Think Tank: Al-Qaeda Newspaper ‘Sympathetic’ to Khashoggi’s Stance Against Saudi Arabia

Saudi 'kill team's' luggage contained syringes, scissors: report
AFP/Yasin AKGUL

The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), after a months-long hiatus, resurrected its al Masra newspaper this week, featuring a front-page story accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) of murdering Jamal Khashoggi and blasting “rattlesnake” President Donald Trump for protecting the Sunni kingdom’s top royal.

On Thursday, the Critical Threats Project (CTP), a component of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank, acknowledged that AQAP, once considered the most dangerous al-Qaeda wing facing the United States given the group’ focus on attacking the American homeland, resumed publication of al Masra on November 28.

A Google Translate analysis of al Masra’s front page shows that the article lambasts MBS as Khashoggi’s “killer” and accuses “American tyrant” Trump of protecting the crown prince.

In a statement to Breitbart News, AEI denied reports that the al-Qaeda newspaper praises Khashoggi as a “martyr.”

Quoting a statement from CTP researchers, Phoebe Keller, a spokesperson for AEI, said: “The text does not explicitly use the word ‘martyr’ to refer to Khashoggi. The article reviews the media reporting on the events surrounding Khashoggi’s death, and then focuses on accusing Saudi Arabia and the U.S. of covering it up to protect Mohammed bin Salman.”

“Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is not describing Khashoggi as a martyr or a brother in the way it would describe an al Qaeda supporter. It is sympathetic to him insofar as he was critical to the Saudi regime, which is an AQAP priority,” the statement added.

Khashoggi, reportedly once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), was allegedly murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He reportedly traveled and interviewed the late al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden.

Some U.S. intelligence officials have linked MBS to the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi kingdom.

Abd al-Faqir Media group, a media outlet linked to al-Qaeda’s rival the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), is also disseminating a poster depicting the Saudi crown prince smiling while holding a chainsaw in front of Khashoggi, similar to a banner displayed by the Tunisian National Journalists Syndicate that protested MBS’s recent visit to the African nation.

Jihado Scope, a group that monitors Islamic terrorist activity online, noted on Twitter that AQAP attributed its “lengthy lapse” in al Masra’s publication to “staff shortages” and “crusader attacks,” adding that “the new shorter edition of its Al Masra newspaper with extensive focus on Khashoggi killing & Saudi coalition war in Yemen.”

A U.S.-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been combating the Iran-allied Shiite Houthis in Yemen since March 2015.

Experts like Thomas Joscelyn from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) believe that the Saudi-led coalition’s near single-minded focus on fighting Sunni al-Qaeda’s rival the Houthis has allowed AQAP to flourish in Yemen and expand the territory it controls along with the number of fighters under its command.

Both al-Qaeda and ISIS have declared jihad on the Saudi monarchy under the current leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince MBS), which has lent support to efforts against the two terrorist groups.

In the wake of Khashoggi’s death, President Trump has resisted calls to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which the commander-in-chief considers a top American ally in the Middle East.

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