Al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab, released a statement earlier today concerning the “martyrdom” of Faruq al Qahtani, who was killed in an American airstrike on Oct. 23. Qahtani was al Qaeda’s emir for the eastern region of Afghanistan, fought alongside the Taliban in the insurgency against the Afghan government and its allies, and also had a hand in al Qaeda’s plotting against the West.
Osama bin Laden’s files show that Qahtani was tasked with establishing new safe havens for al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2010, if not earlier.
“We offer condolences to ourselves and our Muslim Ummah [worldwide community of Muslims] on the martyrdom of a group of its mujahidin heroes who we loved and who fought the crusaders in the Muslim land of Afghanistan,” the statement, attributed to al Qaeda’s “general command,” reads. At “the head of this beloved group was [the] Sheikh and leader Faruq al Qahtani al Qatari,” who “was a leader of a military brigade spread out in the Nuristan and Kunar provinces, and who had set an example with his mujahidin brothers for fighting and patience and steadfastness.”
Al Qaeda credits Qahtani with “splitting America and its allies.” Qahtani and “his mujahidin brothers” fought alongside the Islamic Emirate (meaning the Taliban) for “several years,” as they attempted to cleanse Afghanistan “from the crusaders’ abomination.”
The statement references the Taliban’s suicide bombing at the Bagram Air Base earlier this month. Two American soldiers and two contractors were killed in the blast. While al Qaeda sends its condolences to the Ummah on the death of Qahtani, the organization also says that Muslims should celebrate the Taliban’s gains.
We “congratulate them [Muslims]” for the “great victories at the hands of the mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan,” including “its latest operation,” which “one of the heroes of the Islamic [Emirate] carried out in the exercise hall of the crusaders’ forces in the middle of Bagram’s base.”
Al Qaeda claims the US “tried to target brother Faruq several times and Allah saved him, but this time they were intent on killing him and his wife and his sons and his supporters…to add to that a new crime in the series of their ugly crimes” in various Muslim countries. The statement’s authors then go on to blast America’s war in several countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
Al Qaeda portrays the Afghan conflict as a “war on the Muslims” that hasn’t “stopped for two decades.” The war in Iraq is not focused on Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State, according to al Qaeda, but instead “America is locked in a war of extermination against the people of the Sunnah in its allying with the Rawafidh [Shiites] in calling for fighting” Baghdadi’s organization. While al Qaeda and its loyalists are opposed to Baghdadi’s Islamic State, they have consistently argued that the US war in Iraq is really intended to slaughter all Sunnis.
In Syria, al Qaeda’s general command writes, “America strikes the leadership and soldiers of the jihadists’ groups while the Syrian regime is allowed complete freedom in striking the Syrian people with cooperation with Russia and its allies in calling for fighting terrorism.” This is also a common motif employed by al Qaeda, which seeks to portray the US as being on the side of Bashar al Assad’s regime, Iran and Russia in their war against Syria’s Sunnis.
Al Qaeda goes on to blame the US for actions taken against the “Muslim people” in Burma, Gaza, Libya, Mali, Somalia, and Yemen. In some of these countries, the US “strikes continue against the Muslims via their war planes.”
The US also targeted another al Qaeda leader, Bilal al-Utabi, in the Oct. 23 airstrike. There is no word in al Qaeda’s statement about him. It is possible that he was one of the “mujahidin heroes” killed, but his death has not been confirmed by either the Pentagon or the jihadis.
For more on Qatani (also known as Faruq al Qatari), see FDD’s Long War Journal reports: