Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Germany to Hell," Al-Qa'ida is Coming


*SEE END OF POST FOR AN UPDATE (September 29 @ 5:53 P.M.)*

A pictorial follow-up to Sunday's post: Pictured in the front is Bekkay Harrach, a German member of al-Qa'ida Central (AQC); Also pictured (clockwise from top) are AQC chief Usama bin Laden, AQC's rising star and Afghanistan-Pakistan (AFPAK) theater commander Abu Yahya al-Libi, AQC senior Afghanistan commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, AQC's chief ideologue Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the late AQC AFPAK commander Abu al-Layth al-Libi (assassinated in late January 2008 by a U.S. Predator pilot-less drone).

Photobucket
"New York & Washington 2001...Madrid 2004...London 2005...Germany ???"

UPDATE: The thread is now being advertised even more prominently on the main page:

Photobucket

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Post Warns of Coming Attack(s) on Germany


Screen grab from the German subtitled version of Usama bin Laden's September 25 audio message, "A Message to the Peoples of Europe."


*SEE END OF POST FOR AN UPDATE*

A new thread posted on one of the major jihadi Salafi online discussion forums today, and advertised on the main page, warns of a coming "day of misfortune" in Germany, which is holding parliamentary elections today. "Mujahid," a moderator (مشرف عــام) on the al-Falujah al-Islamiyyah forums, writes in the title of the first post that a "mujahideen raid/sortie is coming, O' Germany" (غارة الحق .. غارة العزة .. غارة المجاهدين آتيه يا ألمانيا) , describing it as a "raid/sortie of truth" and one of "honor."

The thread joins warnings and "advice" from al-Qa'ida "Central" chief Usama bin Laden and German jihadi Bekkay Harrach for Germans, and other Europeans, to reconsider their involvement in the ongoing war in Afghanistan, which is being led by the United States.

The thread begins with a round of invocations by "Mujahid," who references a series of major attacks, including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the London (2005) and Madrid (2004) bombings, as well as the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, a Navy destroyer in the Yemeni port of Aden (2000):

بسم الله رب المجاهدين الأخيار

In the name of the Lord of the Righteous Mujahideen [Warriors of Faith]

بسم الله رب الإستشهاديين الأطهار

In the name of the Lord of the Purified Martyrs

بسم الله رب أبطال غزوة كول

In the name of the Lord of the Heroes of the [U.S.S.] Cole raid

بسم الله رب التسعة عشرة

In the name of the Lord of "the 11th"

بسم الله رب أبطال غزوة لندن

In the name of the Lord of the heroes of the London raid

بسم الله رب أبطال غزوة مدريد

In the name of the Lord of the heroes of the Madrid raid

بسم الله رب الأرباب و الواحد الأحد و الفرد الصمد الذي ليس لهُ والدٌ ولا ولد

In the name of the Lord of lords, the One, the Absolute, who has no father or son

_________________

Photographs of the July 2005 London and March 2004 Madrid bombings are shown, accompanied by a warning that previous warnings prior to both attacks were not heeded, leading to the following result (the photographs follow this statement):


كانت لندن ومدريد تقول رفعنا درجات التحذير دون أن يستدرجنا أحد إلى حالة الانفعال والقلق


"Mujahid" continues, asking Germans that if a memories of the September 11, London, and Madrid attacks remain, for them to consider, "When is the morning of misfortunate coming upon you, O' Germany?", متى ستأتي صباح السوء عليك يا ألمانيا ؟

The "mujahideen" are praised, with those who lend support in the translation of materials into German given particular attention. The post ends with a call for Germans to re-evaluate their precarious position, ending with the ominous warning that "the clock is ticking..."

