Tag Archives: Al Qaeda

The Fight for Yemen (PBS Frontline)

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This video contains information on the current conflict in Yemen, including the Houthi rebels, AQAP, and the Saudi coalition.

See the full video here.

FACT SHEET: Security Governance Initiative

Office of the Press Secretary
Washington, D.C.
August 6, 2014

Foreign Policy

FACT SHEET: Security Governance Initiative

Today the President announced the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), a new joint endeavor between the United States and six African partners that offers a comprehensive approach to improving security sector governance and capacity to address threats.

Africa is a dynamic and diverse region that is experiencing significant gains in economic growth and development, and African states are increasingly stepping up to confront security challenges. But transnational and domestic security threats hinder progress, and gaps in security capacity to address both internal and external challenges persist. These threats include terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and others, which remain active on the continent; illicit activities – such as trafficking (drugs, humans, weapons, and wildlife) and piracy – which tear at the security fabric and help fund criminal, and in some cases extremist, activities; and domestic and regional conflict.

A New Presidential Initiative

Against this backdrop, the United States remains committed to working with our African partners and providing assistance to strengthen their security sectors. The SGI is a new Presidential Initiative that offers an enhanced approach to security sector assistance beginning with six countries: Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

• Each of the six countries has demonstrated partnership with the United States, expressed a desire to strengthen its security sector, and committed to the core elements of the initiative.

• In the initial year, $65 million would be dedicated to the initiative. In subsequent years, the United States will provide additional funding commensurate with maturing program needs and expansion to additional countries.

• Together, the United States and participating African countries will work to improve security sector institution capacity to protect civilians and confront challenges and threats, with integrity and accountability. To support a longer term focus, SGI will involve multi-year funding commitments of increased U.S. support and will require sustained, high-level leadership and commitment by partner countries to pursue policies in support of the agreed upon goals.

Key Features

Partnership and results are at the core of SGI. Together with our SGI partner countries, the United States will assist in developing joint strategies based on assessments and the determination of priorities and objectives. Regular evaluations of programs will guide adjustments to assistance based on achieved results. To execute the initiative and ensure maximum effectiveness of U.S. assistance, the United States will form a dedicated SGI team to be housed at the Department of State with support from the Department of Defense, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security.

SGI is a distinctive approach that:

• Focuses on the systems, processes, and institutions that reinforce democratic security sector governance;

• Uses rigorous analysis, shared data, and agreed upon goals, and is supported by regular measurement and evaluation;

• Matches targeted investments with willing partners to strengthen specific military and civilian institutions; and

• Relies on commitment and accountability for results on the part of the United States and our partners.

The key goals and objectives of SGI are to:

• Increase partner nation capacity to meet citizen security needs, such as accessing justice, countering transnational threats, and contributing to regional and international security and stability;

• Prevent or mitigate instability and conflict and counter terrorist activities and their enabling environments;

• Advance U.S. interests and strategic goals, including promoting democratic governance, rule of law, respect for human rights, and long-term economic development while improving the effectiveness and sustainability of other U.S. security sector assistance investments and activities; and

• Deepen the impact of U.S. investments in countries that show leadership and political will to make reforms and policy decisions necessary to improve security sector governance.

SGI will focus on civilian and military security institutions and the ministerial functions that provide state oversight of the security sector. SGI programs will differ in each country, reflecting specific partner country challenges, goals, and objectives. For example, a country emerging from conflict may focus on strengthening law enforcement sector institutions – such as the national police, gendarmerie, and national guard – to provide effective, sustainable, and consistent law enforcement, community policing, and response to critical incidents in urban areas. Additionally, SGI could focus on the justice sector – for example, strengthening a Ministry of Justice’s and Director of Public Prosecution’s ability to lead a government-wide effort against terrorism and other transnational crimes, provide oversight and accountability, and ensure effective and accountable corrections management. In a more developed country that is a security exporter, for example, SGI could focus on enhancing capacity across security and rule of law institutions (e.g., defense, interior, and justice ministries). In all partner countries, SGI will build security sector capacity – in both military and civilian institutions – through a comprehensive approach with targeted assistance that entails sustained leadership commitment from both the United States and partner countries.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The man leading ISIS across Iraq

The Washington Post describes The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al-Qaeda splinter group that has seized a huge chunk of northern Iraq, which is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a relatively unknown and enigmatic figure.

BBC News. “The Struggle for Iraq.” June 27, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/24758587

The BBC has created a special report on Iraq detailing:

“The Race Against Time” – The struggle of the Iraqi government to stem the ISIS tide towards Baghdad.

“What’s Next for ISIS” – The debate on where ISIS will expand next.

“Can ISIS be removed from Twitter” – The question on whether ISIS’s manipulation of media can be checked.

“Background” – The description of the demographics and geopolotical situation in Iraq.

These articles are a must read for a comprehensive understanding of the current situation in Iraq.


Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, courtesy of BBC
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, courtesy of BBC


David Ignatius of The Washington Post described  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (nom de guerre), the commander of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), as “The true heir to Osama bin Laden.” The terrorist kingpin has taken precautions to protect his identity, and rarely appears in media sources or directly speaks to his troops. His secretive tendencies have led his troops to refer to him as, “the invisible sheikh.” Yet the invisible sheikh has a highly visible past…

Al-Baghdadi has gone through several transformations throughout his life. He was born northern Baghdad – Samarra – in 1971. During the American 2003 invasion, he was a cleric in a mosque, possibly with a doctorate in theological studies from an Iraqi university. Debate continues on when his radicalization occurred, but it was most likely when Americans jailed him as a low level prisoner in Camp Bucca for four years from 2005-2009.  His last words to the commander of Camp Bucca, Col. Kenneth King, were ‘I’ll see you guys in New York.” After his release, he rose to prominence in Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) around 2010. Following Osama Bin Laden’s death in May 2011,  al-Baghdadi ordered suicide bombings in Mosul to avenge the leader of Al-Qaeda, resulting in killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others. In October 2011, the US  designated Baghdadi as “terrorist”, offering a bounty for his elimination. He has then been active in Syria and Iraq. The BBC has described him as, “ruthless battlefield tactician,” which has led disgruntled Sunnis to join his ranks.His aliases include Abu Du’a, Abu Duaa, Dr. Ibrahim ‘Awwad Ibrahim ‘Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai‘, Ibrahim ‘Awad Ibrahim al-Badri al Samarrai, and Dr. Ibrahim. Altogether, Al-Baghdadi is the high value target for Americans in Iraq.

Date of Birth: 1971
Place of Birth: Samarra‘, Iraq
Complexion: Olive
Hair: Black

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2011, courtesy of the NCTC
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2011, courtesy of the NCTC

BBC. “Profile: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” June 11, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27801676

The fierce ambition of ISIL’s Baghdadi.” Al Jazeera. June 15, 2014. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/06/fierce-ambition-isil-baghdadi-2014612142242188464.html

Peter Beaumont. “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The Isis chief with the ambition to overtake al-Qaida.” The Guardian. June 12, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/12/baghdadi-abu-bakr-iraq-isis-mosul-jihad

Michael Daly. “ISIS Leader: ‘See You in New York’.” The Daily Beast. June 14, 2014. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/14/isis-leader-see-you-in-new-york.html

. “How the Top Iraqi Terrorist Was Helped by a Bush-Signed Agreement.” Mother Jones. June 18, 2014. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-release-george-bush

David Ignatius. “The Return of Al-Qaeda.” The Washington Post. June 10, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-the-return-of-al-qaeda/2014/06/10/4a82eaaa-f0ea-11e3-bf76-447a5df6411f_story.html

NCTC. “Abu Du’a.” June 27, 2014. http://www.nctc.gov/site/profiles/dua.html

Rojava: Syria’s Unknown War – VICE

“As Syria’s bloody civil war enters its third year, fighting has reached the country’s Kurdish-dominated northeast, a region until recently almost untouched by the conflict. The Kurdish PYD party and its YPG militia, which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in neighboring Turkey, took over control of much of Hassakeh province from the Assad regime in the summer of 2012, and with it control of Syria’s precious oilfields.

But the PYD’s hopes of staying neutral in the conflict and building an autonomous Kurdish state were dashed when clashes broke out with Syrian rebel forces in the strategic border city of Ras al-Ayn. That encounter quickly escalated into an all-out war between the Kurds and a powerful alliance of jihadist groups, including the al-Qaeda affiliates ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

In September of 2013, VICE crossed the border into Syria’s Kurdish region to document the YPG’s counteroffensive against the jihadists, who had struck deep into rural Hassakeh in an attempt to surround and capture Ras al-Ayn. With unparalleled access to the Kurdish and Syrian Christian fighters on the frontlines, we found ourselves witnessing a bitter and almost unreported conflict within the Syrian war, where the Assad regime is a neutral spectator in a life or death struggle between jihadist-led rebels and Kurdish nationalists, pitting village against village and neighbor against neighbor.”

VICE News. “Syria: Al-Qaeda’s New Home.”

VICE News. “Syria: Al-Qaeda’s New Home.” January 22, 2014. https://news.vice.com/video/syria-al-qaeda-39-s-new-home.

This video recorded events in early-2014 Syria, and chronicles changing identities in the Levant from peaceful protests to militants in Osama Bin Laden’s Brigade. These armed groups have been using digital multimedia to recruit “near” volunteers from MENA and “far” volunteers from around the world. The groups have funding from Sunni groups in Saudi Arabia, greasing their war machine. The terrorists relish being on international terror lists, as it gives them a sense of recognition. Also, the war has radicalized the Syrian people, as more of them flocked to the Syrian Free Army after Bashir’s crackdowns on protestors. A good microcosm of this radicalization can be observed in Hassan Abu Ali, interviewed in this video. The actions of the conflict transformed him from a politically unaware fifteen year old into a seventeen year old militant. This video also records a changing gender perception in the urban warfare of Syria as women fight in combat, such as the Um Omar’s female volunteers, who “proved that [they] can fight alongside [their] jihadist brothers.” Also, several foreign fighters explain their motives for joining the militants, citing governmental “crimes” and “to protect their honor and to protect their women.” Furthermore, al Qaeda has the support of locals by providing social services and education, giving them soft power. The Syrian Civil War radicalizes and attracts the disenfranchised, including the youth, women, and disenchanted foreigners. In Fourth Generation Warfare, there is a new power conversion through electronic mass media mobilization.

OSINT: Jemaah Islamiya

Abuza, Zachary. “Funding Terrorism in Southeast Asia: The Financial Network of Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah.” December 2003. NBR. http://www.nbr.org/publications/issue.aspx?id=15#.UwqPfYWhZgE

Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs. “Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia.” 2004. https://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/terrorism/is4.html

BBC. “Profile: Jemaah Islamiah.” February 2, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16850706

CFR. “International Crisis Group: Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah’s Publishing Industry.” February 28, 2008. http://www.cfr.org/indonesia/international-crisis-group-indonesia-jemaah-islamiyahs-publishing-industry/p15814

——. “Jemaah Islamiyah.” June 19, 2009. http://www.cfr.org/indonesia/jemaah-islamiyah-k-jemaah-islamiah/p8948

Global Security. “Jemaah Islamiya.” http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/ji.htm

Gordon, David and Samuel Lindo. “Jemaah Islamiyah.” November 1, 2011. CSIS. http://csis.org/publication/jemaah-islamiyah

The Huffington Post. “Jemaah Islamiyah.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/jemaah-islamiyah

International Crisis Group. “Indonesia.” http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-east-asia/indonesia.aspx

Jeffery, Simon. “Profile: Jemaah Islamiyah.” September 9, 2004. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/sep/09/indonesia.australia

The Long War Journal. “Jemaah Islamiyah.” http://www.longwarjournal.org/tags/Jemaah%20Islamiyah/common/

NCTC. “Jemaah Islamiya.” http://www.nctc.gov/site/groups/ji.html

Singapore Government, Ministry of Home Affairs. “White Paper – Jemaah Islamiya Arrests and The Threat of Terrorism.” January 2003. http://www.mha.gov.sg/publication_details.aspx?pageid=35&cid=354

Stanford University. “Jemaah Islamiyah.” February 14. 2012. http://www.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/251

Symonds, Peter. “The Political Origins of Jemaah Islamiyah: Behind the Bali Bombings.” November 12, 2003. Global Research. http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-political-origins-of-jemaah-islamiyah/1030

United States Research Centre. “Whatever Happed to Jemaah Islamiyah.” September 12, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4Q48-QRxcA

Jemaah Islamiya Flag, courtesy of the NCTC
Jemaah Islamiya Flag, courtesy of the NCTC