March 10, 2014 5:08 PM
By David Barnett
Egypt's Interior Ministry today announced the arrest of an individual suspected of being involved in one of the bombings in Cairo on Jan. 24. Mohammed Durri Ahmad al Taliawi, 35, was arrested today in Monufia, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Four separate bombings, including a car bombing outside the Cairo Security Directorate, were reported on Jan. 24. Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) originally claimed responsibility for all of the bombings before later backtracking on some of the smaller attacks that had been claimed by a separate group called Ajnad Misr.
According to the Interior Ministry, al Taliawi was involved in the bombing attack that killed one person outside a movie theater on Jan. 24. In a video released by the Interior Ministry, al Taliawi said that he had traveled to Libya and Syria previously. In Libya and Syria, al Taliawi "took part in terrorist acts," the Interior Ministry claimed.
The Interior Ministry further stated that al Taliawi was wanted in connection with two other cases, including one related to Mohammed al Zawahiri, the brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri.
In the video, al Taliawi said that he returned to Egypt around March 2013. Upon returning, he headed to the Sinai to see if he could get involved with groups carrying out attacks against "the Jews." What exactly resulted from these efforts is unclear.
According to al Taliawi, the crackdown by Egyptian security forces against the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, specifically at the Rabaa al Adawiya mosque, pushed him to believing that conducting jihad within Egypt was legitimate.
Al Taliawi further stated that the attack he was involved in was aimed at security personnel and was not intended to hurt any civilians. In its claim of responsibility for the attack, Ansar Jerusalem said it was "targeting the criminal apostate Garir Mustafa while he was on his way with a security force to suppress a demonstration."
If al Taliawi is a member of Ansar Jerusalem and did indeed fight in Syria, he would be the third member of the group to have done so. Ansar Jerusalem's Walid Badr and Saaed al Shahat fought in Syria before returning to Egypt, where they died.
In early February, Egyptian and US officials expressed concern that Egyptian jihadists abroad were returning to their home country to partake in the nascent insurgency.
March 7, 2014 3:03 PM
By Bill Roggio
Omar al Shishani, the Chechen commander who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham last year, was recently pictured while addressing a large contingent of ISIS fighters at a captured Syrian airbase. The photographs, below, were obtained by The Long War Journal.
While the exact location of the gathering was not disclosed, it is believed that al Shishani gathered the ISIS force at a captured Syrian military base in Al Bab or Manbji, towns north of Aleppo. The gathering took place in front of what appears to be an ammunition bunker or aircraft hanger. Al Shishani is believed to be basing his operations in Aleppo from the two towns.
The red-bearded al Shishani, pictured below, is standing beneath the black banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham.
March 7, 2014 9:58 AM
By Oren Adaki
Yesterday the Riyadh Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia convicted five Saudi men of being members of al Qaeda who carried out violent attacks on security and residential targets in the kingdom. Three of the al Qaeda operatives were sentenced to death after being charged with involvement in the May 12, 2003 attacks on residential compounds in Riyadh that killed 26 people of various nationalities, including eight Americans, and injured nearly 200. The three were accused of purchasing vehicles and setting them up as VBIEDs to be used in the bombing of the residential compound.
On May 12, 2003, four vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices exploded at three different residential compounds in Riyadh. These compounds employed and housed a large number of Westerners, specifically American and British citizens. At the time, the US government's Rewards for Justice program offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of those al Qaeda operatives involved.
The five al Qaeda members were also charged with training with the terrorist organization in its secret locations, aiding in the implementation of terrorist activities, and purchasing a vehicle with forged documents. The militants possessed a surprisingly large arsenal of weapons, including machine guns, pistols, hand grenades and even RPGs and missiles of the SAM-7 variety. The court's decision indicated that the militants assisted a wider al Qaeda network by renting villas, apartments, and guesthouses to accommodate other terrorist operatives.
