” …Many brothers from Yemen, Southern Saudi [Arabia] and beyond want to troop out to Somalia, but fear the enemy’s control of the sea, which is one of the important points jihadis must control,” says a participant in an Islamist forum.
He was joining the talkback chorus sparked by a statement appearing recently under the heading: “Naval Terrorism, a Strategic Necessity.” in the Jihad Press, an e-journal affiliated with al Qaeda.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources report that the piece was republished by other Islamist media outlets and eagerly picked up by several forums popular among extremists.
Most urged naval terror attacks to start in Yemen, which is divided from the Horn of Africa and Somali by the Gulf of Aden, and point to the ease with which Somali pirates have been preying on sea craft in surrounding waters.
The writers have nothing but praise for the 9/11 attack, the Madrid bombings of March 2004, the 2005 attack on the London transport system and the bombing of the Egyptian resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh in July 2005. They now call for naval terrorism to be the next phase of “the struggle” in order to attain control of the sea and sea lanes, beginning with the passages around the Arabian Peninsula because, they argue, it is the junction of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and commands the Red Sea and the Mandab Strait which opens out into the Indian Ocean.
The Jihad Press claims “the Crusaders” bought a number of Yemeni islands to meet “the mujahedeen” threat to Yemeni coastal areas.
(DEBKA-Net-Weekly notes this is not a total fabrication. The United States has been exploring the availability of strategic islands around the Yemeni coast and at the point where the Persian Gulf flows into the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean as sites for bases.)
The first raids have begun, according to the article: In Yemen, al Qaeda succeeded in striking at “Crusader targets” twice: The first attack, carried out by a small boat full of explosives, was on the USS Cole in October 2000; a second “naval” suicide attack by an explosives-laden boat ruptured both hulls of the French oil tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen in 2002.
The Jihad Press deems it essential to take the battle to the sea “now that the final fight to subdue the enemy is closing in.” When the mujahideen have won the final battle they will impose on the Crusaders and Zionists an unconditional withdrawal from Muslim countries, leaving behind the weapons they brought to kill Muslims.
Jihadi forum contributors hailed the new strategy and called for marine training programs to be initiated for maritime mujahedeen. They assert that free navigation is critically important to the U.S. economy and must be disrupted.
The fact that many key sea passages, such as the Suez Canal and the Bosphorus, Mandab and Gibraltar Straits, are surrounded by, or in the vicinity of, Islamic countries and the low cost of perpetrating naval attacks – only a few thousand dollars were needed to attack the multi-million dollar USS Cole – makes “naval jihad” a potentially serious terror threat. As Somalia’s pirates have shown, lightly-armed groups in small motorboats can easily disrupt shipping in the region.