UPDATE (September 28): New posts in the thread urge a withdrawal from Afghanistan:

انقذوا انفسكم ... وانسحبوا من افغانستان ... الرجال قادمون وقد نسجوا اكفانهم ووضعوا رؤسهم على أكفهم يبتغون الموت والقتل ماظنه
***
Save yourselves ...
And withdrew from Afghanistan ...
..............
***
Rettet euch ...
Und zog sich aus Afghanistan ...
Die Männer kommen gewebte Särge und steckten die Köpfe in den Händen
Suchen und Mord und Totschlag Maznh


Coming Attack (Germany) Sep 27

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Usama bin Laden Audio Message to "The European Peoples" Released Today


A new, 4:47-minute audio message from al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC, also transliterated "al-Qaeda") chief Usama bin Laden (Osama bin Laden) was released two hours ago, entitled "Message to the European People" (also being translated as "Message to the People of Europe," and more literally, "Message to the Peoples of Europe"). It was released in two formats, one with English subtitles and the other with German subtitles, and is the latest AQC media release that has focused on Europe. During the past week, two videos were released, one a two-part video, featuring the German jihadi Bekkay Harrach, who is better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Talha al-Alemani (The German). He spoke in German about the ongoing war in Afghanistan, urging Germany to end its involvement in that country, and warning of consequences if they do not heed his advice.

Photobucket

In his new message, Bin Laden warns the Europeans that their involvement in the United States' war in Afghanistan has made them complicit in atrocities and occupation:

"To the European peoples: Peace be upon he who follows the guidance [of God]. You are aware that oppression topples those who commit it and injustice has unhealthy consequences for the unjust, and that one of the greatest forms of injustice is to kill people without right, yet this is exactly what your governments and soldiers are committing under the umbrella of the NATO alliance in Afghanistan. They are killing women, children, and elderly men whose only crime was that Bush became angry with them, although you know that they didn't perpetrate any aggression against Europe and had no connection to the events in America [the September 11, 2001 attacks].

So, on what basis are you violating what you talk about holding in high esteem, like justice and human rights? Would that you reflect on the matter and ask wise and reasonable people, because it won't be long until the dust of war clears in Afghanistan, at which point you won't find a trace of any American, because they will have gone away far beyond the Atlantic, God permitting, and just us and you will remain, for the oppressed to retaliate from his oppressor."

Photobucket

Photobucket

Bin Laden continues that Europeans should "contemplate deeply" that: "An intelligent man doesn't waste his money and sons for a gang of criminals in Washington, and it is a shameful thing for a person to be in a coalition whose supreme commander has no regard for human life and intentionally bombs villagers from the air...." He then mocks the U.S. reparations for Afghan civilians killed, asking if the amount offered is even enough to buy a ram in Europe. "This," he says, "is the value of the life of our innocent children in the eyes of Washington and its allies, so what do you expect our reaction to be?"


Bin Laden criticizes U.S. abuses of prisoners in Afghanistan that he says followed the fall of the Taliban government in Kabul in late 2001. He finishes by saying to his European audience: "...we are neither asking for something trivial or invalid, nor for something overstepping the bounds. On the contrary, justice demands that you lift your oppression and withdraw your troops, and reason demands that you don't hurt your neighbors."


Seeking to drive a wedge between those European nations who have troops in Afghanistan, while also warning the of the potential consequences of their presence, he continues: "If today Europe is suffering the travails of the economic crisis, and the heart of Europe is no longer number one in world exports, and America is reeling from the hemorrhage caused by the economic war, then how do you think you will fare after America pulls out [of Afghanistan], God permitting, for us to retaliate from the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed?"

Photobucket

In response to the spate of AQC releases, the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel alert for Germany:

"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens that Al Qaeda has threatened it will conduct terrorist attacks in Germany immediately prior to and following the federal elections on September 27. This Travel Alert expires on November 11, 2009. Al Qaeda recently released a video specifically warning Germany of attacks. German authorities are taking the threat seriously and have taken measures to enhance the level of security throughout the country."

German elections are scheduled for this Sunday, and AQC may be trying to influence them.


Listen to the message.

In his new audio message, Bin Laden masterfully hints at the growing discontent in the U.S. (and Europe) over involvement in Afghanistan, raising the spectre of a U.S. withdrawal, which would leave European countries alone to face AQC's retaliation. Taken together with the recent spate of video messages from Abu Talha, the message to those European countries, such as Germany, with troops in Afghanistan is clear: Leave now, before it's too late.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Leaps & Bounds: The Rapid Evolution of Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen's Media

Photobucket

The Somali insurgent-jihadi group Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen [Movement of Warrior-Youth], its ranks swelled by foreign volunteers from Somali expatriate communities in Europe and North America as well as non-Somalis, has experienced an upsurge in its influence and projection of power in the troubled East African state. The interim Somali government, headed by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, has lost control over nearly 1/3 of the country, and is battling Harakat al-Shabab fighters in and around the capital city of Mogadishu, and has been doing so for months. In June, the interim security minister, Omar Hashi, was assassinated in a kamikaze vehicle bombing. Earlier this month, the group announced a new phase in its insurgency campaign, which it is calling the "Winds of Victory Campaign."

Harakat al-Shabab seemingly suffered a major setback last Monday (September 14), when the U.S. military killed Salah 'Ali Salah al-Nabhan ("Saleh 'Ali Saleh al-Nabhan"), a reputed al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC) and its liaison with Harakat al-Shabab. However, the group struck back hard on September 17 with dual kamikaze vehicle bombings on the headquarters of African Union (AU) soldiers at the Mogadishu airport, killing at least 16 people, including five AU soldiers. Their statement claiming the attacks can be read HERE.

Photobucket

Yesterday (September 20), Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen released a brand new 48-minute video,
لبيك يا اسامة , "Here I am at Your Service O' Usama," an impressive state-of-the-art production that clearly illustrates the rapid evolution of the group's media wing during the past two years. Even taking into account the different types of challenges posed in the production of "in-the-field" videos, the new video is extremely polished with regard to both the editing and connecting of its visuals (primarily recorded footage and animations), as well as the use of a "soundtrack" (nasheeds, or religiously and politically-themed songs) which makes use of both popular jihadi nasheeds (plural: anasheed) and new nasheeds that appear to have been produced exclusively for use in the video. One nasheed, used around the 36-minute, 35-second mark for several minutes, is remarkably similar with regard to melody to a nasheed used by the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI), a religious-nationalist insurgent group in its video series "جوبا قناص بغداد", "Juba, Baghdad Sniper." This particularly interesting considering that the IAI has been on the outs with the jihadi Salafi groups operating in that country, including the Islamic State of Iraq umbrella and al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers/Iraq (AQI).

Quite simply, this video is a landmark in Harakat al-Shabab's evolution into a fully fledged, media-saavy affiliate of AQC, the latter's partner in an attempt to establish and maintain a solid foothold in East Africa, a longtime goal of Bin Laden and AQC's chief ideologue, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. The video is also one of the largest, in terms of file size, jihadi Salafi media production ever released, with the highest quality file coming in at 1GB. The visuals and sound are both extremely crisp, even with in-the-field action sequences. The rapid evolution of Harakat al-Shabab's media capabilities are reminiscent of the similar rapid evolution of the media productions of al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghrib, another regional AQC affiliate.

The video's introduction states that it is a gift on the occasion of 'Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that ends Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, to al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC) leader Usama bin Laden, the "commander of the faithful" (a title historically reserved by Sunni Muslims for the head of state, the caliph) Mullah Muhammad 'Umar (Muhammad Omar), the "lions of Tawhid" (absolute monotheism; referring here to the "mujahideen," or warriors of faith).




After showing field footage of the ongoing battles between Harakat al-Shabab and the security forces of the interim Somali government and African Union forces inside the country, including footage of the raising of the black flag bearing the Islamic testament of faith ("There is no god but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger") favored by jihadi Salafi groups worldwide, former U.S. president George W. Bush's ill-considered off-the-cuff declaration that the "war on terrorism" was a "crusade" is replayed in order to bolster claims that the presence of AU forces, backed by the United States and United Nations, is a "modern-day crusade" (الحرب الصليبية العصرية ). A large photograph of current U.S. president Barack Obama, in front of a large cross, dominates the scene, with the video of Bush appearing in a small window.


"This, this, this, this.....this is a Crusade. This is a war against terrorism [or "Islam"];" the part in brackets was added by the producers of the Harakat al-Shabab video.

