A frame grab from video posted on a militant-leaning Web site, shows Saeed al-Shihri, deputy leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Yemeni officials say a missile believed to have been fired by a U.S. operated drone in Yemen along with five others traveling with him in one car.
Security forces in Yemen have killed Said al-Shihri, described as the second-in-command of a regional branch of Al Qaeda, senior U.S. and Yemeni officials say. Al-Shihri’s death is a major blow to the militant group.
The U.S. officials said Saeed al-Shihri was killed, but could not confirm any U.S. involvement in the airstrike Monday that Yemeni leaders say killed the terrorist and five others.
Yemeni officials said the missile that killed al-Shihri was believed to have been fired by a U.S.-operated, unmanned drone aircraft. The U.S. doesn’t usually comment on such attacks although it has used drones in the past to go after Al Qaeda members in Yemen.
Al-Shihri is a former inmate of Guantánamo Bay who was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and put through a Saudi rehabilitation program for militants, according to the Guardian.
A Yemeni security source also told the Guardian that another Saudi and an Iraqi national were among the others killed.
The two U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to the news media.
Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch is seen as the world’s most active, planning and carrying out attacks against targets in and outside U.S. territory.
Al-Shihri’s death would amount to a major breakthrough for U.S. efforts to cripple the group in Yemen, which is considered a crucial battleground with the terror network. The impoverished nation on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula is on the doorstep of Saudi Arabia and fellow oil-producing nations of the Gulf and lies on strategic sea routes leading to the Suez Canal.
The group took advantage of the political vacuum during unrest inspired by the Arab Spring last year to take control of large swaths of land in the south. But the Yemeni military has launched a broad U.S.-backed offensive and driven the movement from several towns.
Al-Shihri would be the latest in a series of Al Qaeda figures killed in drone strikes, including U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been linked to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting U.S. and Western interests, including the attempt to down a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and the plot to bomb cargo planes in 2010.
Officials said the Al Qaeda in Yemen deputy was killed as he left a house in the southern Hadramawt province with his five companions.
Al-Shihri, who is believed to be in his late 30s, fought in Afghanistan and spent six years in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, before being released and going through Saudi Arabia’s famous “rehabilitation” institutes, an indoctrination program that is designed to replace what authorities in Saudi Arabia see as militant ideology with religious moderation.
But he headed south to Yemen upon release and became deputy to Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the terror network’s Yemen branch is formally known. Al-Wahishi is a Yemeni who once served as Osama bin Laden’s personal aide in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda in Yemen has been linked to several attempted attacks on U.S. targets, including the foiled Christmas Day 2009 bombing of an airliner over Detroit and explosives-laden parcels intercepted aboard cargo flights last year.
Unlike other Al Qaeda branches, the network’s militants in Yemen have gone beyond the concept of planting sleeper cells and actively sought to gain a territorial foothold in lawless areas, mainly in the south of Yemen, before they were pushed back by U.S.-backed government forces after months of intermittent battles.
The Yemen-based militants have struck at Western interests in the area twice in the past 12 years. In 2000, they bombed the USS Cole destroyer in Aden harbor, killing 17 sailors. Two years later, they struck a French oil tanker, also off Yemen.
U.S. drone strikes have intensified in Yemen in recent month, killing several key Al Qaeda operatives.
Samir Khan, an Al Qaeda propagandist, also was killed in a drone strike last year. Last October, al-Awlaki’s son was among nine killed in an airstrike. The nine also included Egyptian-born Ibrahim al-Banna, identified by Yemeni authorities as the media chief of the Yemeni branch of the Al Qaeda.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEOS SHOWING EVENTS THAT THE RAPTURE IS IMMINENT!
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 26, 2012, 10:23 PM (GMT+02:00)
For the first time, a thread links the three rockets which hit the Israeli town of Sderot Sunday, Aug. 26, slightly injuring two workmen, and the two terrorist cells captured in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on the same day,DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report. Both events were conceived by Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP has ordered its Sinai cells and Egyptian and Palestinian offshoots to step up their attacks from Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
By three happenings Sunday, AQAP broke new and menacing ground:
1. Three Qassam missiles fired at the industrial zone Sderot shares with Shear Hanegev ushered in a Gaza-based anti-Israel offensive launched by the “Shura Council in the Jerusalem Area” – the umbrella organization of all the Salafi groups operating in Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
This group’s 6,000-strong force of well-armed terrorists is commanded by an Egyptian by the name of Hisham Saydani. Al Qaeda has dubbed him Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi. He and his lieutenants serve as liaison between the Sinai cells and AQAP headquarters in Yemen.
2. Hamas held Saydani in a special security prison cell in the Gaza Strip until two weeks ago when, for some unknown reason, which US, Egyptian and Israeli counter-terror agencies are trying to discover, Hamas let him go. His first action was to set up the Shura Council’s attack near Rafah, in which 16 Egyptian troops were killed and the Kerem Shalom crossing barrier into Israel was rammed. The gunmen were liquidated before they reached their target: the IDF Bedouin Reconnaissance Battalion’s command base nearby.
This operation was designed at the highest AQAP command level.
Suspecting that at least three of the perpetrators had gone to ground in the Gaza Strip, Egypt demanded that Hamas hunt them down and arrest them. The Shura Council’s three-missile volley against Sderot was its way of warning Hamas to call off the hunt or else the missile fire would continue and bring Israeli retribution down on the Hamas-ruled enclave.
The same tactic was behind the firing of two Grad missiles against the southern Israeli resort and port town of Eilat Friday, Aug. 17. That too was an al Qaeda warning to Cairo to call off the Egyptian military’s pursuit of Salafi terrorists in Sinai or else more missiles would be loosed against southern Israel.
Two days later, Israel placed Eilat under the guard of an Iron Dome missile defense battery.
Following these two incidents, al Qaeda’s Shura Council announced that Israeli towns would be held hostage for the halting of Egyptian and Hamas military pursuit of its members in Sinai and the Gaza Strip, which must stop forthwith.
3. Sunday, too, the Saudi Interior Minister announced the busting of two al Qaeda cells in the capital Riyadh and the Saudi summer capital of Jeddah on the Red Sea, which were plotting attacks on Western targets, and local security forces and public places in the kingdom. There were eight arrests, two Saudis and six Yemenis.
Saudi sources disclosed that they were members of AQAP, operating under the orders of the organization’s headquarters in Yemen. Found in their possession were weapons and explosives and also chemical substances for loading into explosive charges.
This is the first evidence since 2002, when a bomb packed with poison chemicals was detonated by Palestinian suicide killer in Jerusalem, of the use of chemical weapons by Middle East terrorists. It is feared that those weapons may also have found their way to Sinai.
German Intelligence Chief Gerhard Schindler has issued a warning saying that Europe is at great risk of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists.
In a wide-ranging interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, Schindler said the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is particularly concerned about the threat posed by homegrown terrorists, individuals who are either born or raised in Europe and who travel to war zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen to obtain training in terrorist methods.
Schindler said: “A particular threat stems from Al Qaeda structures in Yemen. They want to bring Jihad to Europe. Among other tactics, this involves the ‘lone wolf’ model, which involves individuals who are citizens of the targeted country and who go abroad for training. We know that this is strategy is currently high on Al Qaeda’s agenda, and we are accordingly attentive.”
Schindler’s comments came just days after Spanish authorities arrested three suspected al Qaeda terrorists who were allegedly plotting an airborne attack on a shopping mall near Gibraltar, the British overseas territory on the southernmost tip of Spain.
Schindler’s warning also comes amid the backdrop of a high-security court trial of four suspected Al Qaeda members which began in the German city of Düsseldorf on July 25. German public prosecutors say the defendants — three home grown Islamists born in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and one Moroccan national — were planning to stage a “sensational terror attack” in Germany.
Also known as the “Düsseldorfer Cell,” the defendants are also accused of plotting to assassinate the former commander of German Special Forces (KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte) as well as to attack the US Army base in the Bavarian town of Grafenwöhr.
German authorities began monitoring the group in early 2010, when the American Central Intelligence Agency alerted German police to the fact that the Moroccan, Abdeladim el-Kebir, 31, had entered Germany after having been trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Waziristan along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2010.
German public prosecutors say El-Kebir, also known as Abi al-Barra, was the ringleader of the Düsseldorfer Cell and, following orders from an unidentified senior Al-Qaeda operative, in November 2010 began working on a plot to blow up public buildings, train stations and airports in Germany. After several months of surveillance by German police, El-Kebir was arrested in April 2011.
Before his arrest, El-Kebir also recruited three accomplices he knew from his student days in the German city of Bochum: a 32-year-old German-Moroccan named Jamil Seddiki, a 21-year-old German-Iranian named Amid Chaabi, and a 28-year-old German named citizen Halil Simsek. The three were arrested in Germany in December 2011.
Prosecutors say that Seddiki was in charge of producing explosives while Chaabi and Simsek were responsible for communications with the al Qaeda leadership.
During testimony in court, it emerged that all four defendants led inconspicuous lives. Simsek, for example, who was born in the German city of Gelsenkirchen, earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Bochum.
He had wanted to become a German police officer but his application was rejected for medical reasons. Chaabi, who was born in Bochum, was studying Information Technology at the University of Hagen when he was arrested. Seddiki, a high school graduate, was working as an electrician.
Prosecutors have compiled 260 ring-binders containing evidence gathered by investigators; the prosecutor’s arraignment runs to 500 pages. The main accusation against the men is that they set up a terrorist cell and prepared to commit murder.
Federal Prosecutor Michael Bruns told the court that the defendants “planned to carry out a spectacular and startling attack” in Germany and that the defendants “wanted to spread fear and horror.”
The trial is expected to run for 30 days; a verdict is expected in November. If the four accused men are found guilty, they face up to ten years in prison.
(In November 2011, a federal court in Brooklyn, New York indicted el-Kebir on charges of conspiring to provide Al-Qaeda with explosives and training. If extradited and convicted, el-Kebir faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.)
Underscoring German officialdom’s anxiety over home grown Islamic terrorism, the German state of Lower Saxony recently published a practical guide to extremist Islam to help citizens identify tell-tale signs of Muslims who are becoming radicalized.
Security officials said the objective of the document is to mitigate the threat of home-grown terrorist attacks by educating Germans about radical Islam and encouraging them to refer suspected Islamic extremists to the authorities — a move that reflects mounting concern in Germany over the growing assertiveness of Salafist Muslims, who openly state that they want to establish Islamic Sharia law in the country and across Europe.
The 54-page document, “Radicalization Processes in the Context of Islamic Extremism and Terrorism,” which provides countless details about the Islamist scene in Germany, paints a worrisome picture of the threat of radical Islam there.
According to the report, German security agencies estimate that approximately 1,140 individuals living in Germany pose a high risk of becoming Islamic terrorists. The document also states that up to 100,000 native Germans have converted to Islam in recent years, and that “intelligence analysis has found that converts are especially susceptible to radicalization…Security officials believe that converts comprise between five to ten percent of the Salafists.
By Maayana Miskin
International terrorist groups with roots in Libya, Sudan and Iraq are working to take over the Sinai Peninsula, according to a report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Efforts to turn the region into a major launching point for attacks are being encouraged by Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri, it stated.
The report noted a recent attack near the border as evidence of terrorists’ attempts to take advantage of the anarchy and growing anger in Sinai.
Gaza terrorist groups are heavily involved, it noted. “Palestinian terrorist groups active in the Gaza strip are accessible to local Bedouin organizations in Sinai which affiliatethemselves with the global jihad, and have both financial and ideological motives.”
Hamas generally attempts to force international jihad terror groups, including “rebel” groups in Gaza, into following its relatively restrained approach to terrorism, the authors said. Hamas has occasionally declared ceasefires with Israel, apparently fearing a repeat of the Cast Lead counterterror operation of 2008-2009.
However, they continued, Hamas leaders are happy to see other groups carry out attacks with no “address” – that is, with no single known terrorist group behind them.
Such attacks have included rocket attacks, attacks on Israelis near the border, and weapons smuggling from Sinai to Israel.
“Hamas and other organizations are careful to hide this type of activity, and sometimes even to deny it, in order to avoid exposing themselves to an Israeli response,” they noted. In addition, the groups seek to avoid “complicating their relationships with Egypt, particularly in the era after the election of Mohammed Morsi as Egyptian president.”
(left) Deadly Assam riots engulf India in a wave of violence that leaves 22 dead. (Right) 115 die in a wave of sectarian violence across Iraq. A civil war rages in Syria; violence has ravaged Afghanistan. We ask, is the world on the verge of unraveling?
July 24, 2012 – INDIA – Police shot at a roving mob in India’s northeastern state of Assam on Tuesday as security forces struggled to contain ethnic fighting that has killed 22 people and left remote hamlets in flames, forcing tens of thousands from their homes. Rioting between Bodo tribespeople and Muslim settlers has raged for days. Several people suffered bullet wounds and others were injured in a stampede when police fired to disperse a gang of 400 on Tuesday morning, a senior police official said. Soldiers and federal paramilitary troops patrolled Bodo tribe-dominated Kokrajhar town and outlying areas on armored vehicles mounted with machine guns. Locals said more reinforcements were needed to stop the violence that spread to rural areas and neighboring districts overnight, with more hamlets along river banks and in the jungle burned by rival mobs. Some 500 villages have been destroyed. “The security forces were silent spectators when village after village was burnt down,” veteran local politician Urkhao Gwra Brahma told Reuters. “This morning I thought the situation would become normal, but I was wrong. Violence again started. It is really out of control.” Ringed by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, India’s northeast is home to more than 200 ethnic and tribal groups and has been racked by separatist revolts since India’s independence from Britain in 1947. In recent years, Hindu and Christian tribes have vented strong anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment against Bangladeshi settlers. The latest violence was sparked on Friday night when unidentified men killed four youths in the isolated Kokrajhar district, police and district officials said. In retaliation, armed Bodos attacked Muslims, suspecting them of being behind the killings. Hundreds of men armed with spears, clubs and rocks attacked an express train passing through Kokrajhar on Tuesday, injuring several passengers. Hagrama Mohilary, the leader of the tribal council governing the region, warned that former separatist rebels had joined the violence to protect Bodo villages. He called for the rebels, who are officially observing a ceasefire, to lay down their arms. Bodo tribes shot at Muslim villages close to the border with Bhutan on Monday night, a senior police officer who asked not to be named told Reuters. He said no casualties had been reported. Assam’s chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, told TV network CNN-IBN that he hoped the situation would be under control within two days. He said some 30,000 villagers have fled their homes and taken shelter in relief camps, but local officials said the numbers were at least twice that. –Reuters
