Issue 27 of Sada al-Jihad (The Echo of Jihad) is also out. SJ is produced by the Global Islamic Media Front. A few articles look interesting: “Al-Qaeda Is a Stone’s Throw From Palestine,” “Apostates Are More Dangerous Than the Enemy,” and “Interrogation (Methods and Phases).”
Finally, the Ansar Media Institute published issue 50 of Hassad* al-Mujahidin (Harvester of the Mujahids). The periodical focuses mainly on Iraq and most of this issue is about various attacks and prison breaks. There is one article worth noting: “The Camera: A Weapon Without Bullets.”
* Note: Hisad (“harvest”) seems to make more sense than Hassad (“harvester”) for the title, but that’s how the .pdf file is vocalized, so I’m going with it.
Document (Arabic): 7-13-08-ekhlaas-issue-4-of-sada-al-malahim
Document (Arabic): 7-10-08-ekhlaas-issue-27-of-sada-al-jihad
Document (Arabic): 7-14-08-ekhlaas-issue-50-of-hassad-al-mujahidin
Today we continue our look at a Kuwaiti cell and how its members transitioned from forum fighters to foreign fighters.
When we left off, Badr al-Harbi and Bawasil had returned to Kuwait from the front in Afghanistan via Iran, entrusted with a special mission by Abu al-Layth al-Libi, a senior al-Qaeda leader. They were delayed in carrying out their task by Iranian, and then Kuwaiti, security forces. The latter, according to al-Furqan al-Junubi’s account, had tortured them and confiscated their passports.
After being released, Harbi and Bawasil stayed in Kuwait a full year to complete their special mission: gathering money, clothes, and food for the Jihadis in Afghanistan. In this, they relied on their network of friends, many of whom were already committed to the cause. Yet Harbi and Bawasil’s efforts aroused the suspicions of other Jihadis, who wrote the brothers in Afghanistan and told them that they were spies. They even made films that portrayed Harbi and Bawasil in a negative light.
Upon completing their task, Harbi and Bawasil wanted to return to the front in Afghanistan, but their passports had been confiscated. Nevertheless, they were both able to get new passports. Harbi and Bawasil then went with their families to Mecca and returned without incident.
After returning to Kuwait, Harbi and Bawasil asked the Jihadis in Afghanistan about the route to the front. The Jihadis told them that it was “broken,” but this, al-Furqan al-Junubi comments, was only because they had believed the bad rumors that had been spread about Harbi and Bawasil.
Harbi suggested the two travel to Iraq instead, but he was hesitant to go because he was not sure he would be guaranteed a martyrdom operation. Harbi and Bawasil soon met a coordinator and obtained a guarantee of safe passage from him, but they did not end up using him.
At this time, Harbi decided he wanted to marry for the second time, but wasn’t sure it was right to do so as a mujahid. Bawasil assured him it was, and so he did.
One month after Harbi’s marriage, a message came from Abu al-Layth al-Libi vouching for the integrity of Harbi and Bawasil. This meant the two could now travel to Afghanistan. But personal circumstances prevented Harbi from traveling to Afghanistan with Bawasil, who was anxious to leave because the government was pursuing him.
Bawasil first went to the United Arab Emirates with one of his close cousins (on his mother’s side). The Jihadis (it is unclear if they were in the Emirates or Afghanistan) told Bawasil that they only wanted him and not his cousin, so the latter returned to Kuwait.
Bawasil had to wait four days in the airport because of snow in Iran (indicating that Iran again served as his transit point for Afghanistan). Bawasil succeeded in finding the brothers (presumably in Iran) and soon found a coordinator, but they had stopped using the old route.
Harbi waited four months to find new way to Afghanistan, but failed. It was around this time that Harbi met a Jihadi from Algeria who told him how to go to Iraq.
(To be continued….)
- Al-Qaeda Leadership – Abu al-Layth al-Libi personally requested Harbi and Bawasil to gather funds and supplies for the Jihadis in Afghanistan. He also personally intervened in the rumor campaign against them.
- Support Networks – The way Harbi and Bawasil went about accomplishing their task for Libi is instructive. Like Tupperware salespeople, they relied on their personal network of friends rather than reach out to anonymous donors. But this did not protect them from allegations of spying, a consequence of their mission’s secrecy. (This is a constant problem for clandestine terrorist groups–see Jake Shapiro’s work in this regard.) On another subject, Bawasil tried to bring his close cousin to Afghanistan, reinforcing the idea that friends and family of dedicated militants are more likely than others to be involved in the Jihadi Movement.
- Security Lapse – The Kuwaiti government was monitoring the two militants, as indicated by Bawasil’s eagerness to escape their scrutiny. So how in the world did they regain their passports?
- Transit – As in part 2, Iran is mentioned as a transit point to Afghanistan. But this time we have the added transit point of the UAE. Moreover, travel coordinators are twice mentioned, once with regard to Afghanistan, the other with regard to Iraq.
- Family Life – Even though Harbi knows he will die as a martyrdom operative, he still wants to marry a second wife.
As I said last post, none of this is a big revelation (with the exception of Iran). But it really adds texture to the recent abstract debates about terror networks and helps to weigh their relative merits.
The title of al-Faruq al-`Iraqi’s post on Ekhlaas is more exciting than the content. Faruq, like countless corporate PR offices, has discovered that Wikipedia entries can be edited by users (although it seems much easier to do on Arabic Wikipedia). As proof, he points readers to his addition of two sections (“supervisory positions” and “the stance of the leaders of jihad toward him”) at the end of the Arabic entry on Abu `Umar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq.
Faruq appeals to his comrades to start editing the profiles of prominent Jihadi leaders on Wikipedia “since many people refer to this site to obtain information on a specific person.”
Document (Arabic): 6-29-08-ekhlaas-how-to-raid-wikipedia
On the Firdaws forum yesterday, a member posted a message informing fellow Firdawsians that one of their own, asdasd99, had joined the caravan of jihad in Afghanistan.
Asdasd99, who also goes by al-Miskin al-Muhajir (The Lowly Emigrant) on the Ekhlaas forum, had tried to go to Iraq a month ago with a group from Kuwait that I’ll be profiling this week. However, unnamed “personal circumstances” kept him from going. Looks like he resolved them.
Document (Arabic): 6-29-08-firdaws-member-of-ekhlaas-and-firdaws-joins-jihad-in-afghanistan
Clint Watts of PJ Sage has released part two of his study of the foreign fighter data from Sinjar, Iraq. The CTC at West Point was the initial conduit for the data and they wrote a useful accompanying report. Clint has gone further by recoding the data (all of which he makes freely available on his site). His new look at the numbers led him to some important findings, including:
- Al-Qaeda does little of its own top-down recruitment in Middle Eastern and North African countries.
- The Internet plays a limited role in radicalizing, recruiting, and coordinating young men in many Middle Eastern and North African countries.
- Returning veteran fighters play a crucial role in radicalizing, recruiting, and coordinating young men to fight in foreign countries.
- A handful of cities (what he calls “flashpoint cities”) produce a disproportionate number of foreign fighters.
Based on Clint’s findings in part two of his study, he counsels the following:
- Focus less attention on the Internet in the Middle East and North Africa and more on local social networks, especially in the flashpoint cities.
- Put greater effort into tracking foreign fighters leaving Iraq and Afghanistan.
Just in time for Craig Whitlock’s helpful survey of Jihadi internet propaganda, Ekhlaas member Usud al-Tawhid (Lions of Monotheism) has posted a message about the Islamic State of Iraq’s method of media distribution. The message is by an Abu al-Zarqa’ al-`Iraqi, who claims to be a member of the ISI.
AZ warns forum members not to post media material from Iraq outside of official channels online. He relates that he once made this mistake when he published clips of an attack carried out by a certain “Dr. Fathi” (probably alluding to this). AZ’s action angered people in the ISI’s Media Ministry and resulted in AZ and another brother being hauled before a Sharia tribunal.
A brother informed AZ that Furqan is the only entity that can publish media material for the ISI. By this, AZ says, the brother meant that members of the ISI’s Media Ministry in al-Furqan were the only people allowed to upload material to the internet and send it to al-Fajr Media Center for distribution.
AZ explains to the brothers that there are several good reasons why the members of Furqan only want to publish media material through official channels:
- They do not want to cause hardship for their videographers and those who expose themselves to danger. (Presumably, he means that publishing material through unofficial channels increases the security risks.)
- They do not want to make things hard for people in the Media Ministry or Furqan.
- When material is published unofficially, the infidels think that their efforts are succeeding and that the information specialists are not able to publish material on the Internet because of security constraints. This, AZ says, is a very important point. Publishing through official channels demoralizes the infidels because it demonstrates that their plan isn’t working and that mujahids are still able to communicate.
- (Basically the same as point #3).
- The videographers capture an operation and give it to the brothers who clip the important material. Then the material goes to brothers who produce a product. Then the product goes to the Media Ministry and through it to the Fajr Center to determine the right time for publication.
After going through the benefits of posting ISI material through official channels, AZ attaches a letter that explains how to post ISI material when you don’t know how to contact the ISI: Compress the material, password protect it with with a number, and save it to one of the online file sharing sites. Then contact the administrators of Ekhlaas, Boraq, Hesbah, or Firdaws and give them the link. The administrators will send the material to Fajr, and Fajr will determine the right time to publish it.
Download (Arabic): 6-24-08-ekhlaas-isi-media-distribution
On May 10, Ekhlaas member Muhibb al-Amir al-Baghdidi (Fan of Commander Baghdadi) posted a letter he received from a certain Abu Hurayra. Muhibb claims that Abu Hurayra is “one of the soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq.” Here’s the letter:
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
My dear brother, precious to my heart.
We ask God to reward you well on our behalf.
My dear brother, I have approached the zero hour, as they say, for the decisive battle, as they call it. God willing, it will prove decisive for the Muslims through the aid of God and His assistance.
My dear brother, I have resolved to participate in this battle, but I am participating as a journalist or photographer.
But my inner being is a fighter in the path of God against the infidels and the apostates.
My brother, I swear I have a strong feeling that God will grant me martyrdom.
On account of this, I want to say goodbye today in the hope of meeting in the abode of eternity in Paradise.
My dear brother, I hope you will forgive me if I have harmed you in any way.
Pray that I am granted steadfastness, victory, and martyrdom.
Your brother in God,
Muhibb ends his quotation of the letter by praying for victory in Mosul, so presumably that’s where Abu Hurayra plans to die. As for being a photographer or journalist, I think Abu Hurayra means his primary task is media operations (e.g. shooting snuff films).
Document (Arabic): 5-10-08-ekhlaas-letter-from-iraqi-jihadi