Saturday, January 08, 2005


The Big Picture

Terrorists in Saudi Arabia were dealt a heavy blow this past week. Having killed 10 members of al-Qaeda, the Kingdom is taking the threat of Al-Qaeda within its borders seriously. If Saudi Arabia continues to clamp down and eradicate terrorist havens, it could demoralize al-Qaeda, its affiliates and supporters alike. Saudi Arabia has served as the primary hub for al-Qaeda's dissemination of information to members around the globe via the bi-monthly publication Sawt al-Jihad.

Regional Briefs

North America, Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Europe, Asia, Africa

North America
Official: No Laser, Terrorism Link (CNN) - The FBI investigation into incidents involving laser beams aimed at aircraft has found no link to terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security's transportation security chief said Monday (1/3). The FBI is investigating eight incidents since Christmas involving lasers -- or lights believed to be lasers -- directed at aircraft across the nation, including in Ohio, Colorado New Jersey and DC. On 11/22, the FBI and DHS disclosed that terrorists have shown an interest in using laser beams to try to bring down flights.

Al-Qaeda Surveillance Techniques Detailed (Associated Press) - A new government intelligence bulletin describes in the greatest detail yet al-Qaeda's techniques for assessing potential targets, extolling the lethal power of flying, shattered building glass and advising that kerosene and tires are effective for a deadly arson attack. The excerpts, according to the bulletin, show that al-Qaeda operatives go well beyond basic description of a potential target to sophisticated analysis of vulnerabilities in building construction, an examination of potential police and emergency response and recommendations for possible methods of attack.

Middle East
French ex-hostage says Kidnappers Linked to al-Qaeda (Reuters) - Journalist Christian Chesnot, a French hostage who was released after four months in Iraq told Asharq al-Awsat that his kidnappers included "fundamentalists," militants linked to al-Qaeda and former members of ousted president Saddam Hussein's ruling party.

Zarqawi al-Qaeda-Linked Group Kills Iraq Governor (Reuters) - According to an Internet statement, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group took credit for assassinating Baghdad's governor, Ali al-Haidri on 1/4. Gunmen killed Haidri in Iraq's highest-profile assassination in eight months.

Baghdad Bomb Kills 28 in "Trap" for Police (Reuters) - At least 28 people were killed in Baghdad after insurgents blew up a house that police were raiding. According to the Interior Ministry, the police were lured into a trap. Neighbors, however, said officers responded to a genuine call. Six policemen were among the 28 dead and four officers were missing.

Al-Qaeda Linked Group Claims Suicide Bombing Near Iraqi PM Office (Agence France-Presse) - The al-Qaeda linked Ansar al-Sunna group claimed responsibility in an Internet statement for Monday's (1/3) suicide car bombing near the Baghdad offices of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's political party in which four people died. At least 24 people were wounded.

Suspected Zarqawi Fighter Captured in Iraq (Agence France-Presse) - The Iraqi government announced Wednesday (12/29) the capture of a militant linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Mosul. The statement identified the fighter as 33-year-old Abu Marwan, a senior commander with Mosul-based Abu Talha groups, which the government said was linked to Zarqawi.

Saudi Forces Kill Suspected al-Qaeda Leader (Agence France-Presse) - Saudi security forces have killed 10 suspected al-Qaeda militants in two days of clashes in the capital, including a Yemeni thought to be the terror group's leader in the country, officials said Thursday (12/30). Saudi forces killed seven militants in a shootout late Wednesday that came just an hour after bombings at the interior ministry and a special forces base, a ministry statement said. The other three were killed in a firefight that began late Tuesday and continued overnight, said the statement carried by the official SPA news agency. The ministry identified the two most-wanted militants as Saudis Sultan Bjad Saadun al-Otaibi and Bandar Abderrahman al-Dakhil. A security source said a Yemeni among the dead, Ibrahim Ahmed Abdel Majeed al-Reemy, was believed to be the actual leader of the al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qaeda says Riyadh Attacks Targeted Interior Minister (Reuters) - The Saudi wing of al-Qaeda said it tried to assassinate the kingdom's Interior Minister during two high-profile suicide bombings in Riyadh last week, according to an Internet statement posted on Tuesday (1/4). The statement, signed by the al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula and dated 12/31, vowed to wage more attacks against "infidels and Christians." According to the Interior Ministry at least 18 people were wounded in the 12/29 attacks, in which two bomb-rigged cars were detonated outside a heavily fortified compound and a training unit for the emergency forces.

Kuwaiti Troops Held Over 'Plot' (British Broadcasting Corporation/Agence France-Presse) - The Kuwaiti army says it has detained a number of soldiers suspected of plotting to attack "friendly forces" - a reference to US troops there. About 25,000 American soldiers are currently stationed in the emirate. Kuwait is also the transit point for multinational forces traveling to and from neighboring Iraq. A newspaper reported on Tuesday (1/4) that the detained soldiers have “ideological links” to al-Qaeda.