Wave of sectarian violence explodes in Iraq: A series of roadside bombings, exploding cars and gun battles have killed at least 115 people and injured more than 200 across Iraq in the deadliest day of violence in more than two years. The coordinated attacks on Monday come after al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, warned the militant network was returning to strongholds from which it was driven before US troops left the country in December. “The majority of the Sunnis in Iraq support al Qaeda and are waiting for its return,” he said in a statement last week. The bombings and shootings all took place within a few hours of each other, shattering a two-week lull in violence in the run-up to the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which started in Iraq on Saturday. Sectarian violence peaked in Iraq in 2006-2007, but deadly attacks have persisted while political tensions among Iraq’s main Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions have mounted since the American military withdrawal. No group has claimed responsibility for the latest wave of assaults, but a senior Iraqi security official blamed the local wing of al Qaeda, made up of Sunni Muslim militants hostile to the Shi’ite-led government. “Recent attacks are a clear message that al Qaeda in Iraq is determined to spark a bloody sectarian war,” the official said, asking not to be named. “With what’s going on in Syria, these attacks should be taken seriously as a potential threat to our country. Al Qaeda is trying to push Iraq to the verge of Shi’ite-Sunni war,’ he said. “They want things to be as bad as in Syria,” he added. –Sky News
July 23, 2012 – 100 Dead and 300 Wounded in Bloodiest Iraq Carnage of 2012: A barrage of bombings and attacks targeting civilians and members of the Iraqi armed forces killed and wounded scores of people in nearly two dozen towns and cities across Iraq on Monday after a statement attributed to an al Qaeda-linked militant group threatened Baghdad’s Shiite-led government.
At least 91 people were killed and 318 wounded in the latest spasm of violence, according to accounts late Monday from the Ministry of Interior and security officials around the country. The Associated Press reported that at least 103 people had died.
The bloodshed coincided with the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, a period of daylight fasting and prayers that started Saturday for most adherents of the Shiite branch of Islam, which accounts for the majority of Iraq’s population. For most Sunni Muslims around the world, including in Iraq, the first day of Ramadan was Friday.
The bloodiest attacks in Iraq on Monday were aimed at predominantly Shiite areas, in Baghdad and elsewhere, and at army and police units in oil-rich areas north of the capital that have been roiled by sectarian and ethnic tensions for years.
Several parked car bombs were detonated in markets packed with Ramadan shoppers in predominantly Shiite areas such as Baghdad’s congested Sadr City district, the town of Taji northwest of the capital and the city of Diwaniya to the south, killing and wounding dozens, according to a Ministry of Interior official.
In the most brazen series of assaults against Iraqi security forces in more than a year, gunmen in several vehicles used rocket launchers and grenades in a dawn attack on two military outposts for the Iraqi army’s Fourth Division. The outposts are located in a desert area known as al-Udhaim between Baghdad and the northern oil city of Kirkuk, security officials said. Click on the link below, for the complete story from the Wall Street Journal.
The Master of Disaster
Published by Jihad Watch
Flight schools must not provide “flight training to a foreign student unless the Secretary of Homeland Security first determines that the student does not pose a threat to aviation or national security.” But actually to do this checking would be “Islamophobic.” And anyway, what could go wrong?
More than a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001terror attacks claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans, some foreign flight students are still not subject to terror database screening until after they’ve completed pilot training, according to a new report from the government’s watchdog.”Thus, foreign nationals obtaining flight training with the intent to do harm, such as three of the pilots and leaders of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, could have already obtained the training needed to operate an aircraft before they received any type of vetting,” says report, published today by the Government Accountability Office….
After the attacks, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) established the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP), which is designed to prevent flight schools regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration from “providing flight training to a foreign student unless the Secretary of Homeland Security first determines that the student does not pose a threat to aviation or national security.”
But the new GAO report says that the AFSP database is woefully behind and some of the more than 25,000 foreign nationals who were in the FAA airmen registry were not found in the AFSP database, “indicating that these individuals had not applied to the AFSP or been vetted by the TSA before taking flight training and receiving an FAA airman certificate.”…