Pakistan: Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Terrorism?

The black-and-white banner of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front group for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, is prevalent at an anti-US rally in Lahore in December 2011. AP photo.

The black-and-white banner of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front group for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, is prevalent at an anti-US rally in Lahore in December 2011. AP photo.

Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, July 12, 2016:

Editor’s note: Below is Bill Roggio’s testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. A PDF of the testimony, with footnotes, can be downloaded here.

Chairman Poe and Chairman Salmon, Ranking Members Keating and Sherman, and other members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to speak about Pakistan and its support for terrorist groups that threaten the security of the United States and its allies.

This Committee rightly asks the question of whether Pakistan is a friend or foe in the fight against terrorism. While Pakistani officials and forces have assisted the U.S. in hunting senior al Qaeda figures at times, Pakistan’s overall strategy is pro-jihadist and therefore puts it in the foe category. Pakistan does battle some terrorist groups within its borders, but it only does so because these groups pose a direct threat to the state.

Pakistan myopically supports a host of terrorist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India to further its goals in the region. Pakistan backs these groups despite the fact that they are allied with and aid the very terrorist groups that fight the Pakistani state. In addition, many of the jihadist groups sponsored by Pakistan are allied with al Qaeda.

Today I will highlight six major groups directly supported or tolerated by Pakistan’s establishment: the Afghan Taliban and its subgroup, the Haqqani Network; the Mullah Nazir Group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, and Jaish-e-Mohammed. Each of these groups is used by Pakistan as an instrument of its foreign policy. These six groups are by no means the only terrorist organizations supported by Pakistan, they are merely the most prominent.

Pakistan uses these six groups and others as a counterweight against what its policy makers perceive to be Pakistan’s greatest threat: India. However, the jihadist ideology has also spread throughout Pakistan as a result of policies adopted by the country’s military elite. Therefore, we should not underestimate the degree to which these groups are supported for ideological reasons.

Pakistan, a country of 182 million people, does not possess the manpower to counter India, a nation of 1.25 billion. Pakistan and India have been in a virtual state of war since Partition in 1947. The two countries have fought four active wars in 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999. Each of these wars was initiated by Pakistan, and ended in defeats. Pakistani strategists have determined that to counter India, it must use unconventional means, including supporting jihadist groups.

Strategic Depth

To compensate for its inability to achieve victory on conventional battlefields against India, Pakistan implemented its own version of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan. Pakistan has supported groups in Afghanistan in order to deny India influence in its backyard, as well as to allow the nation to serve as a fallback in case of an Indian invasion.

Pakistan capitalized on the chaos in Afghanistan post-Soviet withdrawal and hunted for a group that would serve its purposes. With the rise of Mullah Omar’s Taliban faction in the early 1990s, Pakistan military and intelligence officers assigned to implement strategic depth saw the perfect partner: a powerful jihadist political movement that was gaining popularity throughout the country and was capable of sustaining military advances. Pakistan provided military and financial support to Omar’s faction, which successfully established the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban in 1996 and controlled upwards of 90 percent of the country until the US invasion in 2001.

In addition to securing a friendly government in Afghanistan, Pakistan used the country as both a training and a recruiting ground for a host of jihadist groups that fight in India-occupied Kashmir.

Good vs Bad Taliban

In order to justify its policy of support to jihadist groups, Pakistani elites have attempted to distinguish between what are referred to as “good Taliban” and “bad Taliban.” Simply stated, the so-called “good Taliban” are groups that advance Pakistan’s foreign policy goals and do not threaten the state or wage war within its borders. “Good Taliban” and other groups deemed acceptable by the Pakistani establishment include the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, the Mullah Nazir Group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, and Jaish-e-Mohammed. These groups conduct numerous heinous acts of terrorism in the region, and are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and civilians, and yet are supported by the Pakistani state.

“Bad Taliban” are any jihadist faction that challenges the primacy of the Pakistani state. These groups include the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and the weakened Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Pakistani military has pursued these groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with some success. However, when targeting these groups, the military has avoided pursuing groups such as the Haqqani Network, which provided shelter and support for the “bad Taliban.”

Pakistani officials have denied that it pursues a policy of strategic depth and differentiates between “good and bad Taliban”, or alternatively, have claimed it will no longer differentiate between the two. However, these claims are false. This is demonstrated in Pakistan’s continuing support for the aforementioned groups and others, as well as an unwillingness to round up leaders and key operatives of these groups.

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JOINT SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING: PAKISTAN: FRIEND OR FOE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM?

State notes ‘severely degraded’ al Qaeda operated large training camp in Afghanistan

Qaeda-training-camp-e1444748558794Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, June 6, 2016:

The US government continues to underestimate al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The US Department of State noted that a “severely degraded” al Qaeda was able to operate “a large training camp” inside Afghanistan, one of three that were known to be in operation inside the terrorist hotbed over the past year.

State noted the al Qaeda camp and and a secondary facility, plus the raid to destroy them in Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, which was released last week.

“While al Qaeda (AQ) has been severely degraded in the region, its regional affiliate, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), continued to operate in Afghanistan,” State reported. “Notably, AQIS members were active at a large training camp in a remote area of Kandahar Province. On October 11, U.S. and Afghan forces conducted a coordinated joint operation that successfully destroyed the AQIS training camp and a related facility, and killed dozens of AQ-linked trainees.”

The camps that State referred to were located in the Shorabak district in Kandahar. In October 2015, a large US military strike force took four days to clear two al Qaeda camps in Shorabak. One camp covered over 30 square miles, and included large caches of weapons, ammunition, and other supplies. An al Qaeda media cell was also based there. [See LWJ reports, US military strikes large al Qaeda training camps in southern Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda’s Kandahar training camp ‘probably the largest’ in Afghan War.]

After the Shorabak raid, General John Campbell, then the commander of Resolute Support, noted that US military and intelligence officials were surprised that the camp even existed.

“It’s a place where you would probably think you wouldn’t have AQ [al Qaeda]. I would agree with that,” Campbell said, according to The Washington Post. “This was really AQIS [al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent], and probably the largest training camp-type facility that we have seen in 14 years of war.”

Al Qaeda has not been “severely degraded in the region”

State’s insistence that al Qaeda has been “severely degraded in the region” is at odds with recent evidence from Afghanistan and Pakistan. For more than six years, The Long War Journal has warned that official estimates of al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan are inaccurate. The jihadist group remains a significant threat to this day and bonds between al Qaeda and the Taliban remain strong.

The US military has targeted at least three known al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in the past year. Evidence used to target the Shorabak camp was obtained during a raid on another al Qaeda camp in Paktika province in July 2015. Abu Khalil al Sudani, one of al Qaeda’s most senior figures, is thought to have been killed during that raid. Al Qaeda clearly assessed the situation in Paktika as being safe enough to place one of their top leaders there.

The US raided another al Qaeda facility in Afghanistan this year. On May 9, US special operations forces rescued Ali Haider Gilani, the son of Pakistan’s former prime minister, during a raid against an al Qaeda safe house in Paktika province. Gilani was held by al Qaeda for more than three years.

Additionally, Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, was forced to admit that previous long-held estimates on al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan, were wrong. Since 2010, US officials have claimed that al Qaeda has been “decimated” in Afghanistan and has maintained a consistent minimal presence of 50 to 100 operatives. In April, Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, the top spokesman for Resolute Support, told The Washington Post that al Qaeda has forged close ties to the Taliban and is resurgent in the country.

Additionally, Buchanan told CNN that al Qaeda may have upwards of 300 operatives in the country, “but that number does include other facilitators and sympathizers in their network.” [See LWJ report, US military admits al Qaeda is stronger in Afghanistan than previously estimated.]

Buchanan said the military was forced to revise the estimate upward after the Shorabak raid, where more that 150 al Qaeda were at a single location.

“If you go back to last year, there were a lot of intel estimates that said within Afghanistan al Qaeda probably has 50 to 100 members, but in this one camp we found more than 150,” Buchanan told CNN.

In addition to al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan, the group has a significant base in Pakistan, and not just the tribal areas where the group is always assumed to operate. Last week, The Washington Post published a disturbing report on al Qaeda’s growing presence in Karachi, Pakistan. Hundreds if not thousands of al Qaeda operatives and recruits are thought to be operating in that Pakistani city.

al qaeda in pak

“Counterterrorism officials in Karachi have a list of several hundred active al Qaeda members, which makes them assume there are at least a few thousand on the streets,” the Post reported. “In Karachi, AQIS has divided itself into three operational segments — recruitment, financial and tactical — made up of four-to-six-person cells. The recruitment cells work in madrassas and schools, casually preaching Islam before targeting certain students for potential recruitment, officials said.”

