AQAP Sweats the Small Stuff

According to Associated Press reporter Rukmini Callimachi in Mali, it appears al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is very focused on accounting.

The convoy of cars bearing the black al Qaeda flag came at high speed, and the manager of the modest grocery store thought he was about to get robbed.

Mohamed Djitteye rushed to lock his till and cowered behind the counter. He was dumbfounded when instead, the al Qaeda commander gently opened the grocery’s glass door and asked for a pot of mustard. Then he asked for a receipt.

Confused and scared, Djitteye didn’t understand. So the jihadist repeated his request. Could he please have a receipt for the $1.60 purchase?

The AP found a treasure trove of documents, including receipts for things like a single light bulb and bar of soap. [More...]

In more than 100 receipts left in a building occupied by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu earlier this year, the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb. The often tiny amounts are carefully written out in pencil and colored pen on scraps of paper and post-it notes: The equivalent of $1.80 for a bar of soap; $8 for a packet of macaroni; $14 for a tube of superglue.

Other al Qaida groups do the same. What's the point? According to the AP:

The terror group’s documents around the world also include schedules for corporate training sessions, spreadsheets with salaries, public relations directives, philanthropy budgets and letters from the equivalent of a human resources division.

Taken together, the evidence suggests that far from being a fly-by-night, fragmented terror organization, al Qaeda is attempting to behave like a multinational corporation, with what amounts to a companywide financial policy across its different chapters.

It's also a control mechanism. As for the big picture:

The picture that emerges from what is one of the largest stashes of al Qaeda documents to be made public is of a rigid bureaucracy, replete with a chief executive, a board of directors and departments such as human resources and public relations. Experts say each branch of al Qaeda replicates the same corporate structure.

An inordinate number of receipts are for groceries, suggesting a diet of macaroni with meat and tomato sauce, as well as large quantities of powdered milk. ...They record the $0.60 cake one of their fighters ate, and the $1.80 bar of soap another used to wash his hands. They list a broom for $3 and bleach for $3.30. These relatively petty amounts are logged with the same care as the $5,400 advance they gave to one commander, or the $330 they spent to buy 3,300 rounds of ammunition.

The group also records its charitable donations:

They set aside money for charity: $4 for medicine “for a Shiite with a sick child,” and $100 in financial aid for a man’s wedding. And they reimbursed residents for damages, such as $50 for structural repairs, with a note that the house in question “was hit by mujahideen cars.”

CNN today had a news report on AQAP, with some officials and experts saying they believe the group is going to try more strikes on America, probably via airplane flights. The report said there are hundreds of Americans who left the U.S. to fight and train alongside them. Their speculation was these Americans might not be on a U.S. no-fly list, and if they get from Africa to Europe, it might be easy for them to catch a flight to the U.S. and blow up the plane.

And maybe this is just the FBI's new sales pitch to members of Congress for sting operations like this one -- if we don't stop these teenagers before they leave, they could come back as trained suicide bombers and blow up their plane.

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  • Display: Sort:
    We have learned, to our dismay, (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by KeysDan on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:10:32 AM EST
    that al Qaeda is both frugal and economically efficient.  According to the National Commission on the Terrorist Attack on the US, Monograph on Financing, the 9/11 plot cost in the range of $400,000 to $500,000.  The hijackers returned $26,000 to a facilitator in the UAE days prior to the attack.

    One 9/11 Tally  (NYT) estimated that the US cost, as of 2011, was $3.3 trillion or about $7 million for every dollar spent by al Qaeda on the attacks (about l/5 the national debt at that time.)  MSN Money estimates the costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars to be about $5 trillion (contrary to Paul Wolfowitz's claim that Iraq could finance its own recovery with oil revenues).   All these monetary estimates are beyond the costs in human lives.

    Yes (none / 0) (#2)
    by squeaky on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:18:24 AM EST
    No worries, all that US money was also returned 1000+ fold to the pockets it came from. And that is only counting cash.

    The terrorists are working for us..  that is if you are a subscriber to trickle down economic theory.


    The Military/Industrial/Terrrrrrrrrorist complex (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:33:43 AM EST
    New York Federal Judge Rules... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:51:26 AM EST
    ...NSA phone surveillance is legal.

    A federal judge in New York has ruled that the National Security Agency's massive collection of American citizens' telephone records is both legal and useful.

    U.S. District Judge William Pauley wrote in his opinion issued Friday that the program "represents the government's counter-punch" to eliminate al-Qaeda's terror network.


    Pauley's decision appears to conflict with a ruling earlier this month by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, who granted a preliminary injunction against the collecting of phone records of two men who had challenged the program.

    He said that the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on unreasonable search.


    Since when did "eliminate(ing) al-Qaeda's terror network" become a legal justification of anything, I am guessing around late 2001.

    One thing that really bothers me about our current system of court rulings is that our rights are heavily dependent on the lawyer's competency, the judges personal beliefs, and the plaintiff's specific set of circumstances, rather than the actual law.  This is a perfect example, two different rulings on basically the same issue. It's hit or miss and that really sux.  Ditto for gay marriage, the actual law seems like background to the rulings, some for, some against.  And if the final deciders (SCOTUS) makes a decision, it's generally relevant to a specific set of circumstances not to be applied to similar, yet different sets of circumstances.

    Judge Pauley's foray into fantasy: (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:56:19 AM EST
    "The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world. It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program -- a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data," he said.

    "gossamer" - oh my!


    Any (none / 0) (#6)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 02:08:52 PM EST
    chance it was Grey Poupon?

    What sort of Arab food do you put mustard on?