The other two defendants, who were sentenced to jail terms, had also been charged with killing members of Saudi security forces on two separate occasions. One of the two was sentenced to 17 years in prison, while the other was sentenced to time served and released in light of his medical condition. None of the five defendants' names were disclosed in the media reports on the case.
March 7, 2014 8:06 AM
By Bill Roggio
In a Reuters article on the Pakistani military's threat to launch an operation against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in North Waziristan*, some interesting details emerge on Maulana Umar Qasmi, the leader of Ahrar-ul-Hind:
According to intelligence officers, Qasmi hails from Jhang, a southern Punjab city that is home to the eponymous Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an anti-Shi'ite sectarian group which supplied foot-soldiers for al Qaeda in Pakistan.
Given that the group said at its founding that Ahrar-ul-Hind is based in "the urban areas of Pakistan," it was extremely likely that its emir would be from one of the multitude of Pakistani military- and government-backed jihadist groups. Umar Qasmi comes from Jaish-e-Mohammed, but could have just as easily been a leader in Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, or Lashkar-e-Taiba, or Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, or Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, or Hizbul Mujahideen, or ....
March 6, 2014 2:19 PM
By Oren Adaki
On March 4, the Yemeni Defense Ministry announced that a senior al Qaeda operative, Mohsen Mansar al Salami, will face trial on terrorism-related charges. He was referred to trial by Sana'a municipality's criminal prosecution team. The Yemeni Defense Ministry described him as a "dangerous terrorist leader" of al Qaeda. Al Salami is accused of assassinating Colonel Nasser Al Ma'amari of the political security forces in Baydah province as well as placing improvised explosive devices near Yemeni security facilities.
This comes amid a growing trend of attacks by terrorist groups in the country targeting Yemeni military personnel and installations. The latest attempt occurred on the same day that al Salami's trial was announced, when the Yemeni media reported that General Qassem Laboza, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, survived an ambush by suspected al Qaeda fighters in the industrial port town of Balhaf in Shabwa province. The Yemeni commander was not harmed, but two soldiers were killed as a result of the attack, which took place near a gas complex in the city. AQAP is known to operate in Shabwa province and has been accused of multiple attacks on energy facilities by the Yemeni military. Most of Shabwa province was under AQAP control between May 2011 and May 2012.
In related news, Yemeni authorities in Aden today announced the arrest of a militant cell involved in assassination operations targeting officers in Yemen's security and intelligence forces. A source in the Security Committee in Aden told the media that the members of the cell admitted to participating in the assassination of two Yemeni colonels at the beginning of January 2014, among other operations.
March 6, 2014 11:30 AM
By Oren Adaki
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula executed one of its members at dawn today. Yemeni media sources reported that an unidentified man was found dead this morning, his body hanging on a pole in a soccer field in the coastal city of Al Shajar in Hadramout province. Arabic-language news reports confirmed that the man was shot in the head before being hanged for all to see. The Yemeni media said the location where the corpse was found was the site of an American drone strike on Dec. 24, 2013 that killed five Yemenis.
The man was apparently killed because it was suspected that he was working with the Americans. An al Qaeda flag and black banners were found beside his body reading, "American Spy in the Arabian Peninsula," and "Whoever fights with the government or cooperates with it is not a Yemeni, not a Hadrami, but a traitor." Another banner read, "Guider of American planes to kill Muslims."
Arabic reports also claimed that AQAP sources alleged that the man had planted microphones in AQAP vehicles and meeting places in order to guide American drone missiles. Additionally, AQAP operatives have reportedly disseminated flyers to locals in al Shajar warning that the "punishment" meted out to the man will be the fate of anyone who cooperates with the Americans.
This execution comes on the heels of the latest American drone strike in Yemen, on March 5, in which al Qaeda commander Ali Juraym was killed [see LWJ report, US drones kill al Qaeda operative who fought in Iraq].
March 3, 2014 6:00 PM
By David Barnett
The Israeli Air Force targeted a terror cell this evening that was preparing to launch rockets from Gaza towards Israel. Officials in the Gaza Strip said two Palestinians were killed and two others wounded in the strike, AFP reported.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) identified one of those killed, Musab Musa Za'anin, as a member of the group's military wing, the al Quds Brigades. The second Palestinian killed in the strike was identified as Sharif Nasser, who was claimed by the Mujahideen Brigades as one of its fighters.
Tonight's strike comes just a few days after the IAF struck a rocket launch site in Gaza on Feb. 28. Israeli officials have expressed concern in recent weeks about escalating violence emanating from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. "The situation is stable, but we are seeing a creeping escalation," one military official told the Jerusalem Post in late February.
While the recent upsurge in rocket attacks has been carried out by groups other than Hamas, Israeli military officials consistently remark that Hamas is not doing enough to stem the rocket attacks. Hamas "can and must do more" to stop rocket fire from Gaza, one official told Reuters in mid-January. In early February, Hamas pulled back some of its forces responsible for preventing rocket attacks. The forces were eventually redeployed, but sporadic rocket and mortar fire has continued since.
The firing of rockets and mortars toward Israel from Gaza increased in January and February. In response to the rocket fire, the IAF has struck a number of terror sites in Gaza, as well as terrorists themselves. On Jan. 19, the IAF targeted Ahmad Saad, an operative in Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who was allegedly behind the firing of five rockets toward Ashkelon on Jan. 16, among other attacks. On Jan. 22, the IAF targeted and killed Ahmed Za'anin, another Palestinian terror operative in the Gaza Strip.
More recently, on Feb. 9, the IAF targeted Abdallah Kharti, a member of the Popular Resistance Committees who was said to have worked with the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis).
March 2, 2014 4:14 PM
By Bill Roggio
Pakistan's interior minister announced today that the military will stop launching airstrikes against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The move comes one day after the Taliban said it would halt attacks for one month. From AFP:
"After the positive announcement yesterday by the Taliban, the government has decided to suspend the air strikes which were continuing for the past few days," Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in a statement Sunday.
The government announcement came after the military killed five "militants" in an airstrike in Khyber.
Keep in mind that the newly-formed Ahrar-ul-Hind said it wouldn't adhere to a ceasefire. And it is unlikely that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and other jihadist groups currently entrenched in the tribal areas, will abide by any agreement with the government.
February 28, 2014 12:25 PM
By Bill Roggio
Earlier this month, The Associated Press disclosed that the Obama administration is debating the addition of an American member of al Qaeda to its list of operatives to be targeted for assassination. [See Threat Matrix report, Who is the American the US seeks to target with drones?.] The unnamed American in the AP report was involved in producing and deploying IEDs, or roadside bombs, against US troops in Afghanistan. He was said to be based in Pakistan.
Today, The New York Times provided more information on the American jihadist. His full name has not been disclosed, only his nom de guerre, Abdullah al Shami, which indicates that one or both of his parents are from Syria:
Born in the United States, possibly in Texas, he moved with his family to the Middle East when he was a toddler. Obama administration officials declined requests to provide biographical information about Mr. Shami such as his real name and age -- saying that the information is classified -- or any specific information about where he was born or where he traveled after leaving the United States. But his nom de guerre has a familiar ring for jihadists: An operative of Al Qaeda named Abu Abdullah al-Shami escaped with three other people from the American military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2005 and was killed in a drone strike three years later.
Keep in mind that up until two weeks ago, Abdullah al Shami was unknown to everyone except those within the government involved with identifying him and dealing with adding him to the target list. Numerous times in the past we didn't know the identity of important al Qaeda leaders and operatives until their names were leaked to the press or they were killed or captured. There are scores if not hundreds more al Qaeda leaders and operatives who operate beneath the radar.
For this reason (and many others, such as narrow or incomprehensible definitions of al Qaeda), we here at the The Long War Journal object to the theory pushed by Obama administration officials and even some in US intelligence circles that al Qaeda's "core" consists only of Ayman al Zawahiri and he is hiding in a cave in Pakistan, the group has been "decimated" and defeated, and such.
