Holiday Reading

Two pieces of advice for those of you wondering what to read over the Christmas break: First, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has released its long-awaited report on ideological divisions in the jihadi movement. I had the great pleasure of reading it in advance as an external reviewer, and all I need to say is that it is destined to become a classic in the field of jihadism studies. Second, Aaron Zelin has posted very useful lists of important books, articles and reports (part 1, 2, 3, 4) on jihadism published in 2010. I had missed some of the items myself, so I am grateful to Aaron for compiling them.

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Stockholm Limbo

We seem to be in limbo as far as the Stockholm investigation is concerned. Swedish and British authorities have not yet revealed any major new insights from their respective investigations. I haven’t seen any vital new documents on the jihadi forums either. However, there are several good analyses and some new information in the blogosphere, notably from Aaron, ICT, Gudmundsson, Michael Scheuer and Mary Habeck.

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The Iraq Connection

A key question in the Stockholm investigation is whether Taymour Abdalwahhab was acting on behalf of the al-Qaida linked group “Islamic State in Iraq”. The question matters because if he was, then ISI is targeting Europe and can be expected to send more bombers. First, let me stress that “acting on behalf of” means someting more than simply “training with”. Given Taymour’s Iraqi background, his recent trips to Jordan (and possibly Syria), and his own claim of having been to the Middle East for jihad, we can pretty much assume that he trained with Islamist militants in Iraq. What we are trying to find out is whether he was dispatched by ISI – i.e. whether the plot was initiated, directed and resourced by senior ISI operatives – or whether he simply attended a camp and then acted independently, in a manner comparable to Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. There is some concrete evidence in favour of Taimour having a close ISI

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Stockholm (2)

Forum readers woke up this morning to find Taimour’s picture on the top banner of Shumukh (the main jihadi forum). The banner advertises a poem by a certain “Sha’ir al-Ansar” (Poet of the Ansar) praising Taimour Abdalwahab. At first sight this might seem like the work of an accomplice, but the poet explicitly states that he did not know Taimour personally. More interesting is the posting of a new audio message by a certain Abu Sulayman al-Nasir titled “Warning to NATO Countries Following the Stockholm Raid.” The message echoes an earlier statement by the same person issued on 20 November. What’s interesting here is not so much the messages as the messenger, because Abu Sulayman al-Nasir is the same person who first mentioned Taimour Abdulwahhab’s name on Shumukh. This obviously raises the possibility that he has some connection to the Stockholm attack. The problem is that the earliest public reference to Taimour’s name was made on 11 December at

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Scandinavia witnessed its first suicide bombing yesterday when a man blew himself up in Stockholm, killing nobody but himself. There is an excellent roundup here (Swedish only, i am afraid).  Key information points: The bomber has been identified as Taimour Abdalwahhab al-Abdaly, a 28-year old man of Iraqi origin who moved to Sweden in 1992. He leaves a wife and three children. See here and here for profiles. The bomber sent an audio statement to a Swedish news agency shortly before the blast. The recording is available here. In the statement the bomber says he recently traveled to the Middle East “for jihad”. His Facebook page reportedly contained recent pictures of him in Jordan. The bomber lived for a while in Luton, UK, a city with a well known community of radical Islamists. The bomber’s facebook page reportedly carried gradually more jihadi videos starting in the spring of 2010 A Swedish explosives expert who examined pictures from the scene described the bomb as amateurish. The jihadi internet forum

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