Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My New Article in Journal "Perspectives on Terrorism" on Virginia Cyber Jihadi-takfiri Zachary "Abu Talha al-Amriki" Chesser

I have a new article in the journal Perspectives on Terrorism, "Zachary Chesser: An American Grassroots Jihadist Strategist." The abstract is below in bold italics:

Zachary Chesser (alias Abu Talhah al-Amrikee), a prolific 20-year-old online jihadist pundit, was arrested on 21 July 2010 for allegedly attempting to join the Somali jihadist group Al-Shabab. Before his arrest, Chesser produced numerous analytical and strategic writings aimed at ensuring that the transnational jihadist movement represented by Al-Qaeda’s Senior Leadership (AQSL) continues to exist beyond the present generation. In his last major essay, Chesser attempted to develop and propose a grassroot-based, inclusive approach toward jihadist recruitment, drawing upon the writings of prominent jihadists such as Yusuf al-Uyairi. It remains unclear as to whether Chesser is representative of a new breed of American jihadist pundit-operatives.

Read the full article HERE.

Zachary Chesser, a 20-year old Northern Virginia resident and college drop-out, was arrestedin late July 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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hizbullah Sends Out 'Eid al-Ghadir Greetings for Contested Event between Sunni & Shi'i Muslims

The Lebanese Twelver Shi'i socio-political movement Hizbullah (God's Party; Hezbollah, Hizballah) has issued greetings to its supporters and members on the occasion of 'Eid al-Ghadir. The Shi'i holiday marks an event that both Shi'i and Sunni Muslims recognize, though their interpretations of the events differ significantly. The event is recorded in a number of authoritative Sunni texts, including the Musnad of the medieval jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Shi'i Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad during his final Hajj pilgrimage stopped at a place called Ghadir Khumm and named his son-in-law and much younger cousin, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, as his successor. Sunnis believe that the Prophet simply identified 'Ali's excellent personal character and spiritual authority.

'Eid al-Ghadir is marked by all Shi'i sects, Ithna 'Ashari (Twelver), Isma'ili, and Zaydi. In mixed areas such as parts of Yemen the celebration of the event often leads to inter-communal tensions.

Additional readings from both Sunni and Shi'i authors on the contested nature of the Ghadir Khumm evens can be found HERE.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

IN PICTURES: 3rd Issue of "Inspire" Magazine from Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula Released; Focuses on UPS Printer Bomb Plot

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.

Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP; Qaeda, Qaida) media outlet, the Al-Malahem (Epics) Media Foundation, has released the third issue of its English-language Inspire magazine. The magazine is believed to be edited by American Samir Khan. The inaugural issue was released in July and the second issue on October 11.

The focus of the new issue is the failed AQAP "package/printer UPS" bomb plot. The issue includes photographs of the package/printer bombs before they were mailed from Yemen to the United States. There has been some debate as to how close Khan and the other producers of Inspire are to AQAP's core membership. The inclusion of this images, if genuine, suggests that Khan & Co. may be closer to the core of the group than originally thought.

Perhaps most amusing is the claim that the great Victorian novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was included because the AQAP folks had "great expectations" for their plot. They clearly have not read the novel or even see one of the movies based on it.

The entire operation cost $4,200, according to jihadi-takfiri source quoted in the new issue. Dedication pages to imprisoned jihadi-takfiris including Zachary Chesser and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui are included. The producers also claim that AQAP downed a UPS plane near Dubai on September 3, 2010 in a test run of similar bombs. AQAP claimed the downing.
Instructions are also included for contributors.


PDFs from NON-militant sites can be downloaded via:




The password to unpack the file is: Read about and download the second issue and first issue of Inspire.

Friday, November 19, 2010

IN PICTURES: Hizbullah Issues 'Eid al-Adha Greetings to Supporters

The Lebanese Twelver Shi'i socio-political movement Hizbullah (God's Party) has issued greetings to its supporters and members on the occasion of 'Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), the holiday that ends the Hajj pilgrimage.

