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					                                                                                                                   JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

                                                    coMBAtinG terrorisM center At West point

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                                                    oBJectiVe . releVAnt . riGorous

Contents                                            A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban
feAture Article
1 A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
                                                    By Hassan Abbas
  By Hassan Abbas

4 The Changing Face of Salafi-Jihadi
   Movements in the United Kingdom
   By James Brandon
6 Al-Qa`ida’s Extensive Use of the
   By Gabriel Weimann
8 Al-Qa`ida’s “MySpace”: Terrorist
   Recruitment on the Internet
   By evan f. Kohlmann
10 Combating Terrorism Through a
   Counter-Framing Strategy
   By robert Wesley
12 Partner or Spoiler: The Case of the
   Islamic Army in Iraq
   By pascale combelles siegel
14 The Challenge of Islamist Militancy in
   By paul staniland

                                                            he organizational strength,              groups, which were banned in Pakistan,
16 Recent Highlights in Terrorist Activity
                                                            military strategy and leadership         started joining the Taliban ranks in FATA—
20 CTC Sentinel Staff & Contacts
                                                            quality of the Taliban in Pakistan’s     some as followers while others as partners.
                                                            tribal territories has qualitatively     During this process, the Pakistani Taliban
                                                    improved during the last few years. At           never really merged into the organizational
                                                    the time of the U.S.-led military campaign       structure of the Afghan Taliban under
                                                    in Afghanistan in late 2001, allies and          Mullah Omar; instead, they developed a
                                                    sympathizers of the Taliban in Pakistan          distinct identity. From their perspective,
                                                    were not identified as “Taliban” themselves.     they intelligently created a space for
                                                    That reality is now a distant memory. Today,     themselves in Pakistan by engaging in
                                                    Pakistan’s indigenous Taliban are an effective   military attacks while at other times cutting
                                                    fighting force and are engaging the Pakistani    deals with the Pakistani government to
About the CTC Sentinel
                                                    military on one side and NATO forces on the      establish their autonomy in the area.1 By
the combating terrorism center is an
                                                    other.                                           default, they were accepted as a legitimate
independent educational and research
                                                                                                     voice in at least two FATA agencies—South
institution based in the Department of social
                                                    The transition from being Taliban                Waziristan and North Waziristan.
sciences at the united states Military Academy,
                                                    supporters and sympathizers to becoming
West point. the ctc sentinel harnesses
                                                    a mainstream Taliban force in the Federally      During this process, the Pakistani Taliban
the center’s global network of scholars and
                                                    Administered     Tribal    Areas     (FATA)      effectively established themselves as an
practitioners in order to understand and
                                                    initiated when many small militant groups        alternative leadership to the traditional
confront contemporary threats posed by
                                                    operating independently in the area started      tribal elders. By the time the Pakistani
terrorism and other forms of political violence.
                                                    networking with one another. This sequence       government       realized      the    changing
                                                    of developments occurred while Pakistani         dynamics and tried to resurrect the tribal
the views expressed in this report are those of     forces were spending the majority of their       jirga institution, it was too late. The Taliban
the authors and not of the u.s. Military Academy,   resources finding “foreigners” in the area
the Department of the Army, or any other agency     linked to al-Qa`ida (roughly in the 2002-04
of the u.s. Government.                                                                              1 They began cutting deals with the government in
                                                    period). Soon, many other local extremist

                                                                                                                           JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

had killed approximately 200 of the tribal              services to gather support for the group.             Bhutto’s death on December 27, 2007.8 On
elders under charges of being Pakistani and             Such leaks are not uncommon. Nothing has              January 4, 2008, however, TTP spokesman
American spies.                                         been heard about this organization since.             Ghazi Ahmed called journalists to inform
                                                                                                              them that a one week extension of the
These developments explain the genesis of               Less than two months after this                       ultimatum would begin on January 5 and
a new formation: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan              announcement, another group claiming to               threatened to attack the city of Peshawar
(TTP). The TTP refers to the Taliban                    be Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan announced                if their demands were not met.9 The TTP
“movement” in Pakistan that coalesced                   its formation. The December 14, 2007                  was also quick to deny their involvement
in December 2007 under the leadership                   announcement was viewed suspiciously                  in killing Bhutto after the government of
of Baitullah Mehsud—a wanted militant                   in terms of authenticity, since it followed           Pakistan claimed that her assassination
leader from South Waziristan. This analysis             after the October 23 announcement. It soon            was conducted by associates of Baitullah
discusses the origin, nature, capabilities and          became clear, however, that the December              Mehsud and even produced a transcript of
potential of this organization.                         14 announcement was unique and alarming.              Mehsud’s telephone conversation proving
                                                        It showed that the authentic Taliban were             his involvement.10
Formation of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan                  quick to establish their ownership over the
The name “Tehrik-i-Taliban” had been                    title “Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.”                    Mehsud’s     spokesman      responded    by
used prior to the latest December 14                                                                          maintaining that the transcript was “a
announcement. An organization with a                    Structure, Activities and Goals of the TTP            drama,” and that Bhutto’s death was a
similar name emerged in FATA’s Orakzai                  A shura of 40 senior Taliban leaders                  “tragedy” that had left Mehsud “shocked.”11
Agency in 1998.2 Some reports also mention              established the TTP as an umbrella                    A purported spokesman for Mehsud, Maulvi
a similar organization by the name of                   organization. Militant commander Baitullah            Omar, later told Reuters: “Tribal people
Tehrik-i-Tulaba (Movement of Students)                  Mehsud was appointed as its amir, Maulana             have their own customs. We don’t strike
also operating in Orakzai Agency that even              Hafiz Gul Bahadur of North Waziristan                 women.”12 This shows that the organization
established an active Shari`a court.3 The               as senior naib amir (deputy) and Maulana              has a media cell, a public relations policy
name and idea, therefore, is not original.              Faqir Muhammad of Bajaur Agency as the                and is quite serious about its plans. The
                                                        third in command.6 The shura not only has             Pakistani government has been slow to
More recently, on October 23, a credible                representation from all of FATA’s seven               respond to these developments as the TTP
newspaper in Pakistan disclosed that five               tribal agencies, but also from the settled            has not yet been officially banned, and the
militant groups joined hands to set up an               North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)                   government maintains that “a decision to
organization named Tehrik-i-Taliban in                  districts of Swat, Bannu, Tank, Lakki                 this effect will come only after a thorough
Mohmand Agency with a goal “to flush out                Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohistan, Buner             examination of all the aspects concerned.”13
gangs carrying out criminal activities in the           and Malakand. This reach demonstrates the
name of Taliban.” Its spokesman, who was                TTP’s ambitions. Since its establishment,             Although the TTP is young as an
identified under the Arab name Abu Nauman               the TTP through its various demarches have            organization, there is no dearth of
Askari, even mentioned the formation of a               announced the following objectives and                operational capabilities at its disposal.
16-member shura (consultative committee)                principles:                                           Baitullah Mehsud already is an established
to coordinate the activities of the groups.4                                                                  leader—with the command of some 5,000
The statement, however, sounded like an                 1. Enforce Shari`a, unite against NATO                fighters—and has been involved in
initiative that benefited from government               forces in Afghanistan and perform                     militant activities for the last few years in
involvement since Islamabad has been                    “defensive jihad against the Pakistan                 FATA and the adjacent areas. Many other
attempting to create rifts between the                  army.” 7                                              militant groups seem anxious to join in.
different Taliban and militant factions. The            2. React strongly if military operations are          On December 23, 2007, for instance,
rise of Maulvi Nazir in 2007, for instance,             not stopped in Swat District and North                five soldiers and six civilians were killed
was such an operation as he had received                Waziristan Agency.                                    in the Mingora area of the Swat Valley
government support in challenging Uzbek                 3. Demand the abolishment of all military             when a suicide bomber targeted an
militants operating in South Waziristan.5               checkpoints in the FATA area.                         army convoy. Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-
Furthermore, the news was not carried by                4. Demand the release of Lal Masjid (Red              e-Mohammadi (TNSM) quickly claimed
any other major newspaper in the country,               Mosque) Imam Abdul Aziz.                              responsibility for the attack on behalf of the
indicating that no general press release                5. Refuse future peace deals with the
was issued by the supposed new formation.               government of Pakistan.                               8 Alamgir Bhettani, “Taliban Give Two Days for Swat
In this context, it is possible that it was a                                                                 Pullout,” Dawn, January 3, 2008.
planted story by Pakistan’s intelligence                Initially, the TTP gave a 10 day deadline for         9 “Tehrik-i-Taliban Threatens Attacks in Settled
                                                        the government to stop military action in             Areas,” The News, January 5, 2008; “Taliban Set 7-day
2 Hassan Abbas, “The Black-Turbaned Brigade: The        FATA and Swat District, but then extended             Deadline,” The Nation [Lahore], January 5, 2008.
Rise of TNSM in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 4:23       the deadline in lieu of the country’s                 10 “Transcript of Alleged al-Qaida Intercept,” ABC
(2006).                                                 mourning of former Prime Minister Benazir             News, December 28, 2007.
3 The Herald [Karachi], February 1999.                                                                        11 “Mehsud Denies Killing Bhutto: Al-Qaida,” NDTV,
4 “Militants Form New Group,” Dawn, October 23,                                                               December 29, 2007.
2007.                                                   6 Mushtaq Yusufzai, “Militants Seek End to Military   12 Laura King, “Taliban Blamed for Attack on Bhutto,”
5 For details, see Hassan Abbas, “South Waziristan’s    Operations,” The News, December 16, 2007.             Los Angeles Times, December 29, 2007.
Maulvi Nazir: The New Face of the Taliban,” Terrorism   7 “Second Editorial: Tribal Areas Under Centralized   13 Azaz Syed, “Taliban Outfit Faces Ban,” Daily Times,
Monitor 5:9 (2007).                                     Control,” Daily Times, December 16, 2007.             December 21, 2007.

                                                                                                                              JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

TTP.14 TNSM, another banned terrorist                   in the interests of the tribal regions as well           the government—while on the other hand is
outfit, is led by Maulana Fazlullah and                 as Pakistan.18 As part of the deal, he had               negotiating with the government on behalf
had re-emerged in 2006. The group made                  pledged not to provide any assistance to al-             of his home agency. It is possible that the
headlines for taking control of large                   Qa`ida and other militants and not to launch             government is trying to create a wedge
areas in the Swat Valley of the NWFP.                   operations against government forces. The                between the top leaders of the TTP—a smart
The army, after a large operation in late               deal was short lived, and since 2006 he                  move if this is indeed the motivation.
2007, recaptured the district, but TNSM                 has virtually established an independent
militants (numbering in the hundreds) are               zone in parts of South Waziristan Agency,                Maulana Faqir Muhammad—The relatively
still operating in parts of the district. The           which is widely believed to be a sanctuary               well-profiled 39-year-old Faqir Muhammad
TTP’s demand for halting government                     for al-Qa`ida and the Taliban. In private                belongs to Mohmand tribe and is known as
military action in Swat appealed to TNSM                discussions, Pakistani officials also blame              a facilitator for al-Qa`ida.23 He is a resident
members and will predictably lead to                    the United States for direct military                    of Bajaur Agency, but was educated in the
more collaboration between the two                      operations in FATA, leading to the collapse              Salafist tradition in various madrasas of the
groups in terms of manpower, logistics                  of some deals. Mehsud commands a force                   NWFP. This brought him closer to the Arabs
and intelligence. TNSM leader Fazlullah                 of around 5,000 militants and has moved                  operating in the area, which also benefited
is known for the mobile FM radio stations               aggressively against Pakistan’s army in                  him financially. This perhaps allows him to
that he managed until recently, on which                recent months, especially when he captured               afford the personal security team that he is
he would broadcast his radical ideology.                around 250 army soldiers in August 2007.19               known to have. He came into prominence
A TTP radio broadcast in the future would               The soldiers were returned only when the                 in 2005 when government forces raided
be one potential sign of more cooperation               government released 25 militants associated              his house in search of some “high-value”
between the two terrorist groups.                       with Mehsud.20                                           al-Qa`ida operatives. He was a target of a
                                                                                                                 U.S. missile attack in 2006, but he escaped
The TTP’s denial about its involvement in               Maulana Hafiz Gul Bahadur—Belonging                      unhurt. He also remained close to TNSM’s
Bhutto’s murder has little face value, but              to North Waziristan Agency, he has been                  founder Maulana Sufi Muhammad, who is
it is too early to reach any conclusion since           a member of the local Taliban shura since                currently in jail.
the Pervez Musharraf government may be                  2005. He was also a member of the three-
trying to shift the blame and divert attention          man signatory team, representing North                   Conclusion
from its own failure to provide adequate                Waziristan tribes, that signed the well-                 Of the 56 suicide bombings in Pakistan
security for Bhutto. The TTP’s involvement                                                                       in 2007, 36 were against military related
in the killings of nine tribesmen associated            “The TTP, however,                                       targets, including two against the ISI;
with pro-government leader Maulvi Nazir                                                                          two against the army headquarters in
on January 7 in South Waziristan, however,
                                                        is bound to refocus on                                   Rawalpindi; one aimed at the air force in
is near certain.15 The Pakistani government             Afghanistan if and when                                  Sargodha; and one directed at the facility of
has also circulated a list to law enforcement                                                                    the Special Services Group (SSG) in Tarbela.
agencies of about a dozen important Shi`a
                                                        its position strengthens in                              For many of these attacks, the government
political leaders who, according to its                 FATA and the NWFP.”                                      blamed Baitullah Mehsud and his associates.
intelligence services, are on Baitullah                                                                          This reveals the TTP’s potential now that
Mehsud’s hit list.16                                                                                             it has additional resources and geographic
                                                                                                                 reach. This new organization in fact is
Brief Profiles of TTP’s Senior leaders                  known peace deal between the Pakistani                   expected to increase the capacity of militant
Baitullah Mehsud—The 34-year-old warrior                government and North Waziristan in                       forces in the area and exacerbate the political
belongs to South Waziristan Agency and                  September 2006.21 The deal collapsed in                  instability that has gripped Pakistan in
hails from the Mehsud tribe. He did not                 July 2007. Currently, some negotiations are              recent months. This internal engagement
attend schooling or religious madrasa.                  being held again between the government                  also perhaps largely accounts for the 40
He shuns media and has refused to be                    and the agency, and Bahadur is involved                  percent decline in insurgent attacks on
photographed, indicating that he stands by              in these discussions. Bahadur in fact                    NATO forces in the Pakistan-Afghanistan
the fanatic Talibanized version of Islam. His           recently chaired the meeting of militants                border areas.24 The TTP, however, is bound to
worldview is evident from his statement that            that extended an ongoing cease-fire until                refocus on Afghanistan if and when its position
“only jihad can bring peace to the world.”17            January 20, 2008. 22 It is noteworthy                    strengthens in FATA and the NWFP.
He came to prominence in February 2005                  that on one hand he is part of the TTP
when he signed a deal with the Pakistani                leadership—which is openly challenging                   There are signs that the government is now
government that it termed as his surrender,                                                                      targeting the TTP leadership, but it lacks the
although he interpreted it as a peace deal              18 Shamim Shahid, “Baitullah, Supporters, Lay Down       human intelligence required on the ground.
                                                        Arms,” The Nation, February 8, 2005.                     Musharraf’s waning support within the
14 Claude Salhani, “A Grim Year 2007 for Pakistan,”     19 Amir Mir, “The Most Wanted Pakistani Talib,”          armed forces also complicates the country’s
Middle East Times, December 28, 2007.                   Pakistan Post, December 10, 2007.                        “war on terrorism” strategy. There are many
15 “Nine Aides of Maulvi Nazir Killed,” Daily Times,    20 Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, “Al Qaeda’s New-
January 8, 2008.                                        est Triggerman,” Newsweek, January 14, 2007.             23 Sohail Abdul Nasir, “Al-Zawahiri’s Pakistani Ally:
16 Personal interview, Pakistani government official,   21 Rahimullah Yusufzai, “Peace Accord with Militants,”   Profile of Maulana Faqir Mohammed,” Terrorism Moni-
January 5, 2008.                                        The News, September 14, 2006.                            tor 4:3 (2006).
17 Syed Shoaib Hasan, “Profile: Baitullah Mehsud,”      22 “Five Killed in S Waziristan Clashes,” The News,      24 Jason Straziuso, “US: Afghan Border Attacks Drop
BBC, December 28, 2007.                                 January 9, 2008.                                         40 pct.,” Guardian, December 16, 2007.

                                                                                                                  JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

indications that some former intelligence               Government Crackdown                          for Islamic radicalism by operating
agents and serving junior level officials of            Before the 2005 London bombings, high-        covertly, avoiding open clashes with the
the army apparently are in league with the              profile radicals from the Middle East—        authorities and spurning the national
militants. Borrowing the words of leading               often Saudi-educated and/or veterans of       media. Typically, such preachers—often
Pakistani scholar Pervez Hoodbhoy, “a part of           jihadist violence—controlled mosques and      born and bred in the United Kingdom—
the establishment is clearly at war with another        held rallies in central London, while their   operate in small mosques, community
part.” In this troubling scenario, dismantling          supporters openly ran publishing houses       centers and houses, frequently on
the TTP and bringing its leadership to justice          and websites and forged close links with      the fringes of large towns. They will
is critical for Pakistan’s internal security as         foreign militant groups to whom they          also use more prominent locations,
well as for tackling the Taliban insurgency in          could channel funds and volunteers. Since     such as sympathetic Islamic societies
southern Afghanistan.                                   2005, the United Kingdom has jailed the       in universities, if such opportunities
                                                        most prominent of these preachers, such       arise. These developments are largely
Hassan Abbas is a fellow at Harvard University’s        as Abu Hamza al-Masri, an Egyptian            in keeping with widespread predictions
Kennedy School of Government and a doctoral             veteran of Afghanistan’s anti-Soviet jihad,   that any post-July 7 crackdown would
candidate at The Fletcher School, Tufts University.     and Abu Qatada, a Jordanian sometimes         fragment the jihadist movement and push
Previously, he served in the administrations of         known as Usama bin Ladin’s spiritual          it underground.
Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.        leader in Europe. Other radical preachers
He is also the author of Pakistan’s Drift into          such as Omar Bakri Muhammad and               These lower profile figures have a greater
Extremism: Allah, the Army and America’s                Shaykh Abdullah Feisal have left the          ability to escape detection than their
War on Terror.                                          United Kingdom. Others again, such as         media-hungry predecessors. For example,
                                                        Saad al-Faqih and Mohammad al-Massari,        Usman “Uzi” Ali, a former member of al-
                          ***                           both linked to al-Qa`ida through their        Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri’s pro-jihadist
                                                        opposition to the Saudi government in the     group, who has claimed to have helped
The Changing Face of                                    early 1990s, now restrict their activities    British volunteers join the Taliban in 2001,
                                                        to Arabic language media and websites         preached pro-jihadist sermons for several
Salafi-Jihadi Movements in                              to avoid deportation to their home            years at an obscure mosque in Woolwich,
the United Kingdom                                      countries. Other leading Islamists—most       East London, leaving only after the mosque’s
                                                        notably Rashid al-Ghanoushi and Ali           trustees won a £30,000 court case to expel
By James Brandon                                        al-Bayanouni, the respective leaders of       him.4 Soon afterward, Ali was appointed
                                                        the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia and         Muslim chaplain to the nearby state-funded
a series of attempted Islamic terrorist                 Syria—have similarly been allowed to          Queen Elizabeth Hospital before being
attacks in the United Kingdom since the                 remain in the United Kingdom as long as       fired after Muslim patients complained
July 7, 2005 London bombings seem,                      they do not incite or plan violence.          about his anti-Western sermons.5 He now
at first glance, to suggest that Britain’s                                                            organizes prayers and meetings in gyms
Salafi-jihadi   networks—once       among               In a further attempt to remove extremists’    and community centers in East London
the most sophisticated in Europe—have                   platforms, radical mosques—such as            and has told his followers that he aims to
survived government crackdowns largely                  Abu Hamza’s mosque in Finsbury Park           establish after-hours religious schools for
unscathed. In particular, one group’s                   in north London—have been put in the          their children to counter the “un-Islamic”
attempt to detonate two car bombs in                    hands of more moderate preachers and          teachings of mainstream schools and
central London and then attack Glasgow                  pro-jihadist websites shut down. In           mosques.6 Although arrested on at least one
airport in June 2007 appears to indicate                addition, groups funneling volunteers and     occasion, he has not been prosecuted for any
that the threat of further jihadist attacks             money to jihadist groups in South Asia        terrorism-related offenses.
remain high. 1 Other plots allegedly                    and the Middle East have been broken up,
prevented by police include separate                    while the security services have proven       Supporters of jihadist ideologies who run
attempts to kidnap and kill off-duty                    themselves increasingly able to penetrate     their own mosques have also found ways to
Muslim soldiers in the British army 2 and               cells preparing terrorist attacks.            continue spreading pro-jihadist teachings
to explode bombs on a number of trans-                                                                while avoiding prosecution. For example, in
Atlantic flights. 3 Behind this apparent                Evolution of Jihadist Networks                Luton, a town 30 miles north of London with
swell of jihadist activity, however,                    While the government’s actions have made      a large Pakistani population, one mosque
government initiatives have significantly               radical Islam less visible in the United      has apparently circumvented laws against
disrupted militant networks, and jihadist               Kingdom—especially compared to the            incitement by using child imams who
ideologies are coming under increasingly                “Londonistan” era of the late 1990s—there     cannot be prosecuted as they are below the
effective theological attack from Muslims               are signs that this calm may be deceptive.    legal age of responsibility. In autumn 2007,
in Britain and abroad.                                  Jihadist groups worldwide are notable         one such child imam lectured worshippers
                                                        for their willingness to adapt to changing    on the injustices suffered by Muslims held
                                                        circumstances, and those in the United
1 David Leppard, “Britain Under Attack as Bombers       Kingdom are no exception.                     4 Personal interview, eyewitness, London, January
Strike at Airport,” The Times [London], July 1, 2007.                                                 2008.
2 David Byers, “Soldier Kidnap Terror Plot: Six         Increasingly, evidence suggests that a        5 “Extremist Was Hospital Chaplain,” BBC, September
Charged,” The Times, February 9, 2007.                  younger generation of preachers who           20, 2007.
3 Adam Fresco, “Eleven Charged over Transatlantic       sympathize with al-Qa`ida are presently       6 Personal interview, eyewitness, London, November
Bomb Plot,” TimesOnline, August 21, 2006.               adapting to the UK’s decreasing tolerance     2007.

                                                                                                                            JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

in prison on anti-terror laws before calling         perceived as dangerous not only to Islamism,                Qa`ida—most notably its decision to target
on the congregation to “resist” the British          but even to the Islamic faith as a whole.                   Iraqi civilians—have also done considerable
government.7                                                                                                     damage to the jihadist cause and have boosted
                                                     Other damaging attacks on al-Qa`ida’s                       those who question the group’s Islamic
Veteran Muslim Brotherhood members                   ideology have come from former jihadists.                   legitimacy.
have similarly continued to incite their             Usama Hasan, an imam who runs a
followers while carefully skirting anti-             prominent Salafist mosque in Leyton in                      Conclusion
terror laws. For instance, Azzam Tamimi,             East London, is typical. In 1990, Hasan                     Salafi-jihadi networks in Britain have
a prominent defender of Hamas and a                  traveled to Afghanistan where he received                   changed significantly since the 2005
Muslim Brotherhood member, told an                   military training and briefly fought against                London bombings. Yet, while there are
anti-Israel rally in London’s Trafalgar              the country’s communist government.                         signs that jihadist ideologies are losing
Square on July 10, 2006 that “if they                After returning to the United Kingdom,                      ground to less violent forms of Islam, this
don’t want peace, we have another                    he was heavily involved in radical Salafist                 process remains fragile. Any perceived
language—and we have every right to                  activism; for example, he wrote influential                 victories for jihadist movements in Iraq,
use that language.” 8 In some universities,          critiques of “pacifists” such as Hamza                      Afghanistan, Somalia or elsewhere at this
radical Salafist preachers have similarly            Yusuf, a U.S.-based cleric.10 Today, Hasan                  critical time will likely greatly strengthen
exploited traditions of tolerance and                preaches religious tolerance and integration                British radicals and could badly
freedom of speech. For example, a Friday             at his mosque to a traditionalist Salafist                  undermine Muslim attempts to challenge
sermon given to hundreds of Muslims on               congregation, which averages 800-1,000                      jihadist theologies—underscoring how
the campus of Imperial College University            strong on Fridays. “Usually if someone                      U.S. success in Iraq and elsewhere
in London in autumn 2007 reportedly                  speaks against extremism, people say that                   remains critical to defeating Islamic
ended in prayers for the “victory of the             he’s a government agent but with those of us                extremism globally.
mujahidin everywhere in the world.” 9                who were in Afghanistan they can’t say that
                                                     to us,” he said.11                                          In addition, because Britain’s Muslims
Challenges to Pro-Jihadist Ideologies                                                                            are disproportionately poor, young and
Although many Salafi-jihadi preachers                Such indigenous refutations of jihadist                     unskilled, they remain vulnerable to
have adapted to anti-terrorism measures,             ideas augment similar criticisms made                       extremist ideologies. Socio-economic
there are signs that many British Muslims            by Salafists abroad. The latest of these                    factors do not directly cause jihadist
are becoming more willing to tackle                  is by Sayyid Imam `Abd al-`Aziz Imam                        violence, but they allow radical preachers
extremist preachers. During the 1980s                al-Sharif (also known as Dr. Fadl), the                     to convince British Muslims to locate
and 1990s, British Salafi-jihadis enjoyed a          former spiritual leader of Egyptian Islamic                 themselves within the global Muslim sense
free reign to promote their ideology as the          Jihad presently imprisoned in Egypt, who                    of victimhood and to believe that their
most authentic form of Islamic practice              recently wrote that Muslims who have an                     situation can only be addressed through
and to present violence and martyrdom                agreement or contract with a non-Muslim                     violence. Furthermore, the growing
as the greatest acts of faith. Since then,           state (e.g. who have received a European                    political savvy of the next generation of
jihadist ideologies have come under                  visa or citizenship) are forbidden from                     jihadist preachers poses new challenges
increasing attack. The most damaging                 attacking its citizens there. 12 His thesis                 to the United Kingdom’s security
attacks are those which have come from               has been swiftly attacked by British-based                  services—especially as the fragmentation
within the Salafist tradition.                       Salafists who perceive such critiques as a                  and dispersal of radical networks makes
                                                     threat. In December 2007, for example,                      potentially militant individuals harder to
Since the summer of 2007, one of the most            Tariq Ramadan, a prominent supporter of                     monitor. Together, these and other factors
prominent British opponents of the jihadist          the Muslim Brotherhood, told students at                    ensure that British-based Salafi-jihadi
worldview has been Maajid Nawaz, a former            London’s School of Oriental and African                     movements—even if declining in strength
member of the leadership council of Hizb-            Studies that al-Sharif’s ideas were invalid                 and influence—will continue to threaten
ut-Tahrir (HT), a global group that wants to         because people held in Egyptian prisons                     the United Kingdom for years to come.
restore the caliphate. HT has been accused           “will say anything.” 13
of radicalizing several British jihadists, most                                                                  James Brandon is a senior research fellow at the
notably Omar Sharif, a British student who           For many British Muslims, however, such                     Centre for Social Cohesion in London. He is a
attempted to carry out a suicide bombing             critics of jihadism are increasingly being                  former journalist who has reported on Islamic
in Israel in April 2003. Nawaz has begun             vindicated by setbacks suffered by jihadist                 movements in Europe, the Middle East and Africa
a theological refutation of HT’s ideology,           movements in Central Asia, the Middle East                  for a wide variety of print and broadcast media.
publicizing his views through mainstream             and North Africa. Strategic errors by al-                   He has a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the
media as well as to all Muslim audiences.                                                                        School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
In many cases, the vitriolic responses to his        10 Usama Hasan, “Recapturing Islam from the Paci-
arguments suggest that his ideas are often           fists,” available on various websites, November 14, 2001.
                                                     11 Personal interview, Usama Hasan, Masjid al-Tawhid,
7 Personal interview, eyewitness, London, October    Leyton, East London, December 28, 2007.
2007.                                                12 Jarret Brachman, “Leading Egyptian Jihadist Sayyid
8 Available at               Imam Renounces Violence,” CTC Sentinel 1:1 (2008).
watch?v=zh6q02J6dJk.                                 13 Lecture by Tariq Ramadan, “Introduction to Islam
9 Personal interview, eyewitness, London, November   and Islamism,” SOAS Middle East Society, November
2007.                                                17, 2007.

