Al Qaeda media chief laments deaths of 2 Pakistani clerics
Al Qaeda's media emir for Pakistan issued a eulogy for two Pakistani clerics, including one who had openly supported jihad and the Taliban and other terror groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Ustad Ahmand Farooq, al Qaeda's spokesman for Pakistan, said that the two recently assassinated clerics, Maulana Naseeb Khan and Maulana Aslam Sheikhupuri, had been vital to the indoctrination of recruits to wage jihad in the region. Farooq's statement was released on jihadist Internet forums on June 9 and was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"The news of the martyrdom of a scholar is harder for us to bear than the news of the martyrdom of our own brothers," Farooq said, according to SITE.
Maulana Naseeb Khan
Farooq described Khan as the "fearless teacher of Hadith ... who belonged to North Waziristan and was performing the noble duty of teaching hadith at Akora Khattak." Khan was kidnapped and killed in early May. "His body, bearing clear signs of torture, was later dumped along a roadside," Farooq said.
Khan was a senior cleric at the Darul Uloom Haqqani madrassa, or Jamia Haqqani. The madrassa, which is the second largest in Pakistan, is run by Maulana Sami ul-Haq, who is considered to be "the father of the Taliban."
"Darul Uloom Haqqania is where many of the top Taliban leaders, including its fugitive chief, Mullah Omar, attended," according to the Jamestown Foundation, which interviewed ul-Haq in 2007.
Farooq also said Khan was admired and respected by jihadists for "his open support of the jihadi movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
"Many mujahideen engaged in jihad in Afghanistan and the tribal areas are his former students," according to Farooq. "The Mujahideen had a special place in their hearts for him because of his love for the mujahideen and his open support of the jihadi movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Maulana Naseeb Khan used to openly criticize the western system in Pakistan. He aroused in the hearts of his students a longing for the implementation of the Shariah and zeal for jihad and fighting."
Khan was close to the local Taliban operating in the lawless Pakistani tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan. He "had good relations" with both Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the senior Taliban leader who runs North Waziristan, and Mullah Nazir, a powerful Taliban leader who operates in South Waziristan, Reza Jan, the Pakistan Team Lead at American Enterprise Institute's Critical Threats Project, told The Long War Journal.
Bahadur "issued statements denouncing the death of Khan and threatened to retaliate against Pakistani security forces," according to reports in Pakistan's Urdu-language press, Jan told The Long War Journal. Bahadur also blamed the Pakistani military for the murder of other Pakistani clerics, Jan said.
Khan's death sparked clashes between Bahadur's fighters and the Pakistani military. Twenty-two Taliban fighters and eight civilians, including children, were killed on May 8, according to The Express Tribune. Nineteen Pakistani soldiers were also reported to have been killed in the fighting. The fighting ultimately ceased and Bahadur called on Taliban forces to uphold the peace agreement with the Pakistani government.
Maulana Aslam Sheikhupuri
Farooq described Sheikhupuri, the other cleric who was killed, as "the famous religious scholar and interpreter of the Quran." Sheikhupuri "was shot dead while he was travelling in Karachi" in mid-May.
Sheikhupuri attended the Jamia Uloom-e-Islamiya madrassa in Binori Town in Karachi, according to his own biography. The Jamia Uloom-e-Islamiya has educated some of the Taliban's top leaders as well as members of Pakistani terror groups such as the Harakat ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Harakat ul-Mujahideen, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.
Local and global jihad
Farooq claimed that Khan and Sheikhupuri were killed as part of a conspiracy led by the English and their supporters on the subcontinent.
"It is almost a hundred and fifty years since the historic crossroads of 1857, but the reins of power that were snatched from the hands of the [religious] scholars of subcontinent and the respected and noble people of this region still remain in the hands of the agents of the British and the generation nurtured by Aligarh," Farooq said, referring to the failed Muslim rebellion that ended in 1857.
Farooq said the battle against the English "continues to this day." The establishment of "the Islamic Emirate" in Afghanistan and India are local objectives, but global jihad is also critical to success, he continued.
"Today this battle has transcended its local perspective and has become linked with the Jihadi Movement of Afghanistan," Farooq said. "It is the primary objective of this movement that the flag of the Islamic Emirate is raised from Kabul to Bengal. This regional movement has also become linked with the global jihad and has become part and parcel of the Jihadi revival whose foundations were laid by the martyrs Shaykh Abdullah Azzam and Shaykh Osama bin Laden."