Tag Archives: terrorism

Terrorism has a new face

Egypt’s al-Zawahri, Bin Laden’s deputy, likely next leader of al-Qaida

By Hamza Hendawi,Lee Keath, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

CAIRO – For years, Osama bin Laden’s charisma kept al-Qaida’s ranks filled with zealous recruits.

But it was the strategic thinking and the organizational skills of his Egyptian right hand man that kept the terror network together after the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and pushed al-Qaida out.

With Bin Laden killed, Ayman al-Zawahri becomes the top candidate for the world’s top terror job.

It’s too early to tell how exactly al-Qaida would change with its founder and supreme mentor gone, but the group under al-Zawahri would likely be further radicalized, unleashing a new wave of attacks to avenge bib Laden’s killing by U.S. troops in Pakistan on Monday to send a message that it’s business as usual.

Al-Zawahri’s extremist views and his readiness to use deadly violence are beyond doubt.

In a 2001 treatise, “Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner,” he set down the longterm strategy for the jihadi movement — to inflict “as many casualties as possible” on the Americans, while trying to establish control in a nation as a base “to launch the battle to restore the holy caliphate” of Islamic rule across the Muslim world.

Unlike bin Laden who found his Jihadist calling as an adult, al-Zawahri’s activism began when he was in his mid-teens, establishing his first secret cell of high school students to oppose the Egyptian government of then President Anwar Sadat he viewed as infidel for not following the rule of God.

The doors of jihad opened for him when, as a young doctor, a visitor came to him with an offer to travel to Afghanistan to treat Islamic fighters battling Soviet forces. His 1980 trip to the Afghan war zone — only a few months long but the first of many — opened his eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.

What he saw there, he was to write 20 years later, was “the training course preparing Muslim mujahideen youth to launch their upcoming battle with the great power that would rule the world: America.”

The bond between al-Zawahri and bin Laden began in the late 1980s, when al-Zawahri reportedly treated the Saudi millionaire-turned-jihadist in the caves of Afghanistan as Soviet bombardment shook the mountains around them. The friendship laid the foundation for the al-Qaida terror network, which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide airplane hijackings that sparked the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan later that year.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon made bin Laden Enemy No. 1 to the United States. But he likely could never have carried it out without al-Zawahri. Bin Laden provided al-Qaida with the charisma and money, but al-Zawahri brought the ideological fire, tactics and organizational skills needed to forge disparate militants into a network of cells in countries around the world.

“Al-Zawahri was always bin Laden’s mentor, bin Laden always looked up to him,” says terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University.

While bin Laden came from a privileged background in a prominent Saudi family of Yemeni descent, al-Zawahri had the experience of a revolutionary in the trenches. “He spent time in an Egyptian prison, he was tortured. He was a jihadi from the time he was a teenager, he has been fighting his whole life and that has shaped his world view,” Hoffman says.

Perhaps even more significant than al-Zawahri’s role before the 9/11 attacks was his task afterward, when the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan demolished al-Qaida’s safe haven and scattered, killed and captured its fighters and leaders. The blow was personal as well — al-Zawahri’s wife and at least two of their six children were killed in a U.S. airstrike in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Al-Zawahri ensured al-Qaida’s survival, rebuilding al-Qaida’s leadership in the Afghan-Pakistan border region and installing his allies as new lieutenants in key positions. Since then, the network inspired or had a direct hand in attacks in North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and the 2005 transit bombings in London.

Meanwhile, al-Zawahri — with his thick beard, heavy-rimmed glasses and the prominent mark on his forehead from prostration in prayer — became the new face of al-Qaida, churning out Web videos and audiotapes while bin Laden faded from public view for long stretches.

In his videos, he lay down strategy, mocked the failures of former President George W. Bush and urged unity among jihadi ranks — wagging his finger to make his points, often with an automatic rifle visible by his side, the ideologue and the fighter at the same time.

“Bush, do you know where I am?” he sneered in a January 2006 video weeks after a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan that targeted him but missed. “I am among the Muslim masses … and I’m participating in their jihad until we defeat you.” A similar strike in October that year would also miss him.

It was the 2008 election of Obama to the U.S. presidency, however, that would present al-Zawahri with his greatest propaganda challenge as he sought to maintain Muslim anger against a U.S. leader of African origins with “Hussein” as middle name.

In one of his most infamous video messages issued two weeks after the election, al-Zawahri described Obama as “house negro,” a slur for blacks subservient to whites — even bin Laden was more sparing of Obama in his criticism of the new U.S. president.

But before al-Qaida — and before al-Zawahri focused his wrath on the “far enemy,” United States — his goal was to bring down the “near enemy,” the U.S.-allied government of then President Hosni Mubarak in his native Egypt.

He was born June 19, 1951, the son of an upper middle class family of doctors and scholars in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. His father was a pharmacology professor at Cairo University’s medical school and his grandfather, Rabia al-Zawahri, was the grand imam of Al-Azhar University, a premier centre of religious study.

From an early age, al-Zawahri was enflamed by the radical writings of Egyptian Islamist Sayed Qutb, who taught that Arab regimes were “infidel” and should be replaced by Islamic rule.

In the 1970s, even as he earned his medical degree as a surgeon, he was active in militant circles. He merged his own militant cell with others to form Islamic Jihad and began trying to infiltrate the military — at one point even storing weapons in his private medical clinic.

Then came the 1981 assassination of Sadat by militants from Islamic Jihad. The slaying was carried out by a different cell in the group — and al-Zawahri has written that he learned of the plot only hours before the assassination took place.

But he was arrested along with hundreds of other militants and served three years in prison. During his imprisonment, he was reportedly tortured heavily — one factor some have cited as pushing him into a more violent radicalism.

After his release in 1984, al-Zawahri returned to Afghanistan and joined the Arab militants from around the Middle East who were fighting alongside the Afghans against the Soviets. He began courting bin Laden, who was becoming a heroic figure among radicals for his financial support of the mujahideen, as well as fighting alongside them.

At the same time, al-Zawahri began reassembling Islamic Jihad and surrounded bin Laden with Egyptian members of Jihad such as Mohammed Atef and Saif al-Adel, who would one day play key roles in putting together the Sept. 11 attacks.

The alliance established al-Zawahri as bin Laden’s deputy and soon after came the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa, followed by the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, an attack al-Zawahri is believed to have helped organize.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/egypts-al-zawahri-bin-ladens-deputy-likely-next-090006836.html

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Obama kills Osama

Obama: US operation killed al-Qaida head bin Laden; US in possession of body

By Julie Pace,Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden, the elusive mastermind behind the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that led the United States into wars in Afghanistan and later Iraq, was killed in a firefight, President Barack Obama said Sunday.

Bin Laden’s death at a compound in Pakistan ended the world’s most widely-watched manhunt, and jubilant crowds gathered outside the White House and at ground zero in New York as word spread late at night.

“Justice has been done,” the president said.

A small team of Americans killed bin Laden early Sunday in the town of Abbottabat, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of the capital Islamabad, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. The team took custody of his remains and American officials said they were being handled in accordance with Islamic tradition.

The stunning end came just months before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, orchestrated by bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization, that killed more than 3,000 people.

Former President George W. Bush, who was in office on the day of the attacks, issued a written statement hailing bin Laden’s death as a momentous achievement.

“The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” Bush said.

Obama said he ordered the operation after receiving undisclosed intelligence information. Senior administration officials said the terrorist mastermind was found inside a custom-built compound with two security gates. They said it appeared to have been constructed to harbour one high-value target and that for undisclosed reasons, officials became clear the hideout was bin Laden’s.

The raid occurred in the early morning hours Sunday. Administration officials offered some details of the operation.

Based on statements given by U.S. detainees, intelligence officials have known for years that bin Laden trusted one al-Qaida courier in particular and they believed he might be living with him in hiding. In November, intelligence officials found out where he was living, a huge fortified compound. It was surrounded by walls as high as 18 feet (5.5 metres), topped with barbed wire. There were two security gates and no phone or Internet running into the house.

Intelligence officials believed the $1 million home was custom-built to harbour a major terrorist. CIA experts analyzed whether it could be anyone else, but time and again, they decided it was almost certainly bin Laden.

Three adult males were also killed in Sunday’s raid, including one of bin Laden’s sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida.

Officials also said they believe the death puts al-Qaida on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse, but there was no word on the whereabouts of bin Laden’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The attacks a decade ago seemed to come out of nowhere, even though al-Qaida had previously damaged American targets overseas.

The terrorists hijacked planes, flew one of them into one of Manhattan’s Twin Towers — and, moments later, into the other one. Both buildings collapsed, trapping thousands inside and claiming the lives of firefighters and others who had rushed to help them.

A third plane slammed into the Pentagon, defacing the symbol of America’s military might. A fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers and forced the craft from the air — before it could hit its intended target in Washington.

Obama spoke with Bush and former President Bill Clinton on Sunday night to inform them of the developments.

Obama struck a less than boastful tone in his brief announcement, although he said the death of bin Laden was “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaida.

“His death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant,” he added.

Moments after he spoke, American officials cautioned that the events could lead to heightened threats against the United States.

Officials said the U.S. would ensure that bin Laden’s body was handled in accordance with Islamic tradition.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/source-al-qaida-head-bin-laden-dead-us-025557590.html


Osama Bin Laden DEAD

Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead: U.S. officials

By Steve Holland, editing by Philip Barbara | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Osama bin Laden is dead and his body has been recovered by U.S. authorities, U.S. officials said on Sunday night.

President Barack Obama was to make the announcement shortly that after searching in vain for bin Laden since he disappeared inAfghanistan in late 2001, the Saudi-born extremist is dead.

It is a major accomplishment for Obama and his national security team, having fulfilled the goal once voiced by Obama’s predecessor,George W. Bush, to bring to justice the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/obama-statement-sunday-white-house-says-015437966.html


Moammar Gadhafi calls for more violence