Blogs of War

Hizballah Cavalcade

Internet Haganah



Kremlin Trolls

Making Sense of Jihad

Selected Wisdom

Views from the Occident


American Terrorists

Anwar Awlaki

Al Qaeda


American Al Qaeda Members

Inspire Magazine

Revolution Muslim


News, analysis and primary source documents on terrorism, extremism and national security.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Letter From British Jihadi Describes Contacts With Anwar Awlaki

A letter from convicted British homegrown jihadi Rajib Karim, posted on extremist forums this week, sheds light on the methods of American Al Qaeda figure Anwar Awlaki.

Rajib Karim was an employee of British Airways, who in Marc h was sentenced to 30 years in prison for providing information about airline security for use in a terrorist plot to Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric who today works with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from his family's homeland of Yemen.

It's important to note that Karim's account contradicts evidence submitted at trial and may obviously be colored by self-interest. However the account was written after his sentencing and he admits to being guilty of several of the counts brought against him.

According to Karim, he initially sought out Awlaki not for terrorist purposes but because he wanted to emigrate to a region in Yemen where he could live under a strict interpretation of shariah law. Awlaki's audio lectures in English frequently exhort Muslims living in the West to make such a move, known as making hijrah.

But Awlaki did not help Karim follow Awlaki's own advice, according to the letter.

According to Karim, he chose to contact Awlaki because "I needed someone whom I could trust and who would be a man of influence in that region. ... He was a well respected scholar, he was from an influential tribe." Additionally, Karim does not speak Arabic and hoped Awlaki, who is fluent in both Arabic and English, could help him get settled.

Karim wrote to Awlaki, outlining his wish to emigrate and mentioning that he worked for British Airways. On hearing Karim's profession, Awalki's wrote back immediately.

"[Hearing] that you intend on making hijrah, I immediately wanted to contact you to tell you that my advice to you was to remain in your current position," Awlaki wrote.

Karim, by his own account, did not want to remain in the U.K. but having gotten Awlaki's attention was loath to say anything that might cause Awlaki to stop writing.

According to Karim, he decided to string Awlaki and portray himself as too incompetent to pull off an act of terrorism in the UK, in the hopes that Awlaki would eventually decide to help him make hijra.

This idea was doomed to fail. In my soon-forthcoming article on Awlaki's "Constants on the Path of Jihad," I examine Awlaki's focus on taking any kind of terrorist action over taking pragmatic action calculated to succeed.

According to Karim, he proceeded to Google information about airline security and sent Awlaki the top search results, while claiming to have access to more sensitive areas of the industry.

At the same time, he wrote things that Karim thought "would have made [Awlaki] at least question my suitability for doing a terrorist attack in UK," raising a series of technical questions about whether Islam permitted him to take various steps, raising doubts about his commitment and asking to come to Yemen. Awlaki was not swayed.

If Karim's account is credible, the contradiction between Awlaki's lectures and his private statements is striking. Awlaki has repeatedly urged Western Muslims to make hijra to Muslim lands rather than live among "infidels."

However, the e-mails do line up with arguments presented in AQAP's English-language "Inspire" magazine which urges Western Muslims to remain where they are, and to focus on carrying out lone-wolf-style terrorist attacks at home in the West rather than traveling to join jihadists who are fighting in regional conflicts.

This strategy is a departure from previous jihadist concepts. In the past, jihadist ideologues have urged Muslims to become foreign fighters by traveling from the West for training and to gain experience in battle in jihadist conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Yemen.

Al Qaeda and its affiliates have increasingly embraced the lone wolf model over the foreign fighter model, despite its many limitations.

The foreign fighter model has numerous advantages to movements like Al Qaeda, including stronger justifications and the opportunity to subject recruits to extended religious indoctrination. Foreign fighters are far more likely to become experienced terrorist operatives and bring long-term value to the movement. In contrast, most lone wolves fail in their attacks and are arrested in short order, essentially removing them from the playing field before they even begin.

For more about Anwar Awlaki and other American jihadists, check out J.M. Berger's new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, on sale everywhere.

Labels: , , , , ,

Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



Tweets referencing this post:



", 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


INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


Newest posts!

Declassified State Department Cables On Al Qaeda-L...

The Utility of Lone Wolves, Or Lack Thereof

Well, Is Al Qaeda Winning Or Not?

BloggingHeads: J.M. Berger and Daveed Gartenstein-...

Documents Seen In Secrets of 9/11 And More

Unedited Abu Suleiman Interview

An Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al ...

Hyping The Terrorist Internet: The "You Name It" P...

Finding A Way Forward For CVE

Oklahoma City Bombing: FBI Informants Reported on ...


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