AQIS claims plot to strike US warships was executed by Pakistani Navy officers

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed that Pakistani Navy officers were involved in the failed attempt to hijack a Pakistani warship and launch missiles at US Navy vessels in the Indian Ocean.

AQIS’ spokesman, Usama Mahmoud, made the claim today in a statement released on his Twitter account. Mahmoud’s statement was obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Mahmoud had previously claimed on Sept. 13 that AQIS executed the attack on the Pakistani warship, and published a diagram purporting to show the layout of the PNS Zulfiqar. He said that the attackers had planned to take control of the PNS Zulfiqar and launch missiles at US warships in the Indian Ocean. The PNS Zulfiqar carries at least eight C-802 surface to surface anti-ship missiles. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent claims 2 attacks in Pakistan.]

In today’s statement, Mahmoud accuses the Pakistani military and media outlets of attempting “to deliberately cover up the truth of this operation and the nature of its objectives,” according to SITE. “In an obvious attempt to deceive the world, the official spokesmen for the army and navy portrayed the attack as targeting the Pakistani Navy alone, and its arsenal in the city of Karachi in particular.”

But Mahmoud says the “true objective of the operation … is the American naval fleet that is stationed in the Indian Ocean.”

The AQIS spokesman denied that the Sept. 6 assault on the PNS Zulfiqar at the naval base in Karachi was carried out by “intruders,” and instead said that Pakistani naval “officers” executed the attack.

“The official Pakistani story alleged that the attackers were merely a group of intruders that breached a military institution of the Pakistani Navy, and broke in from outside,” Mahmoud says. “However, all the participants in this fearless operation were officers serving in the ranks of the Pakistani Navy.”

The naval officers, Mahmoud claims, “responded to the appeal of the scholars and jihad and joined the ranks of the mujahideen.”

Mahmoud described the officers’ involvement in the attack as a “rebellion” and not just an attempt to strike at the US.

“Therefore, this operation does not represent an attack on the Americans alone, but it is a rebellion against the Pakistani Navy by its own elements, striking the policy of humiliation and subjugation to America, which the Satanic alliance – represented in the Americanized generals, selfish politicians, and corrupt government employees – imposes,” Mahmoud says.

Mahmoud goes on to explain AQIS’ “reasons for targeting America.” The reasons are standard for al Qaeda, and include the US’ perceived war on Islam, and America’s support for Israel, Muslim countries, and “secular movements.”

The US Navy was chosen as a target because “through its naval military superiority, America is able to control ours straits, our channels, and our waters, and loot the fortunes of our Ummah [Muslim community],” Mahmoud says.

Reports of collusion within Pakistani Navy

While Mahmoud’s claim that Pakistani naval officers executed the attack on the PNS Zulfiqar cannot be proven, Pakistani officials and press reports indicate that at least some of the attackers are members of the Pakistani military.

Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s Defense Minister, said that “some of the navy staff of commissioned ranks and some outsiders” were involved in the attack, according to Dawn.

The Nation reported that a former naval officer known as Awais Jakhrani was killed during the attack. Jakhrani, the son of a Karachi Police Assistant Inspector General, had “links with [a] banned organization.”

Additionally, three “Navy officials” were arrested in Quetta in Baluchistan while trying to flee to Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s Navy has long been thought to be infiltrated by al Qaeda. In late May 2011, Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad wrote an article in the Asia Times on the jihadist attack on Pakistan Naval Base Mehran in Karachi. That attack was carried out by Brigade 313, a unit led by al Qaeda and Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami leader Ilyas Kashmiri. In his article, Shahzad noted that Pakistani officials had begun investigating jihadist “groupings” within the Navy in the spring of 2011 and discovered a “sizeable al Qaeda infiltration within the navy’s ranks.”

After military officials detained and interrogated suspected jihadist infiltrators, al Qaeda threatened to launch attacks against military bases. The Pakistani military opened negotiations with al Qaeda, which ultimately failed. Then Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in Abbottabad on May 1, 2011. Al Qaeda and allied Pakistani jihadists decided to take revenge, obtaining detailed information on Mehran from their Navy infiltrators.

“Within a week, insiders at PNS Mehran provided maps, pictures of different exit and entry routes taken in daylight and at night, the location of hangers and details of likely reaction from external security forces,” Shahzad wrote.

