Tag Archives: Cherif Kouachi

Al-Qaeda and Global Terror

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 16 April 2019

Ahmad al-Shara (Abu Muhammad al-Jolani) [image source]

Several years ago, Al-Qaeda made a strategic decision to refrain from foreign terrorist operations, refocusing away from these global spectaculars towards integrating more closely into local conflicts. The 2014 rampage across Iraq and Syria by Al-Qaeda’s rebellious former Iraqi branch, the Islamic State (ISIS), provided both the opportunity and additional incentive for a long-mediated rebranding effort. However, there have recently been signs of a shift back towards external terror operations, just as ISIS undergoes a setback and Al-Qaeda has a chance to reassert its dominance over the jihadi scene. Continue reading

Islamic State Operative Connected to Charlie Hebdo Attack Might Still Be Alive

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 April 2017

Boubaker al-Hakim (Abu Muqatil al-Tunisi) in Dabiq

Earlier today, an Iraqi military statement made public that the Iraqi government had provided coordinates to Bashar al-Assad’s air force, via the intelligence-sharing cell set up in Baghdad with Russia and Iran, for targets in Raqqa and al-Bukamal. One of the targets was Boubaker al-Hakim (Abu Muqatil al-Tunisi), a French-Tunisian Islamic State (IS) operative. Whether the Syrian regime’s strikes against al-Hakim were successful was not made clear. The interest here is that the U.S. announced on 10 December 2016 that it had killed al-Hakim in an airstrike near Raqqa on 26 November 2016, meaning that either the U.S. was mistaken or the Iraqis are. Al-Hakim is a very interesting figure in his own right with an extensive history in the jihadist movement and also highlights some broader trends, notably the assistance the Assad regime has provided to the IS movement. Continue reading

Mohammed Emwazi and al-Qaeda in Somalia

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 1, 2015

Mohammed Emwazi (

Mohammed Emwazi (“Jihadi John”)

The good news of the week is that CAGE (formerly Cageprisoners) is finished. While there had been no shortage of people pointing out that CAGE is a Salafi jihadist advocacy group and terrorist-supporting outfit, not a human rights organisation, this was often met with accusations of “Islamophobia,” McCarthyism, and worse. In 2010, Amnesty International—which partners with CAGE—fired the head of its Gender Unit, Gita Shaghal, when she complained of making Moazzam Begg an A.I. poster-boy. Begg claims to have been wrongfully imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay; for his actual record see the excellent work done by Thomas Joscelyn (start here and here.) But no person of good faith will ever again defend CAGE. Continue reading

The Long History of Middle Eastern State-Terrorism In Paris

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

Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi

Last week, Lee Smith wrote of the reasons that it was likely that there was a foreign hand, quite probably that of a State, in the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish deli in Paris. Smith noted that the French believe that the funding and weapons for the attacks came from abroad. Smith pointed to the historical record, in which terrorism in Paris is typically not carried out because of religion—or not directly: it might come from States that see themselves as god’s representatives on earth—or community grievances, but “because you’re getting paid to stage an operation on behalf of a particular cause or regime.” Smith gave three cases, and they seemed worth expanding on. Continue reading