"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Al-Qaida Top militant Held For Marriott Bombing


Pakistani security agencies Tuesday claimed to have arrested a close aide of Al-Qaida's number two Ayman al-Zawahiri, in connection with the Marriott Hotel bombing in the capital Islamabad that killed more than 50 persons and injured more than 250 others.

If truly a close aide to Zawahiri, this capture may prove to be very significant in the coming days, weeks, and months.

For a full read, click here.

Labels: , , ,

Muslim support for suicide attacks, bin Laden down: poll

From AFP.

The number of Muslims around the world who say suicide attacks are acceptable has fallen sharply in the past six years, as has Muslims' confidence in Osama bin Laden, a survey by a US think-tank showed Thursday.

Many pundits tell us that our War on Terror has only incited Muslims. However, as this article shows, the War on Terror has hit home with most Muslims. Overwhelmingly, they do not like suicide attacks. While the article states,

But, the Pew Research Center warned in its Global Attitudes Project, significant minorities of Muslims in eight countries surveyed continue to endorse suicide bombings and support the Al-Qaeda leader.

This significant minority of Muslims is never above 1/3 for suicide attacks and is a similar low percentage for support for Osama Bin Laden.

The question becomes why?

First, extremists muslims have killed fellow muslims which has caused intellectual turbulence among muslims. In fact, their attacks, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, are almost solely directed against fellow muslims.

Second, the extremists have lost in Iraq thanks to the surge of American forces which provided time for the Iraqi Army to build capacity. If we would have pulled out of Iraq and left it a quaqmire, I am sure support for Osama Bin Laden and suicide attacks would have been much higher.

Finally, as I have stated before, people, whether muslim, christian, or other, just want to be able to work and provide for their family. Extremist muslims, the type supported by Bin Laden who commit suicide attacks, prevent this from happening when they extort money, blow up shops, prevent commerce, etc, etc. Fellow muslims see and know this effect firsthand. They do not like it.

We must use this drop in popularity to our advantage in the information war against muslim extremists. This change in attitude is important to capitalize on. Bullets will never win this war. Changes in attitudes will. Changes in attitudes are happening.

Labels: , , , ,

Bad news for al Qaeda. . .and for liberal talking points

From Powerline.

For years now, the American left has been arguing that the war in Iraq is a distraction from the "real" war against al Qaeda and is counter-productive because it's "creating" new terrorists. Apparently, it never occurred to these deep-thinkers that inflicting a defeat on al-Qaeda in Iraq -- a defeat made possible because a previously sympathetic population turned with our help against al Qaeda -- might constitute a devastating blow to al Qaeda's standing in the Arab world.

Powerline goes on to show how Al Qaeda has lost support over the last few years to include a book by Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, who was once Zawahiri's spritual mentor, denouncing Al Qaeda's tactics and a fatwa by Sheikh Abd Al-‘Aziz bin Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, condemning Bin Laden. In addition, opinion polls in 7 of 8 Arab countries (where trend data is available) has shown a dramatic decline in support for Al Qaeda. Finally, Powerline points to Sunnis in Iraq siding with America against Al Qaeda to show how much support Al Qaeda has lost in the region.

All of these factors taken together show that Al Qaeda's influence in the Middle East is in decline, as is Al Qaeda in Iraq's influence is severely weakened. This fact can be a reason for Bin Laden's latest audiotape in which he is echos the discourse of "political jihadist" instead of leading the discourse as noted by Walid Phares in his recent article for the American Thinker.

In addition, he cannot miss the fact of the four recent strikes in the Pakistan tribal agencies has shown his unassailable base in Pakistan is threatened. Finally, the recent suicide bombing against the jirga of several tribal elders in Pakistan has backfired, pitting tribal elders against Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.

So what does all this mean?

For starters, Bin Laden is echoing the discourse of "political jihadists" to drum up support for his movement. One thing is clear about Al Qaeda. Wherever they decide to call home, they soon alienate their supporters, who eventually turn against them, often violently. This situation occurred in Iraq in the Al Anbar province and is now occurring in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The jirga in Pakistan was called precisely for the very reason of vowing to fight against Islamic militants, namely Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda had no other option but to kill the leaders of the jirga; however, the bombing had the effect of strengthening the tribal leaders resolve against Al Qaeda in the long run.

Secondly, Bin Laden is reacting to his loss of support. There are two key words in the last sentence. First Bin Laden is reacting. Al Qaeda is no longer on the offensive, internationally or in Iraq, his main effort in his terror war. He is on the defensive and seeing his terrority decrease daily. Secondly, as noted above, his is trying to rally his base by echoing their themes and discourse. If his base strikes, most likely in Europe, he is hoping apologist in Europe will counter act the conservative governments which now control Germany, France, and England. However, an attack in Europe will only strengthen the resolve of these conservative government for their NATO mission in Afghanistan. England specifically will pressure its old colony, Pakistan, to step up efforts against Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda and Bin Laden are on the ropes and only now have the better of bad choices to execute to save their movement. Arab countries and governments are turning their back on Al Qaeda. Europe is doing the same. Al Qaeda is losing support from Muslims in general as "intellectual turbulence" continues to increase.

What a change a year makes. Last year at this time liberals were saying how the war in Iraq (and hence the War on Terror) was lost. One year later, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have been routed in Iraq, are suffering significant loses in Afghanistan, and are being attacked in their last remaining unassailable base, Pakistan.

Labels: , ,

Bin Laden's Threat and the New Jihadist Message for Europe

From Walid Phares at the American Thinker. Mr. Phares analyzes the recent tape released from Bin Laden.

In short, I see in it the imprint of Jihadi "politicians" and strategists in international relations deeply immersed in the diplomatic games across the Mediterranean. Even though it is indeed the voice of al Qaeda's master, one can see the increasing impact of political operatives on the movement's public statements....

Either al Qaeda is using the argumentation of political Islamists to provoke a mass clash against Europe, or is it that the "political Jihadists" are now able to influence the war discourse of al Qaeda. In both cases, it deserves a closer analysis.

Mr. Phares believes political Jihadists are influencing the rhetoric coming out of Bin Laden vice Bin Laden directing the future actions of Al Qaeda. Mr. Phares answers why Bin Laden is repeating the discourse of political Jihadists.

In many spots in Europe, citizens are rejecting the Jihadi intimidations and becoming vocal about it. France is going to Chad, Germany has ships in the Eastern Mediterranean and Spain is arresting more Salafists. But the traditional apologists toward the Islamist agenda in Europe, remains strong. Al Qaeda wants to use the apologists against the "resistance." What better means than threatening to strike at Europe's peace if its liberal values are not altered?

Plain and simple, Bin Laden and the political Jihadists are fearful of increased committment of NATO forces in Afghanistan. To that end, they are trying to get apologists to resist increased European committments in Afghanistan (on the military side), and quite possibly Pakistan (on the diplomatic side).

In addition, Mr. Phares explains if a spectacular attack happens now in Europe, Bin Laden can take credit for the attack even though it may have not been carried out by Al Qaeda trained members. He ends with,

What I saw in the al Qaeda message and the al Jazeera debate was clear: The Salafist movement worldwide was "talking" to the Europeans and the Euro-Jihadis. It was threatening Governments to retreat from the confrontation on the one hand and unleashing the pools of indoctrinated Jihadis across the continent to "engage" in violence. The near future will tell us if the trigger will be successful or not.

An interesting analysis indeed.

For a full read, click here.

Labels: ,

Bin Laden turns heat on Saudi Arabia

From Asia Times Online. HT for Sea2Sea Blog.

Michael Scheuer discusses Bin Laden's latest released on 29 December 2007. In it, Bin Laden shifts attention to the leadership of Saudi Arabia noting,

He asks the Iraqi mujahideen how they can trust Saudi King Abdullah, who is the "malignant foe" of Islam, the "main US agent in the region" and a man who took it on himself "to tempt and tame every free, virtuous, and honest person with the aim of dragging him to the path of temptation and misguidance ... [and] the path of betraying the religion and nation and submitting to the will of the Crusader-Zionist alliance". The Americans are defeated, bin Laden concludes, but to assure God's victory the Iraqi mujahideen must reject Saudi overtures and direction if they are "not to waste the fruit of this chaste and pure blood that was shed for the sake of consolidating religion and entrenching the state of Muslims".

While he is still stating that US forces are defeated in Iraq, he notes the Iraqi Mujahideen may not be able to consolidate victory due to Saudi Arabian interference, namely support of the national unity government in Iraq, noting this is what Saudi Arabia got the Afghani Mujahideen to do with the Communist Afghani government. He states this prvented the Mujahideen from consolidating power in Afghanistan.

Mr. Scheuer's analysis follows:

Bin Laden and his senior lieutenants are reliving what for them is a familiar nightmare. In one of the greatest ironies of the post-1945 era, Islamist fighters have proven that with great, prolonged and bloody effort they can claim the military defeat of superpowers - the USSR and the United States - but cannot consolidate victory when confronted by the wiles, funds and religious establishment of the Saudi leadership. While it is clear in the December 29 tape that bin Laden rates the Saudis as the main obstacle to God's victory in Iraq, there is little indication of what he intends to do to destroy Riyadh's ability to stymie the mujahideen there as it did in Afghanistan.

One possibility - though bin Laden did not allude to this - would require a rethinking of al-Qaeda's grand strategy. Although bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been consistent in their three-fold grand strategy - to drive the United States from the Muslim world, destroy Israel and incumbent Muslim regimes and settle scores with the Shi'ites - they now face a situation where the Saudi regime has not only so far prevented the unification of Islamist leaders, but is allegedly preparing the Sunni Iraqi insurgents it supports for a civil war with Iraq's Iranian-backed Shi'ites.

While I concur that the Saudis are fearful of a democratically elected national unity government as it will eventually lead to their downfall because their own citizens will begin to see what oil riches and freedom brings to average Iraqis, I do not believe the Sunnis in Iraq are in a position win a civil war against the Shiites, with or without Saudi assistance.

