Al-Qaeda is creating its most powerful stronghold ever in north-west Syria at a time when world attention is almost entirely focused on the impending defeat of Isis in the east of the country. It has established full control of Idlib province and of a vital Syrian-Turkish border crossing since July. “Idlib Province is the largest... Read More
On Friday, the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, used his first trip abroad to present Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef with the CIA’s highest award for fighting terrorism, the George Tenet Medal. Although the ceremony wasn’t covered by any of the major media, it was picked up on various blogsites where the... Read More
They have done it again. The US, Britain and regional allies led by Saudi Arabia have come together to intervene in another country with calamitous results. Instead of achieving their aims, they have produced chaos, ruining the lives of millions of people and creating ideal conditions for salafi-jihadi movements like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. The... Read More
The Islamist group is receiving support from Sunni tribes, and offering a sanctuary for Western jihadists such as the...
Al-Qaeda in Yemen is becoming more powerful because it provides the troops for a Sunni community that feels under increasing threat from a Shia insurgency that has seized much of the country. Its increased strength has nothing to do with foreign jihadists like Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who killed 12 people in Paris last weekand... Read More
Exhaustion could end Syria's bloody civil conflict, so long as foreign backers really want it
It has been a good week for those who like their hypocrisy neat and straight from the bottle. There was US Secretary of State John Kerry condemning the Syrian presidential election in which Bashar al-Assad was re-elected for a third time against nominal opposition as "a great big zero". But at the same time, the... Read More
Our foreign correspondent's investigation into the jihadi resurgence
Twelve and a half years after 9/11, al-Qa’ida-type organisations control an area the size of Britain in western Iraq and eastern Syria. Include Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia and the territory they rule is larger in size than the UK. What is so extraordinary – and blameworthy – is that this vast expansion of jihadist groups... Read More
In the final part of his series, Patrick Cockburn explains how Sunni fundamentalist groups are successfully winning...
Since 9/11, the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ have justified their mass interception of their citizens’ private communications by claiming that this helps them to identify “terrorists”. At the same time, the US Treasury has made great efforts to detect and block financial donations to al-Qa’ida-type movements across the world. But, given... Read More
In the fourth of his series about the resurgence of al-Qa’ida, Patrick Cockburn examines how Islamists have turned the...
Just after the sarin poison gas attacks on rebel-held districts of Damascus in August last year, I appeared on an American television programme with Razan Zaitouneh, a human rights lawyer and founder of the Violations Documentation Centre, who was speaking via Skype from the opposition stronghold of Douma in East Damascus. She gave a compelling,... Read More
In the third part of his series, Patrick Cockburn looks at the growing influence of Isis, al-Qa’ida’s force in Iraq,...
Events in Iraq are not always what they seem: take two occurrences over the past year illustrating the difference between appearance and the reality in Iraq. The first event took place outside Fallujah after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, aided by tribal militias, took over... Read More
The role of Saudi Arabia as the jihadists’ greatest ally – will the kingdom be forced to change tack in the face of...
It is a chilling five-minute film made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), showing its fighters stopping three large trucks on what looks like the main highway linking Syria and Iraq. A burly bearded gunmen takes the ID cards of the drivers who stand nervously in front of him. “You are... Read More
In 2014 al-Qa’ida-type groups are numerous and powerful… In other words, the ‘war on terror’ has demonstrably failed
It is now 12-and-a-half years since the September 11 attacks that put al-Qa’ida firmly on the map of global terrorism. The US has spent billions of dollars on its ‘war on terror’ to counter the threat and succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden three years ago. And yet al-Qa’ida-type groups are arguably stronger than ever... Read More
How did al-Qaida, a tiny anti-Communist group in Afghanistan that had no more than 200 active members in 2001 become a supposed worldwide threat? How can al-Qaida be all over the Mideast, North Africa, and now much of black Africa? This after the US spent over $1 trillion trying to stamp out al-Qaida in Afghanistan... Read More
The White House is pushing hard to keep a significant number of American soldiers in Afghanistan contrary to President Barack Obama’s earlier pledge to have then all out by the end of 2014. As the United States President has demonstrated himself to be a habitual liar that failure to connect promises made in 2008 with... Read More
It was 12 years ago today. Historians will register that, according to the official narrative, 19 Arabs armed with box cutters and minimal flying skills pledged to a transnational Terror Inc turned jets into missiles to attack the US homeland, fooling the most elaborate defense system on Earth. Fast forward to 2013. Here's a 15-second... Read More
When the going gets tough, count on the Ministry of Truth to get going. The end of Ramadan was imminent. The jihadi chattering classes of that fuzzy entity, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), went on overdrive. It was jailbreak galore from Libya to Pakistan via Iraq. And all this in perfect synch with two... Read More
Hi, my name is Mostafa and I'll be your moderate insurgent today. I'm addressing you all because we badly need your help. We could have started a Facebook page, like We Need Your Weapons or something, or ask the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to make a YouTube video, but I prefer to speak straight... Read More
PARIS - And now some breaking news coming from the Islamic Emirate of Syriastan. This program is brought to you by the NATOGCC corporation. Please also tune in for a word from our individual sponsors, the United States government, Britain, France, Turkey, the House of Saud and the Emir of Qatar. It all started early... Read More
And the winner of the Oscar for Best Sequel of 2013 goes to... The Global War on Terror (GWOT), a Pentagon production. Abandon all hope those who thought the whole thing was over with the cinematographic snuffing out of "Geronimo", aka Osama bin Laden, further reduced to a fleeting cameo in the torture-enabling flick Zero... Read More
NEW YORK - In David Cronenberg's awesome Cosmopolis (France/Canada, 2012), based on the homonymous novel by Don DeLillo, young billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattison) slowly cruises New York in his white limo, installed in a cushy leather throne with incrusted screens. He feels … nothing; he essentially sucks up the world into his own inertia.... Read More
Once upon a time, early in the previous century, a line in the sand was drawn, from Acre to Kirkuk. Two colonial powers - Britain and France - nonchalantly divided the Middle East between themselves; everything north of the line in the sand was France's; south, it was Britain's. Many blowbacks - and concentric tragedies... Read More
His name is Abdelhakim Belhaj. Some in the Middle East might have, but few in the West and across the world would have heard of him. Time to catch up. Because the story of how an al-Qaeda asset turned out to be the top Libyan military commander in still war-torn Tripoli is bound to shatter... Read More
It may be comforting to learn - once again thanks to WikiLeaks - that the United States State Department knows as much as any AfPak informed observer has known for years; that private donors, non-governmental organizations, madrassas and businesses from Saudi Arabia are ATMs for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. But... Read More
Anyone aware enough to think that Washington's goal is not to "win" the unwinnable AfPak quagmire but to keep playing its bloody infinite war game forever is now eligible for a personal stimulus package (in gold). Let's review the recent evidence. All of a sudden, the White House, the Pentagon and the United States House... Read More
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it … For the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state. - Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels On the same day that United States... Read More
One may be tempted to evaluate American foreign policy as concocted by some deviant disciple of cinema exploitation genius Russ Meyer - of Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill! fame - minus the profusion of breasts, of course. And so as that self-appointed court stenographer Bob Woodward reveals in his latest court opus Obama's Wars - conveniently... Read More