Category Archive 'Ayman al-Zawahiri'
14 Sep 2012

Ambassador Stevens Was Deliberately Targeted by Al-Qaeda

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The British Independent today delivered the inside story on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi and the murder of Ambassador Stevens.

According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted. …

Eight Americans, some from the military, were wounded in the attack which claimed the lives of Mr Stevens, Sean Smith, an information officer, and two US Marines. …

Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.

There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa’ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks. …

According to security sources the consulate had been given a “health check” in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”

Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”

Mr Stevens, it is believed, was left in the building by the rest of the staff after they failed to find him in dense smoke caused by a blaze which had engulfed the building. He was discovered lying unconscious by local people and taken to a hospital, the Benghazi Medical Centre, where, according to a doctor, Ziad Abu Ziad, he died from smoke inhalation.

An eight-strong American rescue team was sent from Tripoli and taken by troops under Captain Fathi al- Obeidi, of the February 17 Brigade, to the secret safe house to extract around 40 US staff. The building then came under fire from heavy weapons. “I don’t know how they found the place to carry out the attack. It was planned, the accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any ordinary revolutionaries,” said Captain Obeidi. “It began to rain down on us, about six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa.”

Libyan reinforcements eventually arrived, and the attack ended. News had arrived of Mr Stevens, and his body was picked up from the hospital and taken back to Tripoli with the other dead and the survivors.

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Mossad-mouthpiece DebkaFile adds a few details.

Debkafile’s counter-terror sources report exclusively that far from being a spontaneous raid by angry Islamists, it was a professionally executed terrorist operation by a professional Al Qaeda assassination team, whose 20 members acted under the orders of their leader Ayman al Zawahri after special training. They were all Libyans, freed last year from prisons where they were serving sentences for terrorism passed during the late Muammar Qaddafi’s rule.

In a video tape released a few hours before the attack, Zawahri called on the faithful to take revenge on the United States for liquidating one of the organization’s top operatives, Libyan-born Abu Yahya al-Libi in June by a US drone in northwestern Pakistan.

Its release was the “go” signal for the hit team to attack the US diplomats in Benghazi. …

The operation is rated by terror experts as the most ambitious outrage al Qaeda has pulled off in the last decade. According to our sources, the gunmen split into two groups of 10 each and struck in two stages:

1. They first fired rockets at the consulate building on the assumption that the ambassador’s bodyguards would grab him, race him out of the building and drive him to a safe place under the protection of the US secret service;

2. The second group was able to identify the getaway vehicle and the ambassador’s armed escort and lay in wait to ambush them. The gunmen then closed in and killed the ambassador and his bodyguards at point blank range.

Debkafile’s intelligence sources report that the investigation launched by US counter-terror and clandestine services is focusing on finding out why no clue was picked up of the coming attack by any intelligence body and how al Qaeda’s preparations for the attack which took place inside Libya went unnoticed by any surveillance authority.

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Eleven years after 9/11, al Qaeda clearly retains the ability to plan and execute international operations striking at American citizens and officials.

The success of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, and the obviously coordinated embassy attacks in Cairo and Yemen, do seem to confirm the validity of complaints from critics of the Obama Administration that the administration’s rush to cash in on the PR results of the success of the raid that killed Osama bin Ladin wasted priceless opportunities to exploit captured intelligence, and leaks from somewhere in the Obama Administration really did do serious harm to American interests.

Now we also learn that, despite specific known threats and with the anniversary date of 9/11 looming, the Obama Administration and its State Department failed to warn Ambassador Stevens and failed to take steps to protect embassies and American diplomatic personnel.

08 May 2011

DEBKAfile: US Demanding Pakistan Intel Purge, Hunting Zawahiri & Mullah Omar in Pakistan

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Mossad’s Internet mouthpiece has posted two intriguing articles offering inside-the-Intelligence-industry perspective on US activities related to Pakistan. Article one contends that the US has notified Pakistan’s government and ISI, Pakistan’s Intelligence Service, that the US knows Pakistani officials have been working with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and is now demanding that Pakistan clean house.

DEBKA is not above lying, but its credibility tends to be better in areas in which no actual interest of its own is at stake, and where it is just showing off its information access.

The Obama administration is presenting the successful Osama bin Laden hit as an epic American solo operation, unparalleled in military and intelligence annals, while leaning hard on Islamabad to sack certain officers of the powerful military intelligence army ISI including its head Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, accusing them of keeping the dead al Qaeda leader hidden for eight years.

The ISI chief is a close confidant of Pakistan’s chief of staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani with whom Washington works closely and so the demand for Pasha’s head is seen as casting aspersions on him too.

American sources reported Saturday, May 7 that five days earlier, just hours after bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a high-ranking US official landed in Islamabad with a demand to bring the ISI officers involved in sheltering the al Qaeda leader to book.

It now appears that the iconic jihadi leader first arrived in Pakistani in 2003 and stayed in the small village of Chak Shah Mohammad near Haripur 40 kilometers north of the Pakistani capital. According Pakistani sources, this information came from questioning the Bin Laden wife found and detained in the Abbottabad villa where he was killed. She said the family stayed in the village two and-a-half years before moving to Abbottabad in 2005.

debkafile’s intelligence sources report that details are slipping out over bin Laden’s secret Pakistani addresses over the years. The ISI used some of those compounds as safe houses for terrorists from other organizations. The Abbottabad villa compound is now revealed as having served as a byway station for terrorists from Pakistan-backed organizations heading for Kashmir, long a violent bone of contention with India.

