Archive for the ‘Al-Shabab’ Category
The Paradigm Pivot:
Soon after the attacks on 9/11 the US and other countries began a “War On Terror” that attempted to disrupt and destroy the Al Qaeda networks. The military and intelligence wars on AQ have been very successful in that they have splintered the group, cut its main lines of C&C, and forced them to scatter into the hills of Waziristan and other places. The intelligence war began with stepped up surveillance technically as well as, after much spin up, getting physical assets on the ground and inserted into the intelligence gathering apparatus. Once the networks were set up, and the AQ infrastructure fractured, it became apparent to the leaders of AQ that they needed to proselytize in a different way to get more “recruits” for the global jihad that they wanted.
Once the realization set in, the AQ leadership began to move online to communicate, radicalize, and recruit new jihadi’s to the cause. As time went by and more of the networks were broken, the ranks of jihad began to thin out. This became a real problem for Al Qaeda and it realized that it needed a new paradigm to reach the “Western” ummah that they could try to sway to jihad. With the creation of GIMF, and AQAP later on, the footprint of jihadi propaganda and radicalization took shape online. Since 2001, we have seen AQ and affiliates grapple with how to get their message across as well as create channels for those who are not in the 2 lands, to radicalize, and then come to jihad.
This post is about not only the means that AQ, AQAP, and others have come up with as a response to the problem, but also a profile of the GEN2 jihadi’s online that are being radicalized and who have acted in the past as well as those who may in the future.
Online Jihad: 10 Years of Internet Jihad
A plethora of sites on the internet have been set up over the years by AQ and its affiliates to propagandize and communicate. many of these sites at first were just simple file upload areas and small bulletin boards. Today we have many mass media style sites including videos, tutorials, online chat areas, and private messaging. The PHP bulletin boards set up on domain named sites or on servers (stealth) that have been hacked, have been the most popular of all. With these sites, the jihad radicalization goes on with postings within pass-worded group sites like Shamukh (AQ) or Ansar.com.
For the most part, these sites have only been partially successful in being a command and control mechanism for AQ. They have failed to gather the swelling support that they would have liked on the part of the Western ummah and it is this lack of fervor that has them vexed. I have personally seen this vexation in AQAP’s “Inspire Magazine” as they have been trying to become more “Hip and Western” to get a new audience. All of their efforts though, have had lackluster returns. This lack of response on the part of the young westernized groups that they are targeting is likely to a few factors;
- The radicalization process is not in person
- The western mindset of the targets is more secular in nature and separate from the core AQ groups experiences
- These youths are not living in lands where war is ongoing
The Psychology of Radicalization:
Radicalization: The process in which an individual changes from passiveness or activism to become more revolutionary, militant or extremist. Radicalization is often associated with youth, adversity, alienation, social exclusion, poverty, or the perception of injustice to self or others.
Much of the classic radicalizing that happens within movements such as Al Qaeda happens when the like minded get together under the penumbra of a stronger personality that leads them. In the case of Islamic Jihad, there have been many Imam’s and leaders who preach this type of thought within their right wing versions of Islam. This is the core of the idea behind raising the ummah army to fight a jihad, the radicalization of the parishioners through direct proselytizing. Since 9/11 though, much of the Muslim community has come under scrutiny from intelligence gathering groups seeking to find the next cell of terrorists being exhorted to jihad by an imam or another leader.
In other cases secular leaders may arise, this may take shape in the form of someone like Mohammad Atta, or the like who are within a circle of like minded people (What Dr. Marc Sageman calls “a group of guys” theory) who “self radicalize” and either make contact with core AQ, or, they decide to act on their own, using the internet as their guide to jihad techniques and ideals. This may happen with two or more individuals seeking like minded people, or, a leader may inculcate them into their particular brand of thought.
A third and seemingly rising type of radicalization seems to be the Lone Wolf or Loner. This is a person either seeking to belong to something greater than they are, or, someone mentally unbalanced and moving along the lines of their own particular mental illness. The Lone Wolves and the Loner’s are dangerous in that they are now one of the primary targets of AQ and their propaganda/radicalization drive other than the “group of guys” The reason for this is that all of these groups can “self radicalize” without having to step into a mosque by reading online and digitally relating with other like minded jihadi’s online. The major difference being that there is no direct contact and, for most, this method of contact and radicalizing lacks the added social element of being in person as a part of a group.
This is a key feature of radicalization that needs to be understood. Since we are social animals, we need to feel that kinship and the only real way to do this primarily is to be within a social dynamic structure that includes physically being there. Online it seems, just does not cut it for most. However, there are others, the mentally ill, and those who are so socially awkward, that online seems to be the only way that they can relate, that have become the next generation of jihobbyists. This in tandem with the fact that now it is rather hard to make contact with, and access the core AQ group physically (i.e. going to a training camp in Waziristan) has made the online radicalization process the pre-eminent way for the jihadi process to carry on.
Jihad GEN 2.0: Lone Wolves, Wolf Packs, & Loners
- Lone Wolves: Single actors who radicalize either by self or online groups but act alone
- Wolf Packs: “The Group of Guys” Who radicalize together as a unit and attempt jihad
- Loners: The single player who radicalizes online and may have contacts with some but is not a team player
Lone Wolves, or the “Lone Wolf” The most likely candidate for the lone wolf is a second generation immigrant who feels some sort of synergy with their parents homeland. There have been a spate of cases where Al Shebaab had converts sneak off from the US to Somalia to train with them. The majority of these lone wolves in this case, were kids in their teens or early twenties that took off to join the jihad there. The premise though, is that these are people who are not necessarily part of any one group but seek out the jihad on their own. They often connect with the core jihadi groups in some way (Malik Hassan and Anwar Al Awlaki) and then act on their own in a more constructed and supported way from the core AQ groups.
Wolf Packs are groups of like minded individuals who have either come together and then radicalized, or, have formed due to a strong leader. These are the most dangerous of the groups because they tend to be groomed by core AQ and, as a group, not only self radicalize, but they re-enforce their belief and action as a social dynamic. Wolf packs have been seen as the more organized and thus more dangerous element in this behavior model. An example of the wolf pack would be the Lackawana 6 or others who banded together and eventually went to an AQ training camp. Though, in the case of the Lackawanna 6, it seems as though they came back from the trip decidedly lacking the motivation to carry out a mission. This is likely because of their Westernized mind set. They did however provide material support to the jihad, and were convicted of this.
Loners are the last type of jihadi that the AQ core are seeking to incite. The loner tends to be an individual who is socially inept to the degree that some have actually been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Still others have proven to be mentally ill individuals who latch onto the jihad for whatever reasons are driving their psyche. On average, the loner can be seen as the spree killer of the group that feeds the need of the jihad in that they sow fear and confusion while potentially taking out numbers of people. An example of a loner would be Nidal Malik Hassan (Ft. Hood Shooter) who clearly was mentally unstable and went on a shooting rampage injuring 30 and killing 13.
Loners tend to be more the spree killers with guns than they are bomb makers. Another loner type would be Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to make a propane bomb alone. His training was incomplete or he was inept, because the device failed to go off. In the case of Shahzad, he also spent time in Pakistan (from where he emigrated to the US) with the Pakistani Taliban. His radicalization went on unseen by others around him and his actions became more erratic as time went on. I have not seen a psych evaluation of him, but from all that I have seen, it may well be that he too is mentally unstable.