Al Qaeda is executing its strategy of incorporating elements from the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, Harakat-ul-Muhajideen, Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and Brigade 313, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Indian Mujahideen, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Turkistan Islamic Party, Junood al Fida, and other groups based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. This vision was outlined by Ayman al Zawahiri in September 2014, after he announced the formation of AQIS. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent incorporates regional jihadist groups.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

Pakistani liberal to American panel “You are going to get me killed”

comic3Conference Examines Islamic Blasphemy Law Dangers

Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod, Phd., June 3, 2016:

“You are going to get me killed…I have got my flight back home,” stated Pakistani religious freedom advocate Arafat Mazhar to an audience questioner at an April 20 Georgetown University conference recently made available online.  His jarring response emphasized that the conference’s examination of Islamic blasphemy norms in Pakistan and the world beyond was no mere academic matter but involves global, often lethal, threats to freedom of speech and religion.

Mazhar’s statement occurred during the conference’s afternoon panel in an exchange with an audience member from Afghanistan studying in America.  Mazhar emphasized that his organization Engage Pakistan currently only supports reforming the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws with theological arguments such that these laws would not have a divine status.  Any abolition of these laws, a proposition that has had deadly consequences for Pakistan’s Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer and Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, would be a much longer term goal.

Just as illuminating and disturbing was Mazhar’s Afghan interlocutor who cited a 2015 Afghan incident in which a mob brutally killed a woman accused of burning a Quran.  “Had there been a good anti-blasphemy law” with codified standards, he suggested, “she would not have been killed that viciously.”  On the basis of such conjectured more humane executions he accordingly asked, “Is it a good idea to get rid of the anti-blasphemy law or is it good to have a good law?”

Mazhar responded that empirical evidence contradicted such arguments previously made in favor of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.  From Pakistan’s 1947 independence to the 1986 completion of these laws, Islamic blasphemy accusations caused only four extrajudicial killings, but after 1986 these killings increased by 2,500 percent.  His fellow panelist, University of Notre Dame professor Daniel Philpott, noted that Pew studies had found that blasphemy laws had a perverse “pedagogical effect” in inciting hostility towards the protected faith’s opponents real or imagined.

Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, a retired American career diplomat, concurred on the panel that blasphemy laws are “like handing a loaded gun” to people.  He cited a 2005 Sudan case where the government had dropped charges of insulting religion against a newspaper editor, but outraged mobs still demanded retribution.  Months later his beheaded corpse turned up after a kidnapping.

Former Pakistani parliamentarian and human rights advocate Farahnaz Ispahani likewise stated during the earlier lunch panel that blasphemy laws in her country “enabled a vigilante culture.”  Her fellow panelist, Mazhar’s Engage Pakistan colleague Ayesha Iftikhar, stated that there “you can become a hero just because you went after someone for blasphemy.”  Ispahani described how blasphemy laws abetted the “purification of Pakistan” such that only three percent of Pakistan’s population now belongs to non-Sunni Muslim religious minorities, down from 23 percent in 1947.

Ispahani noted that blasphemy’s culture of incitement extended to popular Pakistani television programs watched by millions nationwide.  Here Muslim clerics had called for the killing of Ahmadiyya, a small Muslim sect deemed heretical by all other Muslim denominations.  Her fellow panelist, Imam Mohamed Magid, and Asma Uddin, an American Muslim religious freedom advocate and lawyer who had appeared on the morning panel, had both referenced public order justifications for Islamic blasphemy laws.  Yet such considerations apparently only operated in one direction, Ispahani observed, protecting the sensibilities of Muslims for fear of their possible violent reactions while allowing these very same Muslims uninhibited hate.

Appearing with Uddin, Hudson Institute religious freedom expert Nina Shea analyzed Islamic blasphemy law threats to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.  “These blasphemy laws imprison Muslims in a suffocating chamber of blind dogmatism and conformity and extremists are given the last word” while Muslim dissidents and reformers face dangers including death.  “The West’s response has been less than inspiring, the West has tended to indulge these laws” by encompassing their content within hate speech laws, as five convictions in France of actress Brigette Bardot indicate.   In the United States, “Al Capone-like underlying issues” brought a year-long prison sentence to the filmmaker who violated his parole terms while producing Innocence of Muslims, an internet film that enraged Muslims worldwide.

Shea noted especially the previously obscure Florida pastor Terry Jones, who ultimately made good on his 2010 announcement to burn ceremoniously a Quran, thereby provoking Senator Lindsey Graham to propose speech restrictions.  “The United States did not handle that particularly well.  There was a parade of generals and government officials that went public and denounced him, begged him to stop,” Shea stated.  “This is extremely dangerous, because it raises expectations that the state, that is the American government, will regulate expression on behalf of religion, and in particular one religion.”

The controversial Magid, past president of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)-linked Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), tried to present a benign understanding of his faith.  Like afternoon panelist Salam Al-Marayati, head of the equally MB-linked Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Magid cited the oft-invokedQuran 2:256 (“no compulsion…in the religion”) and the Medina Charter.  Recently celebrated in theMarrakesh Declaration, an attempt to justify religious freedom on the basis of Islamic sources, this charter of Islam’s prophet Muhammad supposedly “created a pluralistic society” according to Magid.

Magid emphasized Islamic orthodoxy because the “word reform itself triggers negative thoughts in Muslims.”  The best approach for winning Muslim hearts and minds is therefore to “take it back to the Prophet.  Not reforming, reinforcing the original framework,” he stated, as the “message of Islam is spread through compassion.”  He argued that Muhammad did not use force when opponents hurled insults and trash at him or Muslims apostatized.

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Trump Adviser Lobbied for Jailed Muslim Brotherhood, Pakistani Intelligence Front

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By Counter Jihad, April 19, 2016:

In 2012, Patrick Poole pieced together a huge story of how Pakistan’s spy service, the ISI, had successfully run an influence operation inside the United States for decades.  The FBI obtained a conviction against one of the principles, one Ghulam Nabi Fai, whom the ISI recruited while he was head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s first American branch, the Muslim Students Association of the US and Canada.  For the next two decades, the ISI helped him funnel money to DC leaders in order to buy attention and influence in Congress.

The mainstream press did their best to hide the story.  One reason?  Fai had not only obtained access to the halls of government power, he had convinced the media to allow him to write as if he were a dispassionate journalist instead of a foreign spy.  As Poole put it:

Another possible reason for the media’s lack of attention to the Fai scandal can be seen in Fai’s own biography:

His articles appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times,Plain Dealer, Baltimore Sun, and many other foreign policy journals in the United States and around the world.

It should have been a blockbuster tale.  Fai’s conspirator in Pakistan had proven links toboth Osama bin Laden and Pakistan’s nuclear scientists.  That conspirator, Zaheer Ahmad,died suddenly two days after those ties were revealed in print by the Hindustan Times.

Only now is the story getting any attention, as it was revealed that one of Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s advisers was a lobbyist for the ISI’s successful front group in DC.  That group was called the Kashmiri American Council (KAC).  According to the Hindustan Times, again, “The aide, Paul Manafort, was part of the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, which was paid $700,000 by the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) between 1990 and 1995.”

The revelation is timely, as it comes among the debate over whether or not to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.  Poole describes the facts that link thismost successful Pakistani spy with the Brotherhood:

  • He came to the U.S. to study under one of the top Muslim Brotherhood leaders, Ismail Faruqi, who founded the International Institute for Islamic Thought, which was identified by U.S. Customs as the hub of terrorism financing in the U.S.
  • Fai later served as national president of the Muslim Students Association(MSA), during which time, according to an email cited in the FBI affidavit, he began serving on behalf of his Pakistani ISI masters.
  • He then served on the Shura Council for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
  • The wife of ISNA’s longtime Secretary General and present Director of Interfaith Outreach Sayyid Syeed was one of the original incorporators of KAC. Syeed had preceded Fai as national president of the MSA.
  • According to IRS filings, KAC’s Pakistani intelligence influence operation was launched with a $20,000 loan from the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), which owns the property to hundreds of mosques around the country.

If you would like to hear more, Poole gave an interview on the topic as part of a broader discussion of the failure of US government outreach efforts to Islamic radicals.  That interview can be heard here.

Secret Cables Link Pakistan Intel Org to Deadly Attack on CIA

Jennifer Ehle plays Jennifer Lynne Matthew in the film Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, head of Al Qaeda.Matthews, a mother of three was described as “one of the CIA’s top experts on al-Qaeda.” She was head of Camp Chapman and killed in the attack on the base.

Jennifer Ehle plays Jennifer Lynne Matthew in the film Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, head of Al Qaeda.Matthews, a mother of three was described as “one of the CIA’s top experts on al-Qaeda.” She was head of Camp Chapman and killed in the attack on the base.

