OMAR BIN KHETAB, NO 2 OF AL-QAEDA IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN

The article originally appeared on India Today on 7 December. 

Omar bin Khetab, the second-in-command of the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), has been killed in a joint operation by Afghan intelligence and the US military.

Not much information is available about the terrorist – apart from some sketchy details – but the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) called him the seniormost Al Qaeda leader killed in Afghanistan since 2001, when Taliban was driven out of the country.

A NATO release on Khetab’s elimination described him as an expert in heavy weapons and explosives, who trained the Taliban for night attacks.

Also known as Omar Mansoor, Khetab was killed in the Gilan district in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, the Washington Post reported. He was in his early 40s, and came from the restive tribal regions of Pakistan, the report said.

A 2016 UN report put the AQIS operatives’ count in Afghanistan at 300, and said they mainly came from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and India. The same report said Khetab handled AQIS operations in the east of Waziristan.

Courtesy: Tolo News

80 more Al Qaeda terrorists were killed along with him, including the top three al-Qaeda leaders in the country. Those who were killed included “Qasim, Hassan Hamza, Jonaid and Mustafa, military head of al-Qaeda, three Punjabi Taliban and two local Taliban fighters”, Tolo News reported quoting the NDS.

Air and military operations were conducted in the past few weeks in Ghazni, Paktia and Zabul provinces of Afghanistan. Details of the operations have not been released yet.

Courtesy: Tolo News

AQIS TRYING TO MAKE PRESENCE FELT IN INDIA

The AQIS has virtually been non-existent so far in India and is trying to make its presence felt in the country. It recently named former Hizbul terrorist Zikar Rashid Bhat – alias Zakir Musa – the chief of its India unit Ansar Ghawzat-Ul-Hind. Before that, in June, AQIS had released a new code of conduct for its members and other terrorists who wanted to show allegiance to Al Qaeda.

In a tape released in August, Al Qaeda chief Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri confirmed that slain Al Qaeda commander Abu Dujana al Pasha was the main driving force behind the formation of AQIS as he “united several jihadi groups belonging to the Indian Subcontinent”.

Abu Dujana al Pasha, who was also known as Abu Dujana al Basha, was the son-in-law of Zawahiri and played a key role in Al Qaeda’s terror operations. Reports say he was known as the “hidden commander” in Al Qaeda, because though he was relatively unknown to the outside world, he worked hard to establish AQIS. The US had declared him a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2009.

Zawahiri had announced the formation of the AQIS in a video message in September 2014. Though it was widely reported that al Pasha was killed in a US drone strike, Al Qaeda never accepted it.

©SantoshChaubey

Advertisements

IN NEW MESSAGE, ZAWAHIRI SAYS AQIS ONE OF MOST IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS, CONFIRMS ISLAMIC EMIRATE

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has confirmed that slain Al Qaeda commander Abu Dujana al Pasha was the main driving force behind formation of Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

According to the transcript of al-Zawahiri’s new video message, released by As Sahab, Al Qaeda’s propaganda arm and available on social media platforms and Twitter handles of some terror monitors, al Pasha “united several jihadi groups belonging to the Indian Subcontinent”.

Abu Dujana al Pasha, who was also known as Abu Dujana al Basha, was son-in-law of Zawahiri and played key role in Al Qaeda’s terror operations. Reports say he was known as the “hidden commander” in Al Qaeda, because though relatively unknown to the outside world, he worked hard to establish AQIS. The US had declared him a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2009.

Zawahiri had announced formation of AQIS in a video message in September 2014. Though it was widely reported that al Pasha was killed in a US drone strike before a month, in August 2014, Al Qaeda had never accepted it.

But this message from Al Qaeda chief himself has now confirmed it. Calling al Pasha a martyr, Zawahiri’s long message slams Pakistan, its rulers and its military; takes on ISIS and urges Syrian jihadis and believers across the world to unite; and describes formation of AQIS as one of the most important works.

“Allah guided him to avail his old relationships that had been formed with the Mujahideen of the Subcontinent in training camps and fronts. Allah had given him popularity amongst them, so he directed his efforts to unite these different groups in a single organization, and thus, with the blessing and favour of Allah, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent was formed, under the banner of the Islamic Emirate,” Zawahiri says.

Terrormonitor.org‏ @Terror_Monitor
#AlQaeda Leader Ayman Al-#Zawahiri Urges #Jihad|ists Unity In #SYRIA, Eulogies Slain Cmdrs In #Waziristan, Praises #AQIS Role In New Video.
3:47 PM – 3 Aug 2017

Terrormonitor.org‏ @Terror_Monitor
#AlQaeda Leader Ayman Al-#Zawahiri Urges #Jihad|ists Unity In #SYRIA, Praises #AQIS Role In New Video. #TerrorMonitor
3:44 PM – 3 Aug 2017

AQIS is trying to make its present felt in India that has virtually been non-existent so far. It recently named former Hizbul terrorist Zikar Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa chief of its India unit Ansar Ghawzat-Ul-Hind. Before that, in June, AQIS had released a new code of conduct for its members and other terrorists, who wanted to show allegiance to Al Qaeda, to follow.

ISLAMIC EMIRATE

This latest video message by Zawahiri also confirms another important development, acceptance of establishment of an Islamic Emirate in Al Qaeda’s core ideology. Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda founder, was against the idea of establishing Islamic Emirate. But with rapid rise of ISIS, an Al Qaeda offshoot that was denounced by its parent for being too cruel or extremist, as Zawahiri says here, and its declaration of an Islamic Caliphate, Al Qaeda had to change its strategy, it seems.

Last year, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), currently considered the most dangerous Al Qaeda faction, had announced to establish an Islamic Emirate in eastern Yemen, a war torn country that has become battleground for Iran and Saudi Arab to establish their regional supremacy.

ISIS is on its way out. It has been driven out of its Iraqi stronghold Mosul and its headquarters in Syria’s Raqqa is expected to fall soon as international forces are rapidly marching ahead. Though US Defence Secretary James Mattis has doubted ISIS leader Ab Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death, the Iraqi and Arabian media has declared him dead. It is only natural then for Al Qaeda to reclaim its position at top of the pyramid as the most preferred outfit of terrorists from across the world with the fall of ISIS. ISIS rise had seen terror outfits the world over shifting their allegiance from Al Qaeda to ISIS.

©SantoshChaubey