Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Abu Zubaydah file

This is the kind of indepth reporting that you can ONLY get from The Long War Journal, people.  Visit the hell out of this site if you're serious about counter-terrorism and the War on Islam.

The Abu Zubaydah file

The US government has released an unclassified profile of the jihadist known as Abu Zubaydah, who is held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Abu Zubaydah’s case is currently being evaluated by the Periodic Review Board (PRB), which was established in 2011 “to review whether continued detention of particular individuals held at Guantanamo remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

Abu Zubaydah has been at the center of controversy for years. He was one of the first detainees subjected to the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, in 2002.

Some argue that he was not really a senior al Qaeda operative at the time of his capture and that his importance was exaggerated by the US intelligence community during the Bush administration. One version of Abu Zubaydah’s story, citing excerpts from his diary and other fragmentary evidence, holds that he never swore bayat (oath of allegiance) to Osama bin Laden and was merely an independent jihadist facilitator.

The US government’s unclassified summary tells a different story, citing several key pieces of evidence that tie Abu Zubaydah to al Qaeda’s senior leaders and the terror group’s global operations. Abu Zubaydah allegedly “played a key role in al Qaeda’s communications,” “closely interacted” with Osama bin Laden’s “second-in-command,” enlisted al Qaeda operatives in planned attacks against Israel, worked with 9/11 planner Khalid Shaykh Mohammed in 2002, and may have had foreknowledge of al Qaeda’s three most successful attacks between August 1998 and September 2001. The PRB summary also notes that he has been convicted in absentia in Jordan for his well-known role in the so-called millennium terror plots.

Abu Zubaydah “possibly had some advanced knowledge of the bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the USS Cole bombing in 2000,” according to the government’s PRB summary. He was also “generally aware of the impending 9/11 attacks and possibly coordinated the training at Khaldan camp of two of the hijackers.”

The 1998 US Embassy Bombings and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 were al Qaeda’s two most effective operations prior to 9/11. It is doubtful that a truly independent actor could have had “some knowledge” of these plots, as well as be “generally aware” of the 9/11 attacks beforehand, given al Qaeda’s penchant for secrecy and compartmentalized planning.

In addition, the two future 9/11 hijackers were not the only al Qaeda operatives thought to have trained at Khaldan camp, which Abu Zubaydah helped oversee.

According to declassified and leaked files prepared by Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), as well as other reports, numerous al Qaeda operatives trained at Khaldan. Trainees at Khaldan included: Ramzi Yousef (the nephew of Khalid Shaykh Mohammed and also the chief bomb maker for the 1993 World Trade Center attack, as well as the point man for a plot to bring down airliners in 1995), Mohamed al-‘Owhali (convicted for his role in the 1998 US Embassy Bombings), Zacarias Moussaoui (who was slated to take part in the 9/11 hijackings, or a follow-on al Qaeda plot, prior to his arrest in Aug. 2001), and Richard Reid (al Qaeda’s would-be shoe bomber in December 2001), among others. Abu Zubaydah would later argue before a tribunal at Guantanamo that he taught “defensive jihad,” as opposed to “offensive jihad,” and was not hostile to the US and its partners. The dossiers of Khaldan’s graduates, as well as many other facts, undermine this argument.

According to the summary presented to the PRB, Abu Zubaydah “played a key role in al Qaeda’s communications with supporters and operatives abroad and closely interacted with al Qaeda’s second-in-command at the time, Abu Hafs al Masri.”

The 9/11 Commission described Abu Hafs al Masri, who was killed in an American airstrike in late 2001, as bin Laden’s “chief of operations” prior to 9/11. Bin Laden and Abu Hafs “occupied undisputed leadership positions atop al Qaeda’s organizational structure.” The 9/11 Commission continued: “Within this structure, al Qaeda’s worldwide terrorist operations relied heavily on the ideas and work of enterprising and strong-willed field commanders who enjoyed considerable autonomy.” Therefore, a senior jihadist could be part of al Qaeda’s organization and still maintain “considerable autonomy” – a detail worth remembering when evaluating Abu Zubaydah’s dossier.

The 9/11 Commission cited the career of Khalid Shaykh Mohammed (KSM), the chief organizer of the 9/11 hijackings, as an example of how al Qaeda’s hierarchy worked. Although KSM didn’t swear bayat to bin Laden (or so KSM claimed after being captured), he still planned the 9/11 attacks under the watchful eye al Qaeda’s most senior officials. Unlike Abu Zubaydah, no one seriously disputes KSM’s al Qaeda role. According to multiple reports, Abu Zubaydah divulged during his first days in US custody that one of KSM’s aliases was “Mukhtar.” Zubaydah also told FBI officials that KSM played a key role in the 9/11 hijackings. Again, we are left to wonder how someone supposedly outside of al Qaeda’s orbit could have known such important details concerning the secretive group’s inner workings.

