Al Qaeda #2 sent to meet his virgins, courtesy of the USA? Update: He’s not dead yet?

August 28, 2011

BOOM:

Atiyah Abd al Rahman, a top al Qaeda leader who long served Osama bin Laden, was reportedly killed on Aug. 22 in Waziristan, Pakistan, according to multiple press reports. Both the Associated Press and Reuters cite US officials as saying that Rahman has been killed. Matt Apuzzo of the AP reports that a US official would not confirm how Atiyah had been killed, but the AP story notes that on same day, the CIA launched a drone strike in Waziristan.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would neither confirm nor deny Atiyah’s reported death. One senior US intelligence official observed that verifying the deaths of top terrorists is difficult and the US has gotten it wrong in the past. Atiyah himself, the official pointed out, was reportedly killed in 2010. Still, this official said, it is certainly possible that the new reports of Atiyah’s demise are accurate.

(…)

Atiyah has been described as al Qaeda’s “operations chief” in some press reports, and his role in plotting terrorist attacks has been repeatedly noted. But according to one senior US intelligence official contacted by The Long War Journal, Atiyah was al Qaeda’s “general manager” and also served as Osama bin Laden’s “chief of staff.”

While Atiyah was involved in plotting attacks, the official said, he was not really the “operational commander.” In the nascent plot to attack the US on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, for example, Atiyah would pass messages back and forth between Osama bin Laden and operatives elsewhere, but the tactical details of the plot were left to other al Qaeda commanders.

Atiyah was also given a senior role in managing al Qaeda’s finances, the official said. Only the most loyal and trustworthy terrorists would be given such a role.

You can read more about this thankfully dead medieval lunatic glorious martyr to Allah’s cause at The Long War Journal.

As TLWJ points out, this surely hurts Al Qaeda by killing another senior leader, disrupting operations and spreading fear and mistrust — did a traitor give Atiyah’s location away? Are there spies in their midst?

But we should keep in mind that Al Qaeda is a deliberately decentralized organization, with branches (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and franchises (Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb) that are fully capable of planning and carrying out operations on their own. Indeed, the attempted Christmas bombing over Detroit and the jihad attack at Ft. Hood were both planned or supported by AQAP, while AQIM has been linked to plots to launch a Mumbai-style attack in Europe. Striking a blow at Al Qaeda-central, while important, shouldn’t be and I’m sure isn’t our sole focus. (See also and also.)

Coming back to the probably-late Mr. Atiyah, if he is dead, it’s almost certain that this is one fruit of the intelligence haul we made when we looted bin Laden’s compound after killing him last May. You can bet there have been and will be others, as we exploit that trove of information for all it’s worth. And one has to wonder about the reaction of the next guy to be promoted to second-in-command: give thanks to Allah or run shrieking in terror? It doesn’t seem to be a job with much future in it…

UPDATE: From TLWJ’s blog, Threat Matrix, doubts are being cast on reports that Atiyah is really dead. This is a reminder that many such reports of prominent AQ and Taliban casualties have turned out to be premature. Perhaps Al Qaeda’s number two isn’t quite ready to go on the cart, yet.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Paying ransom only helps al Qaeda

September 27, 2010

There’s an interesting article at the Terror Finance Blog about the increase in the use of kidnapping to raise funds for jihadist groups, specifically Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), bin Laden’s North African franchise:

Kidnapping-for-ransom is considered by many experts as an “alternative source of terrorism financing.” But the recent abduction of five French nationals in Niger by the Al Qaeda’s Islamic Maghreb terrorist group (AQIM) highlights a worrisome regional trend that emerged in 2003, when AQIM first launched a major hostage taking campaign targeting foreign tourists.

Since then, AQIM has developed a growing criminal industry that sustains itself through huge ransoms they extort and drug trafficking.

It is estimated that the kidnap-for-ransom business in the Sahel region alone, put at least $65 million in the coffers of AQIM since 2005. More than 90% of the group’s funding derives from this single financial source. The rest comes from drug trafficking and donations.

The kidnapping business is so good, that hostage taking in the Sahel region had risen 150% between 2008 and 2009. The average ransom for the release of a Western hostage is $6.5 million.

Since 2008, AQIM raised more than $25 million from ransom for foreign nationals in the Sahel region. This makes AQIM richer than “Al Qaeda Central”, whose annual income was recently estimated by U.S. officials to be between $5 million to $10 million.

The article then goes on to talk about efforts to criminalize the payment of ransom, though I suspect that would be an exercise in futility when governments themselves can pay ransom via back-channels. Italy infamously paid ransom to Iraqi terrorists to recover journalist Giuliana Sgrena in 2005, while France has been rumored to have criticized Spain for paying ransom to AQIM. (Though Paris now denies this.)

But the real problem here (aside from paying kidnappers at all) is that this money is then used by AQIM (and al Qaeda, which surely gets a cut) to finance not only further kidnappings, but terrorist operations in North Africa, Europe, and around the world. Operations that get our people killed. In effect, governments and corporations are financing the hijackers and suicide bombers sent against us. And you can bet some of this money is going to research into easy means of mass destruction, such as poison gas.

Harsh and heartless as it would be to do so, the only way to stop these kidnappings is to refuse to pay any ransom; rather than treating the terrorist kidnappers are criminals, they should be hunted down and killed. And yes, that is in full recognition of the possible consequences.

If, instead, we keep paying, we’re only giving them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Meanwhile, back at the jihad – updated and bumped

July 25, 2010

While Chicken Littles squawk over an invasion of Texas for which there’s no evidence, Threat Matrix brings us news of a war that’s all too real: French troops in action against al Qaeda affiliates in North Africa:

French commandos, likely from the General Directorate for External Security, or DGSE, and Mauritanian troops raided an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb camp in Mali in search of a French citizen kidnapped by the terror group. From Reuters:

  • A Mauritanian security source said the raids had continued some 200 km (125 miles) into Mali after Thursday’s pre-dawn attack on a group of Islamists who are believed to be holding the 78-year-old French hostage in Niger’s desert Sahel region.
  • The French Defense Ministry source said the operation was launched after AQIM failed to provide proof that Germaneau was alive or engage in negotiations over him. The operation follows calls for better international cooperation against AQIM, which was previously focused on Algeria but now has two factions that are increasingly active in remote desert regions of Mauritania, Mali and Niger.

Threat Matrix questions why Malian forces weren’t involved, since the raid was so deep in their country’s territory. My guess would be that the French, the former colonial power in Mali, had information indicating that the Malian security forces weren’t reliable. Perhaps they’re infiltrated by Islamists, a la the Pakistani military?

Regardless, this news is a reminder that our war with Salafis bent on jihad is worldwide, not just in Iraq or Afghanistan.

UPDATE: Damn. It looks like the brave, brave knights of Allah have executed their hostage, a 78-year old man. I hope the French kill every one of those swine. Slowly.