Archive for category Al Qaeda

Bounties: US Offers Millions In Bounties For Top Al Shabaab Leaders

This is good news, because it puts some attention on Al Shabaab leaders. And you never know, Somali’s might jump all over these bounties and start providing tons of tips about the whereabouts of these guys. Which is great. Although I still think we should be opening up the field when it comes to bounties and in lawless countries like Somalia, bounty hunters or companies should be allowed to do their thing.

If they are willing to take a risk operating there, then they should have every right to qualify for and receive a bounty for capturing these guys. Or at least finding them and turning over that information in return for a bounty. In other words, fire up an offense industry to get these guys.

And along those lines, these pirate groups we are currently going after on the high seas, might just look at these bounties as another way to make a buck. So will we pay pirates, if they submit a tip that leads to the capture of one of these guys? lol If so, that would be pretty funny. –Matt

Rewards for Justice website here.


US offers millions in bounty for top Somali militants
07 June 2012
The United States is offering rewards of up to US$7 million for information leading to the location of seven key leaders of Somalia’s al Shabaab, seeking for the first time to target top echelons of the al Qaeda-linked militant group.
U.S. officials said the rewards, to be announced on the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” website today, opened a new front in the battle against al Shabaab and signaled Washington’s determination to press the fight against terrorism across Africa.
“This is the first time we’ve had key leaders of al Shabaab as part of the Rewards for Justice program,” said Robert Hartung, an assistant director at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which administers the program.
“Every time we add someone to the Rewards for Justice site, that is a signal that the U.S. government is sending that it takes the fight against terrorism very seriously,” Hartung said.

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Al Qaeda: Abbottabad Document Dump–Usama Bin Laden’s Private Letters!

This is quite the document dump. I mean we are getting an excellent view at what was going on with Al Qaeda and it’s leader Usama Bin Laden with this one.

As for the things that have stood out to me, was the disconnect between Bin Laden/AQ central and all of the affiliates. He was really pissed off about how little regard they had for Muslim lives. That to UBL, killing Muslims only hurt the AQ brand, and that because the affiliates were not careful in this regard, that it was extremely damaging. Here is a run down from this West Point publication about Bin Laden’s views on the affiliates.

The Affiliates
Rather than a source of strength, Bin Ladin was burdened by what he viewed as the incompetence of the “affiliates,” including their lack of political acumen to win public support, their media campaigns and their poorly planned operations which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Muslims.

Islamic State of Iraq/Al-Qa`ida in Iraq (ISI/AQI): The documents conclusively demonstrate that the failures of ISI/AQI weighed heavily on Bin Ladin, as he urged other groups not to repeat their mistakes. Adam Gadahn advised that al- Qa`ida should publicly dissociate itself from ISI/AQI.

-Al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP): While routinely described as “the most dangerous” al-Qa`ida affiliate, as of 2010-2011 Bin Ladin seemed to have spent more time worrying about this group than appreciating its contributions. In a strongly worded letter, the leader of AQAP, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was directly warned against pursuing any expansionist plan, such as declaring an Islamic state in Yemen, and was urged to refocus his efforts on attacking the United States, not the Yemeni government or security forces.

-Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP): The TTP seems to have come incredibly close to provoking a direct and public confrontation with al-Qa`ida’s leadership. Its indiscriminate attacks against Muslims caused `Atiyyatullah and Abu Yahya al- Libi to write to TTP leader Hakimullah Mahsud to express their displeasure with the group’s “ideology, methods and behavior.” They also threatened to take public measures “unless we see from you serious and immediate practical and clear steps towards reforming [your ways] and dissociating yourself from these vile mistakes [that violate Islamic Law].”

-Al-Shabab: Bin Ladin appeared to have seen little practical value in formally recognizing the group’s pledge of loyalty (bay`a). His motivations for withholding this recognition were largely pragmatic and reflected his concern over their poor governance and inflexible administration of hudud (deterrent penalties for certain crimes). He also wanted them to focus on “construction and development” and feared that a formal merger with al-Qa`ida would prevent investment and foreign aid in Somalia.?

-Al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Taliban and Jaysh al-Islam: While there is mention of these groups in the documents released to the CTC, these discussions are not substantive enough to inform an understanding of the relationship between al-Qa`ida’s senior leaders and these groups.

