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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Al-Rajhi Bank

This year Al-Rajhi Bank started operations in neighboring Kuwait and more recently in Jordan, where it was granted a license by the Central Bank of Jordan last year to open a branch in Amman. This is a far cry from only a decade or so ago when the bank was renowned for its insularity, parochialism and conservative approach to banking - both in terms of geographic expansion and product innovation. Even in more recent years, Al-Rajhi Bank was a notable absentee from the flourishing global sukuk market, for instance, both as an originator and as investor on the grounds that its Shariah Board was not satisfied with the structures of the sukuk on offer in the market.

The rationale then was that the bank's balance sheet was large enough and very profitable and therefore there was no need to venture beyond the shores of Saudi Arabia and into exotic products whose Shariah-compliance was contentious. This was symptomatic of an institution which had the audacity (or the folly some would say) to take the entire risk of the SR800 million Al-Shuaiba Power Plant (Eastern) on its books by refusing to sell down the financing to others or through a syndication.

However, the breakthrough came in 2010 when Al-Rajhi Bank collaborated with Cagamas Berhad, the National Mortgage Corporation of Malaysia and leading securitization house, to develop and launch the Sukuk al-Amanah Li al-Istithmar (Sukuk ALIm), which was the underlying structure for Cagamas's RM5 billion Islamic Commercial Paper (ICP) and Islamic Medium Term Note (IMTN) program.

This "first-of-its-kind" and "innovative" structure was sold to investors in Saudi Arabia and is a manifestation of Al-Rajhi's new-found strategy of bridging the gap and facilitating cross-border activity in the Islamic capital market between Malaysia and the Middle East.

Al-Rajhi Bank of course traces its roots to its trading and money changing operations established in the Kingdom in 1957 by the founder Saleh bin Abdul Aziz Al-Rajhi and his brothers. In 1987 the group's money changing business was consolidated into a joint stock holding company and a full-fledged Islamic bank, Al-Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation (ARABIC), which is regulated by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA). It has since then been transformed into a mega bank complete with name change to Al-Rajhi Bank with total assets of around $46 billion and a paid up capital of $4 billion, and employing some 7,500 people and serving more than 3.25 million customers largely in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kuwait and Jordan.

The link with Malaysia has several important implications and will also impact on Al-Rajhi Bank's approach in doing business in Kuwait and Jordan. Over the last two years there has been much talk about setting up mega Islamic banks with a paid-up capital of between $1 billion to $5 billion. Saleh Kamel of Albaraka Banking Group (ABG) has been championing such an institution but without much success because ABG was expecting others to contribute much of the equity.
Saleh passed on the project to the Islamic Development Bank, which has commissioned Ernst & Young to do a third consecutive feasibility study on the viability of such a mega bank. Last year, Bank Negara Malaysia announced that it plans to give licenses for three mega Islamic banks to qualifying promoters on condition that the paid-up capital was a minimum of $1 billion and of course subject to the provisions of the Islamic Banking Act 1983.

The reality is that while these other projects are pretenders, Al-Rajhi Bank is the original Islamic mega bank. The fact that it is now creeping out of its shell and expanding abroad augurs well for the Islamic banking industry.

Its expansion into Malaysia is a unique success story of how a foreign bank can successfully penetrate a new market and take on some of the major domestic players in the commercial banking market. Al-Rajhi Bank's strategy in Malaysia was based on a sound strategy, patience, requisite resources and initial product offerings and the right leadership. In the space of a mere few years Al-Rajhi Bank Malaysia has expanded with over 24 branches and an ATM network with over 21,000 POS installed throughout the country. In terms of product innovation it recently launched a physical gold-based investment product and is expanding into the equities market - all with the aim of bridging the GCC/Middle East and Asia markets.

There are those who would like Al-Rajhi Bank to expand even faster as the torchbearer of a successful mega Islamic bank with the capacity, products and services, and the resources of the likes of the conventional banking majors. The other Islamic banks that have the potential of becoming mega banks include Dubai Islamic Bank, Kuwait Finance House (KFH), CIMB and Maybank. Dubai Islamic Bank has been plagued by two major scandals since it was established as the world's first commercial Islamic bank in 1975. KFH has the potential but it has had corporate governance issues and its business has been affected in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. CIMB and Maybank, while the two biggest banks in Malaysia, have not ventured abroad in any meaningful way.

Its foray into Jordan has other implications for it will compete with Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB), which was established in 1978 as one of the pioneering commercial Islamic banks, and with Arab International Islamic Bank (AIIB), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arab Bank Group. Al-Rajhi Bank has already opened two fully operational branches in Amman - one in Shmeisani and another in Abdullah Ghosheh Street, with more branches expected to be launch in the near future at various locations nationwide.

With its edge in resources and product suites, the Bank threatens to provide stiff competition to the other two Islamic banks, JIB and AIIB. The bank, for instance, is now the only one in Jordan to offer a Murabaha-based personal finance product that also allows customers to consolidate debts in a single installment.

According to Tarek Akel, regional manger of Al-Rajhi Bank in Jordan, the bank is a manifestation of the group's commitment to establishing a global Islamic banking network, and is eager to bring its varied array of Islamic banking solutions to the Jordanian market. The aim is to introduce quality products and services specifically tailored to meet the demands of the local market.

]The dominant market position of JIB, one of the unassuming success stories of Islamic finance, is likely to remain uncontested over the foreseeable future. But once Al-Rajhi Bank Jordan consolidates its operations and position in Jordan (like the group did in Malaysia), the bank's market share inevitably will increase. JIB is a relatively smaller bank than Al-Rajhi Bank and AIIB is inextricably linked to the group Islamic banking strategy.

Jordan is also constrained by the size of its economy and financial services sector.
As such, with their huge experience in Islamic finance, Jordanian Islamic banks should be the natural gateway for Islamic finance in the Palestinian Territories and perhaps more importantly to Iraq and Syria. While the former two are still mired in political deadlock in their respective situations, Islamic finance is starting to make genuine inroads into Syria, where the Central Bank has already authorized five Islamic banks. However, with the street protests in Syria set to continue, the financial sector there is also in retreat.

Hassan Mahat Omar Designated as Terrorist by OFAC

Hassan Mahat Omar

The Treasury designation also included Hassan Mahat Omar, a previously unknown Shabaab leader who operates from Nairobi, Kenya.

  • Omar is described as a "a key figure in al Shabaab's efforts to recruit new members and raise funds"
  • "an ideological leader of al Shabaab."
  • He also "exercises leadership and decision-making authority in al Shabaab's internal political and operational decisions."
  • Omar operates from a mosque in the Eastleigh section of Nairobi, where he serves as "a key leader."
  • Omar and other Shabaab leaders use the Eastleigh mosque to "raise funds, recruit and disseminate propaganda on behalf of al Shabaab."

As a religious leader, Omar has used his position to issue fatwas, or edicts, in favor of Shabaab. His fatwas "have provided al-Shabaab with the religious justification to wage jihad against Somalia's Transitional Federal Government."

The Rest @ The Long War Journal

Why Al Shabaab Believes They Cannot Let Non-Muslim Aid Come to Somalia

al Shabaab has recently outlawed a popular triangle shaped bit of stuffed bread called a samosa. It appears the three sided snack appears "too Christian" This bizarre announcement comes on the tail of other religious rulings suggesting that al Shabaab's version of Sharia law continues to grow more conservative.

In the mind of a strict Salfayaa, they believe that God is distant, and can only be pleased by acts of sacrifice and rigorous religious behavior. They believe that their God is sovereign, in control of all events past, present and future.Al Shabaab's recent losses in all corners of their war suggest to them that their God is displeased and is punishing them. Therefore, they respond in the most appropriate way they can, in their mind, which is to seek out and "correct" irreligious behavior, no mater how small and insignificant. In essence, this is is al Shabaab's version of Sharia law.

Al Shabaab knows they are failing their God, and they will adopt more and more bizarre restrictions as they become more desperate to please him.

This is the reason they believe they cannot let non-Muslim foreign aid agencies into their territory. Their God is already punishing them, and he will punish them more in they let in any help from non-Muslim sources. They believe the famine is a test, a trial. If they give in, then the entire war they created, all their sacrifice, all their "cleansing work" will be for nothing.

Their leaders believe giving in, even for food for starving children, will be even more painful for them then letting them die.

This alone makes them world class war criminals, but they have already committed enough atrocities that they are destined for death or the Hague.

The only mediation that may help is for aid agencies to find a Salafi cleric that al Shabaab respects enough to hear, but who has not committed war crimes himself. Then, they can work through the Da'wa issues.

The only other option is to give the aid to al Shabaab for distribution, but this will fuel more war, a tax will come off the top, and Al Shabaab's Mujahdeen, who are a protected class under Sharia,will get fed before any Muslim child gets the food.


Someone Searching for abdullahi yusuf aka nasiru in Boko Haram

Someone in or near Lagos Nigeria, sent out

"Who is wanted abdullahi yusuf aka nasiru member in boko haram"

on a Nokia smart phone as indicated below.
IP Address
41.190.3.165

at
31 Jul 12:54:49

This may be abdullahi yusuf aka nasiru or someone close to them.

************************************
Search Referral: www.google.com — Who is wanted abdullahi yusuf aka nasiru member in boko haram
Host Name: Browser: Opera
IP Address: 41.190.3.165 — [Label IP Address] Operating System: SymbianOS
Location: Lagos, Nigeria Resolution: 314x200
Returning Visits: 0 Javascript: Enabled
Visit Length: 5 mins 33 secs ISP: Emts Limited / Etisalat Nigeria

www.google.com — Who is wanted abdullahi yusuf aka nasiru member in boko haram
31 Jul 12:54:49
shimronletters.blogspot.com/2011/06/boko-haram-bombs-national-police.html

shimronletters.blogspot.com/2011/06/boko-haram-bombs-national-police.html
31 Jul 12:56:26
shimronletters.blogspot.com/2011/06/boko-haram-bombs-national-police.html

shimronletters.blogspot.com/2011/06/boko-haram-bombs-national-police.html
31 Jul 12:58:55
shimronletters.blogspot.com/search/label/Abu%20Laith%20al-Libi

shimronletters.blogspot.com/search/label/Abu%20Laith%20al-Libi
31 Jul 13:00:22
shimronletters.blogspot.com/2007/11/al-qaeda-giving-up-on-aqim-for-lifg.html

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Afghan Heroine trafficking Growing in East AfricaT

Drug traffickers faced with restrictions to transit routes through Asia and the Middle East are turning to eastern Africa, driving up instability and increasing substance abuse, a United Nations report said.

The U.N.'s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Africa's emergence as an important heroin transport route in 2009 was of serious concern in a region ill-equipped to fight trafficking or care for people addicted to drugs.

"Drug seizures and the arrest of traffickers indicated that African drug traffickers -- particularly West African networks -- are increasingly transporting Afghan heroin from Pakistan into East Africa for onward shipment to Europe and elsewhere," it said in a global report on the Afghan opium trade.

Afghanistan is the world's biggest producer of opium, the base ingredient of heroin, and over 40 percent of this flowed into Pakistan in 2009 before being transported worldwide as part of the $68 billion global opiate market.

Released late on Friday, the report said there were two major heroin seizures during the first quarter of 2011, each of more than 100 kg (220 pounds), reported by Kenya and Tanzania.

"The emergence of Africa as a heroin trafficking hub is almost certainly due to ongoing corruption, widespread poverty and limited law enforcement capacity -- as well as increased pressure on traditional drug trafficking routes," it said.

This provided an incentive to reopen the African route to Europe that had been very active in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Traffickers are exploiting poorly-staffed seaports and airports and the lower cost and ease of transporting drugs through Africa makes the extra distance worthwhile.

In 2009, an estimated 150 tonnes of Afghan heroin reached Europe, 120 tonnes arrived in Asia and 45 tonnes came to Africa, the UNODC said.

Organised crime groups are the main beneficiaries of this trade, the report said. It estimated that Afghan drug traffickers earned $2.2 billion in 2009, the Taliban around $155 million and Afghan farmers $440 million.

The increasing amounts of heroin reaching Africa appear to be fuelling drug use, with authorities reporting more cases.

"However, drug abuse estimates are likely to be unrealistically low due to a lack of comprehensive data," the report said.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

4 Killed by Islamist Group in el-Arish, Egypt

About 100 armed men rode through the town of el-Arish on Friday in cars and on motorcycles, waving flags with Islamic slogans and firing in the air, Sinai security sources said.

They attacked a police station and engaged in a shootout with policemen and soldiers, the sources said. An army officer and three civilian bystanders were shot dead. A policeman and a Palestinian suspect were reported to have died later from injuries suffered in the battle.

Witnesses said the attackers, many of whom wore masks, did not seem to be from the area as they lost their way several times before reaching the police station.

There was no word on the identity of the armed group, but MENA quoted the head of security in north Sinai as saying Egyptians and Palestinians were among 12 suspects arrested and under investigation.

The Gaza Strip, ruled by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, borders Sinai to the north.

A statement from the health ministry identified the three civilian dead as an 18-year-old man, a boy of 13 and a 70-year-old man.

Four army officers, nine security guards, two policemen and six civilians were wounded in the attack, MENA and a security source said.

(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed, Marwa Awad and Shaimaa Fayed; Writing by Marwa Awad and Shaimaa

The Rest @ Rueters

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Blind Men and the Elephant and Africa's Great War

The ongoing, multi-generational, multi national war centered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but involving 25 countries is so complex and multifaceted that any analysis must be considered like information from the Blind Men and the Elephant. Some parts are very accurate, but conclusions are likely wrong.

Wikipedia is doing well to try and inductively stack up the facts, but the old elephant still seems to be young, and is changing as it grows.

The roots of the conflict seems to emerge from Five Interactive conflicts, creating a self-sustaining death machine that may have caused as many as 5.4 million war-related deaths between 1998 and 2008 , and are still causing as many as 46,000 deaths a month.

  1. Tutsi- Hutu tribes seeking each others genocide in The Kivu Conflict.
  2. An honest civil war ending in an untenable peace
  3. Cannibalism of Pygmies by many tribes
  4. Vast reserves of precious minerals and Diamonds, and large multinational corporations paying who ever temporarily holds the mines.
  5. Socialist African countries coming to each other's aid
The first answer is does any group of countries care enough to intervene?

The right question is how does the killing stop long enough to create space for an alternative to being a soldier emerges?

The final answer is - until the precious mineral funding stops, the war will continue until everyone is dead by war or famine. Starvation of funds must create space so that these five conflicts can be segregated and addressed, one by one.

Shimron Issachar

State of AFRICOM Speech, Jul 2011

AFRICOM: Promoting Partnership for Global Security in Africa

July 26, 2011

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Payne, honorable Members of the Committee:

Thank you for inviting me to testify before you today on USG cooperation in Africa since AFRICOM was created. As you know, we are currently witnessing some of the greatest changes on the African continent since the era of independence. These changes present both challenges and opportunities, and since its inception in October 2008, AFRICOM has been a critical partner for the Department of State in addressing conflict and transnational issues across Africa, in addition to the prominent role it has played in traditional military operations, such as the conflict in Libya.

Today I am here to tell you why AFRICOM matters and how we are working together to pursue our common foreign policy objectives.

Without effective cooperation within the U.S. Government, we will not be able to address the issues of terrorism, piracy, and conflict in places like Sudan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Before the creation of AFRICOM, the Department of State had to coordinate with three different geographic combatant commands, each of which had varying priorities and security cooperation objectives. The Department of Defense was able to unify these efforts by placing all of the previous areas of responsibility for Africa under one command solely focused on Africa 365 days a year.

We have seen how this new focus in places like Liberia can have success in building sustainable, indigenous African security capacity that respects civilian authority and human rights, and contributes meaningfully to economic and social development.
Given the important role militaries play in the region, AFRICOM’s work is critical to the success of our Administration’s broader efforts to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Africa.

AFRICOM’s previous and first commander, General Kip Ward, used to say that standing up a new combatant command was like trying to build an airplane in flight, and we appreciate that the State Department has been allowed to be part of this process of growth from the beginning. Since its inception, AFRICOM has strived to be a collaborative combatant command with a core function of not just overseeing U.S. forces on the continent, but also preventing and resolving armed conflict through building partner nation capacity. For the past three years, the U.S. Department of State has coordinated and collaborated with AFRICOM as it worked to achieve the Administration’s highest priority goals related to democracy, good governance, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and transnational challenges.

President Obama’s speech in Accra in July 2009 laid out a clear framework for our Africa policy, and we believe that AFRICOM has played an important supporting role in implementing this framework. It is doing this by supporting efforts to build professional, capable militaries that respect human rights and civilian control, which in turn supports efforts to resolve armed conflicts, address transnational challenges, and safeguard democratic institutions.

AFRICOM has two co-equal deputy commanders – a civilian deputy and a military deputy. The Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities (DCMA) is a senior U.S. diplomat, and provides direct policy input and advice to the Commander of AFRICOM.

The State Department further augments the AFRICOM headquarters staff with a foreign policy advisor and five additional Foreign Service officers, including a senior development advisor provided by USAID who reports directly to General Ham. Most of the other Foreign Service officers in the command have regional responsibilities. Additionally, each of AFRICOM’s component commands also has a Foreign Service officer serving as a foreign policy advisor.

The State Department currently has four other employees seconded to AFRICOM and is in the process of adding five additional officers. Similarly, AFRICOM has significantly expanded the number of DoD personnel who are integrated into embassies across the continent over the past three years. These personnel are valuable members of our country teams, as they provide direct and sustained support for both DOS and DoD-funded activities.

AFRICOM has strived to not just do more, but do better in its activities on the continent and these expanded offices of security cooperation have enabled our embassies to increase the quality of our engagement on the continent. Effective collaboration is possible because the Department of State and AFRICOM are imbedded in each other’s organizations.

