Monthly Archives: March 2016

US intensifies air campaign against al Qaeda in Yemen

The US launched six drone and airstrikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula during the Month of March, equaling the total of the previous five months. The intensified airstrikes coincided with the strengthening of AQAP’s hold on southern Yemen.

Syrian Army, allies retake Palmyra from the Islamic State

The Syrian Army claims to have retaken the city of Palmyra from the Islamic State. Bashar al Assad’s forces, backed by their Iranian and Russian allies, are battling Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s jihadists on several fronts. The Islamic State frequently claims “martyrdom operations” against Syrian regime fighters in Aleppo province, Deir Ezzor, and elsewhere.

Islamic State propaganda celebrates Brussels attacks

The Islamic State’s propagandists have celebrated the terrorist attacks in Brussels with videos, articles and infographics praising the three suicide bombers responsible. One video features two Belgian fighters who say the operation was a “new 9/11” and part of Osama bin Laden’s legacy.

Pentagon announces death of senior Islamic State leader

The Defense Department announced today that Abd al Rahman Mustafa al Qaduli, a senior Islamic State leader, has been killed. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter did not provide any details concerning how or when Qaduli met his demise. Carter said that Qaduli served the Islamic State in multiple roles and was involved in its “external operations” wing, which is responsible for planning attacks in the West.

Veteran Egyptian jihadist now an al Qaeda leader in Syria

Ahmed Salama Mabruk, a veteran Egyptian jihadist, is now a key figure in Al Nusrah Front. Mabruk’s dossier stretches back to the early 1980s, when he was first imprisoned following the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. He reportedly oversaw Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda networks in the 1990s, before being captured in a CIA-led manhunt. He was released from an Egyptian prison following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Al Qaeda’s strategy five years into the Syrian revolution

On Mar. 17, Abu Muhammad al Julani, the emir of Al Nusrah Front, issued a statement commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Syrian uprisings. Julani argued that the jihadists are inseparable from the Syrian people. Several years into the war, there are pockets of resistance to Al Nusrah, but the West has no strategy for harnessing this discontent and rolling back Al Nurah’s influence within the insurgency.

AQIM claims attack on Algerian gas plant

AQIM says the attack is meant to show that it can target Algeria in “whatever area we want, and to let you know that your fortifications that you have made will not prevent the strikes of the mujahideen from reaching you.”

British hostage discusses American airstrikes on Islamic State’s media kiosks

The Islamic State has released a new video featuring John Cantlie, who has been held hostage by the group since 2012. Cantlie speaks from the ruins of a media kiosk that was bombed in Mosul, Iraq. While Cantlie is made to downplay the importance of the media kiosks, the Islamic State itself recently trumpeted them as “one of the cornerstones” of its media strategy.

Ayman al Zawahiri’s brother released from Egyptian prison

Mohammed al Zawahiri, the younger brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, was released from an Egyptian prison earlier this week. He was imprisoned in Egypt in 1999, but released following the uprisings in 2011. He quickly became a prolific advocate for al Qaeda’s jihadist ideology. Along with other al Qaeda-linked jihadists, he helped orchestrate the protest outside the US Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012.

AQIM targets beach resort in Ivory Coast

Al Qaeda continues to prioritize targeting hotels, which are considered soft targets, across the African continent. AQIM has launched assaults on several hotels in West Africa in recent months, while Shabaab regularly targets hotels in Somalia.