Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Many authors have tried to fill in the gaps in the historical account of how al-Qa’ida’s central leadership came to reside in Jalalabad for part of 1996, with mixed results. Yunus Khalis has become a fixture in these narratives largely because he was the best known person that Bin Laden interacted with in the summer [...]

Western authors commenting on various mujahidin leaders involved with Usama bin Laden often seem to go out of their way to make the individuals in question seem extra villainous. This has been especially clear in the case of Yunus Khalis. In English works on al-Qa’ida, we learn little about Khalis except that he a) helped [...]

In an official statement issued yesterday, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) officially claimed Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) as its own product and subsidiary. The audio message from ISI’s emir, Abu Bakr al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi, confirmed once and for all JN’s status as an al-Qaeda offshoot established by ISI—a link JN leaders have long [...]

Ansar al-Din was created in November 2011 by Iyad Ag Ghali, a legendary Tuareg powerbroker in northern Mali who led two rebellions against the Malian government in the 1990′s and in 2006. According to journalistic accounts as well as scholarly writing, Ag Ghali grew increasingly religious and joined the Tablighi Jamaat, the Pakistani Islamic missionary organization known [...]

Much of the secondary literature in the West depicts Professor Ghulam Niazi as the progenitor of the mujahidin movement in Afghanistan in the 1960s. For a variety of reasons this contradicts primary sources that focus more on the various resistance efforts elsewhere in Afghanistan during this period. Of course, the primary sources are also influenced [...]

US Embassy Protests

Posted: 14th September 2012 by Will McCants in Uncategorized

Update 9/21/2012: Here’s a Foreign Affairs essay I wrote about the roll of Salafis in the riots. Below are some thoughts I shared with a friend this morning who asked about the protests. I had to edit one pretty heavily in light of the events of the past few hours, and I’m sure I’ll have [...]

Several months ago, President Obama signed an executive order establishing an interagency center to coordinate the US government’s public messages against terrorist organizations. A major component of this Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was in the news lately for its clever campaign against AQAP on Yemeni tribal forums. Because the center is new, most people [...]

Well, perhaps not quite. Nevertheless, readers of Jihadica will be interested to know that my book on Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, one of the most prominent jihadi ideologues alive, was recently published by Cambridge University Press. Maybe the book doesn’t tell you everything you want to know about the man, his ideas and his influence, but [...]

On Elephants and Al-Qaeda’s Moderation

Posted: 8th June 2012 by Will McCants in Uncategorized

Over the past several days, Leah Farrall and I have been debating on Twitter about her recent blog post on the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi by a US drone. In her post, Leah argues that the US policy of killing senior al-Qaeda Central leaders is wrongheaded because those leaders are “a moderating force within [...]

Shumukh Forum Reacts to Abbottabad Docs

Posted: 5th May 2012 by Will McCants in Uncategorized

The al-Qaeda supporters on the Shumukh forum have mixed reactions to the Abbottabad documents released by the CTC. Here’s a summary of the main thread (159824) that discusses the documents: These documents are not real. They are designed to sow discord among jihadis and create tension b/n al-Qaeda and the online jihadi forums. The documents are [...]