Will Mali become the Next Terrorist Sanctuary?

In the aftermath of the Mali coup, northern secessionists have declared an independent Islamic state. With verifiable links to Al-Qa’ida, there is a real risk that ‘Azawad’, as it is known, will become the next wellspring of instability and terrorism in Africa.

By Valentina Soria, Research Analyst

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The proclamation on 26 May of an ‘Islamic state of Azawad’,[1]  in the northern region of Mali,  came only two months after a military coup that forced former president Amadou Toumani Toure to flee the capital Bamako, plunging the country into a political crisis. The power vacuum left was swiftly exploited by rebel forces to seize a territory the size of France, turning such a crisis into a security and humanitarian emergency. The 26 May announcement indicated that the secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the Islamist Ansar Dine (also spelt as Ansar Eddine) had apparently been able to reconcile divergent, if not clashing, ideological positions on government. An independent Azawad was first unilaterally declared by the MNLA in April but not backed by their Islamist allies, keen instead on pursuing the more ambitious aim of imposing Sharia law across the whole country. Yet, early attempts to do so immediately after the seizure of key towns in the north were met with firm opposition by the moderate Muslim local population, with MNLA also mostly hostile to the idea.[2]

Thus, last week’s joint declaration seemed to represent a ‘reasonable’ compromise between the Tuaregs‘ quest for independence from the south and the Islamists‘ desire to create an Islamic state. There was no doubting the opportunistic nature of the deal, with each side trying to secure their grip on power in a shared settlement that, although not ideal, must have been viewed by both at least as an acceptable outcome. Yet, its long-term sustainability is already in question, after ‘fundamental differences’ were blamed by the MNLA for the collapse of the deal only a few days later.

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Yemen Crisis Situation Reports: Update 142

By Katherine Zimmerman  July 11, 2012
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Today’s suicide bombing in Sana’a, the second in two months, underscores the challenges faced by the country’s nascent government in restoring stability and security in Yemen. Last month, Yemeni security forces regained control of southern regions held by Ansar al Sharia, the insurgent arm of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP’s ability to conduct asymmetrical attacks has not been significantly reduced, however.

A suicide bomber attacked Yemen’s Police Academy in Sana’a, the capital. The attack occurred at 1:30pm local time in Sana’a when the police cadets were coming out of class. At least nine people were killed in the blast, according to Yemen’s Interior Ministry. Some sources are reporting that over 22 people were killed. In May, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) targeted troops rehearsing a military parade in Sana’a, killing close to one hundred soldiers.

Yemeni security officials have been targeted by car bombs. In the past week, at least two assassination attempts have been made in Sana’a: a bomb planted in the car of Lt. Col. Mohammed al Qudami, an intelligence officer, killed him on July 2, and two days later, Saleh al Mustafa, the police chief in Mathbah neighborhood in Sana’a, exited his vehicle moments before a car bomb detonated. The attacks are similar to targeted assassinations carried out by AQAP in the past.

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New Abu Yahya al-Libi Videos:Dead or What?

Posted on 2012/06/25 |by Florian Flade

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Abu Yahya al-Libi in new video message released June 22

Three weeks have passed since a US drone strike in North Waziristan allegedly killed Al-Qaida´s Top commander Abu Yahya al-Libi. Since then Al-Qaida has neither officially confirmed nor denied the death of al-Libi. Question still remains: Is the White House´s claim true or not?

Instead of celebrating the martyrdom of yet another of its leaders Al-Qaida is releasing videos of al-Libi. Last week the terrorist network´s media wing “As-Sahab” released a 17-minute video statement titled “The American Military and Ethics of Wars” in which al-Libi talks about civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

The more interesting details regarding the second new Abu Yahya al-Libi tape within two weeks is: Al-Qaida does not seem to regard him as dead. The organization labels him “Al-Sheikh Al-Mujahid Abu Yahya al-Libi (may Allah protect him)” – the latter phrase indicating the person is still alive. Otherwise the phrase “may Allah have mercy upon him” would be used.

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Al Qaeda Flees

Advancing Against Al Qaeda

Advancing Against Al Qaeda (Photo credit: Third Way)

June 18, 2012:  In the last week, al Qaeda has pulled its remaining gunmen from most of the towns and villages it had been occupying for the last year. The major al Qaeda strongholds, Jaar and Zinjibar, are now occupied by police. There are no more known al Qaeda strongholds in Abyan province, which has long been the center of al Qaeda power in southern Yemen.

At its peak, al Qaeda has over 10,000 armed followers in the south. Most of these were allied tribesmen, who were seeking autonomy for their tribes and southern Yemen. The pro-terrorist tribesman eventually noted that many of their fellow southerners were hostile to al Qaeda, and that hostility spread as al Qaeda tried to impose its usual lifestyle adjustment in the few areas it took control of. Although many of the southern tribesmen are conservatives, they don’t like being pushed around by a bunch of self-righteous religious fanatics. Earlier this year the Yemeni government got rid of long-time leader (and irritant) Ali Abdullah Saleh and united the armed forces. The southern separatists and their al Qaeda allies had lost their edge. For the last few months it’s been downhill for the al Qaeda/separatist tribes’ alliance.

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A Serial Bomber in Phoenix

May 31, 2012 | 0900 GMT


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Stratfor By Scott Stewart

A small improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at a Salvation Army distribution center in Phoenix, Ariz., on the afternoon of May 24. Two Salvation Army employees discovered the explosive device, which was concealed inside a yellow, hand-held 6-volt flashlight, as they were sorting through a box of donated items. The IED exploded when one of the employees picked up the flashlight and attempted to turn it on. The blast was not very powerful, and the two employees suffered only minor injuries.

This was the third incident in the Greater Phoenix area in recent weeks involving an IED concealed in a flashlight. Two explosive devices very similar to the May 24 IED exploded May 13 and May 14 in Glendale, Ariz., a city in the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Both devices were abandoned in public places. In the May 13 incident, a woman discovered a yellow, hand-held 6-volt flashlight next to a tree outside a Glendale business. When the woman picked up the flashlight and attempted to turn it on, it exploded, causing minor scratches and bruises to her face and hands. It also inflicted minor wounds to a woman beside her. The next day, a man found an identical flashlight in a ditch where he was working in another part of Glendale. He was lightly injured when the flashlight exploded as he attempted to turn it on.

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Al-Qaeda will expose double agent’s identity, security chiefs fear

Security chiefs believe the identity of the double agent who foiled an al-Qaeda underwear bomb plot will be exposed by the terrorist group within weeks.

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It was hoped that the death of al-Awlaki, its chief recruiter and planner, would have proved a fatal blow to AQAP Photo: AP

By Sean Rayment, Philip Sherwell and Jason Lewis

8:30PM BST 12 May 2012

MI5 fear that militant Islamists will attempt to exact revenge on the British spy, who penetrated al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP), by publishing his photograph on the internet – a move designed to incite extremists to hunt him down.

Sources have described the British spy as “gold dust”, adding that he was one of just a handful of agents in the last ten years to have successfully penetrated one of the groups aligned to al-Qaeda’s concept of global Jihad.

AQAP now represents the “greatest operational threat” to Britain and America, according to senior Whitehall sources.

The group is known for its use of modern communication techniques including the publication of an English-language magazine, Inspire, which is distributed to supporters over the internet.

The agent, a British passport holder of Saudi heritage, volunteered to take part in a suicide mission but instead escaped with an underwear bomb designed to blow up a US airliner.

He is understood to have been recruited and trained by MI5’s G6 section – the ultra-secret part of the organisation responsible for agent handling – before being sent on his mission to penetrate the Yemeni-based terror group.

A former security official told The Sunday Telegraph that although the mission to penetrate AQAP was a success, the agent was now “burned” and would never be able to take part in covert operations again.

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Spy who uncovered underwear bomb plot is British national, sources say

Trouser Bomber at Home

Trouser Bomber at Home (Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

would-be suicide bomber was actually a British national, working through British intelligence to infiltrate the terror organization in Yemen.

By Robert Windrem
NBC News

The spy who helped Western intelligence agencies thwart a plot to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner was a British national of Middle Eastern origin, sources tell NBC News.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, also say that British intelligence was “heavily involved” in recruiting the spy, who has not yet been identified publicly, and penetrating the plot by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to detonate a new, more sophisticated underwear bomb aboard a U.S. jetliner.

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, would say only that multiple friendly security services were involved in the operation. Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism operation also were involved, other U.S. officials have told NBC News.

U.S. and British officials have long reported that AQAP has wanted to recruit Muslims with Western passports to carry out attacks like the one revealed this week. As an example, the officials cited AQAP’s recruitment of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who failed in the Christmas Day 2009 attempt to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit.

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