Thursday, March 30, 2006

Abu Musab al-Suri and the Anbar Revenge Brigade

Two very interesting stories from the most recent Jamestown Terrorism Focus. Firstly the arrest of Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, aka Abu Musab al-Suri. I’ve been digging around and reading up on this chap since being tipped to his importance by Reuvan Paz, one of the most consistently interesting and nuanced expert observers of the Jihadi scene. Al-Suri has been around, the most famous photo of him looks like it was taken in the UK where he was a well-known member of the “Londonistan” scene in the mid-90s. In London he was publishing the communiqu├ęs and a newspaper for the murderous GIA in Algeria (Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of al Quds in London who knew al-Suri from the UK, mentions being surprised [see page 3 in particular] to bump into him in bin Laden’s cave in Afghanistan in 1996). After 9/11 (which Atwan interestingly notes that al-Suri opposed) he disappeared and seems to have been writing. Dr. Paz has noted him as potential future leader for the global Jihad as he had both the history of personal involvement and bravery as well as being the most prominent strategic thinker amongst the movement. If he is in custody as seems likely, it is clearly a good thing.

Terrorism Focus says: “Pakistan security authorities again hinted that they were seeking confirmation that the man arrested last October 31 during a police raid in the southern city of Quetta was a leading Syrian linked to al-Qaeda, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar”. At the same time I can no longer find his page on the Rewards for Justice website where previously the US government had been offering a multi-million dollar bounty on him. Somewhere in Pakistan, could there be a couple of brave coppers, desperately searching the internet, one saying to the other “I’m certain I saw a page saying they’d give us five million bucks if we nabbed him!? Where has it gone?”. His partner is replying “why didn’t you bookmark it?! My missus has already picked out the swimming pool she wants!”

The second story is on the “Anbar Revenge Brigade”, raised and organised by tribal leaders in al-Anbar province, western Iraq. It has been reportedly capturing and killing Salafi-Jihadi fighters fighting for al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna. The most interesting note is that this brigade is getting support from both the Iraqi Government and the Coalition forces. Few tears will be shed for the terrorists they kill, but if the Coalition is operating against the so called Shia “death squads” being operated by the Ministry of Interior, you would think they would be careful about supporting what is basically another vigilante militia. Terrorism Focus notes: “Tribal leaders, however, do not envision the indefinite existence of the organization; they only see it lasting until they are satisfied that al-Qaeda fighters have been removed from their areas of control and until the coalition military has reduced its visibility in the province” but I’ll believe that when I see it.

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