ji·had·ica

al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula
Tore Hamming

‘O Mujahideen in the West’: Interview with Hurras al-Tawheed

Within Jihadi propaganda, terrorism in the West against ‘the crusaders’ or ‘the infidels’ features prominently. The AQAP-produced magazine Inspire specialized in calling for action and advising al-Qaida supporters on how to attack in addition to providing religious justification. The latest issue of Inspire was published in summer 2017, and since then a string of new magazines and supporter organizations calling for terrorist attacks has emerged. One such example is the Wolves of Manhattan magazine that has so far published three issues.  In February 2022, another new magazine started to be shared on encrypted platforms carrying the title ‘O Mujahideen in the West’. Until now, the group behind the magazine, Hurras al-Tawheed, has published six issues and a Ramadan special issue. Initially, the magazine did not stand out for its calls for jihad in the West. What really caught my attention was how it positioned itself within the Jihadi current and its way of communicating.

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Battlefield Yemen: The Islamic State’s Challenge to AQAP

Since the caliphate declaration of late June 2014, Yemen has emerged a key battleground in the intra-jihadi struggle pitting the Islamic State against al-Qaeda. The country hosts what is arguably al-Qaeda’s most prestigious affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But as far as the Islamic State is concerned, that organization ceased to exist when the caliphate was declared. Thereafter all jihadi groups were expected to dissolve themselves and incorporate within the all-supreme caliphate. Preemptive bay‘a In mid-November, the Islamic State, driving home this point, officially declared its “expansion” to Yemen, among other target countries, proclaiming “the dissolution of the names of the groups in them and declaring them to be new provinces of the Islamic State.” A series of bay‘as— statements of allegiance to Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—were issued simultaneously on November 10 from Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria. Three days later, Baghdadi “accepted” the pledges, conferring on

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Death from Above: Jihadist Virtual Networks Respond to Drone Strikes in Yemen

Following the recent airstrikes carried out against a convoy targeting al-Qaeda fighters in remote training camps in southern Yemen, Ali Fisher and Nico Prucha examine  how the tales of drone strikes and civilian suffering claimed to be the result have become a frequent narrative for jihadi statements, videos and on forums. Analyzing the way word of the strikes and announcements of the martyrs spread via Twitter we find that jihadist groups are using the impact of drone strikes to strengthen the cohesion of remaining fighters, celebrate the martyrs, and attempt to derive sympathy from a wider audience. While the conversation, denoted by the Arabic hash tag for “martyrs of the American strike in Yemen” #شهداء_القصف_الأمريكي_باليمن)) was short-lived and quickly reached its peak when the majority of the martyrs had been announced. However, we also find that while a division between pro-ISIS and pro-AQ users can be identified, there is a

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Jihadism’s Widening Internal Divide: Intellectual Infighting Heats Up

Last year witnessed the outbreak of a major feud between two of the most prominent and active ideologues in the jihadi movement: the Syrian Abu Basir al-Tartusi and the Mauritanian Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti. As Joas Wagemakers wrote in June and July of last year, the quarrel emerged in May 2012 following two perceived provocations by Abu Basir. First came the Syrian’s statements praising the generally secular Free Syrian Army (FSA) and criticizing the radical jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusrah; second was his critical letter to the Yemeni jihadi group Ansar al-Shari‘ah. Al-Shinqiti followed with a furious—and ceaseless—campaign of repudiation. Since last May the context of this dispute has changed significantly. Abu Basir has abandoned his London refuge, where he had lived for more than a decade, for the battlefields of northern Syria. Meanwhile, Jabhat al-Nusrah no longer enjoys a monopoly on Syrian Islamic militancy, as a large number of groups has

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Al-Qaida Advises the Arab Spring: Yemen

Uh-oh. Several jihadi scholars are engaged in some ideological infighting again and it’s not pretty. As long-time readers of Jihadica know only too well, several jihadi ideologues have participated in quite heated debates about jihad, violence and suicide bombings with the people who are supposedly their brothers in arms. The best-known among these are the accusations between Sayyid Imam and Ayman al-Zawahiri (see here for the first installment of Will’s series of posts on this subject, for example) and the conflict between Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and the supporters of his former pupil Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi (see here, for instance). This time, it’s the Syrian-British shaykh Abu Basir al-Tartusi who starts this discussion by criticising the Yemeni militant group Ansar al-Shari’a, which is responsible for several major attacks in Yemen in the past months and is said to have strong ties to al-Qaida. This discussion does not just tell us something

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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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Al-Qaeda Is Making a Cartoon

According to a member of the Shmukh jihadi forum, the media wing of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is making a cartoon. I haven’t seen anything like this before and I am very skeptical that it is a real product. But if it’s legit and anywhere near like the purported screen shots and promotional banner below, it would indicate that AQAP is becoming even more sophisticated in its efforts to reach out to youth. Now they just need some action figures. (If this is old hat or a rip-off of some other cartoon, please let me know and I’ll update the post.) Update: Adam Rawnsley at Danger Room has dug deeper. His references to the Super Friends and Thundercats clinch his credibility. Update2: Yammani, the Shmukh user who posted the pics, provides an update today.  He explains that the film is in the final stages and the “brothers” asked him

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The Case for Chasing al-Awlaqi

I don’t often disagree with my friend and former colleague Greg Johnsen, but I think al-Awlaqi is more important than he suggests. In a new piece on ForeignPolicy.com, I explain why.

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Un-Inspired

International media have been in a frenzy recently over the publication of an English-language jihadi magazine entitled Inspire. The magazine – available here (beware of possible virus) – appears to be the work of the Yemen-based group al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The magazine features the logo of the “al-Malahim foundation”, AQAP’s media arm, and contains articles by and about AQAP members such as Anwar al-Awlaqi and Nasir al-Wahayshi. Unfortunately, only 3 of the 67 pages are legible, as the PDF seems to be corrupt. The coverage has been followed by extensive blogospheric speculation about the document’s significance. Rarely have I seen so much fuss over such an insignificant event. The hulabaloo says a lot more about Western media than about al-Qaida. Specifically it reveals a level of ignorance about the world of jihadi propaganda that I find very disappointing nine years after 9/11. For one, Inspire is not –

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