Balochistan Rebel Leader Seeks Outside Military Support

Andrew McGregor

July 29, 2008

While global attention remains focused on Taliban activities in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, heavy fighting has broken out in southwest Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where well-armed nationalist insurgents are battling detachments of the locally-raised Frontier Corps. While sparsely populated, Pakistan’s biggest province is rich in minerals and energy resources, inspiring a number of rebel movements to fight what they view as uncompensated exploitation of the region by Pakistan’s central government.

NawabNawab Sardar Brahamdagh Khan Bugti (al-Jazeera)

Nawab Sardar Brahamdagh Khan Bugti, current leader of the Baloch Republican Party and grandson of the late Balochi nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti (killed by Pakistani security forces in 2006), has announced that rebel forces under his command are prepared to accept military assistance from any nation willing to provide it, including India, Iran or Afghanistan (BBC, July 22). In an interview from an undisclosed location, Brahamdagh Bugti argued: “Pakistan is a nuclear power, and if it can use the assistance and sophisticated weapons it is getting from the United States against the Baloch people, we have the right to accept external assistance… No country has so far provided assistance to us. However, if any country, including India, Afghanistan, and Iran, offers assistance or cooperation, we will happily accept it.”

In the current fighting centered around Dera Bugti, insurgents belonging to the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Republican Army (BRA) have blasted gas pipelines, brought down power pylons, attacked a gas plant with rockets, destroyed military vehicles with remote-controlled bombs and used explosives to heavily damage the wall of a Frontier Corps fort. Helicopters have been brought in to assist the Frontier Corps, which has been accused by the insurgents of killing civilians in rebel-held areas (Daily Times [Lahore], July 21; Dawn [Karachi], July 20, July 21;, July 24). A general strike organized by a number of Baloch nationalist groups was observed throughout much of Balochistan on July 25 in protest of the killings of women and children in government counter-attacks (, July 26). Government forces report destroying insurgent bases and seizing large caches of weapons at several hidden depots (Daily Times, July 22).

The fighting follows the release of a number of imprisoned Balochi nationalists and a partial pullback of government forces from selected regions of Balochistan—not including Dera Bugti—by the new government in Islamabad. The Dera Bugti region is home to Pakistan’s largest natural gas fields and large parts of its gas distribution grid (see Terrorism Monitor, April 3). According to Bramadagh Bugti: “The [current] operation is being conducted to plunder the resources and to keep the Baloch nation backward. The rulers are destroying the Baloch nation for this purpose. We are fighting to defend our land and ourselves. There will be resistance if someone comes here to plunder our resources on the pretext of development” (BBC, July 22).

 This article first appeared in the July 29, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus

Al-Qaeda’s Operational Commander in Afghanistan Promises Expansion of War into Northern Provinces

Andrew McGregor

July 23, 2008

Pakistan’s Geo-TV has released a video interview with al-Qaeda’s operational commander in Afghanistan, the Egyptian militant Mustafa Abu al-Yazid (a.k.a. Shaykh Sa’id). With a rifle by his side, Abu al-Yazid gave the Arabic-language interview from an undisclosed location in Khost, across the border from Pakistan’s Waziristan tribal agency (Geo-TV, July 22).

Mustafa Abu al-YazidMustafa Abu al-Yazid

A veteran jihadi, Abu al-Yazid was imprisoned along with Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri in Egypt following the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. After joining up with Bin Laden in Pakistan in the early 1990s, Abu al-Yazid became al-Qaeda’s financial manager during Bin Laden’s stay in the Sudan. He later aided in the financing of the 9/11 attacks despite his reported opposition to the operation.

Abu al-Yazid confirmed al-Qaeda’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and the 1998 embassy attacks in east Africa, but denied an al-Qaeda role in last year’s mosque bombings in Pakistan. He described the June 2 bombing of the Danish embassy in Islamabad that killed six Pakistanis as an al-Qaeda operation carried out by a young militant from Mecca who was enraged by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in Denmark: “We are proud of that attack, and I congratulated my colleagues for conducting it successfully.”

