Al-Qaida's ‘Burqa Brigade’ formed to hit Western targets, even as Zawahiri exhorts kidnapping of Westerners
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Al-Qaida's ‘Burqa Brigade’ formed to hit Western targets, even as Zawahiri exhorts kidnapping of Westerners

Kabul : Afghanistan | Oct 29, 2012 at 10:16 AM PDT
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Al Qaida/Taliban recruits for the Burka Brigade.

Report By: Nina Rai

Afghanistan, Oct. 29, 2012

In a deadly two-prong strategy formulated by the al-Qaida think-tank, an all-women squad dubbed the ‘Burqa Brigade’ has been formed to target military bases and official buildings in Western nations, even as al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has exhorted Muslims to kidnap Westerners to be used for swapping "jihadists" jailed in the West.

The female burqa-clad (black-veiled) cadres are being trained by al-Qaida and Taliban (allegedly) to infiltrate and attack the enemy targets in the West as they are less likely to draw attention to themselves than their male counterparts.

The chilling film posted on the Web by the extremists depicts the women in traditional garb being taught how to wield dangerous weapons like machine guns, Kalashnikov assault rifles, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades during training sessions at an undisclosed location.

Apparently these women have been inducted into the squad from the volatile, conflict-ridden Russian republic of Chechnya. The British tabloid, The Sun reported on Sunday Oct. 27 that the Chechnyan women are being recruited by an al-Qaida linked group having its bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Emblazoned on the online videos is also the symbol of "Islam Awazi" (Voice of Islam), which is an al-Qaida linked terror organization based in Russia's Caucus region. It’s a matter of grave concern now for anti-terror authorities and experts.

Counter-terrorism authorities are well-aware that the rationale behind forming such all-female squad by the global terror outfits is that the women would be less likely to raise suspicion than men, and it will be relatively easier for them to slip through security barricades.

The latest report is raising concerns also because in recent times several women terrorists have been arrested in the West. In different countries there are increasing instances of female suicide bombers successfully hitting targets causing wanton destruction.

The female bombers usually hide the explosives under their "Abaya" (a female black cloak worn from top to toe) and carry out their deadly plans. In war-ravaged Iraq, there are innumerable instances in the past when female suicide bombers have targeted security forces and killed multitudes of people.

It is a terrifying scenario indeed with the latest all-female squad being trained for targeting Westerners in particular. As if this grouping is not enough in a two-pronged attack, the head of al-Qaida has exhorted Muslims also to kidnap Westerners.

Al-Qaida leader al-Zawahri believes that the abducted Westerners can subsequently be exchanged with jihadis behind bars in nations waging wars on the community. To support his strategy, Zawahiri has cited the success achieved in the abduction of Warren Weinstein, an US aid worker in Pakistan.

The Egyptian-born Zawahiri in the more than two-hour video posted on jihadist websites called upon Muslims to carry out the kidnapping as part of a vow not to "spare any efforts" to ensure Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman’s release. Abdel-Rahman, dubbed "the blind sheikh," is the brain behind the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. He is presenting serving a life sentence at a federal prison in North Carolina.

In the video posted on Wednesday, as per the terror monitoring group SITE Intelligence, Zawahiri declared: "God the great and almighty granted us success to capture the Jewish American Warren Weinstein. We are seeking, by the help of God, to capture others and to incite Muslims to capture the citizens of the countries that are fighting Muslims in order to release our captives," he added.

Al-Zawahiri also demanded that Sharia law be followed in Egypt, going on to even question Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for his position on numerous issues, including Israel. In this context, he exhorted all Egyptians to:

“Participate in every protest against the Israeli Embassy, against the peace treaty with Israel, against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and against every siege of Gaza…Islamic movements and masses must be at the forefront of those protests and the first to sacrifice for their sake."

The inflammatory video is the latest in a series released by Zawahiri, who under the late Osama bin Laden was al-Qaida's second in command. He took over the al-Qaida leadership in June 2011 after the death of bin-Laden, as per statements posted on jihadist websites.

Opinion:

The latest deadly strategies devised by the al-Qaida camp to target the Western world are dangerous to say the least. Therefore, at no cost should the West let down its guard as clearly the enemy camp is coming up new ploys for outsmarting the West’s Secret Services and the Intelligence network, particularly of the US and Israel and their allies in Europe.

The need of the hour is to first counter the so-called "Burqa Brigade" and do all it can to neutralize the all-female squad threat. There has to be a way found to tackle this without outraging the sentiments of the Muslim community who do not like anyone interfering in their traditions of which the hijab or the burqa is very much an integral part.

But now against the backdrop of increasing security threats, it will be imperative for the authorities in the West, the intelligence networks and security forces to enforce stricter vigil on those wearing such garments. It will indeed be a very tricky situation to handle the sensitive matter, but something which needs to be done nevertheless.

With regard to the call given by Zawahiri for kidnapping of Westerners to be used as pawns for exchanging with the jailed jihadists, it’s a dangerous and deadly game he is playing. There is again a dire need for more security and vigilance for protecting those vulnerable especially the diplomats and embassy personnel in foreign countries. While at least in this instance there can be tighter security provided, however, in cases of Westerners not of those higher ranks falling prey to the kidnappers is the highest.

It would be up to all ordinary Westerners to not make themselves vulnerable at places which are infested with the al-Qaida group. While the US has a strict policy in place of not negotiating with abductors, it would be really difficult to stick to it as protection of its citizens is also its responsibility. It is really a very testing time ahead for the Western World and it must take all necessary precautions to counter the al-Qaida threat.

Meanwhile, the best solution would be the capture of Zawahiri, the kingpin who is on the list of FBI’s "Most Wanted Terrorists" as he has played a major role in all the plans of al-Qaida. He is currently said to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan's tribal belts on the border of Afghanistan.

Zawahiri is understood to have played a major role in the bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000 others in 1998, according to the National Counterterrorism Center, part of the US Federal Government. For these crimes he has even been indicted in absentia. In fact, the FBI has placed a bounty of $25 million for information leading to his capture.

Source: Times of India/CNN/The Sun

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Burqa-clad women are being trained to fight by terrorists in the volatile Russian Republic of Chechnya.%C2%A0
Nina Rai is based in Mangaluru, Karnataka, India, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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