Were these comments about Awlaki authorised?

06/15/2012 1 comment

Reading this article yesterday…I wondered whether the former FBI SAIC’s comments in this article were cleared by FBI.

American cleric used more than 60 email accounts to reach followers, including Hasan

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/14/al-awlaki-used-dozens-email-accounts-to-reach-followers-including-hasan/#ixzz1xr9wpwOh

Especially since it appears that reporting in relation to the emails beyond that already known through indictments etc was at least  as of last month, apparently still classified.

“In a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Republican Rep. Frank Wolf has demanded a copy of the still-classified report about the alleged Fort Hood shooter’s email exchanges with Al Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/05/16/gop-rep-demands-copy-report-on-awlaki-emails-with-alleged-fort-hood-shooter/#ixzz1xrAqAutq

Be interested to hear more about this, especially in light of recent attention placed on leaking and inappropriate comments made to media.


Categories: Articles of interest

Some quick thoughts on reports Abu Yahya al-Libi has been killed

06/06/2012 20 comments


First, I’ll believe it when al Qaeda acknowledges it.

This of course won’t stop the chest beating celebrating his killing.

And if he has in fact been killed, I wonder if those who think this is a victory (and those supporting the strategy of extrajudicial killings more generally)  have given ample thought to the fact that he along with others who have been assassinated were actually a moderating force within a far more virulent current that has taken hold in the milieu. And yes, given his teachings I do note a certain irony in this, but sadly, it’s true.

What is coming next is a generation whose ideological positions are more virulent and who owing to the removal of older figures with clout, are less likely to be amenable to restraining their actions. And contrary to popular belief, actions have been restrained. Attacks  have thus far been used strategically rather than indiscriminately. Just take a look at AQ’s history and its documents and this is blatantly clear.

In the years to come, owing to this generation being killed off, this type of restraint will disappear; in fact it is clearly already heading in this direction. A significant part of this change  is directly attributable to the counter terrorism strategies being employed today. I’m working on a more detailed, research driven piece on this. But in the meantime, the best way of summing up the consequences of a strategy of killing off leadership instead of using a criminal justice approach lies with what happened in a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa many years ago.

A culling program was implemented to kill off all the older generation elephants owing to overcrowding. Juveniles were spared. However, without the presence of the older elephants they then proceeded to go on rampages, killing other animals and causing such havoc that the rangers thought they’d have to cull them too. Until that is, someone chanced upon the idea of bringing in older elephants from another wildlife park, who ended up bringing the juveniles into line and enforcing discipline, something that had been missing since the cull of the older generation.

Right now you’re probably scoffing at this. Scoff away, because this example has come up time and time again in conversations I’ve had with folks who know this milieu very well because they’ve lived in it. Along with it has been concern expressed for the future, for what will happen when authoritative voices who can restrain the actions of those left and, importantly, those newer folks still seeking to join the cause, no longer exist.  When indiscriminate becomes the norm.

So before anyone goes off celebrating another “number” in the death count, it is worthwhile remembering there will be consequences from this short sighted and reactionary path chosen to deal with threat.  These consequences will not play out in areas where extrajudicial killings take place, but in indiscriminate attacks in capital cities in the west.  I wonder then how those who advocate the current policy plan to deal with this and the implications it will pose for the social contract.  But hey, they’re “winning” right????

More on this later.

Official: Al Qaeda leader killed by drone strike in Pakistan – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs.

Categories: AQ General, Commentary

The Costs of U.S. Counterterrorism Policy |

05/31/2012 2 comments


The more the US distances itself from the weight of applicable international law, and more importantly, from the weight of international opinion about applicable international law, the higher the cost in terms of national security and national reputation as a supporter of human rights.

But if none of this impresses you and all you want to hear about is dollars and sense then consider this:

The annual cost of detaining an individual in Federal prison: $27,251

The annual cost of detaining an individual in Guantanamo: $800,000

via The Costs of U.S. Counterterrorism Policy | Human Rights First.

Categories: Articles of interest

Counter-terrorism and human rights | European Voice

05/31/2012 2 comments

This excerpt is from a piece written by  Denmark’s foreign minister, the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator and the United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. It stands in start contrast to the direction US counter terrorism is taking. I will be adding this to my “we’re not all like that” collection to highlight those in the international community who do uphold democratic values and universal human rights in their counter terrorism strategies.


The EU has, regrettably, extensive experience with terrorism going back well before the rise of al-Qaeda. We promote a criminal justice approach to our response.

Terrorists should be duly investigated, prosecuted and convicted according to the ordinary rules of criminal law. Ordinary criminal courts have a strong track record in dealing with terrorism cases: law-enforcement investigations have been crucial in gaining information about terrorist networks and disrupting plots. Fair trials in regular criminal courts have put hundreds of terrorists behind bars.

Treating terrorists as criminals and not ‘warriors’ takes the false glamour out of terrorism. A public court hearing provides visible justice to the victims and their families, whose rights are specifically recognised by the strategy of the United Nations. Indefinite or even secret detention of terrorist suspects without charge or trial is not only against our values and unlawful, but also provides distorted arguments to terrorists.

EU member states have developed some of the most comprehensive criminal justice procedures to respond to the terrorist threat. We have a common definition of terrorism and we treat terrorist acts as criminal offences. Cross-border co-operation in investigations and prosecutions, while respecting human rights, have been strengthened, going far beyond traditional mutual legal assistance.

via Counter-terrorism and human rights | European Voice.

Categories: Articles of interest

Abu Muqawama: Special Operations Forces’ Expanding Global Role

05/31/2012 1 comment

Just finished reading this piece which raises some good points and important questions. http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/12005/abu-muqawama-special-operations-forces-expanding-global-role

Categories: Articles of interest

Eye of the drone (Harper’s Magazine)

05/31/2012 Leave a comment

Worth reading these accounts. We need to see many many more. The other side of this story is one that needs to be told.

People in the same family now sleep apart because they do not want their togetherness to be viewed suspiciously through the eye of the drone.

via Eye of the drone (Harper’s Magazine).

Categories: Articles of interest

Two pieces on al Qaeda and Yemen you should read

05/31/2012 Leave a comment

For those interested in AQAP goings on and US strategy may I suggest reading Gregory Johnsen’s thoughts here, as submitted for Frontline’s Q&A as part of its AQAP documentary. Following on from this is an excerpt from an interesting piece by Sarah Phillips of the University of Sydney.


The war against AQAP can never be won if it is framed as the US against AQAP in Yemen.

This is much more than a framing issue, but that is where it has to start. The US has to realize when it can be a force for positive change in Yemen and when it needs to take a step back and allow local clerics and preachers the space to confront AQAP.

via Frontline: al-Qaeda in Yemen | Waq al-Waq | Big Think.


In Yemen, al Qaeda is not only a network of ruthless militants but an accusation that can be leveled, with varying degrees of credibility, against members of the regime who have facilitated it. In this sense, al Qaeda is more than just a terrorist organisation; it is so often evoked as a domestic political pejorative that it has become enmeshed in mythologies about how national power functions. In becoming part of the narrative that sustains the squabbles of Sana’a’s elites, al Qaeda is also viewed as a symbol of the regime’s detachment from ordinary Yemenis. That the presence of al Qaeda has brought American drone attacks, air strikes, civilian casualties and the destruction of property only sharpens the symbolic connection between the carrying on in Sana’a and the violence that is either experienced or feared by Yemen’s citizens.

While the US is being careful to emphasise that it is only conducting counter-terrorism operations in Yemen, not a broader counter-insurgency, it is wading into something much more complex than simply ‘jihadis versus the state’. The problem of al Qaeda in Yemen is deeply political, which is why fighting it with drone strikes (that can now target people on the basis of suspicious activity) or with ‘Special Operations Forces who are as comfortable drinking tea with tribal leaders as raiding a terrorist compound’ is likely to fail.

via Yemen: US fight against al Qaeda likely to fail.

Categories: AQAP

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,931 other followers