- A Libyan militia freed Saif al Islam al Qaddafi, the favored son of deceased Libyan dictator Muammar al Qaddafi, on June 9. Saif al Islam’s release coincides with increasingly visible activity by Qaddafi-era figures, as well as strategic advances by the Libyan National Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. These conditions threaten many Libyan stakeholders, especially political Islamists, who fear that Haftar will bring about the return of the regime. This fear strengthens hardline militias and Salafi-jihadi groups, particularly al Qaeda and its associates. [Read Emily Estelle’s warning update on Saif al Islam’s release.]
- The current U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Somalia is unlikely to address the long-term threat posed by al Shabaab. U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike on an al Shabaab site in southern Somalia in response to attacks on Somali and African Union peacekeeping troops, which began an operation to degrade al Shabaab’s strongholds in southern Somalia this week. Al Shabaab displayed strength on multiple fronts, however. The group resurged in northern Somalia, where it seized a town, and continued campaigns to counter the Kenyan intervention in Somalia and degrade security in Mogadishu. [Read an assessment of U.S. counterterrorism policy in Somalia.]
- Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri characterized the Muslim world as fighting a single war on many fronts. He called for the unity of the umma, or Muslim community, against external foes, reiterating a theme emphasized by al Qaeda clerics and leadership. Zawahiri’s statement reflects al Qaeda’s efforts to influence Salafi-jihadi groups in Syria, Yemen, and other conflict zones throughout the Muslim-majority world.