Saturday, March 29, 2008

McCain misspeak over Iran training Sunni Salafist freaks? I don't think so

In fact I wonder that he didn't double down after he was called on it.

Mr. Gertz:
DOSSIER: Nasser Wahayshi

Bin Laden's former secretary, in Yemen by way of Iran, selecting only Western targets

Under Bin Laden, Wahayshi was taught the importance of indoctrination in recruitment. Wahayshi also understood the need for any network to be compartmentalized as well as to communicate with Muslims everywhere.

Nasser Wahayshi

  • Task: New Al Qaida commander in Yemen

  • Age: 32

  • Whereabouts: somewhere in Yemen
    Nasser Wahayshi has revived the Al Qaida network in Yemen in a development that challenges the U.S. presence in that Gulf state.

    Wahayshi, regarded as a second-generation Al Qaida leader, took a defunct organization, resurrected the Islamic insurgency and has been directing attacks against the U.S. embassy in Sanaa. On March 18, Al Qaida gunners fired three mortars toward the embassy which struck a schoolyard and killed a student and a soldier.

    I'm sure we're getting ream of help from the govt of Yemen.

    "He is smart and he is daring," a Western intelligence source who tracks Al Qaida said. "That man can do a lot of damage."

    Over the last year, Wahayshi has reorganized the Al Qaida network. The network has cells in virtually every region of Yemen and capable of attacking numerous targets.

    But Wahayshi has been selective. In an effort to avoid a crackdown by the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Wahayshi has limited his targets to Westerners.

    And what if some kufrs are knocked off? They should be in the Hijaz anyway, right?

    Yemen is an important sphere in the Al Qaida war against the West. In a new audiotape released on March 24, Al Qaida deputy leader Ayman Zawahari called on Muslims to strike Jewish and American targets.

    "Muslims, today is your day," Zawahiri said. "Strike the interests of the Jews, the Americans, and all those who participated in the attack on Muslims," Zawahari said. "Monitor the targets, collect money, prepare the equipment, plan with precision, and then -- while relying on God -- assault, seeking martyrdom and paradise."

    Wahayshi is no novice to the world of Islamic terror. He left his home in the Yemeni province of Baydah for Afghanistan in the 1990s and eventually became secretary of Al Qaida founder Osama Bin Laden.

    Under Bin Laden, Wahayshi was taught the importance of indoctrination in recruitment. Wahayshi also understood the need for any network to be compartmentalized as well as to communicate with Muslims everywhere.

    The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the Al Qaida suicide strikes in September 2001 changed everything for Wahayshi. His boss, Bin Laden, fled toward Pakistan.

    Osama bin Laden speaks to a selected group of reporters in the mountains of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan in this Dec. 24, 1998 file photo. AP/Rahimullah Yousafzai
    Wahayshi headed west toward Iran.

    Wahayshi and hundreds of other Al Qaida fighters infiltrated Iran. But most of them were caught by authorities. The leading operatives, such as Seif Al Adel, were coopted by Teheran and used to order strikes against enemies of Iran.

    The Western sources believe Wahayshi also cooperated with Iran against the West. After nearly two years in Iranian custody, Teheran extradited Wahayshi to Yemen as part of an extradition agreement.

    I don't even SEE what the question is about Iran aiding or training salafists and Al Qaeda. Can there be much to distinguish between the muslism brotherhood in palestine (HAMAS) and Al Qaeda? I am disappointed the McCain rather than backing down over the idea of misspeaking did not use that as an opportunity to educate the obviously ignorant reporters.

    WHY NOT?

    By that point, Al Qaida in Yemen was on the ropes. In 2002, Al Qaida network chief Abu Ali Al Harithi, was killed in a CIA air strike in Yemen. The network sustained a leadership vacuum that nearly destroyed the movement.

    Al Harithi was succeeded by Mohammed Hamdi Al Ahdal. But Al Ahdal was captured within several months in the job. By late 2003, the network reached rocked bottom.

    Meanwhile, Wahayshi was in jail for what turned out to be a short period. In February 2006, Al Wahayshi and 22 other inmates -- aided by prison officials -- escaped from a maximum security facility in Sanaa. The escape marked the start of the second phase in the war against Al Qaida in Yemen.

    Out of prison, Wahayshi re-established Al Qaida his way. The sources said Al Qaida became a centralized organization where Wahayshi made all the decisions.

    First came the name: Wahayshi dubbed his network "Al Qaida Organization of Jihad in the South of the Arabian Peninsula." He also ordered the publication of an on-line journal termed Sada Al Malahim, or the Echo of Battles in which he called for recruits.

    "Jihad is a religious duty that God has made incumbent," Sada said in its latest edition.

    Wahayshi and his aide, Qasim Al Raymi, rebuilt the Al Qaida network and instilled discipline. In June 2007, Wahayshi was announced as the new network chief and ruled out negotiations with the Sanaa government. He also accused Al Qaida veterans of making deals with Yemeni President Ali Abdul Saleh.

    "This no-holds-barred approach is a relatively new one in Yemen, where negotiation and compromise are much more common methods," Gregory Johnsen, a leading U.S. analyst on Yemen, said. "Under his leadership, Al Qaida in Yemen has become more strident, better organized and more ambitious than it has ever been before."

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