The Post Bin-Laden World
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.