March 1st, 2013
11:52 AM ET

Prominent al Qaeda figure in Mali killed

One of al Qaeda's most influential figures in North Africa has been killed by French and Chadian forces, a U.S. official saidFriday.

French military sources had earlier said that Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, a deputy leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was killed in an airstrike in Mali late last month.

Abou Zeid was one of the group's most ruthless commanders, having seized at least a dozen foreigners for ransom. At least two have been killed; several French citizens remain captive.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • France • Mali
May 8th, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Bomb chief al-Asiri considered one of al Qaeda’s biggest threats

The recent seizure by U.S. and other intelligence agents of an explosive device designed to be secretly carried aboard an airliner by a suicide bomber has put one of al Qaeda's master bomb-makers back into an international spotlight.

U.S. officials haven’t said whether they believe Ibrahim al-Asiri – the chief bomb-maker for Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula - built the device, which they say was recovered two weeks ago after a tip from Saudi Arabia.

But U.S. officials say the group is responsible, and that the device is an evolution of the bomb that was used in a failed attack on a Christmas Day 2009 flight to Detroit – a bomb that U.S. officials believe al-Asiri built.

It’s not clear how the most recent bomb differed from the so-called underwear bomber's apparatus in that 2009 incident. A U.S. official said that like the earlier device, it was “non-metallic” and therefore harder for airport security scanners to detect. But it’s “clear that AQAP is revamping its bomb techniques to try to avoid the cases of the failure of the 2009 device,” the official said.

Regardless of whether al-Asiri made the latest bomb, U.S. intelligence officials believe he’s one of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's most dangerous operatives.  They believe the device comes from the group, and that al-Asiri has been involved in at least three of the group's international bomb plots:  a failed 2009 attempt to kill Saudi prince Mohammed bin Nayef; the failed 2009 Christmas airplane bombing; and a foiled 2010 attempt to send printer bombs to the United States aboard cargo planes.

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October 4th, 2010
09:54 AM ET

Hamburg cell at heart of terrorist plot against Europe

A group of jihadists from the German city of Hamburg are alleged to be at the heart of the recent al Qaeda plot to launch co-ordinated terrorist attacks against European cities, according to European intelligence officials.

The plan prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a Europe-wide security advisory for Americans traveling in Europe.

Japan issued a similar alert Monday, citing the warnings issued by the United States and by Britain, which raised the level highest for France and Germany.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Europe • France • Germany • Terrorism • U.S. • United Kingdom
July 18th, 2010
02:31 PM ET

Security brief: American believed behind new al Qaeda magazine

A senior US law enforcement official has told CNN that U.S. intelligence believes that the principal author of the new online al Qaeda magazine is an American citizen who left for Yemen in October 2009.

The magazine – called "Inspire" – appeared last week. Running to nearly 70 pages, it included articles on bomb-making and encrypting electronic messages, as well as an interview with the fugitive Yemeni-American cleric, Anwar al Awlaki.

The source has identified the driving force behind "Inspire" as 23-year old Samir Khan, who previously lived in North Carolina and was involved in radical Islamist blogs, including one he ran called "Jihad Recollections." The source says Khan traveled to Yemen on a return ticket but has not come back to the United States. FULL POST

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Filed under: Security Brief
May 10th, 2010
02:30 PM ET

Security Brief: Analysis: Exploring middle class jihadists

Afghan native Najibullah Zazi confessed to plotting to use weapons of mass destruction in a suicide bomb attack on the New York subway.

They are middle-class, some (by their home country's standards) even well-off. They are often college educated. They are settled in the United States or elsewhere in the West, far from the chaos or sectarian strife of their homelands; they are supposedly "assimilated." But somehow they cast off a life of comfort and drift toward extreme views before embracing political violence inspired by a sense of grievance or alienation.

It is a pattern seen time and again as terrorist plots have been uncovered in the United States. Afghan native Najibullah Zazi; Pakistani-American David Headley; Bryant Neal Vinas, the U.S.-born son of Latino immigrants; and Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with trying to bring down an airliner over Detroit, Michigan, on December 25.

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March 23rd, 2010
09:21 PM ET

Libya frees jihad leaders in peace bid

Libyan authorities Tuesday released three top leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, successfully concluding a three-year peace process that has produced an alliance against al Qaeda.

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Filed under: Libya • World