In fact, according to the PRB summary and other files, Abu Zubaydah worked directly with KSM.

“Following 9/11,” the PRB summary reads, “[Abu Zubaydah] took a more active role in attack preparations, sending operatives to al Qaeda senior member Khalid Shaykh Muhammad…to discuss the feasibility of exploding a radiological device in the United States, and supporting remote-controlled bomb attacks against US and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.”

The first part of the sentence refers to Abu Zubaydah’s involvement with Jose Padilla and Binyam Mohamed. They conceived a far-fetched plan to use a dirty bomb inside the US. KSM allegedly thought that their idea was foolish and so he directed one or both of them to consider setting fire to high rise buildings using natural gas instead. Zubaydah reportedly revealed details about Padilla and Mohamed while in US custody. Padilla was arrested in Chicago in May 2002 and eventually convicted on terrorism charges. Mohamed was detained in Pakistan and then held elsewhere before being sent to Guantanamo. Mohamed was transferred to the UK in 2009.

It is telling that Abu Zubaydah was able to seamlessly pass Padilla and Mohamed on to KSM, who was attempting to strike the US again just months after the 9/11 hijackings.

The second part of the sentence above from the PRB’s summary (“supporting remote-controlled bomb attacks” in Afghanistan) is a reference to Abu Zubaydah’s “Martyrs Brigade.” According to leaked JTF-GTMO files, the “Martyrs Brigade” was jointly created by Abu Zubaydah and Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, a top al Qaeda military commander who answered directly to Osama bin Laden. Known al Qaeda members joined the team, which was planning to travel back to Afghanistan to fight US and Coalition forces.

The PRB file notes that Abu Zubaydah “most actively plotted attacks against Israel, enlisting operatives from various militant groups, including al Qaeda, to conduct operations in Israel and against Israeli interests abroad.”

A brief biography released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in 2006 contained additional allegations regarding his anti-Israeli plotting. According to that biography, Abu Zubaydah had “enlisted” the help of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who would go on to establish al Qaeda in Iraq, to find “a smuggling route into Israel for moving persons and materials.” Abu Zubaydah had previously helped Zarqawi and dozens of others escape from Afghanistan into Iran in late 2001. Abu Zubaydah raised $50,000 from Saudi donors for his planned attacks in Israel. The money was passed to senior al Qaeda leadership, according to the ODNI’s biography, and may have even been repurposed for the 9/11 plot.

The millennium plots

Abu Zubaydah’s role in various planned terrorist attacks in late 1999 and early 2000 is well known. Khaldan’s graduates were directly responsible for some of the plots.

Abu Zubaydah “was convicted in absentia by the Jordanian Government for his role in planning attacks against Israeli, Jordanian, and Western targets during the Millennium time frame in Jordan,” the newly released PRB file reads.

The 9/11 Commission discussed the millennium plots in Jordan at length in its final report. Jordanian authorities unraveled the plans beginning on Nov. 30, 1999, when they intercepted a telephone call from Abu Zubaydah to an operative known as Abu Hoshar.

“The time for training is over,” Abu Zubaydah said.

The Jordanians suspected, according to the 9/11 Commission, “that this was a signal for Abu Hoshar to commence a terrorist operation.” Jordanian police then arrested 16 jihadists, including Abu Hoshar and his comrade Raed Hijazi. [See LWJ report, Jordan rearrests millennium bombings plotter.]

By late 1998, Abu Hoshar and Hijazi had begun planning to attack multiple sites frequented by Western tourists. “Hijazi and Abu Hoshar cased the intended targets and sent reports to Abu Zubaydah, who approved their plan,” according to the 9/11 Commission. Hijazi stockpiled the ingredients necessary to make the bombs their plan required.

Hijazi and Abu Hoshar contacted another alleged al Qaeda operative, Khalid Deek, in early 1999. They acquired a copy of the Encyclopedia of Jihad, a terrorist manual authored by Deek. The 9/11 Commission reported what happened next. In June 1999, “with help from Deek, Abu Hoshar arranged with Abu Zubaydah for Hijazi and three others to go to Afghanistan for added training in explosives.”

Then, in late November 1999, “Hijazi reportedly swore before Abu Zubaydah the bayat [oath of allegiance] to Bin Laden, committing himself to do anything Bin Laden ordered.”

How could Abu Zubaydah accept Hijazi’s blood oath to Osama bin Laden if he wasn’t really part of al Qaeda? This is one of many details that doesn’t make sense if Abu Zubaydah remained apart from al Qaeda.

Another one of the plots extended all the way into the US.

Ahmed Ressam, who was trained at the Khaldan camp, traveled from Canada to the US in late 1999 with the intent to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Ressam was arrested on Dec. 14, 1999 after customs officials discovered that his vehicle contained hidden explosives.

Ressam would later explain Abu Zubaydah’s role to the FBI. Ressam’s testimony was included in the Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) delivered to President George W. Bush.

“The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Laden’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US,” the PDB read. “Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack the Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation.” Ressam added that Bin Laden “was aware of the Los Angeles operation” and Abu Zubaydah “was planning his own US attack” as early as 1998.

An extensive dossier

The unclassified PRB file deals with just some of the known or suspected details of Abu Zubaydah’s career. There is much additional evidence tying him to al Qaeda’s global enterprise. At a minimum, however, the file indicates that the officials representing the US government in the PRB process continue to view Abu Zubaydah as well-placed figure in al Qaeda’s network. This is true whether Abu Zubaydah swore his allegiance to Osama bin Laden or not, as the intelligence shows that he consistently worked with al Qaeda’s most senior operatives.

Note: The spelling of al Qaeda has been made consistent throughout this article and therefore differs from how it is spelled in some of the US government’s files.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Over 1.2 Million People Could Have to Evacuate Mosul, Iraq

The story comes from Al Arabiya

Iraqi forces enter Qayyahrah, UN readies for exodus

Iraqi forces on Tuesday have swiftly advanced and stormed the center of Qayyarah, a district south of the ISIS-held city of Mosul, hours after it launched its operation against the militant group, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Entering Qayyarah from three points started early morning on Tuesday to finally reclaim Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and ISIS’s last major urban stronghold in the country.

Counter-terrorism units are also taking part in the operation alongside the Iraqi army. Iraqi officials said the priority of the operation is to save and protect civilians in the area being used by ISIS as human shields.
‘Worsen displacement’

The United Nations said Tuesday it was rushing to build camps to accommodate what it expects to be a mass exodus from Mosul following the battle to eject ISIS.

The UN refugee agency warned that an expected battle to liberate Mosul was likely to “dramatically worsen” the displacement situation in the country.

Iraq is already facing one of the world’s biggest displacement crises, with 3.38 million people forced to flee their homes in the country since 2014.

In just the past few months alone, 213,000 people have been forced from their homes across the country, including around 48,000 who have fled Mosul, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.

“The humanitarian impact of a military offensive there is expected to be enormous,” he said, cautioning that as many as 1.2 million civilians could be affected.

After retaking Fallujah, west of Baghdad, in June, the main focus of Iraqi security forces is Mosul, which is the ISIS group’s de facto capital in Iraq.

Iraqi special forces led an operation Tuesday aimed at retaking the militants-held town of Qayyarah, which is expected to be used as a launchpad for a broader operation against Mosul in the coming weeks or months.

Once the operation begins, UNHCR estimates that some 400,000 people could flee to the south of Mosul, around 250,000 to the east and another 100,000 to the northwest, towards the Syrian border, Edwards said.

He said contingency plans had been drawn up to provide shelter for up to 120,000 people fleeing conflict in Mosul and surrounding areas, while UNHCR was looking to set up six new camps across northern Iraq.

"Progress depends on both the availability of land and of funding," Edwards said, pointing out that UNHCR's overall appeal for $584 million for displaced Iraqis, including those who have fled to nearby countries, was only 38-percent funded.

He also warned that "finding available land for the new camps has become a critical issue," as many landowners were unwilling to lease land.

Other areas could not be used because they were too close to the frontline, or because setting up camps there could inflame ethnic, sectarian, religious or tribal tensions, he said.

The operation comes a day after six Iraqi civilians were killed when a bomb planted by the ISIS group went off as they tried to flee the Hawijah area, security officials said.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TwitterLand: Some Things Don't Go Away

Monday, August 22, 2016

Iraq hangs 36 people sentenced to death for killing of troops in 2014

Iraq has gone full blown Iranian Shia.

The story comes from DAWN.

Iraq hangs 36 people sentenced to death for killing of troops in 2014

BAGHDAD: Iraq said on Sunday it had hanged 36 militants sentenced to death over the mass killing of hundreds of mainly Shia soldiers at a camp north of Baghdad two years ago.

It is the highest number of militants executed in one day by the Iraqi government since Islamic State fighters took control of parts of northern and western Iraq in 2014.

The executions were carried out at a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, state television quoted the Justice Ministry as saying.

As many as 1,700 soldiers were killed two years ago after they fled from Camp Speicher, a former US military base just north of Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit, when it was overrun by Islamic State.

The government came under increased pressure from local Shia politicians to execute militants sentenced to death after a massive bombing that targeted a shopping street in Baghdad on July 3, killing at least 324 people.

Claimed by Islamic State, the truck bomb that blew up in the Karrada district was the deadliest since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Iraq's Justice Ministry announced days later that 45 death sentences had been carried out since the beginning of the year.

The United Nations said on August 1 that Iraq's efforts to speed up the execution of militants could result in innocent people being put to death.

An estimated 1,200 people are on death row in Iraq, including possibly hundreds who have exhausted appeals, the UN statement said.

“Given the weaknesses of the Iraqi justice system, and the current environment in Iraq, I am gravely concerned that innocent people have been and may continue to be convicted and executed, resulting in gross, irreversible miscarriages of justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in the statement.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Photo of the Day: Putting While Rome Burns

Video: Minneapolis Isn't That Big of a City, Son

Green jacket, White Sox hat guy wants the spotlight. Wants to be famous. Thinks he's tough.

The search has begun. Tick tock, tick tock.

Europe hit by yet MORE sex attacks: Now 22 girls assaulted at Stockholm festival

The story comes from ExpressUK via The Religion of Peace.

Europe hit by yet MORE sex attacks: Now 22 girls assaulted at Stockholm festival

FURY has erupted in Sweden after it emerged that more than 20 girls have been sexually assaulted at a popular festival

Police confirmed they have received 22 reports from women saying they have been attacked during the We are Stockholm event.

Officials said seven complaints came on the festival’s first day on Tuesday this week, with another 15 reported by Thursday.

Stockholm police added the figure was expected to increase as the event is still ongoing.

They also refused to disclose the nationality of the suspected assailants.

Police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said: “Many report the incidents a while after the assault happened, so there is reason to believe the figure will increase.”

The official said the majority of the reports had involved men groping girls in the crowd.

Mr Lindgren added police had identified the assailants in about half the reported incidents as he said it is believed the same person had committed several assaults.

Police officer Mats Eriksson said the reported attacks had happened while the artists were on stage.

He added: “It is difficult to identify the perpetrators because there are so many people in a small area.

“Many [girls] say they have experienced an assault, but have no idea of who did it.”

The assaults come after the We are Stockholm music festival has been heavily criticised for covering up a series of sex attacks during last years arrangement.

It only came to light after the Cologne assaults in Germany on New Years Eve, the event’s management was slammed for not informing the public about girls as young as 12 being attacked by migrant youths.

Sweden has been hit by a series of shocking attacks this summer and young girls have now turned on the police after they urged the teenagers to wear bracelets telling men “not to grope”.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Photo of the Day: Priorities

The Long Reach of al-Baghdadi

The story comes from The Jerusalem Post.

Islamic State takes responsibility for Moscow attack

MOSCOW - Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on a traffic police post outside Moscow on Wednesday in which both attackers were killed, calling it revenge for Russia's aerial bombing campaign in Syria.

The militant group made the claim via the Amaq news agency, which it regularly uses to issue statements, and released a video in which the purported attackers said they wanted to take revenge for Russia killing Muslims in the Middle East.

Russia has been bombing militants in Syria since September last year, part of a military campaign in support of President Bashar Assad.

Islamic State called on its members to carry out jihad or holy war in Russia in a YouTube video last month, after which the Kremlin said such threats would not affect its fight against international terrorism.

"We have taken the path of jihad on the orders of our Amir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi," one of the purported attackers said on the video released by Amaq, speaking in a mix of Arabic and Russian.

The video named the attackers as Uthman Mardalov and Salim Israilov.

"We have called this operation 'revenge operation.' Revenge for you bombing our brothers, because you kill our brothers every day in Syria and Iraq. ... This will be the start of everything that will come to you."

Russian investigators said on Wednesday that two unidentified people armed with a firearm and two axes had attacked a traffic police post outside Moscow.

One of them was shot dead while attacking the post, while the other was killed when he tried to put up armed resistance, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Two police officers were wounded in the attack, one seriously.