The arrival at Mogadishu's airport of hundreds of African Union "Crusader" forces is then shown, followed by footage of atrocities that the video producers' allege the AU has committed in Somalia, including footage of wounded children and destroyed homes. The AU and Ethiopia are described as agents of the U.S. and U.N., which seek to impose their will on the independent Somali people.






Selections from Bin Laden's March 2009 audio message (which was released in as a video, with an unchanging background with a photograph of the AQC leader), "Fight On, O' Champions of Somalia," are used to anchor the footage throughout the video, and selections from videos of several non-Somali jihadi scholars and leaders is also included. The latter scholars/leaders used include 'Abdullah 'Azzam, a Palestinian religious scholar and revolutionary jihadi intellectual who was a key organizer of the Afghan jihad against the Soviets in the 1980s, and Afghan Taliban leader Muhammad Yasir (who is called "Shaykh Ustaad," or the "Professor Shaykh"). The clip of Shaykh Yasir is from an interview conducted with him by AQC's media wing, the Al-Sahab (The Clouds) Media Foundation.


'Abdullah 'Azzam

Noticeably absent are any clips of Abu Yahya al-Libi, the rising AQC star who has increasingly become one of the, if not the, most visible, charismatic, and persuasive spokesman for the movement. The absence of any clips of Abu Yahya is all the more interesting, and perhaps even puzzling, given the fact that he has starred in several video messages about the ongoing insurgency in Somalia, the latest of which was "Somalia...The Cloud of Summer Has Lifted," which was released by Al-Sahab on June 30.


Screen grab of Abu Yahya al-Libi from "Somalia....The Cloud of Summer Has Lifted"

A large segment of Somalia's Muslim religious scholars ('ulama) are singled out for excoriation because of their failure to condemn outright the "apostate" government of President Sharif Ahmed. Bin Laden, in a segment of his March 2009 message, warns: "My Muslim brothers in Somalia: You must beware of the initiatives which wear the dress of Islam and the religious institutions even as they contradict the rules of Islamic Shari'ah [law], like the initiative attributed to some of the 'ulama of Somalia which gives Shaykh Shareef [sic] six months to implement Islamic Shari'ah. They are asking him for something he was installed to demolish, so how can he possibly erect it? These people either don't understand the facts or take us to be fools. This initiative of theirs is a blatant betrayal of trust." The following panel reports that President Sharif Ahmed's government has declared its opposition to the institution of Islamic law while the AU continues to rampage across the country. Bin Laden's sharp criticism of the Somali 'ulama mirrors his, and other AQC leaders', criticisms of the "state" or "official" 'ulama in other Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They differentiate between the "scholars of jihad," or the "true" scholars of Islam ('ulama al-jihad) and the "scholars of the palace," ('ulama al-balat), or those scholars employed by the state who serve as mouthpieces for the autocratic regimes that dominate much of the Muslim world.



The video is guided or "framed" by, in addition to clips from Bin Laden's March 2009 audio message, by an audio voice-over by the Amir (literally "prince," but here meaning "leader") of Harakat al-Shabab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, known as "Abu Zubayr" (Abu Zubeir). In one such segment, he says, speaking in Arabic, not Somali,: "The Apostates mugged their teeth and appeared in their true colors, fighting the religion of Allah [the One God], killing the people loyal to Islam and allying the enemies of this religion. So the Mujahideen emerged to fight the apostates, following the tradition of the Rightly Guided Khalifa [caliph] Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him." This is followed by a clip from the interview with Shaykh Yasir, who speaks, also in Arabic, about the hypocritical "apostate" regimes in the Muslim world.

A speech by Somali president Sharif Ahmed, and footage of him meeting with U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton, is followed by a clip from Bin Laden's March 2009 audio message: "...so persevere and be resolute, for you [Harakat al-Shabab] are one of the important armies in the Mujahid Islamic battalion, and are the first line of defense for the Islamic world in its southwestern part; and your patience and resolve supports your brothers in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Islamic Maghreb, Pakistan, and the rest of the fields of Jihad; and their patience and resolve in the face of the same enemy-America and its allies-supports and strengthens your patience and resolve as well. So let each of us protect his garrison, and heal his chest by killing the trespassers."


Watch the video.

Bin Laden's statement is followed by one from Shaykh Abu al-Zubayr: "And God willing, Islam will not be let down from our side, for we have learned that the path to restore the glory to this Nation and the establishment of God's law can only be through Jihad [struggle] for the sake of God and confronting the enemies of God. So receive Glad tidings and rejoice, and we are awaiting your guidance in this advanced stage in the life of Jihad, in which the challenges of fighting the occupiers have overlapped with the requirements of establishing the Islamic State. And may God reward you from us and on behalf of the Muslims, and may God bless your Jihad and actions."

Beginning near the 27-minute mark, the video is comprised primarily of footage of Harakat al-Shabab fighters in physical and military training in the barren landscapes of southern Somalia. This includes footage of the training of "special operations" units, in which Abu Mansur al-Amriki, an American commander in the group first featured in its March 2009 video "Ambush at Bardale" and now believed to be Alabama-native Omar Hammami, is shown observing and instructing recruits, as well as meeting with other members of the group, presumably other trainers and field commanders.


Abu Mansur al-Amriki


Abu Mansur al-Amriki (in the back standing near a tree)


Abu Mansur al-Amriki (second from right, partially obscured)

Over footage of large detachments of Harakat al-Shabab fighters, a voice-over from Shaykh Abu al-Zubayr says: "And Allah [God] willing the brigades for Global Jihad will be launched from the Land of the Two Migrations. To deprive the disbelievers of sleep and to destroy their interests around the world. Dear brothers in Ribat [an Arabic term with many meanings, but in general usage meaning "guardianship" or "keeping watch" over Muslim land, which forms a "sacred geography;" See HERE], despite the plots of the enemy, your brothers in Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen have broken the chains restraining the Mujahideen and smashed the walls that besieged them for the banner of Jihad to appear clearly, far removed from the jurisprudence of appeasement and the policy of surrender." His reference to a "jurisprudence of appeasement" is a thinly-veiled reference to the aforementioned " 'ulama al-balat," the scholars of the palace. Shaykh Abu al-Zubayr highlights the difference between Islamist-nationalists and transnational jihadis, which I discussed previously HERE. In short, transnational jihadis see even local/regional conflicts as part of a larger, global whole, a transnational conflict that transcends, at least theoretically/ideologically, set national borders and regional divides.

Harakat al-Shabab, it should be noted, are not an AQC "proxy" as if often alleged. Rather, they are a regional ally/affiliate of it. Such a relationship bears fruit for both. In Harakat al-Shabab, AQC potentially will be able to gain a permanent foothold in East Africa, which has been one of its longtime strategic goals (see Gregory A. Pirio's excellent book The African Jihad: Bin Laden's Quest for the Horn of Africa), and an alliance with AQC will enable the Somali insurgent-jihadi group to tap into the former's extensive network of contacts, potentially receive assistance in the further development of their media outlet, and attract new recruits from abroad.






Footage of battle, the recitation of a Qur'anic verse urging Muslims not to ally themselves with non-Muslims over Muslims, a qasida dedicated to Bin Laden, and a clip of Bin Laden speaking about the Taghut, the corrupt rulers of the Muslim world, ends the video. President Obama is shown meeting with several such leaders, including Fatah chief Mahmoud 'Abbas, Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, Saudi Arabia's King 'Abdullah bin 'Abd al-'Aziz, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and Pakistani president Asif 'Ali Zardari.



Harakat al-Shabab
have left a high bar for their future media productions.



Closing panel of the video. Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi is the amir of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella for the many of the most radical jihadi Salafi groups operating in that country, including AQI.




Packaging designs for the video in DVD and CDR formats that appeared on the jihadi Salafi forums.

___________

For other recent Somalia-related posts, see HERE and HERE.

For another recent Abu Mansur al-Amriki related post, see HERE.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

English Translation of Bin Laden "Statement to the American People" Released

Today, an English translation (via subtitles) of al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC; transliterated frequently as "al-Qaeda") leader Usama bin Laden's (Osama bin Laden) last audio message, "Statement to the American People" (also translated as "Message to the American people") was released by the Global Islamic Media Front, a major transnational jihadi media outlet. Full Arabic and English transcripts are available in my first POST.

Photobucket


Watch the video (I am still working out some video uploading kinks; the video ends just before the end of the message).


Afghan Taliban Leader Mullah Muhammad 'Umar Issues 'Eid al-Fitr Greetings



UPDATE (2:14 A.M., September 21): The message has been translated into numerous other languages, including Somali, Malay, Indonesian, Russian, French, and Russian.


The Afghan Taliban's longtime leader, Mullah Muhammad 'Umar (frequently transliterated as "Mohammad Omar" or "Muhammad Omar") has issued greetings in advance of 'Eid al-Fitr, the celebratory day that closes the month of Ramadan during which Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. Ramadan is also believed by Muslims to be the month in which the Qur'an began to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel (Jibra'il). The word "mullah," which is so misused and overused by many in the Western media and policy establishments as a pejorative term, is a word found in Persianate languages meaning simply an individual who has been educated in religious studies. The words "Maulavi" and "Mawlawi" are also used in the region, including in Pashtu, the language used by the Pashtun tribes and communities from which the Afghan Taliban emerged in the early 1990s.

Photobucket

Mullah 'Umar's 'Eid al-Fitr Message (released in several languages, including English, Arabic, and Pashtu; the English & Pashtu messages are below):

"Praise be to Allah [the One God], Who exalted Islam and Muslims and debased polytheism and the polytheists. Peace be on the leader of the Mujahideen, the noble of the Apostles and Messengers and peace be on his descendants, companions and all those who follow his guidance.

Having said that, I would like to state: The Almighty Allah says: “Say: Truly my prayer and my service of sacrifice,

My life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds.” 6:162.

I extend my heart-felt felicitation to all heroic Mujahideen [Warriors of Faith], the pious people, the families of martyrs of the sacred frontlines of Islam and to all Islamic Ummah on the occasion of the Eid-ul-fitre and congratulate them for their having performed the sacred obligation of fasting. I pray to Allah, to accept in His sight all the worships and sacrifices that they offered. May Allah pass these days of love, brotherhood and joy in an atmosphere of happiness, prosperity and victory over the invading enemy. I congratulate you all for the historical victories achieved in the honorable frontlines of Jihad this current year. May Allah accept the martyrdom of the martyrs and the struggles of the Mujahideen in this blessed and holy path?

Availing of this opportunity, I deem it necessary to put forward the following points before you all:


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Peacemaker: Conflict Resolution among the Tribes of Yemen


*A good, brief documentary on conflict resolution among the tribes of Yemen....Fondly remembering my studies and travels in Yemen two summers ago...Such a beautiful country.....(The photographs above the line have nothing in particular to do with the documentary; I just thought I would share some of my better photographs from my time in Yemen.*


"When he was a young man, Yemeni Sheikh Abdul al-Marwani followed the path of violence and extremism. Now he is dedicated to conflict resolution and bringing an end to inter-tribal wars and revenge killings in Yemen. Desperate to reverse the cycle of violence, Sheikh al-Marwani acts as a peace negotiator, going in un-armed to mediate between warring tribes. This film follows him on a series of negotiations, giving us a unique insight to this conflict-riven country. "




View Part I.


View Part II.
____________


Filmmaker Mike Healy travelled to Yemen to gain a unique insight into the tribal feuds and revenge killings that plague the country and to meet the Yemeni sheikh who is determined to bring peace and stability to his homeland - even if he dies trying.

He describes meeting Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Marwani or The Peacemaker.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Somalia's Harakat al-Shabab Announce the 'Martyrdom' of AQC Operative Salah 'Ali Salah al-Nabhani


*SEE THE END OF THIS POST FOR 2 UPDATES*

**SEE A RELATED POST ON HARAKAT AL-SHABAB'S MEDIA EVOLUTION**

On Monday (September 14), the U.S. military carried out a pinpoint precision ground operation that resulted in the death of Salah 'Ali Salah al-Nabhan (sometimes transliterated as "Saleh Ali Saleh al-Nabhani"***), along with five others, believed to have been fighters in a Somali jihadi group that is currently battling the weak interim central government led by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed in the capital city of Mogadishu. Born in April 1979, al-Nabhani is also known as "Abu Yusuf Salah 'Ali Salah al-Nabhani," the name used in the official statement from the Somali jihadi group Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen announcing his "martyrdom." He was a long-wanted al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC) operative and the reported liaison between AQC and the Somali group, whose name in Arabic translates to "Movement of the Warrior-Youth". Some reports have claimed that al-Nabhan was also a Harakat al-Shabab commander in its military wing, the Jaysh al-'Usrah (roughly, the "Army of Hardship," perhaps a reference to the backgrounds of its members, and really all Somalis for the past several decades).

***As Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen notes at his Waq al-Waq blog (highly recommended for news and analysis on all things Yemen), the final "ye" in Arabic is often dropped from Anglicized transliteration of the former AQC operative's surname (see the Arabic press release from Harakat al-Shabab below). [Oct. 30]

"Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen: Jaysh al-'Usrah in Somalia"

Al-Nabhani, who was long wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is believed to have been involved in the planning of several high profile attacks, including the 1998 coordinated kamikaze bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, and the failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli charter plane carrying tourists with surface-to-air missiles. The history of the strategic cooperation between radical Islamist groups in Somalia, and East Africa more generally, are aptly covered in The African Jihad: Bin Laden's Quest for the Horn of Africa, a study by Gregory Alonso Pirio, a specialist in East African studies with a Ph.D. in African history from the University of California-Los Angeles.

The U.S. government attempted, but failed, to assassinate al-Nabhani in a March 2008 missile strike on a southern Somali town where the AQC operative was believed to be. The U.S. successfully assassinated Aden Hashi Farah Ayro, a senior Harakat al-Shabab commander and a member of the Salafi wing of the Union of Islamic Courts, in May 2008.


Harakat al-Shabab's military successes against the fledgling, United Nations and U.S.-backed interim Somali government has alarmed analysts in both. Heavy fighting in the capital city of Mogadishu and the assassination of Somali government officials, including the late minister of security, Omar Hashi, have shown that the group has the potential to topple President Sharif Ahmed's government. Ahmed, though an Islamist (Muslim who believes that Islam can play a role in politics), is a moderate and a former leader of the Sufi faction of the Union of Islamic Courts (traditional Somali Islam follows Sufi, "mystical," and not Salafi trends, and the Sufi Somali clans oppose the group's destruction of shrines).

Harakat al-Shabab already controls approximately one-third of the country.

President Sharif Ahmed, "Welcome, to the Karzai of Somalia"

On September 15, Harakat al-Shabab released an official statement announcing the "martyrdom" of al-Nabhani, through the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), one of the most important transnational jihadi media outlets:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is a Member of the "Revolution Muslim" Salafi Web Site a Contributor to Jihad Recollections? (Exclusive)

Cover of the second issue of Jihad Recollections

*Please see the end of this post for important Updates*

Revolution Muslim claims to be a collective project claiming to be (bold red comments are mine), "a message and movement grounded in the sayings, deeds, actions and understanding of Ahlus Sunnah wal jama'ah (The collective body of those Muslims that adhere to the ways of the Prophet (SAWS) and the first four generations of Muslims) [Sunni Muslims]. Revolution Muslim’s purpose is to invite people to proper Islam (Aqeedah (creed) + Shariah (path)) and command the good (justice and peace), while forbidding the falsehood (lies and deceptions) of society. Our mission is to one day see the Muslims united under one Khalifah [caliphate, centralized Islamic state romanticized by some modern Sunnis] and under the commands of Allah (SWT) [the One God, literally "the god," from the Arabic construction "al-ilah"]. We focus on educating Muslims and Non-Muslims alike about the actuality of the religion and thereby work to preserve traditional Islamic values for Muslims across the globe. We pray that we may witness the dismantlement of western, secular dominance across the world as we hold it to be pagan and idolatrous in the majority of its presumptions. We seek a resurrection of the just example set forth by centuries of Islamic rule throughout the ages and we hold it to be self evident for the objective soul and mind that Allah is One and that Muhammad ibn Abdullah is His Prophet and that the religion offers the solution to all of the world’s ills and afflictions."

