Flashpoint Partners translated an interview of al Qaeda religious leader and ideologue Sheikh Khalid bin Abdul Rehman al Hussainan that was published in January in Hitteen, an Urdu language magazine distributed monthly in Pakistan [more on Hitteen here at The Express Tribune]. In the interview, al Hussainan, a rising figure in al Qaeda, said that the Afghan Taliban continue to provide support for al Qaeda’s operations:
Hitteen: “Sheikh! What do you think of Afghanistan, its locals and the mujahdeen? What do you see in the relations between the Taliban mujahideen and its Arab and non- Arab muhajireen brothers?”
Al-Hussainan: “Praise be to Allah, I found Afghanistan, its locals and the mujahideen to be very nice. Which of the several good qualities should i mention? Services and assistance; sacrifice and generosity; hospitality and congeniality; I have seen every sublime quality in them. They really respect the Arab and non-Arab muhajireen; and offer every assistance or aid that is needed–to the extent of opening their homes to them.”
“Certainly the people of Afghanistan have rekindled the memories of the first wave of the Ansar muhajireen…May Allah bless their lives and their actions. Amen! They welcomed us when entire world had forsaken us and accepted every pain that came their way because of us. May allah be happy with them. Amen!”
Al Hussainan’s comments will likely be dismissed as mere al Qaeda propaganda, and that will be partially true. Arab al Qaeda operatives certainly are not welcome in all corners of Afghanistan, but they have found a home in the provinces of Kunar and Nuristan (and in areas in Nangarhar) as well as in areas under the control of the Haqqani Network (Paktia, Paktika, and Khost, as well as areas in Ghazni and Zabul). In the south, more radical factions of the Taliban, such as the Mullah Dadullah Front, which are closely allied with al Qaeda, are conducting operations. And in the north, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, also closely tied to al Qaeda, is active. Al Qaeda operatives had been killed and captured in areas in the north and the west over the past several years.
Al Hussainan’s statements also correspond with what the Taliban say about their relations with the international terror group. Less than two weeks ago, Abdullah al Wazir, the Taliban’s representative to jihadist forums, said that al Qaeda continues to operate under the aegis of the Taliban.
And last fall, Siraj Haqqani released a training manual which included portions praising al Qaeda and urging Haqqani Network members to support al Qaeda both locally and in its international operations.