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The Mess in Yemen

The Guardian has a very good account of what's happening in Yemen among the various factions. (For a backgrounder on the Houthis, see this Guardian analysis.)

Many are saying Yemen is on the brink of an all-out civil war, which would have repercussions for the entire region, and as in Libya, give ISIS a toehold to grab onto and spread. The Guardian says:

The fear is that the Houthi advance will drive a fresh wave of militarisation and radicalisation in the Sunni-majority Yemeni heartland, acting as a recruiter for jihadis. Western intelligence already considers the local al-Qaida faction – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – the world’s most potent franchise, a growing threat seeking to exploit regional turmoil to widen its scope.

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"What ISIS Really Wants" : A Compelling Read

Graeme Wood has a very long but compelling article in The Atlantic What ISIS Really Wants. It is about ISIS' ideology and methodology. It's too long to hit all the key points, so I will just mention a few.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal. [More....]

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Canada Set to Approve More Surveillance Authority

Canada is unwisely following in the footsteps of the United States and about to pass legislation increasing surveillance authority for intelligence purposes in the name of the War on Terror.

Under the new law, which will be presented in Parliament, CSIS will be able to block financial transactions, stop people from traveling abroad to join extremist groups and intercept material that can be used in an attack. It would need to obtain a judicial warrant first.

...The new law will also let police detain potential terror suspects for longer periods without charge, the reports said, and make it easier to track and monitor suspects.

Act in haste, repent at leisure. Once you give power to the Government, it rarely gives it back.
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Belgian Arms Dealer Admits Selling Weapons Used in Paris Attacks

A Belgian arms dealer and "known underworld figure" turned himself into authorities today. He admitted supplying several weapons to Amedi Coulibaly which were used in the Paris attacks.

Federal police, who searched the suspect’s apartment, found papers linking him to a transaction with Amedy Coulibaly, the jihadist who murdered four Jewish men and held others hostage at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in east Paris on Friday.

According to the local press, the man sold Coulibaly the Skorpion submachine guns he used in the attack, as well as the rocket propelled grenade launcher and the Kalashnikov automatic assault rifles that Said and Cherif Kouachi used to perpetrate the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. The weapons were purchased near the Midi railway station in downtown Brussels for less than 5,000 euros, according to the reports.

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AQAP Claims Credit for Charlie Hebdo Attacks

AQAP has issued a statement taking credit for the Charlie Hebdo killings. The reason for the operaton: Their insults to the Prophet.

We in the Organization of Qa'idatul Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula claim responsibility for this operation as a vengeance for the Messenger of Allah. We clarify to the ummah that the one who chose the target, laid the plan nd financed the operation, is the leadership of the organization.

It says by coincidence, Coulibaly had another operation set at the same time.[More...]

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Hostage Interview: Coulibaly Said He Had Nothing Against Jews

One issue regarding the Kosher market attacks by Coulibaly continues to have conflicting information: his motive for picking the Kosher market. In his swan song video and his conversations recorded when his phone had not hung up after talking to a news station, he doesn't mention animosity towards Jews as a motive. His anger is directed at the French Government.

Now there's an interview with one of the hostages who he was talking to him during the incident, trying to empathize with him. The hostage says:

Google translated version: [More...]

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Almedy Coulibaly: Soldier of the Islamic State

Al Hayat Media, one of the media arms for the Islamic State (ISIS) has released a “martyrdom” video of Almedy Coulibaly, recorded before the Kosher market siege, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and explaining his reasons for hooking up with the Kouachi brothers and embarking on his killing spree. It’s already down from You Tube, but you can watch it here, here or here. Even though it is in French, I suggest you watch it to see the editing. If you'd rather read about it, descriptions by the media are here and here.

Al Hayat takes video recorded by Coulibaly after the Charlie Hebdo killings and the killing of the policewoman, but before the market killings, and adds its own text and descriptions, giving the impression he is being interviewed by ISIS. [More...]

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The Kosher Market Hostage Incident

Update: Police say Hayat Boumeddiene is believed to have left for Turkey before the attacks and may be headed to Syria or now in Syria.

Update: A Muslim employee at the Kosher market is being hailed as a hero for protecting the shoppers in the freezer.

When the Islamist gunman broke into the store, Lassana Bathily, a 24-year-old Muslim from the African country of Mali, told customers to hide in the store's basement freezer.

Closing the freezer's doors, he told the customers to wait calmly inside while he keeps a lookout. After police raided the supermarket and killed gunman Amedy Coulibaly, the hostages emerged safely from the freezer.

Original Post Below

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Al Qaeda Explains Why It Targeted France and Charlie Hebdo

In addition to taking credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) yesterday explained why France and Charlie Hebdo were selected as targets.

The leadership of #AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully as a revenge for the honor of Prophet (pbuh). The target was in France in particular because of its obvious role in the war on Islam and oppressed nations.

The operation was the result of the threat of Sheikh Usama (RA). He warned the West about the consequences of the persistence in the blasphemy against Muslims’ sanctities. Sheikh Usama (RA) said in his message to the West: If there is no check on the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions.

Separately, in a 5 minute audio address released by al-Malahem Media, AQAP leader Shaykh Harith al-Nathari praised the attack. (He did not take credit.) [Added: A version with English subtitles is now available here.] Here is an English translation. [Another is here.] A snippet:[More...]

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Hostages in Montpellier (Not Related): Open Thread

Since the hostage situation at Monpellier turned out to be unrelated to the others in the news, let's make this an open thread for all topics.

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There is a hostage situation at a jewelry store in Montpellier, FR. Two hostages are believed to have been taken. Police are on scene. (Use google translate.)

Update: It may not be related to the other two incidents, but a robbery gone bad.

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Suspected Charlie Hebdo Killers are Dead

The two suspected killers of the 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris are dead. Their hostage is safe. The brothers were killed when they came out of the hiding place shooting at security forces. Looks like they decided to go out in what they perceived to be a "blaze of glory."

Here are the suspects believed to have killed the policewoman and taken hostages at the Kosher market. They are Hayat Boumeddiene (L) and Amedy Coulibaly(R.) Coulibaly was killed by police.

Boumeddiene got away. (Added: It's unlikely she was ever there.) The FBI and French police are searching for her. Some of his hostages are safe. Here's a photo of some hostages being taken from the market. AFP reported 4 besides the gunman were killed in the market incident. They since revised that to four are critically wounded. It's also not clear whether the four are hostages or police or a combination.

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French Cops Close in on Brothers Who May Have Hostage

As of this morning Paris police got all geared up to conduct an attack operation near Paris where they believe the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo murders are staked out in a small printing company. Evidently, the brothers are believed to be holed up inside the business with a hostage.

While others say they heard shots and that two people were killed and more injured, the Paris prosecutor's office denies this part.

Stay tuned, it should happen pretty fast now, but I've got to get some sleep. (3:17 a.m. here.)

This thread is open to aspects of the Charlie Hebdo killings.

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Who's Behind The Charlie Hebdo Attacks?

What a sad day in Paris with 12 dead in a terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper. The BBC has good ongoing coverage.

French police published the photos above of two of the three suspects, Said and Cherif Kouachi, 32 and 34, French brothers reportedly of Algerian descent who were born and raised in Paris.

It looks like police named the wrong guy for the third and youngest suspect. Hamyd Mourad, 18, has surrendered to police. His classmates tweeted he was in class at the time of the attack. There are other reports he has a credible alibi and has been released. If so, It's a good thing he surrendered. He probably would have been shot if police found him first. [More...]

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Merry Christmas from AQAP and Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri

AQAP (Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) has released Issue 13 of its Inspire Magazine. I moved some parts of the cover around in the above picture, here's the actual cover.

It's been a long time since AQAP released an issue of Inspire. It seems they wanted to get this one out for Christmas, which will be the 5th anniversary of Captain Underpants' (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab ) failed attempt to set off a bomb on a plane traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The issue gets right to the point: America is the enemy and Al Qaida's supporters in our neck of the woods will be setting off more bombs. To help them, the issue offers encouragement and instructions on how to build a bomb in their kitchen. From the Editor of the magazine:

He continues: [More....]

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Sorrow in Sydney

The hostage situation at the chocolate shop and cafe in Sydney did not end well. The store manager and a woman lawyer with three children were killed, along with the lone gunman, who was not a member of any extremist group. He had no ties to any terror organization.

Police stormed the cafe this morning. The gunman was Man Haron Monis, who was well known to authorities for his extremism and mental instability.

[He is] an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh known for sending hate mail to the families of Australian troops killed in Afghanistan. He was charged last year with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, but had been free on bail.

He was facing more than 40 sexual assault charges.[More...]

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