The banner above advertises the latest statement by AQIS explaining its attacks on two Pakistani frigates on Sept. 6. The man pictured on the right is purportedly Zeeshan Rafique, whom AQIS says was a second lieutenant in the Pakistan Navy. He is pictured giving a “briefing” to the “leadership of the mujahideen on the plan of the operation.”
Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the newest official branch of al Qaeda’s international organization, has released a nine-page “press release” explaining its “targeting of [the] American and Indian Navies” on Sept. 6. The group says the operations were part of “a plan to strike America’s military strength on the seas” that was prepared “on the orders of the respected [Emir], Shaykh Ayman al Zawahiri.”
AQIS spokesman Usama Mahmood claims that the Pakistani government has covered up the extent of its planned operations and, he says, the media coverage thus far does not accurately reflect what transpired. Therefore, Mahmood has published al Qaeda’s response on his official Twitter feed.
What follows is a summary of al Qaeda’s version of events and is not an independent account. None of the purported details have been publicly verified by US intelligence officials.
All citations are from the statement released by Mahmood. AQIS is eager to claim that the operations caused more damage than the Pakistani government is letting on.
“The operation was portrayed as an attack on the naval dockyard by ‘outsiders’ who had infiltrated the facility,” the AQIS document reads. But al Qaeda claims the “operation took place under the leadership of two brothers from Al Qa’eda in the [Indian] Subcontinent, namely Oweis Jakhrani (former Second Lieutenant in the Pakistan Navy) and Zeeshan Rafeeq (Second Lieutenant).”
The AQIS document includes photos of both Jakhrani and Rafeeq. Only Jakhrani was not an active duty officer at the time of the attacks, according to AQIS, as he “had only recently resigned from the Pakistan Navy due to his faith and zeal.” All of the other al Qaeda operatives “who attained martyrdom during this operation were serving officers of the Pakistan Navy.” (Emphasis in original.)
The goal of the operation was to take “control of two important warships of the Pakistan Navy,” the PNS Zulfiqar and PNS Aslat. There “were several Mujahid brothers” aboard both ships and they were “provided with the necessary weapons and explosives required for this operation,” AQIS says.
The first al Qaeda team was on board the PNS Zulfiqar, which departed Karachi on Sept. 3 and was allegedly scheduled “to be refueled by USS Supply,” which “is one of the most important American naval ships after aircraft carriers.”
While the PNS Zulfiqar was being refueled, “some of the Mujahid brothers present on board…were to target and destroy the American oil tanker [USS Supply] with the 72 mm anti-aircraft guns on their frigate.”
In addition, other al Qaeda operatives on board the PNS Zulfiqar “would target the American frigate protecting USS Supply using four anti-ship guided missiles.” If they were successful, the al Qaeda team would then use whatever weapons were left over to attack or “destroy any American or coalition warship present in the vicinity, and fight on until attaining martyrdom.”
A second AQIS team was present on board the PNS Aslat “with weapons and explosives.” According to the plan, the second cadre of AQIS jihadists was going to “take over” the PNS Aslat, which was “near the shores of Karachi,” and “steer it towards Indian waters in order to attack Indian warships with anti-ship missiles.” If any ships got in their way, including American warships, then the AQIS crew on board would use the PNS Aslat to attack them instead.
AQIS goes on to give a version of events that is substantially different from that told by official Pakistani sources.
The group claims that the PNS Zulfiqar departed Karachi on Sept. 3 and implies that the firefight between al Qaeda’s men and others in the Pakistani Navy took place deep in the Indian Ocean. Pakistani sources have said that the attack occurred in the Naval Dockyard in Karachi.
AQIS questions the timing of the Pakistani Navy’s announcement that the attack had occurred, saying it waited several days to publicly acknowledge it. The press release reads: “Is it [the supposedly delayed announcement] because it took three days to erase the evidence of the firefight aboard PNS Zulfiqar and the consequent damage to the warship? Or is it because it took three days for this frigate to return to Karachi after the battle had occurred on board?”
Similarly, AQIS claims that the attack on the PNS Aslat was an inside operation and it “was not attacked form the outside,” as Pakistani officials have claimed. AQIS says that Pakistan “cover[ed] up the success of the Mujahideen and the moral and material losses and damage suffered by the enemies.” Pakistan supposedly does not want the public to know that “the call to perform Jihad…has now started to appeal to even officers of the Armed Forces.”
AQIS says that the Pakistani government is also hiding the identities of the other attackers from the public because it hopes to avoid any further embarrassment over “the fact that the rest of the martyrs were serving officers of the Pakistan Navy.”
The preface to the AQIS press release explains its motivation behind its planned attacks on the two Pakistani frigates. The al Qaeda branch says that Pakistan takes part in the Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP), making it part of the supposed global “crusade” against Islam.
In addition to securing “maritime trade routes for commercial shipping of America and other major powers of the believers,” the CMCP participates “in the so-called war on terror (i.e. the American-led Crusade against the Muslim world” and prevents “possible attacks by the Mujahideen on the seas.” The CMCP also provides “logistical support to the occupying American and allied forces in Afghanistan” and consolidates “their grip on Islamic waters” while “besieging the Muslim world from the seas.”
The AQIS statement ends with several messages. The first is addressed to Muslims in Gaza, and repeats al Qaeda’s standard call for “revenge” for the blood shed in the Palestinian-controlled territories. Other messages are addressed to the Muslim Ummah [worldwide community of Muslims] and the mujahideen. The latter should not forget “to make Jihad on the seas one of their priorities,” AQIS says.
AQIS threatens America, “the Jews,” and India.
And the final message speaks to the “Officers and Soldiers in the Armed Forces of Muslim Countries.” AQIS holds up the Pakistani Navy officers responsible for the twin claimed attacks on Sept. 6 as examples for all Muslims serving in the armed forces. AQIS blasts the Pakistani Army, saying its generals demonstrate a “slave’s loyalty to his master” and “have devoted the entire Armed Forces to the defense of American interests.”
AQIS concludes by saying that all Muslims serving in the armed forces should join the jihad if they want to enter paradise and avoid hell. Thus, AQIS is attempting to recruit more officers and soldiers serving in the Pakistani military.
Additional photos included in the AQIS press release.
AQIS claims that one of its members monitored the movements of General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the former Pakistani Army Chief, as he visited an American warship. AQIS says that its operative tracked Kiyani “on the computer screen of the missile control system installed on the Pakistani warship.” This is intended to show that AQIS has operatives inside the Pakistani Navy.
The photo below purportedly shows the USS Supply as it refuels a frigate at sea. AQIS allegedly planned to attack the USS Supply as it refueled a Pakistani frigate.
AQIS included the photo below of the PNS Aslat.