8/9/13 US security alert belies claim of al-Qaeda’s demise

Source: Financial Times

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A stepped-up campaign of drone strikes in Yemen and diplomatic missions shut in 19 countries, and another on Friday in Lahore, Pakistan, have all come for fear of an al-Qaeda attack: if President Barack Obama was eager to wind down the “global war on terror” this summer these events have brought that war very much back to the fore.

The exact nature of the threat posed to US missions has yet to be made public and the secretive nature of the CIA’s drone programme in Yemen makes its aims equally opaque.

But the new plot and the flurry of drone strikes have revived discussion about whether al-Qaeda has been “decimated”, as Obama administration officials have repeatedly claimed. They come after more than a decade of targeted killings, aggressive surveillance and an intense focus by the US on the threat from terrorism.

8/7/13 Exclusive: Al Qaeda Conference Call Intercepted by U.S. Officials Sparked Alerts

Source: The Daily Beast

It wasn’t just any terrorist message that triggered U.S. terror alerts and embassy closures—but a conference call of more than 20 far-flung al Qaeda operatives, Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report.

The crucial intercept that prompted the U.S. government to close embassies in 22 countries was a conference call between al Qaeda’s senior leaders and representatives of several of the group’s affiliates throughout the region.

The intercept provided the U.S. intelligence community with a rare glimpse into how al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, manages a global organization that includes affiliates in Africa, the Middle East, and southwest and southeast Asia.

Several news outlets reported Monday on an intercepted communication last week between Zawahiri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda’s affiliate based in Yemen. But The Daily Beast has learned that the discussion between the two al Qaeda leaders happened in a conference call that included the leaders or representatives of the top leadership of al Qaeda and its affiliates calling in from different locations, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence. All told, said one U.S. intelligence official, more than 20 al Qaeda operatives were on the call.

To be sure, the CIA had been tracking the threat posed by Wuhayshi for months. An earlier communication between Zawahiri and Wuhayshi delivered through a courier was picked up last month, according to three U.S. intelligence officials. But the conference call provided a new sense of urgency for the U.S. government, the sources said.

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8/6/13 Taliban leader says still willing to start peace negotiations

Source: Fox News

KABUL, Afghanistan –  The Taliban’s reclusive leader said Tuesday that his group was willing to start peace negotiations, even as he urged more attacks — including insider shootings by government security forces — on foreign troops.

In a wide-ranging emailed message, Mullah Mohammad Omar blamed America and the Afghan government for the derailment of talks two months ago.

He also called Afghans to boycott next year’s presidential elections, describing them as being manipulated by the United States.

In a message issued ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the one-eyed chief of the Afghan insurgency urged the army and police turn their guns on foreign forces, government officials and the Afghan troops who are cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition forces.

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8/5/13 Al-Qaida chief’s message led to embassy closures

Source:  Military Times

WASHINGTON — An intercepted secret message between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and his deputy in Yemen about plans for a major terror attack was the trigger that set off the current shutdown of many U.S. embassies, two officials told The Associated Press on Monday.

A U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat said al-Zawahri’s message was picked up several weeks ago and appeared to initially target Yemeni interests. The threat was expanded to include American or other Western sites abroad, officials said, indicating the target could be a single embassy, a number of posts or some other site. Lawmakers have said it was a massive plot in the final stages, but they have offered no specifics.

The intelligence official said the message was sent to Nasser al-Wahishi, the head of the terror network’s organization, based in Yemen, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

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8/1/13 Bangladesh high court declares rules against Islamist party

Source: CNN

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) — Bangladesh’s high court has declared the registration of the country’s largest Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, illegal.

Jamaat is one of two main opposition parties and a constant thorn in the side of the ruling Awami League.

With the declaration, Jamaat will not be able to take part in the country’s upcoming general election — certainly welcome news to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Opinion: Bangladesh on the brink

But such a ruling can also reignite a fresh round of political unrest in the South Asian nation.

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8/1/13 Al-Qaeda Is Back! Killing Bin Laden was never enough.

Source: National Review Online

By all accounts, the attack was planned with care and executed with precision. At two notorious Iraqi prisons, Abu Ghraib and Taji, al-Qaeda combatants last week used mortars, small arms, suicide bombers, and assault forces to free 400 prisoners, including several who had been on death row. AQ spokesmen hailed those released as “mujahedeen,” holy warriors, who will rejoin the jihad on battlefields throughout the Middle East and beyond. Soon after, we were seeing headlines such as this: “Al Qaeda Is Back.”

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8/1/13 Another Arab Spring Moment That Matters

Source: Huffington Post

Tunisia remains a central part of the story of the Arab Spring. Going first matters, and Tunisia was the first country in the region to overthrow its autocratic regime through popular protests. It was just under three years ago that Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable vendor in Sidi Bouzid, vented his frustration with the seizure of his cart by the an official of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime by lighting himself on fire. Within two months, Ali’s regime was deposed, street protests in Egypt inspired in part by the popular protests in Tunisia had deposed Hosni Mubarak, and Libya was soon to follow.

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7/31/13 Editor jailed for seven years and sentenced to 600 LASHES after starting ‘Free Saudi Liberals’ website

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

  • Raif Badawi was accused of cyber crime and disobeying his father
  • He set up the website Free Saudi Liberals to disclose role of religion
  • Judge also ordered that the site should be closed down

The editor of a Saudi Arabian social website has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for founding an Internet forum that violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.

Raif Badawi, who started the ‘Free Saudi Liberals’ website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, has been held since June 2012 on charges of cyber crime and disobeying his father – a crime in the conservative kingdom and top U.S. ally.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2381309/Editor-jailed-seven-years-sentenced-600-LASHES-starting-Free-Saudi-Liberals-website.html#ixzz2aegK1jym