Posted tagged ‘Al Qaeda’

The Bin Laden Files Reveal Growing Terrorist Threat to U.S.

November 5, 2017

The Bin Laden Files Reveal Growing Terrorist Threat to U.S., PJ MediaMichael Ledeen, November 4, 2017

(Please see also, Did Obama Inc. Block Bin Laden Doc Release to Protect Iran Deal? — DM)

It seems clear that our picture of al-Qaeda has been erroneous in the past, and may still be. CIA director Mike Pompeo, whose critical views of Iran are beyond doubt, was not a forceful advocate of releasing the documents. The impetus seems to have come from the president’s office. In any event, we can hope that they will put an end to the very damaging notion that Sunnis and Shi’ites don’t work closely together.

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At long last, most of the files captured when U.S. Special Forces killed al-Qaeda’s leader in May 2011 have been released. Although bits and pieces have dribbled out, they should have been public long since.

The best short discussion of the files is in The Long War Journal, written by Bill Roggio and Tom Joscelyn, my colleagues at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. They, along with Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard, have long advocated the release of the archive.

The files are very important. They provide invaluable insight into the growing terrorist threat to the United States, document AQ operations well beyond the Middle East, and show remarkable patience in the use of media. Bin Laden is gone, but his blueprint for his organization’s long-term strategy remains active.

Why has the intelligence community been so reluctant to release the files? It took so long because a lot of the story they tell is at odds with the official narrative, according to which AQ had been gravely weakened, and bin Laden himself largely marginalized, by the time of the attack. Other files document the details of the oft-denied cooperation between AQ and the Tehran regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Still others document relations with Pakistan and with other governments and regimes in the region.

General Michael Flynn, whose DIA experts had access to the whole archive and had analyzed key parts of it, wrote in a best-selling book I co-authored (“The Field of Fight”) that

When (Obama) and his supporters were assuring the American people that al Qaeda was broken and on the run, we learned that their strength had roughly doubled.

Flynn wrote,

One letter to bin Laden reveals that al Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran.…Others speak of Mumbai-style attacks on European cities….The story of the bin Laden documents is just one of many…

That’s why another top American general has called the bin Laden files “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever,” and why the suppression of the documents is so serious. It will take time for public debate to reveal the full significance of the archive, and some of it remains classified. This massive release will help, but we must not ignore the fact that the CIA did what it could to prevent an informed debate all along.

It seems clear that our picture of al-Qaeda has been erroneous in the past, and may still be. CIA director Mike Pompeo, whose critical views of Iran are beyond doubt, was not a forceful advocate of releasing the documents. The impetus seems to have come from the president’s office. In any event, we can hope that they will put an end to the very damaging notion that Sunnis and Shi’ites don’t work closely together.

Curiously, we were smarter when we knew less. In 1998, when the U.S. government indicted bin Laden and al-Qaeda for the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the indictment said

Al Qaeda forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group, Hezbollah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.

Back then, it wasn’t hard for us to acknowledge that AQ Sunni bombers worked with Shi’te terrorists in Hezbollah and elsewhere in the Iranian regime. Then we got more sophisticated, to our misfortune. Let’s hope the bin Laden documents help our understanding, and eventually help shape a winning strategy.

Al-Qaeda Terrorism and Shakespeare

November 4, 2017

Al-Qaeda Terrorism and Shakespeare, American ThinkerMichael Curtis, November 4, 2017

(Please see also, Can Bin Laden Heir Salvage Jihad in Syria? — DM)

Particularly important is Osama’s account of relations between al-Qaeda and Iran.

They were and are complex, fluctuating relations and loose ties between Sunni Osama and Shiite Iran.  What brought them together was the common hostility to the U.S. and to Saudi Arabia.  Iran supported al-Qaeda’s war against those countries.  Iran offered al-Qaeda “everything they needed,” funds and arms, and the opportunity to train in Hezb’allah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking U.S. interests.  Iran sheltered al-Qaeda people.  Al-Qaeda opposed Saudi Arabia because it was hosting U.S. troops during the Gulf war.  Osama sent a group, the al-Qaeda management committee, to Iran while Iran enabled al-Qaeda to move funds and fighters to south Asia and Syria.

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Cole Porter would have been perplexed by the petition in October 2017 to the English Department at Cambridge University to “decolonize the curriculum,” but he had the foresight to call on people to brush up on your Shakespeare, start quoting him now.  Evidently Osama bin Laden, the epitome of decolonization, who had no use for Broadway anyway, had no quarter for Porter.  The terrorist leader who founded al-Qaeda in 1988, not one of those attired in wonder that know not what to say, implicitly told the world this in his personal diary of 228 pages with his private reflections that have just been made public.