The positions espoused by the producers of the Revolution Muslim web site can be situated within a particular trend within the Salafi tradition within Sunni Islam, an interpretative tradition that is often quite literalist and purist in its theological outlook (I have written about Salafism and its diversities HERE), specifically the political trend within modern Salafism (what some scholars call "neo-Salafism," see the previous hyperlink). They also are among those Sunnis who have romanticized the notion of a caliphate, or unified Islamic state. I have written at some length about this tendency HERE.

On their web site, a feed from the radio station of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia, a Saudi dissident group connected to the exiled Sa'd al-Faqih, is embedded.

They say in a disclaimer that they are not advocating violence, though they seem to justify it in their writings and videos: "We hereby declare and make absolute public declaration that revolutionmuslim.com operates under the first amendment right to freedom of religion and expression and that in no, way, shape or form do we call for war against the U.S. government or adhere to the enemies of the United States elsewhere. We do however hold the belief, as stated honestly and openly in our mission statement, that the Muslim world should be permitted to unite under the banner of Islam. To suggest that this in some way implies that the reestablishment of the caliphate would require the dismantlement of the United States government is fallacy. We seek, rather, to witness the imperialist ambitions of the United States government and especially the private tyrannies (corporations, financial institutions, military-industrial complex) that control it subside in their quest for empire and "full spectrum dominance" and we call for the relinquishment of autonomy and respect for sovereignty across the Muslim world to the people and not in the hands of the dictators, and authoritarian regimes this structure keeps in power by continuing to engage in foreign policy we feel is the root cause of all the terrorism in the world."

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Bin Laden Message, "To the American People," Released September 13


*See the end of this post for Four Updates*

OFFICIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION NOW AVAILABLE....
(September 20, 3:25 A.M.)


A new audio message from al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC) chief Usama bin Laden (often transliterated "Osama bin Laden") was released late yesterday evening (September 13). The message, entitled "To the American People," (إلى الشعب الأمريكي ) is 11 minutes and 20 seconds in length, and deals primarily with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the the continuity between the U.S. presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan/Pakistan receive direct attention, and are relegated to secondary or tertiary comments.

Photobucket

Bin Laden cites the academic work of American scholars Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer on the influence of the Israel lobby in the U.S., which will certainly make the two scholars cringe and their ideological critics happy:

"We should have a lengthy pause at this point. Any person with an iota of mercy in his heart cannot but sympathize with those oppressed elderly, women, and children living under the deadly siege. Above that, the Zionists pound them with US-made incendiary phosphorous bombs. Life there is tragic beyond limits, to the point that children die b etween the arms of their parents and doctors due to the lack of food and medicine and the power outages. It is indeed a disgrace for world politicians who are content with that, and their loyalists, who are behaving as such with prior knowledge and premeditation, and under the influence of the Israeli lobby in America. The details of that are explained by two of your fellow citizens. They are John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their book The Israel Lobby in the United States.

"After reading the suggested books, you will know the truth and you will be severely shocked at the magnitude of deception that has been practiced against you. You will also know that those who make statements from inside the White House today and claim that your wars against us are necessary for your security are in fact working along the same line of Cheney and Bush, and propagating the former policies of intimidation to market the interests of the relevant major corporations, at the expense of your blood and economy. Those in fact are the ones who are imposing wars on you, not the mujahidin. We are just defending our right to liberate our land.


"In a nutshell, it is time to free yourselves from fear and intellectual terrorism being practiced against you by the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby. You should put the file of your alliance with the Israelis on the table of discussion. You should ask yourselves the following question so that you can determine your position: Do you like the Israelis' security, sons, and economy more than your security, blood, sons, money, jobs, houses, economy, and reputation? If you choose your security and stopping the wars -- and this has been shown by opinion polls -- then this requires that you act to stop those who are tampering with our security on your end. We are prepared to respond to this option on sound and fair foundations that have been mentioned before."


Screenshots from the audio-video released late yesterday, September 13.

Bin Laden highlights the "sameness" between the previous and current U.S. presidential administrations, as he sees it: