ISIS: STATE OF TERROR
LINKSBlogs of War
Making Sense of Jihad
Views from the Occident
American Al Qaeda Members
News, documents and analysis on violent extremism
Thursday, October 29, 2009
More Documentation of Al Qaeda's OriginEarlier this year, I posted some material about the date of Al Qaeda's founding, and a corollary issue, the earliest date of a U.S. government document that mentions the name of Al Qaeda.
The document question stems from an assertion by the House and Senate Select Intelligence Committees Joint Inquiry Into September 11 that the earliest reference they could find mentioning Al Qaeda by name was late 1996 (see Report Of The Joint Inquiry, page 745).
Although the original document has not been released to the public, we know from a reference in a later document that the FBI was told the name Al Qaeda in 1993 by Ali Mohamed, a former U.S. Special Forces sergeant who had infiltrated the U.S. on behalf of Al Qaeda.
Here's a another interesting example, a State Department cable dated Feb. 2, 1994, detailing a published interview with Talaat Fouad Qasem (aka Talaat Fouad Qassem, Abu Talal Al-Qasem and Abu Talal al-Qasimy), an extremely important leader of the Islamic Group. This document is full of interesting (and possibly fanciful) claims, but here's one of the highlights:
Some of the group of Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahry went to Saudi Arabia, and he went to Peshawar. In the beginning, they were called 'The Accused In The Jihad Organization Case.' When they got acquainted with Osama Ben Laden, a wealthy Saudi who believes in the principle of Jihad, he trusted them, and they jointly started to establish the 'Base,' a guest house for those desiring to participate in the Afghan Jihad. Ever since, they named themselves The Jihad Group ("Gama'at Al-Jihad").
"The Base" is, of course, the English translation of "Al Qaeda." Given that the "Base" is referenced in quote marks in two different places in this cable, it's safe to assume the translator realized it was supposed to be a name -- but neglected to provide the original Arabic as he or she did for "The Jihad Group" just one sentence later.
At any rate, this is an interesting document both for its early reference to Al Qaeda (firmly situating it with the known terrorist group Al Jihad) and for its confirmation of other documents placing the founding of Al Qaeda as roughly concurrent to the waning years of the Afghan Jihad.
Perhaps more significantly, it also corroborates other intelligence that specifies the importance of Ayman Al-Zawahiri to Al Qaeda from day one. Qasem here indicates Zawahiri is an equal co-founder of Al Qaeda. Although many sources refer to a 1998 "official" announcement as the date of the merger between Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda, it's quite clear from a wide variety of sources that the two organizations were joined at the hip from Al Qaeda's earliest days.
Feb. 2, 1994 State Department cable, "ISLAMIC GROUP" SPOKESMAN OUTLINES TERRORIST STRATEGY AND ALLEGES USG "ASSURANCES" TO THE IG
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
Tweets referencing this post:
"...smart, granular analysis..."ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post
More on ISIS: The State of Terror
"...a timely warning..."Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times
More on Jihad Joe
1994 State Department Cable Referencing Al Qaeda
1994 State Department Cable Referencing Al Qaeda
Tarek Mehanna Complaint and Search Warrant
Secret Service Document Describes Missing Scenes F...
Zazi Not The First Afghan Al Qaeda
Secret Oklahoma City Bombing Footage Released
Najibullah Zazi Indictment, Detention Document
Najibullah Zazi, Queens Suspect, Criminal Complain...
Reuters: Bosnians Arrested In Queens Raid
Oklahoma City Bombing Witness Linked to CIA, New F...
New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim
The Utility of Lone Wolves
Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser
A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds
How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You
PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement
Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips
Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums
U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki
State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh
State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995
FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs
Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War
U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001
Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting