Interesting details on AQ and Taliban efforts to bring down chinook in Afghanistan – amoung other stuff I also ramble about
There is some truly fascinating material floating around on the forums at the moment. Maybe it’s because I’m only just starting to get back looking at this stuff in more depth than my usual daily hour or two wander through the internets. But there’s a lot of movement afoot in quite a few different areas.
And rather curiously there seems to be a lot of reporting on al-Sham operatives in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan.
This could just be because clearly one of them is on active on the forums at the moment and pushing out some stuff.
Some of it is old, like the martrdom of the Jordanian born (or Jordanian citizen if memory serves?) Palestinian Mahmud Abu Rida (see here for a useful summary on this guy by Florian Flade http://ojihad.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/the-story-of-mahmoud-abu-rida/)
Short version he was UK based for many years, jailed at Belmarsh, under a control order ( I think) and then ended up in Afghanistan, where he was reported killed late last year. He had longstanding links to AQ, with some reporting suggesting that he was the person to who al-Zawahiri tasked distributing his book–although to my knowledge this has never been confirmed.
What is interesting is that there is some new information that has appeared about how he died and what he was involved in as well as some photos. Curiously, this detail was released by the same gent who put out the pictures of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s brother I posted on a few days ago.
You can find the new account of Mahmud Abu Rida and pictures on an open forum here http://www.paldf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=824555
This account confirms Mahmud Abu Rida was AQ (no surprises there) but it also intimates that As Sahab may do something on him later. I wouldn’t be surprised if it does, since the propaganda value of Mahmud Abu Rida is high, given his background and detention in the UK etc. He also reportedly asked for a martyrdom operation and the way he died would from AQ’s view give it a new spin on martydom ops.
It is interesting that the photos and details have taken a while to surface (or have I missed them earlier?)
Anyway, this posting claims Mahmud Abu Rida was killed in an operation to bring down a US chinook (at least I think it was chinook), in which four Turkish militants also participated (if I am understanding this correctly)
Some other interesting details (and please correct me if I am wrong) but according to this the Taliban and al Qaeda had a join unit to hunt planes. Maybe someone can match up the details with known crashes or strikes on aircraft? I was up to my eyeballs in thesis last year time so I missed a bit of news. Anyway, according to this account villagers complained and so the militants organised an operation. Presumably this is where the Taliban fits in, since the account places Mahmud Abu Rida and four Turkish brothers as the ones who carried out the operation. Although it does say that the Taliban militants tried to attract the Americans by talking on their cellphone, and when that did not work Mahmud Abu Rida got on the phone and started talking Arabic. Not sure about this in terms of credibility, but nonetheless it is interesting. It has some details about what weapons were used but I’m not well versed in that stuff, more the IED side of things so I’ll leave that to someone else to write about. Anyway according to this the attack caused the aircraft to crash land and then more aircraft came and those who perpetrated the attack were killed. The account highlights that the militants carried out this attack with relatively rudimentary weapons, and seems keen to reinforce this point. Again, I’m not great on weapons so will leave that to someone else to write about in terms of veracity.
So, anyway, my take away from this, among other things, which is not new, but nonetheless interesting, is that there allegedly exists a special unit tasked with trying to bring down aircraft. And that they’re claiming a success.
More interesting to me, however, is that whoever is posting this or passing it to the person posting (but I think it is the former rather than the latter) clearly has significant links, at some level and degree into AQ media/op nexus. He has operational details, awareness of unit sections and photos as well as knowledge of media plans so it seems. Intriguing–especially given the very old old school links in al-Sham networks that are becoming a little more visible in OS material like this of late. He also carries authority in terms of his postings, so I’m following all of this with great interest.
Anyway, these are the photos of Mahmud Abu Rida he provided, allegedly from an AQ training camp and cropped for security reasons.
UPDATE: Thanks very much to a valued reader in N America for providing the following information on the photos.