February 27, 2014 3:25 PM
By Bill Roggio
Shabaab launched another suicide attack today in Mogadishu. The attack targeted security and intelligence personnel at a cafe outside a base in the capital. Garowe Online reports:
According to witnesses, a speedy car hit a busy restaurant near a security checkpoint at the entrance to Habar-khadijo intelligence base in Mogadishu's Shibis district.
Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, quickly claimed credit for the attack, and said more are to come.
"Today's blast was part of our operations in Mogadishu and we shall continue," Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdulaziz Abu Musab told Reuters.
Today's suicide attack is the third in the capital in the past two weeks. On Feb. 14, a suicide bomber killed seven people in an attack that targeted a United Nations convoy as it traveled through Mogadishu. And on Feb. 21, Shabaab executed a complex suicide assault against the presidential compound in a highly secured area of Mogadishu. Several government officials were killed during the assault.
Although Shabaab abandoned Mogadishu, Kismayo, and other large cities in Somalia after a combined African Union, Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Somali offensive that began in 2011, it still controls several major towns and cities along the coast between Kismayo and Mogadishu, including Jilib, Baraawe, and Merca, as well as other areas throughout the country. Shabaab has retained the capacity to launch suicide and other attacks in the capital as well as the high-profile suicide assault on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya last year.
February 27, 2014 2:56 PM
By Bill Roggio
Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist terror group with ties to al Qaeda, continues to indiscriminately target villages in the northeast part of the country. Today, the Islamist group targeted three villages in the state of Adamawa, which borders the country of Cameroon. From Vanguard/AFP:
The chairman of the Madagali local government area in Adamawa, Maina Ularamu, said "a large number of militants carried out three separate attacks on Shuwa and Kirchinga in my local government area and on Michika in neighbouring Michika (district)".
Boko Haram has been tearing through the northeastern provinces of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa over the past month. Hundreds of fighters have been massing to attack villages, towns, and military units in the region.
Today's attack took place just two days after Boko Haram fighters attacked a co-ed college in the town of Buni Yadi in Yobe state. The jihadists set fire to hostels and dorms at the college, and then brutally murdered those who attempted to escape. Forty-three people are reported to have been killed.
For more on Boko Haram's recent rampage and the government's response, see Threat Matrix report, Boko Haram butchers students in attack on Nigerian college.
February 26, 2014 10:47 AM
By Thomas Joscelyn
For the second time in two days, the Ibn Taymiyya Media Center (ITMC) has tweeted a banner honoring Abu Khalid al Suri, who served as one of al Qaeda's top representatives in Syria prior to his death a few days ago. The banner can be seen above.
The ITMC is the propaganda arm of the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), which operates in Gaza and the Sinai. The ITMC also publicizes propaganda on behalf of Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis), the main al Qaeda-linked group operating in the Sinai.
The banner of Abu Khalid al Suri celebrates his "martyrdom." When it was first released on Feb. 25, the ITMC posted a Twitter hashtag that has been widely used to commemorate al Suri's death. The group tweeted the image above again today.
What is interesting about the ITMC's honoring of al Suri is that the group frequently posts favorable references to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham's propaganda. ISIS is, of course, the prime suspect in the death of al Suri, who was one of ISIS' fiercest critics. Other rebel groups have blamed ISIS for the suicide bombing at a headquarters for Ahrar al Sham in Aleppo. Al Suri, a founding member of Ahrar al Sham in addition to being a senior al Qaeda leader, was at the headquarters at the time.
Other groups, such as the Al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda's official branch in Syria), have similarly honored al Suri. Al Nusrah and Ahrar al Sham regularly fight alongside one another and are also allied against ISIS, which was disowned by al Qaeda's general command earlier this month. In the aftermath of the attack on al Suri, Al Nusrah's emir, Abu Muhammad al Julani, issued an ultimatum to ISIS. Al Julani threatened the destruction of ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.
The MSC dedicated a June 18, 2012 cross-border attack in Israel to al Qaeda, saying it was "a gift to our brothers in Qaedat al Jihad and Sheikh Zawahiri," as well as a retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden. For more on the MSC see here.
February 26, 2014 12:00 AM
By David Barnett
Unidentified assailants yesterday evening detonated explosives along a gas pipeline in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The latest attack took place south of el Arish, and ambulances were headed to the scene, AFP reported.
The targeted pipeline provides gas to an industrial area near el Arish as well as to Jordan, according to al Masry al Youm. A security source told Xinhua that some of the factories in the Sinai that receive gas from the pipeline are linked to Egypt's army.
Yesterday's attack, the fourth such attack in 2014, was the first against a pipeline in the Sinai since Feb. 11. In January, the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) claimed responsibility for pipeline attacks on Jan. 17 and Jan. 27.
Since February 2011, Sinai gas pipelines have been struck at least 20 times, according to a tally maintained by The Long War Journal. Ansar Jerusalem has claimed responsibility for nearly all of these attacks.
In February 2012, al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri lauded "the heroes who blew up the gas pipeline to Israel," in a message released to jihadist forums. Approximately five months later, Ansar Jerusalem released a video in which it took responsibility for 13 of the attacks.
"[I]f you [the Egyptian government] continue exporting gas to the Zionist enemy [Israel] and continue in your betrayal, then we will resume bombing the pipelines once again, but bigger this time," an official said in the video, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. In the video, Ansar Jerusalem showed its fighters preparing and planting explosive devices along the gas pipeline, while audio from Zawahiri's February speech played.
In April 2012, Egypt ended a deal that saw it provide gas to Israel, according to press reports.
In its recent claims of responsibility for the pipeline attacks, Ansar Jerusalem has said that it is conducting such attacks as part of its economic war against Egypt's army. "We will expand our economic war on this treasonous group until we overpower and defeat them," the jihadist group said in a statement released to jihadist forums on Jan. 28. In the same communiqué, which was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, Ansar Jerusalem said that "not a drop of gas will reach Jordan because you are securing the borders of the Jews."
Among the reasons cited by Ansar Jerusalem for striking the pipeline that provides gas to Jordan were the "UAVs departing from American bases in Jordan that spy on our Mujahid brothers in al-Sham."
February 25, 2014 1:24 PM
By Bill Roggio
Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda groups in Africa, went on yet another rampage in northern Nigeria today. The Islamist terror group attacked a co-ed college in the town of Buni Yadi in Yobe state with the intent of killing as many students as possible. Several witnesses told The Daily Mail that Boko Haram fighters trapped students in buildings, which were set ablaze, and then brutally killed those who attempted to escape:
Garba, who teaches at a secondary school attached to the college, said the attackers first set ablaze the college administrative block, then moved to the hostels, where they locked students in and started firebombing the buildings.
At least 43 people are thought to have been killed during the attack, but that number is expected to rise.
Today's attack is the latest in a series against civilians and the military by the terror group. Just one week ago, Boko Haram attacked the town of Bama near the border with Cameroon, and killed at least 98 people. On Feb. 15, Boko Haram killed 106 people when it raided the nearby town of Izghe. Two days prior, Boko Haram forces killed nine Nigerian soldiers in an ambush in the village; the terror group returned on Feb. 23 and razed what remained of the village. And on Feb 12, a large Boko Haram force attacked the town of Konduga and killed 39 civilians.
As Boko Haram has stepped up its deadly insurgency, President Goodluck Jonathan urged the terror group to lay down its weapons and conduct peace talks.
"I wish to use this platform to renew my previous call to members of the sect to lay down their arms and engage government in a constructive manner in order to address their grievances, if truly they have any reason to do what they are doing," Jonathan said yesterday, according to Vanguard.
According to The Daily Mail, Jonathan described recent Boko Haram attacks as "'quite worrisome'" but said "he was sure 'we will get over it.'"
Meanwhile Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau vowed to continue attacks and even expand them into the Niger Delta region in southern Nigeria. He also threatened to kill anyone he deems to be an "infidel."
"The reason why I will kill you is you are infidels. You follow democracy. Whoever follows democracy is an infidel," he said on Feb. 19.
February 23, 2014 1:23 PM
By Bill Roggio
The Afghan Taliban killed at least 20 Afghan soldiers and captured eight more after overrunning a military outpost in the Ghaziabad district in Kunar province today. The attack may have been aided by turncoat Afghan soldiers (that has not been confirmed). From Pajhwok Afghan News:
A group of Afghan and foreign insurgents mounted the attack on ANA's Sher Ghashi check-post in Tunk area. Governor Shujaul Mulk Jalala said 20 soldiers were killed and eight others kidnapped.
Recall the conventional wisdom in many circles that if the US would just withdraw from the remote provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, the insurgency would burn out, as the US presence was the driving force for local hostility? We do. It is now safe to say that the idea is bankrupt, though the LWJ disputed the notion back in 2010. For more on that subject, see the following reports:
February 23, 2014 10:43 AM
By Bill Roggio
The Pakistani military continued to launch airstrikes against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan over the weekend. Today, Air Force fighters carried out airstrikes against IED factories and arms and ammunition caches in the Tirah Valley, a known safe haven for al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the contested tribal agency of Khyber. Military officials told Dawn that 35 "militants" were killed and 15 more were wounded.
Yesterday, Pakistani Army attack helicopters struck "insurgent hideouts" in the Thall area of the district of Hangu. Nine "militants" were reported killed in the attack, according to Dawn. In addition to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Haqqani Network is known to operate in Thall; the US killed Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top deputy in the Haqqani Network, and two other senior commanders in a drone strike in Thall in November 2013.
The weekend's strikes in Khyber and Hangu followed military airstrikes in North Waziristan and Khyber on Feb. 20. Pakistani military officials claimed that 65 Taliban and allied jihadists, including Uzbeks, Turkmen and Tajiks, were among those killed. [See LWJ report, Pakistani Air Force strikes at 'militants' in North Waziristan, Khyber.]
The Pakistani military began launching the punitive airstrikes after the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan executed 23 captured Frontier Corps troops. The Taliban justified the murders by claiming that the military and police are executing captive jihadists and dumping their bodies.
The Pakistani government and the Taliban have been conducting peace negotiations even as both sides continue to attack each other. Jihadists killed 12 people in an IED attack in Kohat today.
February 21, 2014 2:47 PM
By Zachary Elkaim
As if to ridicule the Nigerian government's claims that it has security in the north under control and that it is winning the war, Boko Haram fighters have been on a rampage in Borno state over the past week. And while their Feb. 18 assault on the country home of Major General Tukur Buratai, Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta was meant as an insult, the following day the group carried out another high-profile attack on the town of Bama.
At approximately 4 a.m. on Feb. 19, Boko Haram gunmen armed with heavy weapons and explosives stormed the town. Residents fled the violence and destruction which, according to a Nigerian senator, lasted for seven hours. At least 98 people have been killed in the attack, Reuters reported, and many buildings, including the palace of the Emir of Bama, were burned to the ground.
According to Borno state's chief of police Lawal Tanko, Boko Haram fighters were finally chased off when the air force was scrambled jets from Maiduguri, resulting in heavy losses for the insurgents as they fled. This is reminiscent of Boko Haram's previous attack on Bama in December 2013, when the group attacked a base belonging to the 202 Tank Battalion, killing an unknown number of soldiers as well as their families who lived with them at the barracks.
Another Shekau video
Later on Feb. 19, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a new video to Agence France Presse. In the video, Shekau speaks in Hausa, appearing alongside a tank, two military vans, and about a dozen armed militants. He admits to killing Adam Albani, an Islamic cleric known for preaching against Boko Haram, and threatens to attack other leading Nigerian Muslim figures, including the Shehu of Borno and the Emir of Kano. Shekau states: "The reason why I will kill you is you are infidels. You follow democracy. Whoever follows democracy is an infidel."
Shekau urges his fighters to "hold on to your weapons and continue fighting" and to "understand that our work is not confined to Yobe, Borno and Adamawa." He continues: "Make them understand that we are not restricted by emergency rule. They should understand we are under the canopy of Allah."
As in some of his earlier videos, Shekau threatens a variety of world leaders, including Ban Ki Moon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Queen Elizabeth, and Goodluck Jonathan, and warns Christians and those who attend Western schools that they will be targeted.
Furthermore, while his previous videos derided world leaders, some of whom aren't even alive, Shekau seems to have shifted his focus, and now threatens new attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta, declaring: "You will in coming days see your refinery bombed," and "Niger Delta, you are in trouble."
Nigeria obtains more than 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings from oil from the Niger Delta, and produces approximately two million barrels of crude oil per day, the highest oil output in Africa.
February 21, 2014 9:59 AM
By Bill Roggio
The Afghan Taliban claimed credit for a suicide assault that targeted a police headquarters in the Surobi district in Kabul province. The Afghan Taliban have launched three suicide attacks in the province in the past three days.
Afghan officials said that two policemen were killed after four Taliban fighters attacked the police headquarters. From Ariana News:
"Today about 6:20 am, a suicide bomber driving a minivan detonated himself at the entrance gate of the Surobi police headquarters," said Noman Atifee, spokesman of 201 corps of Selab.
At Voice of Jihad, the Taliban claimed the attack and said it killed "as many as 20 policemen":
According to credible information, the operation began with a car bomb blast early Friday morning at about 6:00 a.m. when a martyr attacker detonated his explosives-filled vehicle at the headquarters' fortified gate. It was followed by hours of straight fighting and gunfire, as a number of Mujahideen fighters got into district headquarters and district police department, inflicting deadliest losses and heaviest damages police inside both installations.
The Surobi district was the scene of a major jihadist attack against a combined French and Afghan patrol. The joint patrol had been tasked with monitoring the suspected insurgent route that connects Kabul's Surobi district with the Tag Ab Valley in Kapisa. During the complex ambush, 10 French soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded. US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that al Qaeda's Shadow Army was involved in the 2008 ambush.
The Taliban have launched two other suicide attacks in Kabul province. Yesterday, a suicide bomber killed two civilians at a cultural center in Kabul. Two days ago, a suicide bomber targeted presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah in the capital.
February 20, 2014 11:56 AM
By Thomas Joscelyn
The cell has multiple, direct ties to al Qaeda. In particular, Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, who has long served as a subordinate to Ayman al Zawahiri, is one of the cell's leaders. Jamal founded his own al Qaeda network (conveniently referred to as the "Muhammad Jamal Network," or MJN, in the West) after being released from prison in 2011. According to terrorist designations issued by both the US State Department and the United Nations, Jamal worked with al Qaeda's senior leadership in Pakistan, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The designations by the State Department and the UN confirmed previous reporting by The Long War Journal. We were the first to report, at least in the English-speaking press, that Jamal was in direct contact with Zawahiri in 2011 and 2012. Jamal's letters to Zawahiri revealed his ties to AQAP and AQIM.
Some of Jamal's fighters participated in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Jamal established training camps in both the Sinai and eastern Libya prior to the attack.
Here is one of the newly published photos of Jamal. It is almost as if he is trying to tell us something. According to my colleague Oren Adaki, the note Jamal is holding reads, "Al Qaeda is perched on the hearts of the believers."
Jamal brandishes the photo of bin Laden in other pictures as well. We previously published another photo of Jamal at The Long War Journal.
The Nasr City cell loves the picture of bin Laden. Below is a picture of Sheikh Adel Shehato, a founding member of the cell, holding up the image. Like Jamal, Shehato was a senior member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), which was led by Ayman al Zawahiri and merged with bin Laden's venture before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Shehato was also one of the key al Qaeda ideologues who helped instigate the protest in front of the US Embassy in Cairo on the morning of Sept. 11, 2012 -- just hours before the US Mission and Annex in Benghazi were overrun.
The story of the Nasr City cell and the Muhammad Jamal Network is a fascinating one. It challenges so many of the widely-held assumptions about al Qaeda's current operations. The MJN is a good example of how various al Qaeda organizations and parties are linked in a global network, with Jamal receiving cash and assistance from AQAP while he is also working with AQIM. The story also shows that Zawahiri is still very much in the game. Jamal's letters to the al Qaeda master in 2011 and 2012 were fawning, and clearly showed that he was seeking Zawahiri's permission for his operations.
But sometimes a picture, or pictures, are worth a thousand words. Jamal, Shehato, and the other Nasr City cell defendants are quite proud of their al Qaeda roles.
February 20, 2014 8:30 AM
By David Barnett
Following the Feb. 16 suicide bombing of a tourist bus in the South Sinai town of Taba, Egyptian security forces intensified their presence in North Sinai. This appears to have now been followed up with a series of airstrikes and raids against suspected Islamist militants.
The primary base of operations for Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis), the jihadist group that took credit for the Taba attack, is believed to be in North Sinai.
On Feb. 17, authorities killed five militants and arrested three others, Egypt's army spokesman said. The following day, at least five suspected militants were arrested, according to the spokesman. And on Feb. 19, six suspected militants were killed and 10 others arrested in morning operations in North Sinai, the army spokesman claimed.
On the evening of Feb. 19, Egyptian helicopters conducted a series of airstrikes in North Sinai. While the results of the overnight operations have yet to be officially announced by the army's spokesman, officials told the Associated Press and Xinhua that at least 10 militants were killed. The officials believe that "senior members" of Ansar Jerusalem were among the dead, the AP report noted.
Independent confirmation of the results of Egyptian military operations in North Sinai is almost impossible to come by. On Feb. 3, Egyptian officials told a variety of media outlets that airstrikes had killed or wounded 40 to 45 Islamist militants. But Egypt's army spokesman Ahmed Ali, who is well known for announcing alleged successes in the Sinai, issued no statement. Local Sinai residents said the claims were false, the Washington Post reported.
Since July 3, 2013, there have been more than 305 reported attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, most of which were carried out against Egyptian security forces and assets, according to data maintained by The Long War Journal. A good number of these attacks, including the Nov. 20, 2013, car bombing that killed 11 Egyptian security personnel, have been claimed by Ansar Jerusalem. On Jan. 26, Ansar Jerusalem released video of its fighters using a surface-to-air missile to take down an Egyptian helicopter operating in North Sinai. Five Egyptian soldiers were killed in the attack.
Attacks by Sinai-based jihadists, Ansar Jerusalem specifically, have also taken place outside North Sinai. On Sept. 5, 2013, the jihadist group used a suicide car bomber in an assassination attempt in Nasr City on Egypt's interior minister, Mohammed Ibrahim. A month later, an Ansar Jerusalem suicide bomber unleashed a blast at the South Sinai Security Directorate in el Tor, which killed three security personnel and injured more than 45. On Oct. 19, 2013, the Sinai-based jihadist group targeted a military intelligence building in the city of Ismailia in another car bombing. And on Nov. 19, 2013, the group claimed responsibility for the shooting attack on Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Mabrouk, a senior national security officer, in Cairo. In late December 2013, an Ansar Jerusalem suicide car bombing attack outside the Daqahliya security directorate in Mansoura killed over a dozen people and injured over 130 more. Five days after the attack in Mansoura, Ansar Jerusalem carried out a car bombing outside a military intelligence building in Anshas in the Sharkiya governorate.
More recently, Ansar Jerusalem took credit for a series of bombings in Cairo, including a car bombing at the Cairo Security Directorate, on Jan. 24, that left at least six people dead. On Jan. 28, the group said its fighters were responsible for the assassination of an aide to Egypt's Interior Minister in Cairo.