Algeria claims blow against AQIM

Three armed Islamists, including a senior member of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) thought to be close to its leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, were arrested in central Algeria's Ghardaia province on Aug. 15. Necib Tayeb AKA Abderrahmane Abou Ishak Essoufi, the head of AQIM's so-called "judicial committee," had been wanted since 1995. The three were apprehended in a four-wheel-drive vehicle loaded with weapons at a checkpoint at the entrance to Berriane while apparently en route to the Sahel. Authorities hailed the arrests as a "fatal blow" to AQIM, which is said to be badly divided by internal factionalism. (Magharebia, Aug. 23; AFP, Aug. 20)

Yemen: AQAP blows up gas pipeline

Presumed militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) early Aug. 21 blew up a pipeline pumping liquefied gas to Yemen's southern Balhaf export terminal, causing a complete halt in operations, security officials said. The gunmen blew up the pipeline "at Station 5, in the village of Zahira, in the Shabwa province," according to the provincial security chief. Witnesses reported that dozens of villagers fled their houses due to a raging fire caused by the explosion. (Critical Threats, Aug. 22; Middle East Online, Aug. 21) On Aug. 18, presumed AQAP militants killed at least 14 soldiers and security guards in a car bomb and grenade attack on the intelligence service headquarters in the southern port city of Aden. (Reuters, Aug. 18)

Mali: intervention, power-sharing —or 'national liberation'?

Mali's military said Aug. 14 that troops from the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) could assist in a campaign to take back the country's north from Islamist rebels, but would not be allowed in the capital, Bamako. "There is no question of soldiers from ECOWAS bloc in Bamako but [they could send] some to the North. We could have 600-800 ECOWAS troops in support of ours," said chief of staff Col. Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele. (Reuters, Aug. 14) One week earlier, Iyad Ag Ghali—leader of Ansar Dine, one of the Islamist groups in control of the north—met with Burkina Faso's foreign minister, Djibril Bassole, in the northern town of Kidal, and said he is open to mediation efforts to reunite the country. "We are going to work together to find peace,’" Ag Ghali told reporters at Kidal airport.

Rafah attack: Muslim Brotherhood blames Mossad; IDF blames 'global jihad'

Reacting to the Aug. 5 armed attack on an Egyptian military post near the Rafah crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip, the Muslim Brotherhood website that the attack "can be attributed to Mossad," Israel's foreign intelligence service. Read the statement: "Evidently, this crime may well be the work of Israel's Mossad, which has sought to abort the revolution ever since its launch, and which issued instructions to Israeli citizens in Sinai to leave immediately, just days ago. It is clearly noticeable that every time a warning like this is issued, a terrorist incident takes place in the Sinai." More than 15 Egyptian soldiers and border guards were killed in the night attack, and the assailants reportedly seized two armored personnel carriers. The militants briefly penetrated Israeli territory, before their vehicle was shelled by an Israeli air force helicopter. A statement on the Israeli Defense Forces website said the attack was carried out by "global jihadists"—a term the IDF uses to describe members of Salafist groups linked to al-Qaeda's network in the region. 

Ramadan drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan

US drones killed 10 supposed al-Qaeda militants in separate strikes targeting moving vehicles in Yemen Aug. 7—in the midst of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The official SABA news agency said one of the dead was Abdullah Awad al-Masri AKA Abou Osama al-Maribi, described him as one of the "most dangerous elements" of al-Qaeda in the militant stronghold of Bayda province and the man in charge of a bomb-making lab. Another US drone targeted a second vehicle carrying three supposed al-Qaeda militants in the Zoukaika region of Hadramout province. (AP, Aug. 7) A US drone attack on Aug. 5 killed at least seven in Pakistan, striking a compound in Khushhali Turikhel village of North Waziristan tribal district. (NY Daily News, July 29)

Yemen between two poles of terrorism

A suicide bomber struck at a funeral in Yemen's southern city of Jaar Aug. 4, killing at least 35 and wounding dozens more, including the leader of a local group that was fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Authorities also said they had intercepted a would-be suicide martyr who intended to attack  the British embassy in the capital Sana'a. (The Guardian, Aug. 5; Yemen Observer, Aug. 4) A US drone strike meanwhile killed five supposed AQAP militants at al-Qotn in Hadramout province. The last confirmed US drone strike in Yemen took place on July 3 in Shabwa province, reportedly killing two AQAP operatives. (Long War Journal, Aug. 4)

Ex-Gitmo detainee surrenders in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of the Interior announced July 30 that a former Guantánamo Bay inmate who had completed the country's militant rehabilitation program surrendered to Saudi authorities. Adnan al-Sayegh, who was placed in the Ministry's rehabilitation program after returning from Guantánamo in 2006, escaped to Yemen and rejoined al-Qaeda. He expressed remorse when he surrendered himself to the authorities, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Interior. Sayegh argued that he was deceived into joining the terrorist group. He was placed on the country's wanted list in 2009 as the 85th most wanted terrorist. Authorities stated that he will receive proper procedure and that his surrender will be taken into consideration. The rehabilitation center was a measure by the country addressing the attacks initiated by Islamist militants during 2003 and 2006.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq inaugurates new campaign of attacks

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, top leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, announced in an audio message July 22 a new plan to free imprisoned militants, attack the Iraq's judiciary and retake lost territory. "We are setting off a new stage of our struggle, with the launch of a plan named 'Breaking the Walls,'" said the message, which urged the Sunni tribal leaders to send their men to join his movement. "On the occasion of the return of the Islamic State to the regions that we had evacuated from, I urge you to send your sons to join the mujahedeen to defend your religion and honor." He also threatened the US, saying "You will see them [al-Qaeda militants] at the heart of your country with God's willing, since our war against you has just started." (WSJRFE/RL, July 22)

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