The first picture was taken around 28 Feb 2010. The second one was taken on 19 Feb 2010 but modified on 10 April 2011.
Also interesting is that the same forum poster who put up this information has in the past day or two also released an announcement of the martyrdom in Afghanistan of a senior Jordanian operative, Abu Thar/Zar, which has no date. So I’m not sure if this is related either by unit or event or network or pedigree, or just selling the al-Sham aspect in the forums or if it is even related at all. He is hitting up pretty heavily the lions of tawhid narrative, but that could just as easily be in relation to Afghanistan as to the al-Sham angle; I’ve seen it used for both.
Anyway, there are pictures to follow in another posting or announcement presumably. This name is of interest to me, since it rings a bell from a long time ago, both in terms of internet forums and real world stuff. The post acknowledges his role in old school forums, but I’ll have to do some more digging to see if it is the person I am thinking of who was involved in training related activities and had real world links via this. If it who I think it is, he also had some links to old school AQAP folks and AQ external operations folks too, and handed out some fairly detailed guidance on how to do surveillance etc circa 02-04, if memory serves, but I digress. Anyway, you can read more about this here http://www.aljahad.com/vb/showthread.php?p=19911
Lastly, for reasons I’m not inclined to expand upon I think if one digs deep enough one would find that the gent posting all this stuff would show links to Abu Dujana al Khurasani (who was the AQ suicide bomber who struck the CIA base in late 2009) among other people…
So anyway, I just found all that quite interesting, particularly in terms of what it shows about AQ unit set ups, nationalities and involvement in various areas and the discrete movements in relation to this, as well as the nexus between media and ops and of course the AQ Taliban cooperation outlined in his report of Mahmud Abu Rida’s death.
As an aside also in relation to stuff on the forums:
There’s a quite a few old school names popping up again.
There’s some new manhaj related material on the way.
There’s a new edition of the mujahid’s book bag released ( I tweeted the link earlier http://www.archive.org/details/Haqeeba3 you’ll also maybe need to download extra fonts http://www.megaupload.com/?d=CANPC0O5 ) So we’re now up to edition three. All 1.5 gigs of it.
And there’s something apparently coming from AQ soon.
Coffee time for me now. More to come later. Thanks for the folks sending in info in relation to IMU post, I will get around to posting that a little later, and will also try to plough through the security manual.
And hasn’t there been a lot of it since Egypt’s revolution got underway?
So many people, so many opinions, so much sweet [#sarcasm] speculation, often dressed up as analytical certainty in some corners of the pundit universe. I haven’t blogged on Egypt’s goings on, because it’s not something I know enough about to make any sort of contribution, and so not only would I be commenting on a fluid situation, I’d be doing so from an ill-informed position.
Instead, I’ve been on the hunt for and have followed closely those who do know about the country, the region and can offer some insight into what has been going on and help the rest of us get a better understanding. I’ve read a lot and learned a lot over the past little while, and found some amazing people on twitter that I rather ashamedly had not discovered earlier.
When al Qaeda weighs in, I do plan to add some commentary, since that is something I do feel comfortable talking about. But until that happens, anything I might add is pure speculation.
Yet, despite al Qaeda not yet weighing in, this hasn’t stopped pundit-ville from drawing all sorts of reasons as to why Ayman al-Zawahiri (al Qaeda’s second in command and former leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad) has not yet weighed in and speculating as to what he might say. *Of course* it’s the drone strikes [#sarcasm], and this pressure is why he has yet to respond. This may well be the case, but the fact is we simply do not know.
What we do know is that Ayman al-Zawahiri is not an idiot, nor has he historically shown himself to be impetuous or prone to the types of speculation currently being witnessed in some parts of pundit-ville.
For those interested there is a new book released today by Sulaiman Abu Ghaith with a sanctioning introduction by Abu Hafs al-Mauritani. The book is new. It has been released via the website of Abu Walid al-Masri.
It is a book for those on the path of jihad. It is the first in a series. Its target audience is not only foot soldiers but also the leadership.