                                                                                                                          JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

Al-Qa`ida’s Extensive                                        Malaysia and Texas before it was taken              our site closes down before you have
                                                             off at the request of U.S. officials. It then       done this, we may hold you to account
Use of the Internet                                          changed its name and URL every few days,            before Allah on the Day of Judgment…
                                                             forced to move from server to server by             We expect our website to be opened
By Gabriel Weimann                                           citizens who complained to the Internet             and closed continuously. Therefore,
                                                             Service Providers (ISP) that were hosting           we urgently recommend any Muslims
al-qa`ida is a decentralized network                         the sites. Then, in late 2002, al-Qa`ida            that are interested in our material
of networks with no structure, hierarchy                     lost access to its internet domain because          to copy all the articles from our site
or center of gravity. It is based on a global                it expired and was acquired by a private            and disseminate them through their
alliance of autonomous groups and                            citizen. The site operators tried        own websites, discussion boards and
organizations, in a loosely-knit international               to reappear by using various server accounts        e-mail lists. This is something that
network. This composition is strikingly                                                                          any Muslim can participate in, easily,
similar to the internet with its unstructured
network, reliance on a decentralized web
                                                             “The internet is becoming                           including sisters. This way, even if
                                                                                                                 our sites are closed down, the material
of nodes with no center and no hierarchy.                    a major weapon in al-                               will live on with the Grace of Allah.2
The parallel between the two may not be so
coincidental: al-Qa`ida adopted the internet
                                                             Qa`ida’s strategy.”
                                                                                                             The Communicative Uses
and has become increasingly reliant on it for                                                                From the communicative perspective,
its operations and survival. The 2001 war on                                                                 terrorism is often viewed as a form of
terrorism destroyed al-Qa`ida’s sanctuary                    that had no associated domain name. When        psychological warfare, and al-Qa`ida has
in Afghanistan and forced the organization                   that failed, they started posting the alneda.   attempted to wage such a campaign through
to transform into a highly decentralized                     com site as a “parasite”: the site would be     the internet. For instance, al-Qa`ida uses
network of alliances and confederations.                     posted on a hijacked website until it was       the internet to spread disinformation,
For the new global network of al-Qa`ida, the                 noticed and removed by the ISP. When it was     deliver threats intended to cause fear and
internet became a crucial platform, carrier                  removed, however, they would simply start       disseminate grisly images of recent actions.
and bonding mechanism.                                       the process again. In April 2003, al-Qa`ida’s   The internet—an uncensored medium—
                                                             website came back online with the title         allows even a small group to spread its
The internet, the most contemporary of                       “Faroq,” yet flying the banner.      message and exaggerate its importance
media, has become the leading instrument                     Although the new site and other al-Qa`ida       and threat potential. Since the September
of al-Qa`ida’s communications, propaganda,                   sites moved frequently, administrators and      11 attacks, al-Qa`ida has saturated its
recruitment and networking. Al-Qa`ida is                     readers publicized the site’s new locations     websites with a string of announcements of
now operating approximately 5,600 websites                   through chat room announcements, e-mail
and 900 more are appearing each year.1 They                  correspondence and links on other groups’
are in various formats including jihadist                    websites.
                                                                                                             “The internet—an
websites, forums, chat rooms, electronic                                                                     uncensored medium—
boards and blogs. This report focuses on                     Today, al-Qa`ida’s organization is even
al-Qa`ida because in terms of quantity and                   more virtual. Its reliance on the free
                                                                                                             allows even a small group
sophistication, it is the leading terrorist
abuser of the internet.
                                                             access and use of the internet is also one of   to spread its message and
                                                             the main reasons why the group is still a
                                                             dangerous force. The internet is becoming
                                                                                                             exaggerate its importance
Al-Qa`ida Goes Virtual
In the late 1990s, al-Qa`ida launched its first
                                                             a major weapon in al-Qa`ida’s strategy          and threat potential.”
                                                             to win supporters to its cause, preserve
website, (“al-Neda” means                     its decentralized structure, galvanize its
“The Call” in Arabic). It was registered in                  members to action and raise funds. A
Singapore and appeared on web servers in                     widespread network of websites is used to       an impending major attack on U.S. targets.
                                                             feed directions and information from the        These warnings have received considerable
1 The present report is based on a decade-long project       group’s top leadership to supporters and        media coverage, helping to create a sense
of monitoring and analyzing terrorist presence on the        sympathizers around the world. Al-Qa`ida        of insecurity among audiences throughout
internet, reported in numerous publications. See, for ex-    openly acknowledges the importance of           the world and especially within the United
ample, Gabriel Weimann, Terror on the Internet (Wash-        the internet as a propaganda tool, as it did    States. Al-Qa`ida itself has repeatedly stated
ington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2006); Gabriel        on one of its numerous websites:                on jihadist websites that the 9/11 attacks not
Weimann, “Virtual Disputes: The Use of the Internet for                                                      only inflicted concrete damage to the U.S.
Terrorist Debates,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 29:7       Due to the advances of modern               economy, but also psychological damage.
(2006): pp. 623-639; Gabriel Weimann, “Virtual Train-            technology, it is easy to spread
ing Camps: Terrorist Use of the Internet,” in J. Forest          news, information, articles and             Another popular communicative use of the
ed., Teaching Terror: Strategic and Tactical Learning in         other information over the internet.        internet is for publicity and propaganda.
the Terrorist World (Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield,          We strongly urge Muslim internet            Until the advent of the internet, terrorists’
2006), pp. 110-132; Gabriel Weimann, “Terrorist Dot              professionals    to    spread     and       hopes of winning publicity for their causes
Com: Using the Internet for Terrorist Recruitment and            disseminate news and information
Mobilization,” in J. Forest ed., The Making of a Terrorist       about the jihad through e-mail lists,       2 Cited in “Jihad Online: Islamic Terrorists and the
(Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005), pp. 53-65.                        discussion groups and their own             Internet,” a report produced by the Anti-Defamation
                                                                 websites. If you fail to do this, and       League, 2002.

                                                                                                                           JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

and activities depended on attracting the                   on creating IEDs to producing chemical              terrorist activities or causes. Recruiters
attention of major media outlets. Now that                  weapons. Terrorists also use the internet           can log into chat rooms or visit cyber-cafes
terrorists themselves have direct control                   for data mining. They research information          to find receptive members of the public,
over the content of their websites, they                    such as the schedules and locations of              especially the youth. Electronic bulletin
are better able to manipulate how they are                  targets, including transportation facilities,       boards and user nets can also act as vehicles
perceived by different target audiences                     nuclear power plants, airports and even             for reaching out to potential recruits.
and to shape their image and the image of                   counter-terrorism measures. According to
their enemies. Thus, the most visible part                                                                      Conclusion
of al-Qa`ida’s online presence involves                                                                         Al-Qa`ida represents the worst that
the spread of propaganda, which is
                                                            “Al-Qa`ida represents the                           globalization and advanced community
created by the group’s media branch, al-                    worst that globalization                            technologies have to offer. Al-Qa`ida is a
Sahab Media Production (al-Sahab means                                                                          virtual “network of networks,” a jihadist
“The Cloud” in Arabic). This organization
                                                            and advanced community                              franchise marketing its messages on the
uses modern technology to produce its                       technologies have to offer.”                        internet. Since 9/11, al-Qa`ida operatives
video statements and distribute them to                                                                         have only improved their internet skills
the world. In addition to being released                                                                        and increased their web presence. How
in Arabic, some published videos include                                                                        should democratic societies respond to
English or other language subtitles, while                  then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,          the challenge of online al-Qa`ida? At
more recent productions include videos                      speaking on January 15, 2003, an al-Qa`ida          least two principles seem clear. First, it
in the English and German languages. Al-                    training manual recovered in Afghanistan            is necessary to become better informed
Qa`ida is also operating online radio and                   told its readers, “Using public sources openly      and educated about al-Qa`ida’s use of
television broadcasting and an additional                   and without resorting to illegal means, it is       the internet so that its activities can be
online production facility—the Global                       possible to gather at least 80 percent of all       more efficiently monitored. The growing
Islamic Media Front (GIMF), an al-Qa`ida                    information required about the enemy.”              familiarity with terrorist online discourse
mouthpiece group.                                                                                               may guide us to use the same internet to
                                                            Al-Qa`ida websites use maps, diagrams               challenge the culture of death with an
Many terrorist groups, such as Hamas                        and photos of potential targets downloaded          alternative discourse.
and al-Qa`ida, have transformed from                        from popular websites such as Google
strictly hierarchical organizations with                    Earth. One captured al-Qa`ida computer,             Second, while it is imperative to better
designated leaders to affiliations of semi-                 for example, contained engineering and              defend our societies against terrorism, we
independent cells that have no single                       structural architecture features of a               must not in the process erode the qualities
commanding hierarchy. 3 By utilizing the                    dam, which had been downloaded from                 and values that make our societies worth
internet, these loosely interconnected                      the internet and which “would enable                defending. The use of advanced techniques
groups are able to maintain contact with                    al-Qa`ida engineers and planners to                 to search, monitor, track and analyze
one another and with members of other                       simulate catastrophic failures.” 4 In               communications carries inherent dangers.
terrorist groups. These different groups                    November 2005, one al-Qa`ida website,               Although such technologies might prove
use the internet not only to exchange                       al-Firdaws, posted instructions on how              helpful in the fight against cyber-terrorism
ideas and suggestions, but also to share                    to make nuclear dirty and biological                and internet-savvy jihadists, they would also
practical information about constructing                    bombs. 5 The manual contained 80 pages              hand participating governments, especially
bombs, establishing cells and executing                     of instructions and was dedicated as                authoritarian governments and agencies
attacks.                                                    a “gift to the commander of the jihad               with little public accountability, tools with
                                                            fighters, Shaykh Usama bin Ladin, for the           which to violate civil liberties domestically
By sharing information with other terrorist                 purpose of jihad for the sake of Allah.” 6          and abroad. The long-term implications
groups, al-Qa`ida became the “Jihad’s                       The website received some 57,000 hits. 7            could be damaging for democracies and
Franchise” by using the internet to connect                                                                     their values, adding a heavy price in terms
terrorist groups ranging from Algeria’s                     Al-Qa`ida and other terrorist groups also           of diminished civil liberties to the high toll
Armed Islamic Group (and later the Salafist                 use the internet for fundraising. Al-Qa`ida’s       exacted by terrorism itself.
Group for Preaching and Combat) to                          global fundraising network includes
Pakistan’s Jaysh-i-Muhammad, Chechen                        charities, non-governmental organizations           Dr. Gabriel Weimann is a Full Professor of
rebels, Iraqi insurgents or the al-Qa`ida                   and other financial institutions that use           Communication at Haifa University, Israel and a
cells in Indonesia and Lebanon.                             websites and internet-based chat rooms              former Senior Fellow at the United States Institute
                                                            and forums. The internet can be used not            of Peace, Washington, D.C. He has written widely
The Operational Uses                                        only to solicit donations from sympathizers,        on modern terrorism, political campaigns, and
Al-Qa`ida is also using the internet                        but also to recruit and mobilize supporters         the mass media. His recent book, Terror on the
for operational purposes. After losing                      to play a more active role in support of            Internet: The New Arena, the New Challenges,
Afghanistan as a sanctuary and country                                                                          was published in April 2006.
in which to train, thousands of training                    4 Ibid.
manuals and documents were posted online.                   5 Uzi Mahnaimi and Tom Walker, “Al-Qaeda Woos
These documents range from instructions                     Recruits with Nuclear Bomb Website,” Sunday Times
                                                            [London], November 6, 2005.
3 Gabriel Weimann, How Modern Terrorism Uses the In-        6 Ibid.
ternet (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2004).   7 Ibid.

                                                                                                                       JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

Al-Qa`ida’s “MySpace”:                                 arrangements had been brokered on his               forum. Months later, in March 2005, his
                                                       behalf (over e-mail), the Moroccan became           fate became clear when another Sudanese
Terrorist Recruitment on                               ecstatic and gloated,                               national broke the news to the community
the Internet                                                                                               on Muntada al-Ansar: “Allahu Akhbar…O’
                                                           Praise be to Allah, we are going to go in       brothers, I have just come from the house of
By evan f. Kohlmann                                        over there at the time when the Shaykh          our brother Zaman al-Hawan…[he] executed
                                                           Usama has given the official attestation        the martyrdom operation in Ba`quba last
it has been clearly established that                       to the amir [Zarqawi]…The timing                Wednesday, may Allah accept him.” Phone
terrorist organizations have adopted                       couldn’t be better for us!!!…it is serious,     numbers were posted for Rahman’s father
unusual and innovative ways of using                       we have taken the bags [and] we can’t           and brother back in Sudan so that users could
cutting-edge online technologies to expand                 go back.2                                       contact them and offer their congratulations.5
their movements. Al-Qa`ida’s principal                                                                     A well-known face on the forum—Saqr
media wing, al-Sahab Media Production,                 These men were far from being alone.                al-Jihad al-Afriqi (The African Falcon of
has recently released a flood of new audio             Another frequent participant on Muntada al-         Jihad)—offered more details about the final
and video recordings over Arabic-language              Ansar was a young Sudanese national named           moments of Rahman’s life:
internet chat forums, and has even solicited           Hassan Abdel Rahman. On the web, Rahman
open questions from forum participants                 had assumed the nickname Zaman al-Hawan                Twelve minutes before the operation
to be addressed by al-Qa`ida’s second-in-              (The Era of Shame)—a decision which was                in Ba`quba, he called his family and
command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Yet, while                                                                        explained his intentions. He told them
much time and thought has been dedicated
to studying the physical content broadcast
                                                       “The notion that even the                              that, in 15 minutes, news of his death
                                                                                                              would be delivered to them—and then
over these chat forums, there has been                 al-Ekhlaas forum elite were                            he vanished in the cause of Allah…
far less attention focused on studying the
individual users who populate them. In fact,
                                                       setting forth on their own                             Twenty minutes later, another brother
                                                                                                              called his father to inform him of his
during the past three years, these extremist           personal jihad missions                                son’s departure to meet the virgins of
forums have not only been used as a cover
for al-Qa`ida’s propaganda war, but have
                                                       was particularly inspiring                             paradise.

evolved into a disturbing MySpace-like                 to other members.”                                  Even      senior      Muntada      al-Ansar
social-networking hub for homegrown                                                                        administrators contributed eulogies in
extremists around the world intent on                                                                      honor of Rahman, such as the notorious Saif
becoming the next generation of terrorists,                                                                al-Islam al-Athari. In an open address to his
hijackers and even suicide bombers.                    inspired by the title of an article published       departed comrade, al-Athari mourned,
                                                       in al-Qa`ida’s Sawt al-Jihad online magazine.
Muntada al-Ansar’s Role in Recruitment                 Rahman first registered on the Ansar forum             you left people behind you heartbroken
Arguably, no single such forum has                     in April 2004; in only seven months, he                and went to achieve martyrdom. We
achieved greater infamy than the now-                  authored at least 178 different messages.              thank Allah, the Islamic nation, the
defunct Muntada al-Ansar (The Supporters               Later, one of his comrades on the forum                mujahidin, and all of the supporters
Forum)—the brainchild of, among others,                wrote about him, stating, “Zaman al-Hawan              of jihad for inspiring you…May Allah
a 21-year-old resident of London, Younis               was a hero of Islam who used to write in these         accept you in paradise.6
Tsouli (known as “Terrorist 007”). The                 forums, just like the rest of us…at first, he sat
Ansar forum’s user database included an                still and stayed behind, until Allah called him     Indeed, forum administrators such as al-
elite assortment of recruiters from multiple           to join his brothers.”3 In June 2004, Rahman        Athari were eagerly encouraging faithful
terrorist organizations affiliated with al-            posted a note on the forum which admonished         users to follow the path of online martyrs
Qa`ida, including the actual head of Abu               fellow Muntada al-Ansar users,                      like Hassan Abdel Rahman. In August 2005,
Mus`ab al-Zarqawi’s media wing, Abu                                                                        Saif al-Islam al-Athari was again the one
Maysarah al-Iraqi. Under the careful watch                 who will step forward to defend the             who broke the “good news” to Muntada al-
of Tsouli—and with the assistance of such                  honor of Muslim women? O’ young                 Ansar users about a “meeting of Ansar forum
figures as Abu Maysarah—the Ansar forum                    men of Muhammad, men of al-                     members” inside Iraq:
became a virtual matchmaking service for                   Tawhid…arise and aid your Muslim
budding Islamic militants searching for                    sisters in Iraq now that their honor               This story is fascinating and emotional
a path to jihad, and particularly for the                  has been assaulted by the filthy                   because it is closely linked to…the
emerging mujahidin frontline in Iraq. In                   Christians…Where is your pride?                    Ansar forum…One of our brothers who
December 2004—in private messages sent                     Where are all the real men?4                       was a member on the Ansar forum and
over the Ansar forum—a user from Morocco                                                                      was originally from a country adjacent
contacted Tsouli and begged him for help in            In November 2004, at the height of the                 to Iraq decided to leave and fight in the
establishing direct contact with Zarqawi’s             second battle for control of Falluja in Iraq,          cause of Allah. Allah made it possible
network in Iraq: “I want to remind you that            Rahman suddenly disappeared from the                   for him to meet with an additional five
we would like to depart to the land of jihad.                                                                 brothers from other countries who had
We await your call as though on the hottest            Court, London, prosecution exhibit FK-5, 2007.         all come to fight in the cause of Allah…
of embers.”1 Upon learning that his travel             2 Ibid.
                                                       3 Posted on, April 19, 2005.       5 Posted on, March 24, 2005.
1 Regina v. Tsouli, Daour and Mughal, Woolwich Crown   4 Posted on, April 19, 2005.       6 Posted on, April 19, 2005.

                                                                                                            JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

   Later, after talking with one another,           may all of us meet in paradise. You             brothers is indeed a hard thing to do…I
   they all realized that they were fellow          should keep on the path of jihad and do         would like to thank you personally…
   users on the Ansar forum, and that               not forget to pray for us. All I ask you,       the brothers in al-Nusrah forum. I also
   made them very happy. They began                 dear brothers, is to pray to Allah that I       send my regards to…all al-Ekhlaas
   crying and their love for Allah                  may achieve martyrdom.8                         forum members. I promise you that I
   increased…I also inform you that                                                                 will fight every infidel and crusader,
   one of the brothers who is a member          The notion that even the al-Ekhlaas forum           and may Allah grant us martyrdom.
   on the Ansar forum will soon rejoin          elite were setting forth on their own personal      I also inform you that our brother
   his beloved comrades in the land             jihad missions was particularly inspiring           Mujahid 1988 is safe and sound, praise
   of jihad and martyrdom, the land             to other members. Mujahid 1988’s initial            be to Allah for his blessing.10
   of Mesopotamia, and he will also             farewell received a torrent of responses from
   participate in a suicide operation.7         other users. A second administrator wrote        Conclusion
                                                back,                                            In the same way that traditional terrorist
Muntada al-Ansar’s legacy                                                                        training camps once served as beacons for
Unfortunately, the shuttering of Muntada            Allahu Akhbar…believe me, my friend,         would-be jihadists, online support forums
al-Ansar in late 2005 and the subsequent            the words are frozen in my mouth as I        such as Muntada al-Ansar and al-Ekhlaas
arrest and conviction of Younis Tsouli              stammer and do not know what to say.         now operate as black holes in cyber-
have done almost nothing to deter this              I am happy and sad at the same time,         space, drawing in and indoctrinating
disturbing trend. In the wake of the Ansar          joyful for you and for all the mujahidin,    sympathetic recruits, teaching them basic
forum’s disappearance, other online chat            and pleased because you have put your        military skills and providing a web of
venues have taken over and, once again,             knowledge into action and you were           social contacts that bridges directly into
are serving as an active recruiting ground          not merely content with staying on the       the ranks of al-Qa`ida. Rather than simply
                                                    internet forums without entering the         using the web as a weapon to destroy the
“This is the hidden dark                            real world, where killings and death         infrastructure of their enemies, al-Qa`ida
                                                    truly are.                                   is using it instead as a logistical tool to
side of online social-                                                                           revolutionize the process of terrorist
networking—as a virtual                         Other users offered a chorus of prayers that     enlistment and training. Ironically,
                                                Mujahid 1988 be granted martyrdom “and           these chat forums are based on the same
factory for the production                      receive it in a hail of bullets.”9               viral methodology behind the success of
of terrorists.”                                                                                  many contemporary American high-tech
                                                The example set by Mujahid 1988 was a            enterprises. This is the hidden dark side
                                                powerful signal to other aspiring cyber-         of online social-networking—as a virtual
                                                terrorists about the necessity of gathering      factory for the production of terrorists.
for al-Qa`ida—including the ubiquitous          useful information over the internet and then
al-Ekhlaas forum. Although the al-              “putting it to good use” on the battlefields     Evan F. Kohlmann is an NBC News terrorism
Ekhlaas site has actually been in existence     of the mujahidin. One such user was a            analyst and a senior investigator at the
since the era of Muntada al-Ansar, it has       North African militant operating under the       Nine Eleven Finding Answers (NEFA)
particularly gained in public prominence        pseudonym Abu al-Hijja al-Maghribi. In           Foundation. He has served at various times
and notoriety during the last year, as other    his various posts on the al-Ekhlaas forum,       as a private consultant in terrorism matters
similar sites have been forced to deal with     Abu al-Hijja explored a range of topics—         for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S.
intermittent service blackouts. Al-Ekhlaas      including sharing ideas for new graphic          Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau
has become so sophisticated that it now         designs with al-Qa`ida fighters in Iraq and      of Investigation, the Office of the High
posts slick, animated advertisements for        discussing the best methods to destroy U.S.      Representative      in    Bosnia-Herzegovina,
upcoming recordings of Usama bin Ladin          Apache helicopters and Abrams tanks.             the Australian Federal Police, Central
and Ayman al-Zawahiri. As such, it serves       After a curious absence, he reappeared in        Scotland Police, the UK Crown Prosecution
as one of al-Qa`ida’s most important public     November 2007 with a message titled, “The        Service and Scotland Yard’s SO-15 Counter
mouthpieces.                                    Will of Brother Abu al-Hijja al-Maghribi,        Terrorism Command. Mr. Kohlmann holds
                                                Member of the al-Ekhlaas Forum”:                 a degree in International Politics from the
In late May 2007, a widely-admired                                                               Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
administrator on the al-Ekhlaas forum—              Dear brothers…I did go suddenly to           (Georgetown University) and a J.D. from the
using the handle “Mujahid 1988”—posted a            Iraq, praise be to Allah for his blessing.   University of Pennsylvania Law School. He
new message, declaring,                             The brothers here have allowed me to         is also the recipient of a certificate in Islamic
                                                    get on the internet for one hour and I       studies from the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
   I say goodbye to you, I loved you all.           have used it to send a message to you        Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
   Dear brothers, I say farewell to you             all. I am full of happiness for coming       (CMCU) at Georgetown University.
   and I thank Allah who has enabled all            here and…I am a member in all the
   of us to follow the path of jihad. I am          jihadist forums under various names…I
   filled with joy. Soon my humble will,            ask Allah to use these forums to glorify
   that I sent a few days ago to one of the         Islam…Saying farewell to all of you
   brothers, shall be posted to you all…
                                                8 Posted on, May 31, 2007.
7 Posted on, August 21, 2005.   9 Posted on, May 31, 2007.        10 Posted on, November 15, 2007.

                                                                                                                              JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

Combating Terrorism                                      Operationalizing Ideology and Framing
                                                         Although the concept of framing
                                                                                                                 or movement. In fact, the history
                                                                                                                 of social movements—including al-
Through a Counter-                                       processes as applied to social movements                Qa`ida 5—reveals that specific ideological
Framing Strategy                                         is widely understood, surprisingly a                    components may not even be understood
                                                         common conception of what constitutes                   by all adherents nor articulated publicly.
By robert Wesley                                         “ideology” does not exist. In general                   These facts problematize a purely counter-
                                                         terms, the framing process refers to how                ideological approach. It is also true—and
ideology is of great importance to                       an organization or movement articulates                 especially so in respect to the conflict
understanding all social movements,                      its beliefs and strategy with the view of               against the jihadist movement—that
and the global jihadist movement is no                   mobilizing support. The framing process                 individuals and organizations of many
exception. Indeed, many policymakers and                 approach developed by David A. Snow                     types and orientations may share a broader
terrorism analysts have emphasized the                   et al. was itself borrowed from John                    cultural ideology and yet disagree over
significance of ideology for determining                 Wilson’s deconstruction of ideology,                    collective action processes. For example,
the outcome of the current conflict.                     using the concepts of diagnosis, prognosis              there are numerous relatively peaceful
Unfortunately, however, neither the                      and rationale. 2 Therefore, what is the                 Muslim political, religious and social
conceptual intricacies nor the methods of                difference between the related concepts                 organizations, as well as individuals, who
analysis for a counter-ideology approach                 of ideologies and frames designed to                    subscribe to general Salafist ideological
have been usefully articulated. Although                 mobilize collective action? Although both               tenets yet denounce violence as a form of
it is true that ideology plays a major role              concepts involve the value and belief                   expression or strategy. These facts further
in the communicative, mobilizing and                     systems of an organization or movement,                 support the pursuance of an approach
indoctrinative aspects of this conflict,                 there are important distinctions that need              that negates these inconsistencies by
focusing     counter-movement     strategies             to be elaborated in order to provide a                  focusing on the communicative links
around “countering ideology” is probably                 sound foundation for developing counter-                between organizational leaders and
not the most promising vector of influence               strategies.                                             potential adherents, thereby forgoing the
for Western state-level efforts.                                                                                 risk of getting bogged down in detailed
                                                         Pamela Oliver and Hank Johnston provide                 ideological discourse—an area of which
This article presents some introductory                  a rough distinction, writing that “framing              Western governments have shown little
argumentation found in a larger study on                 points to process, while ideology points                competence.
improving analytical methodologies for                   to content.”3 Robert Benford and Snow
combating the global jihadist movement. 1                elaborate further, mentioning that ideology             Indeed, the framing approach encompasses
Governments should distinguish between                   can refer to a                                          ideological developments, while moving
the ideological tenets and framing                                                                               beyond the mere description of their details
practices of the jihadist movement,                           fairly pervasive and integrated                    to elaborate the process of how these
while concentrating on the latter to more                     set of beliefs and values that have                developments are used for the benefit of
efficaciously influence the protracted                        considerable     staying    power…                 organizational or movemental growth.
nature of the conflict. This distinction is                   In    contrast,  collective   action               The framing process also reaches beyond
an essential prerequisite to formulating                      frames function as innovative                      pure ideological discourse to include
a comprehensive and methodologically-                         amplifications and extensions of, or               the strategic and interactive practices of
sound grand strategy. The counter-                            antidotes to, existing ideologies or               movement adherents and their audiences
framing approach essentially provides a                       components of them. Accordingly,                   such as potential supporters, governments
set of concepts that allows both the analyst                  ideology functions as both a                       and rival organizations.
and policymaker to better understand                          constraint and resource in relation
how to reduce mobilization to both the                        to framing processes and collective                An Argument for Counter-Framing
ideology and the strategy of al-Qa`ida                        action frames. 4                                   There is clearly a complex and dynamic
by influencing the connectivity between                                                                          interactive process within the jihadist
content and audience.                                    It also should be mentioned that                        movement that necessitates a specific
                                                         ideologies, or specific value and belief                analytical framework. It is fair to say that
Before addressing the differing potential                sets, are not necessarily homogeneously                 for the jihadist movement, in everything is
approaches to countering mobilization                    accepted throughout an organization                     ideology, yet not everything is pure ideology.
to the ideas and strategy of al-Qa`ida or                                                                        To describe this intricate dynamic, the
the jihadist movement, it is helpful to                  2 David A. Snow, E. Burke Rochford Jr., Steven K.       framing perspective is immensely useful.
touch on the definitional, congruency                    Worden and Robert D. Benford, “Frame Alignment
and differentiating aspects of the related               Processes, Micromobalization and Movement Participa-    Analysis of ideology can determine what
concepts of ideology and framing as                      tion,” American Sociological Review 51:4 (1986); John   specific ideological developments have
conceptualized in social movement theory.                Wilson, Introduction to Social Movements (New York:     occurred, but there is no current framework
This is the first step to understanding the              Basic Books, 1973).                                     (or methodology) from which to analyze
difference between a counter-ideological                 3 Pamela E. Oliver and Hank Johnston, “What a Good      why these developments matter. Framing
and a counter-framing approach.                          Idea! Frames and Ideologies in Social Movement Re-      analysis also helps better explain the
                                                         search,” Mobilization 5:1 (2000).
                                                         4 Robert D. Benford and David A. Snow, “Framing         5 See, for example, Vahid Brown, Cracks in the Founda-
1 The author is currently writing a monograph on fram-   Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and As-     tion: Leadership Schisms in al-Qa`ida from 1989-2006
ing analysis and counter-strategies.                     sessment,” Annual Review of Sociology (2000).           (West Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center, 2007).