Shahzad’s article, which was published on May 27, 2011, is widely believed to have resulted in his murder at the hands of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. He was kidnapped and murdered just two days after it was published.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

Tags: , ,

15 Comments

  • Eric says:

    Was PNS Zulfiqar seaworthy? Last information I can find, she was anchored off Karachi in 2011, was mistaken for an Indian missile boat, and then attacked by PAF F-16’s. Strafed with hundreds of rounds of gunfire, she was in an serviceable condition when she was towed to the PNS dockyard, where Zulfiqar has sat ever since, awaiting, but not yet completing, repairs. A ship in such a condition would not normally retain its ordnance on-board. Weapons would be off-loaded and stored in shore magazine bunkers. Like wise the ready-for-sea condition would be significantly relaxed.
    If that is, in fact, Zulfiqar’s true status, then even a full PN crew could not have gotten the ship underway. The C-802 variant of the Ying 8 surface to surface anti-ship missile has an effective range of 75 miles. US Warships operating in the N Arabian Sea are typically hundreds of sea miles away and need to be detected and tracked by PNS Zulfiqar’s ship-based fire control radar in order to provide a targeting solution to the missiles before they are fired. The Ying 802 is programmed to evade enemy radar by flying under 25 feet above the sea surface on its approach to the target. As such, its own radar is incapable of searching and acquiring its own target over-the-horizon, hence PNS Zulfiqar would need to get underway to pursue, detect, track, and assign a US Navy ship to the missile, if the missiles were even kept on-board. If the ship were even repaired from 3 years ago.
    What I labor to point out is that Mahmoud is taking his pick of what propaganda value he intends to extract from this incident, while the Pak Navy is silent on the seaworthiness and weapons handling status of the ship that was attacked, for obvious security reasons. Whereas the real likelihood of success for al-Qaeda was less than or equal to Zero. Even to concede all of the above were possible, there was no trained crew standing by to operate any of the technical equipment related to targeting and attacking another vessel with a Sf-Sf missile.

  • JRP says:

    Shows how consistently imaginative is the enemy. The U.S. has to be particularly alert during Fleet Week visits; Port-of-Call visits; and Libety visits to U.S. shores by ships of nations that harbor (no pun intended) radicals intent on hitting at U.S. interests.

  • pre-Boomer Marine brat says:

    Thanks for pointing out Shahzad’s article and murder. It’s very pertinent.
    And it just occured to me to wonder, might this have been Ayman al-Zawahiri’s “9/11 Reprise”.
    If they had pulled it off, it could have been a major propaganda coup in the Recruitment Wars with ISIS.

  • port_blair says:

    Okay looks like longwarjournal has been censoring me.
    Pakistan army is after all a mercenery force.
    The average Pakistani
    Ashfaq is totally ignorant and he thinks about his closeness
    to the middle east rather than South Asia. This would have
    another green on blue attack of epic proportions.
    I contend that the US Navy should completely stop any ships
    from going to Karachi or any ports in Pakistan.
    No US Navy commander should not unaware of the risks in Pakistan. One day I contend that the US Navy will be forced to
    attack Karachi with the legendary 14 inch naval guns and ensure
    it cannot be used for a centuries- a dirty nuke on Karachi will
    solve the problem permanently.

  • Arjuna says:

    It just gets worse and worse. Two teams, one in a RIB and one on foot up the gangplank. All Paki Navy, all bad jihadis (who cares if they call themselves AQ or TTP, they were trying to kill Americans, they are “the enemy”). Wearing the right Marine uniforms but carrying the wrong weapons. An alert sentry plunked them (the ones in the boat). Why? Because there had been a very recent bust of an Uzbek cell with plans to similarly attack Pak Navy facilities and people had their guard up. Why didn’t we know about this attempt? Could it because brave, unarmed journalists are cowed by the cowards of the ISI?

  • Arjuna says:

    Eric, do please share any info you have on a 2011 attack. That seems awfully recent to be so little reported on. The 1971 attack accounts are all over. Thanks for the missile info!

  • Arjuna says:

    Sorry to be disagreeable, Eric, but I understand that this frigate PN 251 was on her way to join the GW in a CT task force exercise so they would have expected her, she’d just surprise them and join early, Ying 802 missiles first. This enemy is not dumb. They could have gotten a shot off (We didn’t think the Buk worked without a radar and a control track until recently, either.). This was the largest single attack in terms of potential US loss of life and military power since 9/11. We are VERY lucky that Pakistani Army Commandos from the Special Services Group and the Shipboard Sentry did their jobs. Now find and prosecute their trainers and handlers, Pakistan, and tell us the whole story.

