Jordan – On the 2 Feb 14 Islamist prisoners in Jordan, including several prominent figures linked to al-Qaeda, began a hunger strike to protest about jail conditions. Among the 120 hunger strikers are radical cleric Abu Qatada, who was deported from Britain in Jul 13 after a lengthy legal battle, and Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a leading al Qaeda thinker. The strike began after prison authorities did not meet demands the prisoners issued last week for better access to lawyers and family members, speedier trials and an end to alleged mistreatment and torture during interrogation. “They have totally rejected the meals and food provided by the state until their demands for better treatment are met,” Sheikh Saad Huneity, a Jordanian Salafi jihadist leader who has previously spent years in detention, told a prominent news agency. Jordan has stepped up arrests of Islamists along its border with Syria in recent months, detaining scores of people trying to cross over to join jihadist groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
Lebanon – On the 2 Feb 14 a shadowy Lebanese extremist group has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing in a Shiite town that killed at least three people. “The Nusra Front in Lebanon” said on Twitter that the bombing in the northeast town of Hermel on the 1 Feb 14 was to punish the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which fights alongside forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. It is the third bombing that the Nusra Front in Lebanon claimed responsibility for in the country. A series of bombings have targeted Shiite Muslims in Lebanon as Hezbollah's participation in the Syrian war exacerbates sectarian tensions at home. Extremist Lebanese Sunni Muslims now view their Shiite brethren as legitimate targets because they support Hezbollah.
Syria – Al-Qaeda's general command has disavowed all links with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to a statement posted online. The statement, published late on the 2 Feb 14 reiterated a previous peremptory statement in which the group's chief Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered ISIL to disband and return to Iraq, and adding that Jabhat al-Nusra was al-Qaeda's official branch in Syria. "Al-Qaeda announces it is not linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as it was not informed of its creation and did not accept it," read Sunday's statement, which criticised ISIL's mode of operations. ISIL "is not a branch of al-Qaeda, has no links to it, and the al-Qaeda group is not responsible for its acts," it added. "We affirm our disavowal from the sedition that is occurring in Syria between factions of jihadists, and from the blood that was shed by any party," it said. In recent weeks, ISIL consolidated its grip on the northern city of Raqa, the only provincial capital to fall out of regime control since the outbreak of Syria's uprising in Mar 11, imposing their strict version of Sharia law on residents. ISIL also issued four statements ordering women to wear the niqab in public, forbidding the sale of cigarettes and narghile (water pipe) products, banning music and making attendance of Friday prayers compulsory. The fighting has undermined the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and dismayed Western powers pushing for peace talks.
The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has formed two female battalions in Syria’s northern city of Raqqah it was reported on 2 Feb 14. The battalions were reportedly launched as part of ISIS’ efforts to “expose male activists who disguise in women’s clothing to avoid detention when stopping at the ISIS checkpoints.” The battalions were named “Al-Khansaa” and “Umm al-Rayan,” opposition websites reported, adding that the ISIS had set conditions for females to be able to join; they must be single and aged between 18 and 25. The opposition added that each woman will receive a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian liras, less than $200, adding that these women must only work with the organization. The battalions’ patrols roamed Raqqah’s streets and set up check points to search female passersby. Opposition leader Ibrahim Moslem said the ISIS learnt that “activists who oppose the group are dressing in burkas like women to pass unharmed at checkpoints. Establishing female battalions was the only solution (for the ISIS) to stop this. The organization’s (men) cannot search women but now that these battalions have been established, it can.”
The jihadist group the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been attempting to mend fences with other Islamist groups in Syria that it previously attacked. This follows its rejection by al Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri recently. Its representatives signed a non-aggression agreement with a fellow jihadist fighting group, known as Suqour al-Sham. The agreement calls for "an immediate halt to fighting between the sides and no assault by either side on the other in any way". It also urges that any disagreements between the groups be referred to an Islamic court. Possibly the largest consequence of disassociation from al Qaida might be loss of funds and recruitment. One question is how much does ISIL rely on resources channelled from Zawahiri who remains in western Pakistan. A second question is who finances ISIL if Zawahiri does not. Jihad and terrorism require money and the resources money buys. The two vulnerable points in a systems analysis of every terrorist group are recruits and logistics, primarily finances. Most intelligence resources and funds are devoted to coping with the spear point. The greatest vulnerability of terrorist groups, however, resides in the spear shaft. A terrorist group is an extrusion sub-system of a living system that depends on 19 other supporting sub-systems to enable it to survive. Its support sub-systems are its greatest vulnerabilities because the terrorist fighters seem to believe their supporting infrastructure requires little security. So who supplies recruits and finances for ISIL, working backwards from the battlefield to the sources? (KGS Night-Watch 5 Feb 14)
Yemen – Three large explosions had been detonated in Yemen's capital Sanaa along with a fire fight, close to the defence ministry, the central bank and the former president's home it was reported on the 3 Feb 14.The third explosion occurred near the house of the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The blast near Saleh's home appeared to have been caused by an implanted explosive device in the area. In another indication of the growing unrest in the country, a mortar round was fired overnight in the direction of the French embassy while a car bomb exploded metres away in Sanaa's diplomatic quarter. Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a British national on the 3 Feb 14 it was also reported and was thought to be the second westerner kidnapping in recent days. Witnesses reported that four armed men forced the man out of his car and into a waiting vehicle in the Hadda district of the capital city of Sanaa. These reports may show an early Spring offensive by terrorists in the country. However, the kidnappings in the country appear to be a new wave of terrorism. Unfortunately there is no real evidence or information as to what is happening with the captives.