                                                                                                                            JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

process of ideological interactions—“how”              there is a much higher potential to                     crucial component of this conflict for both
and “why” efforts were successful or                   disrupt the resonance of the message for                the jihadists and those wishing to minimize
unsuccessful. Furthermore, it is not always            these ideas and acceptance of the violent               their success.
possible to empirically observe ideological            strategy designed to achieve them.
activities. As Snow and Benford point out,                                                                     Al-Qa`ida and the jihadist movement’s
such activities could in fact be “mentalistic          In conflicts where ideology plays a leading             recruitment and radicalization practices
or cognitive” in nature, and thus difficult to         role, the ideas and broader ideologies                  provide additional evidence of the
assess.6                                               involved can linger well beyond the                     importance of strategic framing activities
                                                       cessation of violence, and thus the                     to the vitality of the organization
Distinguishing between the interactive                 primary objective for any such strategy                 and movement. Recruits who join al-
processes of framing and ideological                   should be focused firstly on the removal                Qa`ida-linked groups have generally
development is essential to understanding              or minimization of violent components.                  undergone some sort of ideological
the communication processes of the                     Part of this strategy entails disruption of             indoctrination process, many times in
jihadist movement and al-Qa`ida proper.                the further organizational development                  the form of classroom or camp-type
To be sure, the movement is dependent                  of al-Qa`ida from a network into a larger               environments, where doctrinal growth
on its ideological foundations to maintain             movement. The second component of the                   can be closely controlled. In more
                                                       strategy is to constrict mobilization of                constrained operational environments
                                                       adherents to the network of organizations.              such as those in Europe, smaller groups
“Part of this strategy                                 This study argues that the best way of                  of peers—many times led by a more
entails disruption of the                              minimizing mobilization is to influence the             experienced “guide”—become an initial
                                                       linkages between organization members                   orientational community for potential
further organizational                                 and potential mobilized adherents. These                recruits. 8 Evidence from arrests in Spain
development of al-Qa`ida                               linkages are many, but most promisingly                 and elsewhere in Europe indicate that
                                                       are the communication practices of the                  strategic communications materials such
from a network into a                                  movement—specifically the relative salience             as videos and literature were of central
larger movement.”                                      and resonance of frames.                                importance to the acceptance of jihadist
                                                                                                               ideology and strategy—or diagnostic and
                                                       Furthermore,     there    are    additional             prognostic frames. 9
                                                       indicators that suggest a predominately
cohesiveness in spite of its decentralized             ideology-focused     approach     is   less             The fact that many recruits have
structure. It is also dependent on an active           encouraging. We can see from viewing                    attempted to join jihadist groups
communications program that places a                   the historical development of al-Qa`ida                 without fully subscribing to or fully
heavy emphasis on core framing activities              and the jihadist movement that this                     understanding jihadist ideology strongly
to articulate its ideological foundations              process of ideological development occurs               indicates that an ideological conversion
while mobilizing additional and essential              gradually. Since this process is based on a             has not yet fully taken root. Since this
support.                                               somewhat—but still interpretative—pre-                  “radicalization” process can take place
                                                       structured religious system, the process                at a later stage after initial enlistment
One of the objectives of the study from                is less dynamic than the prognostic                     or exploration, it seems axiomatic that
which this article is adopted is to provide a          framing and alignment activities of the                 mobilization is not necessarily based on a
framework for monitoring and influencing               organizations involved. It also seems to                purely ideological acceptance, but rather
the success of the jihadist movement’s                 be much less malleable and much more                    on the successful mobilization result of
communication practices and by extension               consistent over time.                                   either the framing processes of human
the longevity of the overall conflict. At this                                                                 operatives or of the more general framing
juncture there is no existing analytical               The prospect of influencing intra-                      processes of the wider communications
framework in open literature for                       movemental       ideological   change      is           efforts—such as the so-called “Media
understanding jihadist communications                  probably low at the current stage in the                Jihad.” Indeed, evidence from internet
in the context of their effectiveness. This            conflict. Although this article is primarily            chat rooms and other sources indicate
study does not argue that ideology and its             concerned     with    Western     state-level           that a level of mobilization (both mental
analysis can be ignored, but rather that               activities, it should be mentioned that                 and physical alignment) for the jihadist
viewing the prospects for Western state-               local authorities in predominately Muslim               conflict theatres have occurred through
level interventional activities through                countries (such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia                  communication efforts. These trends
a counter-ideological lens is much less                and Indonesia) have had some success                    are yet another strong indication that
promising in terms of its success than an              in “encouraging” imprisoned leaders to                  the framing process—especially through
approach that focuses on framing analysis              revise the ideological foundations of their
and its influence. Influencing potential               organizations.7 Although it is important to             8 See, for example, Daniel Fried, U.S. Senate Subcom-
acceptance and adherence to an ideology                analyze ideological developments, without               mittee Testimony, April 5, 2006; Edwin Bakker, “Jihadi
is difficult from a distance. In contrast,             an active framing process the movement                  Terrorists in Europe: Their Characteristics and the Cir-
                                                       would not grow and mobilization would                   cumstances in which they Joined the Jihad,” Clingendael
6 David A. Snow and Robert D. Benford, “Clarifying     prove difficult. Thus, framing analysis is a            Security Paper, December 2006.
the Relationship Between Framing and Ideology in the                                                           9 See, for example, Javier Jordan and Robert Wesley,
Study of Social Movements: A Comment on Oliver and     7 Examples of notable leaders include Sayyid Imam and   “The Threat of Grassroots Jihadi Networks: A Case
Johnston,” Mobilization 5:1 (2000).                    Najih Ibrahim.                                          Study from Ceuta, Spain,” Terrorism Monitor 1:3 (2007).

                                                                                                                    JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

strategic communications—is a vital link
between the movement and its potential
                                                      Partner or Spoiler: The                           “illegitimate and unjust.”1 The group argues
                                                                                                        that the ultimate goal of U.S. policy in Iraq
supporters.                                           Case of the Islamic Army                          is to plunder Iraq’s wealth and advance
                                                      in Iraq                                           the “Crusader-Zionist” plot to divide the
Conclusion                                                                                              umma and subdue the great nation of Iraq.
It is important to emphasize the                      By pascale combelles siegel                       As a result, the IAI consistently claims that
inextricable      relationship      between                                                             “repelling the Western Crusader-Zionist
ideology and the framing process for a                the islamic army in iraq (iai) is often           campaign” is its top priority. To illustrate
movement. For this reason, this study                 referred to as an Islamist-nationalist            its commitment to this proclaimed goal, the
does not argue that one analytical or policy          organization fighting to secure a space for       IAI releases daily rosters of attack claims
approach should be discarded completely               Sunnis in the post-Saddam political era.          against coalition forces.
in favor of another. What this study does             The subtext of this view is that the IAI is
argue is that for Western authorities                 an insurgent organization with which the          The IAI is no less harsh on the current
wishing to impact the longevity of this               U.S. and Iraqi governments can possibly           Iraqi government. Applying its own
conflict, a strategy needs to be developed            reconcile to move toward a peaceful post-         version of the fruit of the poisoned tree,
that is focused on the linkages that enable           Saddam era. Recurring rumors of informal          the IAI unequivocally opposes the Iraqi
the jihadist movement to sustain itself               negotiations between the IAI and U.S.             government. Indeed, because the current
over the long-term. It is thus important              government representatives and evidence of        government was established under
to develop a method for assessing the                 IAI military engagement against al-Qa`ida in      rules decided by the United States, it
success of this interactive process between           Iraq have reinforced the image of the IAI as a    has no legitimacy. In May 2007, the IAI
the movement and potential adherents                  “reasonable insurgent.”                           subscribed to the political program of the
as well as providing a framework for                                                                    RJF, which states:
influencing this interactive dynamic.                 This image, however, does not comport with
Such an integrated analytical/policy                  the group’s public statements. Through a              We do not recognize the constitution
feedback approach does not functionally               series of pronouncements during the past              which was written during the time of
exist. The counter-framing approach                   year, the IAI does not appear as a moderate           the occupiers...We do not recognize
provides the most accurate and thorough               Islamist-nationalist organization willing to          any political games starting [sic] by
method for optimizing grand strategy to               compromise in order to be reintegrated into           the ill-reputed Bremer’s council up
better identify areas of opportunity for                                                                    to his sectarian agent, al-Maliki...
influence, while importantly providing                “The IAI castigates the                               We do not recognize the sectarian
a feedback mechanism to determine the                                                                       elections or what it was based on...
effectiveness of the efforts of both sides of         Shi`a as ‘polytheists,’ calls                         We do not recognize any treaty or any
the conflict.                                         Shi`a political leaders                               agreement held by these consecutive
Robert Wesley is Director of the Terrorism            ‘Safawis’ and characterizes
Research Initiative and Editor of the journal         the ISF as ‘apostates.’”                          The IAI also accuses the Iraqi government
Perspectives on Terrorism, which can be                                                                 of being sectarian and serving the interests
accessed at He has                                                           of Iraqi Shi`a at the expense of Sunnis.
published and continues to lead studies on violence                                                     Therefore, in October 2007, the IAI
in Islamist ideology, counter-terrorism, Middle       the post-Saddam political system, but rather      characterized the Iraqi government as
Eastern affairs and nuclear and radiological          as a rejectionist group seeking to make a         “bringing to the Sunni nothing but misery,
terrorism. He has worked closely with national        blank slate of the current system in favor of     torture and displacement.”3 In particular, the
governments, international organizations and          a new political arrangement solely designed       IAI routinely accuses the Iraqi government
the private sector on these issues. This article is   by the Iraqis based on Shari`a. These             of covering the nefarious activities of Shi`a
based on an ongoing study into jihadist framing       tenets of the IAI’s ideology have become          militias (the Badr Corps and the Mahdi
analysis and counter-strategies. The views            those of the larger fronts in which the IAI       Army) and of using the Iraqi Security Forces
expressed in this article are those of the author     is participating: the Reformation and Jihad       (ISF) for campaigns of Sunni brutalization.
and are not of any affiliated organization.           Front (RJF) and the Political Council of the      As a consequence, the IAI proposes to
                                                      Iraqi Resistance (PCIR).                          “reconstruct the Iraqi government on a just
                                                                                                        basis with a government of professionals.” In
                                                      A Rejectionist Political Platform                 short, the IAI argues for a coup d’état against
                                                      In a string of statements released during         the elected government.
                                                      the past few months, the IAI (like the
                                                      fronts it joined, the RJF and the PCIR) has
                                                      repeatedly reaffirmed its opposition to the
                                                      presence of coalition forces in Iraq, the Iraqi   1 Islamic Army in Iraq, “Jihad and Reformation Front
                                                      government and the post-Saddam political          Establishing Statement,” press communiqué, English
                                                      system. The IAI decries the occupation            version, May 3, 2007.
                                                      of Iraq as an “act of aggression,” both           2 Ibid.
                                                                                                        3 Islamic Army in Iraq, “Press Statement on the State-
                                                                                                        ment of a Member of al-Maliki’s Government,” press
                                                                                                        communiqué, English version, September 17, 2007.

                                                                                                                          JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

Additionally, the IAI rejects the current body         calls Shi`a political leaders “Safawis” and           informal talks with the U.S. government.
of legislation that underpins the present              characterizes the ISF as “apostates.” All of          In addition, the group has seemingly
political system. The IAI put it plainly in May        these references are negatively connoted. In          been endeared to U.S. goals by publicly
2007 when it pledged:                                  Islam, polytheists are considered infidels            and physically clashing with the ISI
                                                       because their venerating multiple divinities          since mid-2007. Indeed, the IAI publicly
   We do not recognize any treaty or any               directly contradicts with the Islamic                 denounced the ISI for committing crimes
   agreement held by these consecutive                 principle of the unicity of God. Salafi-jihadi        against other mujahidin and for trying
   governments…We do not recognize                     ideologues have argued that the Shi`a                 to submit other groups to its control.
   the constitution which was written                  are polytheists because they venerate the             Subsequently, IAI members have attacked
   during the time of the occupiers and                twelve imams. The term Safawi refers to the           ISI strongholds in Anbar Province and
   we do not recognize any bill that                   Persian empire of the 16th to 18th centuries          Baghdad. 7 It is possible that if the IAI
   opposes the Shari`a of Allah.4                      that extended well into modern Iraq (Basra,           were able to achieve power, it would
                                                       Najaf, Karbala, Baghdad). The connotation             adopt a more secular and non-sectarian
The IAI went even further in its rejectionist          here is that Iraqi Shi`a are outside the              approach to governing.
approach in the PCIR political platform,               bounds of both the Islamic and national
stating: “There is no Shari`a legitimacy               (Iraqi) community. The characterization               The significance of these developments,
for any constitution, any ruling regime                of bona fide Iraqi Shi`a political parties            however, should not be overstated. First,
or law which was legislated during the                 as “Safawis” is intended to cast doubt on             the informal talks have not borne fruit.
occupation.”5 Practically, these statements            the legitimacy and allegiance of millions             According to public accounts of the
deny the democratic legitimacy of the current          of Iraqi Shi`a, intrinsically suspected of            discussions, the IAI posed unacceptable
political process. They also imply that there          betraying Iraq’s best interests to further            conditions for engaging in official
                                                       their supposed sectarian interests.                   negotiations. These include setting a
“More generally, IAI                                                                                         timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal, the
                                                       More generally, IAI propaganda is replete             recognition of the Iraqi Islamic resistance
propaganda is replete with                             with Salafist references. French journalists          as the sole legitimate representative of the
Salafist references.”                                  Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot,              Iraqi people and the trial of all officials
                                                       who were taken hostage by the IAI in 2004,            involved in murders or corruption since
                                                       testified to the radical ideology underpinning        the occupation. Second, the IAI’s conflict
                                                       the group. “References to ‘Chief Osama’               with the ISI should not be misconstrued
is an inherent and irrepressible contradiction         abounded…and there was much talk of living            and it seems that it does not mean a
between Shari`a-based and Western-based                by Muslim law,” said Chesnot upon returning           complete rejection of the tenets of the
legislations. Pushed to its logical conclusion,        from 124 days in captivity. His colleague,            ISI. In the past few months, the IAI has
the IAI stance means that what comes from              Malbrunot, concurred:
the West must be, by definition, anti-Islamic.
                                                            They are adamant jihadists, convinced
                                                                                                             “Indeed, the IAI publicly
The IAI does not limit itself to criticizing                that they are waging war to defend the           denounced the ISI for
the    current    political    system.    To                Muslim faith against the West. There
demonstrate its commitment to changing                      was a lot of talk about Chief Osama,             committing crimes against
that system, the IAI routinely attacks                      references to Chechnya and how the               other mujahidin and for
Iraqi government targets, principally ISF                   Muslim world is fighting the Western
members and facilities. It also encourages                  world in Chechnya, Pakistan and                  trying to submit other
Sunni politicians who have opted for a                      Afghanistan.6                                    groups to its control.”
reintegration strategy to withdraw their
support. The IAI’s stance regarding those              Perhaps      more    importantly,  these
Sunnis involved in the political process only          references are also those of the ISI and
confirms this hypothesis. The IAI praised              the Salafi-jihadi community that support              called on “all those who believe...[who]
the Iraqi Accordance Front for leaving the             al-Qa`ida and its affiliates around the               conform to Islamic rule…[and] who do
government in July, but condemned Vice                 world.                                                not wage war against others” to unite
President Tariq al-Hashimi for meeting                                                                       and work together. 8 Considering its past
with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.                   Divergences Between IAI and ISI                       expressed positions against the Shi`a,
                                                       Nevertheless, the IAI could be using                  it is not a stretch to hypothesize that the
A Radical Discourse                                    this ideological framework to gain and                IAI is actually offering an olive branch to
The IAI does not shy away from using Salafist          maintain support for its actions as the IAI           the ISI if it stops coercing other insurgent
fundamentalist and sectarian references,               retains very different political goals than           groups under its control and killing other
akin to those used by the Islamic State of Iraq        the ISI. The IAI does not, for example,               mujahidin.
(ISI), al-Qa`ida’s affiliate in the country. The       claim to have an internationalist agenda.
IAI castigates the Shi`a as “polytheists,”             It has been regularly rumored that the                7 For a detailed description of the relationship between
                                                       IAI has established contacts with U.S.                the ISI and the IAI, see Evan F. Kohlmann, “State of the
4 Islamic Army in Iraq, “Jihad and Reformation Front   representatives and that it has engaged in            Sunni Insurgency in Iraq: August 2007,” The NEFA
Establishing Statement,” press communiqué, English                                                           Foundation, August 2007.
version, May 3, 2007.                                  6 Jody K. Biehl, “Four Months on Planet Bin Laden,”   8 Islamic Army in Iraq, “A Call to the Honorable Na-
5 The announcement was reported by al-Jazira.          Spiegel Online, January 21, 2005.                     tion,” press communiqué, October 19, 2007.

                                                                                                                                JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

The radical Islamism rhetoric that the IAI
                                                  The Challenge of Islamist                                     a Muslim-majority but was ruled by a Hindu
                                                                                                                maharaja. This violence bred a foundational
uses might have a long-term pernicious            Militancy in India                                            enmity between India and Pakistan that has
effect. Whether or not the IAI leadership                                                                       continued for six decades. Further wars in
adheres to or simply uses the radical             By paul staniland                                             1965 and 1971 and the development of nuclear
Islamism rhetoric to gain exposure and                                                                          weapons by both states hardened this
support, its mere use may facilitate IAI’s        islamist militant organizations have                          “conflict unending.”2
foot soldiers passage to international            targeted India for more than a decade.
jihadism in the future. The IAI’s followers       Bombings have bloodied the sprawling                          For the purposes of understanding the recent
will have received in Iraq an ideological         metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai and                             wave of Islamist terrorism within India, the
formation into Islamist radicalism,               Hyderabad, as well as smaller cities and                      year 1989 marked an important moment. It
accepting some of the fundamental                 towns throughout India. Dramatic attacks                      was then that a serious insurgency erupted
premises of al-Qa`ida’s ideology. Among           have also hit the historic Red Fort in Delhi,                 in Kashmir led by Kashmiris seeking
these premises are the belief that the            the Indian Parliament and Kashmir’s state                     independence, the Jammu and Kashmir
Sunni community is being wronged and              assembly. Police and paramilitaries stand                     Liberation Front (JKLF). This rebellion was
under threat from a supposed “Crusader-           permanent guard outside government                            backed by Pakistan, which began supplying
Zionist” complot; that those declared             buildings, popular tourist sites and crowded                  arms and training in large quantities to
non-believers can and should be attacked;         markets, while terrorism alerts have become
                                                  familiar headlines. For an India experiencing
that armed struggle is the way to redress
                                                  unprecedented economic growth, Islamist
                                                                                                                “The glories of past Mughal
these torts; and that the Qur’an and sunna
provide the answers to most questions.            terrorism is a grim reminder of South Asia’s                  dominance combined
                                                  bitter divisions.
                                                                                                                with broader Islamist
Even if the IAI does not seek to export its
jihad outside of Iraq officially or does not      As with much of the political violence that                   ideologies, creating a South
                                                  has roiled the subcontinent, a corrosive
seek to restore the caliphate in the Middle
                                                  mixture of external and domestic causes
                                                                                                                Asian jihadist milieu.”
East (key strategic differences with the
ISI), its demobilized foot soldiers, rich of      lie behind this terrorist threat. Pakistan’s
battlefield experience and molded into a          sponsorship of militant groups fighting in
rather radical brand of Salafism, might be        Kashmir has allowed these organizations to                    individuals and organizations fighting
primed for rolling over into international        build their capabilities for pushing violence                 in Kashmir.3 Drawing on the lessons of
jihadism. The IAI might not be using              into the Indian heartland. At home, a small                   Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pakistan’s Inter-
the terms “Zionist-Crusader complot”              but sufficient proportion of Indian Muslims                   Services Intelligence (ISI) believed that
or “takfiris” or “Shari`a” in exactly the         appear to have been radicalized by vicious                    it could bleed India while safely shielded
same sense as al-Qa`ida’s Usama bin               anti-Muslim riots instigated and enabled                      behind Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri, but by               by nationalist Hindu politicians. While
using a similar vocabulary the IAI might          the vast majority of the 140 million Indian                   The JKLF was quickly marginalized by
ultimately facilitate the passage to a more       Muslims have no interest in militancy,                        its own organizational failures, Indian
extreme interpretation. In the end, al-           a driven few believe that there can be                        counter-insurgency strategy and Pakistani
Qa`ida is likely to be the benefactor of          no justice or security for Muslims in a                       dissatisfaction with the JKLF’s pro-
this confusion.                                   “Hindu Raj.” This combination presents a                      independence ideology. A more disciplined,
                                                  multilayered challenge to an Indian state                     pro-Pakistan group rose to the fore built
Pascale Combelles Siegel is president of          lacking the resources of its richer peers and                 around the infrastructure of the Jamaat-i-
Insight Through Analysis, an independent          beset by serious challenges of development                    Islami political party—the Hizb al-Mujahidin.
consultancy company based in McLean,              and governance.                                               Hizb al-Mujahidin carried the banners of
VA. Her research focuses on information                                                                         Islam and Kashmir in the early and mid-
operations     (mainly     public      affairs,   Background to Today’s Violence                                1990s, but largely restricted its violence to
psychological operations, military-media          When British India was partitioned in 1947,                   the confines of the Indian-administered state
relations and public diplomacy) and               millions left their homes amidst chaos and                    of Jammu and Kashmir.
civil-military relations. Mrs. Combelles          carnage—Hindus and Sikhs fled from the
Siegel is currently involved in analyzing         newly-formed Pakistan into India, and many                    Indian counter-insurgency efforts expanded
the information dimension of terrorism            Muslims abandoned the historic core of the                    apace, containing, though not eliminating,
and counter-terrorism strategies and in           Mughal Empire in north India.1 The riots and                  the Hizb al-Mujahidin. In the mid- and
monitoring Iraqi insurgents’ propaganda.          massacres of partition were quickly followed                  late-1990s, militant organizations with a
She has conducted numerous post-conflict          by a full-scale war over the disputed princely                dominantly Pakistani recruiting base began to
analyses, including a review of the Pentagon’s    state of Jammu and Kashmir—situated
embedding policy and information operations       between the two new countries—which had
                                                                                                                2 Sumit Ganguly, Conflict Unending: India-Pakistan
during Iraqi Freedom (2004) and an analysis                                                                     Tensions Since 1947 (New York: Columbia University
of American sensitivities toward military         1 Two recent overviews of partition are: Yasmin Khan,         Press, 2001).
casualties (2002).                                The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan         3 Stephen P. Cohen, The Idea of Pakistan (Washington,
                                                  (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007); Stanley         D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004), pp. 53-4;
                                                  Wolpert, Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Em-   Owen Bennett-Jones, Pakistan: Eye of the Storm (New
                                                  pire in India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).        Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 86-91.

                                                                                                                                        JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

take up an increasingly prominent role in the                 India’s Muslims have also been influenced                    have been widely seen as retaliation for the
Kashmir conflict.4 Harkat-ul-Mujahidin and                    by tolerant strands of Islam, born of the                    anti-Muslim riots and were committed by
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, soon followed by Jaysh-i-                  subcontinent’s exposure to numerous faiths                   Muslims of a variety of backgrounds.12 The
Muhammad, were based heavily in Pakistan                      and sects over centuries. This diversity has                 murderous backlash against the Hindu
and had ties to groups in Afghanistan;                        provided an important check on radicalism, as                nationalists’ fusing of politics and violence
Harkat-ul-Mujahidin and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba                     has the ability of Muslims to become involved                had begun. The overwhelming majority of
had been formed to fight in Afghanistan and                   in India’s democratic politics as candidates,                Muslims abhorred terrorism, but some were
consequently shifted attention to Kashmir.                    workers and government employees. The                        willing to turn to death and fear themselves.
They had more expansive aims than either                      Muslim population has not historically
the JKLF or Hizb al-Mujahidin, both of which                  proved a source of violent radicalism or                     The late 1990s saw a slow and partial
drew the bulk of their cadres from Kashmir                    support for Pakistan-backed militants.8                      merging of these two dynamics—a conflict in
itself. The new wave of powerful jihadist                                                                                  Kashmir with a growing presence of radical
groups, though different in important ways                    Hindu-Muslim Clashes                                         Pakistani groups, and a tiny but existent
from one another, had visions of shattering                   In the late 1980s and early 1990s,                           portion of India’s Muslims willing to listen to
the Indian state and “liberating” its Muslim                  however, India witnessed a remarkable                        their message and eventually accept it. Other
components.5 The glories of past Mughal                       mass mobilization by Hindu nationalist                       factors were also at play, particularly the
dominance combined with broader Islamist                      leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).                 ability of Islamists to base out of Bangladesh,
ideologies, creating a South Asian jihadist                   Rallying their followers around Hindu                        and the spread of sophisticated technology
milieu.6                                                      symbols and narratives, they argued that                     and explosives. This period saw an upsurge
                                                              Muslims had been appeased by the ruling                      in highly visible bombings believed to
Pakistan provided these groups with                           Congress party. Accompanying this charge                     have been committed by Islamist militants.
extensive    sanctuary,    resources   and                    was the insinuation that Indian Muslims                      Militant groups used support within India to
assistance in infiltrating across the Line                    were secretly supporters of Pakistan, and                    hide, plan and receive logistics, particularly
of Control. In this way, Kashmir laid an                      thus a fifth column within India. The rise                   through the indigenous Students Islamic
important organizational basis for the                        of Hindu nationalism triggered a wave a                      Movement of India.13 In 1999, for example,
terrorism that would come to haunt India’s                    communal riots that targeted Muslims at the                  an Indian Airlines jet was hijacked; in 2000,
streets—the Harkat, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and                     direct instigation of politicians or with the                Delhi’s Red Fort was attacked by Lashkar-e-
Jaysh-i-Muhammad would take the guns,                         acquiescence of a politicized police force.9                 Tayyiba; and in December 2001 the Indian
money and training of the ISI and strike                      Small groups of Muslims began developing                     Parliament itself was assaulted by a team of
beyond Kashmir.                                               self-defense organizations in response.10 The                militants linked to Jaysh-i-Muhammad and
                                                              Hindu nationalist “saffron wave” reached                     Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.14 The latter attack nearly
For this to become a sustained campaign,                      a brutal crescendo in 1992 and 1993 after a                  took India and Pakistan to war, resulting in a
however, these organizations needed local                     Hindu mob destroyed a mosque in the north                    standoff between mobilized armies.15
assistance from Indian Muslims. Although                      Indian city of Ayodhya. They claimed the
partition divided the subcontinent along                      mosque had been built on the birthsite of                    Although war was avoided, a different
religious lines, many millions of Muslims                     a Hindu god, Lord Rama.11 Violence swept                     kind of tragedy nevertheless lay in store.
remained in India. They tended to be less                     much of the country, killing thousands.                      In February 2002, Hindus returning from
educated and poorer than the middle and                                                                                    a pilgrimage to Ayodhya were burned to
upper classes who would join the elite of                     Bombay (now Mumbai), India’s financial                       death in a railway car in the state of Gujarat.
the new Pakistan. This relative poverty has                   capital, was the scene of vicious riots. Several             While the source of the fire remains unclear
continued—Muslims lie toward the bottom                       months later the city was rocked by a series of              (it may have been accidental), rumors
of most key statistical categories.7 Some of                  coordinated bombings that left 257 dead and                  immediately spread that Muslims were to
                                                              more than 1,000 wounded. These bombings                      blame. The BJP government is then alleged
4 This is the theme of Manoj Joshi, The Lost Rebellion:                                                                    to have largely allowed radical Hindu
Kashmir in the Nineties (New Delhi: Penguin, 1999); see       Report, discussed in Somini Sengupta, “Report Shows          nationalists to attack Muslims with relative
also Navnita Chadha Behera, Demystifying Kashmir              Muslims Near Bottom of Social Ladder,” New York              impunity for several days, killing well over a
(Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006).        Times, November 29, 2006.
5 Another group with a smaller presence in Kashmir            8 One of the reasons for the failure of Pakistan’s attempt
but a significant role in terrorist attacks within India is   to seize Kashmir in 1965 was the lack of support it          12 “The 1993 Bombay bombings, say police, were in
the Harkat-ul-Jehad al-Islam, which has an important          received from Kashmiri Muslims.                              response to the 1992 destruction of the Ayodhya mosque
Bangladesh branch. “HuJI’s Role in Focus Again,” Times        9 Steven Wilkinson, Votes and Violence: Electoral Com-       by Hindu mobs, and to avenge Muslim deaths in the
of India, August 27, 2007.                                    petition and Ethnic Riots in India (Cambridge: Cambridge     rioting that followed,” in Sajan Kuriokos, “Bombay
6 Overviews of Islamist terrorism in South Asia can be        University Press, 2004); Ashutosh Varshney, Civic Life       Bombing: More Religious Strife?” The Christian Science
found in Mariam Abou Zahab and Olivier Roy, Islamist          and Ethnic Conflict: Hindus and Muslims in India (New        Monitor, August 26, 2003.
Networks: The Afghan-Pakistan Connection (New York:           Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002).                     13 Praveen Swami writes that “with local networks
Columbia University Press, 2004); Zahid Hussain,              10 Praveen Swami, “A Widening Network,” Frontline            in place, top jihadi commanders were able to operate
Frontline Pakistan (New York: Columbia University             19:26 (2002).                                                outside Jammu and Kashmir with ease,” in “A Widening
Press, 2007); and C. Christine Fair and Peter Chalk,          11 Cristophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement       Network,” Frontline 19:26 (2002).
Fortifying Pakistan (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of      in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996);        14 John F. Burns, “Pakistan Moves Against Groups
Peace, 2007).                                                 Thomas Blom Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy              Named by India,” New York Times, December 29, 2001.
7 Details of Muslim economic and social marginaliza-          and Hindu Nationalism in India (Princeton, NJ: Princeton     15 V.K. Sood and Pravin Sawhney, Operation Parakram:
tion can be found in the Indian government’s Sachar           University Press, 1999).                                     The War Unfinished (London: Sage Publications, 2003).

