Terrorist Alliance Between Aqap And Al Shabaab2010


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Terrorist Alliance Between AQAP and Al-Shahbaab; Emerging Threat to the USA and her European Allies?

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Terrorist Alliance Between Aqap And Al Shabaab2010

  1. 1. Terrorist Alliance Between AQAP and Al-Shabaab An Emerging Threat to the USA and her European Allies?? PUBLISHED BY: EMERGENCY RESPONSE & RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INC. December 1, 2010 Authored by: C. L. Staten and Associates ERRI/EmergencyNet News, 2010 0
  2. 2. Terrorist Alliance Between AQAP and Al-Shabaab Terrorist Alliance BetweenAQAP and Al-ShabaabAn Emerging Threat to the USA and her European Allies? The troubled Gulf of Aden AreaAl-Shabaab The Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin (al-Shahbaab)— alsoknown as al-Shabaab, Shabaab, the Youth, Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement, Mujahideen Youth Movement,Mujahidin Youth Movement, and other names and variations— was the militant wing of the Somalia Council of IslamicCourts that took over most of southern Somalia in the second In the waters off the coasthalf of 2006. of East Africa, CENTCOM‟s CoalitionAlthough the Somali government and Ethiopian forces routed the Task Force 151 (CTF-group in a two-week war between December 2006 and January 151), conducts maritime2007, al-Shabaab has continued its violent insurgency in southern security operations toand central Somalia. The group has gained control of many parts of protect shipping routes insouthern and central Somalia by using „guerrilla warfare and the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea,terrorist tactics‟. Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean.The Bab al Mandab waterway and Gulf of Aden were termed "of supremestrategic importance "in Al Qaedas long term plan. On April 2009 , the Coalition and U.S. navaldeputy leader of Al Qaeda in Arab Peninsula (AQAP), Said Ali Jaber Al forces have had numerousKhathim Al Shihri (aka Abu Sufian al-Azdi) released a message calling on engagements with piratesSomali jihadists to step up their attacks on "crusader" forces at sea in the in these waters in the pastGulf of Aden and on land in neighboring Djibouti, which hosts France few years.largest military base in Africa. "To our steadfast brethren in Somalia, takecaution and prepare yourselves and Increase your strikes against the It must also be noted thatcrusaders at sea and in Djibouti.” Shihri opened his message by Africa‟s exports of crudeaddressing the Jihadi leaders: Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar, oil to the United States areOsama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri. now roughly equal to those of the Middle East, further emphasizing this continent‟s increasing strategic importance. ERRI/EmergencyNet News, 2010 1
  3. 3. Terrorist Alliance Between AQAP and Al-Shabaab Though this story has fallen out of favor with the popular press (MSM –Main Stream Media), the battle for the Gulf of Aden, and other nearby(and not so nearby) waters, goes on almost every day. One of the morerecent attacks (11 Dec 2010) involves alleged Somali pirates hijacking aLiberian-owned bulk cargo ship in the Indian Ocean, about 1,050 nauticalmiles east of the Somali coastal village of Eyl. In typical Somali piratefashion, the attack was launched from two attack skiffs, supported by amother ship, with pirates firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades(RPG‟s) at the merchant vessel (See photo – right).At last report, the Panama-flagged MV Renuar was headed for Somalia,with the 24-man Filipino crew in the custody of the armed pirates. “There are presently no communications withthe ship and the condition of the crew is not known,” according to the EU anti-piracy task-force.Why is this attack, or other similar attacks…significant? Because these kinds of crimes, and the ransoms that theymost often generate, are believed to be a major funding sources for tribal groups, criminals, insurgents andradical Islamists in this region. In other words, the pirates (and a larger Islamic insurgency) are, in actuality, beingfunded by Western companies/nations, who would rather pay a ransom than try to engage and defeat the pirates.Consequently, each successful ship hijacking/hostage-taking, (and corresponding ransom payment) funds evenmore pirates. And, the ransom money also facilitates the logistics (purchase of more boats, weapons, andexplosives) to allow the pirates to undertake more and even bigger attacks in the future.Furthermore, given current circumstances, where is the downside for the pirates? Few attacks are thwarted, asmany ships and crews are taken and eventually ransomed – usually following the payment hundreds ofthousands or million dollars in payments to the pirates. In actuality, the number of hijackings by Somali pirateshas steadily increased in recent years, with the Somalis accounting for 35 of the world‟s 39 ships hijacked in the first nine months of 2010. Aside from the efforts of Combined Task Force 151, (a multinational task force established in January 2009 to conduct counter-piracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) area of responsibility to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy), little else is being done (internationally, politically, diplomatically) to eliminate this immediate threat to shipping and/or a larger potential for disruption of a strategic “choke- point” at an outlet through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. At last count, the increasingly brazen pirates were holding 26 vessels and 609 hostages off the coast of Somalia, according to a European Union anti-piracy force. (A representation of the location of the actual attacks/attempted attacks appears at left.) ERRI/EmergencyNet News, 2010 2
  4. 4. Terrorist Alliance Between AQAP and Al-Shabaab Current Developments…The three main factions of jihadists, or Islamists, in Somalia: there is the dominant faction of al Shabaab that isglobalist and jihadist in its aim led by an individual known as Godane Abu Zubayr. The second faction of alShabaab is the nationalist wing of al Shabaab, led by a commander known as Muktar Robow, also known as AbuMansur. Now this Hizbul Islam faction is led by an old-time warlord and Somali nationalist leader whose name isSheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys. Now the Godane wing of al Shabaab essentially issued a threat to Aweys‟ group ofHizbul Islam basically saying “join us or die,” and after a series of clashes over the last couple of weeks, Aweys‟group basically conceded. Now this significance is less in the number of troops that the Awey‟s faction of HizbulIslam brings to al Shabaab, but the significance is rather of the Godane-led dominant faction of al Shabaab,eliminating internal dissents which ultimately would lead to its defeat if it festered. While these internal tensionsare never going to be fully eliminated, Godane must fight these. He has no choice but to eliminate internaltensions that are on the radar of his enemies, such as the Somali government and its backers.The latest (officially unconfirmed) intelligence out of Somalia would seem to indicate that Al-Shahbaab may beconsolidating its hold over new (and larger) parts of the mostly ungoverned nation. According to at least onerecent account, the radical Islamist Somali group “Hisbul Islam” is now joining forces with Al-Shahbaab.Apparently, this alliance was a “shot-gun wedding,” with Al Shahbaab “forcibly” increasing its control over HisbulIslam areas. (e,g.- in grunt „milspeak‟; Al-Shahbaab kicked some Hisbul Islam butt, and is now “appropriating”their territory. i.e. - Parts of Somalia could well be compared to parts of a U.S. „ghetto‟, with gang combat carriedout in order to assume control of small tracts of land…sometimes as small as one or several blocks).According to the Wall Street Journal, a U.S. intelligence official said information gleaned from militantcommunications shows links between al Shabaab and al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Yemen. U.S. officialsalso see evidence of overlap in training and membership and say their working assumption is that al Shabaab hasseveral hundred core members, similar to the numbers in al Qaeda in Pakistan and in al Qaedas Yemeni outpost.Assessment by Foreign Policy Magazine: Somalia“If Somalia keeps heading south in 2011, the entire country could fall under Islamist insurgent control. Up tonow, the countrys U.N.-backed transitional government has withstood attacks from Islamist insurgents onlythanks to protection from an African Union peacekeeping force; it remains weak and divided, a nationalgovernment in name alone. Further, the capital city of Mogadishu is under perpetual siege by militants, a realitythat has sent millions fleeing from their homes in this year alone. When the government does make gains on theinsurgents, they are counted in mere city blocks, captured one by one.The largest and most alarming insurgent group is al Shabab, which professes to desire the creation of a strict,conservative Muslim state and portions of whose leadership pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in early 2010. Thegroup already controls most of southern and central Somalia and is currently trying to capture Mogadishu.Meanwhile, Somalias neighbors fear that al Shabab will begin to export terrorism, as it did for the first time lastsummer in a series of bombings in Uganda during the World Cup.That said, Somaliland in the countrys northwest is an island of stability and democracy, and Puntland in thenortheast is relatively peaceful, if troubled by Islamists and pirate gangs.The best hope for Somalia is for its forces to exploit the divisions among the insurgency to recapture territory,particularly in Mogadishu. International support, already forthcoming, will help. But so would a lot of luck.” ERRI/EmergencyNet News, 2010 3
  5. 5. Terrorist Alliance Between AQAP and Al-Shabaab Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emerged in January 2009 following an announcement that unified Yemeni and Saudi operatives under a common banner and signaled the group‟s intention to serve as a hub for regional operations targeting government and Western interests both in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The leadership of this new organization was composed of the group‟s amir, Nasir al-Wahishi, and commander Qasim al-Rimi, both veteran Yemeni extremist leaders, as well as two Saudis, one of whom surrendered to Saudi authorities in February.AQAP‟s predecessor, al-Qa„ida in Yemen (AQY), largely re-emerged after the escape of 23 al-Qaeda membersfrom a Political Security prison in the Yemeni capital, Sana‟a, in February 2006.In early 2008 dramatically increased its operational tempo, carrying out small-arms attacks on foreign tourists anda series of mortar attacks against the US Embassy in Sana‟a, Yemeni military complexes, the Italian Embassy,and the Presidential Compound.On February 8, 2010, deputy leader Said Ali al-Shihri called for a regional holy war and blockade of the Red Seato prevent shipments to Israel. In an audiotape he called upon Somalias al-Shahbaab militant group forassistance in the blockade.Since then, AQAP‟s activity level and public profile have both risen in a significant way. Particularly, theinvolvement of Anwar al-Awlaki seems to have taken AQAP to a new level of international recognition...aswell as energizing the operational activity/capability of the group. According to U.S. counter-terrorismofficials, Awlaki is the one of the main forces behind AQAPs decision to transform itself from a regionalthreat into al-Qaedas most active affiliate outside Pakistan and Afghanistan (AF-PAK).In recent times, Awlaki‟s alleged involvement in an attempted bombing of an airliner in-bound to Detroit, MI(the Underwear Bomber) in 2009…and his participation in a 2010 cargo plane/printer cartridge bomb plothave given him and AQAP far greater visibility on the world stage (and probably more significantly… movedhim to the top of America‟s most wanted lists).Current ReferencesRead more: “Dispatch: Al Shabaabs Increasing Power” | STRATFORJULY 17, 2010 – “Somali Militant Group Built Training Camps, al Qaeda Links,” WSJ.comhttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703722804575369112124063190.htmlSource: Foreign Policy; “Next Years Wars,” The 16 brewing conflicts to watch for in 2011. (Pictoral)http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/12/28/next_years_wars?page=full ERRI/EmergencyNet News, 2010 4
  6. 6. Terrorist Alliance Between AQAP and Al-Shabaab Previous ERRI/EmergencyNet News References:“Terrorist Alliance Between AQAP and Al-Shabaab (An Emerging Threat to the USA and her European Allies?)”http://emergencynet-news.com/pdf/Terrorist_ Alliance_ Between_ aqap_ and_Al-Shabaab2010.pdf“Evidence of increasing alliance between Islamic militants in Somalia, Yemen and Al-Qaeda,” By C. L. Staten, Senior NationalSecurity Analyst, ERRI, June 2010http://emergencynet-news.com/pdf/al-shahbaab_Somalia_Al-Qaeda_Yemen.pdf“AQAP and Al-Shabaab Alliance; An Emerging Terrorist Threat, (Includes Preliminary Report; Yemen Airliner Bomb Plot)”Saturday, 30 Oct 2010http://emergencynet-news.com/pdf/Yemen_AQAP_bomb_alliance.pdfENN, “Somalia Piracy Brief,” Nov., 2008 (Flash Slideshow) ERRI/EmergencyNet News, 2010 5