Changing landscape: Jihad in Mali

Flag of Mali

Flag of Mali (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Katherine Zimmerman,Dominic Lisanti | Critical Threats Project

On Tuesday, two Americans were arrested on terrorism charges. An FBI affidavit accuses the pair of planning to “travel from the United States to Mauritania intending to prepare to wage violent jihad.” Mauritania, their travel destination, was not the final destination. Instead, Randy (Rasheed) Wilson and Mohammed Abdul Rahman Abukhdair planned to cross the desert into northern Mali, now largely controlled by militant Islamist groups.

Wilson and Abukhdair met online between February and November 2010. Both were already exploring opportunities to take up jihad abroad. Wilson had been the roommate of Omar Hammami, who left for Somalia in 2006 and is currently a member of al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate there. He had discussed following Hammami to Somalia with another friend, but ultimately, they never acted on it. Abukhdair moved to Cairo, Egypt in February 2007 and then to Alexandria in February 2010. Egyptian authorities arrested him in November 2010 on suspicions of being active in a terrorist group and he was deported to the U.S. in January 2011. By late October 2011, Abukhdair had moved in with Wilson’s family in Mobile, Alabama, and the two men had already begun talking about where to go fight jihad.

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Al Qaeda in Yemen: Countering the Threat from the Arabian Peninsula | Critical Threats

Al Qaeda’s affiliates seized on the opportunities presented during the Arab Spring across northern Africa and the Middle East to gain and consolidate safe havens. These groups continue to pose significant threats to the United States and its interests despite the killing of Osama bin Laden and senior al Qaeda leaders. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, has dramatically increased its strength since 2009, while the Yemeni government, America’s counter-terrorism partner, is weaker. AQAP’s launch of a territorial offensive in 2011 through a new insurgent arm directly challenged the Yemeni state and has supported the terrorist network. The American strategy to counter AQAP has relied on its partner in Yemen to reduce AQAP’s safe havens and on direct action operations to manage AQAP’s immediate threat to the United States. There are indications that Yemen may not be able to counter AQAP’s insurgency, and will therefore not be able to reduce AQAP’s safe havens. The United States will need to incorporate this possibility into its counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen.

Al Qaeda in Yemen: Countering the Threat from the Arabian Peninsula | Critical Threats.

Terrorism Tradecraft | Stratfor

Before an attack can be planned, an aspiring terrorist group must be organized, funded and trained. Would-be terrorists in Libya, Yemen or Pakistan’s North Waziristan agency can achieve these things relatively easily. However, aspiring terrorists in New York, London and Paris encounter more difficulty. The recent arrests of such terrorists in the West, most recently the Sept. 15 arrest of a would-be jihadist in Chicago, show just how difficult it can be to find like-minded individuals to organize a terrorist cell.

Therefore, operational security is a critical skill that must be mastered to protect the fledgling organization from infiltration by law enforcement or intelligence agencies. Every person brought into the group decreases the group’s operational security. So the very existence of the group must remain hidden, and every new member must be thoroughly vetted to ensure they are not plants. As the organization matures and becomes involved in actual attacks, operational security will continue to be vitally important to the organization’s success and survival.

The Logic and Risks of Capture Operations | Center for a New American Security

Bagram Air Base

Bagram Air Base (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the moment, the United States has nowhere to hold and interrogate newly captured terrorists. America just handed over control of its detention facility at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a significant step toward transferring security operations to Afghans. And while Guantánamo Bay remains home to nearly 170 men that the United States believes are still a threat, no captured terrorist has been transferred there since August 2008. Yet in the past four years, drone strikes and airstrikes targeting Al Qaeda affiliates in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have increased dramatically.


The Logic and Risks of Capture Operations | Center for a New American Security.

Dividing the World into Terrorists and the Rest | The National Interest Blog

Terrorism Timeline

Terrorism Timeline (Photo credit: juggernautco)

The common American tendency to view the outside world in starkly divided Manichean terms between friends, allies and good guys on one side and adversaries and evil-doers on the other side arises in many circumstances but seems especially marked in discussions of terrorism. The tendency is most visible in how the lists that have become mainstays of counterterrorist policy are widely perceived. The U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations had an almost mundane purpose when it was established by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. One of the principal features of that legislation was to criminalize the provision of material support to any foreign terrorist organization. This made necessary clear definitions not only of material support but also of foreign terrorist organizations. Hence the creation of the list, entries on which are determined by the secretary of state with the participation of other executive departments and according to criteria specified in the statute.


Dividing the World into Terrorists and the Rest | The National Interest Blog.

Somalia’s Prisons: The War on Terror’s Latest Front

So now it’s official: United States soldiers have been hunting down al Qaeda affiliates in Somalia. When the White House confirmed earlier this month what has long been an open secret, most of the ensuing chatter focused on the need for greater transparency about the expanding war on terror.

Complete Article :

¿Nigeria es el próximo frente en la guerra contra el terror?

Location of the four cities in north eastern Nigeria where the Boko Haram conflict took place. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

La violencia entre cristianos y musulmanes en Nigeria está llevando al país cada vez más a una guerra religiosa. El instigador de este conflicto es Boko Haram, un movimiento islámico cuyo nombre significa “la educación occidental está prohibida.” Si el gobierno de Nigeria no puede detener este conflicto desde fuera de control, esperar que los Estados Unidos a intervenir – si bien con una mano relativamente ligera – para inclinar la balanza en contra de Boko Haram.

La situación en Nigeria alcanzó un punto crítico el 17 de junio, cuando Boko Haram atacaron tres iglesias en el centro-norte de Nigeria, el estado de Kaduna – matando a 21 personas durante los servicios. Los cristianos se apresuraron a responder, y los enfrentamientos sectarios se encendieron casi de inmediato. Después de cuatro días de disturbios,  al menos 100 nigerianos estaban muertos .

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