Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sami Al-Mutairi: Al-Qaida's Mother of All Spy Manuals

Via -

"The spy shall not be concerned about any of his friends. If he knows about the existence of an important target at a certain place and time, and he relays information about this to his commanders who have decided to carry out an attack there - for example to blow up a hotel where the target is lodging - it is to be expected that the spy will be inclined to tell one of his journalist friends to avoid going there. In doing so, he will reveal that the operation is about to occur."

This instruction, actually, has a precedent in the life of the Prophet Mohammed. But Sami al-Matiri, who is known as Abdullah al-Hajj, cites it at length in his instruction manual for people working for Al-Qaida.

Matiri is a Kuwaiti citizen who began his career as a leftist in the movement known as Democratic Center; he later changed his spots and embraced radical Islam. He was convicted of the murder of an American citizen in Kuwait in 2002, and after spending a few years in prison was released and became a prominent Al-Qaida commander in the Arabian Peninsula. According to documents obtained by Haaretz, he is in charge of coordinating Al-Qaida activities in Palestine.

Matiri's instruction manual for intelligence agents is part of a series of documents he has written. These include pointers on explosives, building an organization and recruiting agents. There are also explanations about Islam's enemies.

In his writings, Matiri comes across as someone who knows what he is talking about. He cites studies and conclusions from the experiences of other intelligence agencies, and he discusses methods used by Al-Qaida.

Thus, for example, in the chapter on codes, Matiri says the code word for Al-Qaida's retreat from Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2001 was an expression in colloquial Egyptian Arabic meaning "to assemble the public." This was a mistake, writes Matiri, because Western intelligence services have many people who know various languages and dialects, including Egyptian, Yemenite and Iraqi. In the event, the convoy from Kandahar was exposed and bombarded.

He also tells about a far more successful experience. Ramzi Binalshibh, who helped coordinate the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, and Mohamed Atta, who was responsible for the whole operation, had a close relationship. They understood each other by the merest hint. The two conversed in German via a chat program on the Internet; the conversation is quoted in full in the instruction manual.


Matiri covers a variety of topics in the 42 pages of his instruction manual, among them advice on how the religious spy can get out of uncomfortable situations. He suggests that "Jewish meals" be ordered on airline flights - kosher meals that do not contain pork. They are marked with the letters U or K.


One of the most difficult issues is collecting the names and job descriptions of the enemy's intelligence officers. To overcome this problem, Matiri suggests that spies join human rights organizations and even establish such groups to gather testimonies from people who have been interrogated or tortured by enemy intelligence officers. They should be asked to give the names of these officers, so the spy can build up his file.

As an example of a successful operation, Matiri discusses the activities of a certain spy who gained the trust of the Arab Commission for Human Rights in Paris. He learned its ways and established a branch in a country where he hoped to gather intelligence.


Matiri also suggests establishing an academy at which people from radical organizations would study espionage work and learn how to use the intelligence operative's "tools." He cites the Mossad, where he says veteran spies teach young spies how to operate. In his opinion, this should be the working method for radical organizations.

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