                                                                                                                       JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

thousand.16 The sweeping victory of the BJP
in the consequent elections signaled that their
                                                          militancy in and against India has its own
                                                          autonomous logic and infrastructure.
                                                                                                            Recent Highlights in
actions were supported by large segments of                                                                 Terrorist Activity
the population.                                           India’s democracy and diversity have helped
                                                          it weather many storms. The overwhelming          December 15, 2007 (PAKISTAN): Rashid Rauf,
Gujarat has contributed further to Muslim                 majority of its Muslims show no inclination       the British citizen accused of involvement in
alienation within India.17 One of India’s                 to militancy. India’s challenge is to stop        the August 2006 plot to blow up 10 passenger
premier security correspondents wrote,                    further radicalization, while successfully        jets over the Atlantic Ocean, escaped from
“As a direct consequence, terrorist groups                containing militant organizations and             police custody in Pakistan. His whereabouts
appear to have acquired greater social                    their sympathizers. Police forces need to         are unknown. – AP, December 15
legitimacy than at any time in the past, even             be professionalized so that they are not
                                                          used solely as political cudgels. India’s         December 15, 2007 (SOMALIA): Twelve
                                                          internal security agencies should be better       Somali soldiers were injured, and two
“Islamist militancy in and                                coordinated to avoid bureaucratic conflicts       civilians killed, when a remote-controlled
against India has its own                                 and oversights. Good intelligence and police      bomb targeting a military truck detonated in
                                                          work can blunt the ability of organizations       Mogadishu. – Reuters, December 15
autonomous logic and                                      with existing networks to do significant
infrastructure.”                                          damage. Finally, government efforts to            December 15, 2007 (IRAQ): A member of a
                                                          integrate Muslims need to stop offering           U.S.-supported volunteer patrol was killed
                                                          laundry lists of programs and instead             in the Baghdad neighborhood of Adhamiyya
                                                          focus on a few meaningful and achievable          after an individual offered him an explosives-
if their influence is still peripheral in the             goals. Overcoming Islamist militancy is no        rigged bag that was said to have been found in
Muslim community”18 In 2003, bombings                     easy task, but can be accomplished with a         the street. – AP, December 15
hit Mumbai; in 2005 New Delhi; in 2006                    combination of straightforward policies.
Mumbai19 and Varanasi; and in 2007                                                                          December 16, 2007 (AFGHANISTAN): Two
Hyderabad and Lucknow.20                                  For the United States, India’s experience         civilians were killed when a roadside bomb
                                                          is important for several reasons. First,          exploded in Yaqubi district in eastern Khost
Conclusion                                                the groups operating in India have links          Province. Authorities claimed that the Taliban
This trend has led to growing concerns that               to the rising tide of Islamist militancy          was responsible. – AP, December 16
al-Qa`ida has become a force in India. There              within Pakistan. Their ability to grow
is room for concern as al-Qa`ida leaders                  within India can only increase their power        December 16, 2007 (GLOBAL): Islamist
have specifically deemed India an enemy                   in a dangerously unstable Pakistan.               websites posted a statement offering
of Islam. Moreover, the Islamist groups                   Organizations that can leverage support           journalists the opportunity to submit
targeting India have ties through Afghan                  throughout the subcontinent will be               interview questions to al-Qa`ida second-in-
and Pakistani jihadist networks to al-Qa`ida              enormously difficult to combat. The ability       command Ayman al-Zawahiri. The questions
members. This does not mean, however,                     of Pakistan to control its jihadist fighters      are to be posted online at two Islamist
that al-Qa`ida has a significant presence                 and factions is already unclear, and will         websites before a deadline of January 16.
in India. The groups that have carried out                certainly diminish if an independent Indian       – AFP, December 20
the major attacks in India have their own                 base of support develops. Second, India’s
resources, organizational structure and                   attempts to maintain a liberal, multiethnic       December 17, 2007 (IRAQ): Al-Qa`ida
social base. They have pursued their agenda               democracy in the face of terrorism can            Ayman al-Zawahiri released a new video
since well before 9/11, and will continue                 provide valuable lessons and warnings             calling on Iraq’s Sunni Arab tribes to attack
doing so regardless of what happens to                    for European countries trying to deal with        Awakening Councils in the country, calling
Usama bin Ladin’s organization. Islamist                  problems in integrating Muslims. The              them “traitors” and “hypocrites” and arguing
                                                          Indian and European situations differ             that “any clan or tribe that defends Islam
                                                          in many crucial respects, but if India            and crushes traitors…will be remembered in
16 Sumit Ganguly, “The Crisis of Indian Secularism,”
                                                          proceeds wisely it can show how to avoid          Arab history with pride and glory.” Zawahiri
Journal of Democracy 14:4 (2003): pp. 11-25.
                                                          alienating Muslim populations without             also criticized Iran, Hizb Allah, Egypt and
17 Many Muslims remain afraid to return to their pre-
                                                          compromising the crucial attributes of            Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. –
riot homes. One example is “In Concentrated Camps,”
                                                          secular democracy. The Indian example             AP, December 17
Outlook, January 29, 2007.
18 Somini Sengupta, “India Fears Terrorism May            may thus prove relevant beyond the
                                                          borders of South Asia.                            December 17, 2007 (PAKISTAN): Nine
Attract Its Muslims,” New York Times, August 9, 2006.
                                                                                                            Pakistani army recruits were killed in a suicide
Examples of Muslims feeling alienated by Gujarat and
                                                          Paul Staniland is a Ph.D. candidate in the        blast in Kohat, close to Peshawar. – AP,
Hindu nationalism can be found in Jill McGivering,
                                                          Department of Political Science and a member of   December 17
“India’s Muslims Feel Backlash,” BBC, June 6, 2002.
19 On the coordinated train bombings in 2006 in           the Security Studies Program at MIT. He studies
                                                          international security and civil wars, with a     December 17, 2007 (YEMEN): Yemen’s
Mumbai, and discussion of other attacks, see “Terror in
                                                          focus on South Asia and Northern Ireland. Mr.     government newspaper 26th of September
Mumbai: Call This Peace?” Economist, July 12, 2006.
                                                          Staniland has published academic and policy       announced that authorities had arrested two
20 A slightly out-of-date chronology of major attacks
                                                          pieces in The Christian Science Monitor, Civil    alleged members of al-Qa`ida in Yemen. Some
in India since 9/11 (including in Jammu and Kashmir)
                                                          Wars, Security Studies, and the Washington        reports stated that the men were members of
can be found through the South Asia Terrorism Portal,
                                                          Quarterly.                                        a cell that was planning a suicide attack in the
available at

                                                                                                                   JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

country. – Saba, December 17; Daily Times,          sites—including a church—in the Christian           December 2005. He was arrested near Jenin.
December 18                                         town of Zahleh. The cell, which consisted of        – Jerusalem Post, December 19
                                                    Lebanese and Syrians, was allegedly led by a
December 17, 2007 (IRAQ): Three members             Saudi and a Syrian. – Reuters, December 18          December 20, 2007 (IRAQ): Thirteen Iraqis
of a local Awakening Council were killed                                                                and one U.S. soldier were killed by a suicide
in Mafrag, Diyala Province, when gunmen             December 18, 2007 (PAKISTAN): Pro-Taliban           bomber in the town of Kanan in Diyala
opened fire on them while they were near a          cleric Faqir Muhammad announced that                Province. The attack targeted an Awakening
vegetable vendor’s stall. – CNN, December 17        Pakistani militant leaders have agreed to join      Council. – AFP, December 20
                                                    forces under the name Tehrik-i-Taliban, or the
December 17, 2007 (IRAQ): A truck bomb was          United Taliban Movement. Faqir Muhammad             December 21, 2007 (PAKISTAN): A suicide
detonated as it was parked on a bridge near         threatened that if the Pakistani government         bomber attacked a mosque in Charsadda,
the Mosul dam in Ninawa Province. Although          failed to cease operations in Waziristan and        located in the North-West Frontier Province,
the facility was damaged, the explosion did         Swat, then the new militant grouping would          killing at least 50 people. It is believed that the
not damage the dam itself. According to an          launch suicide attacks and target government        attack was an assassination attempt on former
engineer, the bomber left his explosives-laden      officials. – AP, December 18                        Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, who is a
truck near the dam after informing police that                                                          close ally of President Pervez Musharraf. – AP,
the vehicle had broken down and claimed that        December 18, 2007 (FRANCE): Authorities             December 21; Los Angeles Times, December 22
he was going to find a tow truck. – Reuters,        detained eight alleged members of a logistical
December 17; Los Angeles Times, December 18         cell supporting al-Qa`ida in the Islamic            December 21, 2007 (BELGIUM): Authorities
                                                    Maghreb (AQIM). The men—six French                  arrested 14 individuals on charges of plotting
December 18, 2007 (PHILIPPINES): The                nationals, a Tunisian and an Algerian—were          to break convicted terrorist Nizar Trabelsi
Philippine military killed two Abu Sayyaf           believed to have provided computer material         from jail. Trabelsi was jailed in 2003 for
Group (ASG) fighters during a raid on a             and equipment to AQIM, but were not                 planning to drive a car bomb into a Belgian
militant base in Ungkaya Pukan township,            planning attacks inside France. Although            airbase with the intention of killing U.S.
in Basilan Province. Authorities claimed            three of the men were released on December          military personnel, 100 of which are stationed
that about 40 militants were located at the         19, authorities continued to hold the other five.   at the base. On December 22, however, all 14
remote camp, including both ASG and “rogue          – AFP, December 20                                  of the suspects were released from jail due
elements” of the Moro Islamic Liberation                                                                to lack of evidence. – Guardian Unlimited,
Front. – AP, December 18                            December 19, 2007 (IRAQ): A new study               December 21; AP, December 23
                                                    released by the Combating Terrorism Center
December 18, 2007 (PAKISTAN): A large               at West Point found that the majority of al-        December 23, 2007 (SAUDI ARABIA): The
amount of explosives, in addition to suicide        Qa`ida fighters entering Iraq from Syria            Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry announced
jackets, were discovered inside a Land Cruiser      during a one year period are from Saudi             that since mid-December authorities had
in the Khwazakhela area of Swat, in the             Arabia and Libya. The study, based on 606           arrested 28 militants linked to al-Qa`ida who
North-West Frontier Province. – Daily Times,        personnel records captured from al-Qa`ida           were planning attacks inside the kingdom.
December 19                                         in Iraq by coalition troops in October, found       Of those arrested, 27 were Saudi and one was
                                                    that the average age of the fighters from the       a foreign resident. The announcement came
December 18, 2007 (AFGHANISTAN):                    data set was 24-25; 41% were Saudi, 19%             after another group of arrests on December 21,
Approximately 15 Afghan security guards             Libyan, 8% Yemeni, 8% Syrian, 7% Algerian           in which Saudi authorities revealed that they
were ambushed and killed in Bala Buluk              and 6% Moroccan. – AP, December 19                  had foiled a terrorist attack during the annual
district, Farah Province. The guards worked                                                             hajj. – Voice of America, December 23
for a U.S. company and were protecting              December      19,   2007     (PHILIPPINES):
a convoy of fuel tankers at the time of the         Authorities arrested an Egyptian in the             December 23, 2007 (ALGERIA): A bomb
attack. – BBC, December 18                          southern city of Cotabato, who they allege          targeted an Algerian military convoy near the
                                                    was planning to detonate a bomb in the city         town of Tebessa, seriously wounding three
December 18, 2007 (IRAQ): Sixteen people            on December 25. The suspect, identified as          Algerian soldiers. – Reuters, December 24
were killed during a suicide bomb attack at a       Mohamad Sayed, was in possession of a 60mm
coffee shop in the predominately Shi`a village      mortar shell and ball bearings, connected to        December 24, 2007 (MAURITANIA): Four
of al-Abbara, which is near Ba`quba in Diyala       a timer. Although authorities claim that they       French tourists were shot to death while
Province. – Reuters, December 18                    found Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)          parked on a roadside near the town of Aleg, 150
                                                    literature in Sayed’s apartment, it is not yet      miles east of the country’s capital, Nouakchott.
December 18, 2007 (ISRAEL): Thirteen                clear whether the suspect had any actual links      Militants associated with al-Qa`ida in the
Palestinian militants were killed by Israeli        to MILF or any other militant group. – AFP,         Islamic Maghreb were suspected of committing
airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. The attacks           December 19                                         the attacks. – AFP, December 29
targeted Islamic Jihad, and the organization
confirmed some of the deaths and threatened         December 19, 2007 (ISRAEL): A joint IDF-Shin        December 24, 2007 (AFGHANISTAN):
to retaliate with suicide bombings inside Israel.   Bet operation resulted in the apprehension of       Authorities arrested a woman in eastern
– Reuters, December 18                              Salim Sayoud, believed to be a top member of        Afghanistan who was carrying explosives
                                                    Islamic Jihad. Israeli authorities allege that      under her burqa. It was not clear whether the
December 18, 2007 (LEBANON): Lebanese               Sayoud was an important actor behind a Tel          woman was preparing for a suicide attack,
authorities charged 31 al-Qa`ida-linked             Aviv nightclub bombing in February 2005 and         or if she was transporting the explosives
individuals with planning to attack religious       two suicide bomb attacks at a mall in July and      elsewhere. If it were the former, the woman

                                                                                                                  JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

would have marked the first case of a female       the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. –           January 1, 2008 (IRAQ): A suicide bomber
suicide bomber in Afghanistan. – Reuters,          SomaliNet, December 28                              killed approximately 36 men who were
December 24                                                                                            attending the funeral of a retired Iraqi Shi`a
                                                   December 29, 2007 (GLOBAL): A new                   army officer, who was himself killed in a car
December 25, 2007 (IRAQ): Two suicide              56-minute audio statement from Usama                bombing on December 28. The January 1
bombs hit Iraq, one of which occurred in           bin Ladin appeared on jihadist internet             attack took place in Zayouna district in eastern
Baiji and left 25 people dead. In that incident,   forums, in which the al-Qa`ida leader               Baghdad. – CNN, January 2
the bomber crashed his vehicle into a truck        accused any Muslim cooperating with the
filled with gas cylinders. The second incident     Iraqi government as being an apostate. He           January 2, 2008 (IRAQ): A suicide bomber
occurred in Ba`quba, when a suicide bomber         promised the “liberation of Palestine” and          struck a checkpoint manned by members of a
detonated his payload during a funeral             advised Iraq’s Sunni Muslims not to attack          local Awakening Council, killing at least four
procession, killing four people; Haj Farhan        al-Qa`ida’s auxiliaries in Iraq. Bin Ladin          people, including Abu Sadjat, a local tribal
al-Baharzawi, the provincial head of the 1920      also criticized Hizb Allah leader Hassan            chief who had been meeting with U.S. officials
Revolution Brigades, was among those killed.       Nasrallah for allowing the United Nations           shortly before the explosion. The attack took
– AFP, December 25                                 to station troops in Lebanon following the          place in Ba`quba. – Los Angeles Times, January
                                                   group’s 2006 war with Israel. –           3; New York Times, January 3
December 26, 2007 (PAKISTAN): Militants            au, December 30
blew up a checkpoint in Bannu District of                                                              January 2, 2008 (ALGERIA): Four policemen
the North-West Frontier Province and then          December 30, 2007 (TURKEY): Turkish                 were killed when a suicide car bomber
proceeded to kidnap 10 policemen. – Dawn,          authorities jailed five alleged members of          exploded his payload at the doors of a police
December 26                                        an al-Qa`ida sleeper cell. The accused were         station in Naciria, which is about 45 miles east
                                                   rounded up in a countrywide security sweep          of Algiers. A spokesman for al-Qa`ida in the
December 26, 2007 (MAURITANIA):                    the previous day, during which 19 people            Islamic Maghreb, Salah Abou Mohammad,
Three soldiers were killed near the town of        were detained. One of the five suspects is a        claimed credit for the operation, and said that
Ghallawiya, which is 430 miles north of the        high school English teacher from the city of        the truck contained at least 1,100 pounds of
country’s capital, Nouakchott. The soldiers,       Aksaray. – AP, December 30                          explosives. – International Herald Tribune,
who were manning a checkpoint at a military                                                            January 2; Reuters, January 2
base, were ambushed by gunmen who arrived          December 31, 2007 (IRAQ): A suicide bomber
in two trucks. Al-Qa`ida in the Islamic            detonated a minibus packed full of explosives       January 2, 2008 (SOMALIA): A roadside bomb
Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack      at an Awakening Council checkpoint in               killed three people in the town of Afgoye, which
in an audio recording. – AP, December 27; al-      Tarmiyya, which is 30 miles north of Baghdad.       is approximately 30 miles south of Mogadishu.
Jazira, December 29                                Approximately 12 people were killed in the          The bomb went off in a crowded market and
                                                   attack, including nine members of the council       was possibly intended for Ethiopian troops, yet
December 27, 2007 (PAKISTAN): Former               and three children. – AP, December 31               civilians were the only casualties. – SomaliNet,
Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto                                                                January 2
was assassinated at a rally in Rawalpindi. At      December 31, 2007 (THAILAND): Three
least 20 others were killed during the attack,     bombs detonated in the Sunagi Kolok district        January 2, 2008 (SOMALIA): Two Somali
which involved both a gunman and a suicide         of Narathiwat Province, injuring at least 27        government soldiers were killed during
bomber.                                            people. Two of the bombs were rigged into           clashes with insurgents near Mogadishu’s
                                                   motorcycles parked at hotels and nightspots,        Bakara market. – SomaliNet, January 2
December 27, 2007 (IRAQ): U.S. forces killed       while the third exploded inside a discotheque
in an airstrike Muhammad Khalil Ibrahim, a         at the Marina Hotel. – Xinhua, December 31          January 3, 2008 (AFGHANISTAN): A suicide
deputy military leader for al-Qa`ida in Iraq’s                                                         bomber targeted an Indian road construction
operations south of Baghdad. According to a        December 31, 2007 (NETHERLANDS):                    crew and their Afghan police guards in Nimroz
U.S. military statement, Ibrahim was a “key        Dutch authorities arrested three men for            Province, resulting in seven deaths. According
planner in numerous attacks against coalition      allegedly planning to execute a terrorist           to authorities, the construction convoy was
forces operating in the Mahmudiyya area, and       attack on Rotterdam’s Erasmus bridge,               first hit by an IED attached to a motorcycle,
was also involved in the facilitation of foreign   where approximately 15,000 people were to           which halted the convoy. The suicide bomber
terrorists and weapons.” – CNN, January 4          commemorate the New Year. According to              then moved in on the convoy and detonated his
                                                   Dutch press sources, two of the men had dual        payload, which accounted for the majority of
December 27, 2007 (TUNISIA): Ten men               Dutch and Moroccan citizenship, while the           the casualties. – AP, January 3
received jail sentences from two to five years     other was an illegal immigrant from Sudan.
for planning to join al-Qa`ida fighters in Iraq.   – De Telegraaf, January 3                           January 3, 2008 (PHILIPPINES): Authorities
The men were also convicted of attempting to                                                           apprehended two al-Qa`ida-linked militants,
recruit militants to attack international forces   January 1, 2008 (SUDAN): John Granville, an         one of whom, Tuwatin Anahalul, was
in Iraq. – Reuters, December 26                    American official working for the U.S. Agency       involved in the 2001 kidnapping of three
                                                   for International Development, was shot and         Americans at the Dos Palmas resort in
December 27, 2007 (SOMALIA): Militants             killed, along with his driver, in the residential   Palawan Province. Anahalul, also known as
threw a grenade into a house where a meeting       area of Ryad in western Khartoum. Sudanese          Abu Basilan, is a sub-leader of Abu Sayyaf
with local elders was taking place, wounding       authorities deny that Granville was the victim      Group and a $48,700 bounty was out for his
seven people. The attack, which took place in      of a terrorist attack and claim that it was an      arrest. – AP, January 4
Biyo-Kulule village in Bosasso, occurred in        isolated incident. – AFP, January 1

