Afghan al Qaeda/Taliban commander threatens to avenge Pakistan drone strike


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Qari Zia Rahman and a map of northeastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. Map from the Asia Times; click to view.

A "dual hatted Taliban and al Qaeda commander" who leads forces on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border has threatened to avenge a recent controversial Predator strike in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Qari Zia Rahman, who commands both al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, threatened to retaliate against US forces in Afghanistan for the March 17 Predator strike in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. The strike, which was denounced by top Pakistani military and political leaders, killed more than 30 people, including 10 Taliban fighters and a senior lieutenant loyal to North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar.

In his threat, Qari Zia emphasized the close relationship between al Qaeda and the Taliban, noting that the groups have together decided to strike at US forces in Afghanistan.

"After the recent drone strikes in Pakistan, the Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan have jointly decided to take revenge of these US attacks," Qari Zia told The News.

"The revenge of the US drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas will be taken by intensifying attacks on the US installations and troops in Afghanistan," he said. "The other elements working with the foreign occupation troops in Afghanistan will also be targeted."

Background on Qari Zia Rahman

Qari Zia is a member of al Qaeda and serves as the Taliban's top regional commander in northeastern Afghanistan. He operates in Kunar and in neighboring Nuristan province in Afghanistan, and he also operates across the border in Pakistan's tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand.

Qari Zia is closely allied with Faqir Mohammed, the Taliban's leader in Bajaur, as well as with Osama bin Laden. Qari Zia's fighters are from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and various Arab nations. He commands a brigade in al Qaeda's paramilitary Shadow Army, or the Lashkar al Zil, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

Kunar province is a known sanctuary 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, Asadabad, Shigal, and Marawana; or eight of Kunar's 15 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.

Qari Zia has established suicide camps in Kunar to train female suicide bombers to attack on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda, Taliban create female suicide cells in Pakistan and Afghanistan.]

A female suicide bomber struck for the first time in Afghanistan in Kunar province on June 21, 2010. In the attack, two US soldiers were killed and two Afghan children were wounded. Qari Zia claimed credit for the suicide attack.

The next female suicide attack took place on Dec. 24, 2010, in Pakistan's tribal agency of Bajaur. The suicide bomber killed 42 Pakistani civilians in an attack at a World Food Program ration distribution point.

In late July and early August of 2010, ISAF announced that it was hunting Qari Zia Rahman. The US targeted him in multiple raids in Kunar over the summer and fall of 2010, but so far has failed to kill or capture him. On June 29, 2010, the US launched a battalion-sized operation in Kunar's Marawara district, which directly borders Pakistan. More than 150 Taliban fighters were reported killed in the operation. On July 20, US and Afghan forces launched another battalion-sized operation in Marawara to flush out Qari Zia. And on Aug. 2, combined forces conducted a raid, again in Marawara, that targeted the al Qaeda leader.

Earlier, in the spring of 2010, the Pakistani government claimed they killed Qari Zia in an airstrike, but he later spoke to the media and mocked Pakistan's interior minister for wrongly reporting his death.



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READER COMMENTS: "Afghan al Qaeda/Taliban commander threatens to avenge Pakistan drone strike"

Posted by blert at March 22, 2011 1:16 PM ET:

Pure bombast.

These players are already totally committed.

Whomever we killed must have been leadership cadres.

Considering the timing... their confab smells like a campaign strategy session... all ruined by a rain of Hellfires.

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For the record... You'll not find louder screeching than that of an enemy in defeat. Tokyo, circa 1945, put out astonishing propaganda. So much so that when the Emperor had to go on the radio to announce the end of the war the average guy in the street thought that it was America that was giving up! He spoke so elliptically that it took quite a while for the Japanese to figure out that they'd lost. All because the press had been printing one fictive victory after another.

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Based upon the oratory one must conclude that the March 17th attack was devastating to the fanatics. We may have destroyed their brain trust.

Posted by DANNY at March 22, 2011 2:21 PM ET:

"The other elements working with the foreign occupation troops in Afghanistan will also be targeted."

This translate: "we will kill woman and kill aid workers. we will blow up crowds where ever we can find them to try and make the US look bad. We will avoid fighting the US military cause we don't really want to die, because we don't really believe the lies we tell the boys we send in to fight. we are too smart for that rubbish.

we will be hiding in Pakistan while we send fools to do our bidding.

Posted by Victor at March 22, 2011 2:21 PM ET:

Bring it

Posted by MarineCorpsEmbassygoHuard at March 22, 2011 3:11 PM ET:

Wow! That Datta Khel hit must have stung...

Posted by Dave D at March 22, 2011 3:25 PM ET:

What's really got this guy angry is that his own personal safety is threatened. He's one of those Taliban/AQIM 'commanders' that's happy to sit on his happy ass in the relative safety of Pakistan while ordering his minions to go into Afghanistan and get whacked by Americans. Then a bomb goes off next door and suddenly there's something to get 'revenge' for?

The guys he's ordering to carry out this revenge (because he's surely too chicken hearted to do it himself) ought to whack him and anyone else ordering them to die for no good cause.

Posted by ItsZep at March 22, 2011 3:27 PM ET:

Hopefully Qari Zia Rahman is next.

Posted by jimbo at March 22, 2011 3:49 PM ET:

Must have got close to someone.

Posted by Max at March 22, 2011 4:14 PM ET:

So, let me get this straight: the Tali-queda are going to attack the US in Afghanistan? And they weren't already doing that? Strange...

Posted by gerald at March 22, 2011 4:44 PM ET:

How i wish I were younger. I would reenlist just for the chance to put rounds into some these arrogant beggars!Oooh i am so scared! NOT!!

Posted by Paul at March 22, 2011 6:38 PM ET:

Bring it on dude! It will only make us send MORE drones. I guess we must have rattled the hornets nest pretty good! Just shows there is no good Taliban. Taliban & AQ are one and the same. They just admitted it!
ISI knows this too.

Posted by mike Burk at March 22, 2011 9:04 PM ET:

Don't these guys already have enough on their avenge plate? Do they have enough capabilities to carry out all the avenges they have announced? When do they get the time to build some infra stucture for their followers?

Posted by cm at March 23, 2011 6:08 AM ET:

Slow your roll, Talibums. It's not even April yet and you're on your 452nd jihad of the year.
I say we kill anyone uglier than old Qari Zia on principle. If he's the face of Tali-qaeda I would hate to see the arse. He gives ugly a bad name.

Posted by American at March 23, 2011 10:21 AM ET:

Keep talking Rahman. The more you talk the better chance we have of tracking your location. We will get Rahman and his friends sooner or later. They can't hide like cowards forever.

Posted by Hibeam at March 23, 2011 10:47 AM ET:

Are those his real eyes? They look like ping pong balls with black dots in the center. He looks like a lunatic in a horror movie. Go drones. We need more drones and more drone strikes. These guys are feeling the pain and howling like little babies....

Posted by Bungo at March 24, 2011 1:24 PM ET:

I'll see your "threat to avenge" and raise you one "crusade", you bug-eyed nut-job.

Posted by bill at March 25, 2011 4:30 AM ET:

i am puzzled by the western media's reporting of civilian deaths. If ISAF target an enemy leader and hits his home and he and his wife and 5 sons are killed is that a fighter a 5 civilians? I believe that is the reporting. It should say a fighter and his family. They are not civilians. They may not be active combatants but by living with a combatant they become legitimate targets.

Posted by Wang a peng at March 28, 2011 9:44 PM ET:

what a good poat