Abu al-Yazid also called for more Pakistanis to join the al-Qaeda/Taliban struggle: “In fact it is obligatory for them to render this help and is a responsibility that is imposed by religion. It is not only obligatory for residents of the tribal regions but all of Pakistan.” The Egyptian militant criticized Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf for authorizing the arrest of Arab mujahideen and their transfer to American hands: “Pervez Musharraf and his government have committed crimes for which there are no examples in the entire world… This is an ugly spot on Pakistan’s history which cannot be forgotten until doomsday.”

The Egyptian commander confirmed al-Qaeda is in the process of expanding its operations into north Afghanistan and promised that the group would free Afghanistan from foreign occupation “very soon.” Earlier this month Abu al-Yazid issued a statement swearing revenge for the death of al-Qaeda field commander Abdallah Muhammad al-Abid in a firefight with Coalition forces in Afghanistan (Pajhwok Afghan News, July 7).

This article first appeared in the July 23, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus.

Terrorist Funding Network Restored for Muslim Convert Movement in the Philippines

Andrew McGregor

July 23, 2008

According to the anti-terrorism branch of the Philippine National Police, a new funding network has been created to support the terrorist activities of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the lesser-known Rajah Sulaiman Movement (RSM), a dangerous group of Filipino natives who abandoned Christianity for radical Islam after working in the Middle East. The new financing network, allegedly run by Saudi national Abdulrahman Qaussamulah, replaces an earlier network run by Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, which was disrupted by a raid on the Islamic Information Center in Manila in 2005 (Philippine Daily Inquirer [Makati City], July 14).  RSM 1Re-enactment of the 16th century Muslim-Spanish Confrontation

The movement is named for Rajah Sulaiman Mahmud, the last Muslim ruler of Manila, who fell battling Spanish invaders in 1571. The RSM is dedicated to the “re-Islamization” of the northern Philippines (AFP, December 21, 2005). The converts to Islam work closely with the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an Indonesian-based terrorist group with close ties to al-Qaeda. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), currently in negotiations with the government, denies accusations that it has provided refuge for RSM operatives (Mindanao Examiner, December 11, 2006). Abu Sayyaf has also made efforts to recruit Christians from their operational area in Basilan Island and Zamboanga City (AFP, September 21, 2005). A movement known as Balik Islam is dedicated to converting Filipino Christians to Islam.

Seven members of the RSM, including current leader Ruben Pestano Lavilla Jr., were placed on the U.S. list of “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” in June (U.S. Treasury Department, HP-1030, June 16). The document cited RSM involvement in the February 2004 Manila ferry bombing that killed 116 people and the February 2005 Valentine’s Day bombing in Makati City that killed four people and wounded over 100.

RSM 2Ruben Pestano Lavilla Jr. after his arrest in August 2008 (NYT)

Lavilla replaced previous RSM commander Feliciano de los Reyes (a.k.a. Ustadz Abubakr), who was arrested in December 2006. Ricardo Ayeras (a.k.a. Abdul Karim), an important founding member of the RSM, was captured in August 2007. Ayeras later claimed to be a Catholic who was tortured into a confession at Camp Crame, the Quezon City headquarters of the Philippine National Police. RSM founder Hilarion del Rosario (a.k.a. Ahmed Santos) was arrested in Zamboanga City in October 2005 while stockpiling 600 kilograms of explosives for an alleged plot to bomb the U.S. embassy in Manila.

Many RSM members are believed to come from affluent families with connections abroad (AFP, January 23, 2007). Many speak Arabic and English as well as local languages and are able to mix freely in Manila and other major Filipino urban centers which are predominately Christian. An influential Filipino broadcaster and an audio consultant who worked with police were responsible for bailing out Dawud Santos (brother of RSM leader Ahmed Santos) in 2005 after he was arrested with 10 sacks of ammonium nitrate in his possession. The release reportedly left President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo infuriated (Remate [Manila], November 2, 2005).

