This sounds like more "crazy pants" to me, but a new report in the Yemen Post claims that U.S. officials are saying what prompted U.S. actions in Yemen this week is concern that AQAP has developed a hard to detect liquid explosive for terror attacks:
Senior US security officials have explained that "Clothes dipped in the liquid reportedly became explosive devices when dry and might be worn by suicide attackers." Such technology would essentially turn anyone into a terror suspect and make prevention and detection a logistical nightmare.
As several media outlets wondered on Tuesday why the Pentagon had been so keen to see its nationals leave Yemen and arrange for the return home of all its non-essential diplomatic staff, in what appeared to be a security frenzy, Wednesday brought the answer, liquid explosive.
The report says the creator of the "technological breakthrough" is alleged bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri.
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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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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.
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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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Thanks to Wired for publishing the full version of the new issue of Inspire, the magazine of al-Qaeda Arab Peninsula (the rest of the media and the corporate terror-monitoring sites either just refer to it or want you to buy a subscription to access it.)
Apparently, the U.S. has made air travel so problematic, AQAP is recommending alternative ways to terrorize those in the U.S. [more...]
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Update: Al-Shihri says he's alive. So does a Yemen official:
The Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat quoted an unnamed senior Yemeni defense ministry official as saying that DNA tests of the body have proved that the dead man was not al-Shihri.
Saeed Ali al-Shihri, the former Guantanamo inmate who after release, went to a Saudi rehabilitation camp and then returned to Yemen to form AQAP and become its second in command, has been killed in Yemen. The Yemen News Agency announcement is here.
This isn't the first time Yemen has announced al-Shihiri is dead. More on Al-Shehri (also spelled al Shihri) and the other top AQAP leaders here. You can read his father's statements disowning him here.
The CIA says it thwarted a planned attack on a commerical airliner by al Qaeda Arabian Penisula (AQAP) in Yemen. They say it was more sophisticated than the Underwear Bomber's device.
The FBI is conducting tests on the device. It may have been made by AQAP bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri.
The bomb had not been picked up by the would-be suicide bomber who was to do the attack. A target had not even been selected.
The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought a plane ticket when the CIA stepped in and seized the bomb, officials said. It's not immediately clear what happened to the alleged bomber.
Did the suicide bomber get cold feet and go to the authorities? CBS reports:
The would-be suicide bomber was told to buy a ticket on the airliner of his choosing and decide the timing of the attack. It's not immediately clear what happened to the would-be bomber, the AP reported.
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Al Qaida Arabian Peninsula released a statement today confirming the killing of cleric Anwar al-Awlawi and two others. The media quotes a sentence or two, but you don't get the real flavor unless you read the whole thing. An English translation is here. A snippet:
“The Americans killed the scholar Shaykh Anwar al-Awlaqi and Samir Khan, but they did not prove any crime they committed and they never presented any proof against them from their laws of unjust freedom. So, where is the freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms they boast of? Did America become so suffocated that it contradicted—and everyday it contradicts—these principles it claims it established its country on?”
“America has failed as it has not stuck to its principles, and the Shaykh—who lived his doctrine and died for its cause—won. And like that, everyday America kills humans unjustly and aggressively. Its history is black and long and has no limit, and it lies openly that it protects human rights, justice and freedom.”
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What a faux headline from the AP, "Diary: Bin Laden eyed new targets, big body count." From the body of the article:
Intelligence officials have not identified any new planned targets or plots in their initial analysis of the 100 or so flash drives and five computers that Navy SEALs hauled away after killing bin Laden.
....Officials have not yet seen any indication that bin Laden had the ability to coordinate timing of attacks across the various al-Qaida affiliates in Pakistan, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq and Somalia.
They can't even conclude AQAP and the other al Qaida groups paid attention to his musings. AQAP is far more relevant and operational than Osama. [More...]
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The media should stop paying so much attention to Osama's son Omar (who seems out for money and fame and had little if any connection to his father in the past decade) and more to Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula. Who cares Omar and his mother sue the U.S.?
AQAP leader Nasser al-Wahishi posted a new threat to Americans and Jews today.
"Do not think of the battle superficially... What is coming is greater and worse, and what is awaiting you is more intense and harmful," Wahishi said, according to a SITE translation.
"We promise Allah that we will remain firm in the covenant and that we will continue the march, and that the death of the sheikh will only increase our persistence to fight the Jews and the Americans in order to take revenge."
President Obama's poll bump won't last long if they succeed. Things that will make them even madder: Killing Anwar al-Awlaki (here's their past threat on that) or mistreating Osama's wives. The killing of Osama bin Laden has opened up a whole new can of worms.
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In it, they explain how they made the cargo bombs and why. It wasn't to kill people. Their motives are economic. They want to cause a hemorrhage in the airline industry. They knew our predictable response would be to spend billions ramping up ineffective airline security measures. They are laughing at us, and on this point, with good reason. They also promise many more of these operations, by sharing their findings with their followers in other countries, so they can mail packages and get them on civilian planes going to the U.S. [More...]
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Via NECF Foundation, here's the English translation of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) ““Statement about the Liquidation Devices Operation””““Statement # 29””, claiming responsibility for the cargo bomb plot and the September 3 plane crash in Dubai (Arabic version here):
““Praise Allah and prayer and peace upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family and companions:””
““We in al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula celebrate to the Ummah and give it the pleasant news and the anticipated surprise: Allah has graced us to bring down a jet that belongs to the American Company UPS, and that was on Ramadan 25th, 1431, corresponding with September 3rd, 2010, after taking off from Dubai International Airport.””
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Who is Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the Saudi bomb-maker believed to be in Yemen with AQAP the last few years? And why is he a suspect in the cargo escapade?
Remember the story of the young Saudi who joined AQAP, repented and asked for a meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister who handles the country's counter-terrorism matters? And how in August, 2009,right before Ramadam, a meeting was set up between the Prince and the young Abdullah Hassan Taleh al-Asiri, so that al-Asiri could surrender and enter Saudi Arabia's much acclaimed rehabilitation program. It was expected to be a major media event, and another chance for the Saudis to show off their program.
Al-Asiri was admitted to the palace, underwent a number of checks, and then met with the prince. An ied hidden on his body (believed then to have been hidden in his rectum) exploded, killing Asiri but not harming the Prince. He wasn't close enough. The IED was composed of PETN.
Al-Asiri's older brother is Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. [More...]
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The news is filled with a terror scare today from two packages with explosives headed to synagogues in the U.S from Yemen. President Obama says it sounds like al Qaida Arab Peninsula. (AQAP.) The Guardian reports cleric Anwar al-Awlaki may be behind it.
I'm just getting to the news so I don't have any thoughts on it yet. Here's a thread to discuss it.
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Last week, there were other raids. They didn't kill any al Qaeda members, just a 65 year old man and two women. From the Yemen Observer:
Yemeni warplanes launched strikes in the Modia district of Abyan province on Tuesday, targeting locations believed to be home to al-Qaeda commander Abdul Munem al-Fahtani, according to the defense ministry website.
“The raids at Thaooba area, Modia district, killed a 65-year-old man and two women. No al-Qaeda members were killed,” a security official told Yemen Observer on a condition of anonymity.
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