                                                                                                                  JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

January 3, 2008 (PHILIPPINES): A grenade            the West Bank, the United Arab Emirates,           al-Bared,” and he threatened to attack the
was thrown into a nightclub in the southern         Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Gadahn urges his           Lebanese army. The audio recording, which
Philippine city of Cotabato, leaving one dead       “militant brothers in Muslim Palestine and         lasted 58 minutes, if authenticated will prove
and five injured. Authorities were unsure as to     the Arab peninsula…to be ready to receive          that al-Abassi survived the 15-week Nahr al-
whether the incident was a terrorist attack. –      the Crusader slayer Bush in his visit to           Bared battle. – Reuters, January 8
Deutsche Press Agency, January 4                    Muslim Palestine and the Arab peninsula in
                                                    the beginning of January and to receive him…       January 8, 2008 (PAKISTAN): Pakistani
January 4, 2008 (MOROCCO): Fifty radical            with bombs and booby-trapped vehicles.” –          authorities announced the December arrest of
Islamists were sentenced for planning to            AP, January 7                                      Ahsanul Haq, a retired army major linked to
launch a “holy war” in northeast Morocco                                                               al-Qa`ida, who was wanted for a November
through bombings and robberies. The group           January 6, 2008 (IRAQ): Three Christian            1 attack on an air force bus in Sargodha. In
was called Ansar al-Mahdi, and they were            churches and one monastery were attacked           addition to Haq, six others involved in the
apprehended by authorities in 2006. The group       in Mosul. Although there were few casualties,      operation were apprehended. – AP, January 8
and its leader, Hassan Khattab, had managed         the various churches were damaged. – BBC,
to recruit members of the Moroccan security         January 7                                          January 8, 2008 (UNITED STATES): A
services, including police and military. During                                                        sentencing hearing opened for Jose Padilla,
the hearings, Khattab labeled the Moroccan          January 6, 2008 (IRAQ): Soldiers and locals        a U.S. citizen who was convicted in August,
government as an “apostate dictatorship” and        who were in the streets to commemorate a           along with two other conspirators, of aiding
denounced the country’s ties to the United          national holiday in central Baghdad were           al-Qa`ida. Federal prosecutors are pushing
States. – Reuters, January 5                        targeted by a suicide bomber, leaving nine         for life sentences, while Padilla’s legal team is
                                                    people dead. – Reuters, January 6                  requesting a maximum sentence of 10 years.
January 4, 2008 (NORTH AFRICA): The                                                                    – AFP, January 9
famous Dakar Rally was canceled for the             January 7, 2008 (IRAQ): At least three suicide
first time in its 30-year history due to threats    bombings ripped through Iraq, one of which         January 8, 2008 (IRAQ): Three U.S. soldiers
made against the event by al-Qa`ida. The            killed Riyadh al-Samaraie, an anti-al-Qa`ida       were killed during operations in Salah al-Din
threats came after the December 24 killings         leader of a local Awakening Council in northern    Province. – New York Times, January 10
of four French tourists near the town of Aleg       Baghdad. Approximately 15 people were killed
in Mauritania, and the December 26 killings         in the three separate attacks. – CNN, January      January 9, 2008 (ALGERIA): Four soldiers
of three soldiers near the town of Ghallawiya,      7                                                  were killed and two wounded when a roadside
also in Mauritania. – The Scotsman, January 5                                                          bomb hit their vehicle in the area around Ait
                                                    January 7, 2008 (PAKISTAN): Eight tribal           Yahia, which is south of Tizi Ouzou. – AP,
January 4, 2008 (GLOBAL): A new internet            leaders were shot to death in South Waziristan     January 9
statement posted by al-Qa`ida’s media wing          Agency, in Pakistan’s Federally Administered
announced that video messages of the group’s        Tribal Areas (FATA). The attacks, which            January 9, 2008 (ISRAEL): One member of
core leaders—Usama bin Ladin and Ayman              occurred between January 6-7, were believed        Islamic Jihad was killed and six others injured
al-Zawahiri—could now be downloaded to              to be an effort by Islamist militants to prevent   while launching a rocket at Israel from the
cell phones. The posting included a written         negotiations between the tribal leaders and the    Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad announced that the
statement by Zawahiri, in which he encouraged       Pakistani government. – The Canadian Press,        group was hit by a surface-to-surface missile,
the new effort, stating, “I asked God for the men   January 7                                          presumably launched by Israeli forces. – AP,
of jihadi media to spread the message of Islam                                                         January 9
and monotheism to the world and spread real         January 7, 2008 (PAKISTAN): A suicide
awareness to the people of the nations.” – AP,      bomber struck a Pakistani army base located        January 9, 2008 (IRAQ): Six U.S. soldiers
January 6                                           in the Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier      were killed in Diyala Province after a bomb
                                                    Province. Three soldiers were wounded. –           exploded in a booby-trapped house. The
January 5, 2008 (IRAQ): Six people were             Deutsche Press Agency, January 7                   soldiers were engaged in Operation Iron
killed when a roadside bomb destroyed a                                                                Harvest. – CNN, January 9; AP, January 9
minibus in Diyala Province. – AP, January 5         January 7, 2008 (AFGHANISTAN): A
                                                    roadside bomb in Nangarhar Province’s Kot          January 10, 2008 (IRAQ): U.S. forces dropped
January 5, 2008 (PAKISTAN): Authorities             district left two U.S.-led coalition soldiers      40,000 pounds of explosives on al-Qa`ida
arrested an al-Qa`ida operative in Lahore           dead. – AP, January 8                              hideouts in southern Baghdad. The airstrikes
who allegedly was a security coordinator for                                                           were part of a larger operation that began
Usama bin Ladin. The suspect, Amin al-Haq,          January 7, 2008 (AFGHANISTAN): A                   on January 8, labeled Phantom Phoenix. –
is a 48-year-old Afghan-born doctor. – UPI,         suicide bomber on a motorcycle attacked a          Guardian Unlimited, January 10
January 7                                           police patrol in Kandahar Province’s Spin
                                                    Boldak district, leaving one policeman dead.       January 10, 2008 (PAKISTAN): A suicide
January 6, 2008 (GLOBAL): In a new                  – AP, January 8                                    bomber detonated his explosives outside of
50-minute video posted on the internet,                                                                a court in Lahore, killing at least 23 people.
al-Qa`ida’s Adam Gadahn, also known as              January 7, 2008 (LEBANON): A new                   The majority of those killed were police
“Azzam the American,” encouraged Islamist           statement by Shakir al-Abassi, the leader          officers. Authorities explained that the bomber
militants to assassinate President George W.        of Fatah al-Islam, appeared on Islamist            blew himself up after being stopped while
Bush during his upcoming trip to the Middle         forums. In the statement, al-Abassi said that      approaching a police barricade. There was
East, where he plans to visit Kuwait, Bahrain,      “this is my first speech after the epic of Nahr    no immediate claim of responsibility. – CNN,

                                                                                                                 JANUARY 2008 . Vol 1 . issue 2

                                                    January 10                                        January 11, 2008 (LEBANON): Lebanese
CTC Sentinel Staff                                                                                    authorities arrested Othman Turkmani,
                                                    January 10, 2008 (PAKISTAN): Members of           a suspected militant of Fatah al-Islam.
 Editor-in-Chief                                    the Pashtun Wazir tribe announced that they       Turkmani was detained in the Bab al-Ramel
 erich Marquardt                                    would form a militia to combat al-Qa`ida-         neighborhood of Tripoli. – AFP, January 12
 senior editor, ctc                                 linked foreign fighters in regions under their
                                                    control. A tribal elder told journalists that a   January 11, 2008 (GUINEA-BISSAU): Local
 Editorial Board                                    militia of 600 people would be organized for      authorities in Guinea-Bissau arrested
 Jarret Brachman, ph.D.                             the task. – Reuters, January 10                   two Mauritanians for involvement in the
 Director of research, ctc                                                                            December 24 killings of four French tourists
                                                    January 10, 2008 (IRAQ): Iraqi National           in Mauritania. The suspects allegedly
 Brian fishman                                      Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told          confessed to the attack, and it is believed
 senior Associate, ctc                              Saudi reporters that his country’s security       that they are affiliated with al-Qa`ida in
                                                    forces have arrested hundreds of suspected al-    the Islamic Maghreb. The two, who were
 Assaf Moghadam, ph.D.                              Qa`ida militants from Saudi Arabia. He also       found 400 miles south of the scene of the
 senior research fellow, ctc                        noted that many of the suspects were listed       December 24 attack, were identified as Sidi
                                                    on Saudi Arabia’s “wanted” lists, and that the    Ould Sidna and Mohamed Ould Chabarnou,
 James forest, ph.D.                                majority had entered Iraq from Syria. – UPI,      both in their 20s. It is believed that a third
 Director of terrorism studies, ctc                 January 10                                        suspect involved in the operation fled to
                                                                                                      Algeria. Three separate suspects believed
 ltc(p) Joseph felter, ph.D.                        January 10, 2008 (SOMALIA): Somali police         linked to the December 24 crime were
 Director, ctc                                      killed two men suspected of kidnapping            arrested later in the day while trying to
                                                    foreigners, including the now released French     photograph French police. – AP, January 11;
 col cindy r. Jebb, ph.D.                           journalist Gwen Le Gouil. The men were            Reuters, January 12
 Deputy Department Head                             killed after police raided a house in Puntland,
 Department of social sciences (West point)         although some of the gunmen escaped. – AP,        January 11, 2008 (RUSSIA): Russian
                                                    January 10                                        authorities believe that between 500-700
 col Michael J. Meese, ph.D.                                                                          militants are still active in the country’s North
 Department Head                                    January 10, 2008 (FRANCE): Portuguese             Caucasus region. – RIA Novosti, January 11
 Department of social sciences (West point)         aviation authorities intercepted a short-wave
                                                    radio message threatening terrorist attacks       January 11, 2008 (EGYPT): Authorities
                                                    against Paris, including on the Eiffel Tower.     announced the arrest of 11 people, including
 CONTACT                                            The threats, which were not completely clear,     a Syrian student, for links to terrorist groups
 combating terrorism center                         were relayed to French authorities who went       in Iraq and Afghanistan. Press reports stated
 u.s. Military Academy                              on a heightened state of alert. – The Canadian    that the Syrian student was planning “to
 607 cullum road, lincoln Hall                      Press, January 11                                 recruit students to send them to Iraq and
 West point, nY 10996                                                                                 Afghanistan.” – AFP, January 12
 phone: (202) 425-8578                              January 10, 2008 (SOMALIA): Shaykh Sharif
 email:                           Shaykh Ahmed, the former head of Somalia’s        January 12, 2008 (ISRAEL): Al-Jazira
 Web:                    Islamic Courts Union, told reporters that a       reported that Egyptian authorities foiled an
                                                    “part of al-Shabab” militants have withdrawn      al-Qa`ida-linked terrorist attack on Israel
 * for press inquiries: (202) 425-8578              from his organization, the Alliance for the Re-   two months ago. The attack, which included
                                                    Liberation of Somalia (ARS). The shaykh did       at least 14 operatives, involved an unmanned
 SUPPORT                                            state, however, that Shaykh Hassan Turki, an      aircraft/drone to attack targets inside Israel.
                                                    al-Shabab commander in the southern Jubba         The cell included Egyptian army officers and
 the combating terrorism center would               regions, was still part of the ARS. During        engineers. - Jerusalem Post, January 13
 like to express its gratitude to its financial     the interview, Shaykh Ahmed warned the
 supporters, for without their support and          al-Shabab grouping that broke away from           January 12, 2008 (YEMEN): A new jihadist
 shared vision of the center products like          the ARS not to denounce Somalis as “non-          journal appeared on the web, called the Echoes
 the ctc sentinel could not be produced. if         Muslims.” – GaroweOnline, January 11              of Epics. The journal included a statement by
 you are interested in learning more about                                                            al-Qa`ida in Yemen in which they vow to free
 how to support the combating terrorism             January 11, 2008 (LEBANON): A Lebanese            their associates from Yemen’s prisons and
 center, please visit http://www.ctc.usma.          security source told Deutsche Press Agency        attack the government. – Reuters, January 13
 edu/support/ or call Wayne richardson at           that they had taken into custody Mohammed
 West point’s Association of Graduates at           Ndoub, a Syrian national who is allegedly
 845-446-1553.                                      linked to al-Qa`ida and who was possibly
                                                    involved in the 2006 attempted train bombing
                                                    plot in Germany. The arrest came after Ndoub
the views expressed in this report are those of     called in threats to the German Embassy in
the authors and not of the u.s. Military Academy,   Beirut that he would launch attacks on civilian
the Department of the Army, or any other agency     targets in Germany during the next three
of the u.s. Government.
                                                    months. – Deutsche Press Agency, January 11


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