  • bard207 says:

    Eric,
    I responded to you in an earlier discussion and you didn’t give a response.
    Here is a story about the PNS Zulfiqar making a visit to Saudi Arabia in February 2012.
    http://www.arabnews.com/node/406170
    Here are two links about an earlier PNS Zulfiqar taking friendly fire in 1971.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PNS_Zulfiqar
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Trident_(1971)
    Since you come across as quite confident with your story of the current PNS Zulfiqar taking friendly fire in 2011, please provide links to support your position on this matter.

  • Don says:

    I don’t know why many are quick to dismiss these rogue officers abilities. Ever since ISI Lt Gen Mahmood Ahmed was mailing money to Muhammad Atah in 2001, they have effectively started everything since 9/11, covered blunder after blunder (they buried this story folks, can we interrupt the Bengahzi coverage for a moment to cover something that could have changed the world yet again), kept the US out of terrorist run havens, and made jihad global.
    Why does ISIL want Siddiqi out of jail, a Pakistani female scientist who had pounds of cyanide on her and map of sites in US? Pakistani negotiators asked for the same thing when they had one of our guys. It’s because they are all run by the same groups with government connections. Outside of this amazing site, I feel as if we have learned nothing from 9/11 and didn’t even notice as another was narrowly averted.

  • blert says:

    IIRC, the C-802 missile was designed, by the Chinese, to carry an atomic warhead.
    From the outset, the missile was designed to sink American carriers.
    Pakistani atomics are derived from Chinese designs, AFAIK.
    Because of operational secrecy, the Pakistanis are never going to spill the beans, but it’s a pretty good bet that at least one of the C-802 missiles deployed on these frigates has an atomic warhead.
    This would go a long way to explaining why the security guards on the vessel were so able and paranoid. They were, in fact, elite atomic troops — hand picked and well trained — and well paid.
    Using elite troops to guard atomic weapons is standard fare in American, Russian, et. al. militaries.
    AQ had a plan that ran into the Pakistani “A” team; first string troops. That was unexpected.
    When a missile, such as a C-802, mounts an atomic warhead, it usually has very extended range. The atomic warhead will be substantially lighter than a conventional round. All other structures will be built to the highest standard. (lightest weight) Externally it will appear to be entirely conventional. This provides operational security.
    For these reasons no-one should trust the ‘missile effective range’ statistics that are kicked around in public. If it’s public, it’s a lie.
    America’s cruise missiles designed for atomics had staggering ranges w a a a a y beyond that of the conventional cruise missile version. The Soviets considered them so threatening that they were one of the first atomic systems subject to arms control.
    I would not be surprised to find out that an atomic C-802 can travel hundreds of miles.
    Knowing AQ’s style, I wouldn’t put it past them to bird dog the American fleet with a ‘fishing’ boat and a suicide crew. GPS would then do the trick.
    My gut tells me that AQ wasn’t even thinking about taking the ship to sea.
    %%%
    I suspect that Islamabad is tearing the house apart tracking down the conspirators. For if they’d pulled it off, Pakistan would be glowing from end to end by now.
    After the OBL fiasco, Islamabad is dancing on thin ice.
    The Pakistani navy is going to simply have to remove all atomics from their ships.
    IIRC, Islamabad was offered PAL technology — and turned it down flat.
    So, a mere handful of junior naval officers can imperil that entire nation — with no notice at all.
    AQ wants a war so big that Pakistan can’t survive it.

  • Arjuna says:

    Blert, great comments as usual. Supposedly there was an Uzbek cell with a similar Pak Navy facility attack plan which was recently disrupted, hence the higher alert level. But your nuclear cruise missile theory still holds kilotons of weight. The bad guys have two Chinese designs they stole or were given, 1966 and 1998 versions, which they are field modifying for the big fireworks which have always been their end game. Apparently the sentry saw AKs, which are not standard Navy issue. The moral of my comment is that there are multiple such plans being hatched in PK at any given moment and, thus, the entire world is thin ice indeed.

  • Arjuna says:

    Don, I could not agree more with your point of view. ISI are central and ignored, if not condoned, by key players. The Siddiqui-AQ/ISIL-Pak Govt/Army connections to WMD are stark and alarming. Not only are both AQ Core and ISIL (probably AQAP, as well) working towards big bio, they are being helped along by Pakistan, who almost certainly has sold nukes to Saudi Arabia. We have a plethora of problems emanating fro one place.
    Blert, you seem to be saying that a nuclear cruise missile launch on an Indian city right from the dock in Karachi was a possible aim, if they were guarding what you postulate. I’m reminded that the Indian Mujahideen (now part of AQIS) wanted to nuke Surat and discussed it w the ISI. That city, in Modi’s home state, would have been a tempting target to someone like Z, don’t you think? And so close to Karachi. I bet that was the plan.

  • Arjuna says:

    So where are the martyrdom videos? What were the targets? Usama? SITE? Even though the Navy traitors failed, these should still make for illuminating viewing while their actors are being interrogated. Somebody’s watching.

  • blert says:

    Don:
    “Why does ISIL want Siddiqi out of jail, a Pakistani female scientist who had pounds of cyanide on her and map of sites in US? Pakistani negotiators asked for the same thing when they had one of our guys.”
    &&&
    This gal keeps coming up on the Muslim radar because:
    1) Opfor psyops has lifted XXX porno footage which was shot in New Jersey (circa 2002) which features a orchestrated ‘rape’ of a hot young ‘Muslim’ babe — and used it ever since as an instance of ‘Crusaders’ victimizing ‘Siddiqi.’
    2) Those pleading for ‘Siddiqi’s’ release have absolutely no conception that the real Siddiqi is an ugly hag, PhD scientist, who has found her love life empty for many, many, years — long before 2001.
    3) They also have yet to figure out that they’ve been viewing out-cuts from a XXX porno shoot — every last participant was an infidel.
    As for Westerners: it’s a rare man in the West that has any clue that bootlegs of the New Jersey shoot have been passed around on AQ DVD agitprop all of these years. All that they see is that a gal that belongs in solitary for life is constantly being brought up by Muslims as a victim. (of infidel rape!)
    &&&
    There is ANOTHER agitprop video that has been circulated by Islamist media. They took a “Boys In The Hall” gag video that was filmed over twenty-years ago and spread it around.
    The “Boys In The Hall” were a gay Canadian comedy troupe that was broadcast by HBO a generation ago. Many of those players have gone on to other high profile media projects — usually on TV.
    @@@@
    Because both the porno and the comedy bit would be rated as either XXX or R — they are not ever brought up in any news broadcast in the West.
    This keeps these two toxic memes floating on in the Muslim collective (male) mind while being entirely off the radar in the West.
    It is quite impossible for me to overstate the impact of the porno agitprop. The way it has been handled, each new viewer thinks that the footage has been smuggled out of a CIA detention center within only the last twelve months. That’s the power of a bootleg DVD agitprop video. It’s compounded by being, very likely, the first porno that the Muslim boys have ever seen. They’ve got absolutely no basis of comparison. They buy it hook line and sinker.
    %%%
    The comedy video — I saw the original broadcast — was one of the funniest – and lewdest – ever aired.
    It was released to coincide with Holloween week. Lacking any story boards, it’s hard to relate in words. The gist of it is that a young man is nervously awaiting his (obviously gay) date. Wordlessly, the script tosses out his fantasy imaginings of dating horror — with allusions to Dracula, perverted sex, sadism, bondage, and entrapment. These visuals are snapped on by — contrasted with the naive innocence of his date — who is utterly harmless and dressed like the boy next door.
    The punchline/ image is that even before his date knocks on his door our young man has passed out — and dropped to the floor unconscious. His date finally breaks in to his bedroom to discover that the young man’s (very large) dog is taking advantage of him… to the complete horror of his date.
    This sequence was tossed into the mix of political art criticizing Mo’ that originated in Denmark — all those years ago.
    Stills from both the porno and the HBO broadcast were added to those of the Jyllands-Posten and are STILL circulating.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversy
    As you might expect, Westerners are totally confused as to why the Denmark series is STILL a hot button.
    The connection laid out here is largely unknown. The Islamists have got both sides arguing at cross purposes. It’s the two ‘additions’ that have got Muslims upset the most. Whereas, the Westerners keep defending the harmless political artwork.
    Like ‘The Protocols’, this agitprop figures to have really long legs.

  • Arjuna says:

    Here is the statement, but where are the martyrdom videos?
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/241099821/Al-Qaeda-Threatens-Us-Navy-Sept-16
    Target (at least per AQIS) was “the American Naval fleet” which was to be attacked by Pakistani warships [plural], including the PNS Zulfiqar. Unlikely that seventeen could have commandeered anything more than a single vessel, but there you have it.
    The Pakistani press blackout has been pretty effective. One has to give the devil [ISPR] his due. The local Pakistani reporters must be really scared. And the foreign press are just asleep as usual.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis