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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Fears of Intelligence Penetration of the GIMF

By Stephen Ulph

The fallout from the arrests of Saudi mujahideen following the Abqaiq attack and the suspicions of penetration of the al-Hesbah forum by intelligence agents (Terrorism Focus, April 11) continues to concern the jihadi forum participants. Under the present state of heightened alarm, the latest organization to come under scrutiny is none other than the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), a source of much of the materials detailing the operations, statements and policies of al-Qaeda.

The announcement by the GIMF that it was soon to distribute a number of new features elicited an interesting response on the Tajdeed jihadi forum (http://www.tajdeed.org.uk). One participant signing himself "al-Mushtaq lil-Janna" commented that "almost every day brings a new indication of the penetration of the Saudis of this [Global Islamic Media] Front." Arguing on April 14 that the GIMF's open registration at its launch allowed for "God knows who" to join—including Saudi intelligence agents—he highlighted the GIMF's distribution of a video last March entitled Dima' Lan Tadi' (blood that will not be lost), which features the testament of "one of the al-Qaeda leaders in the Arabian Peninsula" Fahd bin Faraj al-Juweir (Terrorism Focus, March 21). This video, al-Mushtaq believes, was posted by a Saudi agent. As evidence, he notes the July 5, 2005 article in al-Sharq al-Awsat in which the photo of al-Juweir sitting at the wheel of a lorry is the same as that found on the video of his testament, and the same as the one published by the Saudi government as part of their wanted list of militant mujahideen.

The article described how Saudi security had distributed the photograph to send the message "do not attempt to drive this lorry again," and had refused to give details on how the photograph was obtained. Al-Mushtaq's argument is that the testament of al-Juweir had been in the possession of Saudi intelligence for a long time, the tape having fallen into their hands following a raid. Saudi security was thus, via the newspaper article, "informing him that they had a copy of his testament and were warning him against his planned suicide operation." Al-Juweir was slain during a two-hour gunfight that took place in the Saudi capital Riyadh on February 27 this year, three days after having led the failed attempt on the Abqaiq (Buqayq) oil facilities (Terrorism Focus, March 7).

The second installment of the film Dima' Lan Tadi', which features the testament of Sultan bin Bajad al-Utaybi (Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Athari), strengthens the case according to al-Mushtaq. Al-Utaybi (also spelled Al-Otaibi) was famous for his call in November 2004 for those who are unable to "join the caravan of the jihad" to kill Westerners as such. An attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah the following month was widely regarded as a response to this call (Terrorism Focus, December 9, 2004). Al-Mushtaq notes that the photograph of al-Utaybi that the Saudi government distributed at the time, as part of a list of seven of the 26 suspects on the "wanted list," was "obtained from a collection of testaments and illustrated recordings that fell into their hands following some raids." This image, he observes, was the same as the one appearing in the film recently published by the GIMF, excerpts of which were aired on April 20 by the Dubai-based al-Arabiya satellite channel. As evidence that the tapes, which the GIMF claimed to have received from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, "had in fact been in the hands of Saudi intelligence for some considerable time," he cites the online magazine Sawt al-Jihad which stated as much (Sawt al-Jihad, August 2004).

Al-Mushtaq's analysis is unequivocal: Saudi intelligence "penetrated the Front, supplied these tapes as if coming from al-Qaeda," and sought to gain credibility for the GIMF "thinking that after such a long time there would be no one left of al-Qaeda in the Peninsula to deny that [GIMF] obtained the tapes from them."

The same goes for the promised forthcoming tape on the imprisoned Sheikh Hamad al-Humaydi, "again one of the tapes Saudi intelligence obtained following his arrest after the [April 3, 2005] raid at al-Rass" (Terrorism Focus, April 28, 2005). As for the GIMF's mooted future text publications, al-Mushtaq dismisses these as "merely a collection of essays from some writers on [online magazines] Sawt al-Jihad and al-Battar, which anyone could make." Al-Mushtaq predicts that the GIMF will go on producing more of the same: "I expect that they will be accompanied by photos, especially those of the seven [slain with al-Utaybi last February 27], since their testaments have been with the Saudi intelligence for some time, as we have demonstrated."

As to why the Saudis would seek to distribute these pro-jihadist materials on the internet like this, al-Mushtaq has no doubts: "The aim…is to gain credibility for the GIMF, since for the generality the source of their tapes is believed to be the Organization of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, so everyone puts their trust in it for communicating their future operational plans" (http://www.tajdeed.org.uk).
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