US targets Salafist group allied with the Taliban in Kunar
Afghan and Coalition forces killed three members of a little-known Salafist terror group during a raid in Afghanistan's northeastern province of Kunar yesterday.
The three members of the Taliban subgroup Jamaat ul Dawa al Quran were killed as the combined Afghan and Coalition force targeted "commanders responsible for planning and conducting attacks and propaganda campaigns in Kunar province," the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. ISAF confirmed that one of the commanders targeted, Sayed Shah, was killed in the attack. The raid took place in the village of Shamun in the district of Pech.
The Jamaat ul Dawa al Quran (JDQ) commanders are "directly linked to two rocket-propelled grenade attacks that killed two US service members and wounded several more, in addition to several other RPG and small arms fire attacks against Afghan and Coalition forces," ISAF stated.
ISAF denied that the JDQ was related to the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front group for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, which conducts operations in Afghanistan, including in Kunar, Nuristan, and Nangarhar provinces. ISAF and Afghan forces targeted Lashkar-e-Taiba facilitators during raids in Nangarhar province in July.
"While they are both Ahl al Hadith Salafist groups ... they are not in any way the [Pakistan-based] Jamaat-ud-Dawa (LeT)," an ISAF spokesman told The Long War Journal. But JDQ may cooperate with Jamaat-ud-Dawa/Lashkar-e-Taiba inside Afghanistan.
"However, the groups may rely on each other to facilitate their movement and conduct attacks while operating in Afghanistan, namely in Kunar province," the ISAF spokesman told The Long War Journal.
JDQ also goes by the names Jamaat al Dawa ila al Sunnah, Jamaat ud Dawa il al Quran al Sunnah, and the Salafi Group. ISAF stated that "the group operates alongside the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan."
But JDQ is actually an official part of the Taliban. JDQ officially joined the Taliban in January 2010 and swore allegiance to Mullah Omar, the emir of the Taliban's shadow Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. On Jan. 9, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid released an official statement formally announcing JDQ's merger with the Taliban and named the group's leadership.
"The movement, Jamaat al Dawa ila al Sunnah of Afghanistan which has regularly carried out Jihad in the name of Salafi Taliban in Kunar province, has now allied itself with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," Mujahid said in a statement published on the Taliban's official website, Voice of Jihad.
"The Council, consisting of the Deputy leader of this group, honorable Haji Hayaatullah and other senior members of the council, known as respected Sheikh Shawali, respected Maulawi Rahmatullah Khan, respected Maulawi Kalajan Jan, respected Maulawi Inayatu Rahman and others, have officially proclaimed allegiance to his highness Amir-ul-Momineen [the leader of the faithful, Mullah Mohammed Omar]," the statement continued. "They declared cooperation and coordination with Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, vowing that all the Mujahideen of Kunar province will act in compliance with the Code of Conduct of the Islamic Emirate and follow its course of actions and that the Mujahideen of Kunar will carry out Jihad as per instructions of the Leadership of the Islamic Emirate in the same way as the other Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan."
Abdulrahim Muslim Dost, a former prisoner at the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, was exchanged for Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan. Click to view.
Three members of the JDQ have been detained by the US at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, a "poet" and journalist who worked for pro-Taliban papers, was sent to Pakistan in 2005. In 2008, the Pakistani government freed Dost and handed him over to the Taliban as part of a deal to free Tariq Azizuddin, Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan. Sahib Rohullah Wakil was a senior member of JDQ who had close connections to the Pakistani government and helped al Qaeda flee to Pakistan after the US invasion in late 2001. Sabar Lal Melma was a general in the Taliban's army and helped al Qaeda fighters flee the battle of Tora Bora and cross the border into Pakistan. Wakil and Melma were repatriated to Afghanistan and are in detention at the Pul-e-Charkhi prison outside of Kabul.
Kunar province is a known haven for al Qaeda and allied terror groups. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Pech, Shaikal Shate, Sarkani, Dangam, Asmar, and Asadabad; or six of Kunar's 15 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.
Al Qaeda's extensive reach in Afghanistan is documented in the body of press releases issued in recent years by the International Security Assistance Force. Looking at press releases dating back to March 2007, The Long War Journal has been able to detect the presence of al Qaeda and affiliated groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in 48 different districts in 17 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
• Security force targets RPG attack network in Kunar, ISAF press release
• UPDATE ISAF confirms Jama'at ul Dawa al-Qu'ran commander, ISAF press release
• Statement from Kunar-based Salafi Group on joining Taliban, Threat Matrix
• Afghan, US forces hunt al Qaeda, Taliban in northeast, The Long War Journal
• Pakistan frees former Guantanamo prisoner, Afghan Taliban commander, The Long War Journal
• Analysis: Al Qaeda maintains an extensive network in Afghanistan, The Long War Journal