Clarion Project, April 17, 2016:

Pakistan’s intelligence agency paid a Taliban-affiliated terror group in Afghanistan to perpetrate one of the deadliest attacks on the CIA in the agency’s history, according to inferences made in recently-declassified U.S. government cables and documents.

On December 30, 2009, a Jordanian suicide bomber blew himself up in Camp Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, located near the border with Pakistan, killing seven CIA employees. The bomber, a Jordanian doctor and double agent, tricked the Americans, telling them he would lead them to Ayman al-Zawahri, now head of al-Qaeda and, at the time, second in command.

A document dated January 11, 2010 , issued less than two weeks after the bombing, reports how the head of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-allied organization designed as terrorist by the U.S., met twice with senior officials of Pakistan’s intelligence agency (the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI) the month of the bombing.

During the first meeting, funding for “operations in Khowst [Khost] province” were discussed. “Funds were later provided to tribal elders in Khowst province for their support of the Haqqani network,” according to the cable.

At the second meeting, ISI officials gave “direction to the Haqqanis to expedite attack preparations and lethality in Afghanistan.”

Although heavily redacted, a cable issued the following month specified the head of the Haqqani network as well as another individual were given $200,000 “to enable the attack on Chapman.” The cable specifically mentions a number of individuals involved in the operation, including an Afghan border commander who was given money “to enable a suicide mission by an unnamed Jordanian national.”

The Jordanian mentioned is assumed to be the suicide bomber, Humam al-Balawi, whom the CIA had cultivated as an al-Qaeda informant. Codenamed “Wolf,” al-Balawi turned out to be a double agent, perpetrating the deadliest attack against the CIA in the 15-year history of the war in Afghanistan.

Although each document states, “This is an information report not finally evaluated intelligence,” Admiral  Mike Mullen (former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) terms the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s intelligence agency. The U.S. has long-documented the connection between the ISI and the Haqqani terrorist organization.

The documents were the first public disclosure connecting the attack on Camp Chapman to the Pakistani ISI. They were released in connection with a Freedom of Information Act request. The U.S. had previously blamed al-Qaeda for the attack.

‘The target was Christians,’ Pakistani Taliban says of Lahore Easter attack

56f8fde8ad768Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, March 28, 2016:

The spokesman for a faction of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan said that the group intentionally targeted Christians in a suicide bombing which killed and wounded hundreds of women and children on Easter Sunday.

“The target was Christians,” Ihsanullah Ihsan, the official spokesman of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, said according to a statement obtained by The Long War Journal.

Ihsan also said that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar wanted to “send a message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore.” The group has been operating in Punjab province for nearly two years.

At least 72 people, mostly women and children, were killed and more than 300 were wounded after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the entrance of the Gulshan-i-Iqbal park in the eastern city of Lahore, according to Dawn. Many of the people at the park were said to have been celebrating Easter Sunday.

The brutal Lahore suicide attack took place just one day after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name of the Afghan Taliban, released a statement entitled “Only Islamic rituals can be celebrated in an Islamic country” on its official website, Voice of Jihad. The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has given an oath of allegiance to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has targeted Christians in Lahore in the past. In March 2015, the group claimed responsibility for the bombings at two churches in Lahore. At least 14 people were killed and 70 more were wounded.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar launched at least two other suicide attacks in Punjab. In November 2014, a suicide bomber killed 50 people at the Wagah border crossing with India. And in August 2015, another of the group’s suicide bombers killed Punjab province’s home minister and 16 other people in an attack at his house.

The Pakistani military responded to the Easter Sunday massacre in Lahore by announcing the beginning of a wide security operation in Punjab to root out Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. But, as noted, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has been active in the province and has conducted several high-profile suicide attacks there since November 2014.

A dangerous jihadist group

The leadership of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is known to have ties to multiple jihadist groups operating in the region. Omar Khalid al Khurasani, a top leader of the group, is closely linked to Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s emir, and has called for the imposition of sharia law and the establishment of a global caliphate. Khurasani has also said that a primary goal of the Pakistani Taliban is to obtain nuclear weapons. [See LWJ reports, Taliban commander wants Pakistan’s nukes, global Islamic caliphate, and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar celebrates 9/11 attack.]

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar split from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in the summer of 2014 after a leadership dispute emerged in the wake of the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the previous emir of the Pakistani Taliban alliance. But Jamaat-ul-Ahrar rejoined the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in March 2015. Lashkar-e-Islam, a group based in Pakistan’s tribal areas, also joined the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is also known to have integrated key al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leaders into its organization. In May 2014, three jihadist groups – led by Matiur Rehman, Ehsanul Haq, and Muhammad Shamil – merged with the group. Matiur Rehman, who was put in command of all three factions, is a senior al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader. The US Treasury Department described Rehman as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s “chief operational commander” and as “a planning director for al Qaeda” in his 2010 designation.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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Pakistan is ‘very cooperative and very engaged in the fight against terrorism,’ Secretary Kerry tells Congress

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the FY2017 State Department Budget Request on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the FY2017 State Department Budget Request on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, Feb. 25, 2016:

US Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that Pakistan’s government and military are “very cooperative and very engaged in the fight against terrorism” while Senator Bob Corker accused the country of “outright blatant duplicity” for supporting the Afghan Taliban.

Kerry and Corker squared off on Pakistan on Feb. 23 during a State Department budget request hearing. Corker challenged Kerry’s omission of Afghanistan in his opening statement, and then said he “witnessed that continued duplicity on Pakistan’s part” during a recent visit to Afghanistan.

“They [Pakistan] continue to support the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and give safe haven to al Qaeda,” Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, noted. He then objected to the US government’s recent approval of the sale of F-16 fighters and other equipment worth nearly $700 million to Pakistan. He claimed that “zero US taxpayer dollars will go to subsidize Pakistan’s purchase until such a time as they do the things that we know they could do to stop helping to destabilize Afghanistan.”

Kerry rose to Pakistan’s defense, and called the situation in the country “a very complicated mix.”

“The government itself, the military has been very cooperative and very engaged in the fight against terrorism,” Kerry stated, noting that Pakistani soldiers have been killed during military operations in the tribal areas.

Kerry then claimed that there are “entities that complicate our efforts very significantly,” without naming them. This is almost certainly a reference to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, which is more commonly known as the ISI. The ISI is known to support the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, (a Taliban subgroup), and a host of Pakistani jihadist groups allied with al Qaeda, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakat-ul-Muhajideen.

While Kerry treats the ISI as an entity separate from the military and government, the ISI is actually part of Pakistan’s military. ISI directors have served as the Chief of Army Staff, the highest military rank in Pakistan, and arguably the most powerful person in Pakistan.

Kerry also claimed that the Pakistani military “drove the Haqqani Network into new locations” during its ongoing offensive in North Waziristan, known as Zarb-e Azb. While the Pakistani military has said the offensive in North Waziristan has targeted all jihadist groups based there, this is untrue. Zarb-e Azb has only focused on groups that actively oppose the government, such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. These organizations are often referred to as the “bad Taliban” as they do not take direction from the ISI and the military focus their efforts inside Afghanistan and India.

Organizations like the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group are called “good Taliban” as they do not attack the Pakistani state. However, these groups do support al Qaeda and the so-called “bad Taliban”.

The Pakistani military gave sufficient notice before the launch of Zarb-e Azb in June 2014 that allowed the Haqqanis and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group to vacate North Waziristan. The Haqqani Network is known to have relocated to the neighboring tribal agency of Kurram. Not a single senior or mid-level Haqqani Network leader has been killed or captured during the 20 months of Pakistan military operations in North Waziristan.

Pakistan’s “long line of duplicity” in Afghanistan, as Corker concluded in his exchange with Kerry, continues to this day. This duplicity can be seen with the Pakistani state’s relationship with Siraj Haqqani, one of the Afghan Taliban’s two deputy emirs who is the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, and the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.

According to The New York Times‘ Carlotta Gal, Siraj “moves freely around Pakistan, and has even visited the Pakistani intelligence headquarters of the Afghan campaign in Rawalpindi.” Other Haqqani Network leaders are known to travel to the gulf to raise money for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The leadership of the Afghan Taliban, which is based outside of the Pakistani city of Quetta and is known as the Quetta Shura, receives direct support from the ISI and the military. The Taliban openly recruits inside Pakistan and runs training camps and command and control centers throughout the country, but most prominently in the tribal areas and the provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Afghan Taliban is open about its relationship with al Qaeda, and in August 2015, the group accepted al Qaeda pledge of allegiance.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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Al Huda: the Pakistani Women’s Islamic Academy that may have Radicalized Tafsheen Malik

Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farooq, O’Hare International Airport Customs picture Source: ABC News

Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farooq, O’Hare International Airport Customs picture Source: ABC News

New English Review, by Jerry Gordon, Dec. 7, 2015:

From US and Canadian news reports comes evidence that the murderous Jihadi couple, Tafsheen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farooq had  allegedly long been radicalized. The picture above from ABC News is a shot taken on July 27, 2014 when the couple went through customs at O’Hare International  Airport after Ms. Malik had secured a K-1 fiancée Visa to come to the US with her intended husband Farooq. The Customs photo caught them in Sharia compliant garb reflective of professing  fundamentalist  Muslims.  They were returning from an extensive trip that took Farooq to Saudi Arabia to meet Malik and hence to her parent’s home in Multan in Central Pakistan before returning together to California.  There is the suspicion that Ms. Malik had undergone formal radicalization in her native Pakistan. Information on Malik’s background is emerging from independent investigations about  her attendance at  an Al Huda women’s Islamic Academy in Multan , one of several  across Pakistan propounding a Salafist Islamic doctrine.

Al Huda women’s Islamic Seminary in Multan, Pakistan where Tashfeen Malik studied. Source: Farooq Neem AFP/Getty Images

Al Huda women’s Islamic Seminary in Multan, Pakistan where Tashfeen Malik studied. Source: Farooq Neem AFP/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Times produced a report on  the Pakistani Al Huda Islamist women’s seminaries and Ms. Malik’s attendance at the one in Multan, San Bernardino assailant attended Islamic institute in Pakistan:”

Tashfeen Malik studied at Al Huda, a chain of religious institutes that teach a fundamentalist strain of Islam, while she was enrolled in a university in Pakistan’s Punjab region several years ago, according to two fellow students.

The two former classmates of Malik’s at Bahauddin Zakariya University in the city of Multan said she regularly attended Al Huda classes, whose stated objective is to bring women “back to their religious roots.”

“She used to go to attend sessions in Al Huda almost every day,” said one of the former classmates, who spoke on condition she not be identified. “She was not too close to any class fellow.”

The former classmate said that Malik, who studied pharmacology at the university, did not share her thoughts on religious issues.

Pakistani security expert points out the ‘fundamentalist’ Islamic doctrine propounded by  Al Huda:

Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, a Pakistani security analyst, said Al Huda teaches women “fundamentalist” ideas, though it does not necessarily promote a jihadist agenda.

“I call Al Huda the fourth generation of religious seminaries. It does not promote use of violence but takes you closer to the red line,” she said. “Now, it is a personal decision to cross the red line and take or give one’s life.”

Siddiqa said that the impact of the institutes is widespread, because a child who attends can influence other members of her family. “People would be familiar with, for instance, a daughter going to an Al Huda changing the mother and eventually the entire household. This dynamic is mirrored in more traditional seminaries as well.”

Malik, 29, was born in Pakistan to a land-owning, politically influential family in Karor Lal Esan, in southern Punjab province. Though Malik’s family moved to Saudi Arabia when she was a child, she returned to Punjab to study pharmacology at Bahauddin Zakariya University from 2007 to 2012.

One of her professors, Dr. Nisar Hussain, recalled her as “a very hardworking and submissive student,” and “an obedient girl.” He said she came to school veiled.

“She was religious, but a very normal person as well,” Hussain said in an interview. “I cannot even imagine she could murder people.”

A family member in Pakistan who asked not to be identified said that she had been a “modern girl” who changed during college.

After university, Malik returned to Saudi Arabia. In the last few years, she entered into a relationship with Syed Rizwan Farooq, a Southern Californian of Pakistani descent who she met online.

Another Pakistani academic expert  noted the credo expounded in the Al  Huda seminaries:

Sadaf Ahmad, an assistant professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, has written that Al Huda founder Farhat Hashmi’s denunciation of various cultural practices and disapproval of Westerners and Indians gives women a new conception of their identity as Muslims.

Ahmad found Al Huda graduates  “very intolerant and judgmental toward people who were different from them.”

The Toronto Star had more on Malik and Al Huda founder Farhat Hashmi who had immigrated to Canada, “Founder Pakistan religious school where San Bernardino shooter studied, lives in Mississauga:”

The Toronto Star had more on Malik and Al Huda founder Farhat Hashmi who had immigrated to Canada, “Founder Pakistan religious school where San Bernardino shooter studied, lives in Mississauga:”

While in Multan, [Malik] also attended a religious school, which Pakistani intelligence officials on Monday identified as the Al Huda International Seminary. The school is a women-only madrassa with branches across Pakistan and in the U.S. and Canada, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Canadian branch is based in Mississauga, Ont., according to the foundation’s website.

Al Huda’s founder, Farhat Hashmi, who now lives in Canada, has been criticized for promoting a conservative strain of Islam, though the school has no known links to extremists.

Hashmi was not available to comment on Monday, as she is currently in Pakistan, said a staff member at the school’s Canadian branch. The school also released a statement condemning the shooting in California and saying it was looking to increase security around its Mississauga campus.

Hashmi is on the payroll of Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in Canada:

Hashmi’s name surfaced on the payroll of one of Canada’s largest Islamic organizations, despite her not actually working there. An audit in 2011 revealed the Islamic Society of North America Canada was trying to help her immigrate to Canada.

Note the heavy concentration of extremist support in the central region of Pakistan and Malik’s course of study:

The region where the school is located, however, is home to thousands of extremist seminaries, with hundreds of them linked to al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban. Pakistan, which supports Islamic militants battling archrival India in the disputed region of Kashmir and is widely believed to have ties to insurgents in Afghanistan, has long turned a blind eye to institutions that teach radical interpretations of Islam.

Malik spent more than a year at Al Huda, taking classes six days a week, the school’s spokeswoman Farrukh Chaudhry told The Associated Press.

She enrolled in a two-year course to study the Qur’an, its translation and interpretation, but did not finish the course, Chaudhry added. Malik was a student there from April 17, 2013 until May 3, 2014, when she handed in her last paper in the first-year curriculum, the spokeswoman said.

“According to our records, this girl didn’t complete the course,” Chaudhry said, speaking over the phone from the southern port city of Karachi where she is based. “She told us that she was going to get married in two months, and after that she will leave for America.”

Pakistani police and intelligence are conducting further investigations into Malik and her family:

Pakistani authorities have also been looking into Malik’s time in Multan. Police and intelligence agents have searched the house where she lived on two occasions since Friday. Shabana Saif, a counterterrorism official, said intelligence agents seized documents, family photo albums and a laptop belonging to Malik’s sister, Shahida, who was studying engineering at a Pakistani college. It is not clear whether the house, which has been sealed, was owned by Tashfeen or her father.

Watch this AFP TV video report on the Pakistani University where Tashfeen Malik studied:

You may recall this comment from Asra Nomani, former Wall Street Journalist, author and colleague of the late Daniel Pearl in Pakistan from Sunday’s NBC Meet the Press segment on Islam and ISIS:

I saw it in 2002, went to Islamabad, Pakistan, and met women who were supporting this ideology. I call them the Taliban Ladies Auxiliary back then. This young woman in California would’ve been a star member of it.

***

SoCal terror probe points to Pakistan, raises trust issue in terror war

tashfeensyedpicFox News, Dec. 7, 2015:

The investigation into the jihadist couple who massacred 14 people in San Bernardino last week is pointing to Pakistan as the likely source of the pair’s radicalization, a development that threatens to expose once again the tenuous relations between the U.S. and the country accused of once harboring Al Qaeda founder and 9/11 mastermind Usama bin Laden.

Investigators are focusing on Tashfeen Malik, who married Syed Rizwan Farook after meeting him online and coming to the U.S. on a fiancee visa, and are particularly interested in a period from roughly 2007 to 2014 that she spent in her native Pakistan. It is during that time when she may have become radicalized, adopting the extremist ideology that she may have spread to her American-born husband. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that investigators have interviewed more than 300 people and are working with Pakistan and other foreign governments as part of the far-reaching probe. Pakistan’s interior minister also announced the country had launched its own investigation.

Despite being allies in the war on terror, the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has been plagued by mistrust, and the current probe could expose further cracks in cooperation. Usama bin Laden is believed to have lived for years in his Abbottabad compound, possibly with the knowledge of government authorities, prior to the May 2011 Navy SEAL raid in which he was killed. Now, the U.S. is believed to be putting heavy pressure on Pakistan to cooperate on its end of the investigation into the deadliest terror attack on American soil since 9/11.

“It’s time that Pakistan matures up and accepts some responsibility,” a source with knowledge of discussions between U.S. and Pakistani officials told FoxNews.com. “At this stage, Tashfeen’s training is all leading back to Pakistan.”

Although Malik spent much of her youth in Saudi Arabia, where her father was an engineer, she lived after 2007 in her native Pakistan, where she also resided during the time she met Farook online. Authorities in the U.S. and Pakistan are probing her ties to an extremist and influential imam in Islamabad to try to understand the roots of her radicalization.

A newly surfaced photo, first obtained by ABC News and showing Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook going through customs at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, underscored the international  undertone of the probe into events proceeding Wednesday’s terrorist attack. The photo is believed to show the pair arriving from Saudi Arabia in 2014.

Malik, 29, was born to a wealthy family in Pakistan’s southern Punjab province, moved to Saudi Arabia as a child and returned to Pakistan to study pharmacology in 2007. Classmates of Malik at Bahauddin Zakariya University told the Los Angeles Times that while Malik was enrolled at the school, she also studied at Al Huda, a chain of religious institutes affiliated with ties to North America.

“She used to go to attend sessions in Al Huda almost every day,” one of Malik’s former classmates told the Times.

While Pakistan has pledged to work with the U.S., there are signs the government is clamping down on the media’s effort to get answers. On Monday, Pakistani police barred local and international media from entering the pharmacy department where Malik studied. Police inspector Muhammad Ali said the reporters did not have valid documents to work in the city. The university administration deployed extra private security guards outside the facility and after an argument with some reporters, university security officials called in the police. The police escorted the two journalists out of the campus.

There also have been reports Malik may have worshiped at Islamabad’s infamous “Red Mosque.”

The mosque’s controversial cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, who oversees a web of 27 seminaries in Malik’s native Punjab province, has been a lightning rod for years, and even stoked outrage in Pakistan last year when he refused to denounce the Peshawar school attack that left 148 people dead, including 100 children, referring to it as “an understandable response” to the government expedition against Taliban-aligned groups.

But in a message to FoxNews.com, a representative for the Red Mosque vehemently denied any link to Malik, calling implications otherwise “baseless” and “propaganda” to harm their reputation.

“Lal Masjid chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz has condemned the San Bernardino attack saying, ‘Islam does not permit attacks on innocent people,’” the representative stated.

A source with knowledge of discussions between U.S. and Pakistani officials said the U.S. is putting renewed pressure on Pakistan to expose and eradicate the radical elements that have operated largely unimpeded there. In addition to the questions surrounding Bin Laden’s post-9/11 movements in Pakistan, the nation is still imprisoning Dr. Shakeel Afridi, the physician who helped the CIA verify that Bin Laden was hiding in plain sight, living near a military facility.

“Pakistan is activating all its consulates trying to determine if other Tashfeens are out there,” the insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told FoxNews.com. “The Pakistan Army has been working to halt the terrorist money flow, but this is all much bigger than what we see on the surface.”

Read more

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ISIS ‘Mein Kampf’ Blames Israel for Global Terrorism

Islamic State promoting and "end of the world" battle. (Photo : Google Commons)

Islamic State promoting and “end of the world” battle. (Photo : Google Commons)

Experts poring over secret Islamic State dossier found in Pakistan’s tribal badlands; Arutz Sheva gains an exclusive look.

Arutz Sheva, By Sara A. Carter, American Media Institute, 8/16/15:

Intelligence officials are comparing a newly discovered secret Islamic State document to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” as it blames Israel for the rise of the Islamic State and crowns U.S. President Barack Obama as the “Mule of the Jews.”

Found in Pakistan’s remote tribal region by American Media Institute (AMI), the 32-page Urdu language document promotes an “end of the world” battle as a final solution. It argues that the Islamic leader should be recognized as the sole ruler of the world’s 1 billion Muslims, under a religious empire called a “caliphate.”

“It reads like the caliphate’s own Mein Kampf,” said a U.S. intelligence official, who reviewed the document. “While the world is watching videos of beheadings and crucifixions in Iraq and Syria the Islamic State is moving into North Africa the Middle East, and now we see it has a strategy in South Asia. It’s a magician’s trick, watch this hand and you’ll never see what the other is doing.”

Retired U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Michael Flynn and other U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the authenticity of the document based on its unique markings, specific language used to describe leaders and the writing style and religious wording that matched other Islamic State records.

Flynn said the undated document, “A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC), The Caliphate According to the Prophet,” is a campaign plan that “lays out their intent, their goals and objectives, a red flag to which we must pay attention.”

The document serves as a Nazi-like recruiting pitch that attempts to unite dozens of factions of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban into a single army of terror.  It includes a never-before-seen history of the Islamic State, details chilling future battle plans and urges al-Qaeda to join Islamic State.

Its tone is direct: “Accept the fact that this caliphate will survive and prosper until it takes over the entire world and beheads every last person that rebels against Allah. This is the bitter truth, swallow it.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal center for human rights who heads Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, compares the Islamic State threats in the document to the rise of Nazism pre-World War II.

The brutal killing of a teacher and three children at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse in 2012 by an Algerian Islamist was a major signal to the Jewish community that Europe was no longer safe and that not enough was being done to curtail the rise of anti-semitism, he said.

“It’s important to remember what our founder, Wiesenthal said, ‘it often starts with the Jews but it never ends with the Jews,” Cooper said. “As a matter fact [Islamic State] did not create anti-semitism but they are taking advantage of it, and they are building on it.”

The document advocates creating a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan to trigger a war in India and provoke an Armageddon-like confrontation with the United States. It also details Islamic State’s plot to attack U.S. soldiers as they withdraw from Afghanistan and target America diplomats and Pakistani officials and blames the rise of jihadi organizations on the establishment of Israel.

“No sooner had the British government relinquished control of Israel, Ben-Gurion, the leader of the Jews, declared the independence of the State of Israel, triggering a global migration of Jews to the Jewish State, and launching the systematic persecution of Palestinian Muslims who had to abandon their homes and migrate,” the document states.

The document discloses the history of Islamic State dating back to the early 1990s and explains why in 2011 its leader, Abu Bakr al- Bagdhadi, unleashed car bombs to avenge Osama bin Laden’s death, and boasts about the suicide rates of American soldiers.

“Urban centers across Iraq exploded with car bombs and IED’s. The losses inflicted upon Americans, apostates, and heretics were unprecedented, as were the suicide rates amongst U.S soldiers,” the document states. “This state of affairs forced Mule of the Jews, U.S President Obama to announce an exit plan.”

The battle plan to “end the world” is described in six phases (three of which have already passed) – ripping pages from al-Qaeda’s original plans to defeat the west, in a graphic illustration of how ISIS sees itself as the true heirs to Osama Bin Laden’s legacy.

  • Phase 1 “Awakening” 2000-2003: Islamic State calls for “a major operation against the U.S. .. to provoke a crusade against Islam.”
  • Phase 2 “Shock and Awe” 2004 – 2006: Islamic State will lure U.S. into multiple theatres of war, including cyber-attacks and establish charities across the Muslim and Arab world to support terrorism.
  • Phase 3 “Self-reliance” 2007-2010: Islamic State will create “interference” with Iraq’s neighboring states with particular focus on Syria.
  • Phase 4 “Reaping/extortion/receiving” 2010-2013: Islamic State will attack “U.S and Western interests” to destroy their economy and replace the dollar with silver and gold and expose Muslim governments’ relations with Israel and the U.S.
  • Phase 5 Declaring the Caliphate 2013-2016: Not much details offered here. The document just says, “The Caliphate According to The Prophet.
  • Phase 6, Open Warfare 2017-2020:  Islamic State predicts faith will clash with non-believers and “Allah will grant victory to the believers after which peace will reign on earth.”

The document urges followers of al-Qaeda and the Taliban to join the Islamic State in overthrowing Arab governments who have relations with the U.S. and Israel, unlike al-Qaeda, which believed it was “important to weaken the U.S before launching an armed revolt in Arab states and establishing a caliphate.”

In response to the document, a senior ranking Israeli official said that in the Middle East the world faces two threats – from Islamic State and from Iran. “We need not strengthen one at the expense of the other. We need to weaken both and prevent the aggression and arming of both,” he warned.

Alistair Baskey, deputy spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council said Islamic State is being monitored “closely to see whether their emergence will have a meaningful impact on the threat environment in the region.”

The document builds on evidence that Islamic State is expanding into the region where the September 11 attacks were born. A united Taliban, backed by the hundreds of millions of dollars of Iraqi oil revenue now enjoyed by Islamic State, would be a “game-changer,” officials said.

The document warns that “preparations” for an attack in India are underway and predicts that an attack will provoke an apocalyptic confrontation with America: “Even if the U.S tries to attack with all its allies, which undoubtedly it will, the (entire global Muslim community) will be united, resulting in the final battle.”

A war in India would magnify Islamic State stature and threaten the stability of the region, said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution who served more than 30 years in the CIA. “Attacking in India is the Holy Grail of South Asian jihadists.”

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry denied the presence of Islamic State in the region, calling it only “a potential threat.”

Unlike al-Qaida, whose focus was the United States and other western nations, the document said Islamic State leaders believe that’s the wrong strategic goal. “Instead of wasting energy in a direct confrontation with the U.S., we should focus on an armed uprising in the Arab world for the establishment of the caliphate,” the document said.

The failure to target the radical Islamic ideas has given the group breathing room to spread throughout the world much like Hitler did.

“We did a lousy job predicting what Hitler was going to do in the 1920s, 1930s – honestly, we blew it,” Cooper said. “It’s hard to take seriously or believe that such hatred was real or would be possible. They made jokes about Jews, degraded Jews but nobody believed that they would be capable of what they were saying.  So now, when groups, like [Islamic State] come along and say they are going to do A B and C, you have to take them for their word.”

Frontline Documentary: A Perfect Terrorist

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The Memoir of an “American Terrorist”

by Jason M. Breslow

David Coleman Headley is not exactly a household name, but his is one of the more unnerving terrorism cases in the post-9/11 era. White male. Government informant. American citizen. In other words, he had the perfect cover.

It was under the safety of that cover that Headley — a former drug smuggler turned informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration — helped stage the November 2008 siege in Mumbai, an audacious attack that left 166 people dead, including six Americans. Working with the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Headley used his U.S. passport to travel to India, scout locations for the plot, film them and even find a landing site for the plot’s attackers.

Within weeks of Mumbai, Headley was working on another plot — this time working for Al Qaeda, planning an assault against a Danish newspaper that had published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The plan: A group of attackers would take hostages at the paper, shoot them, behead them and then throw their heads out the window. Again, Headley worked reconnaissance for the mission until his eventual arrest by the FBI at O’Hare International Airport in 2009.

Today, Headley is serving 35 years for his role in Mumbai. His case, however, has hardly gone away. In the aftermath of the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA surveillance, U.S. intelligence officials pointed to the Headley case as an example of how bulk data collection can thwart a terrorist attack. But tonight, in American Terrorist, ProPublica and FRONTLINE investigate that claim.

In the course of our investigation, FRONTLINE was given exclusive access to a draft of a memoir Headley wrote in prison. Excerpts from the draft offer a unique window into Headley’s turn toward extremism, his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba and his preparations for the Denmark attack.

In one passage, for example, Headley writes about his first encounter with Lashkar militants, describing how he was “very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation. As Headley tells it:

In 1999, after serving my sentence for drug trafficking, I decided to turn over a new leaf. To make amends for my unrighteous ways I worked … for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) … I had spent the past fifteen years frequenting the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, on heroin procuring expeditions. This lawless land had remained the same, frozen in time, since the 18th century. The British had thought it wise to leave this place alone during their rule of India. I started leaning more and more on my religion as part of my change. I had not been a practicing Muslim the past fifteen years, but the seeds of Islam sown in me by my Father and in school had never completely died out. Another change I made was to break away from my Canadian girlfriend, who I had been planning to marry for the past five years, and agree to an arranged marriage in Pakistan. Still on probation, I kept visiting Pakistan four times a year, without the knowledge of the DEA or my Probation Officer, to see my new wife, who I had decided to keep in Pakistan.

On one of my trips, October 2000, I made my first contact with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT), quite by accident. I attended their annual convection in November. I was very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation.

In a later passage, Headley marks his decision to join Lashkar “full time” following the 9/11 attacks, and says that by 2002 the group asked him to take “the Daura Aamma, the basic military training course offered by LT.” It was one of several training programs he writes about. In a separate section, he recalls a second course that he attended:

We hid most of the day in caves and under trees, while we were given instructions on various lessons. Most of the practical aspects of the lessons were carried out at night. During this course, I was trained in infiltration, survival, camouflage, raid/ambush tactics, hide out, hiding and retrieving weapons caches, more than a dozen night marches, target practice with AK-47 and 9 mm pistol, RPG, grenades, among other training. We also went through an extensive indoctrination process and were required to study many Quaranic Chapters and Hadith.

By 2005, Lashkar’s plans for Headley are coming into focus. He is trained in explosives, but perhaps most importantly, Lashkar asks him to change the name given to him at birth by his Pakistani father and American mother — Daood Gilani. He chooses David, which is English for Daood; Coleman, which was his grandfather’s name; and Headley, which was his mother’s maiden name. It was a bureaucratic act, but intelligence officials say the change made Headley that much more difficult to track.

Finally, in June, my immediate superior, Sajid Mir, instructed me to return to the United States, change my Muslim name to a Christian sounding name and get a new U.S. passport under that name. He now informed me I would be going to India, since I looked nothing like a Pakistani in appearance and spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu it would give me a distinct advantage in India.

As his training continued, so did his embrace of the Lashkar lifestyle. In 2007, for example, Headley takes a second wife. He describes the decision by saying:

Polygamy was aggressively encouraged by LT and they were really happy to see me take this step. I was definitely “one of the guys” now.

Around the same time, Headley was conducting regular reconnaissance of targets in Mumbai. On one trip, he checks into the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which would later be the epicenter of the Mumbai attack, with his new wife for a “honeymoon.” As he cases locations on his trips to the city, Headley says he takes “extensive video.”

The plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel, which constantly strayed into Pakistani waters, and commandeer it all the way to Mumbai. The hope was that the Indian Coast Guard would not notice an Indian vessel. The boys would carry a GPS device which would guide them directly to the landing site, I had selected earlier.

After the attack, Headley says he was told to “lay low.” Instead, he eventually connects with Al Qaeda and with the assistance of a contact he has inside the organization he travels to Denmark to scout the Jyllands-Posten newspaper for a possible strike.

This paper had published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad and was on the top of the hit list for Al Qaeda. The Major told me that the leadership desired the attack to be carried out ASAP on the Newspaper Head Office. I visited Copenhagen in January 2009 and conducted detailed surveillance of the office there as well as their location in Arhus. I was able to make entry into both locations. …

A few days later he took me to North Waziristan, where I met Ilyas Kashmiri, the Al Qaeda number four. He gave me a further pep talk on the Denmark Project, saying that, both, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri had stressed upon him the need to conclude this matter quickly. I agreed and assured him of my best effort.

Western intelligence would soon learn of the plot, and close in on Headley. At the end of his draft, he describes the days leading up to his arrest.

I received final instructions in Denmark and left for the United States. in July 2009, I flew to England from Chicago and met Kashmiri’s friends. … Both of these men were also under surveillance by British Police, as a result of which I too came under surveillance. They forwarded their information to the F.B.I. From England, I checked out Denmark one last time and returned to the United States. I had now reached the conclusion that since I was short on man power, I would modify the operation and, instead of assaulting the newspaper building, just take out the cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, and do this deed myself. All I would need was a handgun, which I knew I could find in Europe … I was finally arrested on 3 October 2009, at O’Hare Airport, on my way back to Pakistan.

Suspected Mastermind of Mumbai Massacre Released

m07_17179685CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, April 10, 2015:

Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was released from a Pakistani jail on bail Friday morning. He was granted bail by an anti-terrorism court in December and was supposed to be released March 13th, but a Pakistani court delayed the action due to the Taliban’s attack on a school in Peshawar that killed at least 145 people.

The Lahore High Court suspended the Punjab government’s detention order for 55-year-old Lakhvi and declared it illegal, calling for his immediate release. According to Lakhvi’s counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi, the government had no other “legal option” but to free him and said “neither the government nor the Adiala Jail authorities can violate the court’s order this time.”

New Delhi responded harshly to Lakhvi’s release, asserting it erodes assurances Islamabad has given regarding cross-border terrorism. India’s Home Minister called the action “unfortunate and disappointing” while a spokesman for the ministry said the court’s decision is “an insult to victims of the 26/11 Mumbai attack.” Indian and Pakistan historically have a very combative, war-ridden relationship, and this event will only further tensions between the two.

The Mumbai Massacre, as the terrorist attacks are known by, was a series of twelve coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India’s most populous city, lasting four days from November 26th to November 29th. 172 people were killed with hundreds more wounded, and the attacks were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a South Asian Islamist terror organization operating mainly from Pakistan.

Lakhvi is the alleged military chief of LeT and known as “chacha Zaki” by young recruits. He is accused of personally directing the Mumbai attackers by phone in Pakistan to carry out the coordinated violence. A spokesman for an LeT-linked charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, said Lakhvi is in a “secure place,” further indicating Lakhvi’s involvement with the terror group.

Pakistani intelligence is known to have worked with LeT, giving it financial and logistical support over the years. Furthermore, the country’s military is known to have close ties to the jihadist organization. Such dynamics have helped LeT survive since the group’s founding in 1990.

LeT’s reach, however, extends far beyond Pakistan to the United States. American David Headley was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in prison for helping to plan the Mumbai attacks. Court documents detail that Headley trained at LeT camps in Pakistan from 2002 to 2005 and helped scout targets in Mumbai for the deadly plot.

Additionally, the Virginia Jihad Network was a jihadist network based in northern Virginia that caused a four-year federal investigation, which concluded in 2005 with the conviction of Ali Al-Timimi on terrorism charges.

There were several individuals within this organized movement who trained with, fought for, and/or provided material support to LeT, including 11 men charged in a U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Some of these individuals actually traveled to Pakistan to train at LeT camps.

The network was interestingly part of a larger paintball training “program” for Islamists, seemingly meant to train jihadists for combat. A U.S. government trial proved that LeT bought U.S. supplies to build military equipment through operatives in America and that an LeT official asked Masoud Khan – an LeT supporter who conspired to wage war against the U.S. – to buy him paintball equipment. Furthermore, Ismail Royer, an American involved the network who joined LeT, also had ties to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood front group with terrorist associations.

Beyond the aforementioned networks, two brothers – Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and Hafiz Mohammed Masood – both of whom are clerics, have deep associations with LeT, and Masood lived in the U.S. for years. Masood is also spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which the U.S. calls a terrorist front group, and is a Muslim American Society leader, a Muslim Brotherhood group with ties to terrorism. Furthermore, his brother Saeed founded LeT, and the U.S. has a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

In September 2011, 24-year-old Jubair Ahmad, a Pakistani native residing in Woodbridge, VA, was arrested on charges of providing material support to LeT. According to the affidavit, Ahmad was indoctrinated and trained in Pakistan as a teenager before coming to the U.S. in 2007.

LeT evidently has a strong foothold in America and is not a problem confined to India and Pakistan. It is an Islamist terror group just like al-Qaeda or Boko Haram with the same goals of violence en route to domination. Therefore, the release of the group’s alleged military chief suspected of heading the Mumbai Massacre is concerning and raises questions about the Pakistan government’s commitment to eradicate terrorism. LeT is another indication that the U.S. and its allies face a global jihad movement that needs to be identified in order to be defeated.

Also see:

Jihadis Seek to Cleanse Pakistan of Christians

by Raymond Ibrahim
PJ Media
March 21, 2015

Originally published under the title, “Jihadis Cleansing Pakistan of Christians.”

Pakistani Christians mourn the victims of two March 15 suicide bombings of churches in Lahore.

Pakistani Christians mourn the victims of two March 15 suicide bombings of churches in Lahore.

The two churches (located in Youhanabad, Lahore’s Christian quarter) were St. John’s Catholic Church and Christ Church (Protestant).On Sunday, March 15, as Christian churches around the world were celebrating morning mass, two churches in Pakistan were attacked by Islamic suicide bombers. At least 17 people were killed and over 70 were wounded.

The Taliban claimed responsibility. It is believed that the group had hoped for much greater death tolls, as there were almost 2,000 people in both churches at the time of the explosions.

According to eyewitnesses, two suicide bombers approached the gates of the two churches and tried to enter them. When they were stopped — including by a 15-year-old Christian who blocked them with his body — they self-detonated. Witnesses saw “body parts flying through the air.”

Thus did the jihadis “kill and be killed,” in the words of Koran 9:111, the verse most often cited to justify suicide attacks.

According to an official statement of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan, despite all the threats received by the churches, authorities only provided “minimal” security:

Agents present at the time of the attack were busy watching the cricket match on TV, instead of carrying out their duty to protect churches. As a result of this neglect, many Christians have lost their lives.

The statement further urged:

the government to adopt strong measures to protect churches and other religious minorities in Pakistan [since] the Christian community of Pakistan was targeted by extremists in the past.

Nearly 90 Christian worshippers were killed in the September 2013 suicide bombing of All Saints Church in Peshawar.

Nearly 90 Christian worshippers were killed in the September 2013 suicide bombing of All Saints Church in Peshawar.

One parishioner recalled how “human remains were strewn all over the church.” (For an idea of the aftermath of suicide attacks on churches, see these graphic pictures.)Less than a year-and-a-half earlier, on September 22, 2013, in Peshawar, suicide bombers entered the All Saints Church right after Sunday mass and blew themselves up in the midst of approximately 550 congregants, killing nearly 90 worshippers. Many were Sunday school children, women, and choir members. At least 120 were injured.

In 2001, Islamic gunmen stormed St. Dominic’s Protestant Church, opening fire on the congregants and killing at least 16 worshippers, mostly women and children.

Less dramatic attacks on churches occur with great frequency. Days before last Sunday’s twin attacks,three armed men entered Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Kasur district, Punjab, and took church personnel, the assistant parish priest, and congregation hostage. Before leaving the premises, the terrorists stole mobile telephones, cameras, and a computer.

Earlier, Father Leopold, the ailing parish priest, was robbed by thieves:

[They] pretended to be ordinary members of the faithful wanting to enroll some children at the parish school. Then they suddenly pulled out guns.

Christmas season is an especially dangerous time for Christians meeting in churches. On lastDecember 25:

Heavy contingents of police were deployed in and around the churches … citizens were allowed only after [a] thorough body search … while the entry points leading to the churches had been closed by placing cemented blocks and barbed wire.

During another Christmas, the following attack came in response to fatwas condemning Christmas celebrations:

When Christian worshipers were coming out of different churches after performing Christmas prayers, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked the Christian women, children and men.

There have also been general attacks on Christians, especially in the context of accusing them of “blaspheming” against Islam. Last November, a mob — not the “Taliban,” and not “terrorists” — consisting of at least 1,200 Muslims tortured and burned to death a young Christian couple (the wife was pregnant) in an industrial kiln in Pakistan. Someone had accused the Christian couple of desecrating the Koran.

Even when not in church and not accused of blasphemy, Christian minorities are always in danger. Last December, Elisabeth Bibi, a 28-year-old pregnant Christian mother of four, was “beaten, scorned and humiliated, deprived of her dignity [and] forced to walk naked through the town” by two Muslim brothers — the pregnant woman’s employers — following an argument. In the ordeal, she lost her baby. Rights activists say the attack “was motivated because of Bibi’s [Christian] religious beliefs.”

Speaking last Sunday from Rome, Pope Francis said:

It’s with pain, much pain that I was told of the terrorist attacks against two Christian churches in Lahore in Pakistan, which have caused numerous deaths and injuries. These are Christian churches and Christians are persecuted, our Christian brothers are spilling their blood simply because they are Christians. I implore God … that this persecution against Christians — that the world seeks to hide — comes to an end and that there is peace.

Pope Francis is often criticized for his apologetic approach towards Islam. Even here, he does not note who is persecuting these Christians, leading to confusing assertions (“our Christian brothers are spilling their blood” sounds like Christians are killing Christians). But the pope is forthright as to why Christians are being killed: “simply because they are Christians.”

Others, such as the U.S. government, will not even concede that much. When the world heard and saw how 21 Coptic Christians had their heads sawed off by Islamic jihadis in Libya, the White House issued a statement condemning the beheadings — but referred to the beheaded only as “Egyptian citizens.” Not Christians, or even Copts, even though that is the sole reason they were slaughteredaccording to statements issued by their executioners.

Such obfuscation ensures the Muslim persecution of Christians “that the world seeks to hide” will continue indefinitely.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author ofCrucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).

Osama bin Laden’s Files: The Pakistani government wanted to negotiate

osama-bin-laden1-e1425067707264BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | March 9th, 2015:

Recently released files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that parts of the Pakistani government made attempts to negotiate with al Qaeda in 2010. The letters were released as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted on terrorism charges by a Brooklyn jury earlier this month.

One of the files is a letter written by Atiyah Abd al Rahman (“Mahmud”), who was then the general manager of al Qaeda, to Osama bin Laden (identified as Sheikh Abu Abdallah) in July 2010.  The letter reveals a complicated game involving al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the brother of Pakistan’s current prime minister, and Pakistan’s intelligence service.

“Regarding the negotiations, dear Sheikh, I will give you an overview, may God support me in this,” Rahman wrote. “The Pakistani enemy has been corresponding with us and with Tahreek-i-Taliban (Hakeemullah) for a very short time, since the days of Hafiz, may God have mercy on him.” Hakeemullah Mehsud was the head of the Pakistani Taliban at the time. The “Hafiz” mentioned is Mustafa Abu Yazid (Sheikh Saeed al Masri), who served as al Qaeda’s general manager prior to his deathin May 2010. Rahman succeeded Yazid in that role.

