A Note on Air France Flight 447

People are now speculating that the tragic Air France Flight 447 accident may have been a terrorist incident. French authorities say two names on the passenger list match those of known al-Qaida affiliates, and intelligence agents are in Brazil to find out more. (see also here, here and here). I have looked around on the forums for claims of responsibility, but I couldn’t find anything. On the contrary, the few posts devoted to the issue suggest the grassroot jihadis themselves doubt an al-Qaida connection. In one discussion on Faloja, most of the seventeen contributors were skeptical. Some suggested the rumours were a ploy to tarnish the image of Muslims, or a way to draw attention away from technical problems that would affect Air France’s reputation. Several considered it a plot by the Zionist French press. It is obviously too early to exclude terrorism, but in the absence of a claim

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“Fatah al-Islam between Asad al-Jihad2 and al-Maqdisi”

A post by an unknown author titled, “Fatah al-Islam between Asad al-Jihad2 and al-Maqdisi / Lessons and Considerations,” has been making its rounds through the various forums. The author offered a scathing critique of Fatah al-Islam (FI) and of recent comments by FI’s Sharia Officer, Abu Abdallah al-Maqdisi (not to be confused with the Jordanian ideologue Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi). Using statements from Asad al-Jihad2 (AJ2), who is a possible al-Qaida (AQ) leader, the author argued that FI’s leadership lacked clarity in its mission and was too afraid to attack Israel. In considering al-Maqdisi’s statements, the author concluded that al-Maqdisi: Is not in Lebanon Is not aware of the complex relationship between the Lebanese and the Palestinian refugees living in the camps Is not aware of the “sectarian balances” in Lebanon Is not aware of the extent of Hezbollah’s state building in Lebanon He also criticized FI for not having Lebanese

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Jihadi reactions to Obama

We have heard Bin Ladin and Zawahiri’s comments, and Marc Lynch and others will tell us how the Arab mainstream reacted. But what are the grassroot jihadis saying about Obama’s Mideast tour in general and his Cairo speech in particular? Let me begin by lowering your expectations. For a start, we should not expect to see any positive reactions to Obama’s initiative, for anybody thus inclined would not be on the forums in the first place. Second, there is no tradition among jihadi strategists or pundits for parsing presidential speeches. They might pick up on a phrase (like Bush’s reference to a “crusade”) and use it for their own purposes. But generally these guys don’t listen to what America says – they watch what she does. I should also add that Faloja, the main jihadi forum, has been down since this morning (as has Shuraa), so our ability to gage

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Bin Ladin in Trouble?

This morning al-Jazeera aired segments of a Bin Ladin audiotape which most international media are reading in the context of Obama’s Middle East tour, which started today. This is despite the fact that the statement seems to say nothing at all about the President’s tour, but talks instead about the Swat campaign in Pakistan. Bin Ladin argues the hostilities in Swat have caused immense civilian suffering for which the United States is ultimately responsible. The message is essentially that Swat shows that Obama is no better than Bush. For once, however, the most interesting aspect about the statement is not what it says, but how it surfaced. While most statements by AQ Central in recent years have been posted directly on the Internet, this one was distributed “the old way”, in a physical copy delivered by courier to al-Jazeera. As of 2pm EST, the statement has not yet appeared on

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