Sunday, March 30, 2008

Al Qaeda: The clear and present danger - a snapshot in time

Not only is Michael Hayden warning of the clear and present danger that the Al Qaeda's Paki-Afghan tribal region safe haven now represents. He's also advising that the operatives being trained there look Western. Cornered rats get dangerous.

So let's say that we manage to rout them in the border region like we are currently doing in Iraq. (A successful outcome I have every confidence in.) Like a game of whack-a-mole, the AQ's will be popping up again. Next stop: The Dark Continent so let's take a look at what is happening there today.

Uganda: Al Qaeda suspects held. Officials play coy about the total number of Al Qaeda suspects nabbed, released or still in custody since the beginning of the year. It looks like 20 might be the number, give or take a few. The important part: "The majority of the suspected Al Qaeda agents picked by Ugandan security for questioning are said to be from Pakistan, London, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Canada and Ireland. "

And Algeria is proving to be quite the Al Qaeda hot spot and has this slightly convoluted but happy news to report: Al Qaeda fertilizer sources dry up... (you have to read the article) and a suicide bomber is eliminated. And you can gain some insight on how al Qaeda has been working to establish an Algerian safe haven here. While reading about another case of an al Qaeda safe haven currently making it's way through the Algerian courts system.

And in another display of al Qaeda tactics, al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) have posted the farewell video of a 15 yo suicide bomber involved in an attack on an Algerian Coast Guard barracks. It's billed as the last meeting with his friends before blowing himself up. I'm betting drugs were involved here, too.

In Somalia, Islamists fire mortars on the Presidential Palace. The government returns fire on the Bakara marketplace where 10 were killed and dozens wounded. The market is a major base for the 'insurgents' and the source of rocket attacks. Typical Islamist tactic - fire from a site surrounded by civilians. (It looks like the Bakara market death toll is now up to 21 - including 6 women.)

Meanwhile back in the western world: The Daily Mail is reporting that MI-5 and anti-terror police units are carrying out secret background checks on thousands of employees of British research laboratories amid fears of the potential for AQ infiltration... And about those pesky Algerians? Algerian nationals and House of Commons representatives sue Police of London in justice because of the "many Algerians living in Finsbury Park, in the suburbs of London, having been mistreated during an operation aiming at dismantling wrongdoer’s bands, led by the Police of London..."

And one last Algerian tidbit: Strategy Page is reporting that Al Qaeda has "at least one death squad that is hunting down and killing clerics who speak out against Islamic terrorism, or are otherwise cooperating with the government. Several clerics have been murdered, and many more threatened."