“We discussed the matter internally, then we talked with Abu-Muhammad later once we were able to resume correspondence with him,” Rahman explained. “Abu-Muhammad” is the nom de guerre of Ayman al Zawahiri. As a result of these discussions, al Qaeda was willing to broker a deal in which the jihadists’ would ease off the Pakistanis so long as the military and intelligence services stopped fighting al Qaeda and its allies.

“Our decision was this: We are prepared to leave you be. Our battle is primarily against the Americans. You became part of the battle when you sided with the Americans,” Rahman wrote, explaining al Qaeda’s position towards the Pakistani government. “If you were to leave us and our affairs alone, we would leave you alone. If not, we are men, and you will be surprised by what you see; God is with us.”

Al Qaeda’s negotiating tactic was simple. Either the Pakistanis leave them alone, or they would suffer more terrorist attacks. Rahman’s letter reveals how bin Laden’s men sought to convey their message. They relied on Siraj Haqqani, the senior leader of the Haqqani Network, which has long been supported by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.

Rahman summarized al Qaeda’s plan thusly: “We let slip (through Siraj Haqqani, with the help of the brothers in Mas’ud and others; through their communications) information indicating that al Qaeda and Tahreek-i-Taliban [the Pakistani Taliban] have big, earth shaking operations in Pakistan, but that their leaders had halted those operations in an attempt to calm things down and relieve the American pressure.”

“But if Pakistan does any harm to the Mujahidin in Waziristan, the operations will go forward, including enormous operations ready in the heart of the country,” Rahman explained. This is the message al Qaeda “leaked out through several outlets.”

In response, “they, the intelligence people…started reaching out to” al Qaeda through Pakistani jihadist groups they “approve of.”

Read more at Long War Journal

ISIS Eyes Iran in AF/PAK Expansion Effort, Targets Mullah Omar in IO Campaign

February 22, 2015 / /

Reporting over the last couple of weeks suggests that the Islamic State’s (IS) Khorasan Regional Command or “Khorasan Shura” has stepped up their efforts to further inflame internal divisions within the Taliban (TB) in the hopes it would lead to more defections. The IO campaign they’ve been waging in the AF/PAK region has called into question Mullah Omar’s fitness to be a leader in the global jihadist movement and whether he’s even alive. In early-JAN 15 TB Shura Chief Akhtar Muhammad Mansur and other Shura members are reported to have met with two IS representatives who threatened to increase their operations in two months if the TB couldn’t prove that Mullah Omar was still alive. Our sources have also informed us that Pakistani Taliban (TTP) Emir Maulawi Fazlullah remains loyal to Omar, but may defect to IS if his death is confirmed. Apparently the question of whether or not Omar is alive has been a big subject of debate, with other TTP commanders wondering if Fazlullah has even been in contact with him. As it stands right now, Omar’s current status remains a mystery. Having said that, IS directly challenging Omar’s legitimacy and suggesting that he’s dead appears to be having an effect in at least planting the seeds of further internal unrest among the ranks.

ISIS Reportedly Begins Targeting Taliban Commanders Loyal to al-Qaida
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4593

ISIS Formally Establishes an Affiliate for the AF/PAK Region
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4578

The terrifying rise of ISIS: Map that shows how terror group’s tentacles now reach from Algeria to Afghanistan
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2960463/The-terrifying-rise-ISIS-Map-shows-terror-group-s-tentacles-reach-Algeria-Afghanistan.html

How ISIS Has Expanded Beyond Its Syrian Stronghold
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/02/18/387149112/how-isis-has-expanded-beyond-its-syrian-stronghold

ISIS vs. the Taliban: The Battle for Hearts and Minds
http://www.vocativ.com/world/afghanistan-world/isis-vs-taliban/

The Coming Fight for Khorasan: IS Gearing up Against the Taliban
https://news.siteintelgroup.com/blog/index.php/entry/362-the-coming-fight-for-khorasan-is-gearing-up-against-the-taliban

US Afghan commander: Reports of ISIS recruiting
http://thehill.com/policy/defense/229783-us-afghan-commander-reports-of-isis-recruiting

ISIS trying to expand its influence in Pakistan, distributes pamphlets
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/ISIS-trying-to-expand-its-influence-in-Pakistan-distributes-pamphlets/articleshow/41618755.cms

Taliban Supreme leader Mullah Omar has possibly died
http://www.khaama.com/taliban-supreme-leader-mullah-omar-has-possibly-died-8778

Mullah Omar’s whereabouts – and very existence – shrouded in mystery
http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/pakistan-articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2014/09/30/feature-01

mullah Fazlullah

Mullah Fazlullah
Source: SITE Intelligence Group

mullah omar

Mullah Omar: Dead or Alive?
Source: tribune.com.pk

One of the figures who played a key role in establishing the IS foothold in the region is a former TB commander Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, who served as the Shadow Governor of Uruzgan Province from 2007 – 2009 and did a stint in Guantanamo Bay (GITMO). After his release from GITMO, he had a falling out with TB leadership that led to his marginalization within the terror organization and subsequent defection to IS. He was a key player in the IS expansion efforts currently underway in Helmand Province and led the charge in the red-on-red fight against the TB’s Helmand Shadow Governor Mullah Ahmed Shah. The US government claims to have killed Khadim in a drone strike earlier this month, but we have not yet seen confirmation either way. However, whether he’s dead or not is irrelevant as he wasn’t a member of the Khorasan Shura – which remains largely intact.

ISIS recruiter, once freed from Gitmo by U.S., killed in drone strike in Afghanistan
http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/09/world/afghanistan-violence/

Capture the Flag in Afghanistan
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/22/capture-the-flag-in-afghanistan/

Islamic State Appoints Leaders of “Khorasan Province,” Issues Veiled Threat to Afghan Taliban
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/islamic_state_appoin.php

khorasan shura

Breakdown of the Khorasan Shura
Source: The Long War Journal

In our Inside Iran’s Middle East Series piece titled, “Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency,” we stated that either al-Qaida (AQ) or IS may attempt to use the Afghanistan and Pakistan as support nodes for a new front opened up in Southeast Iran to force the regime into diverting resources from the Syrian war effort back to home. IS’ expansion efforts in Afghanistan’s Southern provinces adds weight to this assessment as those locations all fall within known routes used to smuggle opium and weapons between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Keep in mind that AQ’s Khorasan Group (KG) has a great deal of experience in fighting the IRGC inside Iran that resulted in forging relationships with Baloch groups such as Jundallah. More importantly, some of KG’s personnel that deployed to Syria are reported to have defected to IS.

We assess some of those personnel are part of the training support package that was sent to Afghanistan in the DEC 14/JAN 15 time frame or possibly earlier. The training cadre sent to the country are likely still in the assess-mode taking note of each loyal faction’s strength’s and weaknesses to draw up the training plan that will probably take effect by the end of this month. During this year’s fighting season Afghanistan’s Hazara Shia population may begin to experience the same level of targeting that they received prior to 9-11 as a means of getting Iran’s attention and building notoriety. Red on red violence will also pick up. By AUG the IS affiliates will be fully trained with recruits gaining much-needed experience. We could very well well see former KG members who defected to IS leading the engagement efforts reaching out to Jundallah (and other Baloch groups in Iran) by the end of the year. Jundallah – like everybody else in that part of the world – will likely flip to IS’ side after being offered money, weapons and manpower to accelerate their regenerative process. The leadership of the various Baloch groups may not approve of IS’ ideology or even the legitimacy of Baghdadi’s “Caliphate” – to them it would be a marriage of convenience. However, this will be a project that will take at least another year to fully manifest itself. If you think this will be easier for US troops stationed in Afghanistan, think again, because both IS and TB factions loyal to AQ will be competing for the title of who can launch the more high-profile attacks. Needless to say, this year’s fighting season looks to be one of the worst. Keep an eye on this one…

Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2689

ISIS (Daesh) start operations in Helmand, residents claim
http://www.khaama.com/isis-daesh-start-operations-in-helmand-residents-claim

ISIS expansion map

The graphic above depicts IS’ expansion from the Maghreb to Afghanistan and Pakistan
Source: UK Daily Mail

Links to Other Related Articles:

Afghanistan Update – Yes, Things Are Getting Worse Contrary To US Government Claims

Afghanistan: A Case Against a Residual US Military Presence

The History and Capabilities of the Khorasan Group

The Khorasan Group: Threat to US Homeland?

US Government: Syria-Based al-Qaida Cell Bigger Threat Than ISIS