Sunday, July 25, 2010

Al-Qa'ida Central Video Documents Kamikaze Attack on U.S. Military Base in Afghanistan, Revenge for April Killings of Islamic State of Iraq Leaders

"Expedition/Raid of the Two Shaykhs: Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, may God have mercy on them."

Al-Qa'ida Central's (AQC) media outlet, the Al-Sahab (The Clouds) Media Foundation, released a 43-minute video yesterday documenting a kamikaze attack on a United States/Afghan military base. The operation, which involved four attackers, and video were dubbed the "Expedition/Raid of the Two Shaykhs," referring to Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the two former senior leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers/Iraq (AQI) who were killed on April 19 in a U.S. airstrike.

Luqman al-Makki (left), Musa al-Turki (center), and Musa al-Afghani (right) study a map

The Somali jihadi-insurgent group Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Movement of Warrior-Youth; Al-Shabaab) has also carried out a kamikaze attack in revenge for the two leaders' deaths, which I wrote about in a PREVIOUS POST.

Background on the ISI, an umbrella for several of the most violent jihadi-insurgent groups operating in Iraq including Al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers/Iraq (AQI), and both leaders can be found in my guest editorial, "The Death of a Caliph: Will the Reported Killings of the Islamic State of Iraq's Two Senior Leaders Spell Out the End of the Self-styled Jihadi State?", on Prof. Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog.

The four attackers were identified as a Saudi, a Turk, a Pakistani from Swat, and an Afghan: Luqman al-Makki ("one from Mecca"), Musa al-Afghani, Musa al-Turki, and Na'im Allah al-Swati, "one from Swat Valley"). In scenes showing the planning of the attack, the four are seen studying what appears to be a high-quality map of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Clips of the four young men's "martyrdom" wills are interspersed with footage of the planning sessions and actual attack.

Stills from the video are below:

Luqman al-Makki

Luqman al-Makki reads his "martyrdom" will-statement (see bottom-center)

Luqman al-Makki prepares to set off in an explosives-laden truck

Na'im Allah al-Swati ("one from Swat")

Musa al-Turki

Musa al-Afghani

The video may be downloaded via:

All links are working as of this writing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with Virginia Wannabe Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen Recruit Zachary Chesser, "Abu Talhah al-Amriki"

Zachary Chesser, a 20-year old Northern Virginia resident and college drop-out, was arrested this week for allegedly providing material support and attempting to join Somalia's largest insurgent group, Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Movement of Warrior-Youth; Al-Shabaab), a group whose leaders endorse the transnational militant ideology of Al-Qa'ida Central (AQC). He is better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Talhah al-Amriki ("The American"), using the name of a prominent companion of the Prophet Muhammad, and is a member of Revolution Muslim, a small group of extremist American Muslims, mostly converts. Chesser briefly attended my alma mater, George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

I had a back-and-forth with Mr. Chesser in the "Comments" section of a post on colleague Aaron Zelin's blog HERE. I also highly recommend reading the latter's Q&A with Chesser, which Aaron was kind enough to allow me to contribute to. The full interview may be read at his blog HERE.

In my back-and-forth with him, I found him to be, at times, surprisingly talkative and even introspective, much more so than other cyber jihadi-takfiris that I've conversed with (see an earlier post, "Conversations with a Cyber Jihadi"). However, he also rejected any interpretation, political or religious, that was at odds with his ideology. I am in the midst of studying for a major exam but hope, in the near future, to write a post about one of his last major pieces of writing, a strategic "analysis" of the transnational jihadi-takfiri movement and how to enable its growth.

Chesser was a frequent contributor to English-language sections on transnational jihadi-takfiri web forums as well as to Revolution Muslim and other jihadi-takfiri web sites. This aspect of his cyber jihadi-takfiri activism has been highlighted in many of the media reports on his arrest, though they were well-known to many of those analysts and scholars who regularly patrol the web sites and Internet forums used by transnational jihadi-takfiris.

An affidavit from an FBI agent who interviewed Chesser can be read HERE.

The press release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia can be read HERE.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Recycling Anwar al-'Awlaqi: Global Islamic Media Front Re-releases March Message from Radical American Muslim Preacher

Anwar al-'Awlaqi (far right) and two individuals he claims to have "mentored" before they carried out terrorist attacks: 'Umar Farouq 'Abdulmutallab (far left), who failed to ignite his explosives on an airplane above Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, and Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of murdering 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood Texas in November 2009.

The American-raised Anwar al-'Awlaqi (generally transliterated as "al-Awlaki" or "al-Aulaqi") is a jihadi ideologue who has become popular with English-speaking jihadi-Salafis over the last several years. Al-'Awlaqi has described himself as the "mentor" of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army officer and psychiatrist who is charged with going on a November 5 shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, and 'Umar Farouq 'Abdulmutallab. He is believed to be connected to Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based in Yemen, though his exact role is debated.

The Global Islamic Media Front, a shadowy transnational jihadi-takfiri media outlet, has re-released an old message "to the American people" from him. The audio message, released in Arabic and with Russian subtitles, was released with transcripts in three languages: English, Arabic, and Russian.

The "message" was previously released under the title, "A Call to Jihad," which I can be read in full via a previous POST. The GIMF, which produces translations of many transnational jihadi-takfiri media releases, has translated al-'Awlaqi's message, which was originally given in English, to Arabic and Russian.

The fact that the GIMF felt that it was worthwhile translating his message into Arabic and Russian, for broader consumption by Arabic and Russian-reading jihadi-takfiris, is significant.

The Arabic subtitled version of the GIMF's translated Arabic video release can be downloaded via:

Transcripts in Russian, Arabic, and English can also be downloaded.

The above links are up to date as of this writing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Waziristan Connections: Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan & the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

Muhammad Tahir "Farouq," Tahir Yuldashev, former leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (left), and Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan leader Hakimullah Mehsud (just above Yuldashev)

UPDATE (August 27, 2010): The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan confirmed in a video produced by its media wing, Jundullah Studios, that Yuldashev was killed last year.

North and South Waziristan is a key base for a number of militant groups, chief among them the various Pashtun groups and confederations such as Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP; Taliban Movement of Pakistan) and the militia commanded by Mullah Nazir Ahmad. It is widely believed that Al-Qa'ida Central's (AQC) senior leaders are also based in Waziristan. The former AQC general commander of Khurasan (Afghanistan), Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, was killed in a drone missile strike in North Waziristan in late May.

TTP maintains ties and alliances with a number of other groups, including AQC and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group composed of several thousand fighters that was led by Tahir Yuldashev, who is also known as Muhammad Tahir "Farouq," who was killed last year. The stills in this post were taken from a video released last year by the IMU's media outlet, Jundullah (God's Soldiers) Studios. It shows Yuldashev meeting with TTP's leader, Hakimullah Mehsud.

Muhammad Tahir "Farouq," Tahir Yuldashev,former leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

Yuldashev (far left) and Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan leader Hakimullah Mehsud (just above Yuldashev)

A picnic in Waziristan: Hakimullah Mehsud (center, in brown hat) and Yuldashev (center, in green vest)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Note on Blogging & Those Who Cast Libelous Aspersions

Some in cyberspace have been casting libelous aspersions on my status as a graduate student studying Muslim socio-political movements, including transnational extremist groups such as Al-Qa'ida Central and its affiliates, as well as the academic nature and integrity of my blogs. My writing here at Views from the Occident and my two subsidiary blogs is clearly labeled as being academic in nature. Frankly, I think that it is pretty clear to those who actually read my original posts (as opposed to postings/pasting of primary sources and third party articles) that this is the case. I am also honored to have my blog(s) listed in the "Links" sections of a few noted experts and specialists in transnational militant groups and counter-terrorism, a fact that the libelers have conveniently failed to note. They also seem ignorant of the fact that jihadi-takfiris do not call themselves "takfiri" and actually object to being labeled as such.

Honest and constructive critique, criticisms, and suggestions are always welcome, which is why I have set up an e-mail address for my blogs. Libel and gross aspersions on my character and academic integrity, however, are not. My academic e-mail is also available via a quick Internet search, should any who seem to think that I am not a graduate student wish to check the facts before engaging in libel.

Thanks to my readers and to my professorial mentors, friends, colleagues, and (God willing) future colleagues for their continued support and advice. Peace.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Inspire" Magazine: Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula's (Purported) First English-language Jihadi-takfiri Internet Magazine

UPDATE (September 27, 2011): New 7th issue of INSPIRE has just been released.

UPDATE (July 19, 2011):
Images and non-militant download links for the just-released sixth issue of Inspire HERE.

UPDATE (March 29, 2011): Analysis & non-militant URL download links for the just-released fifth issue of Inspire

UPDATE (January 16, 2011): Find non-militant URL download links to the just-released fourth issue of Inspire HERE.

UPDATE (November 20):
Find non-militant URL download links & image grabs of key pages from the just-released third issue of Inspire HERE. The new "special issue" focuses on AQAP's UPS printer bomb plot.

UPDATE (October 11): AQAP's Al-Malahem Media Foundation has released the second issue of Inspire featuring a first-person account by U.S. citizen Samir Khan on his decision to join it and a new article by Anwar al-'Awlaqi.

UPDATE (July 12):
Read Prof. Jarret Brachman's brief analysis and break-down of the magazine at HIS BLOG.

Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) media outlet, the Al-Malahim (Malahem; Epics) Media Foundation, has seemingly released its first English-language jihadi-takfiri Internet magazine, Inspire. There is some debate among analysts and scholars who specialize in AQAP and transnational jihadi-takfiri movements as to whether Inspire is an "official" AQAP production, though it appears to be. It was distributed by the Al-Fajr (Dawn) Media Center, a shadowy transnational jihadi-takfiri distribution network and media center that distributes all media material from AQAP, Al-Qa'ida Central (AQC), and Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

An earlier file of the magazine was reportedly infected with a virus and only few pages were readable; the rest contained character errors. For the best analysis of the media frenzy of a highly uninformed nature that greeted this initial "release" of the magazine, see Dr. Thomas Hegghammer's post at Jihadica. He is an expert in AQAP and the varieties of Islamist activism in Saudi Arabia, whose book Jihad in Saudi Arabia:Violence and Pan-Islamism Since 1979 is highly recommended.

Inspire, upon first glance, is remarkably similar to an earlier jihadi-takfiri Internet magazine, 2009's Jihad Recollections, which seems to have since stopped production after several issues. It was allegedly masterminded by an American, Samir Khan, and included contributions by members of the very small but disproportionately-covered Revolution Muslim outfit. Inspire includes an article by the radical American-Muslim jihadi-takfiri preacher Anwar al-'Awlaqi (Awlaki, Aulaqi) and an interview with AQAP's amir (top leader), Abu Basir Nasir al-Wuhayshi (al-Wahayshi).

AQAP has produced an Arabic-language Internet magazine, Sada al-Malahim (Echo of Epics/Epic Battles), for some time.

UPDATE #2: A copy of Inspire was embedded via my former Scribd account, which has been closed due to a "copyright claim" on, amusingly, the AQAP magazine. PDF files of the magazine have been uploaded by jihadi-takfiris to:

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Iranian Regime Ayatullah Ahmad Jannati Meets with Lebanese Hizbullah Leader Hasan Nasrallah Following Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah's Funeral

Hizbullah secretary-general al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah (left) meets with the secretary of Iran's Council of Guardians, Ayatullah Ahmad Jannati.

Iran's supreme leader, al-Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei, dispatched a delegation headed by regime ayatullah Ahmad Jannati, secretary of the Council of Guardians, to the viewing and funeral of Lebanon's preeminent Twelver Shi'i religious scholar, Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, who died on July 4 and was buried on Tuesday (July 6). Khamenei also issued a statement on Fadlallah's death, addressing him simply as an "ayatullah."