This information is important at a time when the United States and the Western world have been preoccupied with the activities of ISIS, both the caliphate and its adherents, with attacks in New York City and around the world that have overshadowed the once more well known terrorist group al-Qaeda and its leader Osama.

On November 1, 2017, Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA, ordered the release of 470,000 documents captured in the Navy SEALs’ raid on May 2, 2011 on the compound of Osama in Abbottabad, Pakistan, close to the Pakistan Military Academy.  President Barack Obama had held that no more data taken from the compound should be released to the public .

However, Pompeo believes that it is important for reasons of national security to make most of the unclassified documents public, except those that might harm national security or are pornographic or copyrighted.  This is made more important because the U.S. forces in the raid were not able to take everything in the compound, and no doubt Pakistani officials have useful information not available to the U.S.  It is certain that American analysts can gain important insights into the plans and workings of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations from the revealed material.

No doubt the documents will prove a treasure trove with their astonishing array of material.  Some of them, if tantalizing, have little to do with Islamic terrorism or with U.S. security, especially those that are probably for the amusement of younger and other members of the Osama family that contained several of his wives and 23 children and his grandchildren.  In this part of the treasure trove are animated films; episodes of Tom and Jerry; film classics; a video of “Charlie Bit my Finger”; commercials from an Oregon car dealer; home videos with a barn and animals; videos such asThe Three Musketeers; National Geographic films on Peru, the Kremlin, and India; and material on conspiracy theories, the occult, the Illuminati, and even 9/11, for which adherents of al-Qaeda were responsible.

Among the 80,000 audio and image files and the 10,000 video files are statements by Osama, his 228-page personal journal, and jihadist propaganda.  Interestingly, Osama seemed to have liked watching three documentaries on himself and programs on how the West saw him.  One of them was an interview in 2005 of former CIA director James Woolsey of the Iraq war.  The collection includes videos of jihadist beheadings and a video of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi al-Qaeda leader, who was killed in a 2006 U.S. air strike.

It has long been assumed that Osama was radicalized after he joined the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979 fighting the forces of the Soviet Union.  But the personal diary reveals a different picture.  Osama tells of his visit to the U.K. for unstated “treatment” for ten weeks while he was in the 6th grade, aged 13.  He reports that he went every Sunday to visit Shakespeare’s 16th-century house in Stratford-upon-Avon.  He was not impressed, and he realized that British society was very different from his own and was a “morally loose society.”  It was at Stratford, not Afghanistan, that he first concluded that the West is “decadent.”  It is unlikely that he actually saw any one of Shakespeare’s plays, but even if not influenced by Hamlet, he acted as “if from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.”

Though his exact schedule is unknown, Osama experienced further decadence in Britain.  He had the misfortune to take an English language course at Oxford – at least it saved him from the “colonialism” at Cambridge – and is believed to have attended a soccer game at the home of Arsenal, the brutal Great Gunners, at Highbury in north London.

The materials reveal that American administration perceptions of Osama’s supposed unimportance in his last decade were inaccurate.  Osama and his network remained active and conspiratorial, and he was still the central factor in al-Qaeda, remaining in operations communication with his followers around the world.  His cohesive network included al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Shabaab in Somalia, and even the Taliban.

Some of his revelations are relevant to current affairs and U.S. policy.  He discusses the differences between al-Qaeda and ISIS and the factions with strategic, doctrinal, and religious differences within al-Qaeda.  The documents include the videos of Hamza, Osama’s favorite son and potential successor, with footage of his wedding, which apparently took place in Iran.  This son is slated to be the head of al-Qaeda and is a bitter enemy of the U.S.  Indeed, early in 2017, Hamza in a message called on al-Qaeda to attack Jews, Americans, Westerners, and Russians, using whatever weapons they have.  The U.S. has now placed Hamza on its Global Terrorist List.

For U.S. policymakers, it is useful to examine Osama’s thoughts on a variety of issues: the use of Libya after the death of Moammar Gaddafi; the path then and still for jihadists to enter Europe; the turmoil in the Middle East; Yemen, where Osama was plotting to kill the ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh; Bahrain; the protest by schoolchildren in Syria in 2011; the exploitation of the Arab Spring and other uprisings; and what al-Qaeda should do to make use of chaos.

Particularly important is Osama’s account of relations between al-Qaeda and Iran.

