Monday, February 20, 2017
Just nothing more fun than to see the Saudis and the Iranians at each others' throats.
The story comes from Al Arabiya.
The story comes from Al Arabiya.
Al-Jubeir: Iran is the main sponsor of global terror
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Sunday rejected Iranian calls for dialogue saying Tehran was the main sponsor of terrorism in the world, a destabilizing force in the Middle East and wanted to “destroy us.”
“Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference. “It’s determined to upend the order in Middle East ... (and) until and unless Iran changes its behavior it would be very difficult to deal with a country like this.”
Al-Jubeir said Iran was propping up the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, funding the Houthi separatists in Yemen and violent groups across the region. He said the international community needed to set clear “red lines” to halt Iran's actions.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Osama bin Laden’s files: AQIM commander recommended training Boko Haram’s members
On Jan. 19, the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released 49 documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound. To date, only a few hundred documents from bin Laden’s massive cache have been declassified. Still, the files that have been posted online reveal new details about al Qaeda’s complex international network.
For instance, one newly released missive discusses Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) support for Boko Haram. The letter was written by Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, an AQIM commander who was subsequently killed in Mali in 2013. It was authored in Aug. 2009 and is addressed to AQIM’s emir, Abdelmalek Droukdel (also known as Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud).
Boko Haram’s men sought AQIM’s assistance
“Imam Abubakar Shekau, who assumed power of the Nigeria group after the death of Imam Muhammad Yusuf, sent three brothers to us,” Abou Zeid wrote at the beginning of his letter.
Shekau (seen on the right) is the notorious leader of the organization commonly known as Boko Haram. Yusuf, who was killed in 2009, was Shekau’s immediate predecessor as head of the group.
Abou Zeid identified the “three brothers” as “Abu Muhammad Amir al Masir, Khalid al Barnawi, and Abu Rayhanah,” adding that the trio “previously lived with us in the Tariq Ibn Ziyad Battalion and we know them well and have close ties with them.” The Tariq Ibn Ziyad Battalion has been one of AQIM’s strongest fighting units.
The three “want to have ties between their emir and the emir of AQIM and set up comms via Internet and phone,” Abou Zeid continued. “They want to have an intermediary who is based in Niger” and “request cooperation between us and them and mentioned having a big problem with weapons and money.”
Abou Zeid explained to Droukdel that the trio wanted “to take brothers out of Nigeria and bring them here for training” and “would like to consult regarding waging jihad in Nigeria.”
The jihadis in Nigeria were desperate for “weapons and money,” Abou Zeid explained, and “some of the brothers are despairing” after their last major fight with government forces. He indicated that the three men had only a small supply of arms and were “also having problems with explosives,” including “buying the materials.” Many of their arms had fallen “into enemy hands” or were “broken,” and they had just “1000 detonators” for explosives.
According to Abou Zeid, Shekau’s comrades wanted to “wage guerrilla warfare” in Nigeria, but had suffered serious setbacks. “Right now they are trying to avoid confronting the enemy except through martyrdom operations and IEDs [improvised explosive devices].” The three men told Abou Zeid that “they have been waging jihad, trying to kill the biggest of the criminals, but have achieved nothing so far.” Only once they “have real bases in the mountains or the jungle” could they launch sustained attacks.
Abou Zeid was willing to help rectify the seemingly dire situation. “They have about 200 brothers they want to train here,” the AQIM commander explained to his boss. “They would come here for training and then return to Nigeria and then another group would come.” Abou Zeid elaborated on the training, saying it was “divided into two kinds: practical training, for which we cannot set a time limit, and theoretical training, which is less beneficial.”
It “should be easy to manage” their request for “an intermediary based in Niger,” Abou Zeid noted, “but it needs to be done in complete secrecy.” “[E]xperience has shown,” Abou Zeid noted dryly, that the liaison’s “lifespan will be short.”
“Regarding communications, I told them it will be easy, it happens all the time,” Abou Zeid added.
Despite Boko Haram’s generally weak position in Nigeria at the time, Abou Zeid’s letter hinted at a broader infrastructure from which they could draw new recruits and support. Indeed, after suffering losses in 2009, Boko Haram rebounded to become a major force in Nigeria, with its terror tentacles extending into the surrounding countries.
