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

Germany’s Intelligence Chief Says At Least 550 Germans In IS Ranks

Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...

Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

November 23, 2014

The head of Germany‘s domestic intelligence agency says that some 550 citizens of the country have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Hans-Georg Maassen told the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag” in an interview published on November 23 that the number of Germans fighting alongside IS militants had risen from 450, the number German officials have previously been using.

Maassen said about 60 of those German citizens were killed in fighting, with at least nine killing themselves in suicide attacks.

Maassen said German authorities believe some 180 jihadists have returned after fighting in Syria and Iraq and since Germany is part of the alliance fighting the Islamic State extremist group, the country is “naturally” a target for the militants.

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Isis Propaganda War on the Front Line of Cyberspace

  • By Jarno Limnell  September 15, 2014 09:26 BST

When the White House finally invoked the word “war” on 12 September to describe the new US-led campaign against Isis in Iraq and Syria, the already ominous parallels between 1914 and 2014 grew more resonant still, with the 21st-century wrinkle of cyber conflict adding a particularly destabilizing factor to today’s situation.

Pockmarked by crises – Boko Haram, Gaza, Ukraine and MH17, Ebola, Isis – the unquiet summer just concluded seemed all along to be leading up to something.

In 1914 it took about six weeks after the June assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand for war to erupt between Germany and Austria, the Dual Alliance, and Britain, France, and Russia.

In 2014, similarly, it was only weeks after Isis militants drove hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their homes in Mosul and Tikrit, and isolated the minority Yasidis on Mount Sinjar, that President Obama announced “we will degrade and ultimately destroy” Isis.[1] (The Isis beheading videos, starting with James Foley’s execution posted on the Internet on 19 August, were a political accelerant.)

The danger of another World War I, a violent continent-wide contest for territory and regional influence that leaves mass casualties and redraws maps, is low. Isis will not soon steam into New York Harbor, guns blazing. But, beyond the narrow and classically kinetic “war on Isis” newly defined by the Obama administration, there is a fierce below-radar war in cyberspace for economic and political influence, involving numerous players.

Isis flag

The black flag has become heavily associated with the Isis group(Getty)

With terrible brilliance, Isis, for one, both commits cyber crime and floats cyber propaganda. It boasts both a “backroom” criminal operation, which raises funds, and a front-of-house “daylight” operation devoted to image building.

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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

The development of home-grown jihadist radicalisation in Italy

Lorenzo Vidino. ARI 9/2014 – 14/2/2014

Theme: The Muslim communities and jihadist networks in Italy and Spain present similar characteristics and it is therefore interesting to look at the recent development of home-grown jihadist radicalisation in Italy.[1]

Summary: Over the last three years the demographic and operational features of jihadism in Italy have shown significant shifts. The first generation of foreign-born militants with ties to various jihadist groups outside Europe is still active, although less intensely than in the past. The Italian authorities, however, have increasingly noted forms of home-grown radicalisation similar to those recorded in other West European countries over the past 10 years.

The lag has been caused by a simple demographic factor. As in Spain, large-scale Muslim immigration to Italy began only in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some 20 (in some cases 30 or 40) years later than in economically more developed European countries like France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The first, relatively large, second generation of Italian-born Muslims is therefore coming of age only now, as the sons of the first immigrants are becoming adults in their adoptive country. Of these hundreds of thousands of young men and women, a statistically insignificant yet security-relevant number is embracing radical ideas.


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Kenya’s nervous condition and the war against Al-Shabaab


Al-Shabaab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Written by George Ogola (1)

Walking into any of Nairobi’s shopping malls, hotels and supermarkets today, one is now frisked by anxious security guards with metal detectors. The city appears trapped in a suspended sense of foreboding about a big unknown. It is a city very much on edge. Kenya’s war against Al-Shabaab in Somalia passed its 100th day in January 2012, but very few know when or how it will end. The port city of Kismayu, a main target for the Kenya Defence Force (KDF), remains in Al-Shabaab’s hands. The growing sense of uncertainly over the war, coupled with militant rhetoric by Al-Shabaab about retributive action within Kenya’s territory, is increasingly unsettling nerves in the country. Many are now resigned to the fact that this is a war that will not be won militarily.

