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Category Archives: Al Qaeda Operations

Al Qaeda Statement Breaking with ISIS

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Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:39 AM

Courtesy of Aaron Zelin and his indispensable Jihadology blog, here is the latest dust-up in the Al Qaeda family: “On the Relationship of Qā’idat al-Jihād and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām.”  

Bruce Riedel on the Mumbai Attacks, Five Years Later

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Friday, November 29, 2013 at 9:38 AM

My Brookings colleague Bruce Riedel has an essay up on the Brookings web site entitled, “Five Years On, Mumbai Terror Masterminds Still at Large.” It opens: Five years ago, the city of Mumbai was attacked by Pakistani terrorists in the most important terror attack since 9/11. The 10 terrorists’ tactics have been copied by others . . .
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The More You Attempt Capture Operations, the Less Feasible They Become

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Friday, November 1, 2013 at 5:16 PM

A coda to Bobby’s post below asking about the legal views underlying US operations in Somalia over the past three weeks.  Three weeks ago, SEALs attempted a capture operation against a target on the coast of Somalia.  The SEAL team withdrew without capturing its target, on account of risks to noncombatants, it was reported.  Three . . .
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Back to Lethal Force in Somalia: What If Anything Does the Drone Strike on Ibrahim Ali Signify?

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Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 5:38 PM

When U.S. Navy SEALs attempted the capture of an al Shabab figure in Somalia earlier this month, contemporaneous with the successful capture of an al Qaeda target in Libya, it generated a considerable amount of coverage and discussion, including speculation about what this might signify regarding the administration’s position on the use of lethal force . . .
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The Attempt to Capture Ikrima Probably Does Not Signify a Shift Regarding the Scope of the AUMF

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Monday, October 7, 2013 at 1:00 PM

As information continues to emerge  regarding the Baraawe raid, it is becoming increasingly clear that the operation was of a piece with, rather than a departure from, existing US policy.  According to NPR’s Gregory Warner, Kenyan government officials have said that the raid targeted Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, a Kenyan citizen of Somali descent better known . . .
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Ending the End-of-War Timeline

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Monday, October 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Nine or so months ago, following  President Obama’s inaugural address assertion that a “decade of war is now ending,” which came on the heels of Jeh Johnson’s speech about the end of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, Lawfare started the “End-of-War” Timeline.  We felt pretty firmly, as I wrote at the time, that “War is not ending; it is continuing, . . .
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Schmitt and Schmidt on the Impact of Leaks

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Monday, September 30, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Last month I wrote about a “hard-to-justify” leak concerning USG infiltration of the communication channels of senior al Qaeda leaders, and affiliate leaders: [I]f the story is accurate and not authorized from the top, its publication is very hard to defend.  For this information reveals concretely that the United States had direct access to two . . .
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On the AQAP-al Qaeda Relationship and Its Implications for the AUMF

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 7:19 AM

This story from Ellen Nakashima and Anne Gearan, in the Washington Post, reports that the threat leading to the closure of so many embassies and consulates involves a direct order from Ayman al-Zawahiri (successor to bin Laden as head of al Qaeda central) to Nasir al-Wuhayshi (head of AQAP but also, as the article reminds . . .
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Two Things I Don’t Understand

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Friday, August 2, 2013 at 2:13 PM

1.  How are the hopeful suggestions by the Obama administration (including the President) that the armed conflict against Al Qaeda and affiliates may be winding down (or should be ended) consistent with reports about (a) the growing strength of al Qaeda affiliates (in Iraq, Syria, and North Africa, among other places) and (b) the closing this weekend of several . . .
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DOD’s Weak Rationale for Keeping Enemy Identities Secret

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Friday, July 26, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Cora Currier at Pro Publica has an important story on why DOD won’t publish the list of AUMF “associated forces” against whom we are at war.  DOD’s rationale: A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause “serious damage to national security.” “Because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces’ can build credibility by . . .
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The Long, Classified War

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM

A recent cluster of stories – on al Qaeda’s growth, dispersion, and resilience, on the USG’s increased use of surveillance drones outside of “hot war zones,” on the USG possibly ramping up secret war in Somalia, and on the covert action to arm certain Syrian rebels – got me wondering about the debate in May on the proper scope of the AUMF.  . . .
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Annals of Associated Forces: AQI Declines to Comply with Orders from Zawahiri?

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Monday, June 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Last week I noted that Ayman al Zawahiri, head of AQ, issued a statement directing that AQI and al Nusrah remain separate entities within the AQ system, and I pointed out various questions this raised from the perspective of the 2001 AUMF.  Now things are getting still more interesting, as a recent message from AQI’s . . .
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New America Says Guantanamo Recidivism Rate Isn’t as High as Intelligence Community Claims

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Friday, May 10, 2013 at 7:15 AM

The New America Foundation has released a fact sheet listing the identities of Guantanamo Bay detainees who are “confirmed to be or suspected of engaging in militant activities against either U.S. or non-U.S. targets” after their release or relocation from the prison. New America’s numbers suggest that the recidivism rate may actually be a fair bit lower than . . .
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A Quick Guide to the Lawfare Debate Over a New AUMF

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 2:33 AM

As Andrew Rosenthal noted in yesterday’s New York Times, things seem to be heating up in Congress with respect to whether–and to what extent–the September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) needs to be updated, repealed, and/or replaced. To that end, the Senate Armed Services Committee has now scheduled a hearing on the same . . .
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Harold Koh’s Speech at the Oxford Union

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Earlier today, former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh gave a talk at the Oxford Union, entitled “How to End the Forever War?”  His remarks begin as follows: Thank you, Mr. President and Members of the Union, for inviting me here to speak. I am honored to return to this University, where I first came 38 . . .
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Your Weekend Just Got Better

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Friday, March 29, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Courtesy of The Onion, America’s Finest News Source: Ayman Al-Zawahiri Delivers TEDTalk On Changing Face Of Terrorism ATLANTA—Addressing attendees gathered for this week’s TEDxEvolution Conference, al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri delivered an informative and engrossing TEDTalk on the state of worldwide terrorism, entitled “Terror At A Crossroads: Instilling Fear In The 21st-Century Infidel.” “We find ourselves in . . .
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A New Al Qaeda Prosecution in New York

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun (aka Spin Ghul) is in custody in Brooklyn, facing an array of federal court charges stemming from alleged al Qaeda activities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria between 2001 and 2003 (including joining and training with al Qaeda in 2001, attempting to kill American military personnel in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003, . . .
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After the AUMF, II: Daskal and Vladeck Reply

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Monday, March 18, 2013 at 7:16 PM

We appreciate Jack’s quick and comprehensive clarification of his views—and of what the CGWW proposal we critiqued last night seeks to achieve. Like Jack, we want to start by emphasizing the many areas of agreement between us and CGWW in order to help illuminate the key points of disagreement. (We’ve also had the benefit of . . .
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After the AUMF: A Response to Chesney, Goldsmith, Waxman, and Wittes

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Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM

In the very first days after the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration asked Congress for broad statutory authorization to use military force to “deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States”—that is to say, for statutory authorization of what that Administration called a “Global War . . .
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Comments on and Link to the Sulaiman Abu Ghaith Indictment

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Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Further to my last post on the capture and prosecution of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, I now want to share a few thoughts on the prosecution side of things. The indictment has been unsealed, and is now available here.  It appears to be the 13th superseding indictment in the long-running case that began in 1998 after . . .
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