A Note on Air France Flight 447

People are now speculating that the tragic Air France Flight 447 accident may have been a terrorist incident. French authorities say two names on the passenger list match those of known al-Qaida affiliates, and intelligence agents are in Brazil to find out more. (see also here, here and here). I have looked around on the forums for claims of responsibility, but I couldn’t find anything. On the contrary, the few posts devoted to the issue suggest the grassroot jihadis themselves doubt an al-Qaida connection. In one discussion on Faloja, most of the seventeen contributors were skeptical. Some suggested the rumours were a ploy to tarnish the image of Muslims, or a way to draw attention away from technical problems that would affect Air France’s reputation. Several considered it a plot by the Zionist French press. It is obviously too early to exclude terrorism, but in the absence of a claim

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Jihadi Reactions to the Torture Memos

I found the jihadi reactions – or lack thereof – to the release of the CIA torture memos intriguing. You can read my take on this in Foreign Policy Magazine‘s Argument section.  The bottom line is this: the damage caused by Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib is irreparable and the end of U.S. torture will not in itself make the United States safer from this generation of jihadists. Update (6 May): The jihadis have not been completely silent on the torture memos. Brynjar and Christopher A. drew my attention to a couple of postings on Faloja (English) from last week and the week before. Document: 04-24-09-faloja-handbook-of-torture  Document: 05-01-09-faloja-polish-torture-prison

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Pathetic Psy-ops

The British tabloid The Sun reported yesterday that al-Qaeda leaders rape male recruits to shame them into becoming suicide bombers. Let me start by congratulating the journalist on being able to fit the four words “al-Qaida”, “gay”, “rape” and “horror” in one and the same headline in the world’s largest English-language newspaper. I would not normally bother with this kind of nonsense were it not for the fact that it sheds light on the recent reports about AQIM’s alleged plague experiments, covered previously on Jihadica. Both stories were broken in the West by The Sun, and both stories relied on Algerian security sources. We are most likely dealing here with an anti-al-Qaida psy-op, and a very poor one at that. These latest stories echo an only marginally better operation targeting al-Qaida in Iraq last winter. It involved a steady stream of articles about al-Qaida exploiting all kinds of defenceless people

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Two Major Steps Forward in Studying al-Qaeda

First, Thomas Hegghammer has written a very valuable article on the rise and fall of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia (more properly, “al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula” or QAP).  Thomas’ study is valuable because he draws on a deep well of empirical research to challenge the three major explanatory models of Islamist militancy: ideological (as they believe, so shall they fight), structural (the system is pushing them to fight), or social movement (al-Qaeda is just the violent manifestation of a larger network of like-minded people).  Thomas argues instead that QAP’s material and human resources, organizational needs, and pan-Islamic orientation, coupled with the Saudi security environment in the early 2000s, were more determinative influences on the group’s behavior.  I’m interested to know what he makes of the latest round of militant activity and arrests in the kingdom. Second, Steve Corman of the COMOPS Monitor has created a blog aggregation service for counterterrorism

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Abu Qatada Released

Abu Qatada, one of the most influential Jihadi ideologues, has just been released on bail in the U.K.  The Jordanian cleric is an extremely unsavory character and played a huge role in the development of contemporary takfirism.  Still, it’s a little over the top for Steven Wright of The Mail to claim this: Suspected Al Qaeda leader Abu Qatada is celebrating his release from prison with the release of a book in which he urges Muslims to commit terrorist attacks in the West. Abu Qatada has not written any book in a long time, so Wright must be referring to one of the many translations of his works that circulate online.  And sure enough, if you scroll to the very bottom of Wright’s article, you’ll find that Abu Qatada has not released a book at all; rather, Tibyan (an anonymous group that translates Jihadi texts into English) has translated one

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New Book: The Media War on the People of Islam

A new booklet titled The Media War on the People of Islam (حرب الإعلام على أهل الإسلام) has been released online. Part one deals with Western insults to the Prophet and efforts to demoralize Muslims. Part two covers terms that people in the media use to discredit Jihadis, like Kharijites, takfiris (“excommunicators”), and “terrorists.” Part three is on al-`Arabiyya and al-Jazeera. media-war-on-the-people-of-islam (حرب الإعلام على أهل الإسلام)

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Watching the Watchers

Since the website is dedicated to monitoring the global Jihadi Movement, I thought it only fitting that the inaugural post feature Jihadis lampooning the practice.  Welcome to the hall of infinite mirrors that is Jihadi Studies. 4-15-08-ekhlaas-watching-the-watchers

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