Al-Qaeda Outlines Its Strategy Seven Years After 9/11

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 35

On the seventh anniversary of 9/11, jihadi internet forum members posted a variety of messages recalling and celebrating al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks in the United States, or, as the jihadis refer to it, “the victorious invasion of Manhattan.” One frequent poster and well-known member of the jihadi forums posted a protracted analysis of the situation as it exists at the moment entitled “Al-Qaeda’s Strategy on September 11, 2008, and the Onset of its Great Scheme” (, September 12).

The posting was written by a Salafi-Jihadi using the nickname “Asad al-Jihad2.” Famous among jihadi forum chatters for his active role in the Salafi-Jihadi global movement, al-Jihad2 is believed to be the Egyptian Muhammad Khalil al-Hakaima, media coordinator for al-Qaeda (, September 12; see also Terrorism Focus, October 10, 2006; October 24, 2006). Al-Hakaima was a member of Egypt’s Gama’a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group – GI) before breaking ranks with the group and joining al-Qaeda (see Terrorism Monitor, October 10, 2006). Another forum member, claiming to be a reporter for the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), posted the article on behalf of al-Jihad2. Beginning with a review of the battles in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora region, the post claims al-Qaeda succeeded in scattering the U.S. army all over the world, hence disrupting its plans to reshape the Middle East. The U.S. onslaught on the Middle East drove Muslims to rise up and join al-Qaeda, says al-Jihad2, adding, “We are tired of analysts who claim al-Qaeda will be terminated soon. Don’t they have a sensible man to admit that al-Qaeda won in every field of confrontation?”

Several times the post also ridicules a July 28 Rand Corporation report entitled “How Terrorist Groups End: Implications for Countering al-Qa’ida.” The report suggested the United States abandon its heavy reliance on military force in its counterterrorism strategy to pursue an approach emphasizing policing and intelligence gathering.[1]

Ineffective Western Tactics in the War on al-Qaeda

Previous jihadi movements were defeated and dismantled by Western counterterrorism tactics because they failed to win public support and failed to train jihadis for ideological, political and military confrontations with the infidels. Al-Qaeda succeeded in confronting not just local security forces, but rather the entire global security machine. The most important aspect of al-Qaeda’s operations, claims al-Jihad2, is the continuous build-up and development of its resources while perpetrating terror attacks. Continued Western attacks on al-Qaeda have only strengthened its resolve and support from Muslims. The author recalls an encounter he had while raising funds for al-Qaeda operations: “What makes people donate large sums of money to al-Qaeda after all the restrictions imposed on it by the international counter-terrorism apparatus? What motivates a little girl to give me one dollar when she knew I was raising funds for al-Qaeda?” The girl’s own answer to this question: “I want them to kill the Americans (the Jews) because they fight the Muslims.”

The Major Battle Fronts of al-Qaeda

In the seven years since the terror attacks in the United States, al-Qaeda has mounted a series of successful attacks on many fronts. Osama bin Laden, who has baffled the world’s smartest military and security analysts, is still planning more devastating blows, according to al-Jihad2.

• Palestine: The world’s attention turned to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when Osama bin Laden, in his first statement after the 9/11 attacks, vowed to disrupt America’s peace if the Jews did not pull out of Palestine. Israel remains at the core of international Islamic issues and provides a revolutionary motivation for Palestinians to join al-Qaeda’s war on crusaders and Jews under American command. Is al-Qaeda winning in Palestine? If al-Jihad2’s measure of success is the spread of Salafi-Jihadi groups such as the Jaysh al-Islam (Islamic Army) in Palestinian areas, Israel’s establishment of an additional security agency to confront global jihad movements would seem to corroborate al-Jihad2’s claim of Salafi-Jihadi success (Al-Ghad [Jordan], September 25). Al-Jihad2 concludes his point on Palestine by suggesting al-Qaeda attacks are pending in the heart of Jerusalem.

• The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI): Evidence for the success of al-Qaeda in Iraq is the re-establishment in Iraq of the caliphate that was abolished by Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924. In the first five years of the ISI’s 20-year plan to develop a caliphate in the whole region, al-Qaeda asserted its superiority over all enemies of Islam in Iraq, resulting in many Iraqi resistance leaders pledging allegiance to ISI.

• Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula: The Arab peninsula is an exceptional domain for al-Qaeda operations because it can engage all enemies of Islam present in the oil-rich region. The rough terrain and the non-luxurious life of many people in the peninsula are important factors in motivating them to join al-Qaeda. The movement considers Yemen an area of strategic research. All the terror acts committed by al-Qaeda in Yemen are only a prelude to its future plans for Yemen as outlined in the book The Responsibility of the People of Yemen towards the Holy Places of Muslims and their Wealth by Salafi-Jihadi ideologist Abu Musad al-Suri.[2] Other States in the peninsula provide vast financial sources for al-Qaeda.

• Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan: Al-Qaeda’s plan for Afghanistan is to gradually take over Kabul by cutting off its supply lines, followed by the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate. The mujahideen are waging war on multiple fronts in Afghanistan against NATO and apostate forces. The Taliban and al-Qaeda presently control large districts in Afghanistan due to the influx of volunteers and Salafi-Jihadi shaykhs. “How does al-Qaeda’s situation in Afghanistan during the Tora Bora battles compare to today? I leave the answer to the incompetent RAND institution” says al-Jihad2.

• Al-Qaeda in Pakistan: Pakistan’s Taliban made outstanding progress this year by controlling the tribal areas and undermining America’s strongest ally in the region, former President Pervez Musharaff. Al-Jihad2 believes Pakistan will never stabilize unless it is ruled by an Islamic government supportive of al-Qaeda and the Taliban because the Pakistani public dislikes the United States and its allies. Al-Qaeda expects improved relations with Pakistani authorities now that military command has been separated from the presidency.

• Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb: The establishment of Salafist groups in the Maghreb region has presented an “insurmountable barrier to Crusader France and the European nations behind it.” Though the “Algerian system is fading,” direct French intervention is expected to prop it up. Nevertheles, the Maghreb region offers numerous advantages for conducting jihad, including vast open areas with unprotected borders, an abundance of mountain fortresses, long beaches with maritime access and a ready supply of weapons from central and western Africa.

• Al-Qaeda in the African Horn: Since the end of the Cold War and the establishment of an American presence in fourteen African states formerly part of France’s neo-colonial sphere of influence, al-Qaeda has planned to repulse U.S. influence in Africa. “The African Horn, the country of the two migrations [Somalia] and the southern belt of defense of Prophet Muhammad’s Peninsula, is considered one of the main battlefields against the crusaders” said al-Jihad2 quoting Shaykh Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair, Emir of the Mujahideen Youth in Somalia (al-Shabaab). The post focuses on the early presence of al-Qaeda in Somalia. In 1993, claims al-Jihad2, Osama Bin Laden dispatched Abu Talha al Sudani, a senior al-Qaeda leader, to train Somali mujahideen youth who, in turn, summoned other senior leaders such as Shaykh Abu Hafs al-Masri, Shaykh Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri, Shaykh Yusuf al-Iri and Shaykh Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin for consultation and the planning of future al-Qaeda battles with Western and U.S. forces in the African Horn. Abu Talha al-Sudani was officially appointed by Osama Bin Laden to oversee operations in Eastern Africa but was later killed in a fierce battle with Ethiopian forces in 2007.

These are the battlefronts where al-Qaeda has been victorious and reinforced its presence and strength, according to al-Jihad2, who adds that al-Qaeda receives many letters and delegations from Muslims all over the world petitioning to join the movement. Concerning its future plans, al-Jihad2 proclaims al-Qaeda will concentrate on assassinating tyrant and infidel leaders in an attempt to liquidate all forms of the U.S. military, security, diplomatic and economic presence in the region.

Some jihadi forum members hailed al-Jihad2’s posting, considering it indicative of an upcoming large-scale terror attack by al-Qaeda. Other forum participants believe the posting’s analysis contains many hidden messages written in code.

“Al-wala’ wa al-bara’” (Loyalty [to Islam] and Disavowal [to its Enemies]) is still the central theme of al-Qaeda’s adherents. Following this concept, al-Qaeda’s list of infidels and enemies to be eliminated is growing, requiring more jihadis to replace the ones who perished in the global counterterrorism campaign. The release of this post on al-Qaeda’s strategy, coinciding with the release of another interview with an anonymous al-Qaeda soldier promising major terror attacks in the near future, leaves the impression that al-Qaeda is increasing its propaganda efforts to lure more Islamists to replace the fallen.