This is a very important book and its timing is also very important. Not to mention we have not heard from either of these two figures in a very long time.
I’m so down to the wire with deadlines at the moment but I will try to post something more on this later.
I do not think this should be dismissed.
The turnaround time for this tape was quick. A fast turnaround time when drone strikes are heightened means there is a strategic purpose for this tape that makes risking a fast turnaround worthwhile.
I’m still pondering whether his warning to France relates to the Euro plot in an operational context ie pre-attack warning and here I return to yesterday’s article about those plots and what Noman Benotman had to say about OBL’s consistency in issuing warnings. On the basis of past OBL releases , a solid case could be put forward for this proposition.
Alternatively it could just be an attempt to ferment more unease. However, OBL warnings generally have a very specific purpose and coming at this time make me a bit jittery.
Am curious to see if any more messages come to light in the next little while.
A new tape by OBL, apparently. (thanks to @PoliNewsInt for the heads up)
I haven’t downloaded it, but link is here As-Sahab : “Some Points regarding Relief Techniques” By Shaikh Osama Bin Laden H.A – Ansar Al-Mujahideen.
It will be interesting to see what he has to say about relief techniques, particularly given AQ’s avowed determination to not participate in relief efforts (which we can quite confidently assume is a result of OBL’s direction). AQ’s unchanged position is
or alternatively in another draft of their policy outline
Ugh the monumental scale of his hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me.
Update @PoliNewsInt says the message says “stop” or pause with regards to relief efforts. For an account of the tape See http://ojihad.wordpress.com/
–another update from @PoliNewsInt
with regards to the new OBL tape:
Title is “Pause the relief work” (or aid work). The Arabic word “waqfaat” means “stop”, like stopping after reciting one verse of the Quran. So it does not really mean: “Stop and never start again”.
Just as some additional information
Since I’m *technically* not meant to be blogging, or reading things except for revisions of chapters, I was lazy and just hit the “press this” button for the Ansar link, so thanks @PoliNewsInt for the update
One caveat… I wrote this in September/October last year so it is a little dated in terms of drone attacks etc. However, I still stand by the arguments I made in this piece.
Feedback, as always is welcome. But please bear with me if you’d like a response. I’m drowning with the dissertation at the moment, but I will try to answer any follow up questions.
Many thanks to Tim at Jane’s whose efforts to get me this pdf I really appreciate.
The reference information for those requiring it is JANE’S INTELLIGENCE REVIEW, 21 (12) November 2009, p 16-20
I am downloading now. For those of you interested the link is below
Thanks to @Batteriechef and @colincookman for the link.
This is interesting. Seems like there are a lot of busy people at the moment, between this roll up and the Taliban roll up.
I wonder if Abu Musa is the same Abu Musa reported dead last year… I don’t seem to recall that ever being confirmed.
I am treating myself to a small procrastination break to relax the brain for a little while before kicking into the next section of the pesky chapter. So I have taken a little wander through the forums. Anyway, I haven’t done a post on that for a while so I’m just going to list a few things that struck me as I read.
First, the new AQAP audio from Al Shehri, which seems to have generated the usual breathless media coverage.
Al Shehri has for the most part reiterated what AQAP *already said* in an earlier statement. And this includes the threats against the US and the naval issues, which I blogged about earlier– when numpties on the forums started taking it seriously enough to form their own little intel gathering groups on US naval capacities. As I noted then the material they are gathering is fairly rudimentary. But herein lies one of the main mistakes made when analysing this type of information. People pay attention to the rudimentary nature of the materials being collected instead of the group formation taking place. These groups do have some form of contact and that is where the danger lies. Again and again you see this happening. But back to that audio.
To my mind the potential significance of this audio is that it contains public messages for bin Laden. Again, however, this is not necessarily new. We saw a lot of this in earlier campaigns. To some extent it needs to be treated with a grain of salt and what it means is up for question. I’ll have to make some time to consider this in a little more depth. But generally speaking AQ has a history of communicating and receiving op orders in this way (here I mean between core and franchise) so it shouldn’t necessarily be discounted as a propaganda rant. Between franchise and cells or groups that it has authority over (the degree of which can vary depending on which region these cells are operating in) these types of orders and communications have, in the past, been communicated via the Q&A section of magazine publications or on forums as well as via more covert means, depending on what is being discussed. Obviously not all the details end up on forums or Q&A sections of magz but there has been, in the past, enough to get the gist of what is going on if you know who’s who. However, this is a historical example and I haven’t had the time to scour through current AQAP mags to see if this is again occurring. Having said that I mention it because it is a well established modus operandi.
Keeping with the theme of AQAP,next up we have Karim al Mejjati, his son Adam and Karim’s widow.
Karim, and Adam died in a shootout with Saudi authorities in 05 I think it was, or maybe 06. I forget. Karim was a senior AQAP figure. Anyway, there has been another little spike in stuff about him across several forums. The last one I saw was in November last year. Anyway, a small video montage has been made and offered up as tribute to Karim’s widow.
What has me interested is that she is a member of and regular poster (via her intermediary) to the Al Falluja forum. And she commands a great deal of respect and attention. She’s been active again in response to the montage and other tributes. So I find this quite interesting.I’m entirely too lazy to post to all these links but if you want them let me know.
Although she doesn’t quite have the authority of Malika El Aroud whose first husband was one of the two men who killed Masoud on 9 Sept 01 and second husband reportedly took the Belgian-French group they recruited to train with AQ in Waziristan in 08. However, she does command a great deal of respect.
Which brings me to Abu Dujana al Khorasani’s widow
She’s actually triggered a few anxious posts by a couple of jihadis. Again too lazy to post all of them, but the gist is that they wanted to know whether they can view her, because she wasn’t fully veiled in the interview she gave, which is doing the rounds of the forums. They were also wondering why she didn’t observe the four months and ten days they thought a widow should lock herself away from the world after losing her husband before she came out and gave media interviews.
But anyway, she seems well on her way to assuming a position along with these other two. I haven’t bothered to check but I bet somewhere out there she’s on one of the forums, so it will be interesting to see if she too starts becoming more active after losing her husband.
This brings me to a point in general about women on the forums.
I have found it fascinating to watch. When I first starting lurking about in 01 there were very few of them in the forums (at least who would acknowledge they were women). This has changed significantly over the years. And they are now welcomed and included on an equal level in discussions on these forums. The impact of social media I think has been quite significant in terms of pushing the role of women in jihad forward. It offers a forum where interaction is permissible whereas out say in Afghanistan the men and women could not meet and discuss these things. Of course that’s a very quick summation and the reality is a little more nuanced that this, but it is really striking that the militant salafist forums have become quite an open and accepting platform for female supporters of the jihad to join in.
Speaking of platforms and accessibility this brings me to my last observation for the day the uptake of new digital media formats
As I’ve been out and about downloading files I’ve noticed that files are no longer just uploaded in pdf, word, chm or even SWF/Flash formats. Now things are uploaded with support for universal ebook formats like EPUB, Kindle (yes I kid you not), and this is the most fascinating one to me, Daisy. Daisy format is for talking books.
Now I haven’t tried out any of these because I learnt my lesson messing with new formats last year… But nonetheless the uptake of new technology on the forums continues. So too does the pirating of software–especially adobe related products. I tweeted earlier today I was tempted to join in one of forums’ tutorials. They’re not bad.
So there you have it.
Obviously a lot more going on, but this is what interested me in tonight’s internet wanderings.
Ok back to thesis for me. Cheers.
Have only just skimmed reports about the new tape and not sure how new it is or if it is possible to date the tape, but content wise it smells a lot like Adam Gadahn. Surprised bin Laden would bother with this.
And what is with the Al Jazeera distribution and Sahaab?