rule.

President Obama either out of political correctness, ignorance or a more nefarious impulse damages America’s cause by parroting the victomology that Osama bin Laden knew Western progressives would buy hook, line and sinker.

He gives credence to our enemies’ arguments while implementing an agenda ostensibly to combat them wholly consonant with such a worldview, and thereby wholly ineffectual.

This is the far more consequential and far more dangerous takeaway from the president’s interview than the tired invocation of “Bush’s fault” that Obama’s critics have harped on.

Osama bin Laden’s Files: The Pakistani government wanted to negotiate

osama-bin-laden1-e1425067707264BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | March 9th, 2015:

Recently released files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that parts of the Pakistani government made attempts to negotiate with al Qaeda in 2010. The letters were released as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted on terrorism charges by a Brooklyn jury earlier this month.

One of the files is a letter written by Atiyah Abd al Rahman (“Mahmud”), who was then the general manager of al Qaeda, to Osama bin Laden (identified as Sheikh Abu Abdallah) in July 2010.  The letter reveals a complicated game involving al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the brother of Pakistan’s current prime minister, and Pakistan’s intelligence service.

“Regarding the negotiations, dear Sheikh, I will give you an overview, may God support me in this,” Rahman wrote. “The Pakistani enemy has been corresponding with us and with Tahreek-i-Taliban (Hakeemullah) for a very short time, since the days of Hafiz, may God have mercy on him.” Hakeemullah Mehsud was the head of the Pakistani Taliban at the time. The “Hafiz” mentioned is Mustafa Abu Yazid (Sheikh Saeed al Masri), who served as al Qaeda’s general manager prior to his deathin May 2010. Rahman succeeded Yazid in that role.

“We discussed the matter internally, then we talked with Abu-Muhammad later once we were able to resume correspondence with him,” Rahman explained. “Abu-Muhammad” is the nom de guerre of Ayman al Zawahiri. As a result of these discussions, al Qaeda was willing to broker a deal in which the jihadists’ would ease off the Pakistanis so long as the military and intelligence services stopped fighting al Qaeda and its allies.

“Our decision was this: We are prepared to leave you be. Our battle is primarily against the Americans. You became part of the battle when you sided with the Americans,” Rahman wrote, explaining al Qaeda’s position towards the Pakistani government. “If you were to leave us and our affairs alone, we would leave you alone. If not, we are men, and you will be surprised by what you see; God is with us.”

Al Qaeda’s negotiating tactic was simple. Either the Pakistanis leave them alone, or they would suffer more terrorist attacks. Rahman’s letter reveals how bin Laden’s men sought to convey their message. They relied on Siraj Haqqani, the senior leader of the Haqqani Network, which has long been supported by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.

Rahman summarized al Qaeda’s plan thusly: “We let slip (through Siraj Haqqani, with the help of the brothers in Mas’ud and others; through their communications) information indicating that al Qaeda and Tahreek-i-Taliban [the Pakistani Taliban] have big, earth shaking operations in Pakistan, but that their leaders had halted those operations in an attempt to calm things down and relieve the American pressure.”

“But if Pakistan does any harm to the Mujahidin in Waziristan, the operations will go forward, including enormous operations ready in the heart of the country,” Rahman explained. This is the message al Qaeda “leaked out through several outlets.”

In response, “they, the intelligence people…started reaching out to” al Qaeda through Pakistani jihadist groups they “approve of.”

Read more at Long War Journal

Osama Bin Laden’s Files: The Arab revolutions

Anas Al-LibiLWJ, by Thomas Joscelyn, March 3rd, 2015:

As the so-called “Arab Spring” swept through the Muslim-majority world in 2011, some US officials and counterterrorism analysts proclaimed that al Qaeda had been left “on the sidelines.” However, the limited selection of publicly-available documents captured in Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011 tell a different story. The al Qaeda chieftain and his subordinates saw an opportunity.