This article first appeared in the July 23, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus.


Libya to Probe Massacre of Islamist Militants at Abu Salim Prison

Andrew McGregor

July 20, 2008

Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, the son of Libyan ruler Muammar Qadhafi, has promised those responsible for the 1996 massacre of as many as 1,200 Islamist prisoners will be brought to trial (Reuters, July 24; Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation, July 26). Apparently part of ongoing reform efforts in Libya, the announcement still came as a surprise, with few believing the taboo subject would ever be reopened so long as the Qadhafi regime was in power. The Libyan president acknowledged in 2004 that some killings had taken place in the notorious prison but his son now says that “genuine” preliminary investigations have been completed and the case will now proceed to the state prosecutor’s office before going to trial. According to Saif al-Islam: “Disproportionate force was used in the case of Abu Salim. Mistakes have been made in handling the case… The trial will follow a fair process and those found guilty will be punished. The trial will be open to the public.”

Abu SalimInterior, Abu Salim Prison, 2011 (al-Akhbar, Ali Garboussi)

The announcement, which was broadcast live on state television, came before an assembly of prosecutors, government officials and leading members of Libya’s internal and external security agencies.

Saif al-Islam tried to put the massacre in context. “Abu Salim took place in a climate of terror and fear which was sweeping the country in the 1990s,” he said, referring to repeated assassination attempts on Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi and widespread military confrontations with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (al-Jama’a al-Islamiya al-Muqatila bi-Libya – LIFG), a Salafist insurgent group determined to end Qadhafi’s rule and eliminate the Libyan leader’s “heretical” interpretation of Islam. The fighting in northeast Libya, which pitted hundreds of LIFG fighters against thousands of Libyan regulars, was ended only through the extensive use of warplanes of the Libyan air force. Several major escapes from prison by Libyan militants and the murder of eight policemen in Benghazi in early June 1996 had aroused fear and anger in the Libyan security forces prior to the Abu Salim incident.

According to accounts collected by human rights organizations, the massacre was sparked when prisoners, most of whom were being held without trial, became angered by deteriorating conditions within the prison after several escapes. On June 28, 1996, militants seized a pair of guards to back demands for better conditions, but after a brief period of negotiations, Libyan security forces moved most of the prisoners into open courtyards, where eye-witness accounts report a special security detachment tossed hand grenades and poured rifle and machine-gun fire into the masses of defenseless men from the prison walls for over two hours. Many of the prisoners were Libyan veterans of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan.

Located in a suburb of Tripoli, Abu Salim Prison today holds much of the former leadership of the LIFG, though many of these figures are currently engaged in reconciliation talks with the Libyan government through a former LIFG intermediary (see Terrorism Focus, July 16). The prison is run by Libya’s Internal Security Agency rather than the Justice Department. Though the prison has a reputation for torture and summary executions, Saif al-Islam challenged human rights organizations to prove these allegations (Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation, July 26).


 This article first appeared in the July 29, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus

Local Islamist Movement Massacred in Chad after Threatening Holy War

 Andrew McGregor

 July 16, 2008

An alleged rising led by an Islamic preacher in the oil-rich southern region of Chad was repressed with great loss of life by government forces in the first days of July. The incident in the town of Kouno came in response to calls for an international jihad from Ahmat Ismail Bichara, a fiery 28-year-old religious leader, and the destruction of most of the town by his followers.

Chari RiverThe Chari River

Kouno lies over 300 km (190 miles) southeast of the capital of N’Djamena, on the Chari River near Sarh (formerly Fort Archambault), the capital of Chad’s Moyen-Chari province. The main ethnic group in the region is the non-Muslim Sara, most of whom follow traditional animist religions. A small minority of Sara became Christians during the French colonial era. Kouno was the site of a major battle between French colonial forces and the freebooting Muslim army of Rabih al-Zubayr in 1899. Today Kouno lies in the midst of Chad’s newly productive southern oil fields. Most of Chad’s Muslims live in the north and east of the country as well as the capital near the western border, but small communities of Muslims can be found throughout the south, where they generally live in harmony with the non-Muslim majority in the region.

Ahmat Mamahat Bachir, Chad’s Minister of the Interior, described the preacher and his followers as “terrorists” and “extremists,” adding that Bichara was a “typical suicide guru” (al-Jazeera, July 2; AFP, July 2). Bichara issued a manifesto declaring his jihad on June 3, calling on local Muslims to join a campaign against “Christians and atheists” that would extend as far as Denmark, where cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were published in 2006 (TchadActuel, July 3). The confrontation came after Bichara rejected the advice of envoys from Chad’s Higher Council of Islamic Affairs.

After Bichara’s followers went on a rampage in Kouno, destroying four churches, 158 homes, a medical clinic and a police station, government forces decided to respond in force. The preacher, who took down the Chadian flag over the local administration building and replaced it with a banner proclaiming “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his Prophet,” refused all efforts to negotiate with security services, claiming he was an emissary from God. The government assault apparently began as Bichara’s followers were listening to what was described as an inflammatory sermon. Other accounts suggest that Bichara’s people attacked the security forces, which used firearms only after tear gas failed to disperse the would-be jihadis (AFP, July 2).

Independent accounts of the fighting are not available, but Chad’s security minister described Bichara’s followers as “intoxicated by indescribable extremism… almost mad” as they “threw themselves” against the fire of security forces in the belief they were immune to bullets (Reuters, July 2). The “clubs, poisoned arrows and swords” used by Bichara’s followers proved to be of little avail against the gunfire of government troops, nor did the amulets that were supposed to provide protection from bullets save those who were hit. The use of such amulets in the region goes back to the very first encounters with firearms—despite a distinctly poor track record in deflecting lead they continue to find a place around the necks of local fighters. The number of dead was given variously as somewhere between 66 and 72, with over 50 seriously wounded. Four security men were killed and four wounded in two days of fighting.

Bichara survived the government assault only to be captured by security forces and removed to N’Djamena with seven of his lieutenants. Brought by authorities to a press conference, the small and bearded shaykh appeared “tranquil and detached,” according to an AFP correspondent. Bichara informed the gathering he received his inspiration from the Quran, which demands: “All Muslims must make holy war” (AFP, July 2).

Ahmat Ismail Bichara was born in the village of Mongo in the Guéra region of Chad, just north of the Moyen-Chari district where the young religious leader settled in 2005 after attending various Quranic schools. Bichara opened a Quranic school four kilometers from Kouno, where he gradually developed a following that built a thatch-roofed mosque and village around his school. In the new community women were veiled and kept separate from the men, customs unknown in Chad’s traditional Islamic practice (TchadActuel, July 3). Bichara was fond of delivering sermons urging holy war in the face of the impending end of the world, declaring his determination to restore justice and combat the corruption of the Islamic faith.

Justice Minister Jean Alingyué promised a judicial inquiry into the massacre would be opened, with a team of investigators sent to Kouno, before adding derisively that Bichara “thinks he speaks with the Prophet” (TchadActuel, July 2).

It is uncertain how much resonance Bichara’s brief holy war may have with the rest of Chad’s Muslim population, who are largely Sufis with little in common with the Salafist trend of al-Qaeda-style militancy. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, warriors from Chad’s north and east provided strong resistance to French and Italian efforts to overpower the regional dominance of the fiercely independent Sanussi order, which had created an Islamic Saharan confederacy from their bases in Cyrenaica and Fezzan. With the Sanussis a spent force after the First World War—when they took the side of the German and Ottoman Empires—many of Chad’s Muslims are today members of the North African Tijaniyya order of Sufis, which have a reputation for cooperation with government, even during the period of French occupation. The Tijaniyya are themselves often in theological conflict with other Sunnis, due to several unorthodox beliefs, including the claim that the order’s founder Ahmad al-Tijani (1737-1815) received a revelation from the Prophet that was not given to the Prophet’s Companions first.

Despite the Quixotic nature of Bichara’s poorly-armed jihad on Denmark, the suggestion that government corruption may have played a part in inspiring the brief insurrection is significant. Reaction to corruption was a prime factor in the support provided to Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi (“the Expected One”) in his successful 1880s revolt in neighboring Sudan against its Turko-Circassian rulers. It is reported that Bichara claimed he was invested with “divine power” and was the true Mahdi (TchadActuel, July 3). Bichara appears to have attempted to combine intrusive Salafist religious practices with a more traditional Sufi-based tradition of political opposition that is usually centered on a religious figure, in this case Bichara with his reported claim to be the Mahdi.

The knowledge that Chad’s petro-wealth is failing to penetrate further than the ruling faction provides fertile ground for the growth of militant preachers using the same apocalyptic language employed by Bichara and the earlier Sudanese Mahdi. Chad’s armed opposition is currently dominated by Zaghawa-led militants who promise little more than a newer version of President Idriss Déby’s Zaghawa-dominated government. This does not, however, represent the extent of Chadian dissatisfaction with the national government, rated internationally as one of the world’s most corrupt. In the current international and economic environment it is possible that Islam may provide a rallying point for the vast majority of Chad’s Muslims who have little access to power or revenues from the oil industry. The Interior Minister’s claim that “Chad is a secular state, one and indivisible,” may be put to the test.

This article first appeared in the July 16, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus

Fatal Ambush of UN Peacekeepers in Darfur Raises Questions on Future of UNAMID

Andrew McGregor

July 16, 2008

The July 8 ambush of a United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) patrol came amid growing tensions in Sudan generated by the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes, military maneuvers around Khartoum and declarations from Darfur’s strongest rebel movement that it intends to repeat its long-distance May assault on the national capital.

Darfur - RwandaRwandan Peacekeeping Patrol in Darfur

The deadly ambush occurred near the village of Umm Hakibah, roughly 100 km (60 miles) southeast of Darfur’s provincial capital of al-Fasher. The dead included five soldiers from Rwanda (probably the most effective detachment now in UNAMID) and two policemen, one from Ghana, the other from Uganda (Sudan Tribune, July 13; New Vision [Kampala], July 13). A further 19 were wounded and three UNAMID armored cars destroyed during a two-hour gun battle. The identity of the attackers has not been confirmed, but the accounts of survivors describing men on horseback wearing Sudanese Army-style fatigues suggested the attack was the work of the Janjaweed, a largely Arab militia sponsored by Khartoum. A later UNAMID statement claimed the attackers were carried on 40 vehicles (presumably pick-up trucks) equipped with heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons and recoilless rifles (Sudan Tribune, July 11). Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN’s head of peacekeeping operations, described the ambush as a “well-prepared” operation in a government-controlled area that used weapons and equipment not usually employed by rebel groups (AFP, July 11).

Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army – Unity (SLA-Unity) condemned the ambush in a statement (Reuters, July 11). The two rebel movements dominate the Darfur resistance through a military alliance. Elements from both forces were believed to be behind the massacre of 10 African Union peacekeepers at Haskanita last September. A Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman claimed that the Umm Hakibah attack was the work of SLA-Unity, but a statement on a website believed to be close to Sudanese intelligence services described the attackers as “an armed group loyal to the Justice and Equality Movement” (Sudanese Media Center, July 10), a claim quickly denied as “government propaganda” by a JEM spokesman (Sudan Tribune, July 10).

UNAMID differs little in size, composition or capability from the 9,000-man African Union force it replaced at the beginning of the year. Only a few hundred of the projected 17,000 additional troops that were to form UNAMID have actually arrived. African Union troops have repainted their helmets in UN blue, but still lack basic transportation equipment as well as vitally needed helicopters (for the problems with UNAMID, see Terrorism Monitor, November 8, 2007). Australia suspended its UNAMID deployment of a small force of military specialists in the wake of the Umm Hakibah attack (Sydney Morning Herald, July 13). Political activists led by actress Mia Farrow are now calling for the deployment of controversial U.S. private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, notorious for their free use of weapons in Iraq, including a 2007 massacre of 17 civilians in Baghdad that led to an FBI investigation (Financial Times, June 19; BBC, October 8, 2007).

This article first appeared in the July 16, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus

Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to Renounce Violence from Prison?

Andrew McGregor

July 16, 2008

As part of a dialogue and reconciliation process, imprisoned leaders of Al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyah al-Muqatilah (The [Libyan] Islamic Fighting Group – LIFG) appear ready to renounce political violence (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, July 6). Although the LIFG was closely tied to al-Qaeda and responsible for several assassination attempts on Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi in its struggle to establish an Islamic state in Libya, the ongoing dialogue is sponsored by the president’s son, Sayf al-Islam Qadhafi, who played an important role in the release of over 90 members of the LIFG from Libyan prisons last April.

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi 2Saif al-Islam Qaddafi (al-Jazeera)

A former member of the LIFG Shura Committee, Nu’man Bin Uthman (a.k.a. Noman Benotman), is playing a leading role in the dialogue with former members of the Shura Committee held in Tripoli’s Abu Salim Prison. Now a London-based political activist, Bin Uthman is a veteran of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan and was based in Sudan with Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda and LIFG operatives in the 1990s. Bin Uthman claims that Bin Laden specifically forbade the LIFG from mounting attacks in Libya or attempting to assassinate its leaders.

Participants in the dialogue include some of the leading members of the LIFG, such as the group’s amir, Abdullah al-Sadiq (a.k.a. Abd al-Hakim Belhaj), arrested in Thailand in 2004; Abu Hazim (a.k.a. Khalid al-Sharif), held in Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base Prison by U.S. forces until his deportation to Libya two years ago; Afghanistan veteran and religious leader Abu al-Mundhir (a.k.a. Sami al-Sa’di), arrested in Hong Kong in 2004; Shaykh Miftah al-Duwwadi (a.k.a. Abd al-Ghaffar); Mustafa Qanfid (a.k.a. Abu al-Zubayr), military leader of the LIFG; and Abd al-Wahab Qayid Idris, the older brother of senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi. According to Bin Uthman, some LIFG members have been sentenced to death, but these sentences may be reviewed in light of “the American onslaught on the Islamic world while focusing on the importance of preserving security and stability in Libya.”

Libyan security authorities are reported to be most interested in the dialogue as a means of averting further acts of militancy within Libya. The participation of Libyans such as Abu Yahya al-Libi (Muhammad Hassan Qayid) in the anti-Coalition jihad in Afghanistan was not raised in the talks. The jailed LIFG leaders gave Bin Uthman a message to pass along to those Libyans still active in al-Qaeda. Though the LIFG once had hundreds of active members, it is now largely non-operational.

This article first appeared in the July 16, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus

Al-Qaeda’s Abu Yahya al-Libi Calls for Continued Jihad in Somalia

Andrew McGregor

July 1, 2008

Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan-born senior al-Qaeda commander now based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, has issued a statement calling on Somalia’s Islamist insurgents to ignore a truce recently negotiated between their leaders and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in favor of continuing their jihad (al-Sahab Media Production Organization, June 23).

al-LibiAbu Yahya al-Libi

In a 20 minute video entitled “Somalia – No Peace Without Islam,” Abu Yahya calls on Somali jihadis to reject the terms of the June 10 agreement signed by the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), an umbrella group of former Islamic Courts Union Islamists and other anti-government Somali militants: “The mujahideen are not concerned with such agreements or with their provisions – indeed they consider them not worth the paper on which they were written” (for the full agreement, see Shabelle Media Network, June 10; see also Terrorism Focus, June 24).

Abu Yahya describes the agreement as the result of conspiracy and intrigue, “which the enemies of Muslims have mastered to enable them to prolong their domination on this earth. These agreements are aimed to absorb the indignation of the oppressed and wronged Muslim peoples. They are employed as a means to uproot jihad and the mujahideen in all hot areas, including beloved Somalia, by portraying the mujahideen, through the huge media networks of the enemies, as an obstacle in the way of achieving peace, stability, and reconciliation…” Abu Yahya suggests that Somalia’s jihadis find the inflexible firmness in the face of unbelievers recommended by the Quran rather than look for “common ground… a unified principle or a front of struggle that provides an umbrella for you… Say with clarity and frankness: We will continue to fight our enemies from among the despicable Abyssinians [Ethiopia’s occupation army] and their apostate collaborators… until we remove all traces and wipe out any mention of them in our country.” The Libyan militant tells Somalis that civil war is not always something to be avoided at all costs, reminding them that the Prophet Muhammad battled the unbelievers within his own Quraysh tribe.

Displaying his own unyielding approach to jihad, Abu Yahya insists that even the withdrawal of the Ethiopian army and its replacement by African Union or UN peacekeepers “will not change the situation at all” and will merely be “an attempt to replace an occupation with another occupation… a move from the state of a blatant occupation to that of a legitimate occupation.” Somalia’s mujahideen must be prepared to face any force that sets foot on Somali land, regardless of its affiliation or proclaimed intentions.

This is not the first statement from Abu Yahya directed at the Somali insurgents; it appears to be part of an effort to re-establish an al-Qaeda relationship with Somali Islamists that seems to have deteriorated over the last decade, contrary to assertions to the contrary from Ethiopian, TFG and U.S. sources. The effort may be working—last month Shaykh Mukhtar Abu al-Zubayr, the leader of the militant Somali al-Shabaab organization (which has rejected the TFG-ARS agreement outright), sent “greetings to Shaykh Abu Yahya al-Libi, who revived the al-Usra [family] Army, and whose words have had a stronger impact than 1,000 jihadist soldiers in your brothers’ battle against the global Crusade.”

This article first appeared in the July 1, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus

Hekmatyar Tells Pakistani Taliban to Stay Out of Afghanistan

Andrew McGregor

July 1, 2008

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a veteran Afghan rebel and leader of the Hezb-i-Islami Party, has issued a statement asking members of the Pakistani Taliban to refrain from crossing the border to join the jihad in Afghanistan. The statement was issued by fax on June 24 (Afghan Islamic Press, June 25).

While thanking the Pakistani mujahideen for their “compassion and kindness” and willingness to join Afghan efforts to expel the occupying Coalition, Hekmatyar suggests that cross-border insurgent activity is used as an excuse for continuing the foreign occupation of Afghanistan. According to Hekmatyar, the Pakistani Taliban could be far more useful to the Afghans by pursuing jihad within Pakistan and attacking Coalition supply-lines that carry military and logistical equipment through Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province to the Khyber Pass. “The entire nation of Afghanistan is ready to take part in the holy war against the U.S. occupiers, just the way they fought the Russians. If we have problems, it is only logistical problems.”

After emphasizing that it is only Afghans rather than the Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaeda who are resisting the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, Hekmatyar compares the current occupation with that of the Soviets in the 1980s, suggesting: “The way the arrogant and ruthless Americans treat Afghans is far more violent and ruthless than that of the communists and Russian troops in Afghanistan… The Russian troops were invited by their puppet government, but the Americans first occupied Kabul, and then made a government in Bonn and brought it to Kabul!” Hekmatyar also accuses the Americans of selling “trucks full of weapons and military equipment” in a way the Russians never did. He also complains that the degree of financial corruption and embezzlement in the upper echelons of the “U.S. puppet government” far surpasses anything committed by the communists of the 1980s.

Hekmatyar’s statement comes as the warlord is denying persistent rumors of secret negotiations with the government of President Hamid Karzai.

This article first appeared in the July 1, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus