Sunday, October 21, 2012

Al Qaeda warns Hollande against French hostage rescue

NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - A leader of al Qaeda's north African wing warned France on Saturday that any attempt to forcibly rescue six French citizens held hostage by the militant group could lead to their death.

French President Francois Hollande is pushing hard for military action against al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali to quash what he sees as a growing risk of them launching an attack on French soil, diplomatic sources said earlier this week.

Speaking for the first time since he was made head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) earlier this month, Yahya Abu Hammam said Hollande had been ratcheting up rhetoric against the group.

"He has promised his people that he will free the hostages without negotiations with the jihadists," Hammam said in an interview published by the Mauritanian news agency ANI.

"I want to send a message to the relatives of the French hostages who are with us: The decision of war that Hollande seemed to have taken means that he has signed for their execution and he must be responsible for his decisions."

Seven workers for French firm Areva were seized in northern Niger in 2010, and three have since been released. Two other French citizens were taken hostage in Mali in November.

Hammam said Hollande was pursuing the same policies as predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy and this could have a dire outcome for the hostages, alluding to Michel Germaneau, executed by the group in July 2010 following a failed rescue operation.

Calls by Paris for speedy intervention have angered AQIM and its affiliates, some of whom warned on October 13 they would "open the doors of hell" for French citizens if Paris keeps up such pressure.

Hammam also warned France against pushing for military action to dislodge al Qaeda and other militant Islamic groups that have occupied the northern half of Mali since April.

Regional leaders and international organisations met in Mali's capital Bamako on Friday to seek a response to the occupation of the north of the country, but failed to resolve differences on how to tackle the growing security threat.

"What France and other Western countries are calling for - the importance of preserving the territorial integrity of Mali - is nothing but a form of political hypocrisy that these countries are known for," Hammam said.

Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:54am GMT

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US Targets, Offers Rewards Top al-Qaida Operatives in Iran

Muhsin al_Fadhi
The U.S. State Department's decision to offer a reward of up to $12 million for information leading to the location of the top two al-Qaida operatives in Iran is seen as a sign of how serious Washington is about curtailing the group's activities in Iran.
The move came the same day the U.S. Treasury Department called the terror network headed by both men a “crucial source” of al-Qaida funding and support.

A reward of $7 million is being offered for information on the whereabouts of Muhsin al-Fadhi, a Kuwaiti national described by the State Department as “al-Qaida’s senior leader” in Iran.

He is wanted by the U.S. for providing “financial and material support” to the al-Zarqawi terror network and to al-Qaida in Iran.

Al-Fadhi is also reported to have been among the few trusted al-Qaida operatives who received advance notice of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

In its announcement Thursday, the State Department said al-Fadhi uses his “extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors” to send money and fighters via Turkey to support al-Qaida affiliated elements in Syria.

Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi
Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi, an Iran-based senior al-Qaida facilitator, serves as the deputy to Muhsin al-Fadhli. ​​A $5 million reward was also announced for al-Fadhi's deputy, Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi.

The U.S. wants al-Harbi, a Saudi national, for facilitating the “travel of extremists” to Afghanistan or Iraq via Iran, the State Department says.

Jonathan Schanzen, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a former U.S. Treasury analyst, says the rewards demonstrate “a seriousness of purpose."

“It also may be an attempt to draw in the Iranian people,” Schanzen said. “In other words, when you have a reward out there and you’ve got a suffering population inside Iran that been under the weight of sanctions, the idea that you would bring in $12 million by simply identifying somebody you probably don’t even want to be on your soil, that could be an appealing prospect.”

Al-Harbi also was hit with sanctions from the Treasury department. Last year, the agency placed similar sanctions against his boss, al-Fadhi.

Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said the sanctions against both men “further expose al-Qaida’s critically important Iran-based funding and facilitation network.”

Thursday’s coordinated moves by the State and Treasury departments put pressure on U.S. partners in the region - specifically Kuwait and Qatar -  to help constrain al-Qaida in Iran, says Mathew Levitt, a former Treasury Department counterterrorism expert.

“There was a time when Saudi Arabia was our biggest terror finance concern in the region and there’s certainly more that the Saudis can do but they’ve done a lot,” Levitt told VOA Thursday. “I would say that today, and I know I’m not the only one that’s saying it, that Qatar and Kuwait are larger concerns in the Gulf.”

Levitt says the move also opens the way for similar sanctions by the international community.

"You can, and I would expect, that we will be going to the United Nations and seeking for United Nations designation," he says. "You can’t do that with all groups. The United Nations is only able to designate individuals or groups that are tied to al-Qaida or the Taliban, but this would be something that would clearly fit.”

Little intelligence has been publicly released connecting Iran to al-Qaida.

But the U.S. and intelligence analysts say Iran has agreed to allow al-Qaida operatives and their families to move through the country - essentially providing the group with a safe haven, according to a Brookings Institution report in July.

In exchange, said the Treasury statement Thursday, al-Qaida agrees not to conduct “any operations or within Iranian territory and recruiting operatives inside Iran while keeping Iranian authorities informed of their activities.” 
from VOA News
Mana Rabiee
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11 militants killed in Zabul clash

KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): A Taliban commander was among 11 fighters killed during a clash in the Dai Chopan district of southern Zabul province, officials said on Sunday.

A group of insurgents attacked the district headquarters late on Saturday night, the deputy police chief, Ghulam Jilani Farahi, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Eleven fighters, including their commander Syed Noor Zakir, were killed in retaliatory fire from Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and police, he said.

The bodies of three fighters left at the scene were handed over to tribal elders for transferring, he added. The rest of the corpses were taken away by the attackers.

from Pajhwok
by Basher Ahmad Naadem on Oct 21, 2012 - 13:52

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2 Armed Taliban Killed and 12 Arrested by ANP

Publish Date: Oct 21, 2012
Two Armed Taliban Killed and 12 Arrested by Afghan National Police

During the past 24 hours, Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army, NDS and Coalition Forces launched four joint clearance operations in Kabul, Kunduz, Faryab and Ghazni provinces.

As a result of these operations, two armed Taliban were killed and 12 others were arrested by Afghan National Security Forces.

Also, during these operations, Afghan National Police discovered and confiscated 800 kilos of opium, two different types of weapons, four mortar rounds, 13 heavy rounds, seven different types of mines, 50 kilos of explosives and seven rockets.

Additionally, Afghan National Police discovered and defused four anti-vehicle mines as a result of security operations in Zabul and Maidan Wardak provinces, yesterday.
The 101 Kabul Zone National Police detained three individuals accused of murder, trafficking and theft in the Shakar Dara, 5th and 17th Districts of Kabul-City.
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Russia troops kill 49 militants in North Caucasus sweep

North Caucasus regions within the Russian Fede...
North Caucasus regions within the Russian Federation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
MOSCOW: Russian troops on Sunday reported killing 49 militants in a massive security sweep that followed angry comments from President Vladimir Putin about raging violence in the troubled North Caucasus.

The National Anti-Terror Committee said the operation was conducted across several republics of the volatile Muslim region and resulted the removal of some of the most “odious” guerrilla commanders and their followers.

“The coordinated action helped terminate the activities of several odious gang leaders, gang members and their associates, substantially damaging the system under which the bandits operate,” Interfax quoted a committee statement as saying.

The committee said the “large-scale and massive” raids involved both local and federal troops and that 90 militia bases had been destroyed.

However, gave no details about the timeframe for the operation or when it started.

Putin held a meeting on Friday on the North Caucasus in which he berated officials for failing to do enough to bring the region under full control after it witnessed two post-Soviet wars for the independence of rebel Chechnya.

from DAWN
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Oct. 21., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition force killed Taliban leader Mohammad Haydar during a security operation in Ghazni province Saturday.

Mohammad Haydar, also known as Hamzah, facilitated attacks against Afghan and coalition forces based in the area.

In other International Security Assistance Force News throughout Afghanistan:


Afghan and coalition forces today confirmed the death of Taliban leader Ahmad Jan during a security operation in Helmand province Friday. Ahmad Jan was considered an expert in constructing and placing improvised explosive devices for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the province.

An Afghan and coalition force arrested a number of insurgents during a security operation in search of a Taliban leader in Helmand province today. The Taliban leader conducts direct attacks on Afghan and coalition forces and provides lethal support to the Taliban insurgency.


Afghan and coalition forces killed a number of insurgents who were engaged in insurgent activity during an operation in Logar province Saturday.

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Oct. 21., 2012. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces detained six insurgents, located a weapons cache and cleared six improvised explosive devices during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Oct. 20.

Kapisa Province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces discovered a weapons cache in Tagab District. The cache contained mortars, a blasting cap and command wire.

Laghman Province
Afghan National Security Forces detained three insurgents during an engagement in Alingar District. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Nangarhar Province
Afghan Uniformed Police found and safely cleared two IEDs in Bati Kot District.

Afghan Uniformed Police detained three insurgents during an engagement in Mohmand Darah District. The detained suspects were transferred to a base for questioning.

Paktika Province
Afghan National Army soldiers found and safely cleared two IEDs, one in Omnah District and one in Sar Rowzah District.

Paktya Province
Afghan National Army soldiers found and safely cleared an IED in Dzadran District.

Wardak Province
Afghan National Army soldiers found and safely cleared an IED in Sayyidabad District.

Operations in RC-East are still ongoing.

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R.I.P. - Pfc. Shane G. Wilson

DOD Identifies Army Casualty
            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Pfc. Shane G. Wilson, 20, of Kuna, Idaho, died Oct. 18, in Khost, Afghanistan.

            Wilson was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

            For more information, media may contact the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) public affairs office at 270-798-3025 or 270-461-1276.


Wilson graduated from Kuna High School in 2011.

His family issued the following statement to the media Saturday:

“Shane died in the service of his country, and this is a very sad day for our family. He wanted to be a military man from a very young age and was proud to be a soldier. Shane was a very humble young man and was indeed one of the best men we’ve ever known. We loved him for so many reasons, including his loyalty, and he knew how to keep a confidence. He was caring and compassionate, and he always placed others before himself. He will be missed by his entire family, including his mother, father, two sisters, grandparents and great-grandparents. We are very proud of him and we do not want him to be forgotten.”

Saturday, October 20, 2012 5:25 pm | Updated: 5:41 pm, Sat Oct 20, 2012.
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AQAP's top sharia official killed in recent drone strike

map by Evan Centanni (

The US killed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's senior sharia, or Islamic law, official in a drone strike in early October, according to a Yemeni journalist who is closely connected to the terror group. Sheikh Abu Zubeir 'Adil al'Abab, the sharia official, was described as AQAP's fourth-most important leader.

Al'Abab was the "fourth man in the hierarchy of Qaedat al-Jihad Organization in the Arabian Peninsula," according to a report by Abdul Razzaq al Jamal, which was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. A close follower of AQAP, al Jamal has traveled and embedded with the terror group, and has interviewed many AQAP senior and midlevel officials. He has also written articles that sympathized with the terror group's attempts to control the region. AQAP has not released an official martyrdom statement announcing al'Abab's death.

Al'Abab was killed in the Oct. 4 drone strike that targeted vehicles as they traveled in the Maqbala area in Shabwa province. Four AQAP fighters were reportedly killed in the strike.

According to al Jamal, al'Abab was the most important AQAP leader after Nasir al Wuhayshi, the group's emir; Said al Shihri, the deputy emir; and Qassim al Rimi, AQAP's military commander. Al'Abab is also the fourth-most important AQAP leader killed in a US drone strike after Abu Ali al Harithi, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Fahd al Quso, according to al Jamal.

As AQAP's sharia official, al'Abab provided religious justification for AQAP's operations, including suicide attacks. Additionally, al'Abab helped with AQAP's propaganda efforts. Al'Abab "contributed articles to AQAP's Arabic magazine, 'Echo of the Epics' (Sada al- Malahem), and answered questions about targeting non-Muslim civilians and Yemeni soldiers in the fourth issue of AQAP's English magazine, 'Inspire,'" according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

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