Atiyah Abd al Rahman, who served as al Qaeda’s general manager, discussed the political upheaval in a letter written to bin Laden just weeks before the al Qaeda CEO was killed in his Abbottabad, Pakistan safe house. Rahman’s letter was introduced as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who is alleged to have taken part in al Qaeda’s plotting in Europe and New York City. Just months after penning it, Rahman was killed in a US drone strike in northern Pakistan.

“We are currently following the Arab Revolutions and the changes taking place in Arab countries,” Rahman wrote. “We praise you, almighty God, for the demise of the tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt.”

Rahman mentions the “situation” in countries such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen, explaining that he has included “some of what” he “wrote to some of my brothers concerning these revolutions.”

“In general,” Rahman argued, “we think these changes are sweeping, and there is good in them, God willing.” Rahman wondered if bin Laden had considered putting out a speech on the uprisings, noting that al Qaeda’s CEO had “not made any statements as of now,” as “hopefully” bin Laden was “waiting for these revolutions to mature and reach stability.”

Rahman wrote that “it might be good for” Yunis al Mauritani, a key figure in al Qaeda’s “external operations” (or international terrorist operations) who was subsequently captured in Pakistan, to “send his brothers to Tunisia and Syria and other places.” Bin Laden’s general manager believed that the “Syrian brothers would have to wait a little for the revolution in Syria to succeed in taking down Bashar Assad’s regime, and for the country to become degenerated and chaotic.”

His conclusion proved to be wrong. Al Qaeda groomed an official branch in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front, to battle Assad’s government and its allies. And al Qaeda’s senior leadership later sent a cadre of officials to Syria to help guide this effort, as well as to plot attacks in the West.

The Tunisian with Yunis “could travel straight to Tunisia now,” as “he could easily enter the country, and then some of our people could travel there and get in,” Rahman wrote. The “three Syrians” will “hopefully” be able to get into their home country.  There is no clear indication of who these Syrians and the Tunisian are, or what happened to them. Some of Yunis’ men were eventually captured alongside him, while others likely remained free.

But the bin Laden files give some details with respect to Libya.

Read more

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Why Was ISIS Terror Operative Nihad Rosic Arrested in Plainfield, Indiana?

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, March 2, 2015:

Six individuals of Bosnian origin from St. Louis, Rockford, Illinois and Utica, New York, were indicted last month on charges of supplying money and equipment to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

And yet late last week it was revealed that one of those terror suspects, Nihad Rosic, who is also one of two suspects additionally charged with conspiring to kill and maim others in a foreign country and had attempted to board a plane back in July 2014 to fly to Syria to join ISIS, had actually been apprehended in the small town of Plainfield, Indiana, right outside Indianapolis.

As the Indianapolis Star reported on Friday:

A Bosnian national indicted on charges of funneling resources to terrorists overseas was arrested earlier this month in Plainfield, officials confirmed Friday, but it was unclear why the man was in Indiana.

U.S. marshals booked Nihad Rosic, 26, in the Marion County Jail on Feb. 6, jail records show, though his connections to the state appear to be minimal.

A federal indictment alleges that Rosic and five others communicated on social media with coded language to organize financial support and send equipment to terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq.

Jan Diltz, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, where the indictment was handed up, said she doesn’t know why Rosic was in Indiana.

While at first glance it may seem odd that Plainfield, Indiana might be a haunt for an international terror operative for perhaps the most dangerous Islamic terrorist group in the world today, it perhaps might be more clear when considering that Plainfield is the headquarters the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), one of the most terror-tied Islamic organizations in American history.

As one former federal law enforcement official told me this weekend, if Rosic was not in Plainfield related to ISNA it would be an “extreme coincidence bordering on the unbelievable.”

ISNA’s ties to terrorism go back even before it’s founding in the early 1980s when the organization was operating in the Indianapolis area as an amalgam of Muslim Brotherhood front organizations, including the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), the Islamic Teaching Center (ITC) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA). I’ve previously reported on the MSA’s extensive terrorist lineup here at PJ Media.

Two of the visitors to the area in those early days included Al-Qaeda founder Abdullah Azzam and his protege, Osama bin Laden.

According to a book published by Bin Laden’s first wife, Najwa, the Al-Qaeda leaders and the Bin Laden family visited the U.S. for two weeks in 1979 with stops in Los Angeles, and yes, Indianapolis. A clue why Bin Laden and Azzam might have been in the area might be an ITC newsletter dated February 1978 I uncovered that documents a previous visit to their Indianapolis offices in January of that year by Azzam and several other well known extremist Islamic clerics. ITC now operates as a subsidiary of ISNA.

From its earliest days ISNA was a hub for international Islamic terrorists. Terrorist figures associated with ISNA include:

  • Al-Qaeda financier Abdurahman Alamoudi, who started ISNA’s political action committee in November 1988, who was convicted in 2004 for his role in an international assassination plot targeting then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. In 2005, the US Treasury Department admitted that Alamoudi had operated as one of the top Al-Qaeda fundraisers in North America.
  • Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian, one of ISNA’s self-admitted founders, was convicted in 2006 for his role in supporting the terrorist organization and was deported from the U.S. last month. Prior to his indictment, Al-Arian was deeply involved in numerous ISNA activities and organizations, and was a regular speaker at the ISNA annual conferences.
  • Pakistani intelligence agent Ghulam Nabi Fai, who not only worked for ISNA but also served for years on ISNA’s shura council, was convicted in 2012 for failing to disclose nearly $4 million he had received from the Pakistani ISI intelligence service to influence members of Congress on behalf of the Muslim separatist cause in Kashmir (I reported on Fai’s operation in a two-part series here at PJ Media, noting that Fai spoke at ISNA’s annual convention two weeks before his arrest). Fai’s co-conspirator, Zaheer Ahmad, reportedly met with both Bin Laden and Zawahiri just weeks before 9/11 to discuss their weapons of mass destruction program. As reported in an in-depth ProPublica expose of Fai’s activites, not only was Fai working for Pakistani intelligence at the same time he was working for ISNA, but key ISNA figures and affiliates helped start his Kashmir American Center.
  • As I reported exclusively here at PJ Media in September 2012, one speaker featured at ISNA’s 2001 annual conference held just days prior to the 9/11 attacks was Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. For years Awlaki’s ISNA speech had been cited, but we were the first to actual provide the video to the Al-Qaeda operative’s ISNA conference talk.
  • One other senior terror leader with deep ties to ISNA is current Hamas deputy head Mousa Abu Marzook. I’ll elaborate on the ISNA/Hamas ties below, but will note here that when Marzook was arrested in the U.S. in 1995 and designated a global terrorist by the Clinton administration, and was later deported in 1997, Marzook took out an advertisement in the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs thanking his supporters, including ISNA:

isna-marzook-web

In October 2014, Mohammed Hamzah Khan was arrested trying to board a flight to travel to Turkey to join ISIS. According to postings on Khan’s Instagram account, he had attended ISNA’s annual convention held in Detroit less than a month before.

But ISNA’s role in the international Islamic terror network isn’t just associational. Rather, they have taken a much direct role in supporting international terrorism.

According to forms filed with the IRS, ISNA provided $170,000 in start-up funds for the Islamic African Relief Association (IARA), which was designated a global terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury in October 2004 for supporting Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, and other Islamic terrorist organizations. Exhibits entered into trial evidence in court by federal prosecutors showed extensive payments from ISNA to IARA over the years in increments of tens of thousands of dollars. According to the Justice Department, IARA sent at least $130,000 to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Another ISNA-supported Islamic terror charity was the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA). As reported by Thomas Jocelyn at the Weekly Standard, German investigators found transactions between ISNA and TWRA in 1992 at the same time that TWRA was financing the US-based terror cell that conducted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the planned “Day of Terror” attacks targeting New York City landmarks.

Despite evidence of ISNA’s support of a long list of Islamic charities tagged by the US government and the United Nations as terrorist organizations, ISNA’s most notorious role in supporting international terrorism came up in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history in the successful prosecution of the executives of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) for supporting Hamas.

Not only did HLF receive ISNA’s longtime support, but it began as the Occupied Land Fund as an arm of ISNA operated out of the group’s Plainfield headquarters.

ISNA was named unindicted co-conspirator in the case, and extensive documentation entered into trial evidence by federal prosecutors (available on the Texas federal court’s website) shows that even after HLF was spun off of ISNA, the money transferred by the HLF to Hamas actually was moved by ISNA and the ISNA-affiliated North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) and payments made directly by ISNA to Hamas officials, including Mousa Abu Marzook.

So intertwined was ISNA in conspiracy by the international Muslim Brotherhood to finance Hamas, in one court filing federal prosecutors lay out ISNA’s role in providing “media, money and men” to Hamas (page 13 in the file):

DOJ-ISNA-NAITsm

The federal judge in the case, Jorge Solis, agreed with the prosecutors about ISNA’s role, stating in a ruling that was later unsealed that there was “ample evidence” that ISNA and other US Muslim Brotherhood groups had supported Hamas.

ISNA’s terror support was even profiled by Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR in a 2003 two-part series entitled “Images in Conflict“:

 

 

But if it is the case that ISIS operative Nihad Rosic was in Plainfield meeting with ISNA officials it is highly unlikely that the Justice Department would ever admit to it since ISNA has been the closest Islamic group to the Obama White House.

That’s right, despite what federal prosecutors have said in federal court about ISNA’s role in supporting international terrorism, its ties to convicted terror leaders and supporting designated global terrorist organizations, and even Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez under the Bush administration cancelling meetings because of the presence of ISNA officials, as I noted here at PJ Media in the early days of this administration, ISNA has been openly embraced by the Obama White House.

In 2013, Obama even provided a video greeting to open ISNA’s annual convention:

 

So what is the connection between Nihad Rosic and ISNA, and why exactly was he arrested in Plainfield, Indiana? Most likely federal authorities will never say, but an educated guess about the possible involvement of ISNA given their lengthy track record on these types of activities is hardly out-of-order.

New Docs Reveal Osama bin Laden’s Secret Ties With Iran

osama_bin_ladenWeekly Standard, by Thomas Joscelyn, Feb. 29, 2015:

This week, prosecutors in New York introduced eight documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan as evidence in the trial of a terrorism suspect. The U.S. government accuses Abid Naseer of taking part in an al Qaeda’s scheme to attack targets in Europe and New York City. And prosecutors say the documents are essential for understanding the scope of al Qaeda’s plotting.

More than 1 million documents and files were captured by the Navy Seals who raided bin Laden’s safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. One year later, in May 2012, the Obama administration released just 17 of them.

While there is some overlap between the files introduced as evidence in Brooklyn and those that were previously made public in 2012, much of what is in the trial exhibits had never been made public before.

The files do not support the view, promoted by some in the Obama administration, that bin Laden was in “comfortable retirement,” “sidelined,” or “a lion in winter” in the months leading up to his death. On the contrary, bin Laden is asked to give his order on a host of issues, ranging from the handling of money to the movement of terrorist operatives.

Some of the key revelations in the newly-released bin Laden files relate to al Qaeda’s dealings with Iran and presence in Afghanistan.

A top al Qaeda operative asked bin Laden for permission to relocate to Iran in June 2010 as he plotted attacks around the world. That operative, Yunis al Mauritani, was a senior member of al Qaeda’s so-called “external operations” team, and plotted to launch Mumbai-style attacks in Europe.

As THE WEEKLY STANDARD first reported, the al Qaeda cell selected to take part in al Mauritani’s plot transited through Iran and some of its members received safe haven there after the planned attacks were thwarted.

In the memo to bin Laden, a top al Qaeda manager wrote, “Sheikh Yunis is ready to move and travel.” The file continues: “The destination, in principle, is Iran, and he has with him 6 to 8 brothers that he chose. I told him we are waiting for final complete confirmation from you to move, and agree on this destination (Iran). His plan is: stay around three months in Iran to train the brothers there then start moving them and distributing them in the world for their missions and specialties. He explained those to you in his report and plan.”

