English-Speaking Jihadis Lose Principal Propagandists

According to U.S. and Yemeni officials, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan have been killed in an airstrike. Awlaki was the spiritual leader of the English-speaking jihadi community and Samir Khan was its chief propagandist. Both men joined al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula over the past few years and have been responsible for producing al-Qaeda’s English-language magazine, Inspire. Awlaki also had an operational role directing AQAP’s external attacks and the current head of AQAP reportedly asked Bin Laden to make Awlaki the group’s leader. This is yet another major blow against al-Qaeda and seriously damages its ability to recruit and attack in the West. The open source case for Awlaki’s role as head of foreign ops and the case against. The impact of Awlaki’s death. Big Deal (here, here, here, here, here, and here). No big deal (here, here, here, and here). Counterproductive (here). Mix of all three (here). The legal case for killing Awlaki (here, here, here, and here). Case against

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Decade of Fear

As is the case for many others, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has made me reflect on their impact over the past decade. To this end, Michelle Shephard‘s Decade of Fear has been indispensable. A very personal account of her journalistic efforts to chronicle the war on terrorism over the past decade, Michelle weaves the weft of her narrative over the warp of New York just after 9/11; Somalia after the rise of the Islamic Courts Union and, later, the emergence of al-Shabab; Pakistan after the rebound of the Taliban and al-Qaeda; and Yemen at the formation of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the retreat of President Saleh. Michelle’s account puts a human face on the knotty legal, ethical, and political problems the United States and its allies have grappled with as they tried to stop al-Qaeda and its supporters: torture for information, overthrowing stable governments who might align with

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Defending Failure in Gaza (Part 2)

As we saw in the previous installment of this short series on jihadis in the Gaza Strip, the leader of the Jama’at al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad, Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi, was pretty defensive about his organization’s actions in his answers to questions from visitors of the Shumukh al-Islam forum. The rest of his answers indicate that the group may have grandiose plans and plenty of enemies against whom these may be applied but that in the end they are not really capable of living up to their own rhetoric. Interestingly, one of the things Abu al-Walid mentions as – unfortunately – being an impossibility is expanding his activities to the Sinai desert in order to give his organization more strategic depth. This is the case because of “the heavy security oppression on everyone who is thought to have even the slightest link to Jihadi-Salafism” (question no. 16). Recent attacks on Israel possibly coming

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