Kenya’s military intervention came following the kidnapping of a number of aid workers and foreign nationals within its territory by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in 2011. The military intervention was, however, unusual. Kenya has generally avoided open military confrontation with its neighbours despite the fact that a number of these nations have been characterised by political instability since the 1970s having a significant political, social and economic impact on Kenya. For instance, the country hosts the Dadaab refugee camp, considered the largest refugee camp in the world.(2) The camp has nearly half a million refugees, mainly of Somali origin who have escaped hunger as well as lawlessness and clan wars in their country. Other camps in the country have previously hosted refugees mainly from South Sudan.


Somalia's states, regions and districts

Somalia’s states, regions and districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This paper assesses the implications of Kenya’s involvement in the war against Al-Shabaab. It argues that while the Kenyan Government wanted to make an unambiguous statement of intent about the seriousness of the country’s commitment to protecting its borders, it did not foresee the war evolving into a broader international ideological conflict. The involvement of international jihadists in the conflict has raised the stakes in the war. Kenya must now fight a military and an ideological war. It must also fight Al-Shabaab not only outside the country but within it; a challenging prospect with no end in sight.


‘Statelessness’ in Somalia and the politics of oil in northern Kenya

The continued situation of ‘statelessness’ in Somalia and the increasing militarisation of clanist and religious militia in the country have raised the stakes regarding the Somalia problem. There are fears that the country has become an incubator for international jihadists, which has forced the hand of the United States (US) to intervene, albeit indirectly. The US has offered support for the war in the form of military training and equipment to Kenyan forces. They have also been involved in drone attacks against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.(3) This intervention has had two effects. One, it has animated fundamentalist rhetoric against the ‘invaders’, seen to include the African Union’s (AU) interventionist force, the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), meant to support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Two, the countries involved in protecting the TFG, which include Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia, have also received substantial military support from the US, which has raised regional anxieties.

The latter point, although less talked about, is likely to be the subject of future debate as it is silently reshaping the geopolitics of the region. The countries involved in AMISON have now significantly increased their military spending prompting talk of an arms race in the region. Indeed, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), in 2012 Uganda’s military budget for the first time surpassed Kenya’s despite the fact that the former has a much smaller economy. The country is said to have spent US$ 1.02 billion while Kenya spent US$ 735 million on military hardware in 2012.(4) If this trend continues, it will no doubt encourage a regional arms race as Kenya’s involvement in Somalia now all but legitimises increased military spending.

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The New Islamists

How the most extreme adherents of radical Islam are getting with the times.


The following is an excerpt from the book The Islamists Are Coming: Who They Really Are,  which will be released on April 18 by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The longstanding debate over whether Islam and democracy can coexist has reached a stunning turning point. Since the Arab uprisings began in late 2010, political Islam and democracy have become increasingly interdependent. The debate over whether they are compatible is now virtually obsolete. Neither can now survive without the other.


In Middle Eastern countries undergoing political transitions, the only way for Islamists to maintain their legitimacy is through elections. Their own political culture may still not be democratic, but they are now defined by the new political landscape and forced in turn to redefine themselves — much as the Roman Catholic Churchended up accepting democratic institutions even as its own practices remained oligarchic.

At the same time, democracy will not set down roots in Arab countries in transition without including mainstream Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Ennahda in Tunisia, or Islah in Yemen. The so-called Arab Spring cleared the way for the Islamists. And even if many Islamists do not share the democratic culture of the demonstrators, the Islamists have to take into account the new playing field the demonstrations created.

The debate over Islam and democracy used to be a chicken-and-egg issue: Which came first?  Democracy has certainly not been at the core of Islamist ideology. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has historically been strictly centralized and obedient to a supreme guide, who rules for life. And Islam has certainly not been factored into promotion of secular democracy. Indeed, skeptics long argued that the two forces were even anathema to each other.

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