But probably the most significant information for me was how Bin Laden viewed the Arab Spring and the war in Afghanistan. It only confirms what has been suspected with AQ, and that they love the Arab Spring and view it as a major opportunity. Although Bin Laden did not like Muslims participating in these political processes because it was a recognition of a secular political process. Meaning he wanted a political process that was non-secular, or a political process that was backed by Islamic traditions and law. To put the ‘Islamic State’ into Egyptian politics–and anything else was ‘half solutions’. Interesting.

Although I still think that what the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has done is significant, and they are certainly changing Egypt and turning back the clock when it comes to relations with Israel and the political process. They will more than likely use the system that they bought into, to change everything slowly but surely. It could backfire, and the people could get real tired of such things if it turns out to be oppressive and jobs are still scarce. They will ‘throw those bums out’ too, or at least you would think. But who knows?….

His ideas on Afghanistan are pretty common sense as well. Focus on the west, minimize Muslim deaths, keep promoting the message of what they want to communicate. And use the Jihad in Afghanistan as a means to fuel revolutions every where else. Although if you see up top about Bin Laden’s views of the Taliban, he was not happy with their performance.  Probably because the Taliban could care less about the AQ brand or jihad, and care more about personal interest and power. That explains why the Taliban continue to kill innocent Muslims in these attacks, with no concern.

Bin Ladin’s Plans ?

One of the 17 documents is a letter dated April 2011 authored by Bin Ladin in response to the “Arab Spring,” which he considered to be a “formidable event” (hadath ha’il) in the modern history of Muslims. This letter reflected his intended strategy of responding to the new political landscape that was emerging in the Middle East and North Africa.

-In the Arab world, Bin Ladin wanted al-Qa`ida to focus its efforts on media outreach and “guidance.” He believed that a media campaign should be launched to incite “people who have not yet revolted and exhort them to rebel against the rulers” (khuruj ‘ala al-hukkam). But he also wanted to invest in guidance, “educating and warning Muslim people from those [who might tempt them to settle for] half solutions,” such as engaging in the secular political process by forming political parties.

-In Afghanistan, Bin Ladin wanted jihadis to continue their fight against the United States. He believed that their efforts weakened the United States, enabling Muslims elsewhere to revolt against their rulers, no longer fearing that the United States would be in a powerful position to support these rulers.

The one analysis that I have seen so far that is interesting to check out is called ‘How To Destroy Al-Qaida, By Usama Bin Laden‘. lol This is Jarret Brachman organizing everything that was said by Bin Laden in these letters, and formulating a plan that would basically hurt or even destroy AQ.

Pretty interesting stuff and check out this link if you want to read all of the various letters. It should be safe for you to read just because they have all been posted by West Point for public consumption on their website. I also recommend heading on over to blogs like Jarret Brachman’s, a maven that focuses on Al Qaeda.

I guess from a strategic point of view, because Al Qaeda does not have unity of effort, they are not able to organize correctly or stick to a single strategy and focus.  That if one group sucks or commits a moral crime–like killing innocent Muslims during attacks, that it hurts the overall image and brand of AQ. That whole isolate your enemy morally, mentally, and physically, while increasing your moral, mental, and physical standing comes to mind, when we talk about an organization’s grand strategy.  And morally, Al Qaeda is having a big problem when they hurt or kill innocent Muslims–which then makes them ‘isolated’ or shunned by Muslims.

So just as long as each affiliate is fragmented and doing their own self serving thing, and the west continues to promote the immoral behavior of each group, then AQ’s brand will further be tarnished. Let’s listen to what Bin Laden was concerned about, and use it to our advantage.

Also, we should be very wary of how the Arab Spring evolves and know that AQ is licking their chops with these revolutions. We should make sure that the people who are fighting for their freedoms know that AQ does not represent freedom. They are one in the same with the very leaders that the people are trying to expel. They do not represent freedom of religion, they do not represent freedom of expression, they do not support your right to free speech, and they will oppress you if they had the chance. Al Qaeda is not progressive or focused on elevating the prosperity of these people. Not only that, but these folks should look hard at what Al Qaeda’s version of Sharia Law really means.

With the Arab Spring, there is certainly a battle for the souls of people whom have had enough of dictators, and are fighting hard for their freedom. I would hate for them to lose all of that and give in to the leadership of oppressive Islamists. –Matt


Emo Usama


Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?
May 03, 2012
Authors: Don Rassler, Gabriel Koehler-Derrick, Liam Collins, Muhammad al-Obaidi, Nelly Lahoud
This report is a study of 17 de-classified documents captured during the Abbottabad raid and released to the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). They consist of electronic letters or draft letters, totaling 175 pages in the original Arabic and 197 pages in the English translation. The earliest is dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011.  These internal al-Qa`ida communications were authored by several  leaders, most prominently Usama bin Ladin.  In contrast to his public statements that focused on the injustice of those he believed to be the “enemies” of Muslims, namely corrupt “apostate” Muslim rulers and their Western “overseers,” the focus of Bin Ladin’s private letters is Muslims’ suffering at the hands of his jihadi “brothers”. He is at pain advising them to abort domestic attacks that cause Muslim civilian casualties and focus on the United States, “our desired goal.” Bin Ladin’s frustration with regional jihadi groups and his seeming inability to exercise control over their actions and public statements is the most compelling story to be told on the basis of the 17 de-classified documents. “Letters from Abbottabad” is an initial exploration and contextualization of 17 documents that will be the grist for future academic debate and discussion.

Read the report and letters here.

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Maritime Security: Documents Reveal Al Qaeda’s Plans For Seizing Cruise Ships And Executing Passengers

Investigative journalist Yassin Musharbash, a reporter with the German newspaper Die Zeit, was the first to report on the documents. One plan: to seize passenger ships. According to Musharbash, the writer “says that we could hijack a passenger ship and use it to pressurize the public.”
Musharbash takes that to mean that the terrorists “would then start executing passengers on those ships and demand the release of particular prisoners.”
The plan would include dressing passengers in orange jump suits, as if they were al Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and then videotaping their execution.

This is the kind of thing I have been harping on in past discussions about armed guards on boats. Pirates are one thing, but terrorists taking down a cruise ship and turning it into a floating propaganda execution machine is quite the other. So what happens when pirates sell Al Qaeda a boat? Or better yet, pirates use this tactic to motivate negotiators and ship owners to pay up. Meaning, they will just hand the boat over to AQ if they refuse to pay up. Quite the incentive huh?

Another thing that needs to be mentioned here is the rules for the use of force being practiced by the shipping industry, and the size and lethality of the force they use. I would think that there would be more incentive to have a higher number of armed guards on a vessel filled with people, versus a vessel that is just a tanker or cargo hauler. But strangely, you see quite the opposite. That cruise liners shun having a robust armed force, just because it makes the passengers ‘uneasy’. It is an game that the cruise liners play, and they are counting on hope and luck that they will not become victims of terrorists on the high seas.

Not only that, but an RUF should be implemented that is able to deal with potential threats that are as far out from the vessel as possible. Meaning use the radio to communicate with them, use flares to get their attention, use drones to fly out and see what they are up to, and do anything you can to determine who these folks are that posturing towards the vessel. It is all about OODA, and the ability to observe and have a sound orientation to process those observations and make good decisions is key.You have to be faster than the enemy with your OODA, you have be wary of an enemy getting inside your decision making cycle, and you must be wary of an enemy using Cheng and Ch’i to gain advantage.

You must have the means to decide if something is a threat, as far away from the boat as possible. Because the closer that vessel gets to your boat, the less time for decision making occurs. The enemy is then able to get inside your OODA loop, and that is not good. They will also use any means necessary to get close, to include wolf in sheep’s clothing or false flag tactics. They can also detonate a bomb if they get close enough, and the USS Cole attack is a great example of this. They could also have individuals already on board, and hijack it that way. Lot’s of ways for these folks to make this happen, and it must be taken seriously.

This is also not new if anyone remembers the hijacking of the Achille Lauro. This should come as no surprise that AQ would want to conduct a similar attack. Now imagine these guys hijacking a large cruise ship with over 6000 passengers? They could execute a prisoner every day and film it for several years. They could rig the whole thing to sink if threatened by hostage rescue folks.  Let’s see, my fuzzy math would say that an attack like this would equate to more deaths than what happened on 9/11.

So with that said, there should be a small private tactical response team on every one of these large cruise ships to protect those thousands of folks. Something akin to what private nuclear plants have. The cruise ships should actually promote the level of security they have and let passengers know that they have a robust security force ready to take on pirates or terrorists. I know I would choose that cruise liner over one that does not have it. –Matt


US Coast Guard escorting a cruise liner.

Documents reveal al Qaeda’s plans for seizing cruise ships, carnage in Europe
By Nic Robertson, Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
May 1, 2012
Editor’s note: This story is based on internal al Qaeda documents, details of which were obtained by CNN. German cryptologists discovered hundreds of documents embedded inside a pornographic movie on a memory disk belonging to a suspected al Qaeda operative arrested in Berlin last year. The German newspaper Die Zeit was the first to report on the documents.
On May 16 last year, a 22-year-old Austrian named Maqsood Lodin was being questioned by police in Berlin. He had recently returned from Pakistan via Budapest, Hungary, and then traveled overland to Germany. His interrogators were surprised to find that hidden in his underpants were a digital storage device and memory cards.
Buried inside them was a pornographic video called “Kick Ass” — and a file marked “Sexy Tanja.”
Several weeks later, after laborious efforts to crack a password and software to make the file almost invisible, German investigators discovered encoded inside the actual video a treasure trove of intelligence — more than 100 al Qaeda documents that included an inside track on some of the terror group’s most audacious plots and a road map for future operations.

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Somalia: Vancouver-based Africa Oil Defies Al Shabab And Drills….With Pathfinder Corporation Protecting

In Somalia, Vancouver-based Africa Oil and partners Red Emperor Resources NL and Range Resources Ltd. hired South African security consultant Pathfinder Corp. to help protect their site. Local patrols are in place, and the regional government is providing added military strength, Hill said. Defenses include heaping dirt in a perimeter, or berm, around the site, to keep intruders out.

In the past I mentioned East Africa and the west’s positioning there in order to tap into oil sources. What is interesting is that more and more companies are willing to risk much in order to get at that oil, and PSC’s are getting some use.

This article in particular talks about a Canadian company trying to do just that in Somalia. From the sounds of it, they have a small private army and built up defenses to protect it. The PSC mentioned that is front and center for the defense of these wells is called Pathfinder Corporation.

I have never heard of Pathfinder Corporation and they are a South African company. They were registered in 1998 and the CEO is Marius Roos. Here is his bio:

Pathfinder is led by Marius Roos (Managing Director) who has a strong military background and currently holds the rank of Colonel in the SA Army Reserve Force. Apart from a distinguished career in the military, he has also qualified himself in various disciplines of security, which he utilised with good effect whilst employed in the private sector. Until recently he held the position of Risk Intelligence Specialist at one of the largest Parastatals in South Africa. In addition to numerous career-enhancing courses, Marius also successfully completed the Senior Managment Program with the University of Pretoria.

The thing about this story is that Al Shabab/Al Qaeda have joined forces recently and have declared that this oil drilling site is a ‘no-go’.

Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a Mogadishu hotel that killed at least 15 last month, rejects the award of oil licenses to Western companies, Reuters said on Feb. 25, citing the group’s Twitter account.
“Western companies must be fully aware that all exploration rights and drilling contracts in N. Eastern Somalia are now permanently nullified,” a Twitter post claiming to be from Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen’s press office said that day. Africa Oil’s contracts are “non-binding,” it said.

So does this mean that Al Shabab (who recently officially teamed up with Al Qaeda) plan on attacking Africa Oil’s operation?  Who knows, and this could get very interesting for the guys working there. If any Pathfinder Corp. contractors would like to come up and speak about this deal, I would love to hear what you got. Good luck over there. –Matt


Vancouver-based Africa Oil defies Al-Qaeda in billion-barrel Somali well drill
By Eduard Gismatullin
March 5, 2012
In a Somali desert that’s home to al-Qaeda-linked militia, Africa Oil Corp. drills inside a fortress of excavated earth dotted with lookout towers and armed guards to satisfy a world thirstier than ever for crude.
The Canadian company is poised to complete the nation’s first oil well in at least 20 years. The prize is the more than 1 billion barrels of oil resources Africa Oil estimates is in the Dharoor Block in Puntland, a semi-autonomous northern region where the central government is battling Islamic extremists.
“Security costs are significant,” Chief Executive Officer Keith Hill said in an interview. Still, there aren’t “many places on Earth we can go onshore with contractors and try to find a possibility for a billion-barrel oil field.”
Oil prices that almost doubled in the past three years have spurred exploration in locations once considered too risky, with Genel Energy Plc, set up by U.K. financier Nathaniel Rothschild and former BP Plc CEO Tony Hayward, acquiring stakes in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP are returning to Libya after leader Muammar Qaddafi was deposed.

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Kenya: The Government Teams Up With PSC’s For Counter-Terrorism Efforts

Kenya’s private security industry is undergoing radical changes triggered by numerous threats arising from terrorism activities in the country. The firms are struggling to meet new demands that seek to align their operations with those of government security agencies. Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the idea is to ensure that security guards complement police and other agencies like the National Security Intelligence Service and the military in the war against terrorism.
Kenya has been on high security alert since October last year when the military entered Somalia in Operation Linda Nchi, to fight Al-Shabaab. “We need these people (private guards) because some of them are very well-trained and professional. But in the end we need an Act to inculcate professionalism across the board,” said Mr Kiraithe.

Below I have posted two articles that discuss the latest efforts that the Kenyan government is taking in order to work with and regulate their PSC industry in order to better prepare them for counter-terror efforts. The reason why this is important to Kenya is that terrorism has increased in their country and it is a threat to their tourism industry. It is also a threat to the population itself, and thanks to their neighbor called Somalia, they have plenty of pirates and jihadists to deal with.

The company mentioned in this first article is called XFOR Security Solutions. It is a UK company and they are teaming up with police officers from Kenya to train other PSC’s in the country.

He said the Security firms can play a big role in bringing security services closer to members of the public.
“We have carried out training in Nairobi where we meet various security heads from different sectors to educate them on various ways to identify and counter terrorism and we hope to extend the training to North Eastern,” said Mr Lincon-Hope.
The training comes a few months after a French woman and a British Couple were kidnapped while on holiday in Kiwayu, a few kilometres north of Lamu.

Tourism is also a big component of Kenya’s economy, and with so many other threats to their economy, it would make sense that they would try to shore up their security services there. From high oil prices to droughts, Kenya is having to take measures to better their economic prospects. So enter the private security market and the current requirements for protecting the resorts and game reserves.

The second article below talks about the government’s regulatory efforts. Notice how there is more of an emphasis on how to create a system of rules and laws that will make PSC’s more of an asset in Kenya’s efforts to counter terror and crime. That is great, and this is how a government should view their PSC’s–as strategic national security assets, and not as a liabilities.

National Private Security Workers Union secretary-general Thomas Alloyce said:
“Once the law is passed, requirements for one to offer private security will be expanded. Guards will undergo training in bomb detection and disposal, VIP protection and counter- terrorism strategies.”
In the draft stage, the Bill faced hurdles over some proposed sections.
For instance, the issuance of firearms to security guards.
“We are safer when we have as many people out there each with qualifications in certain security areas.”

I wish Kenya well with their efforts and we will see how things go. If any readers have anything to add, feel free to comment below. –Matt


Coast police officer Aggrey Adoli with security staff from various hotels along the coastline after they attended an anti-terrorism training organised by XFOR security Solutions-Kenya on February 13, 2012. Photo/LABAN WALLOGA

Police train private security firms’ staff on explosives in war against terrorism
February 13  2012
The fight against terrorism continued to gather momentum after the government teamed up with private security firms to seek a joint solution to the crime.
It is seen as a decisive step by the government to restore confidence to tourists following last year’s two abduction cases in Lamu by Somali bandits.
On Monday, the police department promised to work closely with private security firms in Coast Province, particularly along the 600 kilometre coastline to prevent any further terrorists attacks.
A joint training is being conducted in Mombasa, organised by a British based security private firm, XFOR Security Solution and top police officers.
They are gathered at the Nyali Reef Hotel to coach more than 100 participants from different security firms.
Detecting explosives
The trainees will learn various ways of detecting explosives and how to collect intelligence in their respective work places, especially in hotels and other business premises, such as supermarkets.
The merger comes days after a security firm, Brinks Security based in Mombasa aided in the arrest of a British who was taking pictures near the Central Bank, Mombasa branch and various sensitive premises in Mombasa town.
Speaking while opening the training, Coast Provincial Police boss Aggrey Adoli and provincial Anti-Terrorism department head Elijah Rop said the knowledge will ensure private security firms’ employees are conversant with various explosives which might be a threat to the business they offer security services to.

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Al Qaeda: AQ Raises The Black Banner In Libya

This isn’t cool, and thanks to Didier for sending me the link to this video. If you want a really interesting background and discussion about the black banner that jihadists rally around, check out this post over at Zen Pundit.

What is significant about raising the black banner, is that it is a call to other jihadists to join the fight. Here is a quote from the hadith about the black banner:

If you see the black banners coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice; no power will be able to stop them…

Or some variation of this quote. It is used as a call to arms basically. For more detailed information about black banners and Al Qaeda, there is a book called ‘The Black Banners: The Inside Story Of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda“. I have not read the book yet, and I am sure there are other books that discuss the black banner that you could check out.

What is also interesting is that AQ raised the black banner during the siege of Sirte. So this is not just an isolated case and AQ is definitely intermixed within the ranks of the rebels. If anyone else has sightings of the black banner in Libya, feel free to post that in the comments. –Matt


The black banner flying on a truck during the siege of Sirte.


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