Another couple of reasons to worry more about the “loner” type of jihadi are these:
- They are loners, thus unless someone in the family see’s whats going on, it will likely go unseen until its too late
- They are often here in the US and with guns easily available, make their spree killing scenarios most likely to work
Online Radicalization: Propaganda, Congregation, Synergy & The Online Shadow War
As mentioned above, the radicalization process online has mainly consisted of websites that cater to the newbie to the jihad up to the hard core members. Primarily though, these sites have been a means to gain new recruits for the holy war. These sites had been for a long time, rather blatantly operating online because the governments had not caught up with the technology. Recently though, there has been a change going on within the online jihad. Due to many factors including actions on the part of the hacker community, the propaganda machine that has been the jihadi bulletin board system online has begun to go underground as well as redouble its propaganda efforts.
AQAP’s “Inspire Magazine” releases also have been slowed down and the core’s processes for distribution tightened because of tampering with the files in the past and the worries that they have been compromised as a network online. Spooks and hackers have been infiltrating their networks and websites for a while now and they have caught on. Of course in some ways, the assumption should always have been so. However, attacks on the AQ propaganda sites have increased over the last couple of years to include complete take downs of certain sites through DD0S as well as compromise and destruction of their back ends. Since these occurrences, the smarter of the group have decided that it was time to create a new propaganda jihad.
Abu Hafs al-Sunni al-Sunni, is an exemplar of this mindset. He espouses that the propaganda jihad needs to be more layered and secret. His proposal is to hide the online jihad in plain sight, by making pages that have stealth links (gateway sites) that will lead the knowing, to the real sites where content can be obtained and ideas shared. His ideas were a bit ahead of the curve for most on the boards, but now, post 2011, the administrators and the core AQ I think, are taking a closer look at this model. As online sites that are non secret become more and more targeted, it is only natural that they jihad would eventually have to go underground to continue and flourish from a command and control as well as radicalization standpoint. By locking down the content with gateways to it, those who are serious could congregate behind the digital curtain and carry on, while the digital bill boards call to all those thinking about joining the fray.
As the online jihad progresses technically, so too will their followers and this is a concern. With technologies such as TOR (The Onion Router) and their “Hidden Services” one can now easily hide all content behind a network that cannot be tracked or traced. Online chats can be had in total anonymity as well as files can be left within the confines of such networks for only those who have the right address to get them (net/net meet the new digital anonymous dead drops) and it is here that once again the pivot happens within the dynamic of online jihad. Once the technological skills of the jihadi’s come online, so too will the types of attacks online that could be carried out by them as well as the success rates of kinetic attacks because they are using solid methods to transmit and connect with each other to plan operations.
Already we have seen this movement happening on the forums and it really is only a matter of time until some of these guys read the man page on how to configure their own TOR node with hidden services turned on. It is clear that the technologies are making it easier for them to hide in plain site as well as behind the technical curtain, so, it is my proposition that the next iteration of the GWOT have a component of psychological operations more involved. Just as I have said about the Anonymous situation ongoing, the greater successes are likely to come about because we better understand the players motivations and psyche’s.
Countering The Threat:
In conclusion, I see a two pronged method of attack to fight the online jihad:
- Psyops: The idea that psychological operations has always been a part of the counter insurgency effort. However, in the digital world this has been more the spooks territory than the digital warfighter. Of course the digital war is new as is the online jihad so it is a natural progression to see this type of warfare as well as detective process being implemented.
- Technical Counter-Insurgency Operations: As the technological adroitness grows on the part of the jihadi’s so should the capabilities on the counter insurgency online. It is understood that the US has quite a bit of technical know how online so it is an easier supposition to make that we will be able to step up quickly. However, it is the melding of the two (psyops/pscyhology and technical ops) that must happen to wage this battle well.
APPENDIX A:US Cases of Terrorism since 9/11
• José Padilla. José Padilla (32), a native U.S. citizen, convert to Islam, and al Qaeda
operative, was arrested upon his return from the Middle East to the United States.
Although there is no question of his al Qaeda connection, his mission remains unclear.
He was convicted for providing material support to al Qaeda and sentenced in 2008.
A co-defendant, Kifah Wael Jayyousi (40), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Jordan, was
• The Lackawanna Six. Six Yemeni-Americans—Sahim Alwar (26), Yahya Goba (25),
Yasein Taher (24), Faysal Galab (25), Shafal Mosed (23), all born in the United States,
and Muktar al-Bakri (21), a naturalized citizen—were arrested for training at an
al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.
• The Portland Seven. Seven individuals—Patrice Lumumba Ford (31), Jeffrey Leon
Battle (31), October Martinique Laris (25), Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal (22), Ahmed
Ibrahim Bilal (24), all native U.S. citizens; Habis Abdulla al Saoub (37), a U.S. perma-
nent resident from Jordan; and Maher Hawash (38), a naturalized U.S. citizen from
Jordan—were arrested for attempting to join al Qaeda and the Taliban.
• Earnest James Ujaama. Earnest James Ujaama (36), a native U.S. citizen, was arrested
for providing support to the Taliban.
• Imran Mandhai. Imran Mandhai (20), a U.S. permanent resident from Pakistan, told
an FBI informant that he wanted to wage war against the United States. He planned
to assemble an al Qaeda cell and attack various targets in Florida, including electrical
substations, Jewish businesses, a National Guard armory, and also, improbably, Mount
Rushmore. Under surveillance for a long time, Mandhai was arrested and subsequently
convicted of conspiracy to destroy property.
• Anwar al-Awlaki. Anwar al-Awlaki (31), a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico, studied
engineering in college and motivation in graduate school, then became an increasingly
radical imam. After being questioned by the FBI several times, he left the United States
in 2002 and went to Yemen, where he is now a leading spokesperson for al Qaeda.
• Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah. A provisional arrest warrant was issued for Adnan
Gulshair el Shukrijumah (27), a Saudi national and legal permanent resident, who grew
up and worked in the United States. Shukrijumah was suspected of involvement in a
number of terrorist plots. In 2010, he was indicted for his involvement in the 2009 Zazi
plot to blow up New York subways.
• Iyman Faris. Iyman Faris (34), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was arrested
for reconnoitering the Brooklyn Bridge for a possible al Qaeda attack.
• The Northern Virginia Cluster. Eleven men were arrested in June 2003 for training
at a jihadist training camp abroad, intending to join Lashkar-e-Toiba, and planning
terrorist attacks: Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur Raheem (28), a native U.S. citizen; Sabri
Benkhala (27), a native U.S. citizen; Randoll Todd Royer (39), a native U.S. citizen;
Ibrahim al-Hamdi (25), a Yemeni national; Khwaja Mahmood Hasan (27), a natural-
ized U.S. citizen from Pakistan; Muhammed Aatique (30), a legal permanent resident
from Pakistan; Donald T. Surratt (30), a native U.S. citizen; Masoud Ahmad Khan
(33), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan; Seifullah Chapman (31), a native U.S.
citizen; Hammad Abdur-Raheem (34), a U.S.-born citizen and Army veteran of the
first Gulf War; and Yong Ki Kwon (27), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Korea. Two
other individuals were also arrested in connection with the group: Ali al-Timimi (40), a
U.S.-born citizen, and Ali Asad Chandia (26), a citizen of Pakistan. Six of the accused
pleaded guilty, and another three were convicted. Benkhala was acquitted but was later
charged and convicted of making false statements to the FBI. Al-Timimi was convicted
in 2005. The case against Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur Raheem was dismissed.
• Uzair Paracha. Uzair Paracha (23), a legal permanent resident from Pakistan, was
indicted for attempting to help an al Qaeda operative enter the United States in order
to attack gas stations. He was convicted in 2005.
• Abdurahman Alamoudi. Abdurahman Alamoudi (51), a naturalized U.S. citizen from
Eritrea, was indicted in the United States for plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s
• Ahmed Omar Abu Ali. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali (22), a native U.S. citizen, was arrested
by Saudi authorities and later extradited to the United States for providing support to
a terrorist organization and plotting to assassinate the president of the United States.
• Mohammed Abdullah Warsame. Mohammed Abdullah Warsame (31), a legal perma-
nent resident from Somalia, was arrested for conspiring to support al Qaeda. He was
found guilty and sentenced in 2009.
Chronology of the Cases
• Ilyas Ali. Ilyas Ali (55), a naturalized U.S. citizen from India, pleaded guilty to provid-
ing material support to the Taliban and al Qaeda. He attempted to sell hashish and
heroin in return for Stinger missiles, which he then planned to sell to the Taliban. Two
other defendants, Muhammed Abid Afridi and Syed Mustajab Shah, both Pakistani
nationals, were also convicted in the case.
• Amir Abdul Rashid. Ryan Gibson Anderson (26)—a native U.S. citizen and convert to
Islam who called himself Amir Abdul Rashid—was a soldier in the U.S. Army at Fort
Lewis, Washington, when he was arrested in February 2004 for contacting Islamic
websites related to al Qaeda and offering information about the U.S. Army.
• Mark Robert Walker. A Wyoming Technical Institute student, Mark Robert Walker
(19), a native U.S. citizen who, according to reports, became obsessed with jihad, was
charged with attempting to assist the Somali-based group, Al-Ittihad al Islami. He
planned to provide the group with night-vision devices and bulletproof vests.
• Mohammed Junaid Babar. Mohammed Junaid Babar (31), a naturalized U.S. citizen
from Pakistan, was arrested in New York for providing material support to al Qaeda.
• The Herald Square Plotters. Shahawar Martin Siraj (22), a Pakistani national, and
James Elshafy (19), a U.S.-born citizen, were arrested for plotting to carry out a terrorist
attack on New York City’s Herald Square subway station.
• The Albany Plotters. Yassin Aref (34), an Iraqi refugee in the United States, and
Mohammad Hossain (49), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bangladesh, two leaders of a
mosque in Albany, New York, were arrested for attempting to acquire weapons in order
to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat.
• Adam Yahiye Gadahn. Adam Yahiye Gadahn (26), a native U.S. citizen and convert to
Islam, moved to Pakistan in 1998. By 2004, he was identified as a member of al Qaeda
planning terrorist attacks in the United States, and he subsequently became one of
al Qaeda’s principal spokesmen. He was formally indicted in 2006.
• The Abdi Case. Nuradin Abdi (32), a Somali national granted asylum in the United
States, was indicted in June 2004 for plotting with Iyman Faris to blow up a Colum-
bus, Ohio, shopping mall. (He was arrested in November 2003.)
• Gale Nettles. Gale Nettles (66), a native U.S. citizen and ex-convict, was arrested in
August in an FBI sting for plotting to bomb the Dirksen Federal Building in Chi-
cago and for attempting to provide al Qaeda with explosive material. His motive was
revenge for his conviction as a counterfeiter, but he wanted to connect with al Qaeda,
which he figured would pay him for his excess explosive materials. He was convicted
on the terrorist charge in 2005.
• Carpenter and Ransom. Two New Orleans men, Cedric Carpenter (31), a convicted
felon, and Lamont Ransom (31), both native U.S. citizens, intended to sell fraudulent
identity documents to the Philippine jihadist terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in return for
cash and heroin. Ransom, who had previously served in the U.S. Navy, was familiar
with the group. Both were convicted and sentenced in 2005.
• The New York Defendants. Three defendants—Mahmud Faruq Brent (32), a U.S.-
born citizen who had attended a training camp in Pakistan run by Lashkar-e-Toiba;
Rafiq Abdus Sabir (50), a U.S.-born citizen and medical doctor who volunteered to pro-
vide medical treatment to al Qaeda terrorists; and Abdulrahman Farhane (52), a natu-
ralized U.S. citizen from Morocco who agreed to assist in fundraising for the purchase
of weapons for insurgents in Chechnya and Afghanistan—were linked to defendant-
turned-informant Tarik Shah (42), a U.S.-born citizen who was arrested in May 2005
for offering to provide training to insurgents in Iraq. Shah identified his co-defendants,
and all four were convicted.
• The Lodi Case. Hamid Hayat (22), a native-born U.S. citizen, and his father, Umar
Hayat, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, were arrested in June 2005 for secretly
attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. Umar Hayat ultimately pleaded guilty
of lying to federal authorities.
• The Torrance Plotters. Kevin James (29), Levar Washington (21), and Gregory
Patterson (25), all native U.S. citizens and converts to Islam, and Hammad Riaz Samana
(21), a permanent resident from Pakistan, were charged in August 2005 with planning
to carry out terrorist attacks on National Guard armories, a U.S. military recruiting
center, the Israeli consulate, and Los Angeles International airport. (This case is some-
times referred to as the Sacramento Plot.)
• Michael Reynolds. Michael Reynolds (47), a native U.S. citizen, acquired explosives
and offered them to an informant whom he believed was an al Qaeda official to blow
up the Alaska Pipeline in return for $40,000.
• Ronald Grecula. Ronald Grecula (70), a native U.S. citizen, was arrested in Texas in
May 2005 for offering to build an explosive device for informants he believed to be
al Qaeda agents. He pleaded guilty to the charge in 2006.
• The Liberty City Seven. Seven men—Narseal Batiste (32), a native U.S. citizen;
Patrick Abraham (39), a Haitian national illegally in the United States after over-
staying his visa; Stanley Grunt Phanor (31), a naturalized U.S. citizen; Naudimar
Herrera (22), a native U.S. citizen; Burson Augustin (21), a native U.S. citizen; Rothschild
Augustin (26), a native U.S. citizen; and Lyglenson Lemorin (31), a legal permanent resi-
dent from Haiti—were charged in June 2006 with plotting to blow up the FBI build-
ing in Miami and the Sears Tower in Chicago. Herrera and Lemorin were acquitted.
Chronology of the Cases
• Syed Hashmi. Syed “Fahad” Hashmi (30), a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, was arrested
in London on charges of providing material support to al Qaeda.
• Derrick Shareef. Derrick Shareef (22), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was
arrested for planning a suicide attack on an Illinois shopping mall. He intended to
place hand grenades in garbage cans, but the plot also involved handguns.
• The Fort Dix Plotters. Six men—Mohammad Ibrahim Shnewer (22), a naturalized
U.S. citizen from Jordan; Serdar Tatar (23), a legal permanent resident from Turkey;
Agron Abdullahu (24), a U.S. permanent resident from Kosovo; and Dritan Duka (28),
Shain Duka (26), and Elljvir Duka (23), three brothers from Albania living in the
United States illegally—were charged with plotting to carry out an armed attack on
soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
• The Toledo Cluster. Mohammad Zaki Amawi (26) and Marwan El-Hindi (43), both
naturalized U.S. citizens from Jordan, and Wassim Mazloum (25), a legal permanent
resident from Lebanon, were arrested in Toledo, Ohio, for plotting to build bombs to
use against American forces in Iraq. Two additional persons were also charged in this
case: Zubair Ahmed (26), a U.S.-born citizen, and his cousin Khaleel Ahmed (25), a
naturalized U.S. citizen from India.
• The Georgia Plotters. Syed Harris Ahmed (21), a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Ehsanul
Islam Sadequee (20), a U.S.-born citizen from Atlanta, Georgia, were arrested in April
2006 for discussing potential targets with terrorist organizations and receiving instruc-
tion in reconnaissance.
• Daniel Maldonado. Daniel Maldonado (27), a native U.S. citizen and convert to
Islam, was arrested for joining a jihadist training camp in Somalia. He was captured
by the Kenyan armed forces and returned to the United States.
• Williams and Mirza. Federal authorities charged two students at Houston Commu-
nity College—Kobie Diallo Williams (33), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam,
and Adnan Babar Mirza (29), a Pakistani national who had overstayed his student
visa—with aiding the Taliban. According to the indictment, the two planned to join
and train with the Taliban in order to fight U.S. forces in the Middle East.
• Ruben Shumpert. Ruben Shumpert (26), also known as Amir Abdul Muhaimin, a
native U.S. citizen who had been convicted for drug trafficking, converted to Islam
shortly after his release from prison. When the FBI came looking for him in 2006, he
fled to Somalia and joined al-Shabaab. He was reportedly killed in Somalia in Decem-
• Hassan Abujihaad. Hassan Abujihaad (31), formerly known as Paul R. Hall, a native
U.S. citizen and convert to Islam who had served in the U.S. Navy, was arrested in
April 2007 for giving the locations of U.S. naval vessels to an organization accused of
• The JFK Airport Plotters. Russell Defreitas (63), a naturalized U.S. citizen from
Guyana; Abdul Kadir (55) a Guyanese citizen; Kareem Ibrahim (56), a Trinidadian;
and Abdal Nur (57), another Guyanese citizen, were charged in June 2007 with plot-
ting to blow up aviation fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Defreitas
was arrested in Brooklyn. The other three plotters were arrested in Trinidad and extra-
dited to the United States.
• Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed. Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed (26), a U.S.
permanent resident from Egypt, was arrested for providing material support to terror-
ists by disseminating bomb-making instructions on YouTube. He pleaded guilty to the
• Omar Hammami. Now known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, Omar Hammami
(23), a native-born U.S. citizen, left Alabama some time not later than 2007 to join
al-Shabaab in Somalia. He later appeared in the group’s recruiting videos. Hammami
was indicted in 2010 for providing support to al-Shabaab.
• Jaber Elbaneh. Jaber Elbaneh (41), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen, was con-
victed in absentia by a Yemeni court for plotting to attack oil and gas installations in
Yemen. He had previously been charged in the United States with conspiring with the
Lackawanna Six. He was one of a number of al Qaeda suspects who escaped from a
Yemeni prison in 2006. He subsequently turned himself in to Yemeni authorities.
• The Hamza Case. Federal authorities charged the owner and several officials of Hamza,
Inc., a financial institution, for money laundering and secretly providing money to
al Qaeda. Those charged included Saifullah Anjum Ranjha (43), a legal permanent U.S.
resident from Pakistan; Imdad Ullah Ranjha (32), also a legal permanent resident from
Pakistan; and Muhammed Riaz Saqi, a Pakistani national living in Washington, D.C.
Also charged in the case were three Pakistani nationals living in Canada and Spain.
• Christopher Paul. Christopher “Kenyatta” Paul (43), a native U.S. citizen and convert
to Islam living overseas, was arrested upon his return to the United States in April 2008
for having plotted terrorist attacks on various U.S. targets. He later pleaded guilty.
• Bryant Vinas. Bryant Vinas (26), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was
arrested in Pakistan and extradited to the United States for having joined al Qaeda in
Pakistan. He also provided al Qaeda with information to help plan a bombing attack
on the Long Island Rail Road.
• Somali Recruiting Case I. As many as a dozen Somalis may have been recruited in
the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area by Shirwa Ahmed (26), a naturalized U.S. citizen
Chronology of the Cases from Somalia, to fight in Somalia. Ahmed subsequently was
killed in a suicide bomb- ing in Somalia.
• Sharif Mobley. Sharif Mobley (26), a native U.S. citizen of Somali descent, moved
to Yemen in 2008, ostensibly to study Arabic and religion, but in reality, authorities
believe, to join a terrorist organization. He was later arrested by Yemeni authorities in
a roundup of al Qaeda and al-Shabaab militants. In March 2010, he killed one guard
and wounded another in an attempt to escape.
• The Riverdale Synagogue Plot. Native U.S. citizens James Cromite (55), David
Williams (28), Onta Williams (32), and Laguerre Payen (27), a Haitian national, all con-
verts to Islam, were arrested in an FBI sting in New York in May 2009 for planning to
blow up synagogues.
• Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad. In June 2009, Abdulhakim Mujahid
Muhammad (23), also known as Carlos Bledsoe, a native U.S. citizen and Muslim con-
vert, killed one soldier and wounded another at an Army recruiting station in Arkansas.
• The North Carolina Cluster. Daniel Boyd (39), a native U.S. citizen and convert to
Islam who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, was arrested
in July 2009 along with his two sons, Zakarlya Boyd (20) and Dylan Boyd (22), also
converts to Islam, and four others, including three U.S. citizens—Anes Subasic (33), a
naturalized U.S. citizen from Bosnia; Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan (22), a U.S.-born
citizen; and Ziyad Yaghi (21), a naturalized U.S. citizen—and Hysen Sherifi (24), a
legal U.S. resident from Kosovo, for plotting terrorist attacks in the United States and
abroad. Jude Kenan Mohammad (20), a U.S.-born citizen, was also a member of the
group. He was arrested by Pakistani authorities in 2008. Boyd reportedly reconnoi-
tered the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia.
• Betim Kaziu. Betim Kaziu (21), a native U.S. citizen, was arrested in September
2009 for traveling overseas to join al-Shabaab or to attend a terrorist training camp in
• Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri (38), a U.S. permanent resi-
dent and dual national of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, was charged with attending an
al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. He pleaded guilty to providing material support
to a terrorist group.
• Michael Finton. Michael Finton (29), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was
arrested in September 2009 in an FBI sting for planning to blow up a federal court-
house in Springfield, Illinois.
• Hosam Maher Smadi. Hosam Maher Smadi (19), a Jordanian citizen living in the
United States, was arrested in September 2009 in an FBI sting for planning to blow up
an office building in Dallas, Texas.
• Najibullah Zazi. Najibullah Zazi (25), a permanent U.S. resident from Afghanistan,
was arrested in September 2009 for receiving training in explosives at a terrorist train-
ing camp in Pakistan and buying ingredients for explosives in preparation for a ter-
rorist attack in the United States. Indicted with Zazi were his father, Mohammed Zazi
(53), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, and Ahmad Afzali (38), a U.S. per-
manent resident from Afghanistan, both for making false statements to federal inves-
tigators; neither was involved in the terrorist plot. In January 2010, authorities arrested
Adis Medunjanin (24), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bosnia, and Zarein Ahmedzay
(25), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, and charged them with participat-
ing in the plot.
• Tarek Mehana. In October 2009, federal authorities in Massachusetts arrested Tarek
Mehana (27), a dual citizen of the United States and Egypt, for conspiring over a seven-
year period to kill U.S. politicians, attack American troops in Iraq, and target shopping
malls in the United States. Two other individuals, including Ahmad Abousamra (27), a
U.S. citizen, were allegedly part of the conspiracy. Abousamra remains at large.
• David Headley. In an increasingly complicated case, David Headley (49), a U.S.-born
citizen of Pakistani descent and resident of Chicago, was arrested in October 2009
along with Tahawar Rana (48), a native of Pakistan and a Canadian citizen, for plan-
ning terrorist attacks abroad. Headley was subsequently discovered to have partici-
pated in the reconnaissance of Mumbai prior to the November 2008 attack by the ter-
rorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba. He pleaded guilty in March 2010.
• Colleen Renee LaRose. Calling herself “Jihad Jane” on the Internet, Colleen Renee
LaRose (46), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was arrested in October 2009
for plotting to kill a Swedish artist whose drawings of Muhammad had enraged Mus-
lims and for attempting to recruit others to terrorism. Her arrest was concealed until
March 2010. LaRose pleaded guilty to the charges.
• Nidal Hasan. In November 2009, Nidal Hasan (38), a native U.S. citizen and Army
major, opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and wounding 31.
• The Pakistan Five. In November 2009, five Muslim Americans from Virginia—
Umar Farooq (25), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan; Ramy Zamzam (22), who
was born in Egypt, immigrated to the United States at the age of two, and became a
citizen by virtue of his parents becoming citizens; Waqar Hassan Khan (22), a natu-
ralized U.S. citizen from Pakistan; Ahmad Abdullah Mimi (20), a naturalized U.S.
citizen from Eritrea; and Aman Hassan Yemer (18), a naturalized U.S. citizen from
Ethiopia—were arrested in Pakistan for attempting to obtain training as jihadist guer-
rillas. Khalid Farooq, Umar Farooq’s father, was also taken into custody but was later
released. The five were charged by Pakistani authorities with planning terrorist attacks.
• Somali Recruiting Case II. In November 2009, federal authorities indicted eight
men for recruiting at least 20 young men in Minnesota for jihad in Somalia and rais-
ing funds on behalf of al-Shabaab. By the end of 2009, a total of 14 indictments had
been handed down as a result of the ongoing investigation. Those indicted, all but
one of whom are Somalis, were Abdow Munye Abdow, a naturalized U.S. citizen from
Somalia; Khalid Abshir; Salah Osman Ahmad; Adarus Abdulle Ali; Cabdulaahi Ahmed
Faarax; Kamal Hassan; Mohamed Hassan; Abdifatah Yusef Isse; Abdiweli Yassin Isse;
Zakaria Maruf; Omer Abdi Mohamed, a legal permanent resident from Somalia; Ahmed
Ali Omar; Mahanud Said Omar; and Mustafa Salat. No age information is available.
• Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari. Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari (53), also known as
Michael Mixon, a native U.S. citizen, was indicted and pleaded guilty to attempting to
provide financing for terrorist training in Afghanistan.
• Raja Lahrasib Khan. Raja Lahrasib Khan (57), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Paki-
stan, was charged with sending money to Ilyas Kashmiri, an al Qaeda operative in
Pakistan, and for discussing blowing up an unidentified stadium in the United States.
• Times Square Bomber. Faisal Shazad (30), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan,
had studied and worked in the United States since 1999. In 2009, he traveled to Paki-
stan and contacted the TTP (Pakistan Taliban), who gave him instruction in bomb-
building. Upon his return to the United States, he built a large incendiary device
in a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and attempted unsuccessfully to detonate it in New
York City’s Times Square. He was arrested in May 2010. Three other individuals were
arrested in the investigation but were never charged with criminal involvement in the
• Jamie Paulin-Ramirez. The arrest of Colleen R. LaRose (“Jihad Jane”) in 2009 led to
further investigations and the indictment of Jamie Paulin-Ramirez (31), also known as
“Jihad Jamie.” Paulin-Ramirez, a native-born U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, alleg-
edly accepted an invitation from LaRose to join her in Europe in order to attend a
training camp there. According to the indictment, she flew to Europe with “the intent
to live and train with jihadists.” She was detained in Ireland and subsequently returned
to the United States, where she was arraigned in April 2010.
Wesam el-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff. Wesam el-Hanafi (33), also known
as “Khaled,” a native-born U.S. citizen, and Sabirhan Hasanoff (34), also known as
“Tareq,” a dual U.S.-Australian citizen, were indicted for allegedly providing material
In September 2010, Sami Samir Hassoun (22), was arrested in an FBI sting in Chicago
for attempting to carry out a ter-rorist bombing. Hassoun expressed anger at Chicago
Mayor Richard Daley. It is not clear that the case is jihadist-related.
In December 2010, Awais Younis (26), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, was
arrested for threatening to bomb the Washington, D.C., Metro system. He made the threat on
Facebook, and it was reported to the authorities. Neither of these cases is included in the chronology.
support to a terrorist group. The two men, one of whom traveled to Yemen in 2008,
provided al Qaeda with computer advice and assistance, along with other forms of aid.
• Khalid Ouazzani. Khalid Ouazzani (32) pleaded guilty in May to providing material
support to a terrorist group. Ouazzani, a Moroccan-born U.S. citizen, admitted to rais-
ing money for al Qaeda through fraudulent loans, as well as performing other tasks at
the request of the terrorist organization between 2007 and 2008.
• Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte. Two New Jersey men,
Mohamed Mahmood Alessa (20), a native U.S. citizen, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte
(24), a naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republic and convert to Islam, were
arrested in June at New York’s JFK Airport for conspiring to kill persons outside the
United States. The two were on their way to join al-Shabaab in Somalia.
• Barry Walter Bujol, Jr. Barry Walter Bujol, Jr. (29), a native U.S. citizen and convert
to Islam, was arrested as he attempted to leave the United States to join al Qaeda in
Yemen. He had been under investigation for two years and was in contact with an
undercover agent he believed to be an al Qaeda operative.
• Samir Khan. In June 2010, the Yemen-based affiliate of al Qaeda began publishing
Inspire, a slick, English-language online magazine devoted to recruiting Western youth
to violent jihad. The man behind the new publication was Samir Khan (24), a Saudi-
born naturalized U.S. citizen who moved to the United States with his parents when
he was seven years old. He began his own journey to violent jihad when he was 15. He
reportedly left the United States in late 2009, resurfacing in Yemen in 2010.
• Rockwood’s Hitlist. Paul Rockwood (35), a U.S. citizen who served in the U.S. Navy
and converted to Islam while living in Alaska, was convicted in July 2010 for lying
to federal authorities about drawing up a list of 15 targets for assassination; they were
targeted because, in his view, they offended Islam. He was also accused of research-
ing how to build the explosive devices that would be used in the killings. His wife,
Nadia Rockwood (36), who has dual UK-U.S. citizenship, was convicted of lying to
• Zachary Chesser. Zachary Chesser (20), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was
arrested for supporting a terrorist group in July as he attempted to board an airplane to
fly to Somalia and join al-Shabaab. Chesser had earlier threatened the creators of the
television show South Park for insulting Islam in one of its episodes.
• Shaker Masri. A U.S. citizen by birth, Shaker Masri (26) was arrested in August 2010,
allegedly just before he planned to depart for Afghanistan to join al Qaeda or Somalia
to join al-Shabaab.
• Somali Recruiting Case III. As part of a continuing investigation of recruiting and
funding for al Qaeda ally al-Shabaab, the U.S. Department of Justice announced four
indictments charging 14 persons with providing money, personnel, and services to the
terrorist organization. In Minnesota, 10 men were charged with terrorism offenses for
leaving the United States to join al-Shabaab: Ahmed Ali Omar (27), a legal permanent
resident; Khalid Mohamud Abshir (27); Zakaria Maruf (31), a legal permanent resident;
Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan (22), a legal permanent resident; Mustafa Ali Salat (20), a
legal permanent resident; Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax (33), a U.S. citizen; and Abdiweli
Yassin Isse (26). Three were new on the list and had been the subject of previous indict-
ments: Abdikadir Ali Abdi (19), a U.S. citizen; Abdisalan Hussein Ali (21), a U.S. citi-
zen; and Farah Mohamed Beledi (26). A separate indictment named Amina Farah Ali
(33) and Hawo Mohamed Hassan (63), both naturalized U.S. citizens, for fundraising
on behalf of al-Shabaab. A fourth indictment charged Omar Shafik Hammami (26),
a U.S. citizen from Alabama, and Jehad Sherwan Mostafa (28) of San Diego, Califor-
nia, with providing material support to al-Shabaab. (Hammami’s involvement is listed
in this chronology under the year 2007, when he first left the United States to join
al-Shabaab; Mostafa is listed separately in the next entry.)
• Jehad Serwan Mostafa. In August 2010, Jehad Serwan Mostafa (28), a native U.S.
citizen, was indicted for allegedly joining al-Shabaab in Somalia. He reportedly left
the United States in December 2005 and was with al-Shabaab between March 2008
and June 2009.
• Abdel Hameed Shehadeh. Abdel Hameed Shehadeh (21), a U.S.-born citizen of Pal-
estinian origin, was arrested in October for traveling to Pakistan to join the Taliban
or another group to wage jihad against U.S. forces. Denied entry to Pakistan, then
Jordan, Shehadeh returned to the United States and subsequently attempted to join
the U.S. Army. He allegedly hoped to deploy to Iraq, where he planned to desert and
join the insurgents. When that did not work out, he tried again to leave the country
to join the Taliban.
• Farooque Ahmed. Farooque Ahmed (34), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was
arrested in October for allegedly plotting to bomb Metro stations in Washington, D.C.
FBI undercover agents learned of Ahmed’s intentions by posing as al Qaeda operatives.
• Shabaab Support Network in San Diego. Saeed Moalin (33), a naturalized U.S. cit-
izen from Somalia, Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud (38), born in Somalia, and Issa
Doreh (54), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, all residents of San Diego, were
arrested for allegedly providing material support to al-Shabaab. The investigation of
this network is continuing, and a fourth man from Southern California, Ahmed Nasir
Taalil Mohamud (35), was subsequently indicted.
• Al-Shabaab Fundraising II. In November, federal authorities arrested Mohamud
Abdi Yusuf (24), a St. Louis resident, and Abdi Mahdi Hussein (35) of Minneapolis,
both immigrants from Somalia. The two are accused of sending money to al-Shabaab
in Somalia. A third person, Duane Mohamed Diriye, believed to be in Africa, was also
• Nima Ali Yusuf. Nima Ali Yusuf (24), a legal permanent resident originally from Soma-
lia, was arrested in November for allegedly providing material support to a terrorist
group. She was accused of attempting to recruit fighters and raise funds for al-Shabaab.
• Mohamed Osman Mohamud. Mohamed Osman Mohamud (19), a naturalized U.S.
citizen originally from Somalia, was arrested in December for attempting to detonate
what he believed to be a truck bomb at an outdoor Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony
in Portland, Oregon. He reportedly had wanted to carry out some act of violent jihad
since the age of 15. His bomb was, in fact, an inert device given to him by the FBI,
which set up the sting after it became aware of his extremism through a tip and subse-
quent monitoring of his correspondence on the Internet.
• Antonio Martinez. Antonio Martinez (21), also known as Muhaamed Hussain, a nat-
uralized U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was arrested in December for allegedly plot-
ting to blow up the Armed Forces Career Center in Catonsville, Maryland. The car
bomb he used to carry out the attack was a fake device provided to him by the FBI,
which had been communicating with him for two months.
APPENDIX B: Research Materials
A prominent poster on the elite password-protected jihadi web site Shumukh has told fellow forum members his account on the site has been hacked to send spyware to fellow forum participants.
The user, who goes by the handle “Yaman Mukhadab,” posted on August 28 that “it seems that someone is using my account and is somehow sending messages with my name to the members,” according to Flashpoint Partners, which translated the discussion for Danger Room. Shumukh uses software from vBulletin, which allows members to send private messages to each other.
Mukhadab’s handiwork has attracted attention beyond the forum. He was one of the contributors to the site’s lame recent attempt at creating a fantasy target wishlist comprised of American security industry leaders, defense officials and other public figures.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, once again Wired got a little tidbit from Evan Kohlmann to keep his Flashpoint company relevant and in the news. Blah blah blah. Look, Adam is it? Yeah, Adam, there is much more that goes on on this site and the myriad others that Evan isn’t telling you. Sure, this guy Yaman got a little twitchy and he is right to be so lately. There has been A LOT of other things going on on both sides of the fence lately that ol’ Evan hasn’t let you in on, or more likely, has no clue of.
- There are hackers, both at the behest of the government and those not avowed going at these sites. Some are just knocking them down for periods of time (Jester etc) Some who are auditing the sites and actually interacting at times with the players after owning them, and SOME who are just hacking the shit out of the sites and wreaking havoc. The latter was seen back a month or two ago with the take down of Ansar. They just RM’d that sucker, but, the jihadi’s had a backup and they were online within days. (which you mentioned.. good)
- Most of these sites have sections where the the newbies are being taught hacking skills. Some of these tutorials are low level (like the lulz types we saw not too long ago *protect your MACIP’s) Others are quite well versed in hacking and have tutorials on the level of something to worry about. In fact, some of these sites contain the works of friends of mine in the security community that they have posted as research. Within these sections we have areas where the jihadi’s have an assortment of upload/download sites for malware (mostly these are older packages) but some of the newer posts have malware and creation kits that are up to today’s standards (which you failed to mention)
- The version of AQAP’s “Inspire you talk about was tampered with *cupcakes* as well as one version did in fact have a trojan. (which you failed to mention)
- The list of targets wasn’t so much lame as it was a new call to the “lone wolves” on these boards to act on it. There is a change in the way these guys are waging jihad that is not really covered by Evan and you. Did you know for instance that there is a Facebook Jihad (propaganda war) that is ongoing? As well as guys like Abu Hafs Al Suni Al Suni are advocating for a ‘stealth jihad’ ? Yeah, they are, and they have been busy trying to propagandise and get the word out to those lone nutjobs that might in fact try something like say, pick a name off of that ‘lame’ list as you called it. It wouldn’t be so lame after they actually whacked someone would it?
Sure, a good deal of this and the other jihobbyist sites are full of dreck, but, there are pockets of true believers, and your little piece in Wired downplays it all.
Also try this little Google Search for spyware posts on the board. They have been busy.
As a side note, the Jihadi’s also went further and opted to go after the MEMRI organization as well. In a later post by Yaman, they list out the leaders of the org as targets as well. What makes me wonder is which one of them has a log and pass for MEMRI (hint hint MEMRI check your logs)
All in all, another bang up job Wired… *sarcasm implied*
June 2010: AQAP’s Al Malahem Media debut jihadi magazine ‘Inspire’ came out to much ballyhoo in on the jihadi boards online. It soon though became a feared file as members who were downloading it were saying that it was corrupted with malware. I personally had gotten a copy of the tinkered with file as well as the full file after the jihadists had re-uploaded a clean copy. At the time, I figured that some state actor was messing with them and perhaps even had had an abortive effort to trojan the file with some 0day. I imagined that had it been carried off well, there could be an IP address somewhere alerting its owners on just how many compromised systems were reporting back as rooted.
… And I thought “Shit, now that would be great!”
Perhaps it was a little of both. As it happened, shortlybefore this a major jihadi site was yanked offline. In all over 100 terrorists were rolled up in Saudi Arabia after the site, which was run by the CIA and others, had decided it was time to collect their jihadi’s that they had been baiting along. Just goes to show ya mr shahid wanna be, that you may in fact be kanoodling online not with your pal the radical Imam, but instead you’re hanging with a Fed!
After the roll up of that site, another compromise happened to Al-Faloja. They too decided to shut down their site and re-tool after they learned that they had been spied on by certain individuals online. Of course their site was not so secure as I had pointed out in past posts, and someone finally just popped em. They came back though as have others like Ansar with varying degrees of success in securing their sites. They have been however, pretty cagey about certain things post these attacks.. But… Lately they have gotten lax again.
Ideally, I would like to see not only psyops carried out but also a full exploit series against the jihadi’s with 0day. Set up a server somewhere and let it recieve all the traffic after setting out some nice pdf files for them to all “read” All you really need is a little time gathering data to get a good idea of who and where they are, then roll em all up.
C’mon guys.. Lets start the 0day lulz.
Well, it finally happened. OBL is ostensibly dead, though we have no real proof of that for the masses to see, but we are being told as much and that there have been DNA matches made. As you are all being barraged with I am sure, the salient points of the operation are these:
- OBL was not in the kush, but instead in a populated area situated about an hour outside of Islamabad Pakistan
- The compound was built in 2005 and has been under surveillance for some time
- The compound was located in an area that was off limits to the reapers and other drones, thus they thought they were secure
- The compound was about half a mile away from the Pakistani military version of West Point
- The courier that OBL trusted most was the one who led us to him. He was in turn alleged to have been outed by KSM in Gitmo under “interrogation” as well as others in CIA ghost sites
- Once the CIA had the pseudonym it took about two years to actually get his real name and then to locate him
- Once we had a lock on enough data to place OBL there, the go code was given to neutralise OBL (he was not to be captured)
- SEAL Team SIX confiscated more than 3 computers from the premises and I am sure those have been sent already to the NSA for decrypt/forensics
- OBL’s body and any photos of it have been deep six’d so as not to give the jihadi’s anything to work with for Nasheeds and other propaganda
- It was old fashioned intelligence work and a SPECOPS team that eventually got him… Not just fancy drones and technology
All in all, Sunday was a good day for SPECOPS, the CIA, and the U.S. So, what does this mean though for the GWOT and for all of us now?
So far, I have seen very little chatter on the jihadi boards whatsoever. In fact, it has been downright quiet out there. I think there is a mix of disbelief and a bit of fear out there that is keeping them quiet. Just as there has been no body provided or photo’s thereof, they all must be waiting on an announcement from AQ as to the loss. However, I don’t expect that announcement to be soon. I am sure Ayman has been scuttled off somewhere ‘safe’ and the rest of the thought leadership (what’s left that is) is wondering just where to go from here.
Much of the inactivity on the part of AQ also likely is due to their loss of computers that likely held A LOT of data that were taken by the SEAL’s at exfiltration. I would assume that much of what was left of their internal network has been compromised by this loss and when the systems are cracked and examined, there will be more raids coming. So, they all are likely bugging out, changing identities if possible and burning the rest of the network to prevent blowback.
Frankly, this is a real death blow to AQ itself no matter how autonomous the network cells have become. Though, OBL had been less the public face of things for some time with Ayman taking up the face roll. Time will tell just what happens to the AQ zeitgeist in its original form, but I think I already know what has happened, and it has been going on for some time…
In the end, I don’t expect a real response from AQ proper and if anything, I expect a feeble one from Ayman in a few days. Remember, Ayman is not well liked within many jihadi circles, so the succession of AQ is likely to have Ayman try, but I think in the end fail to be the new OBL.
AQAP and Anwar al-Awlaki the new thought leaders:
Meanwhile, I believe this is the new AQ. AQAP has been developing a base that includes the whole Inspire Magazine machine. Anwar Al-Awlaki has been the titular head of jihadi thought for some time now, but with the demise of OBL and AQ proper, he will be the lightning rod I suspect. I think also that we will be hearing from him very soon and with that audio, no doubt released by Al-Malahem, he will take the spot that OBL and Ayman did. Whether that will be at the behest or acquiescence of Ayman or not I cannot be sure.
Awlaki is frankly, the charismatic Americanized version of OBL that will be able to and has been, moving the western takfiri’s to jihad with his fiery speeches. With his team of younger, hipper, and technically savvy, he will have a better chance of activating the youth movements and gaining the respect of the older set.
I frankly do not see any major attacks coming from AQ proper in the near future that would rival 9/11. However, I do see the potential for some attacks in Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iraq from operators using shahid attacks. I do believe though, that they will be working on larger scale attacks as they are patient and have a real desire now to avenge OBL.
Time will tell on this, but I do not think that operationally, AQ is in a position to really do anything of merit at this time. This is specifically so because OBL’s computers and data have been captured and as I said before, the networks are likely broken.
AQAP though, is an entity unto itself and I can see them putting together another parcel bomb plot pretty quickly. The last plot (the one with the toner cartridges) was put together in short order and had a very low cost, so I think if anyone, AQAP has a better chance of actuating a plan and carrying it off.
Of course, they may not succeed just like the last time. In some ways though, we got lucky on that one as the Saud’s got intel that they shared foiling the plot.
This is the one I think most viable and worry about. The disparate crazy loners who have self radicalized to jihad are the ones likely to do something bonkers. These guys may not have the training, may not have the infrastructure, but, they make up for it all in sheer whack nutty-ness.
The one thing about this is that I suspect that these folks will be the ones here in the states. So soft targets will be a premium (malls, games, etc)
The next week is going to be interesting. As time goes on, and the AQ networks begin to settle, then I am sure we will see some response from them. Meanwhile, I will continue to monitor the boards and see what’s what.
I do though want to recommend that you all out there keep your wits about you as you are out and about in soft targets like malls, games, and other gathering places. If anything, its that lone wolf actor who may try something and those would be targets they would choose for maximum effect.
More when I have it.
One of the Taliban’s most effective tools to persuade Afghans not to work with the U.S. or its allies is the night letter — a note warning people they’ll be targeted for death unless they change their infidel-loving ways. But that’s too analog. These days, the Taliban is mass texting gruesome videos to Afghans’ cellphones to spread the same message.
The insurgency’s media committee produces videos like this one — which we won’t embed — glorifying suicide bombers and posts them on Taliban websites like Shahamat.info and Alemarah-iea.net. Befitting the growing importance of social media to insurgents, Facebook pages purporting to be adjuncts of Taliban propaganda networks pop up to display the imagery, hoping to slip past Facebook’s usage police.
But to maximize the videos’ reach, insurgents send them out through SMS chains, until they eventually reach unsuspecting Afghans. It’s a quick way to take night-letter videos viral — and disguise the usage chain from its origin, preventing authorities from shutting down the distribution system.
The rest is at Wired
Since the communications infrastructure has been built up some more with the help of the likes of private contractors in Afghanistan, it is only natural that mass SMS barrages would be used by the Taliban. This is not a new thing though to the jihadis, they have been passing along shahid videos for some time on mobile phones via SMS. The twist here is now instead of passing along just propaganda, they are also sending threats. It would seem the Talib’s have been taking cues from the rest of the world on social media and its uses.
Of course, the original method of scaring people into submission, to me, seems to be much more visceral, the “night letter” This is where people tack up a letter to your door and bang on it, scaring the occupants, something akin to a jack booted Nazi door kick. Except in this case these guys run away instead of coming in and terrorizing everyone. It’s the Taliban version of leaving a dead rat tacked to the door.
On the other side of this though, I have to wonder about with all of the new infrastructure, there must be some potential to be tracking these SMS originators through their ESN’s right? Not all phones can be “burner” phones there in Afghanistan right? Even if they are, surely the cell towers can’t be that plentiful so as to make DF-ing them ponderous? If I were the anti terror forces, I would be heavily monitoring the comm’s anyway… So, keep on SMS-ing everyone Taliban! Soon the night letter will be coming to your flap.
Now that the file has been around a while, I have gotten around to reading all 61 pages of it and have the following analysis to blog about. After thinking about it a bit and doing some research from data culled from the file and the prose I have to say that yes, this is a slick attempt at recruitment for the teen-twenty somethings in the West. However, when I say slick, I only mean that it has some interesting graphics and methods to get kids to join their cause. On the whole though, it is an uneven piece of propaganda that does harbor some serious portents about things that I have mentioned here before.
- They are adopting espionage tradecraft
- They are splintering further down, advocating small independent action cells
- They are using encrypted communications and advocating for more secure operations online
- They have begun marketing to the “youth culture”
- That same “youth culture” that idealists inhabit includes the “green movement” arguments
- They have begun to adopt the more mainstream propaganda tools of major governments
I have to say, these guys are learning and they I swear that they have begun to read psyops texts as well as advertising age to get to where they think they need to be to win. This is something different, however, this is not as much of a threat to the nation as “they” would have you think it is per their posts and chatter after its release and subsequent hacking/infection by malware.
All they really need to do next is watch “Cool Hunters” on PBS and then apply some more of these tactics.. Then they could maybe sell.. Well, would any Western teen buy into the 72 virgins idea? I think not. So, they try to be slick and all Mad Men, but they fail because of what they are trying to sell…
Religious zealotry and a culture of loving death.
Which, I should think is quite the opposite of the Western mindset. Of course they are trying to get the whole “It’s an adventure” thing going with all the talk of going on site and fighting the good fight, but, it just will not ring true with the majority here in the US. Of course, there are always those who are willing to follow along. I think though, that most will have to be deranged or brain washed by the local Imam and cell mosque in order to really buy a ticket and bring a friend along for the ride. These folks also more than likely will be originally from other countries that they feel ties to which are re-enforced by this type of rhetoric.
So, here are some observations:
First article attempts to make a “green” argument for jihad and the removal of the US from the area. This is an alleged piece by OBL and claims that all of our problems with the world are oil based and this can be remedied by Jihad. In other words Allah will be loving it if you get the khafir out of the Muslim lands. Once that happens its all good.
This was quite interesting to see OBL getting all green. Somehow I doubt it was actually him doing the writing here. I just don’t see OBL wearing a Greenpeace shirt and protecting a baby harp seal.. Do you?
The articles vacillate between saying if you leave there will be peace to “all khafir must die” There are some wild mood swings in this pdf. Its almost like you were talking to someone under anger management therapy and you have to talk them off the ledge.
Mukhtar’s piece is oriented toward college age males with media board bandito imagery. He also advocates brining a friend and learning the language. This is the very “college” looking piece and is aimed at the twenty somethings. I would hazard a guess too, that the handwritten look is not just a type font, but in fact someone’s actual handwriting. Let the graphologists loose!
Abu Musab Al Suri’s piece advocates small cell/single jihadi terrorism. There is a long section of history and philosophy on their war thus far. They have learned that the agile force is the one that is hard to catch, hard to destroy, and has the most bang for their buck. Thus they are advocating making small bombs at home that could kill 10 people as a process to learning how to make bigger ones. All the while they are using guerrilla warfare tactics and philosophy to sell jihad everywhere. What it boils down to is this: Do this at home and breed fear. This is a dangerous idea because inevitably there will be people who buy into this. The bomb making section has been removed from the document for your and my protection.
Technologically, they are getting more savvy. The writers have given the would be jihadi’s pointers in internet security that include the use of encryption technologies (Al Majahden 2) which I have written about before and have a copy that has been pulled apart. They even go as far as to show how to authenticate that the program is official with hashing sigs. They also are advocating the use of proxies as well as being in internet cafes. Another surprise was a section on cell phone safety too AND the use of live distro’s on USB. It was inevitable as all this is out there on the hacking sites anyway.
In the final analysis, they also put in their pulic key as well as a series of emails to contact with with. Ironically, the actual posting o the pubkey gave me something to use in Maltego and it turned up some very interesting results! I will be chasing those down in the near future as well as more on the email addresses.
I wonder if there will be an issue #2….
I have to say though, that their market of young and impressionable individuals may be swayed by some of their arguments. They do lay them out logically (well their logic) and try to use the tools of the west on itself, but then you hit the sections of “kill all kafir!” and you have to go
“whoa, where was I?”
As a psy-op they have gotten off to an interesting start…
The full file sans bomb making plans can be downloaded HERE The sections omitted have graven images of Muhammad so YAY fatwa’s on me! Take a long swig of something and sit down to read the drivel.
In something of a warning to all wannabe online mujahedeen, a 20-year-old student from northern Virginia was arrested today on charges of providing material support to al-Shabaab, the al-Qaida-aligned Somali extremist group.
Zachary Adam Chesser is the guy’s given name. But he went by several others: Abu Talhah, Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee. But Chesser’s highest profile appears to be online, where his sobriquets included TeachLearnFightDie and AlQuranWaAlaHadith. He posted on an apparently defunct blog called Themujahidblog.com and Revolutionmuslim.com, according to the affidavit of FBI Special Agent Mary Brandt Kinder, and he threatened the lives of the South Park creators for their portrayal of the prophet Mohammed. Searches for his uploaded videos led to the discovery of him getting pwned by one of the Jawa Report guys.
Apparently Chesser intended to put his internet skills to use for the extremist militia. According to the affidavit, Chesser told Menges that al-Shebaab members told him to bring laptops to Somalia, so he could join their media unit, the apparent posting of choice for foreign fighters — much like the rapping Alabaman Omar Hammammi. He wrote a post in June on an unspecified online forum, according to the affidavit, expressing his intent to leave for Somalia and announcing he was “actually leaving for jihad.”
The guy wrote a fair amount online. A different post from January encouraged fellow takfiris to stay fit: “We have to go for jogs, do push-ups, learn firearms, and all kinds of things…. And, perhaps above all, we have to actually go and fight against the disbelievers.” This kind of stuff is increasingly prevalent in the English-language internet. Just last week, a Pennsylvania-based internet hosting service shut down its blogetery.com platform after federal law enforcement officials showed that more than 70,000 bloggers used it to push al-Qaeda propaganda into the cyber-ether.
But he might be part of a recent trend in low-wattage/high-bandwidth self-radicalization. “This case exposes the disturbing reality that extreme radicalization can happen anywhere, including Northern Virginia,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement. Especially with the aid of Wi-Fi.From Wired.com by By Spencer Ackerman
Ok, so there is so much wrong with this article that I just have to call it into question as to if the reporter actually did any kind of “reporting” here. I mean, sources and actual leg work looking into the terminology and technology perhaps? This just seems to me to be more of a poorly worded and thought out scareware piece than anything else there Spencer.
Lets pull it apart a bit…
“Tafkiris” the root of which is kufir or kafir, which means “impure” or those who are excommunicated from the Muslim faith. Uhh yeah, it would be helpful to show that this kid had even LESS of a clue what he was talking about here by pointing that one out Spencer.. IF that is, you had any clue what it meant. I am sure you thought perhaps it was another term for a jihadi or mujahideen.
No.. its not.
This kid had less of a clue than Spencer.. But that ain’t saying much. Lets show a little more of the subtlety here huh?
Just last week, a Pennsylvania-based internet hosting service shut down its blogetery.com platform after federal law enforcement officials showed that more than 70,000 bloggers used it to push al-Qaeda propaganda into the cyber-ether.
As I wrote about yesterday, the whole affair over the blogetery site was not so much the feds saying that there were 70K worth of users pushing jihadist data on there, but instead asked about a couple of their servers that had data on them. You see, as I had reported, the site was a file trading site primarily and it is likely that the jihadi’s just found it easy to put up the files there and leave links elsewhere as they do in many other cases.
I checked Google and only came up with one potential site that had connections to Iranian Muslim propaganda against the west so, I don’t think that this was another “mos eisley” on the internet here. Spencer, do a little research huh? Had this been so riddled with data and grave things indeed, then the Feds would have swooped down either with a warrant to seize the servers or, they would have quietly assumed control with the help of the burst folks to watch and collect data. It was in fact Burst that took the system down for fear of being nailed for copyright infringement as they had already been sniffed around on before.
But he might be part of a recent trend in low-wattage/high-bandwidth self-radicalization. “This case exposes the disturbing reality that extreme radicalization can happen anywhere, including Northern Virginia,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement. Especially with the aid of Wi-Fi.
WTF? WI-FI is the cause of rapid and widespread jihadi conversion? Spencer what the fuck is this crap being quoted without the benefit of calling the reasoning into question here?