November 09, 2008

Senior Yemeni Al-Qaeda: New Attack Planned Against US

The Age Osama bin Laden is planning an attack against the United States that will "outdo by far" September 11, an Arab newspaper in London has reported.

And according to a former senior Yemeni al-Qaeda operative, the terrorist organisation has entered a "positive phase", reinforcing specific training camps around the world that will lead the next "wave of action" against the West.

The warning, on the front page of an Arabic newspaper published in London, Al-Quds Al-Arabi and widely reported in the major Italian papers quotes a person described as being "very close to al-Qaeda" in Yemen.

The paper is edited by Abdel al-Bari Atwan, who is said to be the last journalist to interview Osama bin Laden in 1996. According to the report, bin Laden is himself closely following preparations for an attack against the US and aims to "change the face of world politics and economics". The operative is quoted as saying that "this will be shown by the fact that we now control a major part of the south of Somalia".

The ex-operative says he remains in contact with current chiefs of the organisation in Yemen and that only six months ago bin Laden had sent a message to all jihad cells in the Arab world which asked them not to interact with their governments or local political parties and to deny any request for mediation or formal talks.

The source also said that during the next few days the terrorist organisation may send a sign of its violent intentions.

A few things in the statement make sense 1) the end of the truce ("the period of calmness") in Yemen came as a result of an order from bin Laden, not because of agitation from returnees from Iraq, 2) the continuing importance of the original trusted network of Yemenis, 3) bin Laden's ability to communicate with people in Yemen.

With regard to Yemen/Somalia: On April 26, an AQI statement said establishing naval terror cells and control of the seas around Yemen is a "vital step". The Bab al Mandeb and Gulf of Aden were termed "of supreme strategic importance" in al-Qaeda's campaign to establish a global caliphate. The statement highlights Yemeni jihaddists prior attacks on the USS Cole and the French tanker Limburg as proof the operations are possible. Since then dozens of ships have been attacked and 31 others highjacked for ransom. Several millions have been paid. Full statement here. Within Somalia itself, the ICU and later al-Shahab were aided in large part with money, fighters and weapons shipped from Yemen

The "senior" leader who gave the statement would refer to one with connections dating back to the Afghan days. My first guess would be Abu al-Fida. He's a very chatty guy, has given many prior interviews and was most definitely top echelon. There's photos of him sitting with UBL. Al-Fida was a prime negotiator between the regime and al-Qaeda and described the truce period that started in 2003 as centrally ordered by bin Laden. Al-Fida in February reported the line of sucession in al-Qaeda would pass to bin Laden's son, Hamza, so al-Fieda has previously made officially sanctioned statements on behalf of the terror leadership. For prior reporting on al-Fida, click here.

By Jane at 05:34 PM | Comments |