Monthly Archives: May 2011

Al-Qaida´s Apple-Fetish

by Florian Flade

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You love the iPhone, iPad and all the other communication devices designed by Apple? So does al-Qaida. For the first time last week the terror network´s media wing “As-Sahab” has published a preview-banner of a new, soon-to-be-released propaganda tape – in the shape of a new iPad 2. The GIF-animation features screenshots from the upcoming video, including stills of late al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden and American convert Adam Gadahn aka “Azzam al-Amrikki”.

Why al-Qaida choose an iPad image to announce the new tape´s release? I don´t know. But al-Qaida used similar preview banners in recent years, mostly using the shape of iPhones. For example al-Qaida´s branch in Iraq – the “Islamic State of Iraq” – posted a iPhone4-style banner on the Jihadi forums last year to promote it´s “Battle of the Prisoners Part II” video.

The first intention in using the Apple products seems to be a very plain and simple one: Look! We are adapting to modern Western technology! We are not stuck in the 7th century but instead use devices like smart phones and portable computers to spread the message of Jihad.

In addition to that, al-Qaida is expanding its reach on the sympathizer and fan-side by providing video and audio files that can be played, streamed or even downloaded onto a up-to-date smart phone like the iPhone 4. Within the community of Western Jihadis in Europe and North America or even just those interested in the propaganda material without supporting the organization or ideology, there are for sure more than a handful of smartphone users. So it should not be surprising al-Qaida & Co are entering the world of modern portable technology. In fact numerous terror groups have been providing 3gp-format files of their video releases for years now – especially meant to attract those spreading the propaganda on their mobile phones.

Al-Qaida Occupies Town in Yemen

by Florian Flade

A prominent Jihadi Online Forum announced it on Friday with an unofficial post linked to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – Al-Qaida fighters have taken control over the South Yemeni city of Zinjibar the statement said without giving any details – “The Mujahidin are patrolling the streets”.

Over the course of the weekend, this report was confirmed by mainstream media, including CNN and Reuters. The media outlets quoted residents of Zinjibar, the capital of Yemen´s Abyan Province as saying “hundreds of militants” came into the city on Friday and occupied the town. Masked Islamists “suddenly arrived and in large numbers. There were no clashes when they arrived on Friday night. We tried to complain to security forces but could not find them”, one Zinjibar resident told CNN.

Yemen´s government confirmed that about 200 al-Qaida men took over control in Zinjibar on the weekend. According to government officials, the Yemeni military is meanwhile involved in heavy fighting in the town, up to a dozen Yemeni soldiers have been killed in the past two days.

Video from Zinjibar shows destroyed Yemeni military vehicles

Xinhua News Agency reports al-Qaida fighters read a statement to the residents of Zinjibar, declaring the town official being part of the “Islamic Emirate”. Al-Qaida militants attacked to police stations according to Xinhua and seized 30 police cars on Saturday.

A police convoy was ambushed by al-Qaida on the outskirts of Zinjibar, leaving four police men dead, Yemeni security officials said. Eyewitnesses also tell of Yemeni airforce bombing al-Qaida positions in the eastern part of the city.

“Sorry, Anwar!” – Bin Laden Dismissed Awlaki as AQ Leader

by Florian Flade

US-Yemeni Anwar al-Awlaki – Dismissed by Bin Laden

The New York Times´Mark Mazetti is reporting about new details that emerged from the documents and data seized by US Navy SEALs during the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama Bin Laden on May 2.

US intelligence sources claim the Al-Qaida leader was considering seeking a peace agreement with the Pakistani government in exchange for protection. “Messages between Bin Laden and his top operations chief over the past year, provide the first suggestion that Bin Laden considered Pakistan’s government amenable to a bargain that would ensure the safety of top Qaeda leaders”, the NYT´s article reads.

The newspaper further notes: “The officials emphasized that they had found no evidence that such a proposal, which one American official said was in the “discussion phase,” was ever raised with Pakistani military or intelligence operatives.”

The material found inside Bin Laden´s hideout also shows, the NYT claims, that the late al-Qaida leader was in direct contact with the Libyan al-Qaida commander Sheikh Atiyyatullah al-Libi with whom Bin Laden discussed the possibility of a truce with the Pakistani state. Al-Libi who is originally from the Libyan town of Misrata, took over the position of al-Qaida´s Chief of Operations after a US drone strike killed the Egyptian Mustafa Abu al-Yazid last year.

It is not surprising to hear Atiyyatullah, who was highlighted by Al-Qaida in some recent video tapes, was communicating with Osama Bin Laden via couriers. The German Jihadi Rami Makanesi – recently sentenced to 4 years in prison – told investigators he had met with Atiyyatullah whom he described as Al-Qaida´s Head of Afghanistan Operations. Attiyatullah, Makanesi claimed, was the only one in al-Qaida´s North Waziristan network who was in direct contact with Bin Laden.

Now the New York Times states Atiyyatullah was also the one in communicating with al-Qaida affiliates and branches around the world. “Last year (Attiyatullah) notified Bin Laden of a request by the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to install Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric, as the leader of the group in Yemen”, the NYT piece reads, “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, apparently thought Mr. Awlaki’s knowledge of the United States and his status as an Internet celebrity might help the group’s operations and fund-raising efforts.”

American intelligence officials say, Bin Laden declined that request and “decided that the group’s leadership should remain unchanged”.

This information is quite interesting given the fact that numerous media outlets have labeled Awlaki “The Next Bin Laden”. It seems the al-Qaida leader himself did not like the idea of the “Internet-Bin Laden” or “Youtube-Bin Laden” playing a more significant role in the al-Qaida structure. If the information turns out to be true this could also mean, Anwar al-Awlaki might have been willing to finally join al-Qaida officially.

I doubt Bin Laden was afraid of Awlaki´s fame and a possible successor – as Peter Bergen pointed out in a recent hearing on Al-Qaida: We care about Awlaki because he speaks fluent English. If he was only preaching in Arabic…nobody would really care.

Al-Qaida´s main support base still lies within the Arabic speaking Jihadi community – Awlaki´s popularity there is limited. He is not seen as “The Next Bin Laden”.