April 16, 2008
An important but elusive al-Qaeda operative based in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region has released a videotape calling for jihad against the United States and its allies until final victory (The News [Islamabad], April 9). The veteran Iraqi jihadi, Abu Kasha—also known as Abdur Rahman al-Iraqi, Abu al-Marajel, and Arab Malang—has so far been known for his secretive ways, refusing to be photographed or to give interviews to media. Addressing a group of disguised jihadis in Arabic, Abu Kasha praises Osama bin Laden during the video and warns that the death of each mujahid will be avenged by the killing of 10 Coalition troops.
Reportedly operating from Mir Ali in North Waziristan and Afghanistan’s Kunar province, Abu Kasha runs a training camp for would-be jihadis, including special instruction in suicide bombings. Al-Qaeda has vowed revenge for a strike on Mir Ali by a CIA Predator UAV earlier this year (Al-Sahab Media, February 6; Al-Jazeera, February 7). Abu Kasha has a small command of his own under two local sub-commanders, Imanullah and Haq Nawaz Dawar (Daily Times [Lahore], January 9, 2007). He is also reported to have close ties to a breakaway faction of Uzbek fighters formerly under Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Tahir Yuldash. A Pakistani military operation against Mir Ali last summer killed 15 jihadis, including 10 Uzbeks, but failed to kill its probable target, Abu Kasha (South Asia Terrorism Portal, August 19, 2007).
This article first appeared in the April 16, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus