AQAP’s claim of Charlie Hebdo attack reflects attempt to reassert Al-Qaeda’s relevance and challenge the Islamic State’s rise

Terrorism & Insurgency
14 January 2015

A still from the AQAP video released on 14 January in which the group claimed responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Source: PA

Key Points

  • AQAP’s attempt to take full credit for the attack on Charlie Hebdo and link the operation to an order by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is a likely bid to reassert the group’s relevance in a time in which the Islamic State’s rise is challenging its global legitimacy.
  • On the ground, co-operation between Europe-based jihadists is not constrained by the ideological or military disagreements of the groups that inspire them.
  • Attacks against soft targets by the Islamic State or AQAP sympathisers and Western returnees from Iraq and Syria are far more likely than attacks against hardened targets. Continue reading

AQAP, ISIS Social Media Claim Both Involved in Paris Attacks

By: Anthony Kimery, Editor-in-Chief 01/11/2015 ( 1:28pm)

The “Bakhsarof Al Yaman” Twitter account @ba_yman, which is associated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and used to post official messages by the jihadi organization on jihadi forums, posted a series of tweets on January 9 taking credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) disclosed.

Meanwhile, in a video filmed before the Paris supermarket attack by Amedy Coulibaly – who was tied to the known jihadi brothers Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo and killed Friday afternoon in a violent shootout with French counterterrorism forces at a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele northeast of Paris — pledged allegiance to ISIS and justified his actions.

The two jihadi groups’ apparent ties to all of the jihadists involved in the Paris attacks raises questions about just how intertwined the two Islamist organizations are. While there’s been considerable punditry about the dislike between the two groups, counterterrorism intelligence officials also have told Homeland Security Today on background that there’s evidence of disturbing ties – including operational ties – between the two jihadi groups, whose goals are the same thing: killing all infidels, apostates and implementing Sharia law.

Similarly, since the Paris attacks, a variety of counterterrorism authorities have opined that with the spotlight having been placed on ISIS, or the Islamic State, Al Qaeda – not wanting to be one-uped — has been forced to show that it’s still a viable jihadi threat with a long reach.

But other seasoned and veteran counterterrorism officials and experts say there is no substantive ideological difference between the two jihadi groups; that they’re both fighting for the same thing: subjugation of all infidels and apostate Muslims and nations and institution of Sharia law.

In November, intelligence emerged indicating Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders agreed to cease in-fighting and join forces to battle their common enemy: the West. Still, some counterterrorism authorities questioned the allegiance. But without reliable human intelligence inside either jihadist group, other counterterrorism intelligence sources said “it’s really difficult to understand what’s going on between them,” as one said. “Without real intel, it’s all talk and supposition.”

Clare Lopez, a former decades-long CIA officer and Islamist expert who is now vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy, said, “While security services must track these various groups responsible for training and launching attacks, it is supremely important that the rest of us focus on the broader issue: global Islamic Jihad.”  Continue reading

Bosnia and the Global Jihad Revisited

English: Kingdom of Bosnia in the XIV century....

English: Kingdom of Bosnia in the XIV century.Category:Maps of the history of Principality of Zeta and Kingdom of Bosnia(XIV th-century) Category:Maps of the history of Bosnia (XIVth-century) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 23, 2014

Back in 2007, my book Unholy Terror ruffled quite a few feathers by pointing out the unpleasant truth that, in the 1990s, Bosnia-Hercegovina became a jihadist playground and a major venue for Al-Qa’ida, thanks to malign Saudi and Iranian influences. This was off-message, to put it mildly, to critics eager to defend failed Western (especially American) policies in the Balkans, as well as the usual coterie of jihad fellow-travelers and Useful Idiots, plus those eager, for personal reasons, not to have anyone look too deeply into where Saudi money goes in Europe.

However, my essential message — that Islamist extremism, though a largely imported phenomenon in Bosnia, has put down local roots and is likely to metastasize further due to that country’s intractable socio-economic problems — has been proven sadly accurate over the last seven years. For years, the debate over Islamism in Bosnia, and Southeastern Europe generally, was divided between security practitioners on one side and academics and journalists on the other, with the former group, which actually understood what was happening on the ground, being concerned about growing radicalism, while the latter bunch was generally happy to avert eyes from obvious signs of trouble, and to hurl accusations of bias and “Islamophobia” at those who pointed out what was happening. Continue reading

Turkey not asking NATO for help with ISIS


NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is seen through a viewfinder as he addresses the media during a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo (not pictured) in Madrid, June 12, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS/Susana Vera)

On June 11, NATO ambassadors gathered in an emergency meeting at Turkey’s request to discuss the rapid expansion of radical Sunni Islamist militants in northern Iraq in which they took control of Mosul and Tikrit. That same day, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an al-Qaeda spin-off group fighting in both Iraq and Syria, seized Turkey’s Mosul consulate, taking the consul general and his 48 staff members hostage. Earlier in the week, ISIS also took 31 Turkish truck drivers hostage.

Summary- Turkey briefed NATO ambassadors regarding the seizure of its Mosul consulate, but it did not ask for any NATO involvement, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to be engaged directly in the hostage negotiations.

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Al Qaeda seizes the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority?

Night View of India-Pakistan Borderlands (NASA...

Night View of India-Pakistan Borderlands (NASA, International Space Station, 08/21/11) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

Mr Prime Minister, development is not just launching mega-projects. Development also means expansion of freedoms and enjoyment of fundamental human rights


The national media was already consumed by agency-fuelled warfare when the breaking news of Altaf Hussain’s arrest by Scotland Yard over money laundering charges further shrank any space for other important social issues. While the finance minister Ishaq Dar was upbeat with economic growth and current account figures, a very retrogressive activity was in operation right under the nose of the government. In a swift and clandestine move the operatives of al Qaeda masquerading as officials of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) banned all social media websites that had been campaigning against extremism and militancy in the country. While we were clamouring for lifting illegal restrictions imposed on a private television channel and condemned attacks on journalists, another draconian move has silenced social media pages belonging to progressive and secular voices. These include ‘Laal’, ‘Roshni’, and many more. Interestingly the websites run by banned outfits still flourish and disseminate hate and militancy under the blissful guardianship of the PTA. Continue reading

The Balkanization of Al Qaeda

The "black flag of jihad" as used by...

The “black flag of jihad” as used by various Islamic terrorist organizations (since the late 1990s) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles E. Berger   February 21, 2014

This month, Al Qaeda officially disenfranchised one of its affiliates, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In fact, ISIS is now in open warfare with al Nusra Front, another Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. These events reveal an Al Qaeda more Balkanized than unified. They also undermine the generally accepted view of a global Al Qaeda network expanding its reach. As opposed to a single organization bound by a common ideology, we should view the Al Qaeda network for what it is: a loose coalition of separate terrorist groups with their own individual causes. Our current strategy to defeat the Al Qaeda network by countering its ideology will likely fail. These other groups will continue on, perhaps under different names, long after Al Qaeda is militarily defeated.

The Obama administration’s 2011 National Strategy for Counterterrorism distanced itself from Bush’s “Global War on Terrorism” by accurately describing terrorism as a tactic, not an enemy. The enemy is now defined as Al Qaeda core (the organization established by Osama Bin Laden now largely located in Pakistan), its affiliates (other groups aligned with Al Qaeda) and its adherents. “Adherents” includes individuals who are inspired to take action based on the ideology of Al Qaeda. Adherents includes any terrorist or group who claims to share Al Qaeda’s ideology, leading to the conclusion the only way to defeat such a networked organization is to destroy this one common link—the ideology. While terrorist organizations can be destroyed and individuals can be imprisoned or killed, it is unlikely that we will ever achieve victory defined as stamping out an objectionable creed.

Terrorist groups are paramilitary organizations and behave as rational actors. Their strategies are directed specific political end states, or “causes.” While a group’s end state and ideology are related, they are not synonymous. For example, Al Qaeda and the Palestinian group Hamas share similar Islamist ideologies, but their end states are completely different. Likewise, the causes of most of the Al Qaeda’s affiliates are regional, differing from Al Qaeda core’s focus on the West. When these groups assume the Al Qaeda moniker, they anticipate a predictable counterterrorism response from the United States; however they do so to attract funds, recruits and media attention. Continue reading

Ankara denies presence of al-Qaeda bases on Turkish soil


According to claims there is a camp for training of Syrian opposition fighters in the western province of Bolu. (Photo: Today’s Zaman, Üsame Arı)

30 January 2014 /ANKARA, TODAY’S ZAMAN

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has denied allegations by Israel’s military intelligence chief that there are al-Qaeda bases in Turkey, calling such claims “groundless.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç dismissed the Israeli claims, saying that Turkey had been subjected to al-Qaeda attacks in the past and is still under threat. Bilgiç also added that as a result of the drawn-out Syrian crisis, some groups sympathetic to the al-Qaeda ideology have found fertile ground in the war-torn country and that those group’s activities also posed a threat to Turkey.

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