By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart
For the past several years, we have published an annual forecast for al Qaeda and the jihadist movement. Since the January 2006 forecast, we have focused heavily on the devolution of jihadism from a phenomenon focused primarily on al Qaeda the group to one based primarily on al Qaeda the movement. Last year, we argued that al Qaeda was struggling to remain relevant and that al Qaeda prime had been marginalized in the physical battlefield. This marginalization of al Qaeda prime had caused that group to forfeit its position at the vanguard of the physical jihad, though it remained deeply involved in the leadership of the ideological battle.
As a quick reminder, Stratfor views what most people refer to as “al Qaeda” as a global jihadist network rather than a monolithic entity. This network consists of three distinct entities. The first is a core vanguard, which we frequently refer to as al Qaeda prime, comprising Osama bin Laden and his trusted associates. The second is composed of al Qaeda franchise groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq, and the third comprises the grassroots jihadist movement inspired by al Qaeda prime and the franchise groups.
As indicated by the title of this forecast, we believe that the trends we have discussed in previous years will continue, and that al Qaeda prime has become marginalized on the physical battlefield to the extent that we have not even mentioned their name in the title. The regional jihadist franchises and grassroots operatives pose a much more significant threat in terms of security concerns, though it is important to note that those concerns will remain tactical and not rise to the level of a strategic threat. In our view, the sort of strategic challenge that al Qaeda prime posed with the 9/11 attacks simply cannot be replicated without a major change in geopolitical alignments — a change we do not anticipate in 2009.
A U.S. anti-kidnapping expert was abducted by gunmen in northern Mexico last week, a sign of just how bold this nation’s kidnapping gangs have become.
U.S. security consultant Felix Batista was in Saltillo in Coahuila state to offer advice on how to confront abductions for ransom when he himself was seized, local authorities said.
Unknown assailants grabbed him on Dec. 10, said Charlie LeBlanc, the president of the Houston, Texas-based security firm ASI Global LLC., where Batista is a consultant. More HERE
by Robert Spencer
“A Muslim must try his best to abide by the rulings of Sharia [Islamic law] whenever possible as much as he can. He should not allow himself to be liable to those western laws that contradict the clear-cut Islamic rulings.” The rulings of Sharia, mind you, include stoning for adultery, amputation of the hand for theft, and institutionalized discrimination against women and non-Muslims. But the speaker was not some fanatic Wahhabi in Saudi Arabia; it was the Phoenix-based imam Omar Shahin, president of the North American Imams Foundation. This is probably one reason why, as The Arizona Republic reported Monday, the FBI has stepped up scrutiny of Shahin and other Muslim leaders in Phoenix.
Omar Shahin has been in the news before. He is the spokesman for a group of six imams who sued US Airways after being removed from a flight in 2006 when passengers and crewmembers reported that they were behaving suspiciously. The imams were handcuffed and later interrogated, then released with no charges, whereupon Shahin led a news conference to condemn prejudice against Muslims. All six imams later sued the airline, airport police and an FBI agent, claiming they had been singled out solely because they were Muslim. “We did nothing,” Shahin maintained in a report on Boston Herald.com — and the Council on American Islamic Relations seized on the incident as evidence of American “Islamophobia.” “We are concerned that crew members, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam,” said CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, in the same report. More from HumanEvents
Body count exceeds 4,400 this year in wave of drug-related violence
By Chelsea Schilling
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
Drug-related bloodshed has killed more than 4,400 people across Mexico this year – a body count that has already exceeded the U.S. military death toll of 4,192 in the Iraq war since March 20, 2003.
Violence involving soldiers, police and gangs has resulted in murders of 387 people in the first two weeks of October alone, and 58 killings were reported on Nov. 3, the day drug hitmen ambushed and killed two police officers with grenades and guns.
The violence is not letting up in Mexico, where brutal murders are reported daily. This month is no exception.
On Election Day, a jet carrying Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mouriño, the second highest official of the Mexican government, crashed in Mexico City. Fourteen people, including Mouriño, were killed, and 40 were injured. Many people believe the plane was a cartel target because top crime-fighting officials were aboard, including former Assistant Attorney-General José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos – an official whose name was found on a hit list. More from WorldNetDaily
By Fred Burton and Ben West – from Stratfor.com
The U.S. presidential campaign trail presents a host of challenges for the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) protective detail assigned to cover the presidential candidates, something we’ve discussed previously. Major presidential candidates have been afforded USSS protection since the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy at a campaign event. Due to the nature of modern presidential campaigns, the candidates’ schedules are packed with events that often start at breakfast and continue long after dinner. Candidates also hopscotch across the country, often visiting several cities in a day and sometimes visiting multiple venues in the same city.
The Security Challenge of Campaign Season
In the last weeks before the Nov. 4 election, the campaign of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama hit several different cities in one day, meaning that several teams of advance agents were deployed around the country at any given time. For example, on Nov. 3, Obama visited Jacksonville, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Manassas Park, Va. Campaign managers often adjust itineraries on the fly to meet the needs of the campaign. Continue reading
30-minute version of an important new documentary, The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America, how radical Islam is operating inside the West. The Third Jihad focuses on an FBI-discovered secret document—the manifesto of the American Muslim Brotherhood. It describes the ‘grand jihad’ goal of destroying Western civilization from within by infiltrating and dominating North America. The film reveals the agenda of the radical Muslim leaders in America and provides viewers with an impressively crafted look at the immediate dangers posed. From CI Centre
Exclusive: Former FBI In Charge of Operations – FBI ‘Would Not Have Hired’ Someone with Obama’s Past Associations
Sen. Obama isn’t just wrong on the top foreign policy issues of Iraq, Iran and Russia, but also on virtually every other one that comes to mind. His strongest position is on Pakistan, where he advocates launching strikes on terrorists identified in that country if the government is unable or unwilling to go after them. This is an honorable position, although openly stating such an intention has extremely negative diplomatic repercussions and threatens the stability of the Pakistani government, which could allow radical Muslims to have an even greater safe harbor. Such statements are meant to be made in private, but at least this shows one area of the world where Obama is tough. Unfortunately, Obama still doesn’t go far enough in developing a plan for handling Pakistan.
Sen. Obama declined to talk about the need to embrace the Pakistani tribes on the border in order to enlist them in fighting the insurgents, perhaps because saying so would again vindicate one of the strategies Gen. Petraeus and Sen. McCain advocated that caused the war in Iraq to turn around. At the first debate, Obama even failed to embrace this proven concept after McCain mentioned it. While Obama’s call for unilateral strikes when necessary is refreshing and commendable, it does not appear that he recognizes that a greater counter-insurgency campaign that involves the tribes is needed. Air strikes and raids absent such a strategy will only increase resentment against the Pakistani government and the U.S. among the population and may even cause the Pakistanis to end their alliance with us. Ironically, Obama is advocating the same tactics he criticized in Afghanistan, when he said, “We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.” More from FamilySecurityMatters
Part One HERE
Part Two HERE