Nasrallah and Hizbullah have been respectful of Fadlallah, despite the late grand ayatullah's differences with the party, and indeed seem to be trying to co-opt his legacy for their own benefit while still maintaining the party allegiance to Khamenei. For their part, Khamenei and other clerics affiliated with the Iranian regime had long sponsored polemics against Fadlallah, often using Lebanese clerics aligned with them, such as Ja'far Murtada al-'Amili.

Jannati's trip to Lebanon was also marked by a meeting with Nasrallah and other Hizbullah officials in Beirut. The ayatullah recently criticized Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his public opposition to enforcement of the country's strict "Islamic" dress laws.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

PHOTOS: Funeral of Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah in the Southern Suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon

"We are from God and to Him we Return"

I would like to write a more detailed post about the recently-deceased Grand Ayatullah Fadlallah but unfortunately do not have the time at the moment. Below are some quickly jotted down thoughts on him along with photographs of his funeral in Beirut's southern suburbs on Tuesday (July 6). Hundreds of thousands of mourners from around the Middle East and Muslim world attended.

Lebanon's most senior Twelver Shi'i religious scholar and leader, Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, passed away on July 4 at the age of 74 after suffering internal bleeding. Fadlallah had been sick for some time. Widely respected across Lebanon's 18 religio-ethnic sects, he was born in the Twelver Shi'i shrine city of al-Najaf in southern Iraq to a Lebanese religious scholar. Fadlallah was educated in that city's religious seminary system for decades before returning to Lebanon in 1966. He mixed political and social activism with a modernist view of Twelver Shi'i Islam. Fadlallah was renowned for being very approachable and open to the public for meetings and audiences, unlike many other grand ayatullahs in Iraq and Iran.

While in Iraq, Fadlallah was close friends with Iraqi Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, with whom he and other activist Iraqi Shi'is formed Hizb al-Da'wa al-Islamiyya (Party of Islamic Call). Al-Sadr was executed on the orders of Iraqi dictator Saddam Husayn in April 1980 along with his sister, Amina bint Haydar al-Sadr (Bint al-Huda).

In the 1980s, Fadlallah was a revolutionary political intellectual whose work was influential with many of the founders of the Lebanese Shi'i socio-political resistance movement Hizbullah (Hezbollah), which coalesced in the first half of the 1980s from smaller, like-minded Lebanese Shi'i groups dedicated to fighting the Israeli military occupation of southern Lebanon. His book Al-Islam wa Mantiq al-Quwa (Islam and the Logic of Force) was particularly influential.

Although he is often called Hizbullah's "spiritual leader," both Fadlallah and the party said that he had no official position within it. The party's "guide" was first Grand Ayatullah al-sayyid Ruhollah Khumayni and then his successor as as "wali faqih" (jurisconsult), al-Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei, the latter of whom only advocates of the Iranian theocratic system consider to be a "senior" Twelver Shi'i religious scholar (marja' al-taqlid; "reference for emulation")

During the 1990s, Fadlallah was often at odds with Hizbullah leader al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah over political and religious issues, such as the concept of wilayat al-faqih (authority of the jurisconsult) as envisioned by the father of the Islamization of Iran's 1978-1979 Revolution, Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Ruhollah Khumayni. Hizbullah adheres to this concept whereas Fadlallah did not.

Fadlallah was often criticized for his progressive views on women's rights and roles in Muslim societies, which I have written about in the past on several occasions; see HERE for links. He strongly condemned the "so-called crimes of honor" and said women who were abused should and could fight back. He was widely followed by lay Shi'is in Lebanon, Iraq, the Arab Gulf states, and parts of Central Asia. His death leaves only the grand ayatullahs residing in Iraq and Iran as major arbiters of religious authority.

Photographs of his viewing & commemoration before his funeral can be seen in the PREVIOUS POST.