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Yemen Claims it Thwarted al Qaeda Attack

Update: Not surprisingly, Yemen backtracks, calling the report false and baseless.

Yemen authorities now say they have thwarted a major planned al Qaida attack. The attack intended to shut down Yemen's oil exports.

a spokesman for the Yemeni authorities said they had thwarted a plot to blow oil pipelines and take control of two ports in the south, responsible for the bulk of Yemen's oil exports, according to the BBC.

The plot included using al-Qaeda gunmen dressed as soldiers to infiltrate the ports and a local security source said dozens of terrorists had arrived in the capital to prepare for the attack.

The BBC reports: [More...]

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Yemen, Drones and Tribes

Gregory Johnson, who I have been reading since his Waq al Waq blog days when AQAP announced its formation in 2009, has an article today in Foreign Policy, How Yemen Was Lost. He gives two main reasons. The second is pertains to the drone strikes, which kill al Qaeda leaders but also tribesman and civilians and are causing tremendous hostility against the U.S.:

The men that the United States is killing in Yemen are tied to the local society in a way that many of the fighters in Afghanistan never were. They may be al Qaeda members, but they are also fathers and sons, brothers and cousins, tribesmen and clansmen with friends and relatives.

[More...]

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Al Qaeda Prison Breaks Now Considered a Factor in Closures

CNN reports the recent al Qaida prison breaks factored into the decision to close embassies in the middle east and Africa.

CNN also refers to a recent statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri and his appointment of AQAP's Nasir al Wuhayshi as "general manager" of al Qaeda's multiple networks. McClatchy reports the threat came from intercepting communications between the two. [More...]

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Global Travel Alert Due to al Qaeda Threat

Yesterday, the U.S. announced it would close its Embassies in the Middle East and North Africa. Today it issued a global travel alert to U.S. citizens, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

“The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” read the bulletin, by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. “Current information suggests that Al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August.”

Travelers are urged to register their plans with the State Department. [More...]

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US Acknowledges Killing 4 US Citizens in Drone Strikes

In a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Congress today, for the first time, the U.S. has admitted killing 4 American citizens in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan.

The letter is here. It says only Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted for killing. Samir Kahn was killed in the same strike. al-Awlaki's son was killed in another drone strike in Yemen, and Jude Mohammed was killed in drone strike in Pakistan. [More...]

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Jacksonville's "I Spy" Program

Jacksonville, Florida , and 11 other counties in northeast Florida are the latestto introduce a program encouraging people to report people they see engaging in behavior they deem suspicious and possibly terrorism-related.

The program is called "IWatch."

The site provides examples of red flags to watch for, such as people with an unusual interest in building plans or who are purchasing materials useful in bomb making. Important places to watch include hobby stores and dive shops.

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Uzbek Terror Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Fazliddin Kurbanov, a 30 year old Uzbek truck driver legally residing in the U.S. has pleaded not guilty to terror charges in Boise, Idaho. He's accused of providing material support to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a designated terrorist organization. He also faces charges in Utah.

The U.S. Attorney says his case is not related to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Wendy Olson, the U.S. attorney in Idaho, said Kurbanov is the only person charged, and any potential threat was contained by his arrest. "He was closely monitored during the course of the investigation," she said. "The investigation has been under way for some time."

I wonder if this case is connected to the ongoing case in Colorado against Jamshid Muhtorov (an Uzbek political refugee and truck driver, living in Colorado) and Bakhtiyor Jumaev, (added later, from Philadelphia, who has an asylum application pending.) While Kurbanov's alleged illegal activity occurs a year after that of Muhtorov and Jumaev, and both have been detained pending trial making it unlikely there's a current connection between them, there was extensive electronic and FISA surveillance used in that case and thorough searches of Jumaev's computers. Muhtorov and Jumaev are charged with providing material support to the Islamic Jihad Union. [More...]

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Why the U.S. Wanted to Investigate the AP Leak

The media uproar over the subpoena of AP telephone records continues. The reason for seizing the records that is being put forth is that it was part of an investigation into intelligence leaks about a new explosive device being made by AQAP in Yemen that would evade detection by U.S. airline security and allow an Undie Bomber II to succeed.

It seems to be a bit more than that. After reading close to 300 news articles on Lexis (and skimming another 600) from May, 2012, here is more of the story from multiple news sources, here and abroad. (This is a summary from various news sources, and I am not suggesting it is accurate, only that this is what was reported at the time. I’ve listed several of the news articles at the end)[More...]

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TIME report on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Time in Russia

Time has a new report on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's recent trip to Russia. Shorter version: Tamerlan was more radical than his Islamist cousin who is in a protest group. He didn't get radicalized in Russia, he tried to radicalize them. No one listened to him and they tried to dissuade him of his views.

Time reports the distant cousin "has been in jail since April 27 after a brawl with police in northern Dagestan." That's not quite the whole story. According to eyewitnesses, the cousin was part of a wedding party that got stopped by police for having an Islamic flag on the car. Ten members of the party, including the cousin, were beaten by police and arrested. In all, 17 members of the wedding party were charged. They have all been sentenced to "administrative penalties" of between 5 and 10 days in jail. Tamerlan's cousin's detention was extended a few days. [More...]

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Will Tamerlan Tsarnaev Be Sent to Russia?

Update: A Denver mosque has offered to bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Update: He's not coming to Colorado. According to the Colorado Muslim Society, the man who made the offer doesn't speak for them. They issued this statement:

"It has recently been reported that the Colorado Muslim Society has offered to provide burial services for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the individuals who perpetrated the grave and destructive bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon. This report is absolutely untrue. The individual who has reportedly made this offer does not speak on behalf of the Colorado Muslim Society.
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Terrorists, Boston and Online Materials

The New York Times has an article on how al-Qaeda is using its Inspire Magazine to encourage and teach lone terrorists, like the ones in Boston, how to build bombs at home. In other words, no international travel or training camps necessary.

The Spring, 2013 edition of Inspire, which I detailed at length last month, was 32 pages and did not focus on bombs left at crowded events. But there was another 32 page section called The Lone Mujahdid Pocketbook, which did exactly that. You can read it in English here. [More...]

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Memoirs of Guantanamo Detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Slate has obtained extraordinary compelling memoirs of Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi and is publishing them in three parts. Here is Part 1.

Slahi, a Mauritanian, has been in custody since 2001. He is still at Guantanamo. Here's a timeline of his captivity. He finished his handwritten 466 page memoir in 2006, but it took 6 years for the Pentagon to declassify it. Here's a 9 page sample of his handwritten version.

He describes what he calls an "endless world tour” of detention and interrogation." He was taken from Mauritania to Jordan to Bagram to Gitmo -- his account is riveting. [More...]

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Obama to Congress: Close Guantanamo

President Obama gave a news conference today at which he renewed a request to close Guantanamo:

"I continue to believe we have to close Guantanamo. I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe.

"It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruiting tool for extremists...."It needs to be closed," he said.

More than 100 of the 168 detainees are now on a hunger strike.[More...]

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"Misha" Surfaces, Denies He "Radicalized" Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Misha has come forward. He is Mikhail Allakhverdov, 39 years old and lives in Rhode Island. Christian Caryl interviewed him and his family today.

He confirmed he was a convert to Islam and that he had known Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but he flatly denied any part in the bombings. “I wasn’t his teacher. If I had been his teacher, I would have made sure he never did anything like this,” Allakhverdov said.

Misha says he's cooperated with the FBI and they are going to close the case on him. He also said he's never met the Tsarnaev relatives accusing him of radicalized Tamerlan. [More....]

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Muslim-American Terror Arrests and the Role of the FBI

As I wrote here, there are statistics for the yearly number of Muslim-American terror arrests in the U.S. and they have been declining, not rising.

The statistics are compiled every year by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy.

I was just re-reading the report for 2012 published in February, 2013, in which there were 9 plots (14 arrests), and was struck by the role of the FBI in the arrests. We all knew the FBI is fond of stings, but the details are telling: [More...]

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