Abou Zeid “asked about their centers,” by which he meant locations for recruiting and indoctrination. “They have a large center in Borno called Ibn Taymiyah,” he wrote, referring to the mosque named after a medieval jihadi ideologue that served as Boko Haram’s headquarters. “This center has a mosque, a house for the Imam, a university that teaches Shari’ah knowledge, and a library.”
Abou Zeid listed 14 other “centers,” with “about 5,000 students overall.” The “brothers set up these centers” after running into “some problems” at mosques throughout the region. This is likely a reference to local Muslims resisting Boko Haram’s extremist brand of Islam.
Designations confirm AQIM provided training and other support to Boko Haram
“My dear sheikh, we are waiting for your response,” Abou Zeid wrote at the end of his letter to Droukdel. “Please don’t keep them waiting.”
We don’t know if Droukdel responded to this specific missive. If his reply was captured during the bin Laden raid, then it has not been released.
However, we know from other sources that AQIM did train Boko Haram fighters, just as Abou Zeid recommended. And AQIM wasn’t the only al Qaeda branch to support Shekau’s group. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, UN adds Boko Haram to al Qaeda sanctions list.]
In May 2014, the United Nations (UN) added Boko Haram to its terror designation list, noting that the group “has maintained a relationship with” AQIM “for training and material support purposes.” For instance, “Boko Haram gained valuable knowledge on the construction of improvised explosive devices from AQIM.” Interestingly, Abou Zeid’s letter specifically mentioned Boko Haram’s interest in using IEDs in its insurgency. “A number of Boko Haram members also fought alongside Al Qaeda affiliated groups in Mali in 2012 and 2013 before returning to Nigeria with terrorist expertise,” the UN reported.
The Boko Haram-AQIM connection has also been recognized in official US statements, even though the Obama administration initially declined to designate the organization. In 2012, the State Department designated three individual terrorists, including Abubakar Shekau and Khalid al Barnawi. State noted that Barnawi and another jihadi “have ties to Boko Haram and have close links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.”
In June 2013, the State Department offered a $7 million reward for information on Shekau’s whereabouts. Foggy Bottom said that Boko Haram’s relationships with three al Qaeda branches — AQIM, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Shabaab in Somalia — “may strengthen Boko Haram’s capacity to conduct terrorist attacks.” In November of that year, State finally designated Boko Haram, noting its “links to” AQIM. The US government has recognized these ties on other occasions as well.
The question of organizational affiliation
Al Qaeda never recognized Boko Haram as a formal branch of its organization, even though Shekau pursued the issue with bin Laden’s lieutenants. Another letter recovered in bin Laden’s compound, and previously released to the public, included Shekau’s request for closer relations. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Osama Bin Laden’s Files: Boko Haram’s leader wanted to be ‘under one banner’.]
In his undated letter to al Qaeda’s senior leadership, Shekau wrote that he and his men had “listened to…the tapes of al Qaeda and its sheikhs” and wanted “to learn about the system of the organization [al Qaeda] and how it is organized.”
Shekau asked Allah to “bear witness” that “we want to be under one banner and there must be a vision to begin with, because our religion is a religion of vision and knowledge.”
“With your permission,” Shekau concluded his letter, “I ask to speak with Osama bin Laden’s deputy, may Allah protect him, because the group is loyal, which Allah will ask me about on the Day of Judgment.”
We do not know how al Qaeda responded to Shekau’s request “to be under one banner.” Al Qaeda may have determined that Shekau, who is known for his erratic behavior and wanton violence, was an unacceptable choice to serve as its emir in West Africa.
Interestingly, Abou Zeid himself “asked” the three jihadis who worked with Shekau “if they were already an organization or if they wanted to join an organization.” They responded that “the Imam [Shekau] wants to talk about that himself, but he is ill due to wounds he received in the last war.” The passage confirms that Shekau was likely wounded in 2009, when Nigerian authorities cracked down on Boko Haram’s networks. It also appears that Abou Zeid was probing to see if Boko Haram wanted to join AQIM, or directly join al Qaeda, a move that Shekau himself needed to oversee.
Ansaru: AQIM’s allies reject Shekau
One of the three names mentioned in Abou Zeid’s letter — Khalid al Barnawi — is especially noteworthy. Although Barnawi and his two compatriots were allied with Shekau at the time, Barnawi would break away just a few years later. In early 2012, Barnawi and others formed Ansaru, a splinter group that objects to Shekau’s policies, including his indiscriminate use of violence.
Khalid al Barnawi’s and Ansaru’s “close” ties to AQIM have been recognized by the US State Department. And it is possible that AQIM sought to bolster Ansaru’s hand at the expense of Shekau.
In Mar. 2015, Shekau declared his allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and Boko Haram was rebranded as the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA). However, the so-called caliphate quickly rejected Shekau as its chief leader in the region. In Aug. 2016, the Islamic State announced that another jihadist, identified as Abu Musab al Barnawi, had been named wali, or governor, of its West African “province.” [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Jihadists argue over leadership of Islamic State’s West Africa province.]
Ansaru continues to operate independently from both ISWA and Boko Haram. The leadership of all three groups has been repeatedly targeted by Nigerian government forces.
In Apr. 2016, the Nigerian military announced that Khalid al Barnawi had been captured. “Security agents made a breakthrough…in the fight against terrorism by arresting Khalid al Barnawi, the leader of Ansaru terrorist group in Lokoja,” a Nigerian military spokesman said at the time, according to BBC News. “He is among those on top of the list of our wanted terrorists.”
Although it is difficult to judge how many members it has, Ansaru continued to fight on after Barnawi’s capture. And the group has also continued to critique Shekau’s ways.
Earlier this year, the pro-al Qaeda online magazine Al Risalah published an interview with Ansaru’s Sheikh Usama al Ansari. Ansari blasted Shekau and his policies, which have alienated a large segment of the population.
Ansari is clearly concerned with building popular support for the jihadis’ cause, just as al Qaeda leaders are. But Shekau has undermined their strategy. Shekau and his followers “transgressed” by “declaring the entire Muslim population disbelievers” simply because they had not yet adopted the jihadis’ version of monotheism, Ansari complained.
According to Ansari, Shekau labeled most Muslims disbelievers because they sent their children to “government schools” and “participated in democratic elections.” Like al Qaeda, Ansaru denounces these practices, but stops short of saying that these Muslims may be killed because of them.
The “result” of Shekau’s teachings “was an evil outcome,” according to Ansari. Shekau made it “permissible” to raid “the wealth and sanctities of the Muslims” and “initiated a campaign of indiscriminate shedding of Muslim blood.” Ansari also said that under Shekau’s leadership the “targeting of innocent Muslims in their homes and places of work,” as well as at shopping markets, “was to become the norm.”
Indiscriminate attacks at markets and other public venues frequented by Muslims are a violation of al Qaeda’s guidelines for waging jihad. So, Ansari’s criticism is entirely consistent with al Qaeda’s policies.
Ansari added a stunning charge, claiming that Shekau “began killing the best of the mujahidin” and even had his men fire on a car that was transporting Khalid al Barnawi.
Ansaru, Shekau’s Boko Haram and ISWA are now in a three-way fight for control of the jihad in Nigeria. Only Ansaru and its leaders have clearly adopted al Qaeda’s ways.
In his interview with Al Risalah, Ansari praised members of al Qaeda residing in the Arabian Peninsula for “funding” and supporting efforts to revive jihadism in Nigeria during the early 21st Century. He also said that Ansaru consulted with the “Algerian brothers in the Sahara” — a likely reference to AQIM — before announcing the formation of their group in 2012.
“We categorically declare that we are not [Boko Haram], nor are we with their” emir Abubakar Shekau, Ansari said. It remains to be seen if Ansaru can grow into a significant force.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
I'm really torn as to what puts a bigger smile on my face - the absolute crushing defeat of Hillary Clinton or the death of the Blind Sheik - I'll call it a toss up for now.
Rot in Hell, you POS - see? We told you the the 72 virgin thing was a scam.
The story comes from Al Arabiya.
Rot in Hell, you POS - see? We told you the the 72 virgin thing was a scam.
The story comes from Al Arabiya.
Islamic Group’s ‘Blind Sheikh’ Omar Abdel-Rahman dies in US prison
Former leader of Egyptian Islamist militant group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya Omar Abdel-Rahman has died in his US prison after serving more than 20 years for seditious conspiracy to commit murder, his son and daughter have confirmed.
Abdel-Rahman, also known as the Blind Sheik, was serving a life sentence in the United States for his role in masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Reuters news agency reported Abdel-Rahman’s son confirming the death while his daughter Asmaa Abdel-Rahman took to Twitter to announce the news.
The 78-year-old spiritual leader of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Group, was revered within extremist circles in Egypt during the early 1980s. He was charged on suspicion of involvement in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, which he was acquitted of involvement later.
Abdel-Rahman would then travel to the US in 1990 where he preached in Brooklyn and New Jersey mosques, according to federal prosecutors.
He would be convicted five years later on charges of conspiring to “levy a war of urban terrorism against the United States,” including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, which killed six people, and a plan to blow up the United Nations headquarters and other New York landmarks.
If even HALF of this is true, it's reason to celebrate.
The story comes from DAWN.
More than 100 'militants' killed in intelligence-based operations, claims ISPR
The military's media wing on Friday evening claimed to have killed more than 100 suspected militants in intelligence-based operations carried out by security forces across the country, including Punjab, in the past 24 hours.
“The intelligence agencies are making progress to unearth networks behind the recent terrorism incidents,” read a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations.
In its statement, the military claimed that it had found linkages to militant support networks operating from across the border.
“The border has been closed since last night due to security reasons. No cross-border or unauthorised entry will be allowed into Pakistan from Afghanistan,” read the statement.
Security forces have been given special orders to maintain strict vigilance all along the border, it added.
"Army is for security of people of Pakistan against all types of threat. Nation to stay steadfast with full confidence in their security forces. We shall not let the hostile agenda succeed whatever it may cost," the army chief was quoted as saying.
'Testing current policy of cross border restraint'
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday, while talking to US General John Nicholson, said continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan from Afghanistan are testing the current policy of cross border restraint, said a statement from the military’s media wing.
General Bajwa said most of the incidents of terrorism in Pakistan are claimed by terrorist organisations with their leadership hiding in Afghanistan.
“Such terrorist activities and inaction against them are testing our current policy of cross border restraint.”
He asked the commander of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.
During the conversation with Nicholson, Bajwa also informed him of the list of terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier today.
The US general expressed his condolence over the loss of lives in the attack on the Sufi shrine and assured the COAS of full assistance in regards to his concerns.
Nicholson also shared his plans to improve special coordination between the RSM, Afghan security forces and Pakistan, added the ISPR statement.
Security forces unleash bloody nationwide crackdown
“Both the federal and provincial law enforcement authorities and police started a crackdown across the country before dawn, and scores of suspects have been arrested from different cities,” a government official speaking on condition of anonymity had told AFP early on Friday.
He said the sweeping operation will intensify in the coming days.
The Army had launched a search and strike operation in the Shalman area of Khyber Agency near the Pak-Afghan border, using heavy artillery, security sources said. Four alleged terrorists were killed in the Lower Orakzai tehsil of the Orakzai Agency during the operation, the sources said.
Three alleged terrorists were killed during a search and strike operation in the Reggi area of Peshawar. According to officials, weapons and hand-grenades were also recovered from the militants.
Four more were killed in Bannu during an exchange of fire.
Six militants were killed in the Khyber Agency.
A statement from the paramilitary Rangers said at least 18 terrorists had been killed in operations in Sindh overnight, while police officials said seven more had been killed by them.
Two more militants were killed in a gun battle with police on Sariab Road in Quetta.
Formal protests registered through diplomatic channels
Earlier in the day, Afghan diplomats were summoned to General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi by the Army, which lodged a strong protest against the use of Afghan soil by terrorists to carry out attacks in Pakistan.
The Afghan officials were also handed over a list of 76 "most wanted" terrorists by the Pakistan Army, DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had said in a Tweet.
Afghanistan was asked to either take "immediate action" against the named terrorists or hand them over to Pakistan, he said.
Meanwhile, in a telephonic conversation with Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz underlined that the government and the people of Pakistan were in a state of deep anguish and pain at the recent terrorist incidents in various parts of Pakistan, which had resulted in the loss of precious human lives.
Aziz had also told Atmar that the banned terror outfit, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, had accepted responsibility for the acts of terror, and expressed serious concerns that the terrorist outfit continued to operate from its sanctuaries and safe havens in Afghanistan while Pakistan's calls to Afghan officials regarding their existence went unheeded.
Friday, February 17, 2017
That doggone teeny tiny minority of Muslims just keeps killing people day in and day out. Another 52 wiped off the face of the earth in celebration of Mohammed's holiness.
The story comes from DAWN.
The story comes from DAWN.
Baghdad car bomb kills at least 52: officials
A massive car bomb ripped through a used car market in the south of Iraq's capital Thursday, killing more than 50 people in the deadliest such attack this year, security officials said.
