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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pakistan Demonstrates Anti Terror Support By Giving Up Al Qaeda's Mad Scientist

Officials: Al Qaeda's Mad Scientist Killed
CIA Drone Targeted Chemical Weapons Expert Abu Khabab Al-Masri On Afghanistan-Pakistan Border


One of al Qaeda's top chemical and biological weapons experts was killed in an air strike by a CIA pilotless drone in a remote Pakistani border region, senior Pakistani intelligence officials told CBS News Tuesday morning.

Intelligence officials investigating the early Monday missile attack confirmed that Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri was one of six men killed and his remains had been positively identified.

"We now have a positive ID on the body. I can confirm to you that Al-Masri has been killed," a Pakistani intelligence official told CBS News on the condition of anonymity. Earlier reports claimed that the six men killed included three Arabs, while the other three were believed to be Afghans or Pakistanis.

However, the intelligence official who spoke to CBS Tuesday said all six men were Arabs. Those killed also included Sheikh Ibrahim, a mid ranking al Qaeda operative believed to be either Egyptian or Jordanian. The other four victims were described as ordinary foot soldiers.

Al-Masri, an Egyptian national, became notorious for developing chemical and biological weapons for al Qaeda. He was known to have used a variety of animals, including dogs, cats and frogs in brutal experiments which often left the animals dead.

The Western security official, who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity, said al-Masri's animal experiments were filmed and used by al Qaeda to train new volunteers in the use of chemical and biological weapons.

  • The attack took place in Waziristan - a region along the Afghan border which has become notorious for its local tribes playing host to al Qaeda and Taliban militants, including some who fled U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
  • While al-Masri was among al Qaeda's senior-most operatives, it was difficult to ascertain the damage his death could theoretically inflict upon the terror group, if confirmed.
  • A senior Pakistani security official, who also spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity, said that, despite heightened fears after Sept. 11 that al Qaeda was determined to carry out chemical and biological weapons attacks, the group has largely relied on suicide and conventional arms attacks in locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • "Al Qaeda has never proven itself as a potent force in using chemical and biological weapons," said the official. "If al-Masri has in fact died, his death will not cripple al Qaeda or the Taliban."
  • The timing of the report on al-Masri's death also aroused suspicion - coinciding with a visit to the White House by Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. In the past week two U.S. officials, speaking on deep background, told CBS News that they expected Pakistan to overtly demonstrate its support for the U.S. fight against terrorism by assisting in the arrest or killing of an important Islamic militant, close to the time of Gilani's Washington trip.
  • Though the attack was carried out by the CIA, the Pakistani official who spoke to CBS News said, "this case once again demonstrates that without active cooperation from Pakistan, key militants cannot be targeted" in the border region.
  • The official refused to elaborate on the kind of support that may have been extended by Pakistan. Western diplomats told CBS News that Pakistan may have supported the U.S. in tracking down al Masri.

(CBS) Written for CBSNews.com by Farhan Bokhari, reporting from Islamabad.

The Rest @ CBS News

Morocco Prevents Terror Attacks on Tourists

PDT RABAT, Morocco (AP) --

Moroccan security forces foiled a terrorist plot to attack tourists this summer, in what has become a "near-daily" struggle to root out extremist cells increasingly linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, a top security official said Friday.

Abdelhak Bassou, head of Morocco's Renseignements Generaux domestic intelligence agency, told The Associated Press in a rare interview that four separate terrorist cells have been broken up so far this year.

He said one of those groups, with 11 militants arrested in May, was preparing attacks "planned for this summer" in a plot aimed at tourist hotels in Morocco, which is a largely moderate Muslim kingdom and strong U.S. ally.

The country has seen a rise in radical Islam in recent years, and the government has jailed hundreds of suspected militants since a string of bombings killed 45 people in 2003.

  • Bassou said authorities had broken up "about 30 cells" over the past five years and predicted they would dismantle "another three or four" radical cells during the rest of this year. "At this point, it's become near-daily work," he said.
  • The investigations have revealed extremist networks that extended from Europe to the al-Qaida terror operation in Iraq, he said.
  • Most of the Moroccan cells support al-Qaida in Iraq via militant bases in neighboring Algeria, channeling cash, weapons and combatants, he said.
  • Three of the four alleged cells currently being prosecuted were focused on supporting insurgents in Iraq and had smuggled "some 30 to 50 (Moroccan) fighters" into that country, Bassou said.
  • "We have to continue to anticipate," he said, adding that the threat also comes from "loose elements" of one or two individuals who plan small attacks on their own.
  • Some 1,100 alleged Islamic radicals are now behind bars, either convicted of terrorism charges or awaiting trial.

Bassou said a "huge improvement" in cooperation between Arab and Western intelligence services has helped limit terrorist attacks since the 9/11 assault on the U.S., but he said another factor is that many al-Qaida loyalists are focused on the war in Iraq.

"It doesn't mean they wouldn't blow up a bus of tourists here if they have the opportunity," he said.

  • The fact that al-Qaida is relying on many support cells in North Africa for fighters, money and guns is a sign that it is losing ground in Iraq, Bassou said.
  • "If they don't show results, I don't give them five more years of existence," he said, contending that al-Qaida needs victories in Iraq to attract new recruits in the Arab world.

Still, Bassou warned, the focus of Islamic extremists could easily shift closer to home, in Europe and North Africa, if al-Qaida in Iraq collapsed.

"It would become more dangerous, we'd have less visibility," he said.

Bassou estimated 3,000 Moroccans are "imbued with jihadist creeds," with a similar number of sympathizers.

Many rights activists, Islamist politicians and even some intelligence experts say Morocco's tough security crackdown, though efficient in preventing large attacks, could radicalize some members of Morocco's legal Islamic parties.


Security services tend to repeatedly "link political Islam to violent Islam, but it's not necessarily the case," Alain Chouet, a former intelligence director at France's DGSE spy agency, said in an interview.

Defense lawyers insist that many of the purported terror suspects in Morocco have no proven links to terrorism. The attorneys have long argued that confessions are often coerced by police and that affiliation to political Islam is at times the only grounds on which defendants are arrested.

Bassou said that arrests are made on solid intelligence and that evidence includes money transfers, weapons and violent propaganda on computers or discs, as well as confessions.
"Should we wait for people to execute their attack before we arrest them?" he asked.


The Rest @ the San Francisco Chronicle

West African Coastal Fishermen become Drug Mules

29th July, 2008

Fishermen in Africa are increasingly turning to drug and people trafficking to boost their meager incomes as fish stocks dry up.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has said:
  • large boats are heading from Latin America to African islands, where drugs are transferred into many smaller fishing boats which proceed along the coast to unload their cargo in the Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Conakry.
  • Guinea Bissau has increasingly become a transit hub for organised criminal networks trafficking drugs from Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil through West Africa to Europe.
  • The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has said several hundred kilograms of cocaine go through the area each week.
  • The Bijagos archipelago is said to be an ideal place for landing large quantities of cocaine, due to its geographical configuration, which makes it easy for boats to travel without detection.
  • Apart from the drug trade, local fishermen say while they run at a loss when fishing, they can earn up to US$720 for each person trafficked northwards toward Europe.

The Rest @ Albuquerque News
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Niger and Mali Rebels Coordinate Attacks

More evidence that al Aqeda is involved.

-Shimron


BAMAKO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Suspected Tuareg gunmen seized a military supply convoy in northern Mali taking 23 soldiers hostage, the latest sign of a concerted campaign with Tuareg rebels in neighbouring Niger, military sources said on Tuesday.

In the second attack in two days, a group of heavily armed men in Toyota pick-ups ambushed the convoy on Monday some 50 km (31 miles) from the town of Tinsawatene in Mali's desolate northern reaches near the border with Algeria.

After a gunbattle lasting several hours, the attackers captured a Toyota pick up, a lorry containing supplies, and large quantities of munitions. Six soldiers were able to escape.
"We're in shock. It was a heavy toll," said a senior Defence Ministry source. "Now it's a man hunt. We will spare no effort to find these men."

Military sources said several attackers were killed in the gunfight. It came a day after suspected Tuareg rebels captured 15 Malian soldiers in a remote Saharan town and carried them off toward Niger, where nomadic tribesmen are waging a seven-month old uprising.

The mountainous area where Sunday's abductions took place is regarded as a stronghold of Tuareg leader Ibrahima Bahanga, whom Malian authorities accuse of killing a gendarme in an attack in May backed by rebels from the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ).

"We are obliged to work closely with Niger because we believe there are links between the two groups," said the senior defence source.

"When they launch attacks in Niger they seek refuge in Mali, and when they attack in Mali they hide in Niger."

"There are contacts under way between military authorities in Mali and Niger to secure the area," the source added.

REGIONAL EFFORTS

Last week, Mali and Niger's security ministers met in the eastern Malian town of Gao and signed a deal allowing each others' security forces to pursue suspected bandits across their common border.

Bahanga, one of the leaders of a Tuareg revolt in the 1990s which won greater autonomy for the light-skinned tribesmen in Mali and Niger, has been disowned by a broader Malian rebel alliance, which signed a deal with President Amadou Toumani Toure in July 2006.

Toure, during a weekend visit to Tripoli, said he had agreed with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to hold a regional summit on security in the Sahel.

Niger President Mamadou Tandja has also appealed for regional support in quelling the uprising, which his government has accused French nuclear power company Areva and "rich foreign powers" of supporting.

The company has strongly denied this.

Niger's government said on Tuesday it had demined and reopened the road between the northern uranium mining hub of Arlit and the oasis town of Iferouane, which lies more than 1,000 km (600 miles) from the capital Niamey and has been isolated for more than two months.

A military convoy was able to deliver 60 tonnes of emergency food aid to the settlement, which lies in the heart of the rebel zone and was the scene of its first attack in February.

(Additional reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi in Niamey)

The Rest @ Reuters

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Al Qaeda Plans for Urban Attacks in the West

Urban cells should seek economic targets, such as Jewish investments in Muslim countries, international companies, international economic experts, exports from 'Crusader countries' and raw materials being 'stolen from Muslim countries by the enemies'.

"Surprising? No. But the communique provides a useful display of tactics, ideology, and imaginary grievances like the "theft" of oil. "Jihadist cells urged to kill Canadians," by Ian MacLeod for CanWest News Service, July 28: OTTAWA -

Details of the Arabic-language posting, entitled "Clandestine work inside the city," were recently translated and reported by the Jamestown Foundation, a conservative Washington think-tank.

Under the nom de guerre Abu Hajar Abdul Aziz al-Moqrin (the former leader of al-Qaida's Saudi wing killed in 2004), the posting explains how a four-unit jihadist cell should be properly trained in urban terror warfare before activation.

An urban cell needs

  • a commanding unit
  • an intelligence unit
  • a logistics unit
  • an execution unit

The Site explains.

The units are to communicate indirectly through using the dead letter box technique
Further, the intelligence cell that collects information on a target must not know the purpose of the information.


The cell that secures weapons and equipment must not know the target or the time of execution.
Al-Moqrin warns jihadists not to attack religious figures because it harms the cause. Instead, urban cells should seek economic targets, such as Jewish investments in Muslim countries, international companies, international economic experts, exports from "Crusader countries" and raw materials being "stolen from Muslim countries by the enemies," with al-Moqrin calling for attacks on oil wells, pipelines and oil tankers.

The Rest @ American Salafi

Hannibal Gaddafi Creates Swiss-Libya Crisis

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Maritime Transport National Corporation also said in a statement on Thursday that all vessels carrying Swiss-made goods had been barred from unloading their cargoes at Libyan ports.

The ban on oil shipments includes both crude oil and refined petroleum products, and amounts to 40 per cent of the company's business, Ali Bilhajj Ahmed, the head of the company, said.

Ahmed said that the company's response was appropriate, saying it is "the least we should do".

  • The company's workers had staged a protest outside the Swiss embassy in Tripoli.They threatened "further action" against Swiss authorities if they did not apologise "in the next coming hours" for the arrest of Hannibal Gaddafi in Geneva on July 15.
  • He and his wife are accused of assaulting some of their staff. The couple were freed on bail after being held for two days.
  • The Swiss foreign ministry has sent a delegation to Libya with information about the arrest of Hannibal "to prevent a crisis between the two countries".
  • Julia Slater, a journalist based in Switzerland, said that media reaction in the country has been one of bemusement."The impact of what this will have is being played down, and the press has been quite indignant as to how the Libyans are reacting," she said."
  • The Swiss authorities also continue say publicly that this will not escalate, and will be resolved soon."'Problematic' situation

Mohamed Ben-Madani, a North Africa analyst, told Al Jazeera that the situation remains awkward for Switzerland."The Swiss government cannot interfere with the judicial process, but the Libyan authorties are demanding that this case be dropped," he said."What is also problematic is that Switzerland receives 90 per cent of its oil from Libya, and this dispute now has the potential get much worse."Libya's port authority lists Hannibal as its official "adviser", and warned of "new escalatory measures" against Switzerland and demanded that Bern "close within the next few hours the case it fabricated" against Gaddafi's son.

A Swiss government spokeswoman said that the authorities were "concerned at the retaliatory measures," but hoped the situation would calm "rapidly"."Diplomatic exchanges are under way right now, and that the supply of fuels is "assured," she said.

Tripoli has already recalled some of its diplomats from Switzerland, suspended the issuing of visas for Swiss citizens, reduced the number of flights to Switzerland and has detained two Swiss nationals on various charges, the Swiss foreign ministry said

Switzerland in turn, has warned its citizens not to travel to Libya.

The Rest @ Medeshi on

Iran and the Comoros

Special Dispatch No. 2004 July 28, 2008Egypt/IranInvestigation by Egyptian Daily Al-Ahram Finds Iranian Involvement, Shi'ization in Comoros Islands

Recently, Iran has been showing increased interest in the Union of the Comoros, the island nation off Africa's east coast.

Historically, the inhabitants of this nation's three component islands were mostly Shi'ite, until they were conquered by France in the mid-19th century; today, most residents are Shafi'i Sunnis.

Iran's interest in the Union of the Comoros is supported by Comoros President Ahmad Abdallah Sambi, despite opposition from various elements in the country.

On May 1, 2008, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram published an investigative article on Shi'ization in the Union of the Comoros. Following are translated excerpts from the investigation:

(1) Iranian Elements Are In Charge of Security for Comoros President Sambi According to the Al-Ahram report, ever since Ahmad Abdallah Sambi was elected president in 2006, Iranian intervention in the Union of the Comoros has intensified, as manifested in the office of the presidency as well as in the areas of medicine, culture, and humanitarian and other aid:

"The Iranian presence in Comoros is currently focused in four areas, the most important of which is the institution of the presidency. According to statements by a politician in the Comoros Islands, Iranian elements are in charge of security for President Ahmad Abdallah Sambi... inside the country and also on his trips outside it.

"Iran has also set up a medical center belonging to the Iranian Red cross... a cultural center... and an additional center for humanitarian aid, officially called the Al-Khomeini Committee for Help in the Comoros Islands... Also, according to reports from several sources, Iran is planning to set up an embassy there in the near future...

"The medical center's main activity focuses, of course, on providing various medical treatments at no cost to the Comoros Islanders. The Imam Khomeini Help Committee conducts various humanitarian activities, the most important of which are three-month professional training courses... for the Comoros youth... They also give help to poor families, and provide them with material and economic support. Five hundred families benefit from this bimonthly support. "

Comoros Residents Call Their President "Ayatollah" Al-Ahram reported that "prominent Comoros politicians link the Iranian presence [in the country] to President Sambi's affection for Iran, where he attended religious studies in his youth.

Some of them even accuse the president of secretly becoming a Shi'ite, and of attempting to spread [Shi'ism] in the country, [which is] Sunni Arab." The paper added that "[even before he was president,] island residents called him 'Ayatollah.' The president says that at first he opposed the nickname, but afterwards came to think that there was nothing wrong with it, and therefore agreed to it." According to the Al-Ahram report, "there are numerous reasons for the opposition members' accusations that the president has affection for Iran, and perhaps even became a Shi'ite: his dress, which is similar to that of Iranian clerics; his personal interest in links with Iran, to the point of appointing a relative as ambassador of his country in Tehran; his personal oversight of Iran's activity in his country, and even the Iranian medical center, [which] began operations without applying for a license from the Health Ministry... the [staff's] entrance into the country followed a direct request from President Ahmad Abdallah Sambi."

However, the Al-Ahram report also raised the possibility that the Iranian presence in the country was not the result of a deliberate policy of President Sambi's, but of lack of choice, stating: "Perhaps the reason behind Sambi's agreement to the Iranian presence is a poor country's need for any foreign help, in light of the lack of Arab support..."

Has President Sambi Become a Shi'ite? In addition to this evidence, the Al-Ahram report cites statements posted on a Shi'ite website confirming rumors about President Sambi becoming a Shi'ite: "Sambi is one of the most prominent clerics on the African continent, who has studied with the religious authority Ayatollah Al-Sayyed Muhammad Taqi Al-Modarresi... and he moved from the Sunni school to the Shi'ite school, thus becoming a proselytizer of Shi'ism in the Comoros Islands."

According to the report, "the president of Comoros denies these charges outright; he always stresses... that he belongs to the Shafi'ite school... and that he has affection for Shi'ites."

However, President Sambi's opponents claim that his denials are a manifestation of the Shi'ite principle of taqiyyah, permitting them to pretend not to be Shi'ites when necessary: "They [many in Comoros political circles] accuse him of secretly becoming a Shi'ite, [and of] implementing the principle of taqiyyah."

The report also presented evidence that "according to one of the island's residents... the president once lived in Dubai and would pray at a Shi'ite mosque [there]."

Sunni Clerics Against Shi'ization The spread of Iranian-Shi'ite influence and activity in the Union of the Comoros has aroused not only opposition from Comoros politicians but also the anger of Sunni clerics in the country – who have demanded that the authorities expel the Iranian Shi'ite missionaries and protect the Sunna: "Some of the activities conducted by the Iranian cultural center have enraged the [Sunni] clerics in the Comoros Islands, after they sensed that they were attempting to disseminate Shi'ism in the region.

"In February 2007, 60 Sunni clerics met in the capital Moroni and warned of the danger inherent in the holding of Shi'ite ceremonies in the island. This meeting took place several days after some Comoros Island residents held in public, for the first time in the island's history, the Ashoura, the ceremony commemorating the killing of Imam Al-Hussein.

These clerics... headed by the capital's head qadi... demanded the expulsion of the foreigners who are disseminating Shi'ism in the Comoros Islands. They demanded that President Sambi protect the Sunni ceremonies – but the president decided to leave the cultural center [in place, but] to restrict its activity so that it would not anger those who oppose it.

"The [Sunni] clerics in the Comoros Islands continue to fear the activity of the Iranian institutions operating on the country's soil, and are unconvinced that their real goals are purely humanitarian..."

Al-Ahram: Sunni Arab Countries Must Increase Presence in the Comoros Islands The Al-Ahram report concluded with a call to Arab countries to increase their diplomatic presence in the Union of the Comoros, and even to support its economy – before the country becomes another focus of tension between the Arab countries and Iran, and between Shi'ites and Sunnis:

"In any event, the presence of only one Arab embassy – that of Libya – is inconceivable, and there is no escape from increasing the Arab presence there by establishing diplomatic representations in addition to those currently in place in the capital Moroni. "Similarly, there is no escape from taking an interest in the economic situation of this poor country... Certainly, the establishment of a number of economic projects there, in addition to aid, is considered essential in dealing with the problem, which is still in its early days – before it gets worse and becomes a new center of Arab-Iranian tension that we do not need."

Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 1, 2008, as translated by MEMRI

After 500 Posts - The State of Africa Jihad

Noticing that this is the 500th post into the Shimron letters, I wanted to summarize our conclusions to date.

The letters were originally begun when we noticed a deliberate, careful, generational strategy underway for the Islamization of Africa. That, in itself, is not new. What is of concern is that a salafi emphasis on Jihad as-sayf (Jihad of the Sword) against the visible enemy in Africa. The visible enemy appears to be any non-Salafi form of Islam. It become clear that a multi-phase approach was underway, then we came across al Qaeda's 7 Phased plan ( this post keeps disappearing off the site- look in the German newspaper Der Spiegel for the original if it disappears again) This reconciled what we had observed in Africa.

Since then the plan has progressed less successfully than they had hoped, but the plan is still underway.

In essence there are three categories into which the 53 African Countries Fall:

1. Islamic or Secular Islamic Countries
2. Countries in transition (Moving one way or the other)
3. Christian or native religion dominated Countries

Salafist - Islamists who are working in the various stages of persuasion have different tactics underway for each type of country:

In Islamic or Kafir Secular Islamic Countries, Saudi Arabia, Libya or Egypt often funds Dawahs to direct local Muslim Associations onto the correct path, using economic incentives. They look for the most promising students to send to Schools for further radicalization, or to recruit as fighters in Foreign Jihads.
(for example - Sudan, Somalia, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Tunisia, Northern Nigeria, Eritrea)

Countries in Transition
Saudi Arabia, Libya or Egypt often funds Muslim candidates and supports political movements which are calling for the removal of resiting laws to be replaced with Sharia law. (12 Northern Nigerian districts have already succumbed to this effort). Dawahs focused toward radicalization is intensified.

(for example - Nigeria, Sierra Leon, Ivory Coast, Benin, Liberia, Southern Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo and DR Congo, CAR., Possibly Coastal Tanzania, Eritrea)

An emerging tactic in Kafir Islamic and in Transitional Countries is to provide support to local Islamic Rebel Groups, without a multi-national agenda, to lure them into a Next-Caliphate Islamist Agenda, or to recruit away their best fighters. (Algeria, Chad, Western -Sahara, Mozambique, Angola)

Christian or native religion-dominated Countries

Again, Saudi Arabia, Libya or Egypt teachers, business people, and Muslim Aid agencies come in, especially to the poorer tribes and proselytize peeling away whole tribes based on natural tribal or ethnic differences. Significant Zakat and Sadaqa fund raising efforts become based in these countries, because these countries often seem to have much more money than Islamic countries.

(for example - South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Western Tanzania)

Since we have been watching, Liberia, the Congos, and CAR have fallen from Christian to Transitional, Ethiopia has become more isolated, and Kenya is in danger.

I acknowledge that the Situaion is not as simple as this. This situation has been overlaid by US, Russia, and Chinese battles for influence in Africa. Their blundering Jingoism-laced efforts often work against their own interests, as they demonstrate an awesome lack of understanding of the local African and Isalmist dynamic.

In Short, there is an imperialistic war being waged in Africa by Arabs, Europeans, Americans, Chinese, and even Indians, and no one seems to notice the African Jihad underway.

What I expect to see next, Is Western, especially Americanand Brittish Embassys and businesses as well as United Nations entities, to come under physcial attack, conducted by local Islamic groups, radicalized by Arabs, funded by Chinese oil money, using weapons purchased from the Russians (or Belorus). It is Already happening in Sudan, Somalia and Chad.

-Shimron

Monday, July 28, 2008

Aweys takes Control of Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) Killing Somalia Peace Accord

(allAfrica -Garowe) An exiled Somali Islamist leader has declared himself the new chairman of an opposition coalition, which is led by another Islamist who inked a peace pact with the country's Ethiopian-backed interim government on June 9th.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who lives in Eritrea, told the BBC Somali Service on Tuesday that he is now chairman of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), a coalition formed in September 2007 in Asmara that is composed of Islamists, ex-lawmakers and Diaspora activists.

"These men left...and the place [ARS] cannot be without leadership," Sheikh Aweys said, while referring to ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Central Committee head Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.
Sheikh Aweys, whom the U.S. government accuses of having terror links, rejected the Djibouti Accord between the Somali government and the ARS as "dividing the people."
  • When asked if he was anti-peace, the Islamist leader responded by questioning how genuine the governments of Ethiopia and Somalia are about the prospects of peace in the country.
  • "There is no pure, dependable peace included in it [Djibouti Accord]," Sheikh Aweys said, adding: "The biggest problem is that Ethiopia is supposed to be expelled from the country [Somalia] and the expulsion of Ethiopia is not very clear in the paper [Djibouti Accord]."
  • The sheikh suggested that there is no question about the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia, saying: "Ethiopia will leave, God willing."But he said the difference was in the way the Ethiopian army left Somali soil:
  • "The United Nations and the [Somali] Transitional Government want Ethiopia to leave saviors and helpers, but we want Ethiopia to withdraw as criminals who attacked a Muslim country."


    In 2006, Sheikh Aweys and Sheikh Sharif were the twin heads of the Islamic Courts movement that seized the capital Mogadishu from warlords and threatened the Transitional Government and its Ethiopian allies with war.


    Analysts describe Sheikh Aweys as a hardliner, while Sheikh Sharif has been embraced by many for his moderate qualities.

    But one Islamist insider, who spoke with Garowe Online on the condition of anonymity, said that commanders of the Somali insurgency "are more in line" with Sheikh Aweys' position on the Djibouti peace deal.

    AllAfrica aggregates and indexes content from over 125 African news organizations, plus more than 200 other sources, who are responsible for their own reporting and views. Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica.

    The Rest @ All Africa.com

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Namibia Installas Anti-Money Laundering Tool goAML

    Anti money-laundering technology created by UN agency installed in Namibia

    24 July 2008 – Information technology designed to help countries fight crimes such as money-laundering and the financing of terrorism has been installed at Namibia’s Financial Intelligence Centre with the help the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

    The software, called “goAML,” was created by UNODC to help financial intelligence and law enforcement agencies step up their fight against organized crime. The tool is also designed to be a low cost, off-the-shelf solution for developing countries that could not otherwise afford to develop such systems.

    According to UNODC, industry experts put the cost of similar software between $3 and $6 million on the open market. Meanwhile, “goAML” is supplied free of charge, with installation and licensing costs at about $200,000.

    At the request of Namibia’s National Bank, the new software will be used to process, analyse and report suspicious money transactions in line with domestic anti-money-laundering laws and regulations.
    • The software can analyze large volumes of data and help identify and understand complex patterns of financial transactions.
    • It also aims to introduce an element of standardization in gathering and processing financial intelligence information worldwide, with the aim of making international cooperation easier in the fight against financial crime.

    UNODC says the software will be installed in Pristina, Kosovo, next month and that the 108-member Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units is planning to test and evaluate it.

    Original @ -The UN NEws Centre

    HSBC Amanah moves into Islamic Finance

    HSBC Amanah, the Islamic finance part of HSBC, announced that it will launch a pilot project for Islamic microfinance in Rawalpindi, Pakistan with Islamic Relief.

    There were few details about how the microfinance will be carried out, but HSBC will provide the Shari'ah advisory and product structuring part and Islamic Relief will screen beneficiaries and administer the program. Dinar Standard discussed the opportunities for Islamic finance, particularly Islamic microfinance, to use the rapid growth in mobile phones to expand. The Principal Financial Group becomes the latest western financial firm to enter Islamic finance, announcing that it will work with CIMB Islamic in Malaysia. Islamic finance will also soon be available in the Maldives

    Resources:
    • A Malaysian paper presents a basic introduction to Islamic finance using the example of how takaful differs from conventional insurance.
    • An Kenyan paper features an article by the CEO of Gulf African Bank, an Islamic bank in the country, about the idea of 'time value of money' in Islamic finance.
    • Hong Kong will likely not change the tax law before the Airport Authority issues the first sukuk from a government agency in the city-state, although taxes (mostly asset transfer taxes) will be waived to ensure that the sukuk can be competitive with a conventional bond.
    • Failaka, a company commonly known for its survey of Islamic mutual funds around the world, recently published a guide to Shari'ah scholars with biographical, educational and professional details about the 100 most active Shari'ah scholars in the world.
    • Islamic financial firm Siraj Capital is launching a web portal on Islamic finance called Sukuk.net to provide information on the rapidly growing area of finance.
    • CPI Financial has an article on the higher than market returns seen in Shari'ah-compliant indexes in the second quarter of 2008, largely due to their exclusion of financial stocks.
    • Birmingham, UK is becoming the hub for retail Islamic finance in Europe and business there are encouraged to enter the Islamic finance market.
    • The Indonesian sukuk will be launched using an ijara structure using Finance Ministry assets. A domestic local currency sukuk will be issued while an international, dollar-denominated one will follow in October.

    UPDATE: Reuters reports that Indonesia will push back the dollar-denominated international sukuk to November because of lower business activity during the month of Ramadan.

    Islamic financial institutions face risks not only from cloning conventional products in Shari'ah-compliant forms, but also from cloning business models of established Islamic financial companies says the governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain.


    From Blake Goud @ ihiBlog

    AQIM Cuts off the Head of Algerian Farmer

    Bani, Algeria.

    A group of AQIM terrorists sabotaging a rural house and beheaded a 66 year old Farmer evening of July 12, reports Maghrebia, which claims the Algerian Press is concealing the incident.
    Algerian press concealing heavily on the attack.

    At approximately 8 pm more than twenty men under the age of 40 years raided the house of one small farmers in the region.


    A witness said "the men were heavily armed and wearing military clothes. They thought they were soldiers who raided the process. Immediately after entering the house they took the mobile phone and told the family to stay in the kitchen, where three guards ransacked the house. Terrorists have not delayed much in our demand for money and jewelry

    The Terrorists wanted the money obtained by the Farmer father under a programme to assist farmers. They seized 200 thousand dinars an d hunting rifles.They then were told to stay inside the house, and threatened to kill any of us if we tried to get out. "

    They took the Head of the family and left. Security forces found later in the man's body lying on the ground had cut his head off.

    The Community of 5000 has been terrified since

    The incident reminded many of the residents dark days nineties, during which the terrorists did not refrain from cutting of the heads of children, women and elders.

    In an attempt to understand this criminal act talked with Moroccan security affairs expert live tour. An unnamed security person suggested to the family that this was probably retaliation for failing to comply with blackmail payments. He added that Elements of the group usually targeted farmers, traders and owners of the liberal professions"

    No group claimed responsibility for the organization after the killing, but this area is a former stronghold of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which has now become Al Qaeda in the Maghreb ( AQIM )

    Local newspapers have avoided talk about the event but some people who said that this is due to the Interior Ministry, which usually deal with public information on terrorism has not issued any official statement on the incident.

    More @ The Medialine

    The Rest @ Maghrebia

    -This suggests a new Fund Raising Strategy for AQIM, and ads evidence to the possibility that AQIM is in need of cash, having recently been reinforced in numbers by veteran insurgents returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    -Shimron

    Steve Godbold to Be released?

    Steve Godbold, the American aid worker and missionary has been released or may be released in Baradi, Chad as early as today.

    He has Been Held since Septeber as a captive of the MDJT in Chad, in the Tibesti Region of Northern Chad.

    -More later

    -Shimron

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    AQIM Sells Martyrs to Al Qaeda in Iraq to Pay for their Jihad - Show me the Fatwa...

    July 24, 2008

    Moroccan Crackdown on Salafiya Jihadiya Recruitment of Fighters for Iraq
    07/23/2008 - By Thomas Renard (from Terrorism Focus, July 23) - For the third time this year, Morocco has announced the dismantling of a terrorist group.

    • February -Belraj -Moroccan Government arrests a terrorist team.
    • May - 11 terrorists arrested -severa groups were arested for plotting attacks in Morocco and Belgium
    • July 2 - Police arrested of 35 alleged recruiters for al-Qaeda operations in Morocco, Iraq and Algeria.

    According to the police, the recruiters formed an organized network active across the entire country. The arrests took place in Tangiers, Larache, Oujda, Tetouan, Rabat, Khouribga and Fes (AFP, July 2).

    • The network had been under surveillance for several months,
    • It was dismantled earlier this month, as there were signs of an imminent attack.
    • The local cells were apparently at the stage of pinpointing targets and the group leaders were waiting for the green light from al-Qaeda’s core leadership in order to launch bombing operations, according to security sources (Assabah, July 4).

    In a recent interview, Abdelhak Bassou, head of Morocco’s Renseignements Généraux, the domestic intelligence agency, said that 11 terrorists arrested in May were preparing attacks planned for this summer against tourist hotels in Morocco.

    Bassou did not specify whether the cells dismantled in May and July were related. However, he suggested that they were carrying out similar activities—recruiting for international jihad and plotting domestic attacks (AP, July 11).

    • Local cells dismantled this month across Morocco were only recently activated.
    • New cells have also been created, including those in towns that had been untouched by extremism so far, such as El Hajeb and Taourirt.
    • While several members of the network—including the alleged leader, known by his nom de guerre, Abu Makhlouf—traveled across the country to recruit volunteers, returnees from Iraq were charged with training the recruits according to security sources (Assabah, July 4).

    Although more information is still needed in this case, the central role played by Iraqi veterans in the creation and training of Moroccan cells should serve as a reminder of the danger constituted by former Iraqi fighters returning to their home countries or leaving for other destinations, following a similar pattern to the Afghan veterans.

    Although a wave of returnees is observed, the export of Moroccan jihadis continues. Indeed, most individuals recruited by the Abu Makhlouf network—around 30 jihadi candidates—were sent to Iraq.

    This represents only a fraction of the Moroccan fighters in Iraq. The data from Moroccan security services indicate that 16 other cells—previously dismantled—had managed to send more than 130 volunteers within the space of three years (Elaph, June 18).

    Considering that at least 15 more cells have been dismantled, some cells are still under surveillance, some cells are unknown to the police and some individuals travel by themselves, the number of Moroccan fighters in Iraq is probably much higher than official estimates.

    A security source revealed to Elaph the detailed itinerary of Moroccan jihadis joining the Iraqi insurgency.

    • First, they board an aircraft to Istanbul, Turkey.
    • From the airport, they take a cab to a travelers’ station where they buy a bus ticket to Damascus, Syria.
    • Once arrived, volunteers wait at a hotel for a smuggler, who is paid around $15,000 cash per trip (Elaph, June 18).

    The Abu Makhlouf network was also responsible for recruiting volunteers to join al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

    • Three individuals were allegedly sent to Algeria.
    • There are also indications that Abu Makhlouf personally traveled to southern Algeria, Mali and Mauritania in order to establish contacts with AQIM leadership (Assabah, July 4).
    • According to the police, the recently dismantled cells were part of the Salafiya Jihadiya, a Morocco-based Salafist movement. Moroccan authorities blamed this group for the 2003 Casablanca bombings. The Salafiya Jihadiya was also allegedly involved in the 2004 Madrid bombings and was accused of plotting an attack against U.S. Navy ships in the straits of Gibraltar in 2002.
    • The Salafiya Jihadiya is a particularly understudied and obscure jihadi organization

    The Rest by Thomas Renard @ Jamestown

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    AQIM Bombs Gas Pipeline in Hasi El-Ramel - 54K East of Algiers

    ALGIERS, July 19 (KUNA) -- Gunmen detonated Saturday a gas pipeline linking Hasi El-Ramel area with Laghouat province, 54 kilometers east of the capital.Security sources said that the gunmen, members of Al-Qaeda of Islamic Margeb (western) region, detonated regular explosive charge near the pipeline, inflicting major damages.The incident resulted in cutting off gas from several areas in Boumerdes and Bouira provinces.

    Source: Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)

    Is Le Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice ( MNJ ) Getting Al Qaeda Resources?

    The MNJ uprising in Niger, North Africa has a marketing scheme underway that is sophisticated, multi-dimensional, and has European connections. The government's main response is to ban cigarettes, displaying a breath taking lack of awareness that the MNJ's funding has evolved from just Sahara cigarette smuggling, to al-Qaeda-like criminality, including sophsitacted weapons and kidnapping.


    First, The MNJ's propoganda tools keep getting better.

    Seven months ago youtube got a new user envouaturesimone who seems to be close to the MNJ leadership, and has produced two low quality videos which champion the MNJ cause. This Month, al Jazeera sent a team in and has done several reports, including Niger's Nomand Army, and several others by other news groups.

    Perhaps it is coincidetal that all this new video coverage has hit the web since the MNJ web set added three European Based "leaders" Issouf MAHA, who claims to be Chargé de la Communication Cellule Politique MNJ en Europe (Communication for political cells in Europe), Ahmed AKOLI, claiming to be Secrétaire Général Cellule Politique MNJ en Europe, (Seceretary General for political cells), and Ghissa FELTOU, who claims to be Coordinateur Cellule Politique MNJ en Europe, Coordinator of political cells).


    Second, Their Weapons keep getting better.

    The MNJ recently claim to have new anti-tank missiles that look suspiciously like the missils sold to Libya by France in an oild deal a cuple of months ago. Though It is likely these were bought from a corrupt Libyan official, it suggests that funding sources for the MNJ have become more diverse.

    The Libyan connection casues me wonder if the MNJ are connected to the The Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT)the group that has held American Aid Worker Steve Godbold since September, 2007.

    The MNJ has recently announced a new offensive, and claimed to have "downed" two Russian made government MI-24 Attack Helicopters.

    Finally, This is the same pattern that AQIM followed before they became the al-Qaeda franchise in the Magreb region of the Western Sahara Desert.


    What ever the reason, The situation put's France's primary Uranium source (nuclear power) at risk.

    -Shimron

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    AQIM Finanaces are Targeted

    Experts from the U.S. Bureau of Terror Proprieties Control will be participating in a two day workshop in Algiers on financial support mechanism of al Qaeda’s worldwide networks. The workshop, which starts today, aims to display methods of drying terror financing sources.

    A source told El Khabar newspaper the workshop has been initiated by “competent national authorities,” with a contribution of the UN which is to be represented by analytical support and supervisory team against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

    Another source said the U.S. experts and the UN mission are to present a line of recommendations in terms of fighting financial sources of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb by freezing assets of its leaders in Europe and the U.S.

    The Rest @ the CBS Evening NEws

    Four AQIM Leaders added to the OFAC List

    SALAH GASMI
    AKAs:Salah Abu MuhamadSalah Abu MohamedBounouadher
    DOB:l3 April l97lPOB:Zeribet El Oued, Biskra, Algeria

    • Gasmi is the head of AQIM's information committee and is responsible for developing statements, circulating claims of responsibility for terrorist activities, and creating videos for AQIM.
    • As AQIM's representative to the media, Gasmi issued AQIM's claim of responsibility for its kidnapping of the Austrian hostages. Gasmi is one of the principal figures negotiating with the Austrian government for the release of the hostages.
    • He represents AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel's interests in the negotiations. Droukdel was added to the U.N. list on August 27, 2007 and was named an SDGT by the Treasury Department on December 4, 2007.
    • Gasmi also directs AQIM's internet communications with al Qaida senior leadership.

    YAHIA DJOUADI

    AKAs:Yahia Abu AmarAbu AlaAbou Alam

    DOB:1 January 1967POB:M'Hamid, Sidi Bel Abbas, Algeria

    • Djouadi is based in northern Mali and serves as the leader of AQIM in Africa's Sahara-Sahel region (also known as the AQIM South Zone).
    • He is responsible for managing AQIM members in the South Zone and was actively recruiting Mauritanians as of early 2008.
    • Djouadi provided financial and operational support to a Moroccan AQIM-affiliated extremist who planned to establish an AQIM support base in North Africa.
    • Djouadi headed the AQIM military committee prior to his appointment as AQIM South Zone Emir.

    AHMED DEGHDEGH

    AKAs:Abd Al IllahAbu Abdallah
    DOB:17 January 1967POB:Anser, Jijel, Algeria

    Deghdegh is AQIM's finance chief.

    • Deghdegh has relayed AQIM messages in ongoing hostage negotiations; as AQIM's designated negotiator, Deghdegh communicated stipulations for the release of the hostages and issued ransom demands.
    • Deghdegh has acknowledged that AQIM has worked to undermine the interests of countries that support U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

    ABID HAMMADOU


    AKAs:Abid HamaduAbdelhamid Abu ZeidAbdelhamid Abou ZeidYoucef AdelAbu Abdellah
    DOB:12 December 1965POB:Touggourt, Ouargla, Algeria

    • Hammadou is the deputy leader of AQIM's Tarek Ibn Zaid battalion and is based in northern Mali.
    • Hammadou was involved in kidnapping the Austrian tourists for AQIM in February 2008.
    • In 2003, Hammadou participated in the kidnapping of 32 foreign tourists in Algeria by the GSPC, AQIM's predecessor organization.
    • Hammadou was appointed by regional AQIM leader al-Para to lead the Tarek Ibn Zaid battalion, which carried out the kidnapping (El Para, AKA Saifi Ammari, was named an SDGT on December 5, 2003).
    • Hammadou and other members of the battalion received part of the ransom paid to liberate the tourists and allegedly used the funds to purchase weapons.
    • In June 2005, Hammadou led a unit of AQIM operatives in an attack on a Mauritanian military outpost that killed fifteen soldiers and wounded at least another fifteen.
    • Hammadou established a camp for AQIM recruits in northern Mali that included training in combat techniques, making and defusing bombs, and guerilla tactics.

    This means that any of their financial assets found anywhere that touch any US Bank will be siezed, and that significant US resources may be used to find them.

    -Shimron

    The Rest @ the US Office of Foreign Asset Control

    Bank Markazi Anticipating Internet Access Restrictions

    Bank Markazi Jomhouri Islami Iran (Central Bank) appears to be newly posting it's full contact information in small innocuous business indexes.

    My guess is that this is in an attempt to get as many links as possible when their main websites go down or are blocked when the sanctions hit....


    Here is an example:

    -Shimron

    UN Food Program and the MNJ

    It appears that the UN Food Program Office in France may be gathering information on an obscure Rebel Commander in the MNJ named Aghali Alambo, possibly to see if there is an al Qaeda connection.

    -Shimron

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Venezuelan Drug Planes Held in Guinnea Bissau

    21 July 2008

    BISSAU - Authorities in Guinea-Bissau are holding two planes that landed in the westAfrican country from Venezuela with more than 500 kilos (1,100 pounds) of cocaine aboard, police said Saturday.

    The two twin-engined aircraft landed without authorisation at Bissau's airport last weekend.

    The crew, said to be an unknown number of South Americans, subsequently fled, airport sources said.

    The sources said the aircraft were found to be carrying 500 kilos and 15 kilos of cocaine respectively.

    Police sources said a senior army officer was believed to be implicated in the racket but did not name him.
    Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has become a hub for drug smuggling from Latin America to Europe.

    On Thursday a speedboat loaded with an estimated 700 kilos of cocaine docked at Quinhamel, 40 kilometres west of the capital, a police source said.
    • Men in uniform had unloaded and taken it to Bissau without being challenged, he added.
    • Earlier this month a senior police officer, Lucinda Barbosa Ahukarie, said that since 2006 some 300 tonnes of cocaine had passed through Guinea-Bissau every year.
    • Only 334 kilos had been seized by police, she said at the first graduation ceremony of police trained in Brazil to combat drug-trafficking.
    • They will have a tough job, given the weakness of the country's government, the poverty of its inhabitants, widespread corruption and the almost total lack of a judicial system.
    The Rest @ Radioalgo

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Tunisian Government Officials Receive Terrorist Convictions

    Fri, Jul 18, 2008 (8:21 a.m.)

    The Associated Press

    Two government officials have been convicted and sentenced to prison in connection with an alleged plot to carry out terror attacks and overthrow the Tunisian government, according to their lawyer and court documents.

    The documents were the first public information about the case against national security official Souhail Guezdah, deputy prison chief Sami Belhaj Aissa and three other defendants.

    Guezdah, a local chief of Tunisia's national security force, and Hicham Barrak, a sports teacher, were sentenced Wednesday to nine years in prison on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization and of having provided information to help plot terrorist attacks.

    Hedhili Djait, a cell phone vendor, was sentenced to eight years on similar charges and for having provided the group with its hideout.

    Aissa, deputy chief of the Borj El Amri prison near Tunis, and Faouzi Ayachi Alimi, whose profession was not identified on the court documents, were handed four-year sentences for not having warned authorities that terrorist attacks were being planned.

    The court in the capital, Tunis, said the men, who belonged to the Salafist strain of Islam, had rented a house as a hideout in the central Tunisia town of Kairouan, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of the capital, Tunis. Kairouan is considered one of Islam's holiest cities.

