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Book review: The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits

18 July 2011

Summary:   A review of The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits by Catherine Herridge.  Reviewed by “GI” Wilson (Colonel, USMC, retired).

When reading Catherine Herridge’s smashing investigative work on terrorism, The Next Wave, the lyrics from Jimmy Buffet’s “Trouble on the Horizon” immediately came to mind:

We got trouble, trouble right here in River City,
Every day’s becoming Halloween.
We never see it coming, We never have a clue,
But there’s trouble on the horizon, Waiting for the barbecue.

Indeed, “we got trouble, trouble right here in River City” with a lot more to come.  The Next Wave is a chilling autopsy of homegrown evil doers threatening the personal safety and security of Americans!  Herridge artfully provides insight into developing sources, nailing down facts, and collecting information. She underscores the value of open source intelligence concordant with critical thinking and real investigative journalism.

There is no political flummery concerning terrorism’s inroads into the United States. Herridge is all business, straight to the point, and springs a narrative with the force of a titanium-bear trap.   Herridge lives up to her nickname as the “Terror Pixie” — a very respectful well earned moniker given to Herridge by those who have come to admire her persistence, tenacious professionalism, and sheer guts.

In her work, she lays bare the insider threat to American’s existence (let alone America’s survival as a super power) from within at the hands of home grown evil doers. Herridge serves up a diabolical landscape of DC infighting, political correctness, duplicity, and warmed-over-interagency intrigue. Fathom the hypocrisy of a government allowing one of the worst-of-the-worst-Islamic terrorists to enter and depart the US unimpeded to do more evil.

Herridge will have you being peeled off the ceiling as she describes in vivid detail the machinations of FBI Special Agent Wade Ammerman who gives Anwar al Awlaki free rein to re-enter the United States. Yes, the very same Anwar al Awlaki who presided over the funeral of US Army Major Nidal Hassan’s mother at a Virginia mosque — the mother of the Ft Hood shooter-psychiatrist. And the very same American cleric with a penchant for prostitutes who became a top recruiter for al Qaeda. After re-entering the U.S. with FBI intervention, al Awlaki again leaves the U.S for one last time, no doubt making mental notes regarding the killing of Americans while literally and figuratively “casing the joint” during his stay.

Terrorism is not the threat the U.S. government thought it would be. Instead its a thinking adaptive threat using social networking tools. And there is more…!

Read an excerpt from her book at the Fox website!

For More Information

(1)  Biography of Catherine Herridge

From the Fox website:

{She} is a national correspondent for FOX News covering homeland security, the Department of Justice and the intelligence community. Previously, she served as a general field reporter for FOX Broadcasting Network’s newsmagazine, “The Pulse,” anchored by FOX News’ Shepard Smith.

In 2007, Herridge broke news with major developments on the Fort Dix terror investigation; she was the first reporter to confirm that three of the six suspects had entered the U.S. illegally as children. She also played a key role in FNC’s coverage of the Virginia Tech Massacres by obtaining the first photos of killer Seung-Hui Cho from federal sources. In January 2004, she provided extensive coverage of the Democratic presidential elections, reporting live from Manchester during the New Hampshire primary. In 2003, Herridge covered the latest news and information on homeland security during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She also provided viewers with interviews with key newsmakers, including an exclusive interview with Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge.

In 2000, Herridge followed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for the Senate, reporting between New York and Washington, DC. In 1998, she was a New York-based correspondent for the FOX Broadcasting Network newsmagazine, “Fox Files,” and was responsible for investigating health concerns such as Medicare fraud, prescription drug abuse and child prostitution.

Herridge joined FOX News in 1996 as a London-based correspondent, covering ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the Northern Ireland peace agreement, the Iraqi missile crisis and the investigation into Princess Diana’s death. Before joining FOX News, Herridge served as a London-based correspondent for ABC News.

Herridge has received numerous awards for her work in journalism, including a Bronze World Medal from the New York Festivals, honoring excellence in communications media.

(2)  Articles by and about Herridge

(a)  “Report Shows Gaping Holes in Intelligence on Overseas Terrorists“, Catherine Herridge, Fox News, 12 July 2011

(b)  On 30 September 2010 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Fox News for allegedly retaliating against correspondent Catherine Herridge’s internal gender and age discrimination complaints, another in series of discrimination complaints against News Corp. and its subsidiaries.  See a copy of the notice at the EEOC website.

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt D permalink
    18 July 2011 3:58 pm

    Upon first reading the book title, and especially after reading the excerpt, I had the impression that the book would be just another piece of shrill, self-indulgent myopia devoid of any insight into the real challenges facing America. Fortunately I also read this review, which totally set me straight.

    “Al Qaeda and its attack on our country continue to shape my life and career. To my knowledge, I am the only network TV correspondent to cover 9/11 in New York, to report on the war on terror from Washington D.C. for nearly a decade and to follow the narrative of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators to a military court in Guantanamo Bay.”

    Bravo, Cathy. With any luck, 9/11 and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will continue to define all our lives and careers for decades to come.

    Like

  2. AGK permalink
    18 July 2011 9:30 pm

    You fix your mentally ill psychics in charge for your “politics” and no terrorist will bother you.. except if you insist bringing them peace and god-given american values by bombing them, stealing their resources etc.

    Like

  3. norman broomhall permalink
    18 July 2011 10:43 pm

    I find all this talk about terrorism in the USA quite beside the point . If the USA did not invade other countries to steal their oil , overthrow governments and leaders who are a little too independent , the problem would not exist .

    Like

  4. 18 July 2011 11:01 pm

    “U.S. Sees A Widening Terrorism Alliance”, Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2011 — New intelligence indicates aid from militants in Yemen to those in Somalia.

    WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda’s powerful branch in Yemen has provided weapons, fighters and training with explosives over the last year to a militant Islamic group battling for power in Somalia, according to newly developed American intelligence, raising concerns of a widening alliance of terrorist groups.

    Leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen also have urged members of the hard-line Shabab militia to attack targets outside Africa for the first time, said U.S. officials who were briefed on the intelligence. The information, they said, comes in part from a Somali militant who was captured en route from Yemen to Somalia and interrogated aboard a U.S. warship before being arraigned in New York on terrorism charges this month. Further intelligence was gleaned from detailed digital files found at Osama bin Laden’s hide-out in Pakistan after he was killed in May.

    U.S. counter-terrorism officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in discussing intelligence matters, say text messages found on portable flash drives at the compound where Bin Laden was killed establish that he had sought to strengthen operational ties between Al Qaeda and the Shabab.

    The heads of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, or AQAP, acted at times as Bin Laden’s go-betweens to the Somali fighters. Among those who tried to forge the alliance was Nasir Wahayshi, an AQAP leader who previously operated as Bin Laden’s personal secretary, said a former U.S. intelligence official who was briefed on the matter. “There was a lot of traffic” about Somalia in the Bin Laden house, the former official said. Some of the thumb drives were smuggled out of Somalia and through Yemen before couriers hand-delivered them to Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, the ex-official said.

    The CIA gained other information when Somali authorities allowed them to interview Shabab militants imprisoned in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, U.S. officials said. The CIA asked about the militants’ ability to launch attacks outside Somalia as well as the group’s command structure.

    Discussing the threat with reporters at the Pentagon recently, Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen are “trying hard to kill us” and “there is a growing cell [in Somalia] and a growing connection to Al Qaeda that we are all concerned about.”

    In a sign of the expanding front, U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles at suspected militants in Yemen in May, and in Somalia in June. They were the first known U.S. military attacks in Yemen since 2002 and in Somalia since 2009.

    Other messages about the Shabab circulated among Bin Laden, his chief deputy and now-successor Ayman Zawahiri, and Atiyah Abdul Rahman, a Libyan who acted as Al Qaeda’s chief operating officer, said the former U.S. official. Zawahiri’s location is unknown, and Abdul Rahman was reportedly killed in October in Pakistan although American intelligence officials believe he is still alive.

    The three militant leaders sought to persuade the Shabab to shift its focus away from Somalia to directly target the United States and its allies, the messages showed. Al Qaeda leaders also pushed the local group to change its name to Al Qaeda in East Africa.

    In January, Bin Laden and his aides agreed to elevate the Shabab to the same status as Al Qaeda franchises based in Yemen, Iraq and North Africa, said the former U.S. official. But the Shabab’s leaders did not adopt the Al Qaeda brand name, fearing it would fracture the group and draw more attention from Western intelligence groups.