In summer, however, it had a very different use: High-ranking diplomats and officials of the Pakistani foreign office used it as a holiday villa, attracted by the pleasant climate in this North West Frontier town.

Far from being off the beaten track, the property was therefore in regular use by the authorities in Islamabad. …

Washington is not only cutting Pakistan out of any [credit for Osama’s takedown] but [is] bent on weakening Pakistani military intelligence and, in particular, the officials tied to Osama bin Laden, on the assumption that they are also in touch with other high-profile al Qaeda leaders and may even be harboring them too. The US also presumes them to be in connection with the very Taliban leaders American soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration is vitally interested in weakening the Pakistani factions maintaining those ties and showing Taliban they can no longer be relied on as protection against America’s long arm. The US will ultimately corner Taliban’s leaders, whether by diplomatic engagement or the methods which ended Osama bin Laden’s life.

Pakistan’s take is not just different but increasingly resentful: Its military intelligence insists the bin Laden operation would not have succeeded without close cooperation between the CIA and ISI and the two armies – or some factions thereof – which was maintained at least up until President Obama’s decision to authorize the Abbottabad raid. This view is supported by some Western counterterrorism agencies engaged in the war on al Qaeda.

Pakistani officials suspect the US administration heads is deliberately denying them a measure of credit for the successful mission because, with bin Laden gone, Obama feels confident enough to go straight to the Taliban to negotiate an end to the Afghanistan war and dispense with Pakistan’s good services as intermediaries. With the al Qaeda leader out of the way, he wants to see the back of a Pakistan role in Afghanistan.

debkafile’s counter-terror sources warn that the rising acrimony between Washington and Islamabad may well deter Pakistani intelligence from fingering more wanted al Qaeda figures and their hideouts – or even encourage the ISI to stand aside when Taliban goes for American targets in revenge for bin Laden’s termination.

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Article 2 has the even more interesting account of a new US manhunt underway.

In the wake of the Osama bin Laden operation, the US is sustaining the momentum of the war on terror by sending more Special Forces and drones into Pakistan after his top lieutenant, the Egyptian Ayman al Zawahiri, Taliban leader Mullah Omer and al Qaeda’s chief operations officer, Seif al Adal.

debkafile’s counter-terror sources report that on May 2, the day bin Laden was killed, the Taliban leader and his top staff were thought to be in Karachi, southern Pakistan and the two al Qaeda leaders in the tribal region of North Waziristan. All three are presumed to have since moved on.

US intelligence suspects their whereabouts are known to Pakistan’s Inter-Services-Intelligence agency (ISI).

Our Washington sources report that Saturday night, May 7, President Barack Obama gave the Pakistani government, army and intelligence an ultimatum: Cooperate in the capture of the three wanted men or else we shall pump more American soldiers into Pakistan to take up the pursuit with or without your permission.

US intelligence is convinced that Omer, Zawahiri and al-Adal have joined forces and are plotting a revenge attack on America dramatic enough to outdo the psychological impact of the bin Laden killing.

Al-Adal, whom Iran released in Sept. 2010 and allowed to cross into Pakistan, is rated the most competent and innovative planner of large-scale terrorist attacks.

27 Jan 2010

Former WMD Chief’s Report: Al Qaeda’s WMD Ambitions and Intentions

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Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, currently a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, previously Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy and Chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Department for the CIA, has published a 32-page report, Al Qaeda Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat: Hype or Reality?, which asks the obvious question:

Why hasn’t there been an attack up to now by al Qaeda utilizing WMD?

To date, al Qaeda’s WMD programs may have been disrupted. This is in fact one likely explanation, given a sustained and ferocious counterterrorist response to 9/11 that largely destroyed al Qaeda as the organization that existed before the fateful attack on the US. If so, terrorists must continue to be disrupted and denied a safe haven to reestablish the ability to launch a major strike on the US homeland, or elsewhere in the world. …

Or perhaps, al Qaeda operational planners have failed to acquire the kind of weapons they seek, because they are unwilling to settle for anything other than a large scale attack in the US. …

[I]f Osama bin Ladin and his lieutenants had been interested in employing crude chemical, biological and radiological materials in small scale attacks, there is little doubt they could have done so by now. However, events have shown that the al Qaeda leadership does not choose weapons based on how easy they are to acquire and use. …

An examination of the 9/11 attack sheds light on al Qaeda’s reasoning behind the selection of specific weapons, and how that may apply to the role WMD plays in their thinking. Al Qaeda opted to pursue a highly complex and artfully choreographed plot to strike multiple targets requiring the simultaneous hijacking of several 747 jumbo passenger aircraft, because using airplanes as weapons offered the best means of attacking the targets they intended to destroy. If conventional wisdom on assessing WMD terrorism threats had been applied to considering the likelihood of the 9/11 plot, analysts may well have concluded it never would have happened; at the time, it was simply hard to believe any terrorist group could pull off such an elaborate plot utilizing novel, unpredictable weapons that were so difficult to acquire.

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Mowatt-Larssen presents a detailed 15-year (unclassified) chronology of efforts by al Qaeda to acquire WMD.

Graham Allison summarizes the evidence of that chronology in a forward to the report:

This chronology teaches us four important lessons. First, al Qaeda’s top leadership has demonstrated a sustained commitment to buy, steal or construct WMD. In 1998, Osama bin Laden declared that “acquiring WMD for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty.” In December 2001, bin Laden’s Deputy Ayman Zawahiri stated, “If you have $30 million, go to the black market in the central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist and a lot of dozens of smart briefcase bombs are available.” A few months later, al Qaeda announced its goal to “kill four million Americans.”

