March, 27th, 2013 - Some of you have asked me whether the Abottabad document that surfaced in a trial here recently and that I have reported about last week had been declassified. I do assume that the U.S. government had to declassify it in some way or another, at least technically, so as to be able to share it with a foreign government. But I am not familiar with U.S. procedures.
However, as far as Germany is concerned, court documents aren't usually made available by the authorities here, and this document hasn't. It is therefor not in the public domain in this country. It was talked about abstractly in the court room, though (I wasn't at the trial in Düsseldorf. But I gather that this must have been the case from some of the reporting from there.)
Be that as it may, since some of you are experts in the field and as such also interested in details, I am happy to share a few more points mentioned in this letter by Abu Yunis al-Mauretani to Osama Bin Laden. They are not as exciting, naturally, as what I ran in my original report. But maybe some of it relates to a question or two some of you might be working on.
I will do this is a short list of bullet points. But please bear in mind that this does not represent the chronological order or any other order of the actual letter. The document in question somewhat jumps between points, spheres, places and times, so I feel it is justifiable to impose another kind of order on it.
1.- When al-Mauretani speaks about his plan to have a group of recruits ready to go back to the West and take up work there, he names the following areas of expertise as examples: "Research and Study", Business, Infiltration, secure recruitment, organizing training. So these are categories important to him. It is not entirely clear, however, whether he is talking about actual or imagined recruits possessing those capabilities.
2.- Repeatedly, he makes it clear that the recruits he is talking about will need time to settle in or find the positions appropriate for their later task. This is clearly a mid term to long term scheme he is discussing. I don't like the term, but what he really seems to be describing is how he plans to plant "sleepers" in the West.
3.- Al-Mauretani seems to be hinting at Africa as being the place where recruits would (and perhaps re-group) go if something went wrong along the way. In this context he also mentions the Shabaab, making it sound as if there existed (at the time) working relations betweens them and AQc. But again: This passage is not entirely lucid.
4.- As far as finances go, al-Mauretani makes an interesting hint in that he talks about plans to start companies, preferably in "remote and poor African states" that are far away from conflict. He even suggests bribing government officials. The backdrop of this idea partly seems to be that al-Mauretani feels that in Arab states the security institutions are too aware and too alert.
5.- Al-Mauretani talks a lot about maritime terrorism and underwater targets or targets in the oceans. But interestingly he also says that there is a huge black market in the open seas and that he would like AQ to profit from it.
6.- Al-Mauretani in one passage makes an interesting distinction between those recruits who are "willing to assume martyrdom (shahada)" and those who aren't. He evens mentions a "commission for martyr operations".
7.- In regard to Abu Yahya al-Libi, back then one of AQ's most important cadres and responsible to a large degree for all things theological and ideological, he says: Abu Yahya will "decide personally about an appropriate place" to be at, or will task a third person with finding such a place. I find this interesting as it tells us a little bit about the degree of autonomy of top leadership as regards their whereabouts in the face of drones.
8.- Al-Mauretani suggests that there was still a degree of book keeping happening between AQc and the branches at the time.
9.- He also names as one aim the plan to undermine certain Western policies like "We will not negociate with terrorists". He says that the West did just do that in hostage situations in the Maghreb. And this policy will become obsolete one companies would one day directly negotiate with "us".
Ok, that's it for tonight. Good night. Y.