The following are some of this week's reports from the MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) Project, which translates and analyzes content from sources monitored around the clock – among them the most important jihadi websites and blogs. (To view these reports in full, you must be a paying member of the JTTM; for membership information, send an email to [email protected] with "Membership" in the subject line.)
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By: Tufail Ahmad
Aljihad Media, now deleted by Facebook, promoted Urdu-language jihadi websites
In recent years, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as other jihadi organizations across the Middle East, have been relying on U.S.-based websites to spread their message of jihad and to recruit new members and sympathizers. The primary reason for using U.S.-based websites appears to be the jihadi organizations' understanding that the strong free-speech laws in that country make it difficult for anyone to prevent and stop their publications. The U.S.-based websites frequently used by the jihadi groups include Google's various products: the video-sharing website YouTube, the photo-sharing service Picasa, Google Groups, and the like; and the social networking site Facebook, which has emerged as a major free site for the Pakistan-based groups to spread the Taliban's messages in Urdu. The Taliban also use Twitter on a day-to-day basis to retweet weblinks to their statements and videos on various websites of their own.
Recently, Archive.org, a U.S.-based website for archiving and sharing documents online, has also emerged as a repository of the Taliban's and other groups' jihadi videos and statements. The jihadi groups first publish their videos and statements on their own websites, and then post a link to them on Archive.org. Most jihadi organizations also host their websites in the U.S., making it difficult for Western intelligence agencies to hack them. Of all the U.S.-based companies, Facebook appears to be the only American company that promptly blocks jihadi accounts.
On December 12, 2012, a Yemeni news website, reported that residents of the town of Al-Mahfad, in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, had spotted Abu Basir Nasser Al-Wuhaishi, emir of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), among a group of armed men in the city. According to the site, more than 50 armed AQAP operatives, along with Al-Wuhaishi, had come to Al-Mahfad from Mar'ib, possibly fleeing attacks there. The site also reported that three members of the group were killed and another injured in a clash with tribesmen in the Al-Batha region, in Al-Wadi directorate.
On December 13, 2012, Al-Jazeera.net reported that the "Al-Mujahideen Shura Council and Legal Committee" of the Syrian jihadi group Jabhat Al-Nusra had appointed Mustafa 'Abd Al-Latif Saleh aka Abu Anas Al-Sahaba, as its new leader, following the alleged death of its former leader, whom the report named as Iyad Al-Toubasi aka Abu Julaibib. The 38-year-old Al-Sahaba hails from Al-Zarqa, Jordan, and is described as a prominent figure in the kingdom's Salafi-jihadi movement. He is said to have worked as a top aid to Abu Anas Al-Shami, second in command to former Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi. Abu Julaibib, on the other hand, is described as Al-Zarqawi's brother in-law.
On December 10, 2012, the Somalia-based Al-Qaeda-linked jihadi group Al-Shabab Al-Mujahedeen posted links via Twitter to the most recent speech of its leader Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubair. It is the first time the group has used Twitter for this purpose. This unprecedented move was due to the hacking and shutdown, starting last week, of major jihadi forums trusted by jihadi groups. The group's Twitter account, which has over 17,000 followers and has been active since December 2011, usually posts news and images of the group’s activities, particularly its military operations. Using twitlonger.com, a service enabling the posting of tweets longer than 140 characters, the group provided dozens of links for downloading the new video, and the password to do so. A transcript of the video was later posted as well. Since the shutdown of jihadi forums, pro-jihad Twitter users have launched a campaign to repost jihadi statements and media productions, to counter the attacks on the forums.
Amid news of the U.S.'s intention to designate the Syrian jihadi group Jabhat Al-Nusra as a terrorist organization, Jaysh Al-Sahaba Fi Bilad Al-Sham, a newly established Syrian jihad group, issued a statement on its Facebook page congratulating Jabhat Al-Nusra on being bestowed such a "great honor." It also urged Syrian mujahideen to stand alongside Jabhat Al-Nusra in facing up to all those aiming to weaken it. The U.S.'s plans are presumably related to the December 12, 2012 meeting of the Friends of Syria nations in Morocco, aimed at garnering wider international recognition for the newly established Syrian National Coalition (SNC). The coalition, whose establishment was declared in Qatar in November, has already been denounced by a number of Islamist and jihadi groups fighting in the Aleppo area. These groups consider the coalition to be part of a conspiracy, led by the West, to marginalize them once the Bashar Al-Assad regime is toppled.
On November 29, 2012, a YouTube video was posted on leading jihadi forums in which Abu Bakr Shekau, leader of the Nigerian jihadi group Jama'at Ahl Al-Sunna Lil-Da'wa Wal-Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, threatened U.S. President Barack Obama with a surprise, expressed solidarity with global jihad groups, and told Nigerian police to either repent or be killed. Shown wearing a military outfit and surrounded by six armed men, Shekau delivered his speech in an open field. In it, he saluted the mujahideen and their leaders within Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQAP), in Mali, Somalia, Libya, Afganistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Palestine.
On December 5, 2012, the Mauritanian news website Saharamedias.net reported that prominent Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar had established a new group of fidayeen (martyrdom seekers) called Al-Muwaqi'un Bi-Dimaa', with the purpose of deterring any possible Western and African military intervention in Azawad. Belmokhtar announced the new group in a video message posted online the same day. In the message, he threated France and the African countries that the mujahideen would take retaliatory actions on their own soil if they intervened in Azawad.
Pakistani intelligence agencies warned that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has dispatched some 35 militants to Karachi from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to free their detained comrades, according to a Pakistani daily. A communiqué issued Friday, December 7, by the National Crisis Management Cell to the government of Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital, warned of the possibility of terror attacks on law enforcement agencies' offices by TTP militants seeking to free their comrades.
An official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban's shadow government) has confirmed that two Taliban representatives will attend the Paris conference on Afghanistan to be held on December 17. Following is the text of the statement on the Taliban's website, in the original English:
"Just like the conference held in Tokyo city of Japan, another research and scientific conference will be hosted in the capital of France, Paris, by a non-government agency 'Foundation pour la Recherche Strategique' (Foundation for Strategic Research) on 17th of the current Christian month.
"Since the Islamic Emirate has also been invited to participate, hence the Islamic Emirate will send two representatives from its political office to directly communicate the stance and policy of Islamic Emirate regarding the situation in Afghanistan to the participants and the international community present in this analytical conference..."