In a bid to reach Saudi youth, al-Qaeda recently used the Syrian revolution as a pretext to spread its extremist ideas through its numerous Twitter accounts. At first, these accounts took on an innocent character. Yet lately, al-Qaeda has used the cards of identity, belonging and nation to attract young people and push them toward the battlefields [of Syria].Al-Qaeda’s use of the Internet is not new, but Saudi Arabia has continuously fought this development with its Communications and Information Technology Commission, which would block the group’s websites and forums within the kingdom.
• “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman
Sentenced in 1996 to life in prison for planning, together with nine co-defendants, to wage a “war of urban terrorism” against the United States. Prosecutors said the plot included plans to detonate bombs on a single day at several New York City landmarks, including the United Nations building, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and the main federal office building in Manhattan. The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was part of the plan, prosecutors said.
• Ramzi Yousef
Sentenced in 1998 to life in prison without parole for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and an airplane bombing in 1994. Yousef, a Pakistani, killed six people and injured 1,000 at the WTC, and killed one person on the plane.
• John Walker Lindh
Sentenced in 2002 to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to aiding the Taliban against U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 2001. Prosecutors said he had received training at al-Qaeda’s al Farouq training camp and attended a lecture by Osama bin Laden.
• Richard Reid
Sentenced in 2003 to life in prison for trying to blow up a 2001 flight from Paris to Miami with a bomb in his shoe. Reid said in court he was a member of al-Qaeda.
NEW YORK —Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, the voice of fiery al-Qaida propaganda videotapes after the Sept. 11 attacks, was convicted Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans for his role as the terror group’s spokesman.
The verdict came after about six hours of deliberation over two days in the case against Kuwaiti imam Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the attacks. As a court deputy read the verdict aloud, Abu Ghaith, listening to an Arabic interpreter through earphones, remained composed as he had throughout the trial. Just before he was led from the courtroom, he turned toward a spectator — a longtime friend from Kuwait — and smiled.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said he hoped the verdict brought some measure of comfort to al-Qaida victims. ”He was more than just Osama bin Laden’s propaganda minister,” Bharara said. “Within hours after the devastating 9/11 attacks, Abu Ghaith was using his position in al-Qaida’s homicidal hierarchy to persuade others to pledge themselves to al-Qaida in the cause of murdering more Americans.” Defense attorney Stanley Cohen emerged from court promising to appeal.
The UK minister for immigration and security has called for the government to do more to deal with “unsavoury”, rather than illegal, material online. James Brokenshire made the comments to the Financial Times in an interview related to the government’s alleged ability to automatically request YouTube videos be taken down under “super flagger” status.
A flagger is anyone that uses YouTube’s reporting system to highlight videos that breach guidelines. The Home Office explained to Wired.co.uk that the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), responsible for removing illegal terrorist propaganda, does not have “super flagger” status, but has simply attained the platform’s Trusted Flagger accreditation — a status for users who regularly correctly flag questionable content.
The FT published its article in context of growing concerns around the radicalisation of Britons travelling to partake in the ongoing conflict in Syria, and the Home Office told Wired.co.uk any videos flagged by the CTIRU for review were ones found to be in breach of counter-terrorism laws (29,000 have been removed across the web since February 2010).
WASHINGTON — Family members and victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks joined three members of Congress on Wednesday in calling on the Obama administration to declassify portions of a congressional investigation that addresses allegations of possible Saudi government support of the hijackers.
The report, released by a joint panel of the House and Senate intelligence committees in December 2002, contains 28 redacted pages that family members and victims say would shed new light on the hijackings. At the time the report was released, the Bush administration classified the material, but numerous sources reported it dealt with the Saudis.
“Flight 93 was supposed to have hit the Capitol Dome,” imposing a special obligation on Congress to get to the bottom of the matter, said Alice Hoagland, whose son Mark Bingham was one of the passengers who rushed the cockpit, thwarting that part of the attack. The plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa.
Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade neighbouring Qatar by air, land and sea unless Doha cuts ties with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, closes global channel al-Jazeera, and expels local branches of the US Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation think tanks. The threat was issued by Riyadh before it withdrew its ambassador to Doha and branded as “terrorist organisations” the brotherhood, Lebanon’s Hizbullah and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Jabhat al-Nusra.
Although the kingdom has long been the font of Sunni ultra-orthodox Salafism and jihadism, it now seeks to contain radical movements and media and other organisations giving them publicity. King Abdullah has decreed that any Saudi who fights abroad could be jailed for 20-30 years, and those who join, endorse or provide moral or material support to groups classified as “terrorist” or “extremist” will risk prison sentences of five to 30 years. The decree followed the gazetting of a sweeping new anti- terrorism law prohibiting acts that disturb public order, promote insecurity, undermine national unity or harm the reputation of the kingdom.
While the law and decree are meant to curb jihadi operations on Saudi soil as well as counter non-jihadi dissidence, these legal instruments appear to contradict government policy on foreign jihad.
In the days and weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, a Kuwaiti-born cleric, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, became a familiar figure in propaganda videos for Al Qaeda, appearing in some with Osama bin Laden, and other times alone, issuing blistering threats against the United States. “The storms shall not stop, especially the airplanes storm,” he said in one speech, a federal indictment charges. Mr. Abu Ghaith, who later married Bin Laden’s daughter Fatima, was captured last year and brought to the United States on terrorism charges. When his trial starts on Monday in Manhattan, he will be the most senior Bin Laden adviser to be tried in a civilian court since the Sept. 11 attacks, experts say. “Abu Ghaith held a key position in Al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime,” George Venizelos, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in New York, said last year. Unlike Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Abu Ghaith has not been accused of having advance knowledge of the attacks or being involved in terrorist operations. But prosecutors portray him as a trusted adviser and confidant of Bin Laden’s, and they believe he was probably aware of the plot in which Richard C. Reid tried unsuccessfully to blow up an airplane on a trans-Atlantic flight by detonating explosives in his shoes.
Intelligence officials and issue analysts report signs that Saudi Arabia wants to develop a capacity to enrich uranium, despite proliferation concerns. Riyadh is understood to be worried that world powers will agree to allow Iran to maintain some limited uranium-enrichment capability in a potential lasting deal on its nuclear program. Saudi Arabia has an established interest in developing an atomic-energy program, but its concerns about Iran could be causing the Persian Gulf kingdom to consider a more expansive domestic nuclear capability, the Daily Beast reported on Friday. Institute for Science and International Security President David Albright told the news website he had learned from an unidentified European intelligence agency of Saudi Arabia’s pursuit in recent years of the scientific and engineering expertise necessary to carry out activities in all parts of the nuclear fuel chain. The full cycle for producing atomic fuel includes uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel — two processes that could be used to create both more fuel for civil energy needs and fissile material suitable for powering warheads. Albright said Riyadh was employing technical experts capable of constructing the centrifuge cascades required to enrich uranium. ”They view the developments in Iran very negatively,” he said. “They have money, they can buy talent, they can buy training.”
An instructor teaching his militant recruits how to make car bombs accidentally set off explosives in his demonstration Monday, killing 21 of them in a huge blast that alerted authorities to the existence of the rural training camp in an orchard north of Baghdad. Nearly two dozen people were arrested, including wounded insurgents trying to hobble away from the scene. The fatal goof by the al-Qaida breakaway group that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq happened on the same day that the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, a prominent Sunni whom the militants consider a traitor, escaped unhurt from a roadside bomb attack on his motorcade in the northern city of Mosul.
After the 9/11 attacks, the public was told al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors. But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress’ investigative report on 9/11 dealing with “specific sources of foreign support” for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals. It was kept secret and remains so today. President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn’t just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words).
See also here. And here. And here.
Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela. The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents. Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over. The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection. The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family. The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam. Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides: overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers. In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.
Tens of vehicles carrying arms shipments from Saudi Arabia failed to cross the Iraqi border into Syria due to the Iraqi army’s ongoing operations in the Western Al-Anbar province which borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Following the Iraqi Army’s operations against Al-Qaeda forces in Al-Anbar province, the Saudi arms shipments have been stuck behind Iraq’s borders with Syria. The Saudi arms shipments entered Iraq from the Saudi city of Nakheib and via Ar-Ar border crossing. Nearly 70 2-ton vehicles are waiting for the Iraqi army forces to end its operation and withdraw from the region giving them a chance to cross the border with Syria. The vehicles are packed with explosives used for suicide attacks as well as anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons. Saudi Arabia is still supporting the Al-Qaeda terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. While Turkey has closed a large part of its borders to terrorists and Jordan has also considered restrictions for the Saudi nationals who intend to sneak into Syria, Iraq’s desert borders where the government does not have a lot of military and security supervision are regarded as the best route for Saudi Arabia’s logistical supports for the terrorists in Syria. The Iraqi army started military operations in Huran and Al-Abyaz regions in the deserts of Al-Anbar province last week.
Like any sprawling organization, al Qaeda has seen its fair share of bureaucratic infighting. But the squabbling has reached fever pitch since Ayman al-Zawahiri began his tenure as head of the organization two years ago. Two of al Qaeda’s four main affiliates, al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), are bitterly, and sometimes violently, feuding for supremacy in North and West Africa. Another affiliate, al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), has openly defied Zawahiri’s will in Syria. If Zawahiri wants to assign blame for the lack of order, he should look no further than himself: the squabbling is largely a result of his decision to expand al Qaeda too broadly.
I wonder how long we’re going to delude ourselves about our ability to coax the genie of nuclear know-how back into a bottle — in other words, continue having illusions about non-proliferation. Once nations have the know-how, the rest is a matter of political and economic circumstances occurring in certain combinations, which over time they’re almost certain to do. This being so, what’s surprising isn’t how many states acquired nuclear weapons since the original five (U.S., U.S.S.R., U.K., France, China) signed the 1968 Non-proliferation Treaty, but how few. After 45 years, we know only of three confirmed additions to the nuclear club today: India (1974), Pakistan (1998), and North Korea (2006). An unconfirmed addition is said be Israel, whose capacity to field nukes may go back to the 1960s. None are signatories to the NPT of 1968, so they aren’t in breach of treaty obligations. For non-nuclear powers, obligations consist essentially of not becoming one, while the five nuclear powers are obliged to share the benefits of peaceful atomic technology with the rest of the members.
Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight. While the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic. Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery. Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”
Gunmen in north-eastern Nigeria have killed more than 30 people in a attack on a wedding convoy. It happened on a notoriously dangerous stretch of road between Bama and Banki in Borno State, east of the regional capital Maiduguri. The groom was reportedly amongst the victims. The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has carried out frequent attacks in the area despite a state of emergency declared in north-east Nigeria in May. Thousands of additional troops have been sent there to fight Boko Haram – which had been fighting to create an Islamic state since 2009. However attacks on civilians have continued. A week ago dozens of people were killed during a lengthy gunfight after suspected militants attacked the town of Damaturu, burning police and military buildings. A motorist who saw the bodies told AFP news agency that many of the victims appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds. “All the victims were brutally murdered by the attackers,” said the driver, who did not wish to be named.
In the impoverished capital of Yemen, tribal militias roam freely and their leaders drive through crowded streets guarded by heavily armed followers. Security in Sana’a has deteriorated since popular unrest pushed President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office in 2011. Dozens of intelligence and security officials have been assassinated, al-Qaeda continues to attack government targets and Shiite-Muslim Houthi rebels, who are fighting Sunni Islamists in the north, are encamped in the city. Western diplomats who visit do so with greater protection and foreign nationals fear kidnapping more than they did a year ago. “Yemen is slipping into chaos,” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said by phone. “Assassinations of intelligence figures and threats to foreigners are rising.”
The National Security Agency has been extensively involved in the U.S. government’s targeted killing program, collaborating closely with the CIA in the use of drone strikes against terrorists abroad, The Washington Post reported after a review of documents provided by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. In one instance, an email sent by the wife of an Osama bin Laden associate contained clues as to her husband’s whereabouts and led to a CIA drone strike that killed him in Pakistan in October 2012, the Post reported in its online edition Wednesday night. While citing documents provided by Snowden — the American is hiding out in Russia after being granted asylum there — the Post reported that it was withholding many details about the drone-strike missions at the request of U.S. intelligence officials. They cited potential damage to ongoing operations and national security for their request, the paper reported.