Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" and Iraq Report are brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. TOP TOPICS * Zubayr al-Rimi, a Saudi al-Qaeda operative who is the subject of a worldwide FBI manhunt, has been killed in a gun battle in Saudi Arabia with two associates. Al-Rimi is the top deputy of Ali Abd al-Ghamdi, the mastermind of the Riyadh bombings. * El Al 2, al-Qaeda 0. Thai authorities have thwarted a plot to either shoot down or blow up an Israeli airliner in Bangkok. This can be seen as a potential follow-up to the Mombasa bombing in November 2002 and fits with al-Qaeda's modus operandi of recycling failed plots to be used later. * The brother of al-Qaeda leader Hanbali (see Special Analysis) has been arrested in Pakistan with 16 associates. They are all suspected of membership in Jemaah Islamiyyah, al-Qaeda's Southeast Asian arm. Other Topics Today Include: Iran Reports; more intrigue at Guantanamo Bay; al-Qaeda in desperation in the US; the terror network's spinal problems; Hanbali's successor; an arrest warrant for the Sahara kidnapper; more fighting in Algeria; Taliban bases in Pakistan; MMA ranting in Baluchistan; Saudi foot-dragging on terror financiers, Mullah Omar's latest war council; Afghan women learning to defend themselves; the Venezuelan recall; Chechens targeting schoolchildren; US bases in Africa; and a smuggler with snakes in his pants!
IRAN REPORTS: * Russia is hardening its stance towards Iran in response to the IAEA deadline. To quote Putin, "If Iran is not striving to develop nuclear weapons, it has nothing to hide." * Meanwhile, other members of the Iranian government are not so understanding. Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati is calling on Iran to withdraw from the NPT altogether. As Jannati is a member of the Guardian Council, an extremely powerful body within the Iranian government, this makes his opinion a very powerful one in Tehran. * Iran is now displaying its new Shahab-3 missiles with great fanfare and calls to wipe Israel off the map. Also, read Khatami's comments rather carefully and one can understand why the US has shifted away from regarding him as a moderate. * In an effort to placate Canadian concerns over the murder of journalist Zahra Kazemi, Iran has charged an intelligence agent with "semi-premediated" murder. This appears to be a compromise deal between the reformists and the hardliners over who the fall guy is. * India appears to be playing a balancing act between its strategy of encircling Pakistan and its desire to maintain alliances with the US, Israel, and Turkey. * All is not well in Islamic Jihad, one of Iran's many terrorist organizations. According to various reports, the group may well be in the middle of its worst crisis ever after the resignation of its spiritual leader. One can only hope. U.S.A HOMELAND SECURITY BRIEFING * The Guantanamo Bay espionage probe seems to be a gift that keeps on giving. While the chaplain who was initially arrested was said to have ties to radical Muslims in the US, now Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi is being charged with espionage. * Two interesting anecdotes to the Guantanamo espionage case. The first is that at least two al-Qaeda leaders, Abderrazak and Mullah Fuad, were in Damascus sometime in March, so Yee could have met with them. Another point is that the story on al-Halabi mentions that a possible destination for the material he gathered was Qatar. The Qatari Interior Minister, Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, is known ally of al-Qaeda and has been for nearly half a decade. * The FBI is warning that while significant damage has been inflicted against al-Qaeda, the terrorist network may try to attack the United States in an act of desperation. THE WIDER WAR * Germany's spy chief, August Hanning, is warning that al-Qaeda's spine is still intact. On a pleasant note, Reuters has altered their standard editing policy to reflect that al-Qaeda "has boasted of carrying out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States." * Azahari Husin, Hanbali's successor as the leader of Jemaah Islamiyyah, is planning more attacks with Noordin Mohammed Top, the organization's new treasurer. * Germany has issued an arrest warrant for Abderrazak al-Para, the nom de guere of GSPC commander Amari Saifi. Meanwhile, the fighting in Algeria is continuing with 9 soldiers being killed by the GIA and a skirmish in Skikda that left 3 dead and the killing of a former member of the GSPC by the terrorist organization. The Algerian military also killed 15 GSPC fighters and freed more than 30 civilians being held hostage by the group. * The recent Taliban attacks in Afghanistan appear to have been planned from Pakistan according to intercepted phone calls. Meanwhile, the Baluchistan parliament of one of the two provinces has called for an end to Pakistani military operations in the northern regions of the country. Perhaps the two are related ... * Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, is less than happy with Saudi efforts to cut al-Qaeda's financing. I don't think she's alone in this regard either ... * Meanwhile,
unemployed potenate cyclopsean Taliban leader Mullah Omar has reportedly called upon his followers to increase attacks against the Afghan government. Maybe he saw a different version of the Battle of Zabul than I did ...
* Meanwhile in the new Afghanistan, Mullah Omar's worst nightmare appears to be coming true - the nation's women are learning how to defend themselves.
* The California recall may be ongoing, but another (and arguably more important) battle is going on in Venezuela right over over that very same topic. Why should we care about whether Chavez stays or goes? For one thing, he has some rather interesting friends we might do well to keep tabs on. And then there's always stories like this that do nothing to improve one's opinion of him.
* In a recent demonstration of their wonderful regard for human life, Chechen terrorists rebels attempted to target Chechen schoolchildren.
* Africapundit notes that the US is setting up shop in Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. One might note the proximity of these countries to Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Nigeria, where al-Qaeda bases were reportedly set up during the summer of 2002.
* We try to close on a lighter note if possible. An Australian wildlife smuggler was recently stopped by customs officials while trying to smuggle eight snakes - in his pants. Four king cobras died during the attempt. (JK: I really, really hope none of those snakes had one eye)