Monday, November 08, 2010

New Video Message from Anwar al-'Awlaqi Released, But Not by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

"Anwar al-'Awlaqi: Destroyer of the Americans"

A new video message from Anwar al-'Awlaqi (al-Awlaki, al-Aulaqi) the wanted American-Yemeni radical Muslim preacher believed to be connected to Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP; Qaeda, Qaida), was released online about eight hours ago. The video, in Arabic, was not released by AQAP's media outlet, the Al-Malahem (Epics) Media Foundation and was not attributed, from posts I've seen, to a specific jihadi-takfiri media outlet. The title of the video message translates approximately to, "Make it Known and Clear to Mankind and Not to Hide It" (Yusuf Ali translation) or, "Ye Are to Expound It to Mankind and Not to Hide It" (Marmaduke Pickthall translation). As German scholar N. Prucha notes, it is taken from chapter 3 (Al-'Imran), verse 187 of the Qur'an.

Al-'Awlaqi's decision to speak in Arabic suggests that he is trying to insert himself into the Arabic-speaking jihadi-takfiri milieu, where his presence is much weaker than in English-speaking circles. That said, it should also be remembered that his first interview with Al-Malahem was also released in Arabic only in late May and was only later translated and released a month later with English subtitles by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), a shadowy transnational jihadi-takfiri media outlet that produces many English translations.

Gregory Johnsen, a Princeton doctoral candidate and Yemen/AQAP expert, has consistently and convincingly argued that al-'Awlaqi's importance to AQAP pales in comparison to others, such as the group's senior leadership headed by Nasir al-Wihayshi (al-Wuhayshi, al-Wahayshi).

Al-'Awlaqi's importance, however, seems to be steadily growing as some (still a fraction of the total) of his work has been translated from English to French, Russian, German, Arabic, and Indonesian.

In his new video message, al-'Awlaqi spends a bit of time discussing the "Rafidah/Rawafid" or Shi'i Muslims. The Arabic terms mean "rejectionist/s" and are a derogatory term used by some Sunnis for Shi'is. He asks Sunni religious scholars ('ulama) what program they have developed to counter the "Rafidi" expansion in Iraq, Yemen, and the Middle East.

The video (345 MB) may be downloaded via these non-jihadi URLs:




The password to unpack the file is: aDg4Nmh4Gbd9L3gk4I5Ngr4

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Usama bin Laden: "A Message to the French People" Audio Released

Al-Qa'ida Central's (AQC; Qaeda, Qaida) media outlet, the Al-Sahab (Clouds) Media Foundation, has just released Usama bin Laden's audio "Message to the French People," which was broadcast on Al-Jazeera Arabic on October 27, online. The audio file, which is only 19 MB, may be downloaded via the non-jihadi-takfiri URLs below:




Password to unpack the file: hjePNMjf83BHkdfKERVd

For analysis, see Andrew Lebovich's article, "Why is Osama bin Laden going after the French?" on Foreign Policy magazine online.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

IN PICTURES: Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula's Chief Bomb-maker, Ibrahim 'Asiri

Ibrahim 'Asiri, bomber "commando" and one of the people of 'Asir, the mountainous region in southwestern Saudi Arabia between the kingdom and Yemen.

Saudi Ibrahim 'Asiri (al-'Asiri) is currently in the headlines because of his suspected role in constructing the recently intercepted package bombs. His brother, 'Abdullah Hasan, attempted but failed to assassinate Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayyif, the deputy Saudi minister of the interior and chief anti-terrorism official in August 2009. Yemen expert and Princeton doctoral candidate Gregory Johnsen has written up an informative profile on Ibrahim 'Asiri on Waq al-Waq.

'Asiri is a member of Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP; Qaeda, Qaida), a regional affiliate of Al-Qa'ida Central (AQC).

"Urgent mail came to you with a blast;" Ibrahim 'Asiri is pictured at the top left-hand side