They were and are complex, fluctuating relations and loose ties between Sunni Osama and Shiite Iran.  What brought them together was the common hostility to the U.S. and to Saudi Arabia.  Iran supported al-Qaeda’s war against those countries.  Iran offered al-Qaeda “everything they needed,” funds and arms, and the opportunity to train in Hezb’allah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking U.S. interests.  Iran sheltered al-Qaeda people.  Al-Qaeda opposed Saudi Arabia because it was hosting U.S. troops during the Gulf war.  Osama sent a group, the al-Qaeda management committee, to Iran while Iran enabled al-Qaeda to move funds and fighters to south Asia and Syria.

Lastly, Osama’s relations with Pakistan.  It is now clear that Pakistani authorities helped to hide him from the CIA for almost a decade.  This is clear from the fact that Osama used cell phones and computer hard drives, among other implements.

There is obviously a great deal of detail to analyze in the 470,000 documents.  What is important in all this for the U.S. and the Western world and Russia is reaffirmation of the need for cooperation to overcome Islamic terrorism.

Can Bin Laden Heir Salvage Jihad in Syria?

October 24, 2017

Can Bin Laden Heir Salvage Jihad in Syria? Investigative Project on Terrorism, Hany Ghoraba, October 24, 2017

Multiple British media outlets have confirmed the younger bin Laden’s presence in Syria. British Special Forces SAS dispatched 40 special forces fighters to hunt him down in Syria, the Daily Mail reported.

British authorities believe that bin Laden’s praise for “lone wolf” attacks in the speech poses a clear and present danger to national security. Britain has endured a series of such “lone wolf” attacks this year.

However, Syrian Democratic Army Brigadier General Ahmed Al Hamadi, the spokesman of northern front, indicated that bin Laden’s presence in Syria remains unconfirmed by his group.

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Out of the ashes left by ISIS’s battlefield defeats, a new al-Qaida branch is trying to stake a claim in Syria. Ansar Al Furqan Fi Bilad Al Sham announced its formation Oct. 9.

It is comprised of jihadists who had been affiliated with other terrorist movements, including ISIS, Jabhat Al Nusra and smaller, lesser-known groups.

Ansar Al Furqan’s charter describes a Sunni Muslim jihadist group that contains uniting “Muhajreen,” or immigrants, referring to foreign fighters and “Ansar,” who are local Syrian jihadists. These are battle hardened terrorists who have been fighting since the early years of the Syrian civil war. As with their jihadist counterparts, Ansar Al Furqan wants to establish an Islamic Caliphate.

The new group is rumored to be led by Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s 28-year-old son. Al-Qaida released a tape by Hamza bin Laden Sept. 14 urging Syrian jihadists to stand their ground against the infidels.

“So do not waver, nor grieve,” he said. “… Weigh your affairs in the scales of the Hereafter, your difficulties will seem trivial to you.”

A week before Ansar Al Furqan’s declaration, al-Qaida leader Ayman Al Zawahiri lashed out against Jabhat Al Nusra leaders in Syria for breaking off from al-Qaida and operating independently. Jabhat Al Nusra leader Abu Mohammed Al Golani announced in July 2016 that his group wanted to merge or ally with only local jihadist groups. Being linked to al-Qaida made the group a target for all the regional and international powers, Al Golani said.

Al Zawahiri condemned Jabhat Al Nusra for breaking its baya, or pledge of allegiance to al-Qaida, and warned the group fighters in Syria of the consequences of breaking their pledge.

“As for us, we believe that the oath of allegiance is a Shari’i undertaking; binding in its nature, its violation forbidden. Our Lord says, ‘O’ you who believe, fulfill your pledges.’ As for us, we shall fulfill our oath; we shall neither wear down nor give in,” he said.

Al Zawahiri’s speech also aimed to restore al-Qaida’s reputation as the leading jihadist group.

Ansar Al Furqan’s nine-page charter was published online. It vows to target infidels and their countries including Russia, the United States, Turkey, and Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime. “Those who ally themselves with the non-believers and enemies of Allah from American and Russian or others then they will be judged similarly to them and they shall not be forgiven and only the sword will be their punishment,” it said.

The charter calls upon the pious to fight Shia Muslims and anyone supporting Americans or Russians, along with Arab leaders with nationalist or democratic agendas. “We denounce to Allah all the factions of heresy and blasphemy of the atheist, communist, democratic and modern political parties and those who ally themselves with the enemies of Allah from the Crusaders, Shia and other and we shall fight them on all fronts,” the charter said.

Fighting Arab leaders who are traditionally of Muslim faith (Lebanon’s president is a Christian) is a priority in the charter, which calls them infidels who are allied with the West. It also calls on Muslims to answer the call for jihad with money and arms. In an attempt to appear more rational than ISIS, however, the al-Qaida affiliated Ansar Al Furqan refrained from labeling all Muslims who don’t follow their path, or who oppose them, as infidels. Only the sinners among them should be punished according to sharia law’s dictates.

The charter also strongly criticized the lack of coordination and counseling between the different jihadist factions in Syria, which has led to their current dire situation.

Bin Laden called upon warring jihadist groups to reunite under one banner to face Islam’s common enemy. “The new world order is fighting you because you are attempting to establish a righteous caliphate, so don’t obey them, you have to disobey the infidels and their allies,” he said. “You should be proud that the United States and Russia consider you as their enemies.”

Ansar Al Furqan’s charter was released a few weeks later, with its pledge of allegiance to al-Qaida. The link between the recording and the group’s declaration cannot be ignored as Syria remains a very important to al-Qaida’s plans. The bin Laden speech was called “The ordeal of al-Sham (Syria) is the ordeal of Islam,” signifying that the group will spare no effort in attempting to turn the tide of war against Assad regime by trying to unite Syrian jihadists under one banner and attract more fighters.

Multiple British media outlets have confirmed the younger bin Laden’s presence in Syria. British Special Forces SAS dispatched 40 special forces fighters to hunt him down in Syria, the Daily Mail reported.

British authorities believe that bin Laden’s praise for “lone wolf” attacks in the speech poses a clear and present danger to national security. Britain has endured a series of such “lone wolf” attacks this year.

However, Syrian Democratic Army Brigadier General Ahmed Al Hamadi, the spokesman of northern front, indicated that bin Laden’s presence in Syria remains unconfirmed by his group.

Al-Qaida’s successor in Syria could become the region’s next menace if it manages to reunite smaller terrorist groups and fleeing fighters from ISIS and Jabhat Al Nusra. That outcome requires the right leadership. Hamza bin Laden’s status as the son of history’s most notorious terrorist mastermind could help. The next few months may show whether the group is another failed terrorist startup, or one that can actually make an impact. Or, the Syrian army and an international coalition may put an end to those ambitions once and for all.

Hany Ghoraba is an Egyptian writer, political and counter-terrorism analyst at Al Ahram Weekly, author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy and a regular contributor to the BBC.

Bin Laden Heir Breathes New Destructive Energy Into Al Qaeda

September 25, 2017

Bin Laden Heir Breathes New Destructive Energy Into Al Qaeda, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, September 25, 2017

Nicknamed the “Crown Prince of Terror,” Osama bin Laden’s favorite son “grew up with a fervor for jihad and a determination to follow in the footsteps of his notorious father,” according to an investigative report by Ali Soufan and published in Newsweek. After bin Laden’s 2011 death, Hamza swore revenge on the U.S. in the name of his father and “those who defended Islam.”

“We will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad in response to your oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression,” he pronounced in a speech.

To be sure, Al Qaeda is not the only group that has quietly strengthened while the world has focused on the Islamic State. Hizballah also continues to be a threat, especially from South America: “The threat is coming from everywhere,” Shaikh wrote. “When Americans talk about the Muslim threat from the Mexican border, it’s not all hyperbole. That laptop ban, for instance, was not based on nonsense: in Somalia, a Shabaab bomber blew himself right … out of the airplane.” But Al-Qaeda, he believes, may pose the biggest danger.

“AQ is playing the Long Game,” he said. “We’re not. That’s our problem.”

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Since the start of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has sworn to destroy ISIS, threatening to be “nasty” and to “annihilate” the terrorist group and its leaders by “bombing the s*** out of them.”

But is he missing the larger threat?

“We need to start preparing for a big comeback by al-Qaeda” former FBI terrorism expert Ali Soufan told PRI earlier this month. The author of Anatomy of Terror: From The Death of Bin Laden To the Rise of the Islamic State, Soufan is one of many who warn of an Al-Qaeda resurgence, likely to take place under Osama bin Laden’s charismatic 28-year-old son, Hamza.

Canadian counterterrorism expert Mubin Shaikh agrees. “The thing that everyone keeps getting wrong about Al Qaeda is because of what AQ’s Al Suri said long ago,” he wrote in a recent e-mail. “Al Qaeda is a system, a methodology, not a group per se.”