The explosion, which sent a thick plume of dark grey smoke billowing into the sky above Bayaa neighbourhood, sowed carnage and caused extensive destruction.
“A terrorist car bomb attack struck near car dealerships in Bayaa,” a spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command said in a statement.
An interior ministry official gave a death toll of 52 and said that more than 50 other people were also wounded. Hospital officials confirmed the figures.
He said the emergency services were struggling to cope with the scope of the attack, which ripped through the busy car market at around 4:15pm (1315 GMT), and warned that the death toll may yet rise.
Security officials could be seen inspecting the site before the sun went down, while some distressed civilians searched for relatives and others took pictures with their mobile phones of the large crater caused by the blast.
“There are so many victims, not just one or two,” said Nasser, a young man wearing blood-stained surgical gloves who was near the site of the explosion and rushed to the scene to help the wounded.
“There was one here, we carried him,” he said, pointing to a spot behind him.
The site of the bombing is an open space used as a second-hand car market where hundreds of private sellers park their vehicles and wait all day to discuss prices with prospective buyers.
Deadliest bombing since Karrada
“Just the cars, you can be sure of that, there's always two or three people standing next to each car,” Nasser said, explaining the high toll.
The explosion occurred in the same neighbourhood where a car bomb blast killed at least four people on Tuesday. At least 11 people were also killed in a suicide car bomb attack claimed by IS on Wednesday on the edge of Sadr City, a northern neighbourhood of the Iraqi capital that has been repeatedly targeted.
Baghdad was rocked by a wave of deadly suicide bombings during the first days of 2017 but relatively few explosions had been reported since then until this week.
Thursday's blast was the deadliest to hit Baghdad since a huge truck bomb attack claimed by IS set two shopping arcades in the Karrada district on fire and killed more than 320 people in July last year.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
The story comes from Al Arabiya.
Russia strikes Syria after ‘Death Over Humiliation’ rebel battle
Russian jets pounded rebel-held areas of the Syrian city of Deraa on Tuesday for a second day in the first such intensive bombing campaign since Moscow's major intervention in Syria more than a year ago, rebels and witnesses said.
Rebel groups on Sunday stormed the heavily-garrisoned Manshiya district in a battle dubbed "Death rather than Humiliation" saying the campaign sought to obstruct any army attempts to capture a strategic border crossing with Jordan.
The army's control of the rebel held crossing and swatches of territory in the southern strip of the city would sever the rebel link between the eastern and west parts of the city.
The Syrian army said the "terrorists" had failed to make gains and its troops had inflicted many casualties.
State media said the armed insurgents showered civilian districts of the southern city with mortars, wrecking many homes.
The opposition fighters are drawn from both moderate Free Syrian Army groups and members of a newly formed alliance - Tahrir al Sham - spearheaded by a faction that was once al-Qaeda's official affiliate.
A rebel source said there were at least 30 Russian sorties on Tuesday, thwarting further rebel gains in the heavily defended enclave that had allowed them so far to secure significant parts of the Manshiya.
"When the regime began to lose control of some areas ... the Russian jets began their operations," said Ibrahim Abdullah, a senior rebel commander.
The fighting also spread across other parts of the city as rebels fired mortars on government controlled parts of the city. Ground-to-ground missiles were also deployed from army barracks to pound rebel held quarters of the city, residents said.
The battles inside the city are the most intense since an alliance of mainstream rebels, known as "The Southern Front" who are backed by Western and Arab foes of President Bashar al Assad launched an unsuccessful large scale military campaign to capture the whole city in 2015.
The province that borders both Israel and Jordan has escaped the devastation wreaked by Russia's aerial bombing of northern Syria after Moscow stepped up its military involvement in Syria in 2015.
The Syrian army has so far failed to recapture the border crossing, a once thriving passenger and commercial gateway with Jordan, despite repeated efforts.
"There is not a single day that passes without the regime trying to make advances," Salamah Aba Zaid, a resident in Deraa said.
At least half of the southern province is in the hands of Free Syrian Army rebels but groups affiliated with ISIS have a foothold in an area to the west of Deraa in the Wadi Yarmouk area near the Golan Heights.
Aid workers said jets hit a Western-funded field hospital in Deraa and raids killed at least seven members of one family in the border area, where many residents fled in the early days of the Syrian conflict.
The Washington-based International Rescue Committee, which supports the hospital that was targeted, said in a statement that four health workers were injured in the attack.