In what reads like a lesson plan for the less-experienced jihadist, Nasser al-Wahishi provides a step-by-step assessment of what worked and what didn't in Yemen. Yet in the rare correspondence discovered by the Associated Press, the man at the center of the latest terror threat barely mentions the extremist methods that have transformed his organization into al-Qaeda's most dangerous branch.
Instead, he urges his fellow jihadist whose fighters had just seized Mali's northern half to show compassion toward the population. He stresses the importance of providing them with potable water and electricity. And he offers tips for making garbage collection more efficient.
"Try to win them over through the conveniences of life," he writes. "It will make them sympathize with us and make them feel that their fate is tied to ours."
The letters and an accompanying report, written last summer and discovered by the AP in Mali earlier this year, provide a perhaps surprising outline of the vision of the 30-something al-Wahishi, a former secretary to Osama bin Laden, whose recently intercepted communication with al-Qaeda supreme chief Ayman al-Zawahri caused the U.S. to shutter 19 embassies and consulates. Experts who were shown the letters say the hearts-and-minds approach al-Wahishi is advocating is a sign of a broader shift within al-Qaeda, which has come to understand in the wake of its failure in Iraq that it is not enough to win territory: They must also learn to govern it if they hope to hold it.
Al-Qaida’s foray into governance in Yemen began on the morning of Feb. 28, 2011, when residents of the locality of Jaar woke up to find an ominous black flag flying over their town.
Fearing the worst, the population was mystified to discover that their extremist occupiers appeared more interested in public works projects, than in waging war.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula chronicled their achievements in 22 issues of an online newsletter and in propaganda films showing glowing light bulbs and whirring fans inside the homes of villagers who had never had power before. In one video, al-Qaida fighters are seen leaning ladders against power poles and triumphantly yelling “Allah Akbar,” or “God is great,” each time they connect a downed wire. They took time to write a detailed report, a kind of al-Qaida ‘case study’ on their occupation, which al-Wahashi dutifully enclosed with his letter, like a college professor giving a handout to a student.
Pic - "The Last Refuge"