    Contacts between Yemeni and Somali militants have taken place in the past. The Shabab has bought weapons and explosives from Al Qaeda contacts in Yemen using money from piracy and kidnap-for-ransom schemes, said a U.S. counter-terrorism official.

    Until recently, Shabab insurgents have focused on trying to overthrow the United Nations-backed transitional government in Mogadishu. However, the group claimed credit for two suicide bombings in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, last summer that killed at least 74 people, including one American, its only known attack on foreign soil. Uganda’s government has contributed troops to an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.

    “We are starting to see a conflation of jihadi conflict zones,” said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University. “Yemen and Somalia are moving together.”

    There is an “active working relationship” between Al Qaeda’s groups in Yemen and Somalia, said Seth Jones, a senior political scientist at Rand Corp., a nonprofit research institution. “The two groups are attempting to coordinate actions between the Arab- ian Peninsula and East Africa.”

    The New York court case this month drew public notice to the Shabab’s links to AQAP. After an alleged Shabab commander, Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, was indicted on terrorism charges, White House officials disclosed that U.S. forces had captured Warsame in the Gulf of Aden in April and interrogated him for two months aboard a U.S. Navy ship.

    Warsame was a “key interlocutor” between Shabab and AQAP and “of course had ties and a relationship” with U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar Awlaki, an alleged terrorist planner and recruiter who is believed to be hiding in Yemen, a U.S. official said.

    Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen were behind a failed attempt to mail bombs aboard cargo planes headed to Chicago in October 2010, as well as an unsuccessful effort to detonate a bomb on a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009.

    Like

  5. Matt D permalink
    19 July 2011 5:58 pm

    GI Wilson, I would agree with you that jihadist insurgency is a real and ongoing threat. I would not agree with some of the posters here who want to lay the blame on America– if America is right in its actions, then if retaliation occurs, that retaliation is not justified and is not America’s fault. But I would take issue with the notion that this insurgency should be a high-profile national priority. Contrary to the assertions that many public figures continue to make, many hold the opinion (which I share) that jihadist insurgency does not rise to the level of an existential threat. It deserves attention, and it is getting that attention– now we have much bigger, much more existential threats that we should actually be paying attention to.

    One way that I think some people think about “terrorism” is that it is a cost of doing business. As other posters have pointed out, we have figuratively stuck our foot in it through our middle eastern entanglements. The current national consensus is that those entanglements are right and worth the cost, so what we should do is manage the cost (have strong anti-terror measures) but keep our main focus on the bigger long-term threats (America’s relative decline in geo-political power, internal decay, etc.).

    So, those of us who feel that “terrorism” (jihadist insurgency) is both a misnomer and an exagerrated threat– we see someone like this “terror pixie” write a book like this, and it just comes across as shrill and completely beside the point.

    Like

  6. Rune permalink
    20 July 2011 6:21 pm

    When al Qaeda is defeated, can we have our liberties back?

    By: Gene Healy | Examiner Columnist Follow Him @Genehealy | 07/18/11 8:05 PM

    Last week brought the unsurprising news that the Transportation Security Administration had terrorized yet another 6-year-old with a humiliating pat-down. Dog bites man, federal agent gropes child — we’re getting all too accustomed to this sort of thing in post-9/11 America.
    Meanwhile, even the administration’s top terror warriors are starting to admit that al Qaeda is a spent force. Two weeks ago, in his first public comments after moving from Langley to the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta noted that al Qaeda’s defeat was “within reach.”

    When we kill or round up some 10 to 20 remaining senior operatives, Panetta said, we’ll “really cripple al Qaeda as a threat to this country.” In fact, the al Qaeda threat has looked anything but robust for some time now.

    Last summer, al Qaeda’s online journal Inspire, a sort of Soldier of Fortune magazine for wannabe jihadis, suggested using “a tractor or farm vehicle in an attack outfitted with blades or swords as a fearsome killing machine” — perfect for “mowing down the enemies of Allah.”

    Among the treasure trove of materials seized from the Abbottabad compound was a missive from Osama bin Laden himself, condemning that scheme as “indiscriminate slaughter” — an odd objection, coming from a mass murderer.

    Yet somehow, the terrorist mastermind missed the more obvious objection: The plan is utterly screwball — an embarrassment — the dumbest scheme since … well, since al Qaeda operative Iyman Faris’ 2002 plan to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch. As I’ve said before, sometimes you get the sense that these guys aren’t the sharpest scimitars in the shed.

    The global intelligence firm Stratfor put it more politely in a recent analysis: “The jihadists seem to be having a problem … finding people who can master the terrorist tradecraft” and travel freely to the West.

    They’ve been reduced to urging potential sympathizers who already live here to stock up at gun shows and shoot some infidels at the mall. But, as Stratfor observes, “the very call to leaderless resistance is an admission of defeat.”

    We may be winning, but don’t dare imagine that “victory” will take the form of a restoration of lost liberties. That’s “defeatist” thinking. I suppose that’s why, shortly after SEAL Team 6 killed bin Laden, Congress and the president’s autopen got together to reauthorize the Patriot Act. The threat recedes, but the surveillance state must live on.

    And there can be no talk of beating porno-scanners into plowshares. The Department of Homeland Security recently warned that terrorists might “surgically implant explosive devices” in their bodies.

    Slate.com reports that several firms are already hard at work on scanners that can look inside our bodies instead of just inside our clothes. Like all other bureaucracies, the bureaucracy of fear has a merciless logic of its own. It exists to exist, generating new invasions of privacy — and new federal contracts — however speculative the threats.

    Ten days after the Sept. 11 attacks, in a speech to a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush laid out his vision of al Qaeda’s demise: heirs to the “murderous ideologies of the 20th century,” they’d end up “in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.”

    Nearly a decade later, U.S. Navy SEALs pitched the head murderer’s body off the side of the USS Carl Vinson into the North Arabian Sea — a watery grave that’s a pretty close approximation of Bush’s imagery.

    Wired magazine defense analyst Spencer Ackerman asks the right question: “Why does the U.S. still need to devote such overwhelming resources worldwide against a force that’s seeing history pass it by?”

    As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, isn’t it time we started thinking about a “peace dividend”?

    Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2011/07/when-al-qaeda-defeated-can-we-have-our-liberties-back#ixzz1SffP29JI

    Like

  7. sglover permalink
    24 July 2011 9:30 pm

    A very, very disappointing article, wholly lacking in any sense of proportion. Get real — while there are certainly Al Qaeda-type gangs that wish to do Americans harm, in the grand scheme of Things to Worry About they rank about as high as car theft or blisters.

    I’ve come to expect much better than this from this site. Again, disappointing.

    Like

  8. 25 July 2011 2:45 pm

    With respect to “insider threat” suggest checking out the Hill briefing 25 July that promises to reveal the “infiltration” of the Muslim Brotherhood and thousands of its allies throughout the United States.

    The briefing set for Monday springs from a report by the Citizens for National Security, a Boca Raton-based group that claims extensive expertise on defense, intelligence and terrorism.

    “The report identifies the major religious organizations in the United States that have stemmed from the Muslim Brotherhood, including 501©(3) charities, religious groups, community centers, schools and similar offshoots from primary organizations that it controls.”

    The group plans to name names and raise the specter of a vast network dedicated to waging a Jihad, or holy war.

    “It details exactly how the Muslim Brotherhood’s deliberate, premeditated plan is now reaching maturity in this country in the form of homegrown Jihad,” said William Saxton, chairman of Citizens for National Security.

    Like

  9. sglover permalink
    26 July 2011 4:31 am

    “The briefing set for Monday springs from a report by the Citizens for National Security, a Boca Raton-based group that claims extensive expertise on defense, intelligence and terrorism.”

    Wow. I’m convinced.

    Please bring back interesting, non-hysterical articles.

    Like

  10. GI Wilson permalink
    28 July 2011 2:44 pm

    In response to glover, look forwarded to his writing some thought provoking articles to set the standards we should aspire to. The new arrests of military personnel in another Ft Hood plot perhaps may be of interest and hopefully give us more insight.

    Like

  11. 31 July 2011 3:33 am

    “Ex-Counterterrorism Aide Warns Against Complacency On Al Qaeda”, Eric Schmitt, New York Times, 29 July 2011

    ASPEN, Colo. ‹ The recently departed director of the nation’s main counterterrorism center said Thursday that Al Qaeda in Pakistan still posed
    a serious threat to the United States, and he warned that assessments that Al Qaeda was on the verge of collapse lacked “accuracy and precision.”

