Tag Archives: al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

Jihadist Groups Capitalize on Far-Right Terrorism in New Zealand

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 29 March 2019

Al-Nur Mosque, Christchurch, New Zealand [image source]

In the wake of the terrorist atrocity against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March 2019, by Brenton Harrison, an Australian far-Right ideologue, jihadist groups released various statements seeking to exploit the event for their own purposes, an illustrative case of two extremisms feeding off one-another, a phenomenon known as “reciprocal radicalisation”, which seems likely to become more prevalent in the future. Continue reading

Focused on North Africa, Al-Qaeda’s Leader Condemns the “Compromising” Revolutionaries

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 7 March 2018

Ayman al-Zawahiri during speech on 6 March 2018 (screen grab)

Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, gave a nine-minute speech on 6 March 2018, entitled, “France Has Returned Oh Descendants of the Lions”. The essential message is that European “invaders” are back in the Maghreb, the Muslim-majority states west of Egypt (those states to the east are referred to as the Mashriq), either directly or through local regimes that adhere to the foreigners’ program, political and economic. Al-Zawahiri condemns the post-“Arab Spring” governments that have sought stability by compromise between the revolutionary movements that ousted the dictatorships and the old elites. For al-Zawahiri, the only just solution one achieved by a violent, jihadist campaign that sweeps the old order out entirely. An English transcript of the speech was released by al-Qaeda’s As-Sahab Media, and is reproduced below. Continue reading

Qatar and the Gulf Crisis

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 30 November 2017

I released a report today, published by the Henry Jackson Society, Qatar and the Gulf Crisis. The intent was to examine the charges made against the Qatari government by its Gulf neighbours with regard to the funding of terrorism, the hosting of extremists, the dissemination of hate speech and incitement, among other things. Having separated fact from fiction with regards to he accusations against Qatar, the report proposes how Britain might proceed in such a way as to press Doha on issues of concern, while avoiding being drawn into the middle of the Gulf dispute, and trying to foster reconciliation between allies, especially at a time when a united front is necessary to oppose the far larger challenge of the Iranian theocracy.  Continue reading

Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Qaeda

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 12, 2016

The Islamic State’s (IS) weekly newsletter, al-Naba, interviewed a high-ranking al-Qaeda defector, Abu Ubayda al-Lubnani, across two issues in February and March. Abu Ubayda appeared on a list of prominent clerics supporting IS’s caliphate declaration in February 2014, and two months later his defection from al-Qaeda to IS was announced by al-Battar. Abu Ubayda is described by al-Naba—as best as can be told accurately—as having been a member of al-Qaeda’s: Shura [Consultation] Council, a training officer in its Military Committee, and a counter-intelligence officer. Abu Ubayda is advertised as speaking about many secret aspects of al-Qaeda.

Among the topics Abu Ubayda covers is the alleged infiltration and manipulation of al-Qaeda by foreign intelligence services, specifically Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which is not only a violation of jihadist doctrine by collaborating with an “infidel” and illegitimate state but led to the deaths of a number of senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of what Abu Ubayda has to say relates to al-Qaeda’s attempt to take advantage of the Syrian revolution. This persistent campaign has followed a pattern of disguising al-Qaeda’s presence and attempting to influence and eventually co-opt the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. One lever al-Qaeda relied upon, according to Abu Ubayda, was Ahrar al-Sham, an organization that disclaims all connections to al-Qaeda and dissimulates about its ideology. Whatever Ahrar’s dominant ideology, it is simply a fact that it has served as the bridge between the foreign-led jihadists and Syrian Islamists, and its connections to al-Qaeda are evident enough. Abu Ubayda suggests Ahrar’s connections to al-Qaeda are even deeper than they appear. Continue reading

Yemen and Al-Qaeda’s Long-Term Strategy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 10, 2016

During al-Qaeda's occupation of al-Mukalla, Yemen, April 2015 to April 2016 (source)

During al-Qaeda’s occupation of al-Mukalla, Yemen, April 2015 to April 2016 (source)

In Yemen, at the end of last month, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was cleared from al-Mukalla, their major urban stronghold. This ends a year of occupation and brings to a close what is effectively the third emirate or statelet AQAP has either set up or attempted to set up in Yemen since 2011. These projects offer some insights into al-Qaeda’s methodology in getting to an Islamic state, including its rebranding in opposition to the Islamic State (IS). Continue reading

The Islamic State, Libya, and Interventionism

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 19, 2015

Rebels with Qaddafi's

Rebels with Qaddafi’s “golden gun”

Yesterday morning in Libya, it was announced that militias from Misrata were moving into Sirte to combat the Islamic State (I.S.). The militias preparing to fight I.S. are drawn from Libya Dawn, the Islamist coalition that ousted the internationally-recognised government in August 2014. Continue reading