    The defendants denied all the accusations and defense lawyer Samir Ben Amor said he intended to appeal.

    "Their file is empty," Ben Amor told The Associated Press, saying that no documents or other material evidence had been produced to back the accusations. Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, say that Tunisian court proceedings often fail to meet international standards.

    Ben Amor said that about 1,000 people have been sentenced or indicted in Tunisia under a tough new law passed in 2003 to boost anti-terrorism efforts. The government has not confirmed that figure.

    A moderate Muslim nation and a Western ally, Tunisia is a mass tourism destination and does not face the same terrorism threats as its neighbor, Algeria. But various security observers say the country has experienced a rise of radical Islam similar to the rest of North Africa.

    The Rest @ Las Vegas Sun

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    MNJ on New Offensive, New anti-tank weapons

    The MNJ has announced a new offensive, and appear to be equipiped with state of the art anti-tank weapons.

    Here are exerpts from their web site, posted on 11/7/08

    -Shimron

    • During the night of 10 to 11 July 2008, 18h 30 Specifically, we conducted a raid on the company's military and the governorate of Agadez. .
    • The raid is the prelude to the offensive that we will, in turn, bring against the army "Nigerian" and the power of Niamey, it is now clear, are unable to distinguish between responsibility and weakness .
    • Indeed, the MNJ has used every means to show that despite the military option he has been forced to take, he always worked to give the conflict a pace that endeuillerait least Nigerian families.
    • We encourage all civilians to evacuate the vicinity of military barracks and nearby institutions representing the power of Niamey, inside the country.

    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    Gazprom Planning Libya-Europe Pipeline

    10 July Bloomberg- By Lucian Kim

    Gazprom, Russia's state- controlled energy company, offered to buy all oil and gas available for export from Libya, threatening to grab greater control of Europe's energy supplies.

    Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller made the proposal to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi during a visit to Tripoli yesterday, the Moscow-based company said in a statement.
    • Libya exported about 1.53 million barrels of oil a day in 2006, almost enough to supply Italy.
    • Gazprom considers the country its priority partner in North Africa and said it registered a unit called Gazprom Libya in Tripoli.
    • Less than a month ago the company opened its first African office in neighboring Algeria. Russia, the world's largest producer of natural gas, is seeking to lead closer coordination among nations that produce the fuel.

    The Libyan side positively evaluated Gazprom's proposal to buy all future volumes of gas, oil and liquefied natural gas assigned for export at competitive prices,'' Gazprom said. The two sides agreed to start talks on Gazprom buying ``available volumes of Libyan hydrocarbons,'' according to the statement, which didn't give further details.

    • They also agreed to set up a joint venture to modernize existing oil refineries and build new plants.
    • Russia will host a meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum later this year.
    • Gas Transportation Gazprom also said it received a proposal to help build ``new gas transportation capacity'' from Libya to Europe. ``Libya's traditional customers shouldn't worry,'' Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corp., said in a phone interview.
    • Gazprom offered to buy whatever gas or oil that Libya has available for selling, or that has no buyer. It is not offering to take all of Libya's production.''

    Libya, Africa's third-largest oil producer, wants to forge new energy partnerships after nearly two decades of international sanctions. The African nation produced 15.2 billion cubic meters of gas last year, piping 9.2 billion to Italy, and pumped 1.85 million barrels of oil a day, according to BP Plc data.

    Eni SpA, Italy's largest oil company, has been in Libya since 1959 and has an average daily output of 550,000 barrels of oil equivalent from the nation.

    • Supply Accord Eni and Libya last month extended an oil and gas supply agreement for 25 years, after agreeing last October to jointly invest $28 billion over a decade to expand energy production.
    • No Eni official could be immediately reached for comment. `

    `Nobody needs to worry, not the Americans, not the Italians who have contracts with us,'' Ghanem said. ``We will respect all the contractual terms in all the contracts.'' ``Gazprom is just another customer and they're asking for whatever extra supply we might have. If the price is right, we will sell to them.''

    • Gazprom's possible move into Libya may weigh on a U.S. strategy to weaken the Russian company's grip over supplies of gas to Europe.
    • The U.S. is trying to line up new gas supplies from friendly governments in Central Asia, such as Azerbaijan, and from Iraq for shipment to Europe via pipelines that skirt Russia.

    Bloomberg

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    al Qaeda Afghanistan Gives Orders to al Qaeda in Somlia

    On June 22, 2008, Islamist websites posted a video message by Al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan Abu Yahya Al-Libi, titled "Somalia – No Peace without Islam."

    • Al-Libi denounced the agreement signed earlier this month by the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the Somali government,
    • He urges the Somali mujahideen to continue their jihad until an Islamic state is established in the country.
    • He also calls on the mujahideen to oppose the deployment of international peacekeeping forces in Somalia, and exhorts them to fight "the collaborating apostate government in Mogadishu" even if some of its members are their own relative

    Source - MEMRI

    Monday, July 07, 2008

    Is There a Shabaabi Cease Fire being Discussed?

    Somalia has a "window of opportunity'' to end its 17-year civil war and needs help from the international community to enforce a cease-fire agreed upon last month, said Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.

    Islamists from the al-Shabaab militia rejected last month's Asamara agreement and continued attacks on the Ethiopian and Somali Federal troops.

    Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein said that he hoped the preliminary cease-fire agreement will be concluded "very soon'' at a meeting in Saudi Arabia. He didn't elaborate.

    Under terms of the Asamara agreement agreement, militias loyal to the transitional government and the ARS are to stop fighting within 30 days of the truce becoming final.

    Ethiopian forces that helped oust the Islamic Courts Union government from Mogadishu are then to withdraw within four months and be replaced by a UN peacekeeping force.

    The Rest @ Bloomberg

    To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

    Is There a Shabaabi Cease Fire being Discussed?

    Somalia has a "window of opportunity'' to end its 17-year civil war and needs help from the international community to enforce a cease-fire agreed upon last month, said Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.

    Islamists from the al-Shabaab militia rejected last month's Asamara agreement and continued attacks on the Ethiopian and Somali Federal troops.

    Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein said that he hoped the preliminary cease-fire agreement will be concluded "very soon'' at a meeting in Saudi Arabia. He didn't elaborate.

    Under terms of the Asamara agreement agreement, militias loyal to the transitional government and the ARS are to stop fighting within 30 days of the truce becoming final.

    Ethiopian forces that helped oust the Islamic Courts Union government from Mogadishu are then to withdraw within four months and be replaced by a UN peacekeeping force.

    The Rest @ Bloomberg

    To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

    Sunday, July 06, 2008

    AQIM the al Qaeda Franchise, a brief History


    The New York Times, in its most recent drive-by journalistic effort, has written a piece that claims as its primary source is Garowe online, a pro-jhad online news organization with al-Qaeda connections, but has interviewed a number of participants, so it merits a review.

    I read the article with the objective of gaining insight into how al Qaeda develops its network affiliates.

    al Qaeda is creating an influential terror-group network across North Africa. This NY Times story is about AQIM, al Qaeda's most succesfull effort to date, but this same process is underway with other regional groups in Niger, Chad, Libya, Tunisia,Congo, Uganda and Kenya, to name a few.

    Keep in the mind al Qaeda is working more quietly in Mozambique, Zanzibar, (Tanzania), Madagascar, South Africa, Angola, and Cameroon, to name a few more.

    What follows is a summary of points from the NY Times article:

    -Shimron

    A photograph provided by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and verified by The New York Times shows Abdelmalek Droukdal, fourth from left. He is the AQIM leader.




    Their nationalist battle against the Algerian military was faltering. “We didn’t have enough weapons,” recalled a former militant lieutenant, Mourad Khettab, 34. “The people didn’t want to join. And money, we didn’t have enough money.”


    • Then the leader of the group, a university mathematics graduate named Abdelmalek Droukdal, sent a secret message to Iraq in the fall of 2004. to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and formed a partnership.

    • AQIM, as the Algerian group has come to be known, have grown from gun fights into suicide truck bombings, like the United Nations offices in Algiers.

    • They have kidnapped and killed European tourists as their reach expands throughout northern Africa.

    • Last month, they did a pair of bombs outside a train station east of Algiers, the second one timed to hit emergency responders. A French engineer and his driver were killed by the first bomb; the second one failed to explode.

    • al Qaeda expanded its reach by bringing local militants under the Qaeda brand.

    • The Algerian group offers Al Qaeda hundreds of experienced fighters and a potential connection to militants living in Europe.

    • Over the past 20 months, suspects of North African origin have been arrested in Spain, France, Switzerland and Italy, although their connection to the Algerians is not always clear.

    The inside story of the group, pieced together through dozens of interviews with militants and with intelligence, military and diplomatic officials, shows that the Algerians’ decision to join Al Qaeda was driven by both practical forces and the global fault line of Sept. 11, 2001.



    • Droukdal cited religious motivations for his group’s merger with Al Qaeda.

    • "If the U.S. administration sees that its war against the Muslims is legitimate, then what makes us believe that our war on its territories is not legitimate?” Mr. Droukdal said in an audiotape in response to a list of questions from The New York Times, apparently his first contact with a journalist.
      Everyone must know that we will not hesitate in targeting it whenever we can and wherever it is on this planet,” he said.

    • Interviews with American, European and Arab officials and a former lieutenant in Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb indicate that more opportunistic factors were at play in the growth of the group.

    • A long-running government offensive against the Algerian insurgents had nearly crushed the group, officials said.

    • They needed the Qaeda imprimatur to raise money and to shed their outlaw status in radical Muslim circles as a result of their slaughtering of civilians in the 1990s.

    • The Iraq war also was drawing many of the group’s best fighters, according to Mr. Khettab and a militant who trained Algerians in Iraq for Mr. Zarqawi.

    • Embracing the global jihad was seen as a way to keep more of these men under the Algerian group’s control and recruit new members.

    Then, in March 2004, a covert American military operation led to the capture of one of the group’s top deputies. A few months later, Mr. Droukdal reached out to Mr. Zarqawi to get the man released.



    • Mr. Zarqawi seized the opportunity to convince him that Al Qaeda could revive his operations, a former top leader of the Algerian group says.

    • Just as the Qaeda leadership has been able to reconstitute itself in Pakistan’s ungoverned tribal areas,

    • Al Qaeda’s North Africa offshoot is now running small training camps for militants from Morocco, Tunisia and as far away as Nigeria,

    • The State Department in April categorized the tribal areas and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as the two top hot spots in its annual report on global terrorism.

    • The threat is felt most acutely in Europe and in particular in France, which ruled Algeria for 132 years until 1962 and is a major trading partner with the authoritarian government in Algiers.

    Souad Mekhennet, Michael Moss,Eric Schmitt, Elaine Sciolino, Margot Williams, and Basil Katz were all listed as participants in this work.



    The Rest @ the NY Times

    Shabaab Worried About Support in Bay and Bakool Regions

    5 Jul 5, 2008 - 7:33:09 PM

    BAIDOA, Somalia July 5 (Garowe Online) - Al Shabaab militants in Somalia have issued a threat to some of the country's lawmakers, saying that the armed group "will attack Baidoa" if lawmakers do not stop their support for an upcoming military operation.

    Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur," spokesman for al Shabaab, told Mogadishu media that the group had received credible intelligence that some lawmakers belonging to the Digil and Mirifle clan-family of Bay and Bakool regions are planning to attack al Shabaab bases in the area.

    "The Digil and Mirifle parliamentarians want to attack Islam and to bring conflict to peaceful regions," said Abu Mansur, himself a member of the Digil and Mirifle clan-family.

    Al Shabaab guerrillas have been very active in Bay and Bakool regions and have recently gained control of several districts in the region. ...

    ....So far, no lawmaker has responded to al Shabaab's threats but one insider told Garowe Online that Abu Mansur's threat is an "indication" that the armed group is worried about its support base in Bay and Bakool regions.

    -The Rest @ Garowe OnLine

    Islamic Finance In Africa - A Source for Financing Jihad

    Sharia compliant finance, due to it's tradition, methods, and Zakat practices is by its nature and the sympathies of those who administer it, a significant source for potential terrorist Financing.

    Unless these products, and Islamic Banking institutions begin to operate with transparency, they

    It is not my purpose here to debate this statement, but to simply track where and how sharia compliant finance is spreading in Africa.

    The following article provides an update from Islamic Analysts on the status of the Industry

    -Shimron

    North Africa is beginning to see more growth in Islamic finance, although the higher cost of Islamic finance products is proving to be a greater hurdle than in the GCC countries, where consumers were less sensitive to cost initially. However, like the GCC where consumers are becoming more sensitive to the cost of Islamic financial products, some banks in Tunisia and Morocco have begun to offer Shari'ah-compliant products which are cost competitive with similar conventional financial products.

    • During the recent worldwide boom in equities, Islamic finance was seen to be under performing conventional alternatives, but the credit crunch and slump in equity prices has led to changing opinions about the relative performance and riskiness of Shari'ah-compliant versus conventional investments says Jahangir Aka, senior executive of SEI in the Middle East. The avoidance of the financial sector is just one reason these funds have been more stable than conventional alternatives over the previous year.
    • The greater due diligence and 'buy and hold' investment approach, along with the avoidance of highly leveraged companies, has led to more robust returns in periods of instability in the financial markets.
    • Gartmore, a UK-based investment company, has also pointed out that investors see greater safety in Shari'ah-compliant methods of financing due to the recent volatility and Islamic finance's reliance on 'real assets' to underpin financing.
    • The lack of market makers in sukuk has slowed the development of a secondary market and made it difficult to determine current value of outstanding sukuk issues.
    • The lack of qualified professionals, as well as scholars, is still currently threatening the sustainability of current growth rates in Islamic finance.
    • This shortage has spurred the development of new academic and professional training schools for Islamic finance professionals.
    • One group of professionals who are entering Islamic finance rapidly is lawyers. Islamic banking advisor Lahem Al-Nasser argues that many of the new products offered by Islamic banks are nothing more than new marketing methods, like a credit card in Saudi Arabia that earns airline miles.
    • Instead, Islamic banks need to encourage more creativity by not focusing too much on expenditure for new product development or dismissing those who develop unsuccessful products, which he believes "cripples creative thinking".
    • The growth in Islamic finance products and development of new products, however, is not entirely without controversy. A contributor to CPI Financial discusses the different ways to replicate short selling in Shari'ah-compliant ways.
    • Despite having great potential for developing a market for Islamic finance, France has been slow to encourage growth in the industry, says a special comment from Moody's Investors Service.
    • In contrast, Kenya has seen its Islamic financial industry growing rapidly as banks begin to offer a growing range of Islamic finance products.
    • India's Islamic finance industry is just beginning to start growing rapidly and some companies like Reliance Money, have begun expanding into the GCC offering Islamic financial products.

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