Indeed, as ISIS loses territory in Syria and Iraq, Al Qaeda’s influence and power is growing. Some experts have speculated about a potential ISIS-Al Qaeda merger. Others point to the demise of ISIS as a motivation for Al Qaeda operatives to strengthen their recruiting efforts, and as reason for newly-inspired would-be jihadists to turn to Al Qaeda in its place.

An extensive guide to targeting trains for attacks that Al Qaeda published last month may have paved the way to the Sept. 15 London Underground bombing. Now French officials also warn of potential train-based attacks inspired by the Al Qaeda guidebook.

That guide may have marked the beginning of the terror group’s comeback, as Hamza bin Laden is seen as taking on more power in the organization. Nicknamed the “Crown Prince of Terror,” Osama bin Laden’s favorite son “grew up with a fervor for jihad and a determination to follow in the footsteps of his notorious father,” according to an investigative report by Ali Soufan and published in Newsweek. After bin Laden’s 2011 death, Hamza swore revenge on the U.S. in the name of his father and “those who defended Islam.”

“We will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad in response to your oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression,” he pronouncedin a speech.

Hamza, according to Soufan’s extensive biography of the younger bin Laden, has been “groomed to lead” from a young age. But unlike his father, who served as a kind of wise elder figure in inspiring recruits and followers of his jihad, Hamza has a different advantage: his youth, which makes him better suited to attract the kinds of younger jihadists and aspiring jihadists who have been more recently attracted to ISIS. He is, in fact, just two years older than your average jihadi recruit. He “gets” social media. If Al Qaeda has historically been credited for its planning expertise and ISIS for its recruitment, a Hamza bin Laden-led Al Qaeda has the potential to excel at both.

The Al Qaeda he is poised to lead is also different than his father’s organization, having quietly strengthened itself in the shadows while the West focused its energies and intelligence on ISIS. In addition, a Vox report points out, while ISIS has been shrinking in Syria and Iraq, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate, has expanded to become “one of the most effective fighting forces in the Syrian civil war,” in part through its alliances with other anti-Assad groups in the region.

It has proved to be a clever strategy: Al Qaeda can now call on those groups for support as it focuses its sights elsewhere. And while Vox observes that it’s “unclear how interested many of these al-Qaeda affiliates are in attacking America at this particular moment,” the threat of such an attack is undeniable. That the group is already publishing manuals encouraging train derailments in Western countries and other maneuvers – even noting that such attacks will not end in “martyrdom” – indicates that it is turning its focus back in our direction.

Hamza has also called for Muslims worldwide to “join arms” against the Western crusaders. In an undated video cited by Al Arabiya, the young bin Laden declared that, “In order for the people of Syria to resist the Crusader, Shiite and international aggression, Muslims – all Muslims – must stand with them, support them and give them victory.”

It is this kind of rhetoric that Shaikh believes is working in Al Qaeda’s favor. Unlike ISIS, he says, “they did not go all barbaric Sharia Law on people, because they realized the problems they would face in brand management, and that this was the problem IS faced. They are working to win hearts and minds in Syria, and they are succeeding.”

Not everyone agrees, however. “Hamza’s messages have barely registered in jihadi and Islamist spheres,” argues Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Public Policy, and “senior jihadis in Syria have dismissed Hamza’s leadership prospects.” Nor does Hassan see much chance of collaboration with ISIS. Nonetheless, he notes, Al Qaeda appears to be trying ” to position itself as the true heir of bin Ladenism and the unrivaled leader of global jihad.”

To be sure, Al Qaeda is not the only group that has quietly strengthened while the world has focused on the Islamic State. Hizballah also continues to be a threat, especially from South America: “The threat is coming from everywhere,” Shaikh wrote. “When Americans talk about the Muslim threat from the Mexican border, it’s not all hyperbole. That laptop ban, for instance, was not based on nonsense: in Somalia, a Shabaab bomber blew himself right … out of the airplane.” But Al-Qaeda, he believes, may pose the biggest danger.

“AQ is playing the Long Game,” he said. “We’re not. That’s our problem.”

Al-Qaeda Targets D.C. to Boston Line, Hazmat Cargo Trains in DIY Derailment Guide

August 15, 2017

Al-Qaeda Targets D.C. to Boston Line, Hazmat Cargo Trains in DIY Derailment Guide, PJ MediaBridget Johnson, August 14, 2017

Amtrak K-9 unit officer Michael Szczawinski and Billy perform a routine patrol along a platform before Amtrak’s Acela train leaves bound for Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2008, at South Station in Boston. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)

The latest issue of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language Inspire magazine names Amtrak’s D.C. to Boston Acela Express and several other passenger rail lines in the United States as prime targets for their new focus on train derailment operations that the group says has been more than a year in the planning stages.

