The new wake of Al-Qaeda
-We are about to witness a new spread of Al-Qaeda
-Abdel Motaleb the Nigerian is the new model of Al-Qaeda’s activists in the world
ANNE GIUDICELLI a French expert in the “Islamic Jihadist Movements” affairs relayed in an exclusive interview with www.islamyoon.net the “new wake of Al-Qaeda” in Yemen and Somalia as a redeployment effort after its retreat from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
She revealed that there is a noticeable trend in the escalated level of leadership in Al-Qaeda to extend its field of movement to include Nigeria.
The French expert stressed that the recent failed operation carried out by the Nigerian FarouqAbdel Motaleb demonstrates a new strategy of the network that would extract it from the traditional and historical Arab region, which was represented in preferring the Arab element to others in Al-Qaeda. Below is the full interview with ANNE GIUDICELLI:
With the recent failed operation in which Farouq Amr Abdel Motaleb targeted a US aircraft and the rise of Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen and the recent events such as the solidarity of “Young Mujahid’s Movement” with the Qaeda in Yemen…Are we facing a new wake of Al-Qaeda or are we watching the dance of the slaughtered turkey?
Concerning the situation in Yemen, we must understand that Al-Qaeda networks were available in the country long ago. In this context, we must remember the bombing of the US barge I.S.Cool in 2002 in the Gulf of Adan, which resulted in the death of 17 US Navy forces. Since that time, President Abdullah Saleh has been extremely cooperative with the Americans in order to thwart Al-Qaeda in the country. For this reason, many activists of Al-Qaeda from Yemen or Saudi Arabia who fled from the Saudi’s system were stemmed. In addition to this, Yemeni authorities allowed the US spying plans to fly for sometime in the Yemeni airspace. This assisted in the assassination of Al-Sheikh Al-Harithi, one of Al-Qaeda leaders, following the bombing of the barge “cool”.
We must bear in mind the incident when in 2006; one of Al-Qaeda’s leaders escaped from one of the prisons along with 22 others from a high security prison in Sanaa, Yemen. This operation was assumed to have been carried out with the cooperation with one of the security services. Another problem in Yemen, and also Pakistan is that the Yemeni army include certain elements which seem to adopt Al-Qaeda’s course and is involved in organizational relations with the network and this of course hinders and complicates the work of the US and Yemeni authorities.
Since 2006, there has been a noticeable restructuring of “Al-Qaeda’s network” in Yemen. The reorganization began in 2007 and 2008 where small operations were carried out, including the bombing of the US Embassy in Sanaa, September 2008.
It also targeted members of the Yemeni army and members of the Security Services were abducted for exchanging them with hostages from the Qaeda network in Yemeni prisons. Many tourists were also targeted as they were considered as a representation of the western existence.
In January 2009, a new phase of the existence of this network in Yemen was observed which was considered as “the Unity Conference” between the Saudi Arabian party and the Yemeni Party under the Yemenis leadership.
The merge between the Saudi and Yemeni parties strengthened the network on the Yemeni territories; hence, we find that the network in Yemen is formed of Yemenis and Saudis with many Somalis who had largely existed in the city of Aden.
Young Mujahids and Somalia
How would you describe the recent rise of the Young Mujahids Movement in Somalia?
In Somalia, we know that the Young Mujahids Movement declared its alliance to Al-Qaeda last year when it addressed Bin Laden asserting, “We are expecting soon the decoration of the official inclusion, and this may take some time”. These were the same procedures followed by “Al-Qaeda network in some Islamist movements from countries such as Morocco where they declared allegiance to Al-Qaeda and waited for the approval of Ayan Al-Zawahiri the number two man in the network.
About the network in Yemen and Somalia, what do you perceive may happen?
I imagine with regards to the religious, traditional, geographical, historical and strategic link links between the Yemenis and Somalis, there will be a bilateral network for Al-Qaeda in the two countries in order to extend the network as a regional base in the horn of Africa and Yemen. The recent failed attempt by the Nigerian who was trained in Yemen affirmed an organizational legitimacy to the branch in Yemen making it a centre of global attention. The US President Barak Obama also ascertained this personally. In my opinion, this will lead to the legitimacy of the network of Al-Qaeda in the gulf generally and the horn of Africa in particular. Through this Al-Qaeda in Yemen started to expand from being “a minor local threat to a major regional threat” through a failed plane attempt, and the Islamic youth in Somalia will be the regional allies in the process of centralizing al-Qaeda in Yemen.
Changes in Al-Qaeda
Given this new information, what kind of transformation is Al-Qaeda currently under going?
It is in the context of the continuing work of Al-Qaeda, which is recurrent. What happens is the changing base of Al-Qaeda. For many years, Al-Qaeda was based in Saudi Arabia after it was formerly in Iraq; however, it transferred its base to Yemen after the restrictions it faced from the Saudi Arabian government.
Through this, we witness a new deployment of Al-Qaeda’s base. The base in Yemen is in the process of redeployment in Saudi Arabia, which is a new merger of Al-Qaeda in a new environment, a renewal of the cells of the network and an exploitation of the problems currently suffered in Yemen and the political changes and security restrictions in Yemen. We have Houthis in the north and separatists in the South and the central government is unable to sustain public order in addition to the division of the Yemeni society with its different ideologies and tribes, Al-Qaeda found the perfect location for it. In addition to this, the geographical structure of Al-Qaeda facilitates it to plan its cells easily, which prompted the members of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia to travel to Yemen since they believed it safer for them to be there.
Do you agree with the analysis’s views that the rise of Al-Qaeda in Yemen is a result of its direct fall in Iraq?
This is correct .The retreat of Al-Qaeda’s network in Iraq resulted in other retreats in the Gulf area especially in the Saudi branch, which was the main manpower for Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Given the work done by the “Awakenings” in Iraq and the relative security stability there, Al-Qaeda started to look for a new shelter, therefore many members travelled to the north to Afghanistan and Pakistan or south to Yemen and Somalia, which is related to the redeployment.
Using the Help of Africans
Al-Qaeda used the Nigerian, Farouq Abdel Motaleb. Given that Al-Qaeda has always historically and traditionally relied on the Arab members in its operations, what does this refer to?
There may be two interpretations; firstly, this is a “transformation and integration” strategy Al-Qaeda is uses in facing challenges; this tactic is adopted by all secret military organizations when it is subject to security restrictions. By assigning a “black non-Arab” security services which have been combating terror since September 11th may be deceived since it focuses on Arab citizens in the airports and places of high security.
In order to confuse security services, Al-Qaeda began to rely on members who do not have the qualities known to the security services, and the model of the Nigerian Abdel Motaleb clearly illustrates this new Qaeda mechanism and trend. I assume that the example of Abdel Motaleb who travels widely and is a non-Arab is the new model of Al-Qaeda activists and recruits.
However, it is important to say that Abdel Motaleb was not simply a tactic selection for Al-Qaeda. Through my researches and following up of the activities of Al-Qaeda in the countries of IslamicMaghreb and its activities in Sub-Sahara, Mauritania, Mali and Niger, the Al-Qaeda leaders wished to integrate Nigerian Muslims in their global war against the US and the west in general.
This is, in my opinion, a semi-official movement at a high level, which may be supported, by the incident of Abdel Motaleb as I noticed in the recent video tapes broadcasted by Al-Qaeda in the countries of Islamic Maghreb on the internet of their intentions.
We recently noticed that Nigerians are being incorporated in the training camps in Sahara, and this in my opinion is a human development in order to extend the war launched by Al-Qaeda.
How do Europe and France reflect on these new terrorist threats?
We must acknowledge that the Nigerian travelled from a European airport (Holland) which places great responsibility on the western security services and this was reflected in the state of alert of all western security services during the past period of time.
What concerns the western security services currently are the individuals who are not necessarily affiliated to any particular cells and who become individual and independent extremists through the internet and other sources? They do not necessarily have any links with mosques or groups here or there, however security services in European countries are more interested in them than others.