11:42 AM, Apr 16, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
A video of a large al Qaeda gathering in Yemen has raised eyebrows in the press. Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as well as general manager of al Qaeda’s global network, can be heard saying to a crowd of more than 100: "We must eliminate the cross. ... The bearer of the cross is America!"
CNN’s Barbara Starr first reported on the brazen meeting, pointing out that “the CIA and the Pentagon either didn't know about it or couldn't get a drone there in time to strike.” When Obama administration officials and some within the U.S. intelligence community speak about al Qaeda its sounds like the group’s senior leaders are cowering in fear somewhere, waiting for the next missile to strike. They are not supposed to be openly hosting a large anti-American rally.
And then there is how American officials speak about AQAP and Wuhayshi. They are supposedly “affiliates” of al Qaeda, distinct from al Qaeda’s “core” in South Asia. But this is simply not true. Wuhayshi is as “core” as they come.
Wuhayshi was Osama bin Laden’s protégé. The first head of al Qaeda handpicked Wuhayshi to serve as his aide-de-camp out of a group of Yemenis who had traveled to Afghanistan to serve as bodyguards. Bin Laden saw Wuhayshi’s potential and decided to groom him to be something more than muscle. The diminutive, but brilliant, Wuhayshi faithfully served at bin Laden’s side through the Battle of Tora Bora in late 2001. He eventually fled to Iran, where he was detained for a time, before being shipped off to his native Yemen. There, in 2006, he took part in a prison escape that freed up al Qaeda “core” talent to do the organization’s bidding in bin Laden’s ancestral homeland.
Al Qaeda’s goal has always been to launch insurgencies in Muslim countries it thinks are ripe for a jihadist takeover. Saudi Arabia and Yemen have been high on al Qaeda’s list in this regard. But a fierce counterterrorism campaign begun by the Saudis in 2003 quashed al Qaeda’s post-9/11 push inside the kingdom. Some al Qaeda leaders fled to Yemen, but it was Wuhayshi’s newfound freedom, alongside other prison escapees and Guantanamo returnees that really rejuvenated al Qaeda’s leadership in Arabia.
It was Ayman al Zawahiri, then Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, who first publicly recognized Wuhayshi as al Qaeda’s leader in the Arabian Peninsula. In early 2009, Wuhayshi relaunched AQAP, swearing allegiance to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in the process. And, in the summer of 2013, Zawahiri appointed Wuhayshi to the position of al Qaeda’s general manager. Wuhayshi’s appointment coincided with a large-scale terrorist threat. This was detected when U.S. intelligence officials learned that Zawahiri had hosted an internet-based communication with more than 20 of his subordinates, including Wuhayshi. More than 20 U.S. diplomatic facilities were shuttered in early August 2013 as a result.
Al Qaeda’s general manager serves a “core” function, which was previously filled by terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The position gives Wuhayshi broad power within al Qaeda’s network far outside of Yemen. Even before Wuhayshi’s official appointment AQAP was busy expanding its geographic footprint.
For instance, AQAP helped Muhammad Jamal, a longtime subordinate to Zawahiri, establish his own al Qaeda network after his release from an Egyptian prison in 2011. Jamal has since been re-imprisoned, but his organization (dubbed the Muhammad Jamal Network, or MJN, by Western intelligence authorities) continues to operate in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere.
Hosted by Michael Graham.10:30 AM, Apr 16, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on why the U.S. needs to push back against Vladimir Putin.
9:37 AM, Apr 16, 2014 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
President Obama is about to undertake a fence-mending mission to America’s Asian allies in Tokyo, Seoul, and Manila. The U.S. “pivot” to Asia is coming under renewed scrutiny following Beijing’s announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) for the East China Sea in November, Pyongyang’s recent firing of two midrange missiles into waters near Japan and South Korea, and regional whispers questioning American resolve.
1:26 PM, Apr 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The crisis in Ukraine has not reached the dreaded point where it turns into a shooting war. And likely it will not. So we hear no urgent analysis of things like objectives, interior lines, unity of command, logistical staying power, the durability of alliances, and the other matters that have been the concern of European strategists since the days of Napoleon.
Hosted by Michael Graham.10:25 AM, Apr 15, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with editor William Kristol, on Obama's weakness abroad.
2:26 PM, Apr 14, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Lolita C. Baldour of the AP reports that:
A Russian fighter jet made multiple, close-range passes near an American warship in the Black Sea for more than 90 minutes Saturday amid escalating tensions in the region, a U.S. military official said Monday.
9:49 PM, Apr 13, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The Obama administration has scheduled a deputies committee meeting this week—tentatively set for Tuesday—to resolve a bitter inter-agency dispute over a request from Russia with respect to the Open Skies program. Informed sources believe the White House is likely to side with the State Department, which wants to accommodate Russia, over the objections of the Obama administration's Defense Department and intelligence agencies.
11:01 AM, Apr 13, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, providing Russia with what it considers a case for intervention. As James Marson and Lukas I. Alpert of the Wall Street Journal report this morning:
Apr 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 30 • By REUEL MARC GERECHT
Is Barack Obama’s threat of preventive military action against the Iranian regime’s nuclear program credible? Would a one-year, six-month, or even three-month nuclear breakout capacity at the known nuclear sites be acceptable to him? Is he prepared to attack if Tehran denies the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, entry into undeclared facilities that may be hiding nuclear-weapons research or centrifuge production?
Apr 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 30 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
In his Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony last week, Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel for the breakdown in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He argued that an Israeli announcement of 700 new housing units for a neighborhood in Jerusalem were what did in the talks. “Poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said. “We find ourselves where we are.”
'In the end, obviously the troops are in Russia on Russian soil.'8:33 AM, Mar 31, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Despite the Russian troops massing on the Ukainian border and Russia's "illegal and illegitimate" actions so far, Secretary of State John Kerry told the press in Paris last night after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that, according to Lavrov, "Russia wants to support Ukraine in its independence and in its ability to be able to make that transition":
Says we can't afford to be war weary.3:45 PM, Mar 27, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Barack Obama of dramatically weakening the United States' position in the world, drawing a straight line between Obama’s ever-yielding foreign policy and the increasing troubles around the world.
3:02 PM, Mar 27, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
As Vladimir Putin reminds us that hard power, military power – not “soft” or “smart” power – is the ultima ratio in international affairs, who speaks for the Republican party?
And in Friday’s meeting between Obama and King Abdullah, he’s poised to stand against Obama administration policy on Iran and Syria.2:38 PM, Mar 27, 2014 • By HUSSAIN ABDUL-HUSSAIN
Friday’s meeting in Riyadh between King Abdullah and President Obama is likely to be a tense one. First, there’s the fact that the Saudis and the White House differ on a host of regional issues, from Egypt and Bahrain to Syria and Iran. Moreover, there are also the secondary players likely to be in attendance, one of which from each side the other considers a nuisance. The Saudis think that newly named National Security Council staffer Robert Malley is an irritant, and the White House doesn’t like Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief and formerly longtime ambassador to Washington.