Inspire, which contains vivid picture instructions on how to build devices used for jihad, has served as an instructional guide for American jihadists who don’t necessarily claim allegiance to al-Qaeda, including Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The article focuses on metro trains operating within cities, regional routes serving population-dense corridors, and long-distance trains with remote tracks that are impossible to fully police. Trains can be attacked by targeting the cars, the stations or the tracks; the article focuses on the last, stressing that the method makes suicide operations unnecessary and the same person can return to strike more lines if not captured, once again this is why it is recommended to have a
one sure hgv insurance covering you.

“America’s railroads are estimated to be a 1/3 of the world’s railway. So how can they protect 240,000 km of railroad … it is practically impossible. The same goes to Britain, with 18,500 km and France, with 29,473 km. It is a daunting and almost impossible task to protect the long railroad length, and yet one of the easiest to target. That may result to great damage and destruction on different levels,” al-Qaeda’s “Lone Jihad Guidance Team” wrote, adding that “it is time that we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their Air transportation.”

“We have to expose more of their vulnerabilities in their security. And when they spend millions of dollars to tackle a vulnerability we should be ready to open a new [front]…  we expect that there will be no effective solution to the security gaps that may be caused by these types of operations that target the train system.”

The magazine includes 17 pages of step-by-step, pictorial instructions to make a “derailment tool” of rebar, reinforced concrete, rubber and sheet metal to clamp onto a track a suggested 10 minutes before a train is scheduled to pass.

The Acela is singled out as a high-speed route that the terror group anticipates would see higher casualties and damage from the use of the derailment tool.

“This is the most suited condition for a successful train derail operation. When a train reaches high speed then it has to be reduced to around 100 km/h. This is because a train at a very high speed is hard to control or manage using brakes. For example America’s high-speed train ‘Acela’ requires a whole mile so that it can come to a halt, this is because of the train’s very high speed. Another reason is that the train losses weight and stability when it is at high speeds,” the article states. “Therefore a Mujahid must be aware of areas where the train increases its speed and places where the train moves at a high speed.”

The Inspire issue details, in photos, the specific types of derailments that jihadists can aim for, including a train coming off the tracks and striking a mountain to “attain the desired result,” striking man-made structures including buildings and bridges, and falling from elevated tracks.

“Dual operations” are also emphasized, in which a train carrying hazardous materials can derail in a populated area — “an issue that makes the different security agencies sleepless.”

“The transportation committee in America drafted a report after the events of 9/11 , in which they mentioned the reality of this breach and how difficult it is to control. They declared that 83 million tons of hazardous materials is annually transported by trains in America. And that these trains pass through major U.S. cities and thousands of small towns which are located across the railroad tracks,” the article continued. “Information concerning the transportation of these hazardous materials can always be found on the public domain; or by observing and surveilling the movements of these Hazmat trains.”

The article includes a map of rail lines from the U.S. Department of Transportation, including Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, BNSF and CSX.

Specific U.S. passenger lines discussed in addition to the Acela Express are the Amtrak Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, the Cardinal from New York to Chicago, the Carolinian from Charlotte to New York City, the City of New Orleans from Louisiana to Chicago, the Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles, the Crescent from New York City to New Orleans, the Empire Builder from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, Calif., the Palmetto from New York City to Savannah, Ga., the Silver Meteor and Silver Star from New York City to Miami, the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles, the Sunset Limited from New Orleans to Los Angeles, and the Texas Eagle running from Chicago to San Antonio to L.A.

Editor Yahya Ibrahim’s note at the beginning of the Inspire issue says the development of the derailment ops was “extensively researched” by the terror group for more than a year before releasing the DIY instructions. Ibrahim said the terror group considers it “to be among the most important issues of the magazine.”

Chief AQAP bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri, a 35-year-old Saudi, wrote an extensive article for the magazine issue on targeting transportation in general and giving lone jihadists “the ability to carry out a large scale operation using these types of small resourced operations.”

“The U.S. laid a fifteen-year plan in which it raised the debt, lowered interest rates and reduced military expenditure, which will continue for many years to come. America today is refreshing its efforts to revive its economy,” he wrote. “And we should continue to focus our efforts against it until the world gets rid of this international system led by America.”

