There is an interesting effort underway on a forum to collect info on US navy–ostensibly for the benefit of AQAP. Apologies if someone else has already covered off on this. I’m still playing catch ups after holiday.
Anyway, on the surface this appears to be fairly amateur hour, as you’ll see skimming through the pages of the link below.
Having said that there is more going on behind the scenes via other forms of communications that we don’t see.
What you’re looking at is how things start. They’ve divided up tasks, set up work teams, identified ‘leaders’ of these research groups. This post may even disaapear soon too, but the work will probably continue.
A little snippet caught my attention. It was a listed goal. “Integration with the field mujahideen”. And there we with go with the outreach again. Two words for you. Energizer bunnies. They just don’t stop.
Link is here. Page four is especially interesting.
Forum post… “news from yemen” “in the days and weeks to come there will be qualitative global operations”
Have seen this type of language before and this type of post. Of course it could just be an idle threat and even if not capacity might be an issue since several people met a missile the other day.
If I see anything that says “the rush has started” I will have kittens but until then this is just on my own little watching brief.
And will leave to others to determine veracity ….suffice to say I’ve seen the poster before and these are the things I like to keep a very close eye on–especially from people who aren’t regular posters…
Link is here
Just a little piece. It’s a few days old and I’m not sure of the accuracy of the report. Nonetheless I found it interesting and have highlighted one line in particular in below excerpts:
KUWAIT CITY, Jan 07, 2010 (AFP) – Western intelligence has warned energy-rich Gulf states that Al-Qaeda is on the verge of launching attacks mainly on ships after regrouping in the past few months, the Al-Qabas daily reported Thursday.
Citing unnamed Kuwaiti security sources, the daily said that Al-Qaeda has trained operatives in the region to carry out attacks on war, commercial and passenger vessels in the Gulf and Arabian Sea.
They added that Qaeda operatives in Somalia have in recent weeks captured advanced weapons from government forces and transferred them to their counterparts in Yemen.
Western intelligence also provided Gulf states with names and locations of new Al-Qaeda command posts in Somalia and names of field commanders and members in Gulf states most of whom unknown previously, the added.
AQ in Somalia is something I haven’t followed as closely as elsewhere but what I’d like to point out is the rest of the sentence which says the names of field commanders and members in Gulf States were provided. AQAP is not just restricted to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It never has been.
It has had commanders in many countries since at least 02. Bahrain for example had its own branch leader. They divide up command and control by country. A branch can be just a teeny tiny cell too, but as we all known a few people can do damage if they put their mind to it. I’m not surprised some of these leaders were “unknown” because lot of them have been quite dormant for the past few years and/or deployed elsewhere by AQ, or merely taking their own initiative and following the jihad so to speak and going off to Iraq or back to Afghanistan. There are of course also newbies in the mix.
But my point is that some of these people are unknown simply because not a lot of people were watching back when AQAP congealed.
Jarret Brachman has an interesting piece of commentary out that is well worth a read. His comment at the end got me thinking. He says:
Indeed, it is finding the success in failure that AQ has grown fairly skilled at. It’s also a great way to ensure that the United States comes knocking at your doorstep with a round of hellfire missiles.
I completely agree that AQ is adept at finding the success in failure. It’s also adept at making itself out to be bigger and more powerful than it is–when this suits its narrative.
Mind you we do such a good job of inflating the threat posed by AQ and its various factions and overreacting in our responses that they really don’t have that much work to do to make themselves out to be a significant threat. This is why they can lower their metrics.
In regard’s to Jarret’s comment about ensuring hellfire missiles rain down, I’d point out that this is exactly what al Qaeda wants. I wrote about this in relation to Afghanistan in an op-ed I wrote for the Australian last year. The same risk is present in dealing with AQAP, especially in Yemen. They want a reaction, they want those hellfire missiles because they want a jihad. Of course they aren’t likely to come out and say this, but at the end of the day their attacks don’t give them that jihad, our reaction does. That is, attacks are primarily designed to provoke a reaction, just like any other terrorist group. A reaction then provides legitimacy because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. On that note I’d, point out that armed responses to al Qaeda have, throughout the organisation’s history, generated far more recruits than its attacks or its propaganda efforts.
Greetings everyone. Allthingsct is officially back on deck for 2010.
Tonight’s cynical Friday task is some myth busting in relation to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, especially since the Xmas Day plots have spawned a good deal of misinformation as to the nature of AQAP, its capacity and the *new* threat it poses.
I wrote back in September that I thought AQAP had reached a position similar to what it had in 2003, and as such it would seek a broader operational ambit and permission for external attacks against N America, as it did in early 03. All the indicators were there.
How did I know that? Well for starters I watched AQAP congeal online in early 02 and I have their founding documents, their guidelines, objectives and rules of conduct and lists of what detachments they formed–right down to the oath recruits were to take. I’ve watched them ever since because I find the group fascinating and so its history is the last section of my PhD. Because I’ve watched them since then, I know that this is not the first time AQAP has tried to attack in N America. It’s not even the second time. Both of these earlier plots are mini case studies for the last section of my thesis.
And with al Qaeda what is old inevitably becomes new again.
By the way, both of the earlier plots would have been much much bigger than this–had they come to fruition. What this shows is that AQAP has still not reached the capacity it had in its earlier campaign, when it was allowed by its HQ to launch external attacks. But it is fundamentally the same organisation, with many of the same key players still active. They’re just not the ones fronting the media end of things. It’s not back up to the same size yet, but with AQ now sending operatives back to the Peninsula from Af-Pak it could conceivably reach those numbers again.
