In a newly released video, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan eulogized Qari Hussain, a top commander of the group who trained suicide bombers and plotted operations against the West, including the failed Times Square bombing in May 2010. Qari Hussain trained suicide bombers for numerous attacks and once described them as “the atomic weapons of Muslims.”
The Taliban emailed the over 60-minute video celebrating the death of Qari Hussain to The Long War Journal today. The video was produced by Umar Media, the Movement of the Taliban’s official media outlet, and emailed by the group’s official email account.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and Umar Media did not respond to the The Long War Journal‘s request to confirm the date and location of Qari Hussain’s death, or how he was killed.
On numerous occasions, Pakistani officials have rumored that Qari Hussain had been killed in US drone strikes and Pakistani military operations. The last report of his death was on Jan. 12, 2012; he was said to have been killed in a US drone strike in a village near Miramshah in North Waziristan. Hakeemullah Mehsud, then the emir of Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was also rumored to have been killed in that attack. Hakeemullah was not killed, but later died in a US drone strike nearly two years later, on Nov. 1, 2013.
The Taliban have referred to Qari Hussain as a “martyr” several times in the past but had not released a statement officially announcing his death. For instance, in a statement released in November that announced the appointment of Sheikh Khalid Haqqani to serve as the deputy emir of the group, Qari Hussain was described as “the martyr Qari Hussain.”
Qari Hussain’s martyrdom video features interviews with Qari Hussain and other Taliban commanders. Also included is footage of Faisal Shahzad, the operative who came close to detonating a car bomb in Times Square in the heart of New York City on May 1, 2010. Qari Hussain claimed credit for the plot in a video that was first released to The Long War Journal. [See LWJ report, Exclusive: Tapes show Hakeemullah Mehsud is alive and threatens attacks in the US.]
In the video claiming credit for Times Square, Qari Hussain said Faisal Shahzad was sent to attack the US for a drone strike that killed Baitullah Mehsud, the founder of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and for a US and Iraqi military operation that killed both Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the founder of the Islamic State of Iraq, and Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda in Iraq’s military chief. Qari Hussain also accused the US of unfairly jailing “Lady al Qaeda” Aafia Siddiqui, and said the US pushed the Pakistani military to attack the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, a radical madrassa in Islamabad whose clerics openly supported the Taliban and al Qaeda. [For more on the Pakistani Taliban’s role in the Times Square plot, see LWJ reports, Pakistani Taliban claim credit for failed NYC Times Square car bombing, US sees Pakistani Taliban involvement in Times Square attack after downplaying links.]
Qari Hussain also played a role in training Abu Dujanah al Khurasani [Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi], the Jordanian who deceived the CIA into believing he was providing intelligence on al Qaeda’s operations in Pakistan. Khurasani killed seven CIA officials and bodyguards, and a Jordanian intelligence officer, in the Dec. 30, 2009 suicide attack against the CIA at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province, Afghanistan. Khurasani had lured the officials by promising to have detailed intelligence on the location of Ayman al Zawahiri.
The US added Qari Hussain to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in January 2011 for his involvement in the Times Square plot, the attack on COP Chapman, and numerous attacks in Pakistan.
In the designation, the State Department described him as “the deadliest of all TTP’s commanders.” [See LWJ report, US adds Qari Hussain Mehsud to list of designated terrorists].
Background on Qari Hussain Mehsud
Based out of South Waziristan until the military operations in the Mehsud tribal areas in the fall of 2009, Qari Hussain had relocated to the Mir Ali region in North Waziristan. He had long been a close ally of al Qaeda.
He served in the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, a radical anti-Shia terror group that serves as muscle for al Qaeda, and in the Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islam, under the command of Ilyas Kashmiri, who later served as a military chief for al Qaeda. Qari Hussain also served as a senior leader in the Fadayeen-i-Islam, a terror outfit that conducted numerous attacks against the Pakistani government.
Qari Hussain was known as Ustad-i-Fedayeen, or the teacher of suicide bombers. Prior to the Pakistani Army offensive in South Waziristan in October 2009, Qari Hussain ran camps in the tribal agency where children were trained to become suicide bombers. Children as young as seven years of age were indoctrinated to wage jihad in Pakistan and Afghanistan, a video taken at one of his camps in Spinkai showed.
The Pakistani military first demolished Qari Hussain’s suicide nursery during an earlier, shorter offensive against the Taliban in Spinkai in January 2008. The military launched the short operation after Taliban forces commanded by Baitullah Mehsud overran two military outposts and conducted attacks against other forts and military convoys in the tribal agency.
The military seized numerous documents and training materials in the demolished camp. In May 2008, a senior Pakistani general described the previous camp as a suicide “factory” for children. Sometime in the spring or summer of 2008, however, Qari Hussain rebuilt his child training camps in South Waziristan.
In November 2009, the Pakistani government placed a $600,000 bounty out for information leading to the death or capture of Qari Hussain. He was among the top three most wanted leaders of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, along with Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, who, like Hakeemullah, was killed in a US drone strike in 2013.