US drone strikes ‘against spirit of ongoing cooperation,’ Pakistani Army chief says

June 15, 2017

US drone strikes ‘against spirit of ongoing cooperation,’ Pakistani Army chief says, Long War Journal, June 15, 2017

Bajwa insists that all the US needs to do is share intelligence, and the Pakistan military will handle the problem on its own. Yet it is well documented that when the US has given intelligence on groups such as the Haqqani Network, Pakistani officials have passed it along to the terrorists.

Pakistan often views many of these strikes as counterproductive because the US is killing leaders from their pet jihadist groups, such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group, and the Mullah Nazir Group. Pakistani government and military officials have denounced strikes that have killed top leaders from these groups, which are known as “good Taliban” because they don’t actively oppose the Pakistani state. The irony is the good Taliban support the “bad Taliban,” which do fight the Pakistani state.

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Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said today that US drone strikes and other unilateral actions “are against spirit of ongoing cooperation” and that any intelligence on terrorist whereabouts should be forwarded to the army for action. Bajwa made the statement despite the fact that Pakistani officials have routinely passed along actionable intelligence to terrorists to help them avoid raids, as well as supposed “counterproductive” drone strikes have historically been effective in killing scores of top tier terrorist leaders.

Bajwa’s view on drone strikes were summarized in an Inter-Services public relations press release that was issued on June 14, just one day after the US killed a Haqqani network leader and two of his deputies in an attack in Pakistan’s northwestern district of Hangu. From the ISPR press release:

COAS [Chief of Army Staff Bajwa] said that unilateral actions like drone strike etc are counterproductive and against spirit of ongoing cooperation and intelligence sharing being diligently undertaken by Pakistan. Pakistan Army is capable of taking effective measure if actionable intelligence is shared. He said that our focus now is to transform our operational achievements in FATA into enduring peace and stability for which early mainstreaming of FATA through reforms is essential and Pakistan Army fully supports all efforts towards that end.

Bajwa’s statement is astounding for many reasons, two of which will be addressed below:

When the US shared “actionable intelligence,” it has been passed along to jihadist leaders

Bajwa insists that all the US needs to do is share intelligence, and the Pakistan military will handle the problem on its own. Yet it is well documented that when the US has given intelligence on groups such as the Haqqani Network, Pakistani officials have passed it along to the terrorists. The Washington Post detailed two such incidents, when, in June 2011, the US passed along information to Pakistani officials on an al Qaeda facility in South Waziristan and a Haqqani Network bomb factory at a girls school in North Waziristan. Unsurprisingly, when Pakistani forces arrived, the two locations were empty.

The US has continued its drone program because the Pakistani military and its intelligence service, the Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate, could not be trusted.

Pakistan’s duplicity when it comes to supporting terrorist organizations in the region is well known. The Afghan Taliban would be a shadow of itself without the support and safe haven provided by the Pakistani government.

“Counterproductive” strikes have killed far more top tier leaders in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan than the Pakistani military

US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed more than 120 top tier jihadist leaders and operatives in the 396 recorded strikes in Pakistan since the program began in 2004. The jihadists killed come from a host of groups, including al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban its subgroup, the Haqqani Network, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Turkistan Islamic Party, Hizb Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhagvi, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group, and the Mullah Nazir Group (FDD’s Long War Journal maintains a list, here).

Pakistan often views many of these strikes as counterproductive because the US is killing leaders from their pet jihadist groups, such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group, and the Mullah Nazir Group. Pakistani government and military officials have denounced strikes that have killed top leaders from these groups, which are known as “good Taliban” because they don’t actively oppose the Pakistani state. The irony is the good Taliban support the “bad Taliban,” which do fight the Pakistani state.

Oddly enough, Pakistani officials even protest when the US kills members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which has killed tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers in terrorist attacks and during its decade long insurgency in Pakistan’s northwest. Despite the fact that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is a mortal enemy of the state, the Pakistani military has a paltry record in killing top tier leaders of the group. But US drone strikes have taken out key leaders of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, including:

Hakeemullah Mehsud: Baitullah’s successor
Waliur Rehman Mehsud: Hakeemullah’s deputy and head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in South Waziristan
Qari Hussain Mehsud: the head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s suicide operations and director of suicide camps
Wali Mohammed: the head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s suicide operations
Ibn Amin: a Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan military commander in Swat who was also a senior al Qaeda leader

These men were directly responsible for murdering numerous Pakistani civilians and soldiers, and had eluded Pakistani intelligence and military operations for years before they were killed by the US drone program. The killing of these top leaders even led to a schism within the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan for more than a year before the group could reorganize, with divisions that remain to this day.

