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Al-Qaeda Calls for Targeting U.S. Rail Network, Publishes Detailed Operational Guide for Derailing Trains

In Al-Qaeda, Archive, Terrorism on August 14, 2017 at 10:46 AM

LeakSource Note: This information is being published because we believe withholding this material from the public only endangers them more. Terrorists and government officials shouldn’t be the only ones aware of future attacks these groups plan to carry out. The public has a right to know so that they can take necessary precautions, instead of becoming unknowing victims because of secrecy and censorship.

08/14/2017

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is encouraging followers in the West to carry out new mass casualty attacks, providing an in-depth tutorial on how to derail trains and listing dozens of ‘vulnerable’ train routes in the U.S. as example targets.

Issue 17 of the terror group’s Inspire Magazine includes several articles detailing railways in the West and the dependency of economies such as the U.S. on the efficiency of the railroad for passenger travel and the transportation of goods.

One introductory article cites a GAO (Government Accountability Office) highlighting the vulnerabilities faced by U.S. railways that total over 100,000 miles in length and citing the transportation of hazardous materials to be of particular concern. Also noted in the report is the 5.6 million daily commuters on the NY subway.

An article entitled “Train Derail Operations,” urges jihadis to seize upon the vulnerabilities of the rail system, especially the lengthy unguarded tracks in the U.S., France and the U.K. and to place obstacles that will cause trains to derail, striking fear in the hearts of the West as well as weakening their economies.

“O Mujahideen, it is time that we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their Air transportation. Continue to bleed the American economy to more losses, increase the psychological warfare and make it worry, fear and weaken much more,” the article states.

An elaborate tutorial spanning 19 pages contains detailed instructions on how to assemble a “homemade derail tool,” as well as the best place to position it. Industrial uses for derail tools or “wedges” include unauthorized movement of trains of faulty breaks.

The tutorial instructs users on how to create a cardboard and Styrofoam scale model, which can then be used to build the contraption built with a mixture of steel and concrete, laid out in a six-part step-by-step tutorial.

The guide warns the ‘lone wolf’ to study train schedules carefully and place the obstacle close to the time a train passes by, as rail inspection cars are often deployed to inspect railways for wear and tear.

The simplicity of the device’s design (no explosives required) as well as the notion that such an attack is not a martyrdom operation, but rather one that can be repeated over and over again are listed by the writer as advantages over other forms of lone-wolf attacks.

A map of U.S. railroads also appears and some of the main passenger routes are highlighted.

Inspire Magazine has been published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with issues going back to 2010. Much of the magazine’s attack focus has been labelled “open source jihad,” step-by-step guides advising would-be jihadis on how to carry out terror attacks, often with materials or equipment readily available. Past issues have included a summer 2010 edition with details on how to build a pressure cooker bomb and a fall 2010 edition encouraging “car ramming” attacks.

There has been some debate in the past over the authenticity of Inspire Magazine as an authentic Al Qaeda publication. The U.S. government deems the connection to Al Qaeda plausible and in 2013 launched a cyber attack to disrupt the magazine’s publication

PDF (26MB)

 

h/t Lisa Daftari/TheForeignDesk

 

AQIM Releases South African Hostage Stephen McGown After Almost 6 Years; $4.2 Million Ransom Paid

In Al-Qaeda, AQIM, Archive, Mali, South Africa, Terrorism on August 3, 2017 at 10:56 AM

08/03/2017

NYTimes:

A South African tourist who was abducted nearly six years ago from an inn in Timbuktu, Mali, by the North African branch of Al Qaeda has been freed, officials said on Thursday.

The tourist, Stephen Malcolm McGown, 42, was the last of the “Timbuktu Three,” who were abducted on Nov. 25, 2011, to be released: A Dutch citizen was rescued in a French commando raid in 2015, and a Swedish man was released in June.

 

Militants released a video showing six captives, including Mr. McGown, last month, before a visit to Mali by President Emmanuel Macron of France. Mr. McGown also holds a British passport.

Mr. McGown’s lengthy captivity had become a cause célèbre in South Africa, but his freedom came at a price: A retired European intelligence official said on Thursday that 3.5 million euros (about $4.2 million) had been paid.

The retired official, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said that the payment was negotiated through an intermediary, Gift of the Givers Foundation, a South African charity that had campaigned for Mr. McGown’s release, and that it was paid by an undercover agent working for French security services in the Adrar des Iforas mountains, a massif in the deserts of northern Mali where Qaeda militants have held hostages.

“It was an operation managed by France and South African intelligence through an intermediary,” the former official said.

 

South Africa’s foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who announced Mr. McGown’s release at a news conference in Pretoria on Thursday, responded vaguely when a reporter asked her whether a ransom had been paid.

“The South African government does not subscribe to payment of ransoms,” she said. “That’s why I focused on the work we have been doing in the past six years: campaigning, engaging with governments, and with the captors the way we know how. That’s what we have been doing. And that’s what we can confirm.”

Ms. Nkoana-Mashabane, the foreign minister, declined on Thursday to discuss the condition of Mr. McGown, now back in South Africa. “Is he receiving the necessary support — the requisite for any South African citizen who had gone through this very, very painful experience? The answer is yes,” she said.

A New York Times tally of ransoms collected by Al Qaeda’s affiliates conducted in 2014 found that the group had taken in at least $125 million, with $66 million paid just in 2013.

Unlike the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, Al Qaeda has tended to see hostages as a product that it can monetize. Only a minority of its hostages have died while in custody, unlike those of the Islamic State, which both ransoms and regularly kills captives.

New Taliban Video of US/AU Hostages, Teachers King & Weekes; Asks Trump & Turnbull to Negotiate Release

In Afghanistan, Archive, Australia, Taliban, Terrorism, USA on July 5, 2017 at 6:49 AM

06/21/2017

The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday released a new hostage video of two professors they kidnapped from the American University in Kabul in August 2016.

Kevin King, a 60-year-old American, and Timothy John Weeks, an Australian 48-year-old, are shown against a brown background talking to camera.

In the video, King tells Trump: “Have mercy on me and get me out.” In a later comment he says “please do not send any commandos.”

Weeks then tells Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to “speak to the Taliban, negotiate with the Taliban. I know you are able to do this.”

Five gunmen dressed as Afghan military abducted the men last year from an SUV on a main road near the campus of their university in the Afghan capital.

The Taliban released the last video of the pair in January on YouTube, in which both pleaded with President Donald Trump to negotiate with the militants for their release.

In both videos, the location of their filming is unclear and so too are the precise dates that they were filmed. In the 13-minute January video, the pair again pleaded with Trump. “If we stay here for much longer, we will be killed. I don’t want to die here,” Weeks said. The Taliban requested that the U.S. release “prisoners” in return for the professors.

The risk of kidnap in the Afghan capital remains high for foreign nationals, particularly westerners, and many remain confined to Embassy buildings or secured residential compounds. In November, an Australian woman was kidnapped but her location is unknown.

In August 2016, another Australian woman, Kerry Jane Wilson, was released after being held for four months following her kidnap in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. The perpetrators of the kidnaps are unknown in both cases.

The Taliban is also holding American-Canadian couple Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman, kidnapping them in 2012 as they traveled in northern Afghanistan. The pair have two children born in captivity.

Unlike the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), which has posted gruesome execution videos of its hostages, the Taliban has appeared to be willing to accept ransom payments or prisoner swaps for the release of its captives.

The U.S. has engaged in prisoner swaps with the Taliban. In 2014, the Taliban-aligned Haqqani group released U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who famously told his story in the podcast Serial, in return for five Taliban prisoners.

Newsweek

Al-Qaeda Mali Branch Releases Proof of Life Video Showing 6 Foreign Hostages (ZA, AU, RO, CH, CO, FR)

In Al-Qaeda, Archive, Mali, Terrorism on July 3, 2017 at 3:45 PM

07/01/2017

AP:

An al-Qaida-linked group in Mali has released a proof-of-life video showing six foreign hostages, shortly before the French president arrived in the West African country for an anti-terror summit.

The recently formed Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen issued the video Saturday on Telegram. The video shows Stephen McGowan of South Africa, Elliot Kenneth Arthur of Australia, Iulian Ghergut of Romania, Beatrice Stockly of Switzerland, Gloria Cecilia Narvaez of Colombia and Sophie Petronin of France.

“No genuine negotiations have begun to rescue your children,” a narrator says.

The narrator also mentions the recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron, saying that Petronin “is hoping that the new French president will come to her rescue.”

Macron said he welcomed the first sign of life for several months from Petronin.

“These people are nothing,” he said of the extremists. “They are terrorists, thugs and assassins. And we will put all of our energies into eradicating them.”

Macron met Sunday in Mali with heads of state from five nations across Africa’s Sahel region to build support for a new 5,000-strong multinational force meant to counter extremists there. Deadly attacks in recent years in countries once considered relatively safe have alarmed the international community.

In March, a video announced the creation of Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen from a merger of three extremist groups: the al-Qaida-linked al-Mourabitoun, Ansar Dine and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for last month’s attack on a resort area popular with foreigners outside Mali’s capital that killed at least five people.

A number of the hostages in Mali have been held for years. Of the six shown in the video, McGowan was the earliest seized, abducted in 2011 from a hostel in Timbuktu. Narvaez, a nun, was the most recently seized, abducted in February near the border with Burkina Faso.

On Sunday, Colombia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that “knowing she is alive motivates us to keep working for her timely release.”

The video comes after Sweden’s government announced the release of Johan Gustafsson last Monday, who was held by Islamic extremists in Mali for six years.

UPDATE 08/03/2017: AQIM Releases South African Hostage Stephen McGown After Almost 6 Years; $4.2 Million Ransom Paid

FALSE FLAG 3.0?: Syrian “Rebels” Accuse Gov’t of Chlorine Gas Attack, Army Calls It Fabrication

In Archive, Syria, Terrorism on July 2, 2017 at 7:05 AM

07/01/2017

Reuters:

A Syrian rebel group accused the Syrian army of using chlorine gas against its fighters on Saturday in battles east of Damascus – an accusation the military swiftly denied as a fabrication.

The Failaq al-Rahman group said more than 30 people suffered suffocation as a result of the attack in Ain Tarma in the Eastern Ghouta region, which government forces have been battling to take back from insurgents.

In a statement circulated by state-run media, a military source said the army command completely denied the accusation. “It has not used any chemical weapons in the past, and will not use them at any time”.

The United States said on Wednesday the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared so far to have heeded a warning issued earlier in the week not to carry out a chemical weapons attack after saying it saw possible preparations for one.

Western governments including the United States say the Syrian government was behind an April gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens. In response, the United States fired cruise missiles at the air base from which it said the attack was launched.

The Syrian government has denied any role in that attack.

On Saturday the government also dismissed a report by the international chemical weapons watchdog that said the banned nerve agent sarin was used in the April attack in Khan Sheikhoun, saying it lacked “any credibility”.
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SANA:

The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces said that claims made by some websites affiliated with terrorist groups about the Syrian Arab Army using chlorine gas against terrorists from “Failaq al-Rahman” in Ein Tarma are false and baseless.

In a statement on Saturday evening, the General Command said that some websites affiliated with terrorist groups are reporting false and baseless news in which they claim that the Syrian Arab Army used chlorine gas against terrorists from the so-called Failaq al-Rahman in Ein Tarma the Eastern Ghouta area in Damascus Countryside.

The General Command refuted these claims part and parcel, affirming that it never used chemical weapons before and will never use them as it doesn’t even possess them, asserting that these lies and false narratives have become apparent to everyone and cannot fool anyone, as they are fabricated by the terrorist groups to justify their defeats and heavy losses whenever the Syrian Arab Army makes progress in an area.

An official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry affirmed on Thursday that Syria has disposed of its chemical program completely as specialized international organizations can attest, stressing that Syria does not possess any chemical weapons and denounces their use strongly in any place, for any purpose, and under any pretext, asserting that Syria has never used toxic chemicals since the beginning of the crisis and that it cooperated with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fully following its joining of the chemical weapons convention.
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Related Links:

Seymour Hersh Debunks Syria Chemical Attack False Flag 1.0 & 2.0

Nusra Preparing Sarin ‘Provocation’ in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun, Kefraya – Source – 07/02/2017

Terrorists in Syria to Stage Chemical Provocations to Justify US Strikes -Moscow – 07/06/2017

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