Al-Qaeda Calls for Unity and Jihad Against the US and the West as it Battles ISIS and Hezbollah for
Al-Qaeda Calls for Unity and Jihad Against the US and the West as it Battles ISIS and Hezbollah for the Hearts and Minds of Islamic Extremists
The competition between international terror groups for market share in the Islamic jihadi community continues to grow. Yesterday, As Sahab, al-Qaeda’s propaganda wing, released the seventh episode of Al Qaeda leader, Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri’s, “Brief Messages to a Victorious Nation” series. The message is titled, “One Ummah, One War on Multiple Fronts.” In the statement, Zawahiri emphasizes that jihad is an obligation for Muslims around the globe, especially when non-believers infringe on Muslim territory. The message video statement opens with images of: Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; Izz Ad-Deen Al-Qassam, a Syrian Islamist scholar who preached jihad; Abdullah Azzam, co-founder of the predecessor to al-Qaeda; al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Suri, an Islamist ideologue; Abu Muhammad al-Turkistani, a co-founder of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic party; and Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar. The message calls for unity (under al-Qaeda’s mantle) and affirms that the US is still the enemy and calls for further terrorist attacks.
Last week, US Federal prosecutors have charged two US citizens, Ali Kourani of the Bronx and Samer el Debek of Dearborn, Michigan, with providing material support to Hezbollah and helping the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group prepare for attacks in America and Panama. Hezbollah recruited the men as “operatives,” and provided them with “military-style training,” then gave them direction to complete tasks.
Today, British security forces have arrested a 19-year old-man over a suspected connection to the Islamic State (ISIS) London Bridge terror attack. Six other men remain in custody following the London attack. This morning, hundreds of visitors were told to evacuate the Louvre museum in Paris due to a security threat. In February of this year, an ISIS-inspired terrorist attempted to attack soldiers with a knife.
US Special operations Forces are reportedly on the ground alongside Syrian Kurdish allies in Raqqa, ISIS self-proclaimed capital city. Syrian opposition forces said Sunday they had captured a northwestern neighborhood of Raqqa, the second district to fall into their hands. US military officials have said that they have no information to confirm or deny a report that ISIS supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghadi, has been killed in an airstrike.
The US has reportedly conducted its first offensive operation against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab terror group in Somalia under new authorities granted by President Donald Trump. The Defense Department Statement read: “On June 11, at approximately 2am Eastern Daylight Time (7am BST), the Department of Defense conducted a strike operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia. The operation occurred approximately 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu.” It should be noted that this strike occurred after al-Shabaab assaulted a military base in northern Somalia killing 38 people and wounding 18 others
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader, Khalid Bin Umar Batarfi, has reportedly urged tribesmen to fight US forces on the ground in the region. Two Yemeni soldiers were killed and ten terrorists, after al-Qaeda militants launched a car-bomb and gun attack on an army camp in Baddah, Hadramout province, Yemen early on Monday.
Interestingly, Bangladesh security forces have claimed that they foiled a combined terror plot by al-Qaeda and ISIS. Police arrested six Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terrorists planning to launch a major terror attack in Bangladesh during Ramadan to the anniversary of Holi Artisan Bakery attack. At least 20 people were killed on July 1, 2016, when five terrorists attacked the popular Holi Artisan Bakery in Dhaka and held several hostages. The Islamic State split from al-Qaeda several years ago over a difference in tactics, strategy and leadership and they have been battling each other ever since. A joint operation would signal a new concern on the terrorism front were the two to merge again.
The Afghan soldier who killed three Americans soldiers and wounded one other on Saturday Nangarhar, Afghanistan was a Taliban loyalist and they have claimed responsibility for the attack. The head of the Haqqani network, who also is second-in-command of the Afghan Taliban, has denied involvement in recent bloody terror attacks in Kabul.
China is “gravely concerned” about the reported ISIS killing of two kidnapped Chinese citizens in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province late last month.
The Philippines on Friday set the country's 119th Independence Day anniversary of June 12th as the next deadline for liberating Marawi from ISIS control. The US is reportedly supporting the Philippine military with manned and unmanned aircraft in its fight to regain control of Marawi, Mindanao from ISIS-linked Maute militants. Strangely, Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, said on Sunday he did not seek US military support to end the siege of a southern Philippines town, a day after the US said it was aiding at the request of Duterte’s government.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protestors have been arrested in a series of protests across Russia against Russian President Vladimir Putin. At least 300 were arrested in St Petersburg, and at least 200 protesters were detained by police near central Moscow's Pushkin Square.
Additionally, it was reported that 10 warships of the Russian Baltic Fleet’s Leningrad naval base are conduction live-firing, mine, torpedo warfare, and mine sweeping drills in the Baltic Sea to coincide with NATO exercises. As well, the Russian Navy announced that it is expected to operate seven Project 955 Borei-class (“North Wind”) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) by 2021. The Borei-class SSBN signals the renewal of the sea leg of Russia’s nuclear triad replacing the Soviet-era Project 941 Typhoon-class and Project 667 BDRM Delta IV-class missile boats.
Russia’s defense industry has reportedly proposed to the Defense Ministry a missile defense option that will allow for an anti-missile umbrella over all Russian territory. It should be noted that the new generation radar Voronezh-DM, commissioned in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, will be operational by the end of the year. The advanced radar is believed capable of identifying ballistic and hypersonic targets 6,000 kilometers away in the northeastern Pacific and the Arctic.
In an increasing pattern of behavior, the US reportedly dispatched two B-1B Lancer heavy strategic bombers from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam in the Western Pacific to the South China Sea on a ten-hour training mission on June 8th to protests of anger from China. The US also recently sent B-1B lancers to conduct exercises near North Korea. It was reported that for the first time in years that the United Kingdom has hosted B-1B Lancers, B-2 Spirit, and B-52 strategic bombers at its air bases all at the same time. Last Tuesday, a US B-52 flying over the international waters of the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a lone Russian Su-27 fighter aircraft. The incident appears to be in response to US fighter jets intercepting Russian strategic bomber aircraft off the coast of Alaska in April and May of this year. Interestingly, the interception of a strategic bomber usually employs more than one fighter aircraft, meaning that the Russian Air Force has either maintenance issues, and a second aircraft was not available, or a pilot shortage. Either way it suggests that the Russian fighter fleet and Air Force is suffering readiness problems.
Last week, US President, Donald J. Trump, has restated the US commitment to NATO’s article five and Collective Defense. The Ukrainian Parliament has voted to restore NATO membership as the country’s top strategic foreign policy objective.
The Charles De Gaulle, France’s only operational nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has gone to dock for a mid-life refit leaving the country without an aircraft carrier for at least a year.
South Korea's President, Moon Jae-in, has nominated a former Commander of the Navy, Song Young-moo, as his Defense Minister. This nomination comes as South Korea’s new President decided to halt deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system last week and his Ministry of National Defense failed to inform him of four additional launchers being brought into the country.
Lastly, a leading expert on North Korea, Jeffrey Lewis, has warned that the last remaining obstacle to the North’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program is a warhead capable of withstanding extreme heat during re-entry into the atmosphere. Lewis is reported to have said: “North Korea almost certainly has a compact fission warhead capable of fitting on a future ICBM. The major question now is not whether the warhead is small enough to mount on an ICBM but whether it is rugged enough to survive the shock, vibration and extreme temperatures that a nuclear warhead would experience on an intercontinental trajectory, in which it would be shot into space and then re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.”