- - Friday, January 30, 2015

 

JustSecurity reports that federal prosecutors have unveiled an Al Qaeda “members list” in the trial of Khaled al-Fawwaz, an al Qaeda facilitator who dealt with the media, helping to facilitate fatwas, and arrange interviews, including the famous Osama bin Laden interview with Peter Arnett. The list has been in the hands of Law enforcement since 2001, but only recently made public.

Al-Fawwaz, who appears on the list under the alias Hamad al-Kuwaiti, played a role in acquiring the satellite phone used by bin Laden during the African embassy bombings. That phone was in turn acquired for Al-Fawwaz by Tarik Hamdi. Hamdi was employed by World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad run by convicted PIJ leader Sami Al-Arian, and seconded to the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a Muslim Brotherhood front.

Al-Fawwaz and Hamdi’s history reminds us that the tendency of counterterrorism analysts has been to focus on the differences between terrorist organizations, which can often be limiting, and separating violent jihadists from political Islamists is a recipe for confusion. The reality is that individuals flow back and forth through groups associated with Islamic political activity and jihad terrorism, and frequently support or associate with multiple organizations even while their primary orientation of supporting what they describe as “The Islamic Movement” goes unchanged.

Another name on the al Qaeda list which reminds of this reality is Wadih El-Hage. El-Hage served as an al Qaeda facilitator and Bin Laden’s personal secretary. El-Hage was also implicated in the assassination of Imam Rashid Khalifa in Tuscon, Arizona. Prosecutors connected El-Hage to the killing but he was never charged. The hit was carried out by home-grown jihad organization Jamaat Al-Fuqra. Al-Fuqra began as a Sufi Islamic offshoot of the African American Muslim group Darul-Islam, before breaking off and swearing allegiance to Sheik Mubarak Jilani. Jilani’s group was present in Sudan during the Pan-Arab and Islamic Congress meetings of the 1990s, when al Qaeda mingled with Hezbollah, the Iranian IRGC, the Muslim Brotherhood and others. Two Jamaat Al-Fuqra members would convicted for their involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing.

Ultimately, until we view the global jihad holistically, rather than as separate segments we are denying ourselves the whole picture of the threat. Al-Fawwaz and El-Hage are reminders that the focus of the administration that “We are at war with al Qaeda…” and only al Qaeda, is strategic blindness.

Kyle Shideler is director of the Threat Information Office (TIO) at the Center for Security Policy.


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