This structure has allowed us to work together effectively on a number of programs over the past three years, and I would like to outline these collaborative efforts for you today. I also want to discuss briefly AFRICOM’s relationship with our partner nations.

The Department of State collaborates with AFRICOM on a long list of issues such as

  • military professionalization;
  • building counterterrorism capacity;
  • disaster management;
  • peacekeeping capacity building;
  • humanitarian operations coordinated with USAID;
  • demining and ammunition handling training;
  • nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction;
  • destruction of excess small arms and light weapons and unstable ammunition; reduction of excess and poorly secured man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS); Defense Sector Reform in Liberia, DRC, and South Sudan; counterpiracy activities off the Somali coast;
  • maritime safety and security capacity building;
  • civil-military cooperation.
AFRICOM elements at our embassies implement Department of State-funded Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, which further U.S. interests in Africa by helping to professionalize African militaries, while also assisting our African partners to be more equipped and trained to work toward common security goals.

In the realm of counterterrorism, AFRICOM plays a critical and central role in both the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT), our primary programs to support the long-term counterterrorism (CT) capacity building of member countries in northwest and East Africa.

  • Both programs are led by State, but are managed in close coordination with DoD and AFRICOM, as well as USAID.
  • DoD launched Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans-Sahara (OEF-TS) in 2007 to support TSCTP programming. OEF-TS adds both funding and essential staff to TSCTP, including military trainers and advisors.

State also collaborates with AFRICOM on a range of transnational issues. We continue to work together to develop U.S. maritime engagement in Africa from one of individual, isolated efforts to a more comprehensive and sustainable approach. Early and close coordination on AFRICOM programs such as the Africa Partnership Station, which State provides funding to support the training of African maritime forces, and Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership, which provides operational support, both contribute to a whole-of-government approach. Nonproliferation and counternarcotics are two other key areas of cooperation.

Recently, DoD began to design and implement cooperative threat reduction programs in East Africa, focused on improving security around sites housing potential biological threats. The AFRICOM Counternarcotics Office has been active in West Africa supporting maritime and airport interdiction efforts and funding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s and Drug Enforcement Administration’s training activities throughout the region.

If there is a downside to this level of engagement, it is that the large numbers of AFRICOM temporary assignment personnel deploying to the continent often present significant logistical challenges for U.S. Missions, which sometimes find it difficult to maintain full visibility and provide support given their own very limited staffing levels.

This large and growing AFRICOM presence and programming in Africa at times risks overwhelming the “soft power” of USAID and State programs and personnel. Additionally, the constant turnover of temporary military personnel working on three and six month rotations can cause significant confusion with both the country team and the host nation if not carefully and managed.

Nonetheless, we will continue to work together and coordinate closely in order to mitigate and manage these challenges.

However, the downside of additional DoD personnel on the continent is far outweighed by the positive gains AFRICOM made in the past three years.

I can report to you today that cooperation between AFRICOM and our African partners is at an all-time high despite a continuing lingering wariness towards AFRICOM on the part of some African nations.

This cooperation begins at the highest levels, where AFRICOM assists the African Union Peace and Security Commission. It continues down through the African Standby Force regional brigades, and ends with extensive partnering at the bilateral level.

The capacity that AFRICOM builds at the regional level improves the relationship not just between the United States and the AU, but between the African nations themselves, increasing overall cooperation exponentially. An example of this is AFRICOM’s Exercise African Endeavor, which assists African nations and their regional organizations in communicating with one another over a variety of spectrums, making greater regional cooperation possible. AFRICOM exercises, like Natural Fire in East Africa, bring together biannually forces from Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and the United States to conduct interoperability training in a humanitarian response scenario. These specific examples demonstrate how AFRICOM is increasing cooperation and building trust bilaterally through its interactions with African regional organizations.

Engaging with regional organizations is just one way that AFRICOM is improving cooperation on the continent. Since its inception, AFRICOM has worked in concert with other U.S. Government agencies and international partners to provide effective security engagement through military-to-military programs and activities designed to promote a stable and secure African environment.

The Department of State applauds these efforts, and believes that, despite the difficult challenges it has faced, AFRICOM is on a positive trajectory of better cooperation with both other U.S. Government agencies and our partner nations.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you, today. I will be happy to answer any questions.



AQIM Near Bouamza missed their food July 26, 2011

ALGIERS — A suicide bomber blew himself up to avoid arrest in the eastern Algerian town of Bouhamza, causing no other casualties, newspapers reported Wednesday.

According to El Watan's online edition, the suspect set off an explosives belt he was wearing when local security encircled him as he left a shop after buying large quantities of food on Tuesday.

Security was subsequently beefed up around the town, located around 300 kilometres (180 miles) east of the capital Algiers, the daily said on its website.

  • On Monday, three suspects, including two would-be suicide bombers, were killed by Algerian security forces around 60 kilometres (36 miles) east of Algiers following a tip-off.
The country's east has been plagued by a surge in attacks in recent weeks, including a suicide attack against a police station that left two dead and 14 wounded.

It was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a Saharan offshoot of the global extremist network which is active in an area nearly the size of Australia and also affecting Mauritania, Mali and Niger.

According to the Ennahar daily's website, one of the suspects killed on Monday was the son of Ali Belhadj, the influential former number two of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS).

The newspaper said DNA testing revealed him as Abdelkahar Belhadj, born in 1988 and a member of AQIM since 2009 under the nom de guerre Mouawia.

The vehicle they were travelling in was packed with explosives they intended to use for a suicide bombing in central Algiers during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

When his son disappeared in 2006, Ali Belhadj had accused the security services of abducting him, an allegation the government had firmly denied.

His death was announced in the local press several times since but never confirmed and he was sentenced to death in absentia by an Algerian court in 2009 for a string of deadly attacks.
Ali Belhadj could not be reached to confirm reports of his son's death.

Ali Belhadj co-founded FIS with Abassi Madani and was jailed when the military called off a 1991 election after his party won the first round.

He was jailed again in 2005 and released in 2006 as part of a reconciliation drive by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Transnational Terrorist and Criminal Networks Now Put Nigerian National Security at Risk

BY OKEY NDIRIBE & CHRIS OCHAYI
ABUJA—Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Dambazzau, has identified transnational criminals and global terrorist networks, which have infiltrated West African, as a serious threat to the nation’s security.

Delivering the keynote address at the National Stakeholders Summit on Security and Public Awareness, Dambazzau said the region had become a major reference point for global criminal activities, describing Nigeria as a major transit for drugs and arms trafficking.

Dambazzau said trafficking in small arms and light weapons was the major cause of global proliferation of arms, adding that when the arms found their way into the country, they were used for various acts of violence, such as armed robbery and ethno-religious conflicts.

He added: “In addition to the possibility of importation of terrorism through known global terror networks, transnational organised crimes, involving arms, drugs, human trafficking, money laundering, cyber-crimes , advance fee fraud and illegal bunkering are, indeed, posing serious security threats to Nigeria.”

He further stated that corruption had become a major threat to the nation’s security and stability.
Said he: “Much relevant to our gathering here, is the fact that corruption endangers the stability and security of our society when it undermines the institutions and values of democracy.

“Overall, corruption is both a cause and consequence of poverty and under-development and it increases the likelihood of other crimes.”

Declaring the summit open, President Goodluck Jonathan noted that the nation had been confronted with some major security challenges in recent times.

Enumerating such challenges as intra and inter party conflicts, socio-economic agitations, ethno-religious crisis, civil and organised rebellion, and outright criminality, the President reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to secure the life and property of the citizenry.

He said: “Let me reiterate that this administration remains irrevocably committed to its constitutional role of securing the lives and property of all Nigerians.

“Government is ready to do whatever needs to be done, within the scope of the rule of law, to bring about lasting peace, while also laying more emphasis on an intelligence based approach to meeting our national security challenges.

“Similarly, this administration is committed to the fulfilment of its promises of growing the economy through job creation for our teeming youths, so that they can be meaningfully engaged.”

President Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, reminded Nigerians that “security is a shared responsibility which underscores the importance of identifying and reporting suspicious activities.”

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to be vigilant and report suspicious characters to security agencies, adding that “to facilitate this, the office of the National Security Adviser is working with the Ministry of Communication to make telephone service operators provide toll free emergency lines that are going to be very easy to remember by the public.”

The President challenged participants to come up with simple and effective strategies for raising public awareness on indicators of security threats and to emphasise the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

In his own remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad II, said the presence of high ranking traditional rulers from across the country indicated the concern and commitment of traditional institutions to the peace and security of Nigeria.

He thanked the Federal Government for setting up the committee.

The Sultan expressed concern over the fate of report that would emanate from the summit and said, “I pray that at the end of this summit, the recommendations that would be put forward and sent to the government will not be thrown into the dust bin as so many others before this kind of summit.”

In his goodwill message, the Asagba of Asaba, Professor Chike Edozie observed that most nations in the world have gone through conflicts and wars.

“ People leave their nationalities and religion to come together on their own and wish to be together and remain as a country. We need to have done more to bring the people together so that we all merge our various traditional cultures and religions into becoming one nation” he said.

He continued: “We are happy that this has now has been recognised and we are here today to begin that journey that will lead to Nigeria becoming one nation, one people out of this diversity.”

Most speakers at the occasion condemned the activities of Boko Haram and other armed groups that have unleashed mayhem on different parts of the country.

  • Others speakers at the summit who included,
  • Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Shehu Abubakar Ibn Umar;
  • Tor-Tiv, Chief Alfred Torkula;

  • Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe;
  • the representative of Oni of Ife, Oba Aderemi Adeniyi-Adedapo, Minister of Defence, Mohammed Haliru Bello and Minister of Information Labaran Maku.
  • They all acknowledged that this is trying period for the nation due to its challenging security situation.

Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were the President of Nigerian Guild of Editors and General Manager/Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Newspaper, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye; spokesperson of the State Security Services, SSS, Marilyn Ogar;

Alhaji Idi Farouk,

former Commissioner of Police, FCT, Command, Mr. Lawrence Alobi; Deputy Governor of Kogi State,

The Rest @ Vanguard

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gatluak Gai Killed

Update: SSLA rebels claim SPLA involved in Gatluak Gai’s murder

-* Update: South Sudan army (SPLA) deny involvement in Gatluak Gai’s killing

July 23, 2011 (JUBA) - A rebel leader in South Sudan’s Unity state was shot dead this morning in Koch county, only three days after he signed a peace deal with South Sudan army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

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Gatluak Gai (SMC)

Citizens and officials from the area toldSudan Tribune that Colonel Gatluak Gai was shot dead on Saturday morning along with some of his bodyguards after a group of people opened fire on him at Pakur where his forces have been temporarily assembled.

  • Phillip Aguer, the SPLA spokesperson confirmed Gatluak’s death, accusing the latter’s deputy, Marko Chuol Ruei for allegedly opening killing the former rebel leader after disagreement within the rebel camp.

  • "As you are aware, the government of Unity state entered into an agreement with Gatluak Gai and his forces leading to the signing of a peace agreement just three days ago.

  • But two days later, differences began emerging within the rebel camps, whereby some soldiers led by Gatluak started disrespecting this peace deal," Aguer told Sudan Tribune by phone.

He added, "This morning, five senior commanders led by Marko Chuol Ruei went and tried to persuade their leader only for Gatluak’s loyal forces to fire at them. Immediately, there was exchange of fire between the two rebel camps and Gatluak plus three others were killed in the process."

Aguer, however, distanced the army’s involvement in the Saturday morning incident, saying the SPLA were assembled in one point simply waiting for the rebels, who days after the peace agreement, hinted on joining the southern army.

Col. Gatluak signed peace agreement this week with the SPLA which was facilitated by the Deputy Chief of General Staff, Lt. General Pieng Deng Majok, and was promised the rank of Lt. General in the SPLA.

Unity State government has been engaging in peace talks with Gai for the last six weeks. Gai defected from the SPLA and rebelled against South Sudan’s government after the announcement of election results in April last year.

Gai, is believed to have hoped to become a county commissioner - a position appointed by state governors - if independent candidate Angelina Teny beat the incumbent Taban Deng Gai to the gubernatorial seat in Bentiu.

After it was declared the Teny, the wife of South Sudan vice president Riek Machar, had lost Gai began a localised rebellion against the SPLA and the South Sudan government.

But a spokesman for the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA), another rebel group active in Unity state, contradicted Aguer’s account of what happened, explaining that the rebel leader was lured to the peace process and attacked by the SPLA.

"Gatluak Gai was killed by the SPLA ... He signed a peace agreement and was ambushed by the same forces he signed the agreement with," Bol Gatkouth told AFP by phone.

"It was a way of luring him in so that they could catch him," he added.

Other sources in Unity state revealed that Gatluak expressed suspicion in the peace agreement with the SPLA when he was referred to as Colonel instead of Lt. General over radio announcement in Bentiu after the agreement contrary to the deal that confirmed him as Lt. General, a move that might have prompted the incidence against him.

Salva Kiir the president of South Sudan took the opportunity on July 9, when the country became independent as part of a 2005 North-South peace deal, to repeat his offer of an amnesty to all rebel groups in Africa’s 54th country.

The Rest @ Sudan Tribune

Four AQIM Leaders

I came across this 2008 list:

SALAH GASMI

AKAs: Salah Abu Muhamad; Salah Abu Mohamed; Abou Mohamed Salah; Bounouadher
DOB: l3 April l97l
POB: Zeribet El Oued, Wilaya (province) of Biskra, Algeria
Mother’s name: Yamina Soltane
Father’s name: Abdelaziz

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. Gasmi also directs AQIM's internet communications with al-Qa’ida senior leadership.

YAHIA DJOUADI
AKAs:
Yahia Abu Amar; Yahia Abou Ammar; Abou Ala; Abu Ala; Abou Alam
DOB: 1 January 1967
POB: M’Hamid, Wilaya (province) of Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria
Mother’s name: Zohra Fares
Father’s name: Mohamed

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 Illah; Abd El Illah; Abu Abdallah
DOB: 17 January 1967
POB: Anser, Wilaya (province) of Jijel, Algeria
Mother’s name: Zakia Chebira
Father’s name: Lakhdar

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.

ABID HAMMADOU
AKAs:
Abid Hamadu; Abou Abdellah; Abdelhamid Abu Zeid; Abdelhamid Abou Zeid; Youcef Adel; Abu Abdellah
DOB: 12 December 1965
POB: Touggourt, Wilaya (province) of Ouargla, Algeria
Mother’s name: Fatma Hammadou
Father’s name: Benabes

Hammadou is the deputy leader of AQIM's Tarek Ibn Zaid battalion and is based in northern Mali.
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.Hammadou was involved in kidnapping the Austrian tourists for AQIM in February 2008.

The Rest @ Zimbo

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More on the AQIM Aquisition of Libya Weapons

The uprising of Libyan rebels against Muammar al-Gaddafi’s rule has led to some unwanted consequences: Al Qaeda-linked militants across North Africa have been benefiting from the lack of control over the Libyan Army’s hardware depots. This will present challenges to regional security for years to come.

It was a Sunday just before mid-June in the desert of Northern Niger. A convoy of three Toyota 4x4s had just entered the sleepy desert town of Ourarene, about 80 kilometres north of Arlit, a regional uranium mining centre essentially run by the French company Areva. All three vehicles, containing only one driver each, came to a stop in the almost unbearable desert heat.

Map of the border region between Libya, Algeria and Niger - Google Earth/io magazine

Then the shooting started.

  • Hidden at some distance, a patrol of Niger’s Presidential Guard opened fire at the Toyotas with heavy machine guns and automatic rifles.
  • One of the vehicles immediately got hit, while the drivers grabbed their weapons and fired back.
  • Soon, the men belonging to the undamaged cars jumped in, shifted into reverse gear, swerved around and made a full-throttle dash amidst the sound of rattling automatic gun fire, incoming bullets whizzing by and clouds of desert dust popping up, according to accounts assembled by French and local media, citing witnesses and security sources.
  • One soldier was fatally wounded in the exchange, six others injured.
  • The security forces on site quickly called for reinforcements from the regular army, the Presidential Guard and the Gendarmerie.
  • Helicopters were launched from Arlit, and a small surveillance aircraft soon arrived in the airspace over Ourarene, scanning the surroundings for the two 4x4s that had escaped the initial attack.
  • When soldiers approached the smoking wreck of the Toyota they had hit first, they found the driver shot dead. It did not take them long to discover hints at the identity of the dead man: He was a ‘Barbu’, or ‘bearded one’, a regional synonym for Islamists of Arab origin.
  • In the back of the 4×4, the presidential guards found no less than 640 kilograms of military-grade ‘Semtex’ plastic explosives, neatly packed into 40 boxes of 16 kilograms each.
  • Dozens of Czech-made detonators, several military uniforms, various documents and 90,000 US Dollars in cash were also stashed in the car. The explosives and the detonators were clearly labelled – ‘Libya’.

Semtex

Semtex plastic explosives, of which more than half a ton was recently smuggled from Libya - Wikipedia/US Government

  • It took the thin-stretched Nigerien authorities three more days, until 15 June, to locate the remaining two cars.
  • One had been abandoned about 40 kilometres north of Agadez, with more than 80,000 inhabitants the largest city in Northern Niger.
  • Abta Hamaidi Mohammed, a shadowy Nigerien weapons trafficker and former government adviser, surrendered to the authorities in Agadez.


    Sources close to the investigation claim that Mohammed was piloting one of the Toyotas, and that he was ‘guiding’ the convoy through the desert.

    The catch in Niger’s desert in June highlights some of the unwanted fallout that the Libyan uprising has had across North Africa. Not long after Libyan rebels took up protest banners and arms in February, Western and African security experts pointed to the uneasy ramifications the situation could have. As ragtag rebel forces drove the Libyan Army out of the country’s East, ammunition depots were abandoned by their guards and left to looters.

    A whole range of people took advantage of the security vacuum: Pro-Western rebels, bandits, and of course some Jihadis and their sympathisers, who have a traditionally strong support base in and around the ‘rebel capital’ Benghazi. This way, weapons ranging from heavy machine guns to anti-aircraft guns to ‘SAM-7’ portable anti-aircraft missile launchers have most likely found their way into the arsenal of ‘Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’ (AQIM).

    AQIM is the new name of the Algeria-based ‘Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat’ (GSPC, or ‘Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat’) which was re-branded as an Al Qaeda affiliate in early 2007. At the time, the GSPC had been under heavy pressure from authorities, its strength was dwindling. The move was intended to open up new sources of funding from pro-jihadi donors in the Gulf region and elsewhere, and to attract badly needed recruits.

    However, the re-branding was perceived as controversial amongst the group’s leadership and their rank and file. Despite the occasional attack in its homeland Algeria and some kidnappings of Westerners across the Sahara plains, AQIM basically remained stuck with their backs to the wall. Membership was going down to merely 300 by some accounts, as the group was struggling to get their hands on explosives and was in need of cash and weapons. That was until earlier this year; the Libyan uprising has unintentionally provided the Al Qaeda-linked extremists with a new perspective, putting yet more stress on the already shaky regional security situation.

    The discovery and disabling of the weapons convoy in Niger in mid-June again shows the collaboration with regional nomadic tribes that the GSPC and later AQIM have long relied on. The place where the three Toyotas were fired upon by Nigerien soldiers, Ourarene, lies deep within Touareg territory, situated well away from routes that are normally used by overland traffic. But the case also demonstrates that even such clandestine convoys are not immune from detection.

    In fact, as Nigerien security officials contend, ‘human intelligence’ about the convoy was picked up well before the vehicles actually entered Niger. According to a tip-off, two Toyotas packed with explosives and other weapons passed the city of Sebah in south-west Libya in early June. Instead of heading directly south to the border with Niger, the cars first drove west into Algeria. There, the 4x4s turned left towards the Hoggar, a region characterised by a bizarre rock landscape, scarcely inhabited by Touareg nomads.

    Sometime between 08 and 10 June, the two Toyotas crossed from Algeria into Niger, where they linked up with a third vehicle – most likely the one with weapons trafficker Abta Mohammed at the steering wheel. At this stage, the convoy was almost doomed. Phone calls made by the passengers were tapped and their movements tracked until the convoy was raided on 12 June in Ourarene.

    Despite the counterterrorism success in June, security services in the West look upon the newly energised weapons flows in North Africa with great concern. In the past few months, similar weapons convoys have been reported heading to Mali and even into Senegal. Untold amounts of explosives have entered the black market in the region since the advent of the ‘Libyan spring’. Not least, the potential terrorist threat against civilian and other aircraft by portable air defence weapons, not just in Africa, is rising again after decades of laborious counter-proliferation efforts. Whatever the outcome of the Libyan rebellion, regional security will remain affected by the unintended consequences for years to come.

by

The Rest @ at I-O- Magazine

Viktor Bout Case Moves Forward

A federal judge overseeing the case of a Russian businessman charged with conspiring to sell weapons to a South American terrorist group expressed skepticism Thursday about defense claims that he is the victim of malicious U.S. prosecution.

In motions to dismiss the case, lawyers for Russian air cargo magnate Viktor Bout claimed that American officials vindictively launched a 2008 sting operation against him in Thailand because the government was embarrassed by revelations that the U.S. had used Bout's planes to deliver military supplies for reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

In a hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said she had trouble finding evidence that the government had acted with malice.

"Where's the proof he was selected for a vindictive motive?" the judge asked Bout's lawyers at one point.

After Bout's lead attorney, Albert Dayan, insisted federal officials had pushed the sting operation in order "to annihilate him, take him out of the picture," prosecutor Brendan McGuire dismissed that line of argument as "sensational claims."

Dayan asked Scheindlin to allow a future hearing that might produce testimony on the government's intentions, but the judge held off, saying she would rule on that and the remainder of Bout's dismissal motions later.

Scheindlin rejected several of Bout's dismissal motions earlier this month, ruling that the government's use of a sting operation was not "outrageous government conduct" and that there was adequate evidence showing Bout's intended arms sale may have been aimed at killing Americans.

Bout, 44, was arrested in March 2008 by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Thai police. The sting used undercover informants posing as leaders of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucianarios de Colombia, or FARC, a narcotics-selling revolutionary group designated by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization.

Prosecutors later indicted Bout on charges of conspiring to aid a terror group by offering to sell more than 700 surface-to-air missiles, 5,000 Russian-made assault rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, land mines and other military items to the informants. A federal affidavit alleged that Bout told the informants the munitions could be aimed at American pilots and would be delivered by Russian cargo aircraft and air-dropped by parachute. Bout was extradited from Thailand in November for trial in New York, now set for October.

For more than a decade before his arrest, Bout prospered as an air cargo specialist whose fleet of planes flew worldwide, and he has long insisted his companies transported legal goods.

U.N. Security Council investigative panels accused Bout of violating international weapons embargos in Angola, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo _ moves that led the U.S. to personally target Bout with financial sanctions in 2004 and his financial empire in 2005.

The Rest @ Taiwan News

Ahmed Hussein Mahamud Pleads Not Guilty in Minnesota Mujahadeen Case

A Somali-American accused of providing money and people to al-Shabab has pleaded not guilty to terror charges. Twenty-six-year-old Ahmed Hussein Mahamud entered the plea July 21 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. He faces four counts, including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Mahamud had recently moved from Minnesota to Ohio to get married. He's been ...

TheRest@Minnesota Lawyer

AQIM's Abdelhamid Abou Zeid Negotiating for release of Maria Sandra Mariani

Bamako: Italian hostage Maria Sandra Mariani, kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in February, is shown alive in a video given to negotiators in Bamako.

The 53-year-old Mariani does not speak in the video, but is shown wearing a veil and pink robes, sitting on the sand with her hands crossed. Three guns are visible behind her, but the men holding them are concealed.

A source close to the mediation who was in possession of the video said it had been given to "mediators in a country neighbouring Mali", without divulging the date or place where it was filmed.

"Negotiations are on the right path for Mariani to be freed," he added, saying a ransom payment was at the centre of the talks.

In May, sources close to the case said a first video had been released, showing the hostage was safe and sound.

"It is the same person, but she doesn’t have the same clothes or posture in the two videos," said a Malian source who saw both videos.

Mariani was kidnapped in southeastern Algeria near the town of Djanet on February 02. On February 18 she said she was alive and in the hands of AQIM in a voice recording broadcast by Dubai-based television station Al-Arabiya.

Corroborating sources say she is being held by an AQIM unit led by Abou Zeid, a leader of the organisation renowned for his brutality.

He is held responsible for several kidnappings including Briton Edwyn Dyer who was executed in June 2009 and that of five French, a Madagascan and a Togolese kidnapped in northern Niger in September 2010.

Three of the latter, a French woman and the two Africans, were released in February while the other four remain in the hands of the north African al Qaeda branch.

The Rest @ Online News

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame Provides Information About Al Shabaab

"Things have been quite hectic over here,” is the reason laid out by the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for the delay in bringing out the sixth issue of its English-language magazine “Inspire.” The issue was released on the Web on July 19.

Hectic indeed it would be for the outfit, which not only sees a greater role for itself in Yemen, where it is based, but also in Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden. From a broader perspective, the tactic could be a part of the outfit’s strategy of energising its franchises with an objective of widening the area of conflict and hitting at its enemy, the US, in places where such attacks are the least expected.

AQAP, in the latest issue of “Inspire” describes Yemen as a country which “is falling apart.” As a result, the “work of the mujahidin is growing in bounds.”

Intelligence reports now available indicate that the chaos in Yemen is allowing the AQAP to pursue its goal of conflation of Jihadi zones unhindered.

In Somalia, the AQAP is aiding and prodding the terrorist outfit al-Shabaab to take up responsibilities beyond the Somalian territory. Al-Shabaab controls north and central parts of Somalia and a large portion of its capital Mogadishu and is trying to overthrow the UN-backed transitional government in the country.

The links of al-Shabaab with Al Qaeda was never in doubt. Following the May 2 death of Osama Bin Laden, al-Shabaab had welcomed the appointment of Ayman al-Zawahiri as the next chief of the organization and promised cooperation. But the latest revelations suggest that the links go much deeper and unless controlled, add to the lethality of al-Shabaab as a trans-national terrorist outfit.

Interrogation of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a nabbed al-Shabaab commander, en route from Yemen to Somalia, has provided vital information about the growing operational linkages between the AQAP and the al-Shabaab.

Contacts between Yemeni and Somali militants go back to a few years.

  • Al-Shabaab bought weapons and explosives from Al Qaeda contacts in Yemen using money from piracy and kidnap-for-ransom schemes.
  • This trade has intensified over the years to include not just weapons, but also terrorists crisscrossing over the Gulf of Aden and training with explosives in each other’s country.
  • In return, the AQAP has asked the al-Shabaab to carry out attacks outside Africa.
  • It even suggested a new name for al-Shabaab, “Al Qaeda in East Africa,” to reflect the future trans-national character of the Somalian outfit.
  • It probably spurred al-Shabaab to carry out two suicide bombings -- at a rugby club and at an Ethiopian restaurant -- in Kampala, capital of Uganda in July 2010.

The attacks killed 74 people, including an American aid worker. Uganda along with Burundi has contributed 5000 troops to an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. This, however, remains al-Shabaab’s only known attack outside Somalia. The group has resisted moves to change its name for the fear of diluting its support base within Somalia.

The information of the coming together of the two conflict zones -- Yemen and Somalia or the Arabian Peninsula and the East of Africa -- has been further supported by the information extracted out of the digital files from the Abbotabad den of Osama bin Laden.

It has been indicated that Nasir Wahayshi, an AQAP leader who previously operated as Bin Laden’s personal secretary, was assigned the role of establishing an operational link between the AQAP and al-Shabaab.

A former US official was quoted in the media saying that “Some of the thumb drives were smuggled out of Somalia and through Yemen before couriers hand-delivered them to Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.”

The intensity of the linkages established and consequent augmentation in the ability of the al-Shabaab has been reiterated in subsequent statements by Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who recently said that Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen are “trying hard to kill us” and in Somalia “there is a growing cell and a growing connection to Al Qaeda that we are all concerned about.” This explains the US drone strikes in Yemen in May and in Somalia in June 2011.

Outsourcing terror is a tactic that has been adopted by the militant/insurgent outfits around the world.

  • In India’s insurgency affected Northeast, the Naga insurgents encouraged similar franchises in neighbouring states. These outfits were armed and trained in return for a share from the extortion amount. The strategy widened the area of conflict and generated finances for the parent outfit.

The project of al-Shabaab’s full merger with the Al Qaeda will, however, be somewhat delayed as a result of the setbacks the outfit has received in the past few months. Since March this year, it has lost at least three top commanders including its Emir, Ibrahim al Afghani. While Afghani, with years of experience in the Afghan conflict is believed to have been killed in a 25 June drone strike in southern Somalia, al-Shabaab’s senior commander Fazul Abullah Mohammed was killed in a check point shootout on the outskirts of Mogadishu by the Somali forces on 8 June. Previously, on 19 March, Sheik Daud Ali Hasan, al-Shabaab’s “senior official” was killed by unidentified gunmen in the southern port of Kismayu.

However, al-Shabaab is still very active in Somalia and will be amenable to carry forward the AQAP’s game plan in future. The conflation of the Arabian Peninsula, considered as the most dangerous node in the Al Qaeda’s terror network and East Africa has the potential of posing enormous challenges to the US goal of putting down “the base.”

By BIBHU PRASAD ROUTRAY

The Rest @ Al Arabya