Wednesday, June 27, 2012

IN PICTURES: Syria in Transnational Jihadi Art, Part I

Bashar al-Asad (middle) with Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah (left) and 
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right)

Part 2 of the series is HERE 

Part 3 of the series is HERE

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My New Article in June's CTC Sentinel: "The Evolution of an American Jihadi: The Case of Omar Hammami"

Omar Hammami (right) in happier times with Mukhtar Robow, a senior Al-Shabab leader.

I'm writing to share a new article, "The Evolution of an American Jihadi: The Case of Omar Hammami," which was just published this morning in the June 2012 issue of the CTC Sentinel, a publication of the Combating Terrorism Center, an academic unit housed at West Point.  This article is the third that has been published in the CTC Sentinel

The article traces the evolution of the thought of Omar Hammami, a native of Alabama and one of the most famous Western Muslim jihadi foreign fighters.  From late 2006 to early 2012 he was a member of the Somali insurgent movement Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabab).  In March he released a short video in which he said that he felt that his life was threatened due to a falling out with Al-Shabab.  His current status remains unknown.  In May he emerged in new photographs and, possibly, via Twitter (see the article for more details).  However he has been silent for several weeks.  There are conflicting accounts of where he is, though he claimed in May to still be in Somalia.

The article can be read here:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My New Article on Abu Yahya al-Libi, "Al-Qaeda Loses its Chief Juridical Voice," at Foreign Policy's AFPAK Channel

A new article of mine was published on Thursday afternoon at the AFPAK Channel, a joint project between Foreign Policy magazine and the New America Foundation. 

The article looks at Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior Al-Qaeda Central ideologue and alleged operational leader who was reportedly killed in a U.S. drone missile strike over the Waziristan region of Pakistan on June 4.  His killing has been claimed by U.S. officials but has not yet been confirmed by Al-Qaeda, which historically acknowledges the killings of its leaders and does not try to hide them, though there may be delays in official confirmation and eulogizing. 

Specifically, the article examines Abu Yahya's role as Al-Qaeda's unofficial jurist/juridical voice, particularly with regard to the targeting of the Pakistani state and military writ large.  He was, in my view, one of the juridical architects for the transnational jihadi current generally and Al-Qaeda Central specifically for the anti-Pakistani state campaign following the Pakistani government's bloody siege of the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) in Islamabad in July 2007.

Abu Yahya joined Al-Qaeda following a brazen 2005 escape with three others from the U.S. military's prison at Bagram, Afghanistan.  They walked out the front gate.  His skills as an orator and previous religious and juridical education, which Al-Qaeda never fully elaborated on but seems to have been composed of 5 or 6 years of intensive study with Salafi scholars and jurists in Mauritania, led to his rapid rise in the organization's ranks.  A Libyan national, he had formerly been a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a group dedicated to the overthrow of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi.  Until his arrest in 2002 in the Pakistani port city of Karachi he was a webmaster for the Afghanistan Taliban.

The article also looks at Abu Yahya's influence and popularity with Al-Qaeda Central's regional affiliate organizations such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in North Africa, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, and Al-Shabab in Somalia.  Specifically, I look at how these affiliates have quoted his writings and sermons/statements in their own media releases.  These citations include using his juridical writings as support for their own actions.  For example, Al-Shabab cited at length sections of a 2009 book Abu Yahya wrote on the legal punishment of Muslim spies in a video released by Al-Shabab in October 2009 documenting the execution of two Somalis accused of spying.

The article may be accessed via the hyperlink below:

Saturday, June 02, 2012

IN PICTURES: Ansar al-Shari'a in Yemen, Part 2

Abu Basir Nasir al-Wihayshi

Part 1 HERE