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Archive for the ‘Yemen’ Category

Death of a Terrorist: Nasser al-Wuhayshi

Kareem Fahim writes that “Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen released a video statement early on Tuesday [, 16 June 2015] confirming the death of its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, in an American missile strike. Mr. Wuhayshi, 38, who had led Qaeda operations in Yemen since 2002 and was also the global extremist network’s second-ranking leader, was killed along with two other operatives, the statement said. The group said that its military commander, Qassim al-Raimi, had been chosen as Mr. Wuhayshi’s successor”.[1]

In the group’s video statement, a spokesman proclaimed the following: “Let it be known to the enemies of God that their battle is not only with one person or figure, no matter how important. To the infidel America: God has kept alive those who will trouble your life and make you taste the bitterness of defeat”. [2]

In September last year, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen testified that “Al Qaeda’s official branches in Yemen and Somalia continue to remain extremely active”.[3]  Words of warning apparently proven true by the spectacular Charlie Hebdo attack last January.[4]  And now, Wuhayshi’s execution by drone comes as a belated action of revenge, as confirmed by the NYT’s Fahim claiming that “American counterterrorism officials [appear] certain to view the killing of Mr. Wuhayshi as a major victory. He built the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, into what was seen as the global organization’s most active branch and the most dangerous threat against the United States, even though its attempts to blow up airliners over American soil have failed. But his death also comes as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has grown more powerful in Yemen, capitalizing on civil war to capture territory and forge new alliances with Sunni tribes to fight the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group that controls large parts of the country. In early April [2015], Al Qaeda seized control of Al Mukalla, Yemen’s fifth-largest city, reportedly capturing millions of dollars from the vaults of the central bank there. Local news media in Yemen said that Mr. Wuhayshi was killed in the city last week by a missile strike that killed three Qaeda operatives by the beach”.[5]

The news agency Reuters’ Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobari add that “Al-Wuhayshi, [was] a charismatic former associate of Osama bin Laden”, while highlighting that “Wuhayshi is the sixth major AQAP leader killed in suspected U.S. bombings this year, despite political turmoil in Yemen that led to the closing of the U.S. embassy and the evacuation of its military and intelligence personnel”.[6]  Browning and Ghobari then provide some background: “Wuhayshi, according to Gregory Johnson, author of a book on AQAP, was born in southern Yemen and traveled to Afghanistan for the first time in 1998 to join al Qaeda. He met bin Laden there and acted as his aide-de-camp until 2001, when the group was scattered after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept 11 attacks on the United States. He became head of AQAP in 2009, several years after a daring prison break from a jail in Yemen. In 2013, U.S. sources said that an intercepted communication between Wuhayshi and al Qaeda leader Atman al-Zawahiri – believed to be based in Pakistan – was one component of a broader pool of intelligence that prompted a threat alert closing numerous U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa”.[7]

[1] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader” NYT (16 June 2015). http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/world/middleeast/al-qaeda-arabian-peninsula-yemen-nasser-al-wuhayshi-killed.html?_r=0.

[2] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader”.

[3] “U.S. Officials: Al Qaeda ‘extremely active’ in Somalia and Yemen” Horn Affairs (19 September 2014). http://hornaffairs.com/en/2014/09/19/u-s-officials-al-qaeda-extremely-active-in-somalia-and-yemen/.

[4] C. Erimtan, “The Charlie Hebdo attack: Geo-politics, eurocentrism, Islamophobia, and blowback” RT Op-Edge (09 Jan 2015). http://rt.com/op-edge/221275-charlie-hebdo-attack-france/.

[5] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader”.

[6] Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobarim, “Yemeni al Qaeda chief killed in U.S. bombing”Reuters (16 June 2015). http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/16/us-yemen-security-qaeda-us-idUSKBN0OW0FJ20150616.

[7] Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobarim, “Yemeni al Qaeda chief killed in U.S. bombing”

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CrossTalk: The Yemen Proxy?

‘Yemen’s agony is without end. While the Saudi-led and American-backed military assault continues unabated, it remains unclear what Riyadh and Washington are really fighting for. Though one thing appears undeniable – Yemen is joining the ranks of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, and Somalia as places where warlords rule in conditions of anarchy. CrossTalking with Gareth Porter, Ross Harrison, and Massoumeh Torfeh (13 May 2015)’.

Yemen Conflict: Shifting Sands, Shifting Loyalties

‘Within hours of announcing the end of its military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition’s planes bombed the city of Taiz. Fighting is also continuing in the port city of Aden. All this comes despite Riyadh declaring that its month-long campaign, which sought to restore the country’s president, had achieved its goals. But the surprise statement raises more questions than answers, since the deposed leader has not resumed his role as the country’s number one (23 April 2015)’.

Newtown vs Al-Majala: Drone Strikes in Context

“For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn’t be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.

The container is filled with the humming of computers. It’s the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren’t flying through the air. They’re just sitting at the controls.”

Innocent women and children were killed by drone strikes in the al-Majala region of Yemen. The United States is responsible for a very high number of innocent civilian deaths from drone strikes; a soldier wracked with guilt told his story of dehumanizing rationalization after killing a child. The senseless deaths of innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut devastated the nation, causing President Obama to cry openly for them. Why are children in places like Yemen or Pakistan not mourned? Cenk Uygur discusses the disparity (19 Dec 2012).

The report Living under Drones, quoted by Cenk Uygur, was earlier this year the subject of another post of mine: “Since 2004, up to 884 innocent civilians, including at least 176 children, have died from US drone strikes in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. A new report from the Stanford and New YorkUniversity law schools finds drone use has caused widespread post-tramatic stress disorder and an overall breakdown of functional society in North Waziristan. In addition, the report finds the use of a “double tap” procedure, in which a drone strikes once and strikes again not long after, has led to deaths of rescuers and medical professionals”.[1]


[1] “Living under Drones: Stanford-NYU and Brave New Films” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (10 October 2012). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/living-under-drones-stanford-nyu-and-brave-new-films/.

Another Muhammad Controversy: The Innocence of Muslims

A look at the conflicting reports about who’s behind the 14-minute anti-Prophet Muhammad trailer that’s sparked violent protests in the Middle East (13 Sep 2012).

Meanwhile, the rage goes on and on and on . . . so, here is the trailer causing all these diverse Muslims in the Middle East and beyond to shout and protest.

The atrocious clip has led to a lot of mayhem, as recounted by Anne Sewell in the Digital Journal: ‘Protests and outrage are now spreading to Lebanon and Iran, and continue in Yemen and Egypt, over the film “Innocence of Muslims”, released on YouTube, which insults the Prophet Mohammed’.[1]  Going into detail, as follows: ‘Lebanon: On Thursday [,13 September), in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, several hundred people have rallied, and are burning both American and Israeli flags, in outrage over the American-made film mocking Islam’s prophet Mohammed. In Sidon, on Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast men and women carried banners containing slogans like “freedom does not mean insults to religion” and “who are you, you lowlifes, to insult what is good for people.” Meanwhile the Pope visited Lebanon, amidst all the protests. Yemen: In Yemen on Thursday, at least 4 protesters have reportedly been killed, after hundreds of demonstrators stormed the U.S. embassy. According to witnesses, plumes of smoke were seen rising outside the embassy, while protesters chanted “Death to America”. Local media reported that two cars exploded after two bombs were thrown into the embassy compound. Heavy gunfire has also been heard in the area. Libya: As at 08:53 GMT on Friday [, 14 September), a 48-hour no-fly zone has been imposed in Benghazi, Libya, following the attacks on the city’s U.S. consulate that killed the American ambassador and three embassy staffers. All flights to and from the city have been suspended. Egypt: In Egypt this morning, Cairo police are erecting a wall of concrete blocks around the U.S. embassy in an attempt to prevent protesters from entering the compound, as outrage continues in the city’.[2]

Crowds are gathering in the Egyptian capital for a third day of protests against an anti-Muslim movie filmed by a US director (14 Sept 2012).


[1] Anne Sewell, “’Innocence of Muslims’ protests spread further in Middle East” Digital Journal (14 Sep 2012). http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/332793#ixzz26RbrAQhg.

[2] Anne Sewell, “’Innocence of Muslims’ protests spread further in Middle East”.

Drone Wars

Drone warfare has increased dramatically since 2008 and there are over 60 bases across the globe engaging in a US drone missions. US drones are currently deployed in the skies of over 14 different countries, some for surveillance and others for attacking ground targets. The area of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, known as Waziristan is the locus of much of the drone operations. But are these weapons keeping us safe, or do they just incite further terrorist attacks? And is their use a violation of the Geneva Conventions?

THE DRONE LANDSCAPE

THE DRONE ECONOMY

THE DRONE MORALITY

As a bonus, here is Al Jazeera’s People & Power talking about the Attack of the Drones: The US government’s growing reliance on aerial drones to pursue its war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere is proving controversial. As governments are increasingly relying on drones, what are the consequences for civil liberties and the future of war? (18 July 2012).

