The leader of a little-known terror group that operates in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan said his organization seeks to aid in the restoration of an Islamic caliphate.
Rawil Kusaynuv, the emir of the Zahir Baibars Battalion, a primarily Kazakh jihadist group that fights in Afghanistan, granted an interview with Haydar al Khorasani from the Minbar Media Project, a jihadist propaganda outlet. The interview was recently posted on jihadist websites and was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Kusaynuv leads the Zahir Baibars Battalion, which he claims is one several units in the Jund al Khilafah, or Brigade of the Soldiers of the Caliphate. The group has recently emerged in jihadist propaganda, and has released two videos of attacks on US bases in Khost province, Afghanistan. The attacks took place in Haqqani Network areas in June and July, and the videos were released in September and October, respectively. Prior to the release of these tapes, there has been no mention of the group.
“The Brigade is composed of several battalions, most of which work in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world,” said Kusaynuv, according to the SITE translation. “It has a charter that has yet to be made public, but it might be published later, Allah willing. It follows the style of secret organizations in their non-disclosure of their administrative structures and their leaders.”
Kusaynuv said his battalion has “a group of mujahideen of different nationalities” but is primarily made up of Kazakh nationals. He would not disclose the name of the emir of the Jund al Khilafah.
“As for us in the Battalion, more than 90% of us are from Kazakhstan, and we have many military activities on the fighting lines in Afghanistan in collaboration with the rest of the battalions,” he said. “We are also interested in the military, faith, intellectual, and political support for our brothers in order for them to rise to an acceptable level of ability to wage the fight.”
In addition to fighting in Afghanistan, he said his battalion is “very interested in what is happening in Kazakhstan, and we dedicate a significant part of our resources to it, because we consider it one of our priorities.” The terror group carried out two bombings in Kazakhstan on Oct. 31 to punish the government for enacting a law that bans women from wearing the hijab in government-run places.
Kusaynuv also denied that the Jund al Khilafah is made up exclusively of Wahabbis.
“There are those who follow the doctrine of Imam Abu Hanifa, and those who follow the words of Imam Malik, and those who are Hambalis, Salafists, and so on,” Kusaynuv said. “We respect all the schools of thought and we revere all the scholars, and we do not have any reservation upon them, starting from Imam Abu Hanifa to Sheikh Ibn Abdul Wahhab.”
Restoring the Caliphate
Kusaynuv said the Jund al Khilafah was so named to remind Muslims that they have a “duty” to aid in the restoration of a global Islamic caliphate ruled by sharia, or Islamic law.
“This name reminds Muslims of their duty to revive the Islamic Caliphate as a system…. It is the system of Shariah-based governance that must be prevail in every Muslim country from the east to the west.”
“We believe that the region of Central Asia, in addition to the Islamic Maghreb [North Africa] and Yemen, are candidates to be the nucleus for the return of the Caliphate State in the future,” he continued.
Jund al Khilafah is one of several foreign fighter brigades operating in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas that support the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate. Other units include the Caucasus Mujahideen in Khorasan; the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its offshoot, the Islamic Jihad Group; Taifatul Mansura (Victorious Sect); and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement.