Al Qaeda and its Affiliates in 2013

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Al Qaeda is the terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in 1988. The group’s ideology is founded on the premise that Muslims who follow secular leaders are treating these leaders as gods, …

Al Qaeda is the terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in 1988. The group’s ideology is founded on the premise that Muslims who follow secular leaders are treating these leaders as gods, and therefore, are apostates because they are disobeying the first principle in Islam, the assertion that “There is no deity but Allah.” Adherents to this ideology claim to be defending Islam when they kill these Muslims and Westerners who advocate or support this form of apostasy. Al Qaeda’s goal is to liberate Muslim lands of “apostate” governments and establish an Islamic state, a caliphate, in their stead.

Osama bin Laden envisioned al Qaeda as a global network that led the jihad against the United States, the West, and allied Muslim governments. The group known today as al Qaeda core serves as the center of the al Qaeda network, which now also includes groups recognized by the al Qaeda emir, or leader, as affiliates. These are al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Shabaab, al Qaeda in Iraq, Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus. Recovered al Qaeda correspondence, especially from the Abbottabad raid, reveals continued communications about ongoing developments and operations between senior leaders in Pakistan and leaders of affiliated groups.

Read more at www.criticalthreats.org/al-qaeda/al-qaeda-affiliates

More in: News & Politics
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  • 1. AFGHANISTAN PAKISTAN INDIA Al Qaeda and its Affiliates in 2013 Al Qaeda’s threat to the United States did not end with Osama bin Laden Al Qaeda is the terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in 1988. The group’s ideology is founded on the premise that Muslims who follow secular leaders are treating these leaders as gods, and therefore, are apostates because they are disobeying the first principle in Islam, the assertion that “There is no deity but Allah.” Adherents to this ideology claim to be defending Islam when they kill these Muslims and Westerners who advocate or support this form of apostasy. Al Qaeda’s goal is to liberate Muslim lands of “apostate” governments and establish an Islamic state, a caliphate, in their stead. Osama bin Laden envisioned al Qaeda as a global network that led the jihad against the United States, the West, and allied Muslim governments. The group known today as al Qaeda core serves as the center of the al Qaeda network, which now also includes groups recognized by the al Qaeda emir, or leader, as affiliates. These are al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Shabaab, al Qaeda in Iraq, Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda the Islamic Maghreb, and the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus. Recovered al Qaeda correspondence, especially from the Abbottabad raid, reveals continued com- munications about ongoing developments and operations between senior leaders in Pakistan and leaders of affiliated groups. AREA OF OPERATION: Pakistan, Afghanistan KEY LEADERS: Ayman al Zawahiri, emir Saif al Adel (Ibrahim al Madani, Omar al Somali) Adnan Shukrijumah LAST MAJOR ATTACK: December 30, 2009 CIA base bombing Location: Camp Chapman, Khost, Afghanistan Total killed: 9; Total American deaths: 7 AL QAEDA in Pakistan has been weakened by the loss of key leaders. In the past three years, the U.S. has killed four of the top five individuals, including Osama bin Laden, Sheikh Said al Masri (Mustafa Abu al Yazid), Atiyah Abdul Rahman, and Abu Yahya al Libi. A significant military footprint in Afghanistan and devotion of considerable intelligence assets enabled the U.S. to dismantle al Qaeda core’s leadership network, but continued military pressure will be required to prevent the group – which has proven itself remarkably adaptable – from resurgence. The leadership, now under Ayman al Zawahiri, continues to provide guidance to its affiliates. The core group is also associated with the Haqqani Network, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other local terrorist groups. The al Qaeda senior leadership still seeks to attack the U.S. homeland.
  • 2. 2 SAUDI ARABIA YEMEN SOMALIA SOMALIA ETHIOPIA KENYA AREA OF OPERATION: Yemen KEY LEADERS: Nasser al Wahayshi (Abu Basir), emir Said al Shihri (Abu Sufyan al Azdi), deputy Qasim al Raymi, military commander Ibrahim al Asiri, explosives expert Sheikh Ibrahim al Rubaish, spiritiual leader LAST MAJOR ATTACK: May 2012 attempt to attack U.S. homeland Location: Yemen Interdicted by U.S. and other intelligence agencies AL QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA (AQAP) poses the greatest direct threat to the U.S. homeland out of the al Qaeda affiliates. The group has attempted to strike the U.S. homeland three times since its founding: Umar Farouk Abdul- mutallab brought a bomb concealed in his underwear onto a U.S.-bound flight in December 2009; the group shipped two bombs disguised as printer cartridges in October 2010; and attempted to attack the U.S. again in May 2012. The explosive device used in the interdicted May 2012 attempt was an improved model of the underwear bomb, showing AQAP’s ability to innovate and learn from past attempts. Its leadership announced its establishment in January 2009, merging the Saudi and Yemeni al Qaeda branches. AQAP fielded an insurgent fighting group in 2011 under the name of Ansar al Sharia, which seized and held territory in south Yemen. Yemeni-American Anwar al Awlaki, killed by a U.S. airstrike in September 2011, pioneered the group’s English-language outreach and helped vet recruits. AREA OF OPERATION: Somalia, northern Kenya KEY LEADERS: Ahmed Abdi Godane (Abu Zubair), emir Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur), deputy Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, senior leader Fuad Mohamed Qalaf (Shongole), senior leader Ali Mohamed Rage, spokesman LAST MAJOR ATTACK: July 11, 2010 Kampala Bombings Location: Kampala, Uganda Total killed: 74; Total American deaths: 1 AL SHABAAB is al Qaeda’s affiliate in East Africa and was recognized as such by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in February 2012. It traces its origins to the militant wing of the Islamic Courts Union and rose to power in late 2006 and 2007. At one point, al Shabaab controlled nearly all of southern and central Somalia, but military victories by Somali troops and African Union peacekeepers have reduced al Shabaab’s area of control. Al Shabaab has ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen, and militants from Boko Haram, a Nigerian Islamist group, claim to have trained in al Shabaab’s camps. Al Shabaab may continue to plot against regional American and Western targets.
  • 3. 3 TURKEY IRAN SYRIA IRAQ SAUDI ARABIA TURKEY IRAN SYRIA IRAQ SAUDI ARABIA JABHAT AL NUSRA is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri recognized Jabhat al Nusra in a letter dated May 23, 2013 published by al Jazeera on June 9, 2013. Syria had been a key conduit for foreign fighters traveling to Iraq, and al Qaeda in Iraq’s network in Syria proved to be fundamental in founding the new group. Reports indicate that Jabhat al Nusra first became active in late 2011; on January 23, 2012, the group released a video announcing its presence and pledging to protect the Syrian people. Jabhat al Nusra received significant support from al Qaeda in Iraq in training and tactics, and has also benefited from the support of Gulf donors. It has conducted coordinated operations with other factions of the Syrian opposi- tion, and has also claimed credit for asymmetrical attacks on regime targets. The group distributes humanitarian assistance and operates religious courts in areas under its control. AREA OF OPERATION: Syria KEY LEADER: Abu Muhammad al Julani, emir Actively involved in the ongoing fight against the Assad regime in Syria. LAST MAJOR ATTACK: AREA OF OPERATION: Iraq, eastern Syria KEY LEADERS: Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (Abu Dua), emir Abu Muhammad al Adnani, spokesman Abu Sulayman, war minister LAST MAJOR ATTACK: Ongoing under the “Destroying the Walls Campaign” At least 17 VBIED bombing waves identified. Bombing waves now occurring weekly. AL QAEDA IN IRAQ (AQI) regained the strongholds that it held in 2006 after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011. The group is now actively engaged in internal Iraqi affairs and in the Syrian civil war, and remains committed to al Qaeda’s global ideology. It has supported radical elements of the Syrian opposition and was instrumental in founding Jabhat al Nusra in Syria, al Qaeda’s newest affiliate. AQI operates in Syria under the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Its operations in Iraq appear to be increasing. AQI is conducting waves of bombing attacks under its ongoing “Destroying the Walls Campaign,” announced in July 2012. Over three hundred people were killed by mid-September 2012 in Baghdad, Basra, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Diwaniya, Kirkuk, Misan, Ninewa, and Salahuddin provinces. AQI was established by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in Iraq in 2003, ahead of the U.S. invasion of the country. Osama bin Laden recognized Zarqawi’s group as part of the al Qaeda network in December 2004.
  • 4. 4 MOROCCO MAURITANIA LIBYA ALGERIA MALI NIGER GEORGIA ARMENIA AZERBAIJAN RUSSIA TURKEY AREA OF OPERATION: Algeria, Mali, western Libya, and parts of Mauritania, Morocco, and Niger KEY LEADERS: Abdelmalek Droukdel (Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud), emir Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, commander, killed February 25 Mokhtar Belmokhtar, former commander LAST MAJOR ATTACKS: January 16, 2013 Algerian Hostage Crisis Location: In Amenas, Algeria Total killed: at least 67; Total American deaths: 3 September 11, 2012 attack on U.S. consulate in Benghazi Location: Benghazi, Libya Total killed: 4; Total American deaths: 4 AL QAEDA IN THE ISLAMIC MAGHREB (AQIM) was recognized by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri as an al Qaeda affiliate on September 11, 2006. AQIM has historically involved itself in drug trafficking, smuggling, and kidnappings for ransom in the region. It has benefited from the outflow of arms from Libya after the fall of the Qaddafi regime. AQIM also coordinates its activities with two new violent Islamist groups in Mali, Ansar al Din and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA/MUJAO). AQIM’s then-commander of its Moulethemine (Masked) Battalion, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, may have been connected to the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and Belmokhtar’s splinter group led the January 16, 2013 attack on the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria. ISLAMIC EMIRATE OF THE CAUCASUS (IEC) was announced by its emir, Doku Umarov, on October 31, 2007. In that same statement, Umarov declared that the IEC considered the enemy to be not only Russia, but America, England, and Israel as well. Abu Hafs al Urduni, an al Qaeda operative in Chechnya, had previously noted the Chechen rebellion was being reorganized under Umarov, who had been one of the leaders of the rebellion. Al Qaeda had supported the Chechen rebellion in the 1990s by providing training, weapons, and funding to the rebels, further strengthening the Islamist radicals in the region. In 2008, then-deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri recognized the Caucacus as one of three primary fronts for al Qaeda. Recent Russian operations have significantly degraded IEC’s leadership, but have not been able to eliminate the group. The IEC has conducted spectacular attacks targeting Russian transportation infrastructure, including the Moscow subway and Domodedovo airport. AREA OF OPERATION: Russian Caucasus KEY LEADERS: Doku Umarov (Abu Uthman), emir LAST MAJOR ATTACK: January 24, 2011 Domodedovo airport bombing Location: Moscow, Russia Total killed: 35 Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia Aslan Byutukayev (Khamzat or Abubakar), deputy Aslambek Vadalov