By Tim Lister and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy
Just after midnight on October 24, a series of loud explosions shook a neighborhood on the southern outskirts of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Within minutes, flames shooting skyward illuminated the area, and the Yarmouk Industrial Complex was consumed by fire.
Witnesses said they heard planes in the area, and a subsequent analysis of satellite images revealed six large craters "each approximately 16 meters [52 feet] wide ... and consistent with craters created by air-delivered munitions," according to the Satellite Sentinel Project, a non-governmental organization that analyzed DigitalGlobe imagery.
As the smoke cleared the next day, Sudanese officials blamed Israel for the airstrike, which destroyed a large part of the complex, including an ammunition plant and some 40 shipping containers.
The Satellite Sentinel Project said: "Nothing remains of the 60-meter [197-foot] building, which appears to have been pulverized in the blast."
Mitchell D. Silber is the author of 'The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West'. He is also the Director of Intelligence Analysis for the NYPD. His thoughts do not necessarily represent the opinions of the New York City Police Department.
Just over two years since al Qaeda Core launched the most serious plot on American soil since 9/11 (the Najibullah Zazi NYC Subway Plot of September 2009), al Qaeda’s leader and founder Usama bin Laden, al Qaeda’s most recent “Number 3” Attiyah Abd al Rahman, and the al Qaeda instigators of the Zazi Plot – Saleh al Somali and Rashid Rauf – are all dead - a result of a combination of efforts by U.S. Special Forces and drone strikes. In addition, this fall, Anwar al Awlaqi, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s dual-hatted English language propagandist and chief of external operations, was also killed in a drone strike. The natural question to ask, as the calendar approaches 2012, is: wither the al Qaeda threat?
The recent past may provide some useful insights. One of the most important findings of a forensic study of the sixteen most serious al Qaeda plots against the West since 1993 is that al Qaeda plots against the West are almost always underpinned and manned by Westerners - who travel overseas to al Qaeda or an al Qaeda ally/affiliate and then are turned around opportunistically and sent back to target the West. Whether it was the 1999 LAX Millennium Bomber (Montreal), 9/11 Pilots (Hamburg), Shoe Bombers (London), July 7 and 21 2005 London transit system bombers (Leeds and London), 2009 NYC Subway Bombers (New York) or 2009 Underwear Bomber (London), the key operatives from the plot originated in one of the great cities of the West.
The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Monday to send 4,200 peacekeepers to Abyei, Sudan, as part of a recent agreement between Sudan and Southern Sudan.
The resolution will establish, for six months, the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), comprising "a maximum of 4,200 military personnel, 50 police personnel, and appropriate civilian support," the resolution states.
It passed the council unanimously, 15-0.
A week ago, the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed an agreement to allow peacekeepers in Abyei, aimed at ending strife that has ravaged much of the country. The two sides agreed in principle on the need for a third party to monitor the ill-defined border between north and south before the scheduled July 9 independence for the south.