Iran Receives Praise For Terror Aid to Al Qaeda: Zawahiri Letter

In an intercepted letter to Iran, Ayman Al Zawahiri praises Iran for their aid in setting up the terror cells in Yemen responsible for the recent US Embassy attacks there. In the past both Al Qaeda and the Taliban have sheltered in Iran, and without Iran’s logistics and weapons aid it’s doubtful that they can be effective in Pakistan and Afghanistan now that AQ is shut off from their ISI sugardaddies by the new Pakistan government. Story at The UK Telegraph:

Delivery of the letter exposed the rising role of Saad bin Laden, son of the al-Qaeda leader, Osama as an intermediary between the organisation and Iran. Saad bin Laden has been living in Iran since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, apparently under house arrest.

The letter, which was signed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second in command, was written after the American embassy in Yemen was attacked by simultaneous suicide car bombs in September.

Western security officials said the missive thanked the leadership of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for providing assistance to al-Qaeda to set up its terrorist network in Yemen, which has suffered ten al-Qaeda-related terror attacks in the past year, including two bomb attacks against the American embassy.

In the letter al-Qaeda’s leadership pays tribute to Iran’s generosity, stating that without its “monetary and infrastructure assistance” it would have not been possible for the group to carry out the terror attacks. It also thanked Iran for having the “vision” to help the terror organisation establish new bases in Yemen after al-Qaeda was forced to abandon much of its terrorist infrastructure in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

There has been intense speculation about the level of Iranian support for al-Qaeda since the 9/11 Commission report into al-Qaeda’s terror attacks against the U.S. in 2001 concluded that Iran had provided safe passage for many of the 9/11 hijackers travelling between Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia prior to the attacks.

The Debate

This one’s hard to read, I can tell you where John should have zinged Barack a bit harder, but anyone can see those. As a political junkie I have to say that I don’t know how this will fly with non-political people. Trying to be objective, I would say that of the two John McCain probably inspired more confidence, and came off less petulant even though he was attacking the whole time. So I think that worked, but we will have to wait to see what the poll that counts reads – it’s in November.

Notes to Barack:
At one point I thought I heard you say that we could have intervened in the holocaust? (the dog was barking at that point, I’ll read the transcript to make sure and correct if mistaken,) I think we did intervene, it was called WWII.
UPDATE: I did hear correctly, from the transcript:

OBAMA: Well, we may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake.

If we could have intervened effectively in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we had a moral obligation not to go in?

Seems Barack forgot that we stopped Nazi Germany. Maybe they didn’t cover that in the elite academy he went to in Hawaii.

Your invade to attack Bin Laden in Pakistan statements might make good sound bites, however they are undermining our policy in Afghanistan. The people of Pakistan burnt you in the streets of Karachi the first time you brought it up, and since then political pressure has steadily soared. The predator raids that were ignored aren’t ignored anymore and every blog and newspaper speaks out against the US much more often than they used to. Even the pro Musharraf camp is now speaking out against us, and the PPP who compose the new gov’t are steadily falling in favor and are being undermined by your constant threats. You are not making it easy on them, but AQ, TTP, LeJ, LeT, HuJI, TNSM, JeM and the others are making agit-prop hay out of every statement on Pakistan you make. (and I doubt that Obama knows of even half of those groups.)

UPDATE: In retrospect it’s easy to see that Barack Obama was correct on Pakistan, and both John McCain and I were wrong for partisan reasons.

The Debate: Thanos’ read

First McCain did come off the best in this debate. Both candidates scored important points and talked to their base, however throughout the debate McCain talked to the middle as well and managed to score with all of America again and again.

He scored great points with his tough talk on economics and cutting spending while Obama lost points by talking about all new programs and his unwillingness to cut any.

McCain definitely won on energy. While Obama was interested in gotchas and history, McCain put forth a solid plan that will work.

McCain was a tour d’force on foreign policy, and outshone Obama by miles there.

At a couple of points you could see Barack put up his hands like he wanted to call a time out when McCain was using Barack’s own statements to illustrate his points. Yes, america gets it that you said that Barack, and then you changed your stance after a lot of coaching. It was crystal clear in the debate.

Now we all know there were bigger zingers, harder slams, and tougher things that John could have said, but there are reasons he did not. He is carefully courting the Reagan Democrats and we need them to win. If he goes to polar in the initial debate he loses them from the get go.

He couldn’t go to town with Acorn, Dodd, Raines, Frank, Countrywide, and Johnson the way he could have, and he can’t until we get through the crisis d’jour. He didn’t bring up that they burnt Barack in effigy in the streets of Pakistan after his comments on Pakistan, although he could have.

He didn’t drive home the fact that Al Qaeda is “reconstituted” in Pakistan because we kicked their ass in Iraq and they had to flee there.

He didn’t bring up that we really are at the crux of winning three wars in Iraq: the first against Sadaam, the second against Al Qaeda, and the third against the Badr brigades assisted by the Revolutionary Guard of Iran. Few have said that, but it’s the truth.

He didnt’ bring up that the average american farm is Rich in Barack’s book, he didn’t bring up that the average Home run business is rich in Barack’s books. That’s a must do next debate.

Again the real slings and arrows have not yet flown against Barack Obama, they are held in reserve. That’s a good thing.

Also note that McCain is winning in both the Drudge Report and AoL polls immediately following the debates by an almost 70 / 30 split.

New Missile Strikes in Pakistan

A new missile strike in Pakistan has killed 16 Taliban at a madrassah complex belonging to a friend of Osama Bin  Laden’s, Jalaluddin Haqqani. Haqqqani and his son, Sirajuddin, are the leaders of the Taliban in Afghanistan post-Daddullah, and they have been behind this year’s campaign of targetted bombings, kidnappings, and ambushes.

The refinement of tactics we’ve seen from him has been from adaptation of Al Qaeda’s new strategies. No longer do you see the Taliban acting as a large army, but instead using classical asymetric or guerrilla warfare techniques, mixed with many more terror attacks against civilian targets.

The strike was at a compound in the small village of Dande Darpa Khel in the tribal area of North Waziristan. One witness says there were two drones and six missiles used in the attack. It’s unknown whether we got any Al Qaeda or Taliban leaders of note, since villagers quickly surrounded the area and removed the bodies. A Pakistani official states that neither Jalal or Sirajuddin were in the buildings at the time of the attacks, but Pakistani officials have been notoriously wrong in reports in the past, most often they tend to claim that a leader was killed when they were not however.

This and the other recent up tempo strikes by the US and Nato forces seems to signal a new doctrine: that Taliban leaders will not be allowed to attack with impugnity and think their property and homes are safe across the border in Pakistan when they attack the property and homes of Afghans and destroy their lives.

More at the Washington Post:

A Pakistani security official in North Waziristan confirmed local villagers’ accounts of the attack, saying that the Taliban commander’s supporters immediately cordoned off the area around the bombsite and barred anyone from entering. He said that Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin — a leading Taliban fighter — were not in any of the targeted buildings when the missiles struck.

The Pakistani security official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on such incidents, said dozens of the injured were taken by ambulance to local hospitals in the tribal area’s main town of Miranshah. Haqqani’s younger son, Badruddin, told the Reuters news service that his father and brother, Sirajuddin, were unharmed because they were away in Afghanistan at the time of the strike.

UPDATE: 3 Al Qaeda leaders dead from strike per ARY and Rediff: Hamza Arabi, Qasim Hamza and Musa Arabi

Much more on the strike and Haqqani at The Long War Journal
More on Haqqani’s history at Wiki

Missile Strike Against Hekmatyar Camp in Pakistan; 9 Dead

Associated Press and Reuters are reporting a missile strike at a Gulbuddin Hekmatyar training camp in Pakistan. The report has 9 militants dead (unamed, but militants usually equals foreign Taliban or Al Qaeda, local TTP Taliban are either named or tagged extremists.) From Reuters:

WANA, Pakistan, Aug 13 (Reuters) – At least nine militants were killed in a missile strike on their training camp in Pakistan’s South Waziristan region, near the Afghan border, security officials and residents said on Wednesday.

In a separate incident, a militant faction leader was shot and killed by a gunman at his office in a mosque in a northwestern town.