Second, al Qaeda was prepared to expend significant resources to cultivate a WMD capability even during the planning phases of 9/11. In the years leading up to September 2001, we see that bin Laden’s organization never lost its focus on WMD, even while coordinating the 9/11 attacks, orchestrating the simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, and successfully striking the U.S. warship (USS Cole) in 2000.

Third, a clear hallmark of al Qaeda’s WMD approach is to pursue parallel paths to procure these deadly materials. Multiple nodes of the network were assigned to different tasks of the overall WMD effort, acting and reporting independently, ensuring that failure in one cell did not jeopardize the entire operation. By taking into account possible operational set-backs and intelligence breaches, al Qaeda has displayed deliberate, shrewd planning to acquire WMD.

Fourth, al Qaeda has taken part in joint development of WMD with other terrorist groups. This collaboration between the most senior members of separate organizations demonstrates that interest in and motivation to possess WMD are not limited to a single group.

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The single most alarming detail must be:

Pakistani humanitarian NGO Umma Tameer e Nau (UTN), which was founded by Pakistani nuclear scientists with close ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban. UTN was headed by Bashiruddin Mahmood, who had been chief of Pakistan’s Khushab plutonium reactor. … Sometime before August 2001, UTN CEO Bashiruddin Mahmood offer[ed] to construct chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs for al Qaeda and Libya, in two separate, discreet approaches. …

Mahmood confesses that he was introduced to al Qaeda seniors in Afghanistan in summer 2001, met with Osama bin Ladin around a campfire, and they discussed how al Qaeda could build a nuclear device. Mahmood drew a very rough sketch of an improvised nuclear device. When Mahmood advised Osama bin Ladin that it would be too hard for his group to undertake a nuclear weapons program and develop the billion dollar infrastructure for weapons-usable materials, bin Ladin queries, “What if I already have it? (the nuclear material)”

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Newsmax

Security Management

02 Aug 2008

Zawahiri Rumored Killed or Wounded

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The original report came from CBS last night.

Ayman al-Zawahiri – the second most powerful leader in al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden’s No. 2 – may be critically wounded and possibly dead, CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan reports exclusively.

CBS News has obtained a copy of an intercepted letter from sources in Pakistan, which urgently requests a doctor to treat al-Zawahiri. He’s believed to be somewhere in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas of Pakistan.

The letter refers to Sheikh Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri by name – and says that he is in “severe pain” and his “injuries are infected.”

It is reportedly written by local Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, whose signature and seal are visible on the letter.

The Taliban logo and the Mehsud’s seal have been confirmed by experts as legitimate.

The letter is dated July 29 – one day after a U.S. air strike that killed al Qaeda weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, and five other Arabs in South Waziristan.

U.S. authorities have said they do not have information that al-Zawahiri was present during Monday’s strike, or that he was injured.

However, a counter-intelligence expert and other U.S. officials confirmed to CBS News that the U.S. is looking into reports that al-Zawahiri is dead.

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Denials of the rumor’s accuracy have since come from a Taliban spokesman, the Pakistani military, and a senior US Counter-Terrorism official.

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Bill Roggio advises taking the report with a grain of salt.

All of these rumors have been based on Pakistani intelligence sources, which makes the allegations suspect. Without confirmation from the US military or intelligence, the reports from Pakistan should be viewed with deep skepticism. …

This week’s report of a strike that resulted in the death of both Zawahiri and Khabab is identical to the reports emanating from Pakistan in January 2006.

06 Jun 2008

More Evidence That Bush is Winning the War

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Violence in Iraq has dropped to pre-Insurgency levels. General Petraeus’s tactics have clearly worked at killing off terrorists on the ground in Iraq, but more is going on. Reinforcement by new jihadis seeking martyrdom has also plummeted, so insurgent casualties are no longer being replaced.

Two recent articles explain how US military success is being supplemented by an ideological counter-offensive within the Islamic World.

Stratfor’s George Friedman explains that Saudi money is being used very actively to purchase peace and the right kind of theology.

At current oil prices, the Saudis are absolutely loaded with cash. In the Arabian Peninsula as elsewhere, money buys friends. In Arabia, the rulers have traditionally bound tribes and sects to them through money. At present, the Saudis can overwhelm theological doubts with very large grants and gifts. The Saudi government did not enjoy 2004 and does not want a repeat. It is therefore carefully strengthening its ties inside Saudi Arabia and throughout the Sunni world using money as a bonding agent. …

With crude prices in the range of $130 a barrel, the Saudis are now making more money on oil than they could have imagined five years ago when the price was below $40 a barrel. The Saudis don’t know how long these prices will last. Endless debates are raging over whether high oil prices are the result of speculation, the policy of the U.S. Federal Reserve, conspiracy by the oil companies and so on. The single fact the Saudis can be certain of is that the price of oil is high, they don’t know how long it will remain high, and they don’t want anything interfering with their amassing vast financial reserves that might have to sustain them in lean times should they come.

In short, the Saudis are trying to reduce the threat of war in the region. War is at this moment the single greatest threat to their interests. In particular, they are afraid of any war that would close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a large portion of the oil they sell flows. The only real threat to the strait is a war between the United States and Iran in which the Iranians countered an American attack or blockade by mining the strait. It is assumed that the United States could readily deal with any Iranian countermove, but the Saudis have watched the Americans in Iraq and they are not impressed. From the Saudi point of view, not having a war is the far better option.

The Saudis are engaged in a massive maneuver to try to pacify the region, if not forever, then for at least as long as oil prices are high. The Saudis are quietly encouraging the Syrian-Israeli peace talks along with the Turks, and one of the reasons for Syrian participation is undoubtedly assurances of Saudi investments in Syria and Lebanon from which Damascus can benefit. The Saudis also are encouraging Israeli-Palestinian talks, and there is, we suspect, Saudi pressure on Hamas to be more cooperative in those talks. The Saudis have no interest in an Israeli-Syrian or Israeli-Hezbollah conflict right now that might destabilize the region.

Finally, the Saudis have had enough of the war in Iraq. They do not want increased Iranian power in Iraq. They do not want to see the Sunnis marginalized. They do not want to see al Qaeda dominating the Iraqi Sunnis. They have influence with the Iraqi Sunnis, and money buys even more. Ever since 2003, with the exception of the Kurdish region, the development of Iraqi oil has been stalled. Iraqis of all factions are aware of how much money they’ve lost because of their civil war. This is a lever that the Saudis can use in encouraging some sort of peace in Iraq.

It is not that Saudi Arabia has become pacifist by any means. Nor are they expecting (or, frankly, interested in) lasting peace. They are interested in assuring sufficient stability over the coming months and years so they can concentrate on making money from oil.

Meanwhile, as Lawrence Wright describes in the New Yorker, the Islamic theologian who wrote the books inspiring al Qaeda’s jihadist movement last year published a new book, “Rationalizing Jihad in Egypt and the World,” featuring a major change of heart.

The premise that opens “Rationalizing Jihad” is “There is nothing that invokes the anger of God and His wrath like the unwarranted spilling of blood and wrecking of property.” Fadl then establishes a new set of rules for jihad, which essentially define most forms of terrorism as illegal under Islamic law and restrict the possibility of holy war to extremely rare circumstances. His argument may seem arcane, even to most Muslims, but to men who had risked their lives in order to carry out what they saw as the authentic precepts of their religion, every word assaulted their world view and brought into question their own chances for salvation.

In order to declare jihad, Fadl writes, certain requirements must be observed. One must have a place of refuge. There should be adequate financial resources to wage the campaign. Fadl castigates Muslims who resort to theft or kidnapping to finance jihad: “There is no such thing in Islam as ends justifying the means.” Family members must be provided for. “There are those who strike and then escape, leaving their families, dependents, and other Muslims to suffer the consequences,” Fadl points out. “This is in no way religion or jihad. It is not manliness.” Finally, the enemy should be properly identified in order to prevent harm to innocents. “Those who have not followed these principles have committed the gravest of sins,” Fadl writes. …

To Muslims living in non-Islamic countries, Fadl sternly writes, “I say it is not honorable to reside with people—even if they were nonbelievers and not part of a treaty, if they gave you permission to enter their homes and live with them, and if they gave you security for yourself and your money, and if they gave you the opportunity to work or study, or they granted you political asylum with a decent life and other acts of kindness—and then betray them, through killing and destruction. This was not in the manners and practices of the Prophet.”

It is to this recent book by Dr. Fadl that Ayman Zawahiri has been responding indignantly in his taped messages.

23 May 2008

Second Wave Attacks Update

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Christopher S. Carson, in Front Page Magazine, supplies background and details on Al Qaeda’s nuclear plot against America.

The latest audio message from al-Qaeda, reportedly from Osama bin Laden himself, is only the most recent confirmation that the jihadist threat to the West remains real and deadly serious. But the fact that it could take the form of nuclear terrorism should be most worrying to citizens and policy makers alike.

Where a nuclear attack once may have been beyond the capacities of stateless terrorists, that is no longer the case. …

‘Jafer the Pilot” is the nom de guerre of U.S. citizen Adnan el-Shukrijumah. Young, intelligent, fluent in multiple languages and a trained jet pilot who had apparently been in flight schools with Mohammed Atta, Shukrijumah had studied and worked with other jihadis at the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor at McMaster University in Canada. But one day all the terrorists disappeared from campus forever.

John Loftus of WABC news reported on November 7, 2003, that in the immediate wake of Shukrijumah and his fellow travelers’ disappearance, 180 pounds of uranium ended up “missing” from the reactor. Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, who interviewed Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9/11, reported bin Laden saying that one of the founders of al-Qaeda, Anas el-Liby, had helped the Pilot haul out the stash of uranium.

McMaster U. has always insisted that no material was ever missing from the reactor, but instead claims that low-grade radiological material did turn up missing from their pharmacological/medical labs at the time. Paul Williams, author of The Day of Islam, published the Loftus-Mir assertions in his book and elsewhere. For his trouble, he was promptly sued by the University for $4,000,000. The suit is still pending. …

(Shukrijumah) was seen again in Mexico in late August 2004, near “terrorist alley” in Sonora, the main thoroughfare for illegal aliens into the United States. [The violent street gang MS-13 (Mara Salvatruchas)] was the Pilot’s new supply chain and courier of nuclear material for the bombs he was setting up. …

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has documented 15 incidents of theft and smuggling of small amounts of separated plutonium or highly enriched uranium confirmed by the nations involved. But these 15 cases represent the tip of the iceberg of what has actually occurred. So there is always just approaching the right people and buying it—not an easy task, but not an impossible one either. …

In February 2006, Russian citizen Oleg Khinsagov was arrested in Georgia (along with three Georgian accomplices) with some 100 grams of 89 percent enriched HEU, claiming that he had kilograms more available for sale. We can’t know how many thefts that occurred were never detected. Dr. Bunn told Senator Lieberman that “it is a sobering fact that nearly all of the stolen HEU and plutonium that has been seized over the years had never been missed before it was seized.”

The Pilot doesn’t need too much HEU for his seven-city destruction plan. For one “simple” gun-type design HEU bomb, roughly 50 kilograms of HEU would be needed – roughly the size of a six-pack.

The Pilot could also try hitting up a HEU-based research facility, like his old alma mater McMaster University, although McMaster apparently didn’t employ HEU per se. But some 130 research reactors around the world still do use HEU as their fuel.

Or has he already? The Washington Post, right before last Christmas, reported a strange story. Sometime in the night of November 8, 2007, two coordinated teams of armed men attacked the Pelindaba nuclear facility in South Africa, where hundreds of kilograms of weapon-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) are stored.

One of the teams was chased off by the guards, but the other team of four gunmen disabled the perimeter alarms, went to the emergency control center and shot a worker in the chest. Bleeding out, the worker was still able to sound the first alarm.

He might not have bothered. The attack team then spent 45 minutes inside the perimeter, without anyone harassing them. What they did next is unknown to the public. The team promptly disappeared through the same hole they had cut in the fence. South African officials later arrested three individuals, but soon released them. The South African government has since been close-lipped about what really happened last November, and it has refused earlier U.S. offers to remove the HEU at Pelindaba—if indeed any remains after the attack. We don’t even know how much HEU, if any, was spirited away.

But surely the point is not whether the Pilot hit this specific facility. It is that he could well have—or dozens of others like it. We do know that if a 10 kiloton A-bomb, somewhat smaller than the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima, is set off at ground level in midtown Manhattan, the death toll would be perhaps half a million people. We could expect roughly $1 trillion in direct economic damage from this one bomb alone. Multiply this by seven bombs, and we can expect the wholesale depopulation of America’s cities in fear, incalculable economic devastation, and the end of the country as we currently know it.

Read the whole thing.

28 Sep 2007

Bin Laden Nearly Captured Last Month?

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NBC News:

For three days and nights — between Aug. 14 and 16 — U.S. and Afghanistan forces pounded the mountain caves in Tora Bora, the same caves where Osama Bin Laden had hidden out and then fled in late 2001 after U.S. forces drove al Qaeda out of Afghanistan cities. Ultimately, however, U.S. forces failed to find Bin Laden or his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, even though their attacks left dozens of al Qaeda and Taliban dead.

One of the officials interviewed by NBC News, a general officer, admitted Tuesday that it was “possible” Bin Laden was at Tora Bora, saying, in fact, “I still don’t know if he was there.”

Still, some in the special operations and intelligence community are telling NBC News that there was a lack of coordination particularly in the choice of support troops. But with intelligence limited on who was there, no one is willing to say that the lack of key units permitted Bin Laden or Zawahiri to escape.

When the operation began in early August there was no expectation that Bin Laden or Zawahiri would be there, say U.S. military and intelligence officials. Instead, there was intelligence of a pre-Ramadan gathering of al Qaeda including “leadership” in Tora Bora. Senior officials in the U.S. and Pakistan tell NBC News that planning for the attacks intensified around Aug. 10 once analysts suggested that either Bin Laden or Zawahiri may have be drawn to the conference at Tora Bora. (When U.S. forces attacked al Qaeda camps in August 1998, following the East Africa embassy bombings, Bin Laden was attending a pre-Ramadan conference of al Qaeda in the same general area of eastern Afghanistan).

While the intelligence did not provide “positively identification” that Bin Laden or Zawahiri were at the scene, there was enough other intelligence to suggest that one of the two men was there. Bin Laden and Zawahiri are not believed to have traveled together since mid-2003 for security reasons.

Another official said that intelligence analysts believed strongly that there was a high probability that “either HVT-1 or HVT-2 was there,” using U.S. intelligence descriptions — high value targets — for Bin Laden and Zawahiri. He added that while opinion inside the agency was divided, many believed it was Bin Laden rather than Zawahiri who was present. The reason: “They thought they spotted his security detail,” said the official, a large al Qaeda security detail — the kind of protection that would normally surround only Bin Laden, or Zawahiri.

21 Sep 2007

“Bin Laden Made a Very Overt Threat,” Says Robert Scheuer

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Robert Spencer, of Jihad Watch, recently published an analysis of the latest Bin Laden video interpreting the invitation to convert to Islam and the dyed beard as possible signals of an imminent attack on the US.

Former CIA operative Robert Scheuer agrees.

Scheuer (told) NewsMax he was startled by reaction in the press that the recent bin Laden tape offered “no overt threat.”

In fact, Scheuer says, bin Laden made a “very overt threat.”

“He says basically our job will be to keep killing you and killing you faster if you don’t convert to Islam,” Scheuer recounted, adding, “If that’s not a threat I don’t know what is.” …

Scheuer says he was truly shocked just days after the bin Laden tape was released when Frances Townsend, Bush’s homeland security adviser, appeared Sept. 9 on “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “Late Edition” and provocatively characterized bin Laden as “virtually impotent” and “on the run.”

“This is about the best he can do,” Townsend asserted. “This is a man on a run, from a cave, who’s virtually impotent other than these tapes.”

Scheuer noted the irony of Townsend’s claim, which came in the wake of bin Laden ridiculing President Bush about the Iraq war as he reminded the world that he has not been captured.

