Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 39


Spain’s Guardia Civil has released details of a terrorist manual discovered in the Catalonian home of Muhammad Mrabet, a Moroccan national accused of organizing an al-Qaeda cell that sent prospective suicide bombers to Iraq. The most notorious product of Mrabet’s network was Belgacem Bellil, an Algerian who detonated a truck carrying 3,500 pounds of explosives at the Italian camp at al-Nasiriyah in 2003, killing 19 Italian soldiers and nine Iraqis.

As detailed by the Spanish daily El Pais, the 30-page Arabic language document was entitled, “Secrecy in Jihad is a Legitimate Duty – Security Manual" (El Pais [Madrid], November 10). As its title suggests, the manual provides a detailed description of the means and methods of covert operations, as sanctioned by selected Islamic scholars. “Secrecy is a key factor in every war. It is a mistake not to use it for jihad, because the infidel leaders recruit thousands of intelligence agents to obtain information about the mujahideen… Many ulama [religious scholars] allowed the use of lies to achieve a religious benefit that may put an end to the punishment inflicted on Muslims by infidels.”

Practical advice is given on methods of disguise, avoiding surveillance, forging passports, encrypting communications, using invisible ink and how to behave during police interrogations. The structure and functioning of a terrorist cell is explained in detail, with the author insisting the cell’s members must agree on “four key issues: obedience, secrecy, patience and the defense of the amirs.”

Intelligence work is also emphasized. The active jihadi should prepare by studying not only the secret services of his host nation, but also other radical Islamist groups operating in the area in order to divert police attention from the cell if necessary. Earlier successful jihadi operations must be examined in detail and meetings with experienced jihadis should be organized. Secrecy is to be upheld at all times:

It is necessary to change the way of dressing, the haircut, the place of residence, car, daily routes, arrival and departure times, places, and meetings…Use nicknames, false names and codes, even within the members of the same group; speak in a low voice, do not say much; to talk far too much may provide some information to the enemy and damage the rest of the mujahideen.

The author of the jihadi security manual remains unknown. In recent years Catalonia has become known as one of Europe’s most important centers for recruiting and training suicide bombers on their way to Iraq (La Vanguardia [Barcelona], June 3, 2007; see also Terrorism Monitor, June 7, 2007).


Insecurity continues to spread in the Darfur-Chad-Central African Republic triangle as rebels led by a Chadian mercenary slaughtered 9 soldiers of the impoverished but diamond- and uranium-rich Central African Republic (CAR). The village chief of Nobanja and his wife were also killed in the attack. According to CAR’s Interior Ministry, the November 11 ambush in Kabo, close to the CAR’s border with Chad in the mainly Muslim northern region, was carried out by men of the Front démocratique du people Centrafricaine (FDPC) led by Abdoulaye Miskine (real name Martin Koumta-Madji),. Miskine admitted the participation of his troops, but denied issuing the order to attack CAR forces (Radio France Internationale, November 12).

The troops were returning to Kabo after carrying out operations in the sous-prefecture of Moyenne Sido near the Chad border and were killed before they had a chance to return fire (AFP, November 12). Much of the border area is outside the effective control of CAR forces, with civilians suffering from repeated raids by bandits, rebels, and even government troops. Most villages in the region are deserted as their inhabitants seek security in remote areas.

South Sudan’s leader, Salva Kiir, recently warned Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak that the political chaos engulfing Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could soon produce insecurity within Egypt (AFP, November 10).

European Union peacekeepers based in northeast CAR also said units from the Union des forces démocratique pour le rassemblement (UFDR) rebel group carried out an attack on a CAR army outpost near the Sudan border on November 8, but were repelled by government troops (Reuters, November 12). Unable to assert its control of the unsettled north, the Bangui government is moving forward on holding a national dialogue session in December in an effort to restore stability.

Many of the rebels are associated in some way with former CAR President Ange-Felix Patassé, who was deposed by General Bozizé in 2002 and now lives in Togo. Patassé grew suspicious of his own CAR armed forces after they became involved in coup attempts. The President’s security was placed in the hands of foreign fighters, including well-armed troops from Libya, several hundred fighters belonging to the Congolese Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo (MLC) led by Jean Pierre Bemba, and a special forces unit under the command of Chadian Abdoulaye Miskine. Bemba, Miskine, and Patassé all face charges in the International Criminal Court in relation to rapes, looting, and massacres carried out following General Bozizé’s unsuccessful coup attempt in 2002 (BBC, November 6, 2002). Bemba was arrested last May and is now in detention in The Hague while awaiting trial. Bozizé succeeded in overthrowing Patassé in 2003 and was “elected” president in 2005. His government blames much of the rebel activity on neighboring Sudan. Khartoum in turn blames the CAR for supporting rebels in Darfur, though it is difficult to see what resources the CAR might offer in its current state.

With the collapse of the nation’s power plants and the near-total deterioration of most other infrastructure despite enormous agricultural and mineral potential, the rebels and government find themselves struggling to control the ruins of a state. At stake are expected revenues from the development of the country’s uranium resources, with French nuclear energy giant Areva scheduled to begin uranium production in the CAR in 2010 (AFP, August 1). France has provided military and logistical assistance to the Bozizé regime against rebel forces in recent years (AFP, January 30, 2007; Afrol News, February 5, 2007).
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