06 January 2010

Follow-up: Al Shabaab's Transnational Jihadist Efforts

Everyone please read Josh's latest post entitled, "On The Rise: Al Shabaab's Transnational Jihadist Efforts."

We at Al Sahwa now understand Hasan-types as "francshise terrorists," ones who use the brand of AQ to independently pursue their own narrow jihad. Riad Kahwaji, an analyst in Dubai, is reported on Al Jazeera saying something similar: "What we are seeing is a pattern of franchises for al-Qaeda opening up" that uses a strategy "to engage the US and its allies in Europe and in the region, to open various fronts simultaneously - or one after the other..."

This operational construct is also witnessed in Al Shabaab as Josh discussed in such a timely and integrated fashion. It also can be applied, I think, to better understand Al Shabaab's systematic connections to AQAP: they intend to evolve from an independent-minded entity. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that after the escape of Mohammed Ahmed al-Hanq in Arhab, deputy leader Sheik Mokhtar Robow Abu Monsor and group spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage (in Mogadishu) said they are ready to send reinforcements to Yemen should the U.S. strike against Islamist militants there.

Reuturs reminds us that Al Shabaab views any US attack as "retaliatory," but this is their definition that enables them to shape media coverage and promote their "western campaign." This media statement is no surprise, as it is yet another tactic to generate excitement about their image and mission throughout the region:

"We call upon all Muslims to give a hand to our brothers in Yemen and we, al Shabaab, are ready to send them reinforcements ... and Inshallah we shall win over America," said Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abuu Mansuur, a senior al Shabaab official.

The key word is "Inshallah," commonly written as Insh'allah - meaning "to indicate hope for an aforementioned event to occur in the future." I think it may be directly referencing attacks similar to Christmas and Denmark because of their promise that "There shall be more like me..." (Abdulmutallah).

WE NEED TO REMEMBER NOW THE INTERCONNECTION OF MINNESOTA SOMALIS LEAVING TO JOIN AL SHABAAB (23 November, 2009), which highlights once again the expanding "pattern of recruitment activity" seen by FBI officials. Because Al Shabaab is calling for Muslims to join, then the US will see either one or both of the following:
a) more movement from our homeland transnationally; or even worse,
b) an "awakening" domestically amongst franchise terrorists.

If we (US) are going to successfully combat Al Shabaab and the larger, interconnected network, we need to begin to work more directly with the Yemen government. Al Jezeera is on the money in reporting that many Yemeni tribal leaders, however, are allied with al Qaeda - who has streamlined power throughout the country to the point where the government has only recently acknowledged they are "beginning to confront" the issue.

It starts by collecting intel on their movement across the Gulf of Aden to support AQAP. They will surely work with allied pirates, who they have been training in exchange for spoils. If they get to Yemen, planned attacks that are smaller and quicker in nature will occur.


  1. Update:

    I used a quote from Riad Kahwaji, Founder and CEO of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (Dubai), to establish an argument identifying AQ's morphing "franchise" tactics.

    The INEGMA is a dynamic resource that offers "unbiased, timely analysis into a range of socio-political and military subjects to provide deep insights into current and pressing areas of concern..." You can access their site at http://www.inegma.com.

  2. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 01/04/2010 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  3. We must learn from past cases of how terrorist groups talk to one another.

    For a brief on how AQAP emerged from two separate groups of a) Al Qaeda and b) Al Qaeda in Yemen, see JD's 30 December post on here: http://al-sahwa.blogspot.com/2009/12/right-before-our-eyes-al-qaeda-in.html.

    Afterward, I encourage you to re-visit Josh's latest post on "Milestones of Growth for Jihadist Groups." Anonymous is right: A CT or COIN strategy focuses on understanding how they streamline communication; i.e. informal network system.