It’s also not the first time AQAP has recruited an operative from the UK or another western location. I saw them recruit from the UK in 02 and people in other locations over the following years and they’ve never stopped.
What often gets missed in analysis of AQAP is that the organisation was not decimated by the campaign against it in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It did get damaged, but was also told by its HQ to cool it, lay low and/or redeploy. So it was also a case of squeezing the balloon. Now, the balloon is being squeezed in Af-Pak against AQ core, as it was in late 01/early 02, and AQAP, as it did then, again rises to fill the space.
And it’s only just starting. Of course there is the question of capacity this time around and whether they are allowed to pursue further attacks. We already know some of what they are looking at because this operational guidance went out recently. It’s the usual. Buses and trains in the west (along with a few other target classes) are right up there on the list. *As they were last time*.
Bottom line: There is very little that is new here. AQAP has always had an external attack capacity and sought to use it. It has always recruited internationally.
The only *new* thing here is the type of device used and reaction to the plot. But even in terms of IED’s, AQAP has always been on the sharp end of the stick when it comes to innovation. That’s because it has a great core of IED engineers who cycle in and out of the organisation. But that’s not new either. That core was developed in 02-06.
My bug bear is that that there’s an awful lot of people covering AQAP now (especially after the Xmas Day plot) and offering advice to government without a grounding in what this organisation is, where it came from, what it has done previously, how it has changed since its earlier campaign, what it is now and how it fits into the bigger picture of AQ. The problem is that without historical background people see change instead of continuity, they see a new threat instead of an extension of an existing one or they miss things all together.
And when this type of commentary influences decision makers and also creeps beyond AQAP into the issue of Yemen more generally it is extremely concerning, especially when it essentially calls for opening another front in Yemen and escalating US involvement. The lesson of Iraq and to a lesser extent Afghanistan has not been learnt, and it is rapidly becoming the greatest failure of the war on terror: the failure to learn that lionizing al Qaeda only further empowers it. Add this to calls for greater US involvement, especially in a country like Yemen and with the sensitivities this entails, and you have the perfect propaganda recruitment recipe for al Qaeda.
Up next when I can dredge up my full archives is a post on Abu Dujana al Khorasani…whose history, according to my archives, suggests he was a little more AQ involved than being a web administrator.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Claims responsibility for the ambush on a convoy of senior security officials Hadramout
Link to forum post below
Am following this story with interest. I wrote some TA stuff earlier this year on AQAP moving to this type of assassination and use of smaller more mobile squads both in KSA and Yemen.
What has me interested is how the government in Yemen will react and following on from this if it was AQAP (which it looks from what I’m reading to be the case) why AQAP chose to hit them, when doing so could cause pressure that would complicate their KSA goals.
Too early to tell, but there are two takes on this. One is the squeezing of the balloon – they are frustrated at their foiled attempts in KSA and a host of other factors and therefore striking more targets in Yemen (but this type of tactic is not new by a long stretch).
The second is that their preparation period is over and that shows they are now emboldened and willing to hit these types of targets. Time will tell on this one.
This caught my interest. Not at all surprising though.
Bin Hizam also said that the number of the militants’ relations with terrorist connections went to show that “half of terrorism is grown at home”. “Several of Al-Shehri’s brothers and his cousin on his mother’s side, as well as several relations are in prison,” Bin Hizam said. “His sister Wafa is also married to Saeed Al-Shehri.”
Saeed Al-Shehri is regarded as the second man in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He spent time in Guantanamo with Yousef Al-Shehri, and the latter was the initiator of his sister’s marriage. Wafa herself was formerly married to Abdul Rahman Al-Ghamdi, a terrorist killed in confrontations with security authorities in Hada in Taif seven years ago.
Two of Yousef Al-Shehri’s brothers, Faisal and Mustafa, and his cousin Abdul Ghani Al-Shehri are currently detained at the Hai’er Prison, south of Riyadh, for terrorist ties to Al-Qaeda, security sources said. He also has a nephew, Abdulillah, on the list of wanted. “Raed Al-Harbi,” Bin Hizam continued, “is the younger brother of Faris Al-Harbi whose name appears on the list of 36”, in reference to a list announced in June 2005. Faris Abdullah Salim Al-Dhahiri Al-Harbi was killed in Iraq a month later.
I have been watching this with great interest. Earlier this year I did some TA work and some writing about the threat from AQ in the Arabian Peninsula. One of my main findings was that they would be using a lot more suicide vests and other munitions that could be more easily transported from Yemen. My reasoning was thus far there has been little to suggest that AQ in the Arabian Peninsula has the type of capacity in KSA to support large scale VBIED attacks, which require a good deal of network support to for example acquire a location to serve as a bomb making factory. I also reasoned that militants would preference transporting vests rather than attempt border to target operations with VBEID’s. Thus far, this seems to be panning out with these recent arrests. Though I note that AQAP may continue to *try* to get an internal capacity in KSA–however it seems the Saudis are all on their game in terms of interdicting such efforts at the moment (witness August arrests). My question in relation to this is the nature of the target. Was it to be against a western target or against Saudi government officials? I’d be interested to find out.
The ministry said the two men, along with a third, their driver who was captured after the gunfight, had snuck into the country from Yemen and were carrying RDX explosives, Kalashnikov assault rifles, grenades, pistols, and four suicide vests in their car when they were intercepted.