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    Middle East
     Mar 2, 2007
Page 1 of 2
AL-QAEDA'S RESURGENCE, Part 1
Ready to take on the world
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Al-Qaeda will this year significantly step up its global operations after centralizing its leadership and reviving its financial lifelines. Crucially, al-Qaeda has developed missile and rocket technology with the capability of carrying chemical, biological and nuclear warheads, according to an al-Qaeda insider who spoke to Asia Times Online.

While al-Qaeda will continue to operate in Afghanistan and Iraq, it will broaden its global perspective to include Europe and hostile



Muslim states, Asia Times Online has learned. For the first time since its attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, this could be al-Qaeda's year on the offensive.

According to the contact, "The time has come for a message to be communicated to Europe." Asked what kind of message this would be, the contact simply smiled.

Nevertheless, he stated that with Western forces trapped in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was time to open up new fronts in Somalia, Algeria, Egypt, Palestine and other places.

"In each place, al-Qaeda has its own command and control apparatus, including Palestine, and all those fronts will be opened up very soon," the contact said.

At the same time al-Qaeda is planning this offensive, it has received something of a setback in Afghanistan, where its alliance with the Taliban is under strain. The Taliban have struck a deal with Pakistan over mutual cooperation, which is anathema to al-Qaeda (see Pakistan makes a deal with the Taliban, Asia Times Online, March 1).

Osama in the shadows
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has not appeared in a video since October 2004 or on an audio tape since January 2006. He is by no means out of the al-Qaeda picture, although his deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, claims the media spotlight.

Reportedly recovered from ill health, bin Laden - possibly even sporting a trimmed beard - is active in al-Qaeda's planning, according to the contact Asia Times Online spoke to. "He could be in Chechnya, Somalia or Iraq," the man said coyly, obviously not about to divulge bin Laden's whereabouts. Or even in Iran, some insiders hint.

Over the course of many hours of conversation and information exchanges in several locations, the contact - who has a sound track record of being informed of developments within al-Qaeda - explained how bin Laden and Zawahiri had rebuilt al-Qaeda over the past year or so.

Since 2005, the al-Qaeda leadership had been talking to many groups, including Egyptians, Libyans and the takfiri camp (which calls all non-practicing Muslims infidels). Al-Qaeda paid for differences in tactics and ideology among these groups as its structure unraveled and the organization developed into an "ideology" rather than a cohesive group.

As a result, al-Qaeda's global agenda was largely shelved and the international community's financial squeeze definitely hurt. This problem has been overcome, according to the contact, although he would not give any details. Even US intelligence agencies concede that the group's finances have improved, but they have no idea how. All the same, they have pressured Pakistan to clamp down on some charitable organizations in that country.

The Jamiatul Muqatila (Libyan) led by Sheikh Abu Lais al-Libby, the Jabhatul Birra of Ibn-i-Malik, also Libyan, the Jaishul Mehdi, founded by slain Abdul Rahman Canady, an Egyptian, and now led by Abu Eza, the Jamaatul Jihad, an unnamed Libyan group once led by Sheikh Abu Nasir Qahtani from Kuwaiti, who has now been arrested, and the takfiris under Sheikh Essa, an Egyptian, have once again joined forces with "Jamaat al-Qaeda" under the leadership of bin Laden.

The contact insisted that since two major tasks - regrouping and finances - had been completed, major operations could now be planned. But in addition to this, to ensure that 2007 would be "the year of al-Qaeda", a "great compromise" had to be made.

Deal with the devil
Before the "Mother of all Battles", the Gulf War of 1991, bin Laden offered to help the Saudi monarchy fight Saddam Hussein's forces in Kuwait. The Saudi royalty ignored the offer and opted instead for US military assistance. The presence of these troops in the land of the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina inflamed bin Laden, and he split with the Saudi royalty.

Nevertheless, the growing influence of Shi'ite Iran in the Middle East, especially in Iraq after the US invasion of 2003 and Lebanon, concerned al-Qaeda and the anti-Shi'ite Salafi Saudi

Continued 1 2 


Al-Qaeda's China problem (Feb 27, '07)

'Intelligence' on al-Qaeda refuted (Feb 10, '07)

The state of the (dis)union (Jan 25, '07)

 
 



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