Lesson From Kismayo

(Editor’s note: This post is the last from our guest blogger Jean-Pierre Filiu this time around. He might be back later in the year with occasional articles, but he is now leaving the stage for our next guest. Please join me in thanking Jean-Pierre warmly for his excellent contributions. And if you read French, buy his latest book, which is now out.) A few days after they emphatically pledged allegiance to Usama Bin Laden, the Somalian Shabab clashed with their jihadi allies from Hizbul Islam in the Southern city of Kismayo. The rebel factions control the port city since August 2008 and were supposedly united in their common fight against the Mogadishu-based Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the African Union peacekeepers. The rift erupted on October 1, when the Shabab started taking over Kismayo port from Hizbul Islam, especially one of its components, the Ras Kamboni brigade. Despite mediation meetings

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Will AQIM Aim North or South?

It appears that this year’s Ramadan was one of the least violent in the nearly two decades of jihadi activism in Algeria. While this period is hailed by militants and their leaders as the most propitious one for jihadi attacks, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was not able to wage a major operation. The threat is still vibrant in the organization’s mountainous strongholds east of Algiers, but AQIM’s ability to strike the capital has been significantly reduced. (By contrast, the relative calm of Ramadan in 2007 was followed by the combined suicide attack against the UN headquarters and the Constitutional Court in Algiers, on December 11). This evolution fits the general trend, documented by Hanna Rogan (see also Thomas’s post on April 3), about the decreasing violent record of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), the Algerian jihadi organization that turned into AQIM in January 2007. Going

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Eid News from the Shabab

The Somali Shabab al-Mujahidin just released its “Eid gift” to all Muslims: a video dedicated and pledging allegiance to Usama Bin Laden. (The video is also on youtube). The production is subtitled in English and features the now famous Abu Mansour al-Amriki. One of the targeted audiences is obviously the English-speaking one, which makes sense now that the number of Somali-Americans killed fighting for the Shabab has reached six. But the main message is the commitment to al-Qaida’s global jihad, which  is not new in essence, but was never previously expressed with such emphasis. My initial analysis is that the Shabab, despite its conspicuous allegiance to Al-Qaida’s emir, is meeting the latter halfway, while echoing his harsh attack, last March, against the Somali president. The release of the video may also be an effort to counter the negative impact of the killing of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan on 14 September

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So we all managed to survive a new celebration of 9/11. But why should Al-Qaida commemorate 9/11 in the first place? I am not referring to the heavy debates that raged among its leadership about the strategic relevance of striking US territory and that Vahid Brown documented in his landmark study Cracks in the foundation. I am talking about the very un-Islamic way Bin Laden’s network focuses on the number 11 and sticks to the Gregorian calendar. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon opened a series of Al-Qaida suicide bombings on the eleventh day of a Christian month: in April 2002, against the Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba; five years later, in April 2007, against the government palace and two security stations in Algiers; in December 2007, again in Algiers, this time against the Constitutional court and the UN headquarters. And Fernando Reinares

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Zawahiri, France and Napoleon

Allow me to briefly go back to the last Zawahiri interview, put on-line through Sahab media on 5 August 2009. To my knowledge, this is the first time Bin Laden’s deputy has expressed such articulate hatred for France: “France claims secularism, while her heart pours grudge towards Islam. Napoleon Bonaparte announced his famous statement to the Jews in 1799 in Akka, in which he promised to support the Jews in stealing Palestine. France is the one whose soldiers went with their horses into al-Azhar University and stood on its Qur’anic Books, and they took it as a stable to their horses. France is the one who fought Islam and Arabs in Algeria, and France is the one who supplied Israel with a nuclear reactor, and France fights Muslims in Afghanistan, and France fights hijab, and France will pay for all her crimes”. Zawahiri has long be known for his French-bashing.

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