Pakistani military and government officials have showed their gratitude by condemning most of these strikes.

However, despite Pakistan’s denouncement of the strikes, there is little the nation can do to halt them, short of deploying its air force and shooting down the US aircraft. In the past, the Pakistani government shut down NATO supply lines into Afghanistan in protest of the US raids. However, the US continued to target and kill top level jihadist leaders in cross-border attacks. The number of US drone strikes have decreased drastically from 117 during the peak year of 2010 to just three in 2016 and four so far this year.

Pakistani objections and international criticism have at times caused the US to halt the strikes, but only for a short period of time. Even though the US hates the optics of unilateral strikes on foreign territory without warning, the US has not reduced the number of strikes in 2016 and 2017 because of fear of retribution from Pakistan or international condemnation. Instead, the reduction can be attributed to several things: the US has shifted some resources and assets to other theaters to target al Qaeda in Somalia and Yemen, as well as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; and US intelligence incorrectly assessed al Qaeda’s presence in the region as diminished.

US military warns of Shabaab resurgence, strikes ‘command and logistics node’

June 11, 2017

US military warns of Shabaab resurgence, strikes ‘command and logistics node’, Long War Journal, , June 11, 2017

While announcing an airstrike that targeted a Shabaab “command and logistics node” in southern Somalia, the US military warned of al Qaeda’s resurgence in the country and said it has “taken advantage of safe haven.” The strike is the first announced by the US military since the Trump administration declared that it would expand operations against al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia.

US Africa Command, or AFRICOM, announced that it targeted a “command and logistics node at a camp located approximately 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu in a stronghold for the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab organization” in an airstrike. AFRCOM assessed that eight Shabaab operatives were killed.

AFRICOM’s worrying assessment of Shabaab’s revival in Somalia is an admission that efforts by the US, African Union, and Somali government to contain and defeat the group over the past several years have failed. The US Department of Defense admitted as much in late March, when it announced that the Trump administration approved “additional precision fires” to target Shabaab throughout Somalia.

The Pentagon’s desire to actively target Shabaab reflects the growing concern that al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa is gaining strength despite the presence of both African Union and US forces, and it is plotting to attack the West. Shabaab used a sophisticated laptop bomb in an attempt to down a Somali airliner in 2016. This attack was cited by the US government as one of the reasons that electronics have been banned in the cabins of airplanes departing from 10 airports in the Middle East. [See What’s really behind Trump’s laptop ban.]

Today’s strike is part of an overarching effort to “degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate’s ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America.”

The AFRICOM statement also acknowledged that African Union and Somali forces have suffered significant losses at the hands of Shabaab:

In the last eight months, al-Shabaab has overrun three African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Forward Operating Bases by amassing large numbers of fighters and attacking in overwhelming numbers. Al-Shabaab has also increased its combat capability by seizing heavy weaponry, armored vehicles, explosives, small arms, ammunition, and other miscellaneous supplies during its operations overrunning Burundian National Defense Forces FOB Leego, Ugandan People’s Defense Force FOB Janaale, and Kenyan Defense Force FOB Ceel Ad.

The terror organization has taken advantage of safe haven. The group has cemented its control [sic] southern and central Somalia, they have used this area to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, and to shelter other radical terrorists.

Shabaab has successfully overrun Somali and African Union bases in the past and inflicted a large number of casualties on troops based there. In Jan. 2016, Shabaab fighters assaulted a base in Al Ade in the south and killed at least 100 Kenyan soldiers. In June 2015, Shabaab killed an estimated 60 Ethiopian soldiers in the south. That same month, Shabaab fighters killed more than 50 Burundi soldiers in Leego.

Shabaab has been resurgent in Somalia since losing ground to a combined African Union and Somali offensive in 2011. The jihadist group has slowly but methodically retaken several towns and villages that it lost, including the coastal town of Marka.

However, Shabaab’s efforts have not been confined to southern and central Somalia. Late last week, Shabaab fighters overran a base manned by Puntland forces in northern Somalia. Upwards of 60 troops were killed and Shabaab seized a large number of weapons and vehicles as well as a quantity of ammunition.

Today’s strike is the first reported by the US military against Shabaab since the Department of Defense announced that it would expand military operations. AFRICOM released a statement on April 17 to refute press reports that US forces launched airstrikes in southwestern Somalia.