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Al-Nusra Front: Breaking al-Qaeda's Forum Monopoly
By Rita Katz and Margaret Foster

A recent move by al-Qaeda's wing in Syria, the al-Nusra Front, illustrates again the importance of social media for the global jihadi movement and its effect on the evolution in jihadi online platforms.

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As Shabaab gunmen continue to besiege the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, taking dozens of hostages and killing at least 39 people and injuring 293 others, the incident marks the culmination of over two years of threats to the Kenyan government regarding the war in Somalia.

woolwichAftermath of attack in Woolwich, London / Credit: ITV

Although it is not yet clear what motivated the beheading of a man believed to be a soldier outside of the Woolwich barracks in London, the incident, which is being treated as an apparent terrorist attack, is reflective of al-Qaeda's incitement for lone-wolf strikes against soldiers in Western countries.

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Syrian Jihad: The Weakening of al-Qaeda's Leadership
By Rita Katz and Adam Raisman

In an unexpected and unprecedented turn of events, al-Qaeda members and jihadists from all over the world who embrace the ideology of global jihad are now doubting the group's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and calling for his removal.

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The August 14, 2013, clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of Mohamed Morsi have reinvigorated calls amongst jihadis for the establishment of armed jihadi groups in the country.

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The suspects behind the bombings during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, Chechen brothers Djohar (Dzhokhar) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, both maintained social networking accounts, one on the microblogging website Twitter, and the other on the video sharing site YouTube.

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Three days after al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri called for attacks on U.S. interests in response to its military engagements in the Muslim world and its drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen in particular, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert about the terror group potentially launching operations in the Middle East and North Africa.

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The al-Nusra Front reported on a clash in which its fighters and those from three other jihadi factions repelled a Syrian army advance in the Jabal al-Turkman mountains in Syria's northern Latakia province on March 3, 2013.

Similarities in Tactics in Major Attacks on Western Targets in 2013: A Look at Tigantourine and Westgate

By Rita Katz and Margaret Foster

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Two of the most high-profile jihadi attacks during 2013 displayed a striking similarity in targets and tactics, raising the possibility that the attacks are on the vanguard of an emerging trend in jihadi operations.

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The revelations by Edward Snowden about PRISM, a NSA-operated national security electronic surveillance program, and that the agency used it to gather data from Google, Facebook, Paltalk and other sites, came as little surprise to jihadists, who for the past decade have tried to stay two steps ahead of monitoring...


{Image: UN bomber and Boko Haram member Mohammed Abdul Barra
Source: AMEF}

On August 26, 2011, a suicide bomber detonated his car bomb outside of the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital city, Abuja. The attack destroyed several floors of the building and killed at least 23 people. 

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After years of threatening Hezbollah and Iranian interests in Lebanon, and solely claiming responsibility for attacks outside the country, the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam took credit for the November 19, 2013, twin suicide bombings near the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

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The controversy between al-Qaeda's branches in Iraq and Syria took an unexpected turn on the night of June 14, 2013, when an audio message surfaced from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)...

The arrest and recent conviction of Filiz Gelowicz in Germany once again illustrates the strong ties online jihadists have with actual jihadist groups.

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The Shabaab al-Mujahideen's attack and four-day-long siege at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya demonstrated a new trend in al-Qaeda's online media strategies, as online communication from the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia was routed exclusively through social media sites.

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On June 1, 2013, the eleventh issue of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP’s) English-language magazine, Inspire, was released to jihadist forums...

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Three days prior to the February 5 explosion near the Arish-Ashkelon gas pipeline in Egypt, the SITE Intelligence Group advised its subscribers that jihadists were discussing targeting the pipeline on the jihadist Shumukh al-Islam forum, a password-protected website affiliated with al-Qaeda.