Scheuer also noted that Townsend’s comments fly in the face of recent reports by U.S. officials warning that bin Laden’s al-Qaida has been reenergized. A National Intelligence Estimate in mid-July said al-Qaida will likely leverage its contacts and capabilities in Iraq to mount an attack on U.S. soil. …

Scheuer said calling bin Laden virtually impotent would in the Muslim world be interpreted as “saying that he’s not a man. It’s comes across as nothing so much as a challenge.”

“This is a challenge not only to the enemy but to the virility and it’s from a woman, which in Arab culture is even more denigrating,” he said.

Scheuer described Townsend as “ignorant” and “malevolent” for her comments.

“The other thing that made me shake my head was that this great superpower is responding to a man who we claim is running from rock to rock and cave and cave… We’re advising American families to have multiple evacuation plans in case we get attacked again. The Director of National Intelligence says al-Qaida is established in our country. And she’s saying al-Qaida is impotent! What the hell is she talking about?”

In an earlier NewsMax interview, Scheuer predicted there was going to be another major terrorist attack on the U.S. He says nothing from bin Laden’s latest appearance dissuades him from that assessment.

“[Bin Laden’s] been working fastidiously on [another attack] since 2001,” Scheuer concludes.

The former CIA unit chief says bin Laden made enemies among Muslims for his 9/11 attacks by failing to follow Islamic law and issue enough of a warning, seek converts, offer a truce and get the necessary religious fatwas authorizing the attack.

But today, Scheuer argues, bin Laden has done that. He concludes that his latest video – when analyzed with the previous statements of his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, suggests another major attack could happen soon. Scheuer says he’s surprised that few in the West appear to be taking notice of what bin Laden and his surrogates are saying.

11 Sep 2007

Western Ideological Roots of 9/11

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Victor Davis Hanson reflects on the Al Qaeda leadership’s strategic dependence on the West’s internal culture of treason.

I remember reading the accounts of a smiling bin Laden, fresh off from buying his fifth wife for $5,000 (a 15-year-old girl no less). At that very moment in Afghanistan, always the inveterate liar, he was haughty after his recent cowardly murder of the far better fighter Massoud.

That day bin Laden snickered to the radio reports of his 9/11 jihadists, now holding up a finger for each plane’s impending crash to his adoring acolytes in Afghanistan — and soon to be alternately denying culpability in his fear, then boasting of it in his hubris.

Then there were the incomprehensible statements of our own that followed — of Michael Moore, the later darling at the Democratic Convention, claiming that a Democratic city’s blue-state, anti-Bush voters ipso facto should have won an exemption from the killers’ target list.

We heard too from the now apparently warped novelist Norman Mailer, at last relieved that his aesthetic skyline was cleared of the bothersome looming towers (“two huge buck teeth”) — and with them, for Ward Churchill at least, the ashes of the “Little Eichmanns,” of his “technocrats of empire.” …

It was the particularly evil genius of bin Laden to see not that we are militarily weak as he alleged — indeed the United States is more powerful than ever — but that we are apologetic over the source of our bounty and the reasons for our success, to the point of a collective stasis.

The more we push for democratic change abroad, the more the democracy-hating terrorists slander us that we do not. The more we accommodate the religion and culture of detainees, the more the beheaders and bombers cry to the world that we are savage while musing among themselves that we are weak. The more that we tolerate the great asymmetry of reciprocity between Islam and the West; the more we are supposed to apologize for just that tolerance and liberality. The more we pay for outrageously priced oil, the more we are to concede that we are stealing it.

Our shock, and again their insight, is not that they level such absurd charges, but that they do so in such utter confidence that they will find a receptive audience in the West, an audience that has the desire and ability to curtail the American response.

We laugh that on this sixth anniversary a clownish Bin Laden, in dyed chin-whiskers no less, urges us from a cave in Waziristan to read more Chomsky and Scheuer. We laugh that radical Islam hates us for global warming, corporate profits, and high-priced mortgages. We laugh that its jihadists, as a result of these American “sins,” were forced to kill us for the Neocons, and Richard Perle, and Hiroshima, and the 19th-century Indian wars, and all the other American crimes that Hollywood and the universities have globally peddled into a lucrative industry. But the laugh is not that fascists would so clumsily crib our Left to justify their killing, but that they are convinced that they could do so in such amateurish fashion to such great effect.

So is the joke on them or on us?

Bin Laden and his evil Rasputin Dr. Zawahiri were confident on September 11 that such guilt and self-loathing in our hearts could be seasoned, and that it could then be harvested through their own arts of revisionism, victimization, and lies. And consequently within a brief six years of his murdering, our own voices — indeed the very elites of the West — in the luxury of calm before the next attack, are often emboldened to proclaim that the government of America, not the terrorists abroad, is the real danger.

The great lesson of September 11 was not that the jihadists ever believed that they could kill us all. Rather, they trusted that enough of the West and indeed enough of us here in America, might at the end of the day declare that we had it coming.

In this long war, that belief was — and is — far deadlier even than an unhinged murderer at the controls of an airliner.

02 Aug 2007

Al Qaeda Web Ad Threatens “Big Surprise”

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ABC News:

A new al Qaeda propaganda ad, headlined “Wait for the Big Surprise” and featuring a digitally altered photograph of President George Bush and Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf standing in front of a burning White House, was posted on the Internet today.

The brief clip from al Qaeda’s “as Sahab” propaganda arm juxtaposes the doctored photo of Bush and Musharraf along with previously seen images of al Qaeda’s top leadership — Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahri and Adam Gadahn — as well as a photo of an SUV in a motorcade.

There is no additional information provided in the ad, and it closes with the words, “Soon — God willing,” written across the screen and repeated several times.

14 Jul 2007

More on Summer Terror Threat

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ABC NEWS reports:

As senior intelligence and law enforcement officials met again today in the White House Situation Room to deal with the “summer terror threat,” a top terror commander said an attack was coming that would dwarf the failed bombings in London and Glasgow.

Taliban military commander Mansour Dadullah, in an interview broadcast on ABC News’ “World News With Charles Gibson,” said the London attacks were “not enough” and that bigger attacks were coming.

“You will, God willing, be witness to more attacks,” he told a Pakistani journalist in an interview conducted just four days ago.

The same news agency also is reporting on the possibility of Zawahiri’s latest tape containing the signal for an attack.

Fearing a possible coded signal to attack, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are studying an unusual pattern of words in the latest audiotape from al Qaeda’s No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri.

On the tape, posted on the Internet Wednesday, Zawahri repeats one phrase three times at the end of his message.

Have I not conveyed? Oh God be my witness.

Have I not conveyed? Oh God be my witness.

Have I not conveyed? Oh God be my witness.

A new FBI analysis of al Qaeda messages, obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com, warns that “continued messages that convey their strategic intent to strike the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests worldwide should not be discounted as merely deceptive noise.”

Intelligence analysts are also investigating technical clues that Zawahri’s most recent audio message was phoned in via computer phone, using voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

13 Jul 2007

Analyzing the July 4 Zawahiri Video

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Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, at Stratfor, take a hard look at Ayman al-Zawahiri’s recent 90 minute video released July 4.

Posted by NOTR.

Excerpt:

Al-Zawahiri notes that the battles of the “crusaders and their slaves” (referring to the Muslims who cooperate with the United States and its Western allies) have expanded to the “doctrinal and moral fronts.” He also says the “Ummah is currently facing a deceptive propaganda war from the Americans and their agents.” These are references to the ideological war Stratfor has discussed as the only way jihadism can ultimately be defeated.

Clearly, al Qaeda also sees the attacks against its ideology as a significant threat. In fact, al-Zawahiri says, “I would like to remind everyone that the most dangerous weapons in the Saudi-American system are not buying of loyalties, spying on behalf of the Americans or providing facilities to them. No, the most dangerous weapons of that system are those who outwardly profess advice, guidance and instruction …” In other words, al Qaeda fears fatwas more than 500-pound bombs or cruise missiles. Bombs can kill people; fatwas can kill the ideology that lies at the root of the problem.

Al-Zawahiri also laments specific fatwas issued by clerics declaring that the jihad in Iraq is not obligatory and who forbid young Muslim men from going to Iraq. To counter these fatwas, al-Zawahiri plays an audiotape of Azzam (while a photo of Azzam is shown), in which Azzam comments on how jihad is the individual duty of every Muslim. Al-Zawahiri then urges Muslims to ignore such fatwas and scholars: “O youth of Islam, don’t listen to them, and I convey to you the mujahideen’s commanders’ mobilization of you, so hurry to Afghanistan, hurry to Iraq, hurry to Somalia, hurry to Palestine and hurry to the towering Atlas Mountains.” He also rails against the “religion traders in Iraq and Afghanistan to deem as haram (forbidden) the jihad against the invaders.”

One reason the al Qaeda leadership is so threatened by these ideological attacks is that neither bin Laden nor al-Zawahiri has any Islamic scholarly credentials. Many Muslims do not believe they possess the training and authority to issue a fatwa. …

11 Jul 2007

How Technical Education Leads to Jihad

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Ed Husain, author of a memoir The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left, explains the dynamic which turns Muslims with Western technical educations so frequently into terrorists.

Right from the very top of the terrorist hierarchy, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri downward(Bin Laden’s Egyptian deputy); the soldiers of extremism have all traveled a similar path: past membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, a secular education, rejection of mainstream Muslims, a hatred for the West and ultimately taking up arms against peoples and governments.

The rank-and-file of Islamist organizations, the precursors to terrorism, are filled with activists with a technical education. The instructor of my first secret cell in Hizb ut-Tahrir in London was a town planner; my second cell-leader was a medical doctor. Even today, medical doctors manage the British arm of Hizb ut-Tahrir-a global Islamist political party working for the re-establishment of an Islamic caliphate: doctors Nasim Ghani, Abdul Wahid, and Nazreen Nawaz. Globally, the central leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir is a Jordan-based engineer, Abu Rishta. The story of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is similar. When Islamists graduate to jihadist terrorism the profile is equally chilling.

Osama bin Laden ran a construction company in Saudi Arabia and later, the Sudan. His deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, is a Cairo-trained paediatrician. The mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is a mechanical engineer who studied at North Carolina University. The lead hijacker, Mohammed Atta, was a student of urban planning in Hamburg.

In the Arab world, the parental and social pressures on young people to pursue medical and engineering careers only compounds the misery of creative young minds, forced to study subjects under duress. Thousands of undergraduates seek greater meaning in life, an experience beyond the mundane necessities of medicine, and a purpose that occupies their free time. Islamist networks neatly slot into this void.

As a teacher at the University of Damascus in Syria, I listened to the frustrations of my students who yearned to study subjects that interested them: literature, philosophy, theology, history, or art. But becoming a doctor was the only way to please their parents, attain high social status and in many cases escape the Arab world and live in the West. Sadly, often that “escape” radicalizes young Arabs.