Bin Laden’s reply is apparently not included in the documents.

Other intelligence recovered in the raid on the al Qaeda master’s home show that al Qaeda and Iran were at odds in some ways. Iran detained a number of senior al Qaeda leaders and members of Osama bin Laden’s family. Al Qaeda forced Iran to release some of them by kidnapping an Iranian diplomat in Pakistan. Some of the newly-released files provide hints of these disagreements as well, including a suggestion that one of bin Laden’s sons may complain about the jihadists’ treatment in Iran once he was freed.

The same June 2010 memo to bin Laden that includes Yunis al Mauritani’s request also includes a section on the al Qaeda leaders who had returned to Pakistan from Iran. One of them is Abu Anas al Libi, a bin Laden lieutenant who was captured in Tripoli in 2013. Upon being freed, al Libi was reassigned to al Qaeda’s security committee and asked to move to Libya to take part in the anti-Qaddafi revolution. Al Qaeda granted al Libi’s request.

Although Iran and al Qaeda have had significant differences, there is much intelligence showing that the two continue to collude.

During President Obama’s administration, the Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly exposed the formerly “secret deal” between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda that allows the terrorist organization to shuttle operatives around the globe. Some of those operatives included Yunis al Mauritani’s men.

The June 2010 memo to bin Laden indicates that al Qaeda had a significant presence in Afghanistan at the time.

“Our groups inside Afghanistan are the same as for every season for many years now,” bin Laden’s subordinate wrote. “We have groups in Bactria, Bactica, Khost, Zabul, Ghazni and Warduk in addition to the battalion in Nuristan and Kunz.” (Bactria and Bactica may be transliterated incorrectly and actually reference other provinces.)

“We have very strong military activity in Afghanistan, many special operations, and the Americans and NATO are being hit hard,” the memo continues.

The author, who is likely Atiyyah Abd al Rahman (later killed in a U.S. drone strike), says that al Qaeda had recently cooperated with the Haqqani Network in a major operation in Bagram. “We cooperated with Siraj Haqqani and other commander down there (Kabul/Bagram),” Rahman writes to bin Laden. Siraj’s father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was one of bin Laden’s closest allies. The Haqqani network and al Qaeda have fought side-by-side for years and the Haqqanis continue to provide shelter for al Qaeda’s men in northern Pakistan.

Al Qaeda’s description of its own presence in Afghanistan is directly at odds with the assessments made by U.S. military and intelligence officials, who have portrayed the group as having only a small number of fighters and being geographically isolated.

Other revelations include the following:

Senior al Qaeda leaders discussed potential negotiations with Al Jazeera over the copyrights for the jihadists’ propaganda films and footage. Al Qaeda also wanted to play a significant role in an upcoming documentary produced by the channel.

Al Qaeda believed the British were ready to cut a deal to get out of Afghanistan. If al Qaeda left the Brits alone, one file contends, the UK was willing to pull out from the country.

Al Qaeda was in direct contact with Al Tayyib Agha, a Taliban leader who has served as Mullah Omar’s emissary. The U.S. government has held direct talks with Agha in an attempt to broker a peace deal in Afghanistan. The Taliban has rejected the goals of those talks, however.

Al Qaeda was monitoring the situation in Libya, and noted that the “brothers” in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) were operating in Benghazi, Derna and elsewhere in eastern Libya. Members of the LIFG went on to help form Ansar al Sharia in Derna and other al Qaeda-linked groups, some of which took part in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack.

Bin Laden advised his subordinates that they should contact Abu Mohammad al Maqdisi, a well-known jihadist ideologue, to see if Maqdisi would agree to have one of his books shortened before being more widely disseminated. Bin Laden’s words show how much respect he had for Maqdisi. The Jordanians have routinely imprisoned Maqdisi, but recently let him out of detention so that he could denounce the Islamic State, which has emerged as al Qaeda’s rival. This shows how al Qaeda is using the Islamic State to portray itself as being more moderate.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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