Two Turkish al-Qaeda Suspects Extradited (Agence France-Presse) - Pakistan on Sunday (1/2) extradited two Turks suspected of links to al-Qaeda. They were immediately arrested and charged by Turkish authorities, the Anatolia news agency reported. Mehmet Yilmaz and Mahmut Kaplan, who were arrested in Lahore in August, were brought before a court in Gaziantep, where they are wanted for "membership of a clandestine Islamist organization."

Afghanistan and Pakistan
Al-Qaeda Suspects Kill Pakistani Tribal Leader (Agence France-Presse) - A Pakistani tribal politician with close links to Afghan President Hamid Karzai was killed in a drive-by attack by suspected al-Qaeda militants on Wednesday 12/29. Shahlam Khan, 50, was blasted by masked gunmen from a moving car in Wana, the main town of the turbulent South Waziristan tribal zone on the Afghan border. Authorities were investigating whether al-Qaeda-linked insurgents were behind the attack. Officials added, Khan had been receiving threatening letters from them.

Report: Suspects in Afghan DynCorp Bombing Arrested (Reuters) - Afghan security forces have arrested two men with al-Qaeda links suspected of carrying out a car bomb attack that killed about 10 people, including three Americans, in Kabul in August, state-run television reported on Saturday (1/1). The attack targeted offices used by the private U.S. security firm DynCorp to train Afghan police in counter-narcotics methods. The TV report named the two suspects as Mohammed Haidar from Tajikistan and Abdul Ahad from Afghanistan, and said Haidar had confessed to his role in the Aug. 29 bombing.

Osama Hunt Expanded Into Cities (New York Post) - U.S. intelligence agencies have expanded the search for Osama bin Laden to Pakistani and Afghan cities after analysts became convinced he has moved from the mountains to an urban environment.

'70,000 Militants Trained in al-Qaeda Camps' (Agence France-Presse) - Around 70,000 people have been trained in camps run by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, mainly in Afghanistan, a senior German police officer told a court on Tuesday (1/4). Testifying at the retrial of Mounir El Motassadeq, a Moroccan man accused of involvement in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the officer said that the militants had received weapons training and religious instruction.

Six Stand Trial for Paris US Embassy Terror Plot (Agence France-Presse) - Six Islamic militants went on trial in Paris on Monday (1/3) on suspicion of terror-related offences, with the main defendant accused of masterminding a plot to strike the US embassy in Paris. The six have been charged with criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise. The suspected ringleader of the militants, Djamel Beghal, was arrested in September 2001 in Dubai, where he allegedly told investigators he was involved in a plot to attack the US embassy in Paris. Beghal now says he is innocent of the charges against him. If convicted, the 39-year-old Franco-Algerian and his five co-defendants face up to 10 years in prison.

Suspected Islamic Militants Attack Troops in Southern Thailand (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) - Eight members of the Thai security forces have been wounded in a bomb blast in the insurgency hit southern province of Yala. More than 560 people have been killed since the unrest flared in Thailand's three southern border provinces early this year.

Al-Qaeda-linked Rebels Kill Seven in Algeria (Reuters) - Algerian militants believed to belong to an al-Qaeda-inspired group shot dead seven civilians near the capital Algiers, security sources said on Wednesday (12/29). The rebels, believed to be members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), carried out the attack in the small town of Khraissia.

Top Algerian Islamic Rebel Arrested (Reuters) -- The leader of Algeria's second largest Islamic rebel group has been arrested, the Interior Ministry said on Monday (1/3), dealing a fresh blow to radical Muslim militants fighting the secular government. The arrest of Nourredine Boudiafi, head of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), came six months after the killing of Nabil Sahraoui, head of the larger and more active Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), North Africa's top extremist group which has ties to al-Qaeda. The GIA, which used to number thousands of fighters, was Algeria's top rebel group until a few years ago and is known for deadly attacks on security forces and civilians at the height of the Islamic insurgency in the mid-1990s.

This report was compiled by Jonathan L. Snow and edited by Avi Jorisch.

- Mr. Snow is the Manager of Research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies

- Avi Jorisch is an FDD Senior Fellow.

GlobalJihadWatch is a weekly publication that tracks developments in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), specifically focusing on militant groups that adhere to the ideology known as radical Islam. Such groups constitute a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, but their rhetoric and violence affords them disproportional influence in the Muslim world. Some of these groups are affiliated with al-Qaeda, while others are not. Indeed, such nomenclature is increasingly irrelevant, particularly as al-Qaeda evolves from a structured organization into an amorphous global movement. (This series will not cover the activities of militant Palestinian groups, which are covered at length in other publications

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