    The comments by the official, Michael E. Leiter, who stepped down three weeks ago as head of the National Counterterrorism Center, are the most significant pushback to a growing chorus of statements by American officials that the death of Osama bin Laden and years of Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in Pakistan have brought the United States ³within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaeda,² as Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta put it recently.

    Mr. Leiter said that Al Qaeda¹s leadership and structure in Pakistan were ³on the ropes,² but he contended that ³the core organization is still there and could launch some attacks² and that ³Pakistan remains a huge problem.² He noted that the failed plot to blow up an explosives-packed vehicle in Times Square in May 2010 was carried out by a Pakistani-American trained by the Pakistani Taliban. The Qaeda affiliate in Yemen also remains especially dangerous, he added.

    Mr. Leiter also raised concerns that a decade of intensive paramilitary operations by the Central Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen had begun to change the nature of the spy service, and not necessarily all for the better.

    ³The question has to be asked: Has that in some ways diminished some of its strategic, long-term intelligence collection and analysis mission?² he said, citing the potential impact on traditional espionage and analysis of longer-range issues like China and counterproliferation.

    As some of America¹s wars wind down, Mr. Leiter cautioned about the effects on a generation of young analysts and officers from the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies who have been pushed forward into adrenaline-surging counterterrorism missions overseas. They could return to headquarters, he said, and find themselves bored by doing the still-important jobs of analysts or case officers ‹ what he called the ³crown jewel² of the C.I.A.¹s work.

    ³Suddenly you find yourself at a desk in Washington working in a pretty big bureaucracy and you say: ³This what I¹m stuck with for another 30 years? You¹ve got to be kidding me,¹ ² Mr. Leiter said.

    Mr. Leiter spoke in a wide-ranging, hourlong interview at the Aspen Security Forum at the Aspen Institute here. The New York Times is a media sponsor of the four-day conference, and Mr. Leiter was interviewed by David E. Sanger, The Times¹s chief Washington correspondent.

    In the wake of Bin Laden¹s death in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, a growing debate has taken hold among American and other Western intelligence and counterterrorism specialists over how close the United States may be to dismantling Al Qaeda¹s main network in Pakistan.

    President Obama¹s choice to replace Mr. Leiter, Matthew Olsen, who is the general counsel at the National Security Agency, said at his confirmation hearing this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would define the strategic defeat of Al Qaeda as ³ending the threat that Al Qaeda and all of its affiliates pose to the United States and its interests around the world.²

    Seth G. Jones, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation who until February worked on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues for United States Special Operations Command, expressed caution about the idea that Al Qaeda in Pakistan is on its last legs. ³Central Al Qaeda and a mix of other groups in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia are capable of pulling off an attack in the U.S. homeland,² he said.

    In an assessment drawn from nearly four years as head of the counterterrorism center, Mr. Leiter warned that while Al Qaeda¹s ability to
    pull off another attack on the scale of Sept. 11 has greatly diminished, smaller attacks carried out by the remaining leadership of Al Qaeda or Qaeda franchises, or adherents in Yemen and Somalia, or possibly by homegrown terrorists in the United States, could still cause tremendous physical, psychological and emotional damage.

    ³Small events can still have a strategic impact,² he said. He cited the bombing and shooting spree last week in Norway, apparently by
    one man, that killed at least 76 people, as well as the attacks by gunmen in Mumbai, India, in November 2008 that left more than 160 people dead, including 6 Americans.

    Asked what advice he would give the American public about the current threat, Mr. Leiter said he would stress how much progress the country had made in the past 10 years against terrorist attacks, but he also said people should not overreact to what he said would inevitably be future strikes. ³The American people do need to understand that at least the smaller-scale terrorist attacks are with us for the foreseeable future,² he said.

    ³The way that we fundamentally defeat that threat, which is very difficult to stop in its entirety, is to maintain a culture of resilience,² Mr. Leiter said. ³Although this threat of terrorism is real and there will be tragic events that lead to the deaths of innocent people, it is not, in my view, an existential threat to our society.²

    Like

  12. sglover permalink
    2 August 2011 4:07 am

    The ‘threat’ in this case seems to consist of a confused, not especially bright young man who spent maybe twenty minutes coming up with an addled ‘plan’ — and got apprehended in short order. The entire escapade is about as much of a ‘threat’ as the dozens of liquor store holdups that go wrong every month. Except this doofus is some kind of Muslim — scary!

    Again, there’s absolutely zero sense of proportion here. What do you suppose the cultural appeal of violent, fundamentalist Islam is, in gonzo consumerist America? Perhaps, maybe, let’s see….about nil? I’d worry a helluva lot more about things that are in plain sight: Like the corrosive effect of enormous, concentrated wealth buying up every public institution and asset, and looting the society bare. You think maybe banana republic America is a little more worrisome than some half-cocked kid?

    Look, I won’t deny ‘terror pixiie’ (or whatever the hell it is) her right to cash in on ginning up the fear. This is America, where everyone has the sacred right to milk his or her scam for every last nickel. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to agree to get suckered myself. You shouldn’t either.

    Like

  13. 2 August 2011 6:15 am

    Al Qaeda collapse – not!“, by H. THOMAS HAYDEN, Poliquicks, 1 AUGUST 2011

    Administration officials are trying to convince the public that killing of Osama bin Laden and the toll of seven years of CIA drone strikes have pushed Al Qaeda to the brink of collapse. The new Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, and the top U.S. national security officials now suggest a potential finish line in the fight against Al Qaeda, since bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in the raid in Pakistan.

    However, the recently departed director of the national counterterrorism center said last Thursday that Al Qaeda in Pakistan still posed a serious threat to the United States, and he warned that the comments by the Administration were, well, off base.,

    Michael E. Leiter, who resigned three weeks ago as head of the National Counterterrorism Center, is the most significant opposition to a growing number of statements that the death of Osama bin Laden and years of Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in Pakistan have brought the United States within reach of defeating Al Qaeda.

    This is wishful thing if not political posturing for the next presidential election when they fail to mention the franchises of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, Al Qaeda in Somalia and Al Qaeda in Iran.

    Mr. Leiter also raised concerns that a decade of intensive paramilitary operations by the Central Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan,
    Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen had begun to change the nature of the spy service, and not necessarily all for the better. He spoke in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum at the Aspen Institute. The New York Times is a sponsor of the conference, and Mr. Leiter was interviewed by David E. Sanger, The Times¹s chief Washington correspondent.

    The only way of ending the threat that Al Qaeda and all of its affiliates pose to the United States and its interests around the world is to kill all the leaders, remove all safe havens and confiscate all bank accounts.

    That is not going to happen any time soon.

    Like

  14. 2 August 2011 5:43 pm

    US adds American, Kenyan Shabaab leaders to list of designated terrorists“, Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal, 31 July 2011

    On July 29, the US Treasury Department targeted two senior leaders of Shabaab, the al Qaeda-linked group in Somalia, designating them as global terrorists. The designation allows the US to freeze the assets of the two leaders, prevent them from using financial institutions, and prosecute them for terrorist activities.

    The two men were identified as Omar Hammani and Hassan Mahat Omar. Hammani, an American citizen, was described as a senior military commander and recruiter who is directly linked to al Qaeda, while Omar, a Kenyan citizen, is said to be a senior leader, ideologue, recruiter, and fundraiser.

    The American: Omar Hammami

    Treasury described Hammami “as one of al Shabaab’s key figures,” and said he serves as a “military tactician, recruitment strategist, and financial manager” for the Somali terror group. “Hammami has commanded guerilla forces in combat, organized attacks and plotted strategy with al Qaeda,” the Treasury press release stated. “He was also involved in organizing a suicide bombing attack carried out by a Somali-Aerican from Minnesota who traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. That attack, and four others organized by Hammami and carried out in October 2008, killed more than 20 people.”

    Hammami is also linked to “an attempt to increase recruiting among Somalis, including Somali émigrés in the United States” as he was “featured in an al Shabaab video in which militia members are shown training and explicitly stating their allegiance to Osama bin Laden.”

    While not stated in the Treasury designation, Hammami, who is also known as Abu Mansoor al Amriki (“the American”), spoke at a public rally with other top Shabaab leaders to eulogize Osama bin Laden just 10 days after the death of the al Qaeda leader. Hammami spoke in public in Afgoye, an area south of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

    During the rally, Hammani appeared with other top al Qaeda-linked Shabaab leaders, including Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour and Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys. Hammami and the other top Shabaab leaders were seen sitting in the open, unafraid of being targeted by Somali or African Union forces.

    “We are all Osama,” Hammami told the crowd as he spoke at a podium, according to a translation of the speech, a portion of which was published by National Post. He also said that Shabaab and al Qaeda would continue their jihad to establish a global Islamic caliphate.

    “Today, we remind the Muslims that the caliphate [Islamic rule] shall soon be reborn,” Hammani said. “May Allah accept our dear beloved sheikh [Osama bin Laden] and cause our swords to become instruments of his avenging.”

    In early March, the Somali defense minister claimed Hammami was killed during fighting in Mogadishu. But one month later, the Shabaab leader released a nasheed, or song, that mocked the reports. In the clumsy rap, Hammami said he wanted to die in a US airstrike or special operations raid, like other top al Qaeda leaders such as Abu Laith al Libi, Saleh Ali Nabhan, and Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

    For more information on Hammami, see LWJ report, American Shabaab commander speaks at rally for Osama bin Laden in Somalia.

    The Kenyan: Hassan Mahat Omar

    The Treasury designation also included Hassan Mahat Omar, a previously unknown Shabaab leader who operates from Nairobi, Kenya.

    Omar is described as a “a key figure in al Shabaab’s efforts to recruit new members and raise funds” and “an ideological leader of al Shabaab.” He also “exercises leadership and decision-making authority in al Shabaab’s internal political and operational decisions.”
    Omar operates from a mosque in the Eastleigh section of Nairobi, where he serves as “a key leader.” Omar and other Shabaab leaders use the Eastleigh mosque to “raise funds, recruit and disseminate propaganda on behalf of al Shabaab.” As a religious leader, Omar has used his position to issue fatwas, or edicts, in favor of Shabaab. His fatwas “have provided al-Shabaab with the religious justification to wage jihad against Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.”

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  15. Matt D permalink
    3 August 2011 3:19 am

    As long as we’re on the topic, one thing that I’ve always wondered is, as long as Al Shabab are the only coherent, competent entity actually interested in governing Somalia, why don’t we just let them have it? The Somali people would probably suffer less under a brutal peace than a never-ending war, and if Al Shabab ever followed through on any of their larger threats once they became established and had something to lose, we would still have recourse to wipe them out through conventional war (worked pretty darn well in Afghanistan, until we stayed).

    I mean, we have to know that we’re just stirring the pot by pretending to support the trumped-up UN “government”– polite committees never have and never will forge states from anarchy. Even Ethiopia doesn’t want to govern Somalia. Al Shabab looks like to only movement that’s willing to put their money where their mouth is– why don’t we let them have a go at it?

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  16. sglover permalink
    3 August 2011 4:04 am

    Ummmmm……. Somalia is suddenly a “vital” American interest?!?!? Huh?

    Here’s another piece of “intel” for Wilson — I hear there’s a guy in Sicily somewhere who’s complained about American tourists. I definitely think we should go into Alert Condition Magenta Overdrive about that.

    You can’t be too careful, after all….

    Like

  17. 3 August 2011 5:09 am

    Sglover, right you are, “You can’t be too careful, after all”….the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen are “trying hard to kill us” and “there is a growing cell in Somalia and a growing connection to Al Qaeda that we are all concerned about.”

    A court case in New York involving Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame has brought attention to the Shabab’s links to AQAP. Warsame is an alleged Shabab commander, Warsame has been indicted on terrorism charges. He was captured by U.S. forces had in the Gulf of Aden. Warsame was a “key interlocutor” between Shabab and AQAP and “of course had ties and a relationship” with U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar Awlaki, a terrorist planner and recruiter who lived in San Diego, CA and now is believed to be hiding in Yemen. We have a large Somali population here in the San Diego County area so you are clearly on cue …”You can’t be too careful, after all”

    Like

  18. 5 August 2011 3:03 pm

    “Terrorists Walk Among Us”, StrategyPage.com, 5 August 2011

    In the United States, Congressional hearings are being held to determine the extent to which Americans have joined Islamic terrorist organizations. This has always been a contentious issue, as Moslem migrants to the United States have always been regarded as more loyal to their adopted country than those who went to Europe, and other non-Moslem areas. This was largely because the United States has always been more accepting of migrants, being a nation of migrants. This is widely known in Moslem nations, where surveys regularly show the United States as the favorite destination of those seeking to migrate. Even though most Moslem nations have anti-Americanism as a popular attitude, the United States remains the most desired destination. Opinion surveys of Moslem migrants in the United States shows that this community is more satisfied with their experience in America than non-Moslems migrants.

    But some American Moslems have shown up overseas, working for Islamic terrorist organizations. Islamic terror groups have been particularly successful in Somali-American communities. It¹s now believed that at least 40 young Somali-Americans were recruited to return to Somalia to fight for Islamic radical groups. This has been going on for some time.

    For example, it was two years ago that U.S. officials the remains of a suicide bomber who committed an attack in Somalia in October, 2008, as an American. The U.S. government returned the remains to his family in Minnesota in December 2008. The bomber, 27 year old Shirwa Ahmed, was a naturalized American citizen of Somali origin. It was then believed that 10-20 other young Somali men have gone back to Somalia to fight with Islamic radicals in the previous year or so. The FBI had been investigating this situation for nearly a year, and had not yet released their findings. This was understandable, as it was an ongoing investigation, and the FBI didn’t want to jeopardize the sources it had, or reveal how close it was to identifying and building a case against those who recruited and paid for the missing Somali-Americans to go fight for Islamic radicals in Somalia. The investigation continued, and some of the recruiters were identified, and prosecuted. It was found that the recruiting was more extensive than first believed.

    Suicide bomber Shirwa Ahmed migrated to Minneapolis with his family in the 1990s. There are 15,000 Somalis, mostly recent migrants, in the Minneapolis area. Somalis claim there are many more, up to 80,000, but this would imply a large number of illegal migrants, and there was little evidence of this. The young men have the usual problems of recent arrivals from a Third World country. Many have a hard time adapting, and some join Somali street gangs. These gangs largely preyed on fellow Somalis, although there were increasing attacks on non-Somalis.

    It was hoped that family ties would help maintain order in the Somali community. But then the State Department began DNA testing of family members allowed to migrate to the United States, and found that 80 percent were not family, but participants in a scam whereby they paid up to $10,000 to have a Somali already in the U.S. claim them as a family member so they could enter legally.

    The Somali community in Minneapolis is a mixed lot. Some are college educated professionals who left before the government disappeared in 1991. Most, however, are poorly educated, often illiterate, Somalis who fled the violence that has beset the country since 1991. And many of these got in illegally via the false family member scam. A number of the Somali migrants are Islamic conservatives, and some of these are believed to be the key people in the Islamic terrorist recruiting operation. This sort of recruiting goes on in Moslem migrant communities throughout the world. What worries the FBI the most is that if some of these missing Somalis are given terrorist training overseas, and then return to the United States.

    It¹s not just the United States has this problem. Islamic radicals are known to be working in the Arab-descended communities in many Latin American countries, aided by the porous frontiers, such as in the notorious “three borders” region, where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet. The Islamic radicals have been able to raise some money from Latin American Arabs, often through bogus “charities.” But the extent to which they have been able to recruit active supporters is harder to gauge. In some countries, such as Bolivia and Paraguay, recruiting efforts have been reported to the police, who took action. One factor hampering the Islamic radicals down there was that many of the Arab immigrants to Latin America were Christians, and those who were Moslems often became secularized, in an environment where they found very few co-religionists.

    While only about a hundred of American Moslems have gone overseas to fight for Islamic terror groups, several percent of the Moslem-American population supports Islamic terrorism (it¹s much higher among Europe Moslems and even higher in Moslem countries). This is a cause of contention, and sometimes violence, within the Moslem community. The disputes sometimes become physical, and there have been murders, usually because those who back Islamic radicalism also support violence to further their goals. However, the Islamic radical fans are so outnumbered that al Qaeda warned the September 11, 2001 attackers to stay away from Moslem-American communities, because of the risk of someone calling the police or FBI. But the appeal of Islamic radicalism is strong enough to spur some small percentage of Moslem-Americans to violence, planning violence or supporting those who do.

    Like

  19. Matt D permalink
    5 August 2011 4:10 pm

    Again, I fail to see how Somalia’s civil war is even about us, except that we have made it about us. American support for Catholic extremists during the Irish civil war was legendary, but it did not raise a general alarm. Thousands of Americans went to fight for Communist radicals during the Spanish civil war, but they were not thrown in a dungeon when they got back home.

    Before we start talking about “planning violence”, I think we should define exactly what we mean by “violence”, and what is a national-level threat to the interests of the United States and what is not. If Ahmed Q. Doe wants to travel 5,000 miles away, back to [i]his home country[/i], to march around the forest and shoot his gun at Abdurrahman Q. Doe in a civil war that is distant from our shores and we have no officially-declared role in, is this really a threat to the US?

    Like

  20. 10 August 2011 7:02 pm

    US group trains troops in Somalia“, Associated Press, 10 August 2011

    On the front lines of Mogadishu’s streets, Islamist militants battle African Union troops. Standing alongside the peacekeepers are members of an American-run team of advisers, former military men who play a little-known but key role in the war against al-Shabab.

    Aside from covert raids by special operations forces, the U.S. government has not been involved militarily in Somalia since the intervention almost two decades ago that culminated in the Black Hawk Down battle. But a Washington-based company has been quietly working in one of the world’s most dangerous cities to help an AU peacekeeping force protect the Somali government from al-Qaida-linked Islamist insurgents.

    While troops struggle to get control of this shattered capital that has been filling with refugees fleeing famine in southern Somalia, The Associated Press got rare access to the military advisers, providing a first look into their work.

    The men employed by Bancroft Global Development live in small trailers near Mogadishu’s airport but often go into the field. It’s dangerous work – two Bancroft men were wounded last month.

    Among the advisers are a retired general from the British marines, an ex-French soldier involved in a coup in Comoros 16 years ago, and a Danish political scientist.

    Funded by the United Nations and the U.S. State Department, Bancroft has provided training in a range of military services, from bomb disposal and sniper training to handing out police uniforms.

    Michael C. Stock, the American head of Bancroft, said his men share information with the FBI about bomb materials and the DNA of suicide bombers, who sometimes turned out to be Somali-American youths from the Midwest. Stock said his company receives no recompense for sharing information with the FBI.

    Stock strongly objects if “mercenary” is used to describe his men. Instead he describes Bancroft as a non-governmental organization dedicated to finding permanent solutions to violent conflict. His men say they are trying to stabilize a country ravaged by 20 years of civil war and now a famine estimated to have killed 29,000 children in the past three months.

    “We take calculated risks to be side by side with our protegees,” said Stock, who visits Mogadishu only intermittently and for short periods of time, believing it is best not to have Americans working in Mogadishu. “It gives us credibility with them. They know we know what we are talking about.”

    At their beach-side camp in Mogadishu, diplomats, journalists and aid workers swap tip-offs by the bar. Stories fly through the air faster than the bats that hunt in the shadows, a way to unwind after a day of tense work.

    Richard Rouget, a cigar-smoking, poetry-quoting, whiskey-drinking former big game hunter and right-hand man of French mercenary Bob Denard, has a long scar on his thigh from getting shot in Somalia last year. Another round slammed into the chest plate of his body armor.

    Much of Mogadishu in recent years has been held by al-Shabab, militants who have denied many aid agencies access to their territory which is the epicenter of the famine. The AU force, which supports the weak U.N.-backed Somali government, only took full control of the bombed-out capital after the Islamists withdrew from their bases there on Saturday.

    “They have gone from their bases but their fighters are still around. We’re probably going to see them using bomb attacks, assassinations, a type of guerrilla war,” said AU force commander Maj. Gen. Fred Mugisha.

    The Bancroft advisers camp out with AU soldiers on the front lines, training them to fight in urban areas and dispose of bombs. When the AU first arrived in 2008, there were dozens of bomb attacks. Nearly 100 soldiers died in such attacks in that first year, and around 20 in the second. The AU hasn’t lost a soldier to a roadside bomb in over a year.

    The U.S. State Department has funded the company’s training in Somalia of soldiers from Uganda and Burundi, who comprise the AU peacekeeping force, in marksmanship and bomb disposal. Other funding has come from the U.N. The contracts have totaled $12.5 million since 2008, the year the company started working in Somalia, Stock said.

    Earlier this week, Martinus “Rocky” Van Blerk swept the road to Mogadishu’s port for bombs, blew up a grenade found in a newly taken al-Shabab base and answered two calls about suspected bombs. The defused mortar shells and bomb components lie rusting in a pile near the airport; interesting or unusual devices and remains from suicide bombers are sent to the FBI for analysis.

    “That’s where I blew up the bodies of those two suicide bombers last week,” Van Blerk told AP at a newly taken al-Shabab base, pointing to a dip in the sand and a charred wall spattered with dark residue. The bombers were shot before they could detonate their suicide vests.

    Wearing government uniforms, they had attacked with machine guns. They shot one of Van Blerk’s South African Bancroft colleagues as well as a contractor from a demining company and 10 Ugandan soldiers trained in bomb disposal. The demining contractor and six of the Ugandans died. Dark trails of blood smear the floor inside the house where the trainer crawled for cover. Another Bancroft employee was shot in the stomach the day before but survived.

    Militants have carried out three such “forced entry” attacks by men wearing suicide vests and firing small arms in the last two months. It’s a relatively new tactic by Somali insurgents, used successfully elsewhere by al-Qaida.

    “See here?” Van Blerk waved at to a row of roofless, bullet-scarred buildings in Mogadishu. “This is where they rammed my vehicle with a car bomb,” referring to an attack in 2008.

    In June, Van Blerk’s men found their first explosively formed projectile – or EFP – a type of bomb commonly used in Iraq and seen in Afghanistan that can penetrate armored vehicles. It had never been seen in Somalia before June and is evidence of foreign fighters training Somalia’s Islamist militants. Western intelligence has long feared that terrorists sought to use the lawless nation as a training ground.

    The Bancroft team this week was discussing their marksmanship training program. Their idea was to encourage the peacekeepers to use sharpshooters instead of mortars, which sometimes hit residential neighborhoods and kill civilians. They train the Burundian and Ugandan soldiers in the AU force in marksmanship. Now a list of no-fire zones is pinned to the wall of their office.

    “We had a problem with indiscriminate indirect fire, so we encouraged the AU to use snipers instead,” said Rouget, referring to weapons like mortars. “It’s discriminate, accurate.”

    Lt. Julius Aine, one of the Ugandan soldiers trained by Bancroft, said the training has helped his men be more professional.

    “The major lessons have been about fighting in built-up areas,” he said, looking out at the smashed ruins of houses so full of bullet holes they resembled concrete lace. “We are used to the bush, not fighting in the streets. This has really helped us.”

    Like

  21. Matt D permalink
    10 August 2011 11:34 pm

    Thanks for the update, Colonel. Very interesting developments.

    Like

  22. 10 August 2011 11:39 pm

    Sir, you are welcome. Have friends who are recently back.

    Like

  23. 12 August 2011 1:53 pm

    The Myth Of Anwar Al-Awlaki” By J.M. Berger, Foreign Policy, 10 August 2011

    One of America’s most-wanted Islamist radicals was once a humble, mainstream preacher who became enraged by the war on terror. At least, that’s the story some people are selling.

    On Tuesday, Aug. 9, Naser Abdo, an American soldier, was indicted for plotting a terrorist attack against soldiers stationed at Fort Hood — just the latest in a series of U.S. citizens who have been inspired to violence by the work of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American imam who went rogue and today threatens the United States from his father’s country of Yemen.

    Awlaki is clearly a dangerous man. As a country, the United States spends a lot of time talking about, worrying about, and trying to kill him. Unfortunately, attention runs fast, but not deep.

    On July 27, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald argued that Awlaki represented “the face of moderate Islam” and “the opposite of [Osama] bin Laden” before Sept. 11, 2001. By Greenwald’s account, Awlaki was subsequently radicalized by America’s wars and foreign policies. This conclusion was based on exactly two sources — an interview conducted with Awlaki in 2001 and another interview dated 2009.

    On the same day, Navy SEAL Adm. Eric T. Olson, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, discussed the threat posed by Awlaki. “He’s a dual-passport holder who has lived in the United States,” Olson said, “so he understands us much better than we understand him.”

    In reality, Awlaki has given us a shocking abundance of material with which we can judge and understand him. He has recorded more than 100 hours of audio lectures, more than bin Laden, almost all of them in colloquial English. He has also figured in a long trail of investigations, including FBI and 9/11 Commission documents that are available to the public. Taken together, these sources reveal a portrait of a conflicted man whose path to radicalization started in the 1990s and steadily progressed to his present-day status as a terrorist icon.

