May 30th, 2013
05:48 PM ET

Al Qaeda magazine encourages Boston-style bombings

By Ashley Killough and Paul Cruickshank

In its upcoming issue, the al Qaeda-backed magazine Inspire praises the alleged Boston Marathon bombers as heroes and encourages readers in the United States to follow their example.

According to an English copy of the magazine obtained by Flashpoint Partners, an American group tracking jihadist websites, the issue also has a section heralding the killing of a British soldier in London last week.

The authors of the magazine, published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula based in Yemen, argue April's deadly violence in Boston proves that lone-wolf attacks can be effective in the United States. The issue also warns Americans that they're not safe against such "unstoppable" operations.

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New issue of al Qaeda magazine may have been hacked
May 16th, 2013
07:24 PM ET

New issue of al Qaeda magazine may have been hacked

By Paul Cruickshank

A purported new issue of an English-language al Qaeda magazine linked to the Boston terrorist attacks was posted on an al Qaeda web forum earlier this week, but its content beyond its cover page was scrambled, suggesting the possibility the forum was hacked by Western intelligence agencies.

The magazine, produced by al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate - al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which regularly includes how-to instructions for followers to carry out terrorist attacks in the West - has received significant scrutiny in recent weeks.

Investigators believe that Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev accessed Inspire magazine, and the material had instructions on bomb-making, a law enforcement official told CNN earlier this month.

According to analysts, the explosive devices the Boston bombers built had striking similarities to a bomb recipe in the first issue of the magazine - "How to build a bomb in your Mom's kitchen" - that has been downloaded by militants in multiple Islamist terrorist plots on both sides of the Atlantic.
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Sources: 3 al Qaeda operatives took part in Benghazi attack
May 2nd, 2013
10:53 PM ET

Sources: 3 al Qaeda operatives took part in Benghazi attack

By Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister, Nic Robertson and Fran Townsend

Several Yemeni men belonging to al Qaeda took part in the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, according to several sources who have spoken with CNN.

One senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that "three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," or AQAP, took part in the attack.

Another source briefed on the Benghazi investigation said Western intelligence services suspect the men may have been sent by the group specifically to carry out the attack. But it's not been ruled out that they were already in the city and participated as the opportunity arose.

The attack on the compound and subsequently on a "safe-house" to which Americans had been evacuated left four U.S. citizens dead, including the ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

Read the full story here.


Filed under: AQAP • Libya
Al Qaeda mystery solved
March 1st, 2013
02:53 PM ET

Al Qaeda mystery solved

By Paul Cruickshank

AQAP, al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, on Thursday released a tenth issue of its glossy online English language magazine Inspire.

Dated "Spring 2013" and compiled after French forces moved against jihadists in Mali in January, the magazine contains a familiar litany of propaganda articles railing against the West (with "crusader" France the latest target) mixed with how-to advice on launching terrorist attacks in the West, all illustrated with colorful graphics and catchy titles.

A picture of Abu Yazeed from the latest edition of al Qaeda's Inspire publication

But the new issue also cleared up a mystery that has long puzzled counterterrorism analysts.

In late 2011, several weeks after a U.S. drone strike killed the magazine's original creative forces - American militants Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan - a new English speaker called Abu Yazeed began to appear in AQAP's videos. His face was partly in shadow, but one could make out glasses and a full beard. He spoke with an accent.

At the time, counterterrorism analysts had no idea who he was.

But the latest issue of Inspire lifted the veil in an obituary piece revealing that Abu Yazeed had been killed while fighting in southern Yemen.

It described Abu Yazeed al Qatari as a Yemeni in his early 20s from "a respectable family" who spent much of his life in Qatar.

It said that several years ago, Abu Yazeed had traveled to the UK to earn a degree in a subject he was "passionate" about - science - but he quickly grew disillusioned with the "hypocrisy of the West" and abandoned his studies to go back to Yemen to join up with jihadists. FULL POST

January 25th, 2013
01:30 AM ET

Yemen: No. 2 al Qaeda leader in Arabian Peninsula killed

By Michael Martinez, CNN

The second-in-command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was killed in a recent counter-terrorism operation, the Yemeni government confirmed Thursday.

Abu Sufyan al-Azdi, also known as Saeed al-Shahri, died after being wounded in the governorate of Saadah on November 28, said the Supreme National Security Committee of Yemen. He was also one of the most wanted men in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Azdi was buried by militants linked to al Qaeda at an undisclosed location inside Yemen, the government said in a statement.

The confirmation comes a day after a prominent jihadist announced that al-Azdi died "after a long journey in fighting the Zio-Crusader campaign."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • AQAP • Yemen
October 24th, 2012
08:21 PM ET

US intel believes some Benghazi attackers tied to al Qaeda in Iraq

By Suzanne Kelly, Pam Benson and Elise Labott

U.S. intelligence believes that assailants connected to al Qaeda in Iraq were among the core group that attacked the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, a U.S. government official told CNN.

That would represent the second al Qaeda affiliate associated with the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Previously, intelligence officials said there were signs of connections to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African wing of the terror group.

The revelation that members of al Qaeda in Iraq are suspected of involvement in the Libya attack comes at a time when there is a growing number of fighters from that group also taking part in the Syrian civil war.

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Al Qaeda figure comes back to life in Yemen
October 23rd, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Al Qaeda figure comes back to life in Yemen

By Tim Lister and Hakim Almasmari

One of the Bond movies had the title "You Only Live Twice," but in the case of one of al Qaeda's most dangerous operatives even that may be a serious underestimate.

Abu Sufyan Said al-Shihri was - or is - the second most senior figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Last month, the Yemeni Defense Ministry announced al-Shihri had been killed "in an operation" in the Hadramawt Valley, a stronghold of AQAP in the south of the country.

But al-Shihri appears to have resurfaced with a defiant audio message.

In the message - called "Events and Lessons" and released by AQAP's media wing, Al-Malahem, on Monday - a speaker purported to be al-Shihri declares: "What has been reported in various media outlets regarding my death in the Arabian Peninsula is a rumor to cover the killing of innocent unarmed Muslims in Yemen."

Al-Shihri (if it was him) accused the Yemeni government of being an American puppet. FULL POST

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Filed under: AQAP • Terrorism • Yemen
Zawahiri messages underline al Qaeda's focus on Syria
September 13th, 2012
03:27 PM ET

Zawahiri messages underline al Qaeda's focus on Syria

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister

(CNN) - The latest in a flurry of messages from al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri shows his growing interest in exploiting violence in Syria. In a 35-minute audio address posted on jihadist forums on Wednesday, Zawahiri claimed the United States was actually supporting the Assad regime to prevent an Islamist state from taking its place.

"Supporting jihad in Syria to establish a Muslim state is a basic step towards Jerusalem, and thus America is giving the secular Baathist regime one chance after another, for fear that a government is established in Syria that would threaten Israel," Zawahiri said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Monitoring Service.

It is not the first time Zawahiri has cast a covetous eye over events in Syria.

In February, he used most of an address to try to graft al Qaeda onto the growing insurgency.

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Filed under: al Nusra • Al Qaeda • Al-Shabaab • Al-Zawahiri • AQAP • Assad • Iraq • Israel • Libya • Syria • Terrorism
Analysis: Al Qaeda in Yemen suffers another blow as top Saudi member is killed
September 11th, 2012
12:00 AM ET

Analysis: Al Qaeda in Yemen suffers another blow as top Saudi member is killed

By Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank

Abu Sufyan Said al-Shihri was prisoner number 327 at the Guantanamo Bay, Cubla, detention center, transported there after being captured as he tried to cross the border into Pakistan from Afghanistan late in 2001.

But in 2007 he argued before a review board that he was a Muslim - not a terrorist - and if allowed to return home to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia he would join his family's furniture business.

Al-Shihri was repatriated and put through a rehabilitation program, but within months absconded to become one of the founding members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in neighboring Yemen.

Four years later, his reported demise - in the remote and mountainous Hadramawt province - is a significant success for Yemen's armed forces in their re-energized campaign against AQAP and its allies in the south and east of the country.
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Top Yemeni al Qaeda commander believed killed
September 10th, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Top Yemeni al Qaeda commander believed killed

Yemeni forces have killed Said al-Shihri, second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Defense Ministry said Monday. An official military website cited a senior source saying al-Shihri was killed in an operation in Hadramawt Valley.

A Yemeni government official told CNN's Mohammad Jamjoom that an operation took place and a body appears to be that of al-Shihri, but that officials are waiting for DNA confirmation.

Al-Shihri was once held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In November 2007 he was transferred to Saudi custody, and underwent a program designed to lead people away from terrorism.

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Filed under: AQAP • Terrorism • Yemen
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