In Algeria they’ve killed the AQ number two there, and the explosives expert who’s taken Al Qaeda in Algeria (aka GSPC) down the new path of suicide bombing, from AP:
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerian security forces identified a radical Islamic militant slain over the weekend as the No. 2 leader and explosives expert of al-Qaida’s North Africa affiliate, reports said.
Sofiane el-Fassila, alias Hareg Zoheir, was an alleged mastermind of several recent suicide bombing attacks in Algeria that were claimed by an insurgent group now calling itself Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa, newspaper reports said Tuesday, citing security officials.
El-Fassila and two suspected accomplices were shot dead Saturday near a roadblock put up by security forces in the town of Boghni in the restive Kabylie region east of Algiers, the daily Liberte reported.
In Pakistan the Waziristan War continues as Pakistani Army forces enter their fourth day of offensive operations against Al Qaeda, Taliban, and tribal supporters in North Waziristan. This is their last solid base, and their last hope so let us hope that the Army continues Al Qaeda’s demolition now that Al Qaeda has declared war on their previous hosts. In this last ditch defense of their original base AQ is even calling back forces from Aghanistan just to survive. From the Houston Chronicle:
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — Up to 250 people, including at least 45 soldiers, have been killed in fierce fighting in northwestern Pakistan over the past four days, with Pakistani military jets bombing suspected insurgent hide-outs amid tough resistance, officials and residents said Tuesday.
The military said that at least 150 insurgents had been killed in the battles in North Waziristan, a remote tribal region that al-Qaida and Taliban fighters have used as a base for operations.
The most intense clashes have come in the town of Mir Ali, where the military has deployed heavy artillery, helicopter gunships and fighter jets to try to oust insurgents who have been waging an aggressive campaign against the Pakistani army.
The use of fighter jets is unusual, but government officials said it was necessary given the strength of the firepower they were facing from the insurgents.
Things to watch for if the offensive continues: exfiltration to Sudan and Iran, movement back to Uzbekistan and Chechnya, as well as exodus back to Jammu/Kashmir that I’ve projected in previous articles. (Most of the hidden passes back to Afghanistan are closing or already closed by snow.)
Bill Roggio has a highly detailed update over at The Long War Journal.
In Canada there are warnings about attacks on oil-industry infrastructure, and electric grid; this is a favored ploy of Al Qaeda across the globe. From Oilweek:
MONTREAL _ Terrorists have included Canada‘s petroleum industry among their possible targets, says a Canadian Security Intelligence Service document obtained by Montreal Le Devoir.
The potential Al-Qaida targets were included in a risk assessment document prepared for CSIS. The document was obtained by the newspaper under the Access to Information Act.
North America‘s electricity network is also a potential target, the newspaper reported in its Wednesday edition.
Petroleum industries in Mexico and Venezuela were also proposed as targets by a publication sympathetic to al-Qaida on Feb. 9, the document said.
In the US President Bush unveiled a new Homeland security plan, warning about potential use of IED’s in the US, and potential use of WMD’s. Story at KC Star. In Miami an FBI witness tells about his rendevous with the Miami terrorists in his third day of testimony. International Herald Tribune.
In a Lebanon Daily there are claims that a group linked to Al Qaeda assassinated Harriri, but… this could be Syrian re-direction. Gulf News.
In Spain the date for the verdict on the Al Qaeda Madrid bombers has been set to October 31st — sentencing will be done the same day. International Herald Tribune.
In Iraq Al Qaeda is on the run, and the Sadrists have failed as well.
Al Qaeda is definitely on the run in Iraq, and while they can still get in the occasional car bomb, their presence, as well as that of the Sadrists is much less notable now than it was two months ago. The forces in Iraq must not rest on laurels however, they must keep pressing until AQ in Iraq is demolished in total.
Articles of special interest on the subject:
Amir Taheri in Gulf News on the Anti-Sadrist alliance in the South and AQ.
Investor’s Business Daily A new Day Dawns
Michael Totten: The Best Police Force In Iraq (Michael’s been doing a great job lately, I recommend you hit his tip jar after you read.)
And finally, Counter Terrorism blog.
The CT blog article points out the same problems with AQ in Iraq as are evident in Pakistan. While they are more visible, they are less effective. Their internecine disputes are public and many of their followers are now spread across a broad spectrum from hard core committed, to doubters, to outright dissenters, to schismatic factions, to those who have abandoned them and have turned against them. In that atmosphere they cannot hope to survive long.
The current action line in the MSM is that AQ is resurgent, more powerful, and more widespread than ever before. I don’t agree with that view. I would just say they are more visible, and more visibly shaken and retreating.
For years everytime a new leader in a region has arisen he gets taken out. They are well down below the D teamers on their bench now, and their leadership is both full of holes and incompetent. The time to train, indoctrinate, and equip has shrunk as has the size of the recruiting pool and their funding. AQ is running out of resource, hosts, and options.
Those they do recruit are more likely to be socially inept, sadistic, and power-centered. They continue to make highly visible mistakes and public sentiment across the Islamic world is now roused against them.
While they might be more visible now, they are visibly making many mistakes and just can’t seem to stop from doing so.