    Awlaki is not difficult to know, as Olson suggests, and he is not a two-dimensional talking point, as Greenwald would have us believe. He is a man, complicated and at times confounding, but accessible through his words and actions.

    Awlaki was born in the United States, but spent his formative teen years in Yemen, during the height of the jihad against the Soviets. He reportedly grew up watching videos of the mujahideen as entertainment, in much the same way his American contemporaries watched Knight Rider.

    He returned to the United States to study engineering at Colorado State University. According to his roommate, Awlaki spent one summer at a jihadi training camp in Afghanistan during the early 1990s, though that claim has not been independently corroborated. When he returned from Afghanistan, he was more interested in religion than engineering, and he began a career as an imam, or Muslim preacher.

    Preaching in Colorado during the mid-1990s, Awlaki’s stirring sermons on jihad reportedlymoved a Saudi student to drop out of college and join jihadists in Bosnia and later Chechnya, eventually meeting death in battle.

    When Awlaki moved to a bigger congregation in San Diego in the late 1990s, he inspired ever greater devotion in public, while failing his Islamic principles in private with arrests for soliciting prostitutes and hanging around a schoolyard, according to 9/11 Commission records. He also met with an al Qaeda facilitator named Ziyad Khaleel. The nature of their relationship remains unknown, but the FBI subsequently opened an investigation into Awlaki.

    That investigation was closed for lack of evidence — precious months too soon. In early 2000, two men arrived at Awlaki’s San Diego mosque — Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, two of the 9/11 hijackers.

    The mere presence of these men at Awlaki’s mosque is not enough to infer a connection. But the relationship went beyond the casual. Awlaki, the “moderate,” met with the future hijackers behind closed doors. The preacher’s friends and followers also provided substantial amounts of assistance to the al Qaeda operatives, helping them find an apartment and open bank accounts, driving them around the area, and acting as translators when needed, according to FBI and 9/11 Commission records.

    Hazmi told acquaintances in San Diego that Awlaki was a “great man” and the pair’s “spiritual leader.”

    The story repeated itself on the East Coast, where Awlaki took a job as imam at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia, in early 2001. The FBI and 9/11 Commission determined that at least two and as many as four of the 9/11 hijackers attended Awlaki’s services at Dar Al-Hijrah, including Awlaki’s San Diego disciple, Hazmi. As in San Diego, Awlaki’s followers provided assistance to the hijackers, including one who drove them up and down the East Coast and helped them obtain identification cards.

    All of this activity obviously took place prior to Sept. 11, 2001. And while it is true that Awlaki often presented a moderate face when talking to the media, his sermons and lectures did not always reflect such views, often showing a man who seemed conflicted and drawn to darkness.

    A rare recording from Awlaki’s San Diego period discusses the practice of takfir — declaring Muslims with whom one disagrees to be apostates or infidels (kafir). During the sermon, Awlaki told listeners that the practice is dangerous and wrong:

    [If] you tell your brother that he is a kafir, if he is not, it will come back on you…. We do not know what is in the hearts of people. [If we think] this man is saying with his tongue what he doesn’t mean in his heart, [tradition] tells us we are not ordered to open up and seek what is in the hearts of people.

    But in the very same speech, Awlaki rattled off a number of occasions under which takfir was acceptable — such as if someone publicly renounces Islam or expresses belief in something that conflicts with Islam. Other qualifying offenses include “giving the attributes of Allah to a human being” (an offense known as shirk) or insulting the prophets of Islam.

    In later lectures, Awlaki would argue that the punishment for such apostasies is death.

    During a lecture on tolerance from 2001, just days before 9/11, Awlaki explained that Muslims were the most tolerant people throughout history, but said it was unreasonable to expect Muslims in modern times to continue that tradition:

    Now, is there … a problem among the Muslim community of intolerance towards other faiths? Well, to some extent there is. To some extent there is.

    However, when one is dealing with the issue of tolerance, usually the party that is asked to be tolerant is the party that is in power, the party that is in control. However, when a people are suffering, and oppressed, it is not easy, or it’s not, doesn’t even make a lot of sense to bring up the issue of tolerance.

    While still in the United States, Awlaki also began to explore the concept of jihad. In one lecture on “The Hereafter,” he said:

    If you look at the wars, not only the fights between individuals, but even wars between nations and states, most of the time, it’s over wealth. It’s over dunya [earthly or material concerns]. What are they fighting for? Over oil, over land, over natural resources. That is why wars happen.

    Therefore, the only justified war, the only justified war is jihad. Because that is the only fight that is happening for the sake of Allah [the glorious]. Everything else is happening for the sake of dunya. They attack jihad in Islam, as if their wars are justified. What are they fighting for?

    Awlaki’s radical leanings were not born on Sept. 11, 2001, but there is no question that he progressed down a dark path in the wake of that attack. While many of his broadsides were indeed aimed at U.S. foreign policy, he was also clearly rattled by the FBI’s interest in his relationship with Hazmi and Mihdhar.

    In the days after 9/11, Awlaki, one of many Muslim leaders stepping forward to give the community’s response to the attacks, spoke to the media over and over again. His comments were often qualified. “We were told this was an attack on American civilization,” he told the Washington Post. “We were told this was an attack on American freedom, on the American way of life. This wasn’t an attack on any of this. This was an attack on U.S. foreign policy.”

    In interviews with the FBI, Awlaki admitted knowing the hijackers, but he lied to reporters who came asking whether he had met them. As he tried to keep his secret from becoming public knowledge, he bemoaned the FBI’s “siege” of the Muslim community.

    Rather than focus on the perpetrators of 9/11 — whom he had, wittingly or unwittingly, assisted in their suicide mission — Awlaki pointed, with increasing stridency, at the U.S. government, while his condemnations of terrorism became ever more equivocal and convoluted.

    Take this sermon from October 2001 — before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and a month earlier than the “moderate” interview cited by Greenwald. Here, Awlaki blames the terrorists for their violent acts but blames the United States for far worse, characterizing international sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s regime as murder:

    The fact that the U.S. has administered the death and homicide of over 1 million civilians in Iraq, the fact that the U.S. is supporting the deaths and killing of thousands of Palestinians does not justify the killing of one U.S. civilian in New York City or Washington, D.C. And the deaths of 6,000 civilians in New York and Washington, D.C., does not justify the death of one civilian in Afghanistan.

    Awlaki’s sermons then began to spiral out of control. His voice, once steady and clear, began to waver and tremble with emotion. At times, he blamed the Jews for the plight of American Muslims, saying that they controlled the media and government and citing recordings of Richard Nixon in the White House as evidence. He even predicted that the United States would outlaw Islam.

    Awlaki left the United States in early 2002, but the specter of his role in the 9/11 attacks continued to hang over his head. He began to obsess over prison and prisoners, such as in this undated speech from his post-U.S. period, citing everyone from the United States to Amnesty International as conspirators against Islam:

    Every sinister method of interrogation is used against [Muslim prisoners]. They would use against them homosexuals to rape them. They would bring their mothers and sisters and wives, and they would rape them in front of these brothers. The United Nations knows about it. Amnesty International knows about it, and they are doing nothing. In fact, sometimes they are encouraging it.

    Although Awlaki does not hesitate to invoke U.S. policies, real and imagined, his interests reach far beyond that narrow channel. His grievances are hardly constrained to politics and war. In 2008, in an hourlong lecture, he cited a host of previous Islamic scholars to argue that any insult to the Prophet Mohammed should be avenged by murder:

    It is the consensus of our scholars that the one who curses [the Prophet Mohammed] should be executed … without any warning…. Whoever seeks to harm [the prophet] or belittle him, then he should be killed. Even if it is a very small thing. In fact, al-Imam Malik says that if someone says that the button of [the prophet] is dirty, he should be executed. Even if it is as small as that, this person should be executed…. And we don’t know any different opinion. This is a consensus, and we don’t know any different opinion…. When the scholars have a consensus on something, it is just like the Quran and Sunnah.

    One of Awlaki’s most influential audio recordings, Constants on the Path of Jihad, was recorded no later than 2006, long before the cleric publicly endorsed attacks on Americans. In several hours of lectures, Awlaki commented on an Arabic-language al Qaeda text, expanding it and updating it with his own interpretations. According to Awlaki, jihad is not merely a matter of political grievances; it is also for fighting those who do not accept Islam:

    Some people say that our relationship with the [Christians and Jews] should be a relationship based on peace and dialogue, but this [verse of the Quran] is specifically saying that the relationship should be a relationship of fighting until they pay attention. Allah says fight those who disbelieve [until they agree to be ruled by Muslims] with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.

    Later in the lecture, Awlaki explained that jihad was not limited to any particular conflict and that jihad would not cease if — for instance — the United States pulled its forces out of Muslim countries. For Awlaki, jihad is as much about the promulgation of Islam as it is about defense:

    Jihad is appropriate for every time and age…. One of the false beliefs out there is that jihad is attached to some particular lands. If you want jihad then you have to go to this particular area…. If the land ceases to be a front, people would think, well, that’s it, jihad is over…. So we have to establish an important principle, and that is, jihad is global. Jihad is not a local phenomenon, jihad is global, and jihad is not stopped by borders or barriers…. You cannot convey the message of Allah without [military] jihad.

    None of this is meant to suggest that U.S. policies are not part of Awlaki’s worldview, nor is it meant to suggest that political grievances do not play a role in radicalization. Terrorist recruiters like Awlaki seize on every misstep the United States makes to build its case that America is at war with Islam. But that argument is for new recruits and foot soldiers. Jihadist intellectuals like Awlaki are painting on a much wider canvas.

    Awlaki is not the right subject for a portrait of the terrorist as political revolutionary, as Greenwald would have him, motivated only by legitimate grievances on the world stage. Awlaki’s writ is broader, and his absolute criterion for peace — total surrender to his vision of Islam and an end to free speech — is unacceptable to reasonable people.

    Nor is he an enigma, as Admiral Olson suggests. Does Awlaki know America better than most Americans knows him? Perhaps, but only for lack of trying. The excerpts above are only a fraction of Awlaki’s work, perhaps not even the most revealing. This material is widely available; there’s no good reason for anyone working in homeland security to plead ignorance of the Yemeni-American cleric’s arguments, personality, or public views.

    Listening to Awlaki is an important first step to understanding his impact on our war with al Qaeda and its homegrown, English-speaking adherents. All you have to do is press “play.”

    J.M. Berger is editor of Intelwire.com and author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, which includes two chapters on Anwar al-Awlaki.

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  24. 12 August 2011 2:20 pm

    In my opinion, Berger’s article is little but slick propaganda.

    Berger says this is a rebuttal to Glenn Greenberg, but he provides only evidence of the weakest kind that Awlaki was a jihadist before 9-11 (afterwards is beyond dispute). Saying it loudly and with conviction does not make it meaningful.

    Like

  25. 13 August 2011 5:51 pm

    “Wealthy Terror Network: Al-Shabaab is an economic powerhouse”, The Situation Room (CNN), 12 August 2011

    WOLF BLITZER: All week we’ve bringing you extensive covering of the humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia, where hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, are dying and the food supply is quickly running out. Now the wealthy terror network behind much of this devastating famine is prompting security concerns right here in the United States.

    CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr has details.

    BARBARA STARR: The once ragtag Somali terror group Al-Shabaab is now an economic powerhouse, raising millions of dollars a year from smuggling, illegal taxation, and extortion of the very Somalis starving in the famine.

    PETER PHAM [Atlantic Council]: We are dealing with a very sophisticated financial machine that’s made to generate wealth both for individual leaders, as well as the militant movement itself.

    STARR: A United Nations report estimates Al Shabaab generates between $70 million and $100 million a year controlling ports, roads and towns. It’s a financial web that spreads from the poorest regions of southern Somalia to the richest neighborhoods of the Persian Gulf and back again.

    One example, the U.N. estimates Al Shabaab makes $15 million a year exporting charcoal to the Gulf and then financing the import of sugar into southern Somalia to smuggle throughout the region at marked up prices.

    PHAM: It’s a major moneymaker that is bringing in millions of dollars each year to finance Shabaab’s campaign of violence and terror.

    STARR: It’s all going to pay hundreds of new fighters and possibly plan attacks in cooperation with al Qaeda, intelligence officials say. And U.S.-bought weapons are showing up on the ground.

    PHAM: U.S.-supplied weapons or weapons purchased through U.S. grants to African Union peacekeepers, or to the transitional federal government, have been used to purchase arms, which ultimately leak to Shabaab.

    STARR: According to the U.N., weapons seized after a raid against Al Shabaab in February included components brought in by the U.S. firm DynCorp under a State Department with peacekeepers, then illegally resold to fighters. The company was not involved.

    But for those who think Al Shabaab will stay buttoned up in Somalia, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says think again.

    REP. PETER KING (R-NY): That kind of thinking is a glaring example of what the 9/11 Commission called a failure of imagination.

    STARR: Now, the current famine catastrophe, Wolf, has at least put a temporary crimp in Al Shabaab. So many people have fled southern Somalia and the capital of Mogadishu, they have less people they can extort from. But nobody is counting this very dangerous group down and out — Wolf.

    BLITZER: They shouldn’t. All right, Barbara, thank you.

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  26. Matt D permalink
    15 August 2011 1:41 am

    Sounds like the Shabaab are just being good capitalists. In a land with so little security and thus so little trade, shouldn’t we count it as a good thing that somebody is promoting economic activity?
    .
    .
    FM reply: Agreed. For more about this see:
    * What is this “justice” that war-loving Americans speak of?, 31 Decmeber 2009
    * More about those pirate demons in Somalia, 2 January 2010

    Like

  27. 15 August 2011 2:09 pm

    A different perspective on al Qaeda

    The Truth About al Qaeda“, John Mueller, Foreign Affairs, 2 August 2011 — “Bin Laden’s Files Revealed the Terrorists in Dramatic Decline”

    Summary:

    New information discovered in Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan suggests that the United States has been vastly overstating al Qaeda’s power for a full decade. The group appears to have spent more time dodging drone strikes and complaining about money than trying to get an atomic bomb.

    JOHN MUELLER is Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University. He is the author of Atomic Obsession and a co-author, with Mark Stewart, of the forthcoming book Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security. He is also editor of the webbook Terrorism Since 9/11: The American Cases.

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  28. 15 August 2011 5:01 pm

    5 North Carolina Suspects Accused in 2009 Terrorism Plot Scheduled to Appear in Federal Court
    Associated Press Worldstream (08/15/11)

    Dylan Boyd, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi, Hysen Sherifi and Anes Subasic of North Carolina will be arraigned Monday for allegedly planning attacks against the Marine base in Quantico, Va., and several international targets. The men were originally accused of terrorism-related offenses in 2009. Daniel Patrick Boyd, the accused ringleader of the group, already pled guilty in February to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim, and injure persons in a foreign country. His son, Zakariya, has also pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Daniel Boyd’s other son, Dylan, is among those who are scheduled to face a trial starting in September.

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  29. 16 August 2011 4:01 am

    Congress to Probe Suspected Connection Between Anwar al-Awlaki and 9/11“, Catherine Herridge, Fox News, 15 August 2011

    The House Homeland Security Committee “has initiated an investigation” into the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and whether he was an overlooked key player in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a letter from the committee chairman to Attorney General Eric Holder says. The three-page letter, obtained exclusively by Fox News, makes the case that a decade after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the full story of 9/11 has not been told.

    “This congressional investigation will seek to determine:
    “1. To what extent Anwar al-Awlaki wittingly or unwittingly facilitated the plot of the 9/11 hijackers; and
    “2. to what extent al-Awlaki was an al Qaeda operative, offering support to acts of terrorism prior to 9/11.”

    The letter to Holder, sent by Republican Rep. Peter King of New York on May 26, confirms that investigators believe the American cleric’s contacts with three of the five hijackers on Flight 77, which slammed into the Pentagon, were more than a series of coincidences, but rather evidence of a purposeful relationship.

    “Given the greater collection of intelligence and integration of pertinent data since the attacks of 9/11, I believe that al-Awlaki may have played greater roles in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as well as other terrorist plots, than those of which we have been previously aware,” King writes. “Accordingly, I request the full assistance of the Department of Justice in carrying out this inquiry.”

    The hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi were the first two hijackers into the U.S. – arriving in January 2000 at Los Angeles International Airport. One question always puzzled investigators: Why would the self-described architect of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, send two of his most experienced operatives, who spoke virtually no English, to the ghetto of San Diego unless there was someone there to meet them.

    As part of the Fox News Specials Unit’s ongoing investigation of the cleric, the executive director of the 9/11 commission Philip Zelikow confirmed that his investigators were highly suspicious of al-Awlaki and his relationship with the hijackers in San Diego. “We put the spotlight on Awlaki about as brightly as we could, and as brightly as any government agency could,” Zelikow said, adding that he was always surprised the media did not immediately pick up on their suspicions about al-Awlaki’s role when the final 9/11 report was issued in 2004.

    In “The American Terrorist,” which profiled the cleric’s life in Colorado, Southern California and Virginia before 9/11, Fox News confirmed through documents and interviews that al-Awlaki met on a regular basis with the two hijackers al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in San Diego in 2000. It was in a small anteroom above al-Awlaki’s mosque with a single entryway. One of al-Awlaki’s closest associates, a Yemeni, Mohdar Abdullah helped the hijackers find a place to live and find jobs in San Diego.

    By early 2001, al-Awlaki moved to a new mosque in Falls Church, Va., where hijacker al-Hazmi seemed to follow him. After they finished their flight training in Arizona, al-Hazmi and pilot Hani Hanjour attended services at al-Awlaki’s mosque. In Virginia, as seen in Fox News’ “The Secrets of 9/11,” the same pattern seen in San Diego was repeated. Al-Awlaki’s Virginia associate, this time a Jordanian, Eyad al-Rababah, helped the hijackers settle in Alexandria before driving the men to Paterson, N.J., where they rented an apartment and connected with three other hijackers.

    By May 2002, the New Jersey landlord reported six men were living in a one room apartment, according to the 9/11 Commission report. All of them were hijackers. Soon, a seventh hijacker would join them, Khalid al-Mihdhar, who also knew al-Awlaki from the San Diego mosque.

    The House committee investigation is seeking “all documents … in the possession of the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or any other DOJ entity or component” that pertain to al-Awlaki and seven other individuals, including his associate in San Diego Mohdar Abdullah and his associate in Virginia Eyad al-Rababah who directly aided the hijackers.

    In addition, it is seeking “files, reports, analysis, assessments, memoranda, notes and presentation in all forms” that are related to long-closed FBI investigations of al-Awlaki in 1999. In that case, the San Diego terrorism task force was investigating an alleged link between al-Awlaki, Usama bin Laden and a “known procurement agent named Ziyad Khaleel…(who) had previously purchased a satellite phone for (bin Laden).”

    The tone of the letter and the materials being sought suggest that the congressional investigation believes there is compelling evidence that al-Awlaki may have been Al Qaeda from the beginning, and that his rise to an operational commander in the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, considered the most active, was not a surprise but rather a logical progression. “With years of hindsight into al-Awlaki’s growing status within al Qaeda, including his involvement in the Christmas Day attack in 2009, there exists the critical need to reexamine the facts surrounding al-Awlaki and the 9/11 attacks,” the letter states.

    In addition, King’s committee is requesting immediate access to certain witnesses, including people on terrorism task forces in San Deigo, New York City and Washington, D.C. A spokesman for King would not comment beyond the contents of the three-page letter, which requested the documents and witnesses by June 17.

    A Justice Department spokesman confirmed the letter had been received. Nothing has yet been turned over to the committee, and the department is still working with FBI to respond.

    National Correspondent Catherine Herridge’s bestselling book “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for al Qaeda’s American Recruits” was published by Crown on June 21st. It draws on her reporting for Fox News into al-Awlaki and his new generation of recruits – al Qaeda 2.0. It is the first book to full investigate al-Awlaki’s American life, his connections to the hijackers, and how the cleric double crossed the FBI after 9/11.

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  30. 20 August 2011 4:57 am

    “The Islamist Threat Inside Our Military”, Wall Street Journal, 19 August 2011 — “There should be a moratorium on granting conscientious objector status to Muslims based on claims of religious faith.”

    Our armed forces are becoming ground zero for American Muslims in the ideological struggle between Americanism and Islamism. U.S. Army Pvt. Naser Abdo points to that serious conflict. Pvt. Abdo was arrested recently in possession of weapons and explosive materials. Investigators say he told them he planned to attack the military. The private has publicly complained that he faced discrimination because he is Muslim.

    How many Islamists gone militant do we need to attack us before our military addresses radicalization among its Muslim members? Political correctness and denial are not working. The vast majority of Muslims serve with honor and distinction. They are not the problem. The problem is the subset of Muslims who are Islamists.

    Naser Abdo was arrested on July 27, 2011, in Killeen, Texas, in a motel near Fort Hood, site of the massacre in November 2009. As he was led out of a federal courtroom, he shouted “Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009!” And like Maj. Hasan, the shooter in that massacre, he did not become a militant overnight. Radicalization is a natural evolution for an individual consumed by the narrative of anti-American, theo-political Islamism.

    There is an irreconcilable conflict between allegiance to the United States, with its secular Constitution, and fealty to the consciousness of an Islamist state that centers on the Quran as its constitution and the ummah (Muslim nation) as its global citizenry. The crucial question a Muslim soldier needs to be asked is this: “Do you have any sense of loyalty to the ummah and its Islamic state?” Those who answer in the affirmative pose a problem.

    The Pentagon’s 2010 after-action report, “Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood,” revealed a blind spot by failing to address the warning signs of Islamist radicalism that were abundantly clear prior to the massacre. Pvt. Abdo’s history has shown again that our military leadership is not equipped to deal with the challenges political Islam presents to national security and the protection of our armed forces.

    Naser Abdo joined the U.S. Army infantry in August 2009, only to demand in June 2010 that he be granted conscientious objector (CO) status and be discharged before he deployed to Afghanistan. Claiming the Army was delaying his CO application, he hired a civilian attorney and established a grievance mill for Islamists on the Web.

    His public pleas that his faith and military service were incompatible vacillated between alleged obstacles to his religious practices, unsubstantiated claims of harassment, and a refusal to go to Afghanistan. He claimed that an abundance of religious sources told him to abandon a non-Muslim army. He told ABC News that he wanted out so he could spend his time combating Islamophobia. In my own 11 years of service, not once did I feel a conflict between my orthodox practice of Islam and my service as a Naval officer.

    The assistant deputy secretary of the Army granted Pvt. Abdo his CO status this year and recommended dismissal from the service. But in the meantime he was charged by the military for possession of child pornography on his government computer and went AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky. He was apprehended when a gun store owner in Killeen, Texas, reported his suspicious purchases and behavior to the police.

    Pvt. Abdo has been indicted by a federal grand jury on weapons charges, is being held without bond, and has yet to enter a plea. He was set to appear Thursday in federal magistrate court but chose to waive his arraignment and will not appear.

    Pvt. Abdo’s arrest removes any threat he may have posed to the military. But the Army’s approval of his status as a conscientious objector will damage perception of Muslims in the military, because it implicitly validates Islamism as a belief system.

    Muslims have fought many wars against other Muslims. Certainly, for the vast majority our allegiance is first and only to the U.S. and never to any Islamist constructs of the Islamic state, the ummah, or jihad.

    Faisal Shahzad, the confessed Times Square bomber, stated to the judge at his arraignment, “We Muslims are one community. We are not divided.” He proclaimed that he was a “mujahid” or a “Muslim soldier.” Nidal Hasan similarly called himself a “Soldier of Allah.” This self-identification is central to the Islamist threat.

    Yet the theological underpinnings of Islamist radicalization remain ignored by military officials, who fear appearing to discriminate against Muslim soldiers. That fear has been bolstered by leading Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups in America. Their platform of political Islam teaches Islamic revivalism and an aversion to the separation of mosque and state.

    Salah Al-Sawy of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) concluded in a 2008 online fatwa, “As for optionally obtaining citizenship of a non-Muslim country it is definitely prohibited without a doubt, moreover it could be a form of apostasy.” An AMJA paper in 2009 stated that, “the basic conflict between the declaration of faith and testimony that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and the declaration and pledge of Allegiance of the USA is irreconcilable.”

    These ideas need to be confronted. There are many Muslim leaders who can lead that defense of liberty and of the need to separate mosque and state. We must take their side over that of the Islamists.

    Muslim servicemen and women need to speak up about the ideological struggle between Islamism and Americanism. For its part, our armed services should declare a moratorium on all Muslim requests for conscientious objector status claimed on the basis of their Islamic faith. And anti-Islamist American Muslims must develop reform-minded strategies to inoculate Muslims against Islamism.

    Finally, the country needs to send a clear message that the Hasans and Abdos of the world will be prosecuted with the full force of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. America’s national security hangs in the balance.

    Dr. Jasser is president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Ariz., and a former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander.

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