|Ayman al Zawahiri||Ayman al Zawahiri||Gamaa Islamiya||Africa North||20060214||Link|
|Ayman al Zawahiri||al-Qaeda||Afghanistan-Pak-India||Egyptian||At Large||Second in Command||20051027||Link|
|Al Qaeda in Iraq admits its role in Syrian war|
|DAMASCUS -- Al Qaeda in Iraq confirmed on Tuesday long-held suspicions that Al Nusra Front, a militant group fighting in Syria, is part of its network, an admission likely to sharpen debate on arming rebels.|
"It is time to declare to the Levant and to the world that the Al Nusra Front is simply a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq", ISI's chief Abu Bakr al Baghdadi said in an audio message posted on the Internet, adding that it is fighting for an Islamic state in Syria.
The groups would be combined and called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Baghdadi said, describing Al Nusra front leader Abu Mohammed Al Jawlani as "one of our soldiers".
"We chose Al Jawlani... as well as other fighters to go from Iraq to Syria... We prepared plans and work policies. We gave them money and personnel support," said Baghdadi.
Al Nusra Front is among the most prominent organisations involved in Syria's conflict, which erupted in March 2011 with peaceful protests against President Bashar Al Assad's regime but has evolved into a war that has killed tens of thousands.
The militant group has gained notoriety for its suicide bombings but also won admiration among some insurgents over its reputation as a formidable fighting force leading attacks on Syrian battlefronts. The West has been wary, and in December the United States announced it was labelling Al Nusra Front a "terrorist" organisation because of suspected ties to ISI.
At the time, the US State Department said the creation of Al Nusra was "an attempt by AQI to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes".
According to the US, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq "is in control of both AQI and Al Nusra" and reports on Internet forums used by jihadists indicate hundreds of militants have made the trip from Iraq into Syria to fight Assad's regime. Al Nusra, which announced its creation in a January 2012 video, is a magnet for foreign fighters seeking to take part in the uprising against the Syrian regime.
|Communications with Ayman al Zawahiri highlighted in 'Nasr City cell' case|
|Egyptian prosecutors have uncovered a treasure trove of information in the so-called "Nasr City Cell" case, including correspondence between the terrorist who headed that cell and al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri. The Nasr City cell allegedly plotted various attacks inside Egypt and has connections to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.|
One of the two terrorists who led the Nasr City cell is Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (a.k.a. Abu Ahmad), who served Zawahiri in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in the 1990s.
A computer recovered during a raid
The letters do not deal with the assault in Benghazi. They were written beforehand and summarize Jamal's various nefarious activities, including inside Libya.
|A Major Benghazi Terror Bust Directly Tied To Al Qaeda.|
|The Egyptian government has nabbed a major terrorist tied to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, according to the Wall Street Journal. And that terrorist has direct, longstanding ties to al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri|
The captured terrorist is Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (a.k.a. Abu Ahmed), who served as a senior Egyptian (EIJ) terrorist in the 1990s and was imprisoned for years. The EIJ was headed by Ayman al Zawahiri, who merged the group with 's operation.
After his release from prison in 2011, Kashef established training camps in Egypt and Libya. Some of Kashef's trainees took part in the Benghazi attack, according to multiple reports.
Kashef is the most senior terrorist in connection with the Benghazi attack to date. Importantly, the publicly-available details of his biography show that he has numerous al Qaeda connections.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Kashef "petitioned al Qaeda leader Ayman al to establish a new Qaeda affiliate he called al Qaeda in Egypt" and also received financing from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper, previously reported that Zawahiri gave Jamal the go-ahead to launch terrorist attacks in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere.
On October 24, Egyptian authorities raided an apartment in Nasr City, Cairo, arresting several in the process. One suspected terrorist was killed during the confrontation when one of his bombs detonated, setting the apartment building on fire.
The Nasr City terrorist cell has ties to Kashef, the attack in Benghazi, as well as al Qaeda's operations inside Libya, the Egyptians say.
Days after the Nasr City raid, the Egyptians Sheikh Adel Shehato, an EIJ official who openly declares his adherence to al Qaeda's ideology. Shehato is accused of founding and financing the Nasr City cell. Shehato was reportedly en route to Libya with a large sum of cash.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD previously reported on Kashef and Shehato. It was the Egyptians' investigation of the Nasr City cell with help from American intelligence officials that led to Kashef's arrest.
Shehato was one of several al Qaeda-linked jihadists who helped instigate the Sept. 11 protest in Cairo. The other jihadists who incited protesters in Cairo are part of Kashef's circle, too. Later that same day, attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, killing four Americans.
|Ansar al Sharia Egypt releases founding statement|
|Ansar al Sharia Egypt has published its founding statement online. The group says that "preaching and jihad are two wings that are indispensable to the spread of Islam," according to a translation prepared by the SITE Intelligence Group. And the group outlines sixteen goals with that two-pronged approach in mind. |
In addition to calling for the implementation of sharia law, and the resurrection of the Caliphate, the organization says it will work towards "the liberation of the Muslim lands from foreign invasion" and resist "modern colonialism, especially the Zionist-Crusader colonialism that is led by America and the West."
Ansar al Sharia Egypt also says, according to SITE's translation, that it will support "the mujahideen and their movements and groups in the different lands of the Muslims so as to resist the Zionist-Crusader colonization, and this comes at the head of our priorities."
The founding statement is signed by Ahmed Ashush, a high-profile jihadist who has longstanding ties to al Qaeda. During a recent television appearance, Ashush criticized Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi for not imposing sharia law. Ashush has consistently denounced the democratic process as well.
On Sept. 16, less than a week after the Sept. 11 protest at the US embassy in Cairo, Ashush released a fatwa online calling for the makers of the film "Innocence of Muslims" to be killed. "He who kills them is due the reward given to a mujahid from Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He," Ashush claimed, according to a translation by SITE. "So, hurry, hurry, O Muslim youth in America and Europe, and teach those filthy lowly ones a lesson that all the monkeys and pigs in America and Europe will understand."
BBC Monitoring reported that Ashush's fatwa "was advertised prominently on the main page of the key pro-al Qaeda website Shumukh al Islam, which has promoted the works of Ashush in the past."
After Ashush's fatwa was released, the Associated Press reported that he is an "al Qaeda-linked Egyptian jihadist...who was believed close to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's current No. 1, Ayman al Zawahiri."
|Egypt arrests a number of wanted jihadists in Sinai|
|Over the past few days, Egyptian authorities have reportedly arrested a number of wanted jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula. |
On Wednesday, Egyptian authorities arrested three jihadists, one of whom was reportedly in the possession of an Egyptian military uniform, according to Ma'an News Agency. On Friday, Egyptian officials announced that "a well-known leader in a Jihadist organization," Mohammad Abdullah Abed al Rahman, was arrested on Wednesday. It is unclear if his arrest occurred during a separate raid.
On Thursday, Ahmed Allam el Hefny, a wanted jihadist, was arrested in the town of Sheikh Zuweyid near the city of el-Arish in northern Sinai. El Hefny was wanted in connection with "a June 2011 attack on el-Arish's main police station and a bank," according to the Associated Press. In September, he was convicted in absentia; he will now be retried, however.
The brother of Ahmed el Hefny, Kamal el Hefny, has threatened to kidnap Egyptian policemen and army officers if his brother is not released. In addition, he reportedly "phoned a police station in el-Arish and threatened to bomb administration headquarters."
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have denied Arabic press reports that alleged that 20 jihadists fleeing to Gaza through a border tunnel and in possession of 30 automatic weapons, 3 RPGs, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, and a photo of Osama bin Laden, had been arrested. Officials have also denied that President Mohamed Morsy recently received a list of 7,000 suspected al Qaeda militants in Sinai and that a Palestinian was arrested carrying a handwritten letter from al Qaeda's Ayman al Zawahiri to jihadists in the Sinai.
|Zawahiri says raids on diplomatic facilities were 'defeats' for US|
|In a new audio message addressed to Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, Ayman al Zawahiri cites the raids on US diplomatic facilities in September as evidence of American weakness. |
Shabaab has suffered setbacks in recent months, including the loss of its stronghold in the port city of Kismayo. But in what amounts to a pep talk, Zawahiri says Shabaab's spirits should be buoyed by the supposed losses suffered by America and its allies elsewhere.
"They were defeated in Iraq and they are withdrawing from Afghanistan, and their ambassador in Benghazi was killed and the flags of their embassies were lowered in Cairo and Sana'a, and in their places were raised the flags of tawhid [monotheism] and jihad," Zawahiri says, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"After their consecutive defeats, they are working from behind agents and traitors," Zawahiri continues. "Their awe is lost and their might is gone and they don't dare to carry out a new campaign like their past ones in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Al Qaeda-linked extremists have been tied to the three assaults on US diplomatic facilities Zawahiri mentions.
Press reports have identified several al Qaeda-affiliated parties as being responsible for the Sept. 11 assault on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Members of a local militia named Ansar al Sharia participated in the assault. As first reported by the Daily Beast, members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were in contact with some of the Ansar al Sharia assailants. CNN has reported that members of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) are suspected of taking part in the assault.
Still another al Qaeda-linked network reportedly provided fighters for the Benghazi assault. Terrorists trained in Libyan camps set up by an Egyptian named Muhammad Jamal were among the attackers. According to The Wall Street Journal, Jamal "petitioned" Ayman al Zawahiri to establish a new al Qaeda affiliate and has also received funding from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
|Video reportedly shows key suspect from Benghazi attack|
|One of the main suspects in the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi appeared in a recent video posted online by an Egyptian media organization, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.|
Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (a.k.a. Abu Ahmed) is suspected of training some of the terrorists responsible for the consulate assault, during which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
On Oct. 28, the Al Marsad News Network posted a short interview with Jamal on YouTube.
It is not clear where or when the interview was filmed, but Jamal says he "always came to this place inside a State Security vehicle, and this is the first time" he did not. Jamal does not add much more.
The interviewer concludes by congratulating him, according to SITE's translation. "A thousand congratulations, Sheikh Abu Ahmed, a thousand congratulations, Muhammad Jamal Abu al Kashef. Peace be upon you O Sheikh!"
Jamal's ties to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi were first reported by The Wall Street Journal. US officials cited by the paper said "initial reports" indicated that some of Jamal's fighters took part in the assault. In addition, the paper cited a former US official as saying that intelligence reports "suggest that some of the attackers trained at camps [Jamal] established in the Libyan Desert." Those same camps are being filled with recruits from Egypt and elsewhere. Suicide bombers are also being indoctrinated in the camps.
The Wall Street Journal's sources added that Jamal had "petitioned" Ayman al Zawahiri, "to whom [Jamal] has long ties, for permission to launch an al Qaeda affiliate and has secured financing from al Qaeda's Yemeni wing."
|Zawahiri's Brother Defends Benghazi Suspect|
|Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that fighters "linked to" an Egyptian terrorist named Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad took part in the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Ahmad was freed in 2011, after the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime. The WSJ's account has clearly angered one of Ahmad's friends -- Mohammed al Zawahiri, who helped lead the protest at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo the same day as the attack in Libya. Mohammed al Zawahiri is the younger brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri.|
No one should take Mohammed al Zawahiri at his word. As a commander in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) organization, a core part of the al Qaeda joint venture, he has established a web of nefarious ties that go far beyond his brother. In fact, according to the very same WSJ article Mohammed al Zawahiri objects to, he helped put Ahmad in touch with Ayman al Zawahiri.
"U.S. officials believe [Mohammed al Zawahiri] has helped Mr. Ahmad connect with the al Qaeda chief," the WSJ reported.
The WSJ explains: "Western officials say Mr. Ahmad has petitioned the chief of al Qaeda, to whom he has long ties, for permission to launch an al Qaeda affiliate and has secured financing from al Qaeda's Yemeni wing."
Given that Ahmad's forces are suspected of taking part in the Benghazi attack, which reportedly involved other al Qaeda parties (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar al Sharia, etc.), it would be a mistake to assume that nothing came of Ahmad's petition of Ayman al Zawahiri. Not just anyone receives financing from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as Ahmad reportedly has.
This brings us back to Mohammed al Zawahiri. He denies everything, of course. Mohammed al Zawahiri denies that he has resumed his terrorist career. He also denies having anything to do with the ransacking of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, claiming that he only meant to launch a protest outside the compound's walls.
U.S. intelligence officials, judging by the WSJ account and other reporting, clearly don't believe Mohammed al Zawahiri's denials. So the question becomes, what (if anything) is Morsi's government going to do about him and his ilk?
A source with direct knowledge of Egyptian government talks with jihadists in the Sinai says al-Zawahiri is helping negotiations. The source says al-Zawahiri has the respect of the Islamists and the trust of the new government.
So while U.S. intelligence officials believe that Mohammed al Zawahiri is helping to put terrorists in touch with the head of al Qaeda, the Egyptian government "trust(s)" him to help negotiate with terrorists in the Sinai.
It is safe to say there is a major disconnect here.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
|Al Qaeda Responsible for 4 Attacks on U.S. Embassies in September|
|On and around September 11, 2012, al Qaeda attacked multiple American assets around the world. The attack that has received the most attention is the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. |
But the U.S. consulate in Libya was not the only diplomatic facility assaulted by al Qaeda-affiliated groups in September. Terrorists with ties to al Qaeda's senior leaders, including al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, were involved in at least three other U.S. embassy sieges in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and possibly elsewhere.
|Egyptian jihadist groups: A threat to domestic, regional security?|
"Sometimes violence is the only way to achieve your objectives!" a young Salafist jihadist from Al-Arish told Ahram Online, preferring to remain anonymous.
"Scare tactics are typical of electoral polling. Fears of jihadists in Egypt are exaggerated," said Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a noted and democracy activist. This opinion was echoed by the general advisor to the grand mufti of Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar religious institution, Ibrahim Negm. "I don't think there is a tangible threat in the immediate future, even if Mursi loses." He added: "Though there are of course jihadist elements and pockets."
Voicing the opposite view, Henri Wilkinson, head of intelligence and analysis at the Risk Advisory Group, believes that threat is likely to intensify with time. "I'd say there is genuine potential for this threat to grow and become a much bigger issue than it is now."
The journalist from Al-Arish, a coastal city in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula renowned for its jihadist elements, has befriended many jihadists. He told Ahram Online that such groups do not recognise democracy as a means of change.
"We do not believe in democracy; we do not vote. Democracy is atheism!" confirmed a young Salafist jihadist from Al-Arish who preferred to remain anonymous.
Some nonetheless accepted disqualified presidential candidate Hazem Abu-Ismail as the only "real" candidate, and were distraught by his elimination from the race, staging a sit-in in Al-Arish's Al-Horaya Square.
Observers believe there are two principal jihadist movements in Egypt, both based in Sinai but with countrywide influence: Takfir Wal Hijra and Salafist jihadism, whose adherents are known as Salafist jihadists. Both factions adhere to an extreme Salafist interpretation of Islam, following Al-Qaeda's philosophy and goal of re-establishing an Islamic Caliphate.
But experts believe that Al-Qaeda itself does not exist in Egypt.
"We often don't have a name for jihadist groups, so we put them all under the same 'Al-Qaeda' umbrella to simplify matters," explained Mohamed Kadry Said, a military specialist with the Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.
Takfir Wal Hijra is one of the initial radical Islamist groups founded by Shukri Mustafa to have emerged in Egypt in the 1960s as an offshoot of the . According to the group's radical ideology, even s that do not share its beliefs are infidels.
Most of its followers live in the desert, maintains Sabry. It is believed to have grown smaller following a security crackdown on the heels of the murder of an Islamic scholar and former government minister in 1977. locals claim the group's influence has grown in northern Sinai in the last year, since the revolution, and some allege it is allied to Al-Qaeda.
"I feel they may be planning to do something with Al-Qaeda in the future. Our intelligence is most likely watching them very closely," asserted Said.
Sabry and the Salafist jihadist, however, believe Salafist jihadism poses a bigger threat to national security. "Takfir Wal Hijra are not a threat; they just label atheists; they do not employ violence. We, on the other hand, do!" professed the Salafist jihadist.
Salafist jihadism, as termed by renowned scholar Gilles Kepel, was first identified as a threatening phenomenon in the mid-1990s. Experts claim Salafist jihadists are in the thousands and constitute the largest jihadist force in Egypt, openly embracing violence as a means to reach political goals.
"In order to get freedom, innocent people must die," said the young Salafist jihadist. The young jihadist claimed his movement's following was much larger than experts suggest. "Check out our Facebook page: we have 100,000 likes! In Sinai, we have about 10,000 followers and in Egypt around one million." Experts, nevertheless, deny these figures.
"These jihadist groups are too small and too few in number to represent a real threat," reassured Saber Taalab, director of the Islamic Research Centre in Nasr City.
Notably, some Salafist jihadists were on charges of participating in the Sinai attacks in 2004 and 2005 that killed some 125 people at the Red Sea beach resorts of Sharm Al-Sheikh, Dahab and Taba. No evidence of their involvement in the attacks, however, was ever produced.
The group staged a sit-in last year to demand the release of its members. In response, the current interim government of Kamal El-Ganzouri released them. Many believe this amnesty would not have happened before the revolution.
Salafist jihadists were also accused last year of launching an attack on a in Al-Arish in which five Egyptian security personnel were killed.
When questioned about Salafist jihadism's ideology and goals, the primary issues listed include liberating Paleostine and establishing an Islamic emirate in Sinai, which many believe has been partially realised in some areas.
"We're following Al-Qaeda's strategy for establishing an Islamic Caliphate by 2020 designed by , God rest his soul," said the young jihadist. "The plan predicted the Arab uprisings, out of which an Islamic state will be born."
In the small town of Sheikh Zuweid, located only a few kilometres from , such aspirations appear to be a reality, as slogans dubbing Sinai an "Islamic state" cover the local .
The town was left terrorised last year after a local Sufi shrine was blown up by five jihadists. Locals from Sheikh Zuweid believe that the increase in jihadist extremism is a direct result of state neglect and the collapse of traditional tribal structures.
"The jihadists and groups who declare society apostate have infiltrated the tribes, taken up arms and threatened the structure of social custom," declared Ahmed El-Eiba from the Azazna tribe, an activist from Sinai.
Sheikh Zuweid is known as a hub for exporting weapons to , and Al-Hasna and Nakhl are markets for local weapons where tribes buy and compete.
El-Eiba explained how the Libyan uprising had served to create a vibrant arms market. Weapons are purchased for personal use, or to accumulate an arsenal, such as in Syria or in larger operations that would alter regional security balances.
Islam Qwedar, a young activist from Sinai blamed former security officers in the Mubarak regime for introducing tribes to the lucrative arms trade, which has led to dwindling security. "They were the first to introduce this lucrative trade," he stressed. The rising number of luxury cars in and around Al-Arish reflects the prosperity brought about by this nascent arms trade.
"The security vacuum after the revolution led to the establishment of a black market for weapons from Libya, which was taken over by Bedouin. The situation is beyond control and can only be redressed through security measures adopted by the state," Qweder affirmed.
While the normal arms trade through Sinai tunnels to s in continues, both Qwedar and Mohamed Ibrahim Hamad, the son of a tribal leader in Bir Al-Abd, are preoccupied with the recent influx of weapons from Libya and their effects on national and regional security. "Weapons markets in Egypt are now controlled by groups who are beyond the control of the tribe," said Hamad.
One of the root causes behind the rise of extremism in Sinai, many believe, relates to the state's refusal to recognise Bedouin . A government report in 2010 said a quarter of all Sinai's population of some 600,000 did not carry national ID cards. The Bedouin account for the majority of this number; they are not allowed to own land or serve in the army and do not benefit from local tourism revenue.
"We don't feel like Egyptian citizens," said Sheikh Ahmed Hussein of the Qararsha tribe, one of the biggest in southern Sinai. "The Mubarak regime created this problem; intensified the problem of jihadist groups by not giving the people of Sinai their rights," stated Essam Durbella of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya.
Sensing the urgency of the problem, the El-Ganzouri government has granted amnesty to some and called for the revival of several local development projects, including a railway and canal to supply water to central Sinai.
Another fundamental issue plaguing Bedouin and jihadists in Sinai concerns Israel, as they see themselves as Egypt's first line of defence against Zionist expansion.
Israel is visibly concerned, and is making plans to revise security agreements based on military experts' claims concerning missiles being horded or traded in Sinai -- missiles that they say are more advanced than SAM, Fateh and Grad missiles, which can be used for large-scale operations. Israel's Begin-Sadat Centre has drafted a plan for the partial reoccupation of the border zone and intervention in Sinai, which has been ruled out -- for the time being -- by the right-wing Netanyahu government.
A barrier is also being built along Israel's 266-kilometre (165 mile) border with Sinai in an attempt to ease tensions between Israel and Egypt. Israeli government Mark Regev claimed that the barrier is aimed at preventing illegal border crossings, and may also diminish the likelihood of large-scale security threats from Sinai.
One of Israel's stated fears relates to the possibility of Paleostinian factions in using Sinai as a launch pad for attacks on the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
Experts also believe that the puritanical Islamic ideology sweeping Sinai today poses a grave security threat, not only regionally, but also to Egypt and Paleostinian resistance faction , which itself has been confronting Al-Qaeda-type militancy in . Views on how to tackle the problem vary.
"With the new president and government, security will be restored," affirmed military advisor Kadry Said.
Egypt's new president and government will undoubtedly need to manage this high-priority issue tactfully," Sinai MP Abdullah Abu-Ghama warned.
Rifaat Said of the leftist Tagammu Party speculated: "If [the 's] Mursi becomes president, jihadist elements in society may be pacified, as they might accept Mursi as the best alternative who will apply Islamic Law."
This may not, however, pacify everyone, as the young Salafist jihadist described current Islamist politicians -- including Mursi -- as "liberal."
"The Salafists and the in parliament are liberals with beards who are going to be the next NDP. They will just use Islamic slogans, but will not enforce Islamic Law," he said. "The will work with the SCAF, just like Hamas works with Israeli intelligence!"
Reassuringly, Ibrahim remains adamant -- after considerable personal and academic exposure to Salafist jihadists -- that the jihadist problem in Egypt will be mollified with the coming of the country's next president.
|7 Shabaab leaders added to Rewards for Justice most wanted list|
|The US State department has added seven senior leaders of Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, to the Rewards for Justice list.|
The rewards, which were first reported by Reuters, range from $7 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Shabaab's emir, to $3 million for other senior figures in the terror group.
The top reward, at $7 million, is offered for Ahmed Abdi Aw Mohamed, Shabaab's senior leader and co-founder. Mohamed, better known as Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubayr and Godane, was in direct contact with Osama bin Laden before his death, and brokered Shabaab's official merger with al Qaeda in February.
Rewards of $5 million are being offered for Sheikh Abu Mukhtar Robow, a senior military commander and propagandist; Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud, a military commander and al Qaeda leader; Ibrahim Haji Jama, the co-founder of Shabaab; and Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, a senior financier and military commander.
The US will pay rewards of $3 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Sheikh Hassan "Turki" Abdullahi Hersi (Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi), a military commander and Shabaab's intelligence chief who is closely tied to al Qaeda; and Abdullahi Yare, a senior Shabaab leader.
Zubayr's reward of $7 million puts him at number six on the Rewards for Justice list of wanted terrorists. Only al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri (at $25 million), and al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Du'a, Taliban leader Mullah Omar, Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed, and senior al Qaeda leader Yasin al-Suri (all at $10 million) have a higher bounty.
The reward of $5 million for each of Robow, Mahamoud, Khalaf, and Jama matches the rewards offered for a host of other terrorist leaders, including Pakistani Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud, senior al Qaeda leaders Adnan G. el Shukrijumah and Saif al Adel, Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddun Haqqani, and Islamic Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov.
Today's addition of the seven Shabaab leaders to the Rewards for Justice list is not the first time that the US has targeted the group. Both Godane and Robow were added to the US' list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists back in November 2008. Also added to the list at that time was Issa Osman Issa, a member of al Qaeda's East Africa cell that was responsible for the simultaneous attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salam in 1998. He served as an al Qaeda recruiter and directed attacks in East Africa. And in 2011, the US added Omar Hammami, an American citizen, to the terrorism list for serving as a Shabaab military commander, recruiter, financier, and propagandist, as well as for his ties to al Qaeda.