This strike occurred in Bhagar, about 22 miles West of Wana, a hotbed and gathering area for Taliban forces in the South Waziristan area. One out of two camps located at Bhagar was hit. According to an unamed Pakistan intel official :

“This camp was run by Hizb-e-Islami and there were about 15 people including foreigners there at the time of the attack,”
Militants sealed off the area and were not letting anyone approach, they aren’t even letting residents who live nearby go there but our information is that they have recovered nine bodies.”

Here’s the wiki page on Gulbuddin, you will see that Hizb-e-Islami (G) and Hekmatyar have a long history, including some ties to Iran.

Update: AFP reports the possibility that Zanjir Wazir, commander of HIG Afghanistan was killed. His brother, Abdur Rehman and Abdul Salam were counted among the dead.

US officials are denying the strike, which was four missiles. Pakistan is known to have laser guided munitions (helicopter launched) and as the training camp’s plot is well known, the missiles could have been targetted via GPS.

Also note this from the AFP Story linked above:

Separately on Wednesday a gunman shot dead an Islamist militant leader, Haji Namdar, as he taught at a religious school in the Khyber tribal region near the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said

It’s a “red on red” killing and retribution for Namdar’s resistance in the Khyber agency, there will undoubtably be counter-strokes, stay tuned.

More at Jammie Wearing Fool

Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid aka “Sa’id” Al Qaeda Leader Dead

Pakistan has announced the death of Abu Yazid “Saeed” al-Masri in the Bajaur region as a result of their ongoing offensive there. (The Reuters story specifies an “Unamed Official, but that’s normally how these reports come from Pakistan.) 
UPDATE: In the International Times they have both Taliban and “Arab” sources denying the death of Abu Yazid “Saeed” Al Masri. This looks like another false report from Pakistan’s Military at the moment, but note that the military also states that intercepted insurgent radio chatter is where they first heard of the death, we’ll give this another 48 hours since Al Qaeda ususally does confirm when we kill a leader.

Originally billed as Al Qaida’s leader in Afghanistan way back in May 2007 in an As Sahab video, he later seemed to have been replaced in subseqent announcements by other AQ leaders in Afghanistan as they tried Emir after Emir. I think this was by design after Dadullah’s death, their second tier now leads from the rear. He was the replacement after we killed Mullah Dadullah, and from what I can see he was in the second tier of leadership of Al Qaeda, managing both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here is the video announcing him as leader in Afghanistan from Memri.

While I’m calling Abu Yazid as a “tier II” leader, some refer to him as Al Qaeda’s number three, he also served time in the same cell alongside Ayman Al Zawahiri in Egypt. Regardless of where you place his position, he is part of the critical strategic leadership for AQ, and this is a tremendous blow to them if the initial reports pan out.

He was the one who declared Jihad against Turkey, and later he pops up in the news claiming credit for the Benazir Bhutto assassination for Al Qaeda. ( Rememeber that many think Baitullah Mehsud did it as well, I would still wager that AQ ordered the killing and that Baitullah managed the logistics.)
You can also see in this dispatch at Memri that he doesn’t distinguish between civilians and government for purposes of Jihad.

Here’s the story from Fox News:

Senior Al Qaeda commander Abu Saeed al-Masri has been killed in recent clashes with Pakistani forces in a Pakistani region near the Afghan border, a security official told Reuters on Tuesday.

“He was believed to be among the top leadership of Al Qaeda,” the senior security official told the news agency on condition of anonymity.

Al-Masri, which means Egyptian, was the senior most Al Qaeda operative to have been killed in Pakistan’s tribal belt since the death of his compatriot, Abu Khabab al-Masri, an Al Qaeda chemical and biological weapons expert, last month

You can also see that Abu Yazid Al Masri, like all Al Qaeda leadership, interprets Jihad the way he wants to at the moment. Here he specifically states that blowing up mosques is forbidden, but later you saw Al Qaeda suicide bomb the mosque at Charsadda in an attempt to get Aftab Ahmed Sherpao:

In the interview, Abu Al-Yazid stated that Al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad last June. He said that the bomber was a Saudi, and added: “We are proud to have carried out [this operation], and we congratulated our brothers for completing this task. We timed the attack in such a way that no Muslims were in the vicinity.” Abu Al-Yazid also stated that Al-Qaeda had been responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On a previous occasion, he claimed that the organization had carried out the December 27, 2007 assassination of former Pakistani prime-minister Benazir Bhutto.

Referring to the permissibility of suicide bombings, Abu Al-Yazid said that eminent Islamic scholars around the world had issued fatwas sanctioning them. He added: “Suicide attacks are justified by Islamic shari’a. [However, Islamic] scholars [who are affiliated with] governments issue whatever fatwas they are told to issue… However, suicide attacks inside mosques are forbidden.”

Meanwhile the offensive in Bajaur is continuing, I think the ruling coalition in Pakistan has realized that they must get AQ and Baitullah before the terrorists get them. ( Baitullah circulated a list of 300 PPP and PML-N stalwarts up for assassination last month.)

More at Jawa Report

More at The Long War Journal

Pakistan Taliban Schism Confirmed – 50 Dead

The schism that has stewed for a couple of months within Baitullah Mehsud’s loose alliance of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan broke out into open large scale fighting in the Mohmand agency Friday. Initial reports had ten dead up until the point when the Afghan Taliban leadership brokered a peace through a Jirga. Fighting broke out again immediately after the Afghanistan Taliban left, demonstrating that they have little authority anymore.

Baitullah’s Wazir Taliban  ended by capturing the opposition forces with 50 dead and dozens injured on both sides. As Mehsud works to extend his warlord power you can expect to see more of this as he moves into regions with other tribes who will oppose him. Continue reading “Pakistan Taliban Schism Confirmed – 50 Dead”

Senior Al Qaeda Leader(s) Killed in Damadola

It appears we got an Algerian Al Qaeda leader in the Damadola village hellfire strike last week, this is the third one in the area. ( as reported here in February.)  Jammie Wearing Fool has more

The Algerian, known by the nickname Abu Sulayman Jazairi, apparently died May 14 in the strike that killed as many as 14 people and destroyed a compound near the village of Damadola, an Al Qaeda stronghold in northwestern Pakistan, officials said. A knowledgeable U.S. official and a senior European anti-terrorism official said Jazairi was thought to be dead.

U.S. anti-terrorism forces are targeting front-line planners in Pakistani hide-outs, and Jazairi would be another in a series of recent losses for the Al Qaeda leadership, the two officials said.

More also at the Asia Times:

US intelligence is closely monitoring the area, acutely aware of its importance. The strike had some success, taking out two senior al-Qaeda leaders – Sheikh Osman, know for his amputated hand, and Sheikh Soliman. However, a famous Taliban commander, Dost Muhammad, escaped unhurt. **

** Note that when you read an article by Syed you will be reading the Taliban’s agitprop — sometimes they lie, sometimes they don’t; so you will find nuggets of truth in his articles. I don’t think Syed lies but he is sympathetic, and prints verbatim what they tell him.

Update: More from the Pakistan Daily times:

They said the Algerian, known by the nickname Abu Sulayman Jazairi, apparently died on May 14 in the strike that killed 14 people and destroyed a compound near the village of Damadola.

A knowledgeable US official and a senior European anti-terrorism official told the Times that Jazairi was thought to be dead.

They said that US anti-terrorism forces were targeting frontline planners in Pakistani hideouts, and Jazairi would be another in a series of recent losses for the Al Qaeda leadership.

“He was a significant person within the Al Qaeda ranks,” said the European official, requesting anonymity. “Not in the top five, but he’s up there. The suspicion is he was one of those individuals involved in training and targeting Western interests. There is uncorroborated intelligence that he was involved in plots against Europe.”

According to the Times, officials declined to discuss last week’s operation because of political tension in Pakistan over US airstrikes. In fact, it added, some doubt lingers about the identity of the man killed. The report referred to a statement of a senior Pakistani official in which he said he believed the slain man was not the Algerian but another foreign militant.

Despite the confusion, the US and European officials told the paper that their information about the militant’s identity seemed solid.

“There are good reasons to think that Al Jazairi is dead,” the US official said. The European official said that there recently had been allusions to Jazairi’s death on radical websites.

Explosives expert: Jazairi was an explosives expert and “important terrorist trainer”, the US official said.

“When it comes to training, this individual was an important figure … People like him are vital to terrorist plots. That doesn’t mean he can’t be replaced. But when Al Qaeda loses someone with his experience, it matters.”

UPDATE: More at The Long War Journal