Was Charlie Hebdo Massacre al-Qaeda’s Bid To Re-Establish Itself As Global Terror Force After Being ‘Eclipsed By ISIS,’ — What Happened In Paris, Canada, And Australia — Won’t Stay There
That’s the question that Michael Burleigh asks in this morning’s DailyMailOnline. Mr. Burleigh notes that “in the course of their murderous rampage yesterday in Paris, two of the Islamist shooters announced they were acting in the name of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsual or, (AQAP), the al-Qaeda affiliate that operates in Yemen. Formed in 2009, the AQAP merged existing Yemeni and Saudi jihadists, after the Saudi kingdom became too unsafe for them, and they fled southwards.”
“This suggests that AQAP feels eclipsed by ISIS, which has attracted so much coverage since last summer, and is determined to pull itself back in the international spotlight with this act of mass murder, in broad daylight, in a major European capital,” Mr. Burleigh contends. “There is a proven link between AQAP and the gunman’s choice of target, since AQAP’s online magazine ‘Inspire,’ recently included the editor-in-chief of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in a list of ‘unbelievers’ deserving a bullet.”
“AQAP also has a track record of mounting attacks on Western targets, and has its own Foreign Operations Unit to train terrorists who can convincingly pass themselves off in foreign contexts. There is a direct personal link between AQAP and core al Qaeda, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its leader, Nasir Abdel Karim al-Wuhayshi, served four years as Osama bin Laden’s aide de camp and then became Ayman al-Zawahiri’s ‘general manager,’ thereafter. After three years in a Yemeni jail, in 2006, Wuhayshi escaped and led AQAP ever since. Attacks on the ‘far enemy’ as they call the West, are integral to al Qaeda’s strategy, since it undermines Western support for the local regimes al Qaeda wishes to destroy,” Mr. Burleigh added.
“Like Afghanistan under the Taliban, Yemen is almost ideally suited for terrorist groups to operate It is a wild place, with vast and rugged, desert wastelands, including the Hadramaut region in the northeast — where the family of Osama bin Laden originated from — before they emigrated to Saudi Arabia. Yemen is the poorest Arab state, not the least because its modest oil reserves are almost totally exhausted. So to, is the country’s water supply, with so much of it diverted into growing the leaf narcotic qat, which Yemeni men chew obsessively, throughout the afternoons,” the DailyMailOnline wrote.
“The capital, Sana’a, will soon be the first city in the world to run out of water as the aquifers empty,” Mr. Burleigh warns. And if that isn’t enough, he writes, “the politics of Yemen are desperate too, with government compared with dancing on the heads of snakes. It’s longtime dictator, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, was ousted in February 2012, leaving what amounts to a power vacuum,” and lots of ungoverned territory — which is ruled by al Qaeda, thugs, and criminals. “The country was already faced with two secessionist insurgencies in the north and the south,” Mr. Burleigh writes. “One of these involved the Iranian-backed Houthis, who come from the country’s large Shia minority in a country that is predominately Sunni. The Sunni’s are backed by Saudi Arabia, which is so worried by its disturbed southern neighbor — as to construct a huge fence along the heavily patrolled border; but, this has not checked the Houthis’ advance,” he adds.
“Recently, the triumphal Houthis virtually hijacked the weak government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi , and took control of the capital. The Shia Houthis are waging a violent struggle against the Sunni AQAP, with almost daily bomb attacks, like the one which on Wednesday killed 38 would-be recruits at Sana’a’s police training academy. Drive by shootings of intelligence and police officers by AQAP gunman are also becoming more frequent.”
“From these grim circumstances,” Mr. Burleigh notes, “AQAP has prospered. The wilderness of Yemen provides plenty of remote places to use as training camps, where the group’s highly proficient bomb-makers can practice their craft. They receive basic training, then more advanced infantry training of the kind used to devastating effect in Paris yesterday.
The two brothers implicated in the deadly attack in Paris, attended jihadi camps in Yemen, overseen by al Qaeda; with one of them making at least two visits — stopping initially in the capital of Sana’a, according to TheDailyMailOnline.
French Authorities Swarming 51-square mile dense forest – Foret de Retz
French Authorities Swarming 51-square mile dense forest – Foret de Retz, a vast woodland described as “larger than Paris,” according to a report by the European-based Sky News.
I wrote yesterday that I though the attack was carried out by individuals who had undergone some type of military assault training, and I see nothing in the reporting today to dissuade me from that initial judgment. The individuals were methodical, had the operation well-planned, including an escape option, and carried out the operation in a very calm and deliberate manner. By all accounts, the individuals conducted reconnaissance of their target in great detail.
Was this the work of these three individuals? Or, is this attack part of a larger conspiracy, that involves the upper echelons of al Qaeda? Did these men, or at least some of them, train and fight in Iraq and/or Syria, or elsewhere in Yemen and/or, Algeria?
One thing is for certain. What has happened in France. Canada, and Australia — won’t stay there. How many would-be jihadis were watching this terrible event unfold yesterday, or the tragic attacks in Canada and Australia, — and, are inspired to try and copy or repeat this feat — especially here in America? Probably more than we care to know.
This ongoing rivalry for jihadi supremacy between al Qaeda and the Islamic State portends more of these type and style of attacks — as the two groups vie for the “hearts and minds,” the militant jihadi wing of Islam. It would seem that 2015 might be the year of the diversified, and substantially enhanced ‘lone-wolf’ attacks on the West. We have a hornets nest that is getting larger, and more daring. The West will have to step up its prosecution of the war on terrorism, including more strikes in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen — at a minimum. V/R, RCP