Additionally, the State Department added Shabaab itself to the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list in February 2008. State said that Shabaab "has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States."
Background on Shabaab leaders added to the Rewards for Justice list
|UPDATE: Al-Libi-- al-Qaida leader targeted in US drone strike that killed 15 in Pakistan|
|Update 12:30 CST (Got 'em) Abu Yahya Al-Libi, a top Al Qaeda operative, was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan, Fox News confirms. |
More on the number two Fred notes below...
"Getting close ... A couple inches higher and you're there!"
A Predator attack over the weekend targeted Abu Yahya al-Libi, a leading al-Qaida operative who was viewed as one of five candidates to succeed Osama bin Laden as leader of the terrorist group when he was killed last year. U.S. officials confirm that he was the target of the Sunday attacks and say they are awaiting word on his status.
May we see the severed head?
In one of three strikes over the weekend, a U.S. drone struck a militant compound early Monday morning in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's northwestern tribal area. Pakistan
It's kind of a knee-jerk reaction they have, especially if they think the Mighty Pakistaini Army is involved.
The Agence France Presse news agency reported that two missiles were fired on the compound in Mir Ali, 15 miles east of Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan, near the Afghan border, in an area considered a hive of Taliban and al-Qaida activity.
Bees, meet Brakleen.
A Pakistani official, who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity, said the victims were mostly foreigners and Urdu-speaking Punjabi Taliban who had gathered with the intention of crossing into Afghanistan to fight with Afghan Taliban fighters against NATO forces.
And then re-crossing back into the safety of Pakistain if things started getting weird.
Reuters, citing reports from the region, said nearly 30 people were killed during the sequence of strikes, including four suspected militants on Saturday, 10 suspected militants on Sunday, and 15 people in the strike in which Abu Yahya was targeted.
People? Maybe "a gory medley of terrorist chiefs and their bodyguards" would be more descriptive.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Monday it "strongly condemns" the US drone strikes, which it described as "illegal attacks" on Pakistani sovereignty.
Doesn't sovereignty imply that you are in control of your kingdom?
The most-recent attack of the weekend was the eighth drone strike in Pakistan since a NATO conference on Afghanistan in Chicago last month. Since taking office in 2009, the Obama administration has carried out nearly 300 drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the majority of them in Pakistan's tribal areas, according to the New America Foundation, which keeps an unofficial count.
The majority of them in Pakistain's tribal areas? Does Pakistain have anything but tribal areas?
If Abu Yahya was indeed killed, it would be another blow to al-Qaida in Pakistan, the so-called al-Qaida Central.
We're out to get your Yahyas.
The Libyan, believed to be 39 years old, is one of the most influential propagandists in al-Qaida and one of its best known
Getting younger and younger, aren't they. Suppose this guy is old enough to have a sixth grade education yet?
Abu Yahya draws much of his credibility from having escaped a U.S. military prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on the night of July 10, 2005. He subsequently appeared in more than 30 videos produced by al Shahab, the al-Qaida media wing, and other militant sites. In December 2009, Pakistani officials erroneously reported he had been killed in a Predator strike, further enhancing his image.
In that part of the world, a video of a guy molesting a goat would enhance his image. Unless the goat had reached the age of majority, of course.
U.S. officials say unlike many al-Qaida propagandists, Abu Yahya also is a seasoned fighter.
Now he's just seasoning, hopefully.
In May 2011, shortly after bin Laden was killed, U.S. officials identified Abu Yahya as one of five potential successors to the slain al-Qaida leaders. The leading candidate, Ayman al Zawahiri, ultimately did succeed bin Laden. If Abu Yahya was killed, he would be the fourth of the five to have been killed in drone strikes.
I'll bet Zawahiri's aids are having a hard time separating him from his chair right now, even while pulling hard on both arms.
Ilyas Kashmiri, al-Qaida's director of external operations, was killed on June 3. Abdul Rahman Atiya, bin Laden's chief of staff, was killed Aug. 22. Both of those attacks took place in northwestern Pakistan. Anwar al Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and an American citizen, was killed in Yemen, also in a drone strike, on Sept. 30.
What did they do, move him over to Yemen and put a target on him so the pattern wouldn't look so obvious?