Part-Time Allies Yemen and Pakistan are still not committed to the war against radical Islam.

Part-Time Allies

Posted By Ryan Mauro On May 19, 2010 @ 12:06 am In FrontPage | 1 Comment

President Bush famously said after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that every country had to decide whether they were with us or against us. Unfortunately, several so-called allies have decided to tackle some terrorist groups and not others, believing that the U.S. has no other option but to accept their half-hearted collaboration. Recent news from Yemen and Pakistan show that these two countries are double-dealing and need to be held accountable.

The Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi announced [1] that high-level Al-Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, will not be extradited to the United States if they capture him, even though he is an American citizen. Al-Awlaki is thought to be connected to the Fort Hood shooting and the Christmas Day underwear bomb plot. The Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen is becoming increasingly active, with up to 36 former prison inmates in the U.S. having joined [2] the group.

This follows an earlier incident where al-Qirbi said [3] that his government was not actively trying to arrest al-Awlaki, saying he was seen as a preacher. He then clarified [4] that statement, saying he was only referring to the period when al-Awlaki initially moved to Yemen from the U.S. and was not accused of being involved in terrorism. He explained that the Yemeni government wants to arrest al-Awlaki, but blamed the U.S. for not providing adequate intelligence to allow them to locate him. We have heard the Pakistanis use a similar defense over the years when confronted with their resistance to arresting Taliban leaders.

Yemen has long harbored Al-Qaeda and radical Salafi elements, making various deals [5] with them and openly negotiating truces when conflict arose. President Saleh’s government and security forces are known to have close ties to the Salafi tribes, whose members are reliable allies when fighting the radical Shiite Houthi rebels.

Imprisoned Al-Qaeda members frequently “escape” from prison. In February 2006, 23 Al-Qaeda members, including some involved in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the 2003 bombings in Riyadh, found [6] their way out of a high-security prison. When they were rearrested, the Yemeni government pardoned them after they disavowed terrorism. In February 2009, Yemen released [7] 170 Al-Qaeda members after they promised not to return to terrorism. The Arab press reported [8] last year that two Al-Qaeda camps were in Yemen, with one in Abyan Province housing about 400 terrorists.

The problem is similar in Pakistan. Although the Pakistani military has launched offensives to take back territory held by Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and like-minded terrorists, the government is still allowing some terrorist groups and Taliban figures to have freedom on their soil. The arrest in February of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second-in-command of the Taliban, was seen as a turning point, but at least two other senior Taliban officials were released. [9]

The Haqqani network, which is allied to the Taliban, remains immune [10] from Pakistani counter-terrorism efforts. Last May, U.S. intelligence found [11] that the Taliban’s capabilities had expanded due to the assistance of members of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service which was providing money, weapons and even “strategic planning guidance.” The ISI’s S-Wing [12] was accused of supporting the branch of the Taliban in Quetta in Baluchistan Province, where Mullah Omar is believed to be, as well as the Haqqani network and the forces led by Guldbuddin Hekmatyar, another Taliban ally.

The failed plot by Faisal Shahzad and the Pakistani Taliban to set off a car bomb in Times Square proves that all jihadist groups in Pakistan must be eliminated in order to stop attacks on the homeland and on American interests. At least four members of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) have been arrested by the Pakistani authorities as part of their investigation into Shahzad, and he has told his captors that he met with a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) while in Pakistan. In December, five Americans who traveled to Pakistan to join the Taliban and Al-Qaeda stayed at a safehouse provided by a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed openly [13] preaches anti-Western extremism and jihad in Pakistan and although Lashkar-e-Taiba is banned, it continues to operate under the name of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, is on house arrest but still preaches [14] to thousands in Lahore.

The two groups are even allowed to operate schools. Reporters have found [15] two madrasses openly run by Jaish-e-Mohammed. After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the LET said [16] it ran over 202 schools as well as hospitals and charities in the country. Only a handful of the schools have been closed. Reporters have also observed the JEM’s headquarters in Bahawalpur in Punjab Province operating freely. After their presence was learned of, a checkpoint was established but the facility remained open.

Arnaud de Borchgrave wrote [17] in The Washington Times recently that Pakistan “is still producing an estimated 10,000 potential jihadis a year out of 500,000 graduates from Pakistan’s 11,000 madrasses.” Any school run by extremist needs to be seen as an enemy base, no different than a training camp.

The U.S. cannot afford to allow Yemen and Pakistan to continue their current behavior. The governments of these two countries may argue that aggressive action could cause a backlash. The U.S. must emphasize that if action is not taken by them, then the CIA’s drones will take the action for them. The public pressure they fear will become a reality due to their own inaction.

This conflict is more than a war against Al-Qaeda. It is a war against an entire radical Islamic infrastructure with each component being as important as the next. There must be no distinction made between Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, like the one in Yemen, and similar but separate groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan.

Freed Guantánamo inmates are heading for Yemen to join al-Qaeda fight

Freed Guantánamo inmates are heading for Yemen to join al-Qaeda fight

Said Ali al-Shihri, Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish (ID not confirmed); Abdullah Saleh Ali al Ajmi; and Abdullah Mahs

Tom Coghlan

At least a dozen former Guantánamo Bay inmates have rejoined al-Qaeda to fight in Yemen, The Times has learnt, amid growing concern over the ability of the country’s Government to accept almost 100 more former inmates from the detention centre.

The Obama Administration promised to close the Guantánamo facility by January 22, a deadline that it will be unable to meet. The 91 Yemeni prisoners in Guantánamo make up the largest national contingent among the 198 being held.

Six prisoners were returned to Yemen last month. After the Christmas Day bomb plot in Detroit, US officials are increasingly concerned that the country is becoming a hot-bed of terrorism. Eleven of the former inmates known to have rejoined al-Qaeda in Yemen were born in Saudi Arabia. The organisation merged its Saudi and Yemeni offshoots last year.

The country’s mountainous terrain, poverty and lawless tribal society make it, in the opinion of many analysts, a close match for Afghanistan as a new terrorist haven.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, voiced concern about the growing strength of al-Qaeda in Yemen. “Obviously, we see global implications from the war in Yemen and the ongoing efforts by al-Qaeda in Yemen to use it as a base for terrorist attacks far beyond the region,” she said.

A Yemeni, Hani Abdo Shaalan, who was released from Guantánamo in 2007, was killed in an airstrike on December 17, the Yemeni Government reported last week. The deputy head of al-Qaeda in the country is Said Ali al-Shihri, 36, who was released in 2007. Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, who was released in 2006, is a prominent ideologue featured on Yemeni al-Qaeda websites.

Geoff Morrell, the spokesman for the Pentagon, said: “This is a large question that goes beyond the issue of transferring detainees. The bulk of the remaining detainees are from Yemen and that has been the case for a long time. We are trying to work with the Yemeni Government on this.”

The US Government issued figures in May showing that 74 of the 530 detainees in Guantánamo were suspected or known to have returned to terrorist activity since their release. They included the commander of the Taleban in Helmand province, Mullah Zakir, whom the British Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, called “a key and seemingly effective tactical leader”. Among others who returned to terrorism was Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti who killed six Iraqis in Mosul in 2008.

The number believed to have “returned to the fight” in the May 2009 estimate was double that of a US estimate from June 2008. US officials acknowledged that more detainees were known to have reoffended since, but the number has been classified.

“There is a historic trend and it continues. I will only say that we have said there is a trend, we are aware of it, there is no denying the trend and we are doing our best to deal with this reality,” Mr Morrell said.

Officials said that a higher proportion of those still being held were likely to return to terrorism because they were considered more of a security threat than those selected in the early stages of the release programme.

Chris Boucek, an expert on the region for the Carnegie Endowment think-tank, said that up-to-date figures for Saudi Arabia showed that 26 of the 120 Saudis released from Guantánamo were either in jail, wanted by the authorities or dead.

Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert at Princeton University, said evidence showed that al-Qaeda was seeking to use Yemen to mount a renewed campaign into Saudi Arabia. He cited a recent incident in which two Saudi militants, one the brother-in-law of alShihri, were killed while trying to cross the border in women’s clothing. Martyrdom videos were subsequently posted on militant websites.

The Saudi Government had boasted previously of a zero reoffence rate for Guantánamo detainees who were put through its widely praised rehabilitation programme for al-Qaeda members.

Robert Lacey, who writes about Saudi Arabia, made numerous visits to the Prince Mohammad bin Naif rehabilitation facility north of Riyadh.

“I know a number of young men from Guantánamo who were successfully reintegrated,” he told The Times. “The programme involves the whole family with a mixture of religious re-education, patriotism, guilt and co-opting in terms of being given a car, job and a nice wife.”

However, other analysts suggested that the claims for the Saudi programme were exaggerated. Mr Johnsen pointed out that an attack that nearly killed Prince Mohammad bin Naif, the Saudi head of counterterrorism, in August was mounted by a Yemen-based al-Qaeda terrorist who had offered to join the reintegration programme to get near his target.

“The Saudi programme is nothing but bureaucratised bribery. The ideologically committed terrorists simply won’t listen,” Mr Johnsen said.

The Yemen reintegration programme for terrorists was abandoned on December 10, 2005.

U.S. believes Somali jihadists regrouping in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Yemen

U.S. believes Somali jihadists regrouping in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Yemen

“US in warning on Somali militants,” by William Wallis for the Financial Times:

The US believes militant Islamists from the ousted coalition that held sway over parts of southern Somalia may be regrouping in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and also Yemen, Jendayi Frazer, US assistant secretary of state for Africa, said yesterday.

Speaking to the Financial Times in Addis Ababa, Ms Frazer said it was too early to tell who among the Islamist leadership had survived Ethiopia’s invasion last month and subsequent US air strikes on alleged affiliates of al-Qaeda.

“It is going to take some time for the fog of war to clear up and we have an ability to see who is still operating and how they are operating,” she said.

But she was “very concerned” that extremist elements from among the defeated Islamists were “trying to reconstitute themselves either out of Saudi Arabia or Eritrea”, and that international jihadist networks would see this as an opportunity.

“We have to engage with the Saudi government and their services to try to prevent that from happening as well as engage regionally.”

Ms Frazer described Eritrea, with whom the US has deteriorating relations, asa “source of regional instability”.

This had been “very clearly exposed” during recent events in Somalia.

Ethiopia, the US’s principle ally in the Horn of Africa, alleges that Eritrea supported hardline elements within the ousted Islamists by supplying arms, fighters and military advice.

“Eventually Eritrea will see the limits of its actions to destabilise the Horn,” said Ms Frazer.

Ms Frazer said the key to ensuring Somalia did not provide a haven for international terrorist networks now lay with the Transitional Federal Government, which emerged from peace talks in Kenya in 2004.

“They have to do it by reaching out. They have to do it through inclusive dialogue,” she said.

“Engaging” the Saudis. “Reaching out,” apparently, to the Somali jihadists. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Yemen the new centre for training jihadists

Yemen the new centre for training jihadists

  Tim Dick and Nick McKenzie
October 31, 2006

 

GROUPS of young Australian men are going to Yemen for jihadi training, say law enforcement sources who are concerned the country has replaced Central Asia as a destination for extremists.Australian security agencies recently identified a small group of men from NSW who travelled to Yemen for religious and military training. It is believed the men were of Arabic background. It is not known if this group has any connection to the Australians arrested in Yemen.One of the men was stopped from going after he was approached by authorities and warned that he would risk breaking terrorism laws if he flew to Yemen. A law enforcement source said Yemen was attracting radical local Islamists for religious and military training because of the counter-terrorist crackdowns in nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.“Yemen is the new wild west,” the source said. Authorities in Australia have been monitoring individuals who travel for extended periods to countries with radical Islamic training camps, although the ability to move easily over borders makes such detection difficult.One of Yemen’s most notable exports – along with oil, fish and Osama bin Laden’s father – are the extremist teachings of Islamic fundamentalists, such as the alleged al-Qaeda financier Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani.The US Government declared the red-bearded firebrand a “specially designated global terrorist” in 2004 for his financial and spiritual support of bin Laden.The conservative American magazine National Review dubbed him the “Yemeni Sheik of Hate”.Zindani founded the controversial al-Iman University, one several religious colleges in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, which are often accused of promulgating anti-Western hatred.He reportedly claimed in one taped sermon that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a conspiracy between the US President, George Bush, and Jews.Zindani leads the Islamist wing of an opposition party, Islah, and has helped the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas raise funds, but he is reported to be close to the relatively pro-Western Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh.Among the university’s former students is John Walker Lindh, who is serving 20 years in a US jail for fighting with the Taliban.Zindani and his students have been linked to the bombing of USS Cole in Aden in 2000 and the murders of three American missionaries in 2002.The university was briefly closed by authorities after September 11, 2001, in a crackdown on fundamentalist teachings.Before its suspension, it had about 6000 students, 800 of whom were foreigners. Many were expelled after the attacks on the US, but it – and others in Yemen – still attract students.Zindani’s Friday sermons are taped and are on sale by the evening of the same day.