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Terror Analysis - Article Archive (October 2008)
Terror Analysis: The Role of the Iraqi arena in Al-Qaeda's Global Activity


In a rare audio massage released on the internet AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri A.K.A Abu Hamza al-Muhajir says that his group is now focused on attacks outside of Iraq and seems to claim responsibility for the June 2007 attack on Glasgow International Airport.

In his statement Abu Ayub says his group carried out its "last operation in Britain, a good part of which was launched on the airport and the rest was not carried out due to a mistake made by one of the brothers."

One should remember that two men were arrested and charged with conspiring to murder after a burning Jeep was driven into the Glasgow airport in June 2007. A day earlier, police discovered two cars packed with explosives in central London.


Assuming this statement is genuine, it reflects an important development within the operational performance of Al-Qaeda in the international arena, as well as the role AQI plays in it. In our "Painting the World Green" special report we laid down the different elements operating in the name of global jihad in the international arena. AQI was a part of it, but in the past performed as an autonomous entity operating by its own initiative and in most cases contrary to the instructions of AQ leadership. it should be remembered that under the leadership of the late Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi AQI initiated for a limited time (the second half of 2005) several attacks outside Iraq peaking with the deadly attack on an innocent wedding ceremony in Amman the Jordanian capital (November 2005) which killed about 70 civilians and brought harsh criticism heard by the vast majority of the Muslim world of Al-Qaeda's tactics and MO, to the point of de legitimizing its overall activity and existance.

After the elimination of Zarqawi (June 2006) by American forces and the nomination of Abu Ayub Al Masri as his successor AQI seemed to become a more disciplined body subordinated to Al-Qaeda's central leadership and operated according to its instructions and policy. One should remember that Abu Ayub is a former member of the "Egyptian Islamic Jihad" (EIJ) and reported as most loyal to Ayman Al Zawahiri, the leader of the EIJ and the formal deputy chief of Al-Qaeda, who is also, according to our assessment, the de facto leader of the organization.

Hence, we believe that the Glasgow and London operation was conducted by AQI and directed by Al-Qaeda's leadership in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border zone with its full support.

For external operations, Al-Qaeda has always used its "special operation unit" as the sole tool. In recent years, the unit failed in conducting large scale attacks in the international arena. The last known successful operation conducted by this unit was the 7/7/2005 London transportation system bombing. Another big plot of the unit was dismantled in the summer of 2006, aiming to crush 15-20 commercial jets operating on the root between the US and UK. In addition, the unit suffered from several setbacks in recent years losing 2 unit commanders (Abu Hamza Rab'ia in 2005 and Abu Ubeida Al-Masri in late 2007) and a few other senior members.

Taking all the above factors into account, it seems to us that Al-Qaeda's leadership decided to use the assets of the Iraqi arena (Jihad arena) for operational activity outside of Iraq. This arena is full of experienced jihadi warriors and commanders, as well as a large number of foreign volunteers, including citizens of western countries who come to Iraq to take part in the Jihad against the Americans. It seems some of them are being redeployed to act in the name of Al-Qaeda in the international arena, or in this case - on British soil.
We believe this is only the first sign of AQI's involvement in terror activities outside of Iraq in the name of Al-Qaeda.


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