Syrious Revelations: McCain Spills Some Beans, Stuxnet, Flame, and Drones

In the previous presidential election cycle Senator McCain gained notoriety for maintaining that Iraqand Afghanistanappeared to be sharing a border region. Now in 2012, on the other hand, his knowledge of global geography seems to have improved quite a bit. In fact, McCain even went off-script recently: “I’m glad that some of the nations in the Gulf, the Saudis, are providing some weapons [to the Syrian opposition]”, is what he said on CNN on Sunday, 10 June.[1]

As I indicated in earlier entries, the whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds even maintains that the U.S.and Turkeyare providing training for the Syrian opposition, in addition to Saudi and Qatari assistance. The upshot of the conflict in Syriaover the past 15 months has been the loss of at least 10,000 lives, as estimated by the UN. Some opposition groups put the number as high as 14,000.[ii]  Does McCain have some kind of an inside source, or is he merely operating his critical faculties???  As such, the Obama administration has recently had to contend with a number of leaks divulging sensitive information concerning the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. The Privacy and Security Fanatic Ms Smith remarks that the “FBI is investigating who spilled national security secrets, this time about Stuxnet and the classified cyberattack program the U.S. launched against Iran nuclear facilities. Senator Feinstein has called for Capitol Hill hearings into the leak since ‘disclosures of this type endanger American lives and undermine America’s national security”.[3]

In the UK’s The Week, Robert Fox writes that the “book Confront and Conceal and a series of articles in the New York Times by David E Sanger [are primarily responsible for the uncomfortable revelations]. The author appears to have enjoyed the status of court chronicler to the Obama circle, much as Bob Woodward did in writing his series of articles and books about the regime of George W Bush. Obama expanded the Bush drone campaigns, but it is the revelation about his commitment to cyber operations that is most startling. According to Sanger’s account – now available as an ebook, though bizarrely not arriving in print for another month – the new president Obama immediately signed up to a series of cyber initiatives and plans under the codename ‘Olympic Games’. The main target was the nuclear fuel refining programme of Iran, specifically the centrifuges at Natanz. The Stuxnet malicious software – malware – was developed with Israel and inserted physically by human agents on the ground”.[4]

 So, what about the recent Flame malware???  In Wired, Kim Zetter writes that the “sophisticated espionage toolkit known as Flame is directly tied to the Stuxnet superworm that attacked Iran’s centrifuges in 2009 and 2010, according to researchers who recently found that the main module in Flame contains code that is nearly identical to a module that was used in an early version of Stuxnet. Researchers at Russia-based Kaspersky Lab discovered that a part of the module that allows Flame to spread via USB sticks using the autorun function on a Windows machine contains the same code that was used in a version of Stuxnet that was unleashed on computers in Iran in 2009, reportedly in a joint operation between the United States and Israel. The module, which was known as Resource 207 in Stuxnet, was removed from subsequent versions of Stuxnet, but it served as a platform for what would later develop into the full-fledged Flame malware that is known today. The researchers believe the attackers may have used the Flame module to kickstart their Stuxnet project before taking both pieces of malware into different and separate directions. They’ve detailed the similarities between the modules in Flame and Stuxnet in a blog post”.[5]

And then there are also the drone attacks in Pakistanand Yemen. . . Mister Fox poetically says that President Obama’s “use of drone strikes has been far more profligate than had been suspected up to now”, as revealed in Sanger’s new book, adding that “Obama inherited the drone campaign – used extensively in the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands and in Yemen – from his predecessor, George W Bush”.[6]  Or, the more things change, the more they stay the same . . .


[i] “McCain: Gulf states supply arms to Syrian opposition” RT (11 June 2012). http://www.rt.com/news/mccain-gulf-arms-syria-568/.

[ii] “McCain:Gulf states supply arms to Syrian opposition”.

[iii] Ms Smith, “Feds investigate who leaked classified Stuxnet cyberattack details to NYT” Network World (06 June 2012). http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/80765.

[iv] Rober Fox, “Flame and Stuxnet show Obama’s commitment to Chinese cyberwar” The Week (11 June 2012). http://www.theweek.co.uk/defence/47345/flame-and-stuxnet-show-obamas-commitment-chinese-cyberwar.

[v] Kim Zetter, “Researchers Connect Flame to US-Israel Stuxnet Attack” Wired (11 June 2012). http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/06/flame-tied-to-stuxnet.

[vi] Rober Fox, “Flame and Stuxnet show Obama’s commitment to Chinese cyberwar”.