When in Britain, for example, they become misfits among English cultural exclusivity and develop their own socio-religious networks. Suddenly there appears a need to display their being excessively Muslim: beards grow longer, trousers shorter, music condemned, confrontational politics advocated and the company of women shirked. The terror suspects arrested in Britain all manifested these traits. This turning to Wahhabi Islam, an austere form of Saudi religiosity, combined with political Islamism, has proven to be a lethal cocktail. What we call ‘Al Qaeda’ is only one manifestation of that mindset.

In the past, Muslims did not pronounce on religious matters without the endorsement of trained theologians, the ulama. The ulama were the bastion of religious knowledge that operated in an informal yet consensual method of intellectual plurality, interpretational elasticity, and maintained a centuries-old chain of transmission of sacred knowledge, known as the ijaza. Before modern-day terrorists turned to destroying buildings and killing innocents, they violently rejected this millennium-old Muslim tradition of learning. …

Just as their bombing techniques are amateur and desperate, often destined to failure, so is their reading of scripture and warped justification for suicide bombings and killing humans. They approach the Qu’ran as though it were an engineering manual, with instructions for right and wrong conduct. Literalism and ignorance dominates their readings. This flaw is deepened by the haughty mindset of the engineer or medical doctor that academic achievement, a place at a university, now qualifies him to approach ancient scripture without the guidance of the ulama. To the Islamist engineer, centuries of context, nuance, history, grammar, lexicon, scholarship, and tradition are all lost and redundant. The do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude to religious texts, fostered by doctors and engineers of secular colleges, produces desperate, angry suicide bombers devoid of spiritual guidance.

28 Jun 2007

The Condition of Al Qaeda Prime

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Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, writing for the subscription service Stratfor’s Terrorism Intelligence Report, use several metrics to assess the current condition of al Qaeda’s organizational leadership core. The article is quoted in its entirety by Watch n’ Wait.

Al Qaeda’s media branch, As-Sahab, released a statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri to jihadist Internet forums June 25. In it, al Qaeda’s deputy leader urges Muslims to support Palestinian militants by providing weapons and money, and by attacking U.S. and Israeli interests. Although al-Zawahiri’s message is interesting, especially the fact that he urges support for an organization he has criticized heavily in the past, perhaps most telling about the release is that it contains no new video footage of al-Zawahiri himself. …

The fact that al-Zawahiri chose this format rather than the more engaging and visually powerful video format suggests al Qaeda’s apex leaders are feeling the heat of the campaign to locate and eliminate them. Although many people believe the al Qaeda leadership operates as it pleases along the Pakistani-Afghan border, evidence suggests otherwise.

Last week’s Terrorism Intelligence Report discussed the campaign conducted by the United States and its allies against al Qaeda’s regional and local nodes. Though these efforts have been under way in many parts of the globe, the United States and its partners have been pursuing a concurrent campaign against al Qaeda’s apex leadership, al Qaeda prime. Like the campaign against the regional nodes, the effort against the prime node employs all of the five prongs of the U.S. counterterrorism arsenal: military power, intelligence, economic sanctions, law enforcement operations and diplomacy.

The overall success of this campaign against al Qaeda prime has been hard to measure because there are few barometers for taking al Qaeda’s pulse. By its nature it is a secretive and nebulous organization that, in order to survive, has taken great pains to obscure its operations — especially since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 that flushed its leaders from their comfortable and well-appointed refuge inside the Taliban’s Islamic republic.

While bin Laden and al-Zawahiri have escaped U.S.-led efforts to locate them, a large number of second-tier leaders and operatives have been captured or killed. This means the group’s organizational chart has been altered dramatically below the top rung, making it difficult to determine the quality of the individuals who have been tapped to fill in the gaps. … with so many unknown players filling critical positions, it is difficult to determine precisely how much the attrition has affected the prime node’s ability to plan and execute attacks.

Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that their operational ability has been diminished. The group has not launched an attack using an al Qaeda “all-star team” since 9/11. Meanwhile, outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, the attacks conducted by its regional nodes, or by regional nodes working with operational commanders sent from al Qaeda prime, have decreased in frequency and impact over the past several months. The first six months of 2007 have been quieter than the first six months of 2006 and far more peaceful that the last six months of 2005. And, not to downplay the loss of life in London, Madrid, Bali and other places, but in terms of numbers, the death tolls and financial impacts of all those attacks do not hold a candle to the 9/11 attacks — even when many of them are combined.

Beyond the personnel losses al Qaeda has suffered, the loss of its dedicated training facilities in Afghanistan also has changed the way the prime node works. It is less autonomous and far more dependent on the largesse of Pakistani and Afghan feudal lords who control training camps along the border — and who are key to the security of al Qaeda prime. … Another way to gauge the health of the organization, or at least the comfort level of the group’s apex leadership, is by looking at its public relations efforts and the statements it releases to the public. Al Qaeda prime has produced a steady supply of messages in order to keep local nodes — and perhaps more important, grassroots jihadists around the world — motivated. These releases, however, reveal a change over the last several months in the way al Qaeda communicates to the world.

The number of messages from al Qaeda’s two top leaders has fallen, while the use of video has dropped dramatically. Before the October 2006 missile attack in Chingai, Pakistan, 14 out of 15 messages were released in video format; since then, only three of the nine have included video. The switch to an audio format indicates concern about operational security. It also is noteworthy that bin Laden has not been heard from in any format, audio or video, since July 1, 2006 — nearly a year now. All these factors considered, it is apparent that the apex leadership feels threatened.

Read the whole thing.

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