We need not forget that the Sunni insurgency started and gained steam with the ultimate goal of ridding Iraq of occupying US Forces. However, this initial impetus changed when Sadr's militia begun indiscriminately killing Sunnis by the truckloads as retaliation for the mosque bombings and other Al Qaeda attacks. Sunni insurgents turned on Al Qaeda due to its indiscriminate killing of fellow Sunnis and extremist version of Islam it espoused, which has never had much support in secular Iraq.

Sunni insurgents found the only way to rid themselves of extremist Al Qaeda elements was to seek American help. With switching sides, they begin to receive American money, support, and an opportunity to gain a voice back in Iraq with the recent passing of The Accountability and Justice Law. They have even been able to gain fore political leverage with the "memorandum of understanding" with the Kurds. They will not squander this new found power for another war which they cannot hope to win.

Finally, Al Qaeda has not been absent in Saudi Arabia as the article implies. In fact, the government of Saudi Arabia has taken great care in killing and detaining insurgents, executing deradicalization operations in its prisons, changing many imam minds against extremism, and protecting its oil facilities since 2004 when Al Qaeda declared war on these facilities.

While Saudi Arabia can do more, the Wahhabi influence which dominates government has to be dealt with over time, else Saudi Arabia will see itself in a civil war.

Labels: , , , ,

South Waziri Tribesmen Organize Counterinsurgency Lashkar

Andrew Mc Gregor writes for The Jamestown Foundation about the Waziri tribemen organizing a lashkar against foreign militants in Pakistan. He notes,

Maulvi Nazir—a 33-year-old tribal leader also known as Mullah Nazir—is leading the effort to take retribution for the slayings. Most of those killed in the attacks were loyal to him. A former Taliban commander believed to have connections to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), Nazir has publicly accused Baitullah Mehsud for the killings. Baitullah, appointed as the leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan coalition late last year, has also been blamed by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, a charge Baitullah has denied.

Mr. Mc Gregor explains the current situation which resulted in a lashkar.

The Ahmadzai believe that the assassins of the elders are Uzbek militants from the community of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) fighters who crossed into South Waziristan from Afghanistan in 2001. Led by Tahir Yuldash, the Uzbeks had been allowed by the Taliban to take refuge and set up training camps in Afghanistan after a number of setbacks in their Central Asian jihad. Initially trained and led by Uzbek veterans of the Soviet armed forces, the Uzbeks are skilled fighters who have taken on security duties for the al-Qaeda leadership in the tribal regions of Pakistan. Since their arrival the Uzbeks have established successful farms and businesses as well as integrating into the local community through intermarriage. By doing so, the Uzbeks have availed themselves of the powerful local custom of melmastia (“hospitality”), which involves the protection of the host party against all attempts to harm or seize the guest. At the same time the Uzbeks have become involved in local vendettas as guns-for-hire and are blamed for much of the violent crime in the region. This has resulted in a number of violent battles between tribesmen and Uzbek fighters in recent years. Already well-known in Afghanistan as a Taliban commander, Maulvi Nazir made his reputation locally by leading tribesmen in successful attacks against the Uzbeks last year, driving most of them from the Wana Valley in April 2007. The Uzbeks have developed especially close ties to members of the Mehsud tribe but are no longer united under a single leader.

However, he notes,

There are indications that the murders of the Ahmadzai leaders may be part of an intra-clan struggle for leadership of the Ahmadzai. According to one report, Maulvi Nazir’s brother and rival, Noorul Islam, has claimed responsibility for the attacks as retaliation for Maulvi Nazir’s alliance with the government and his initiation of a war against the Uzbeks. According to Noorul, “Maulvi Nazir is the government's agent and he will pay a heavy price for killing mujahideen" (Udayavani, January 10). Not all members of the Mehsud tribe support Baitullah’s growing feud with the Ahmadzai: a jirga of 80 Mehsud elders met with Baitullah’s followers on January 8 to try to defuse a potentially devastating tribal war.

While Mr. Mc Gregor ends with,

It would be a mistake to regard Maulvi Nazir as either pro-Washington or pro-Islamabad. Nazir acts in his own interest, those of his clan and those of his tribe and will ally himself with anyone he perceives may further those interests. His extended family owns property on both side of the Afghan-Pakistani border and he travels freely between the two without interference from the Afghan Taliban. The apparently impending explosion of violence in the Waziristan frontier region will only create further instability that can be exploited by the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

It must be noted that significant rifts are beginning to occur between the Taliban themselves in Pakistan and with Al Qaeda. While this instability can be exploited by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, one would assume that Al Qaeda would prefer stability in this region and instability in the settled, eastern regions of Pakistan. The last thing Al Qaeda wants as it seeks to battle the Pakistani government would be infighting among its supporters in its base of operations. This did not prove productive for Al Qaeda in Anbar, nor is it proving productive in the Diyala province. I do not think it will end up being productive here.

So, yes, Al Qaeda does seek instability in the settled, eastern areas of Pakistan and is formenting instability in this region with suicide bombing. However, the instability occurring in the FATA region can, should, and undoubted will be used by the Pakistani government to weaken Al Qaeda stronghold of this area.

For a full read of the above article, click here.

Labels: , , , , ,