Dargai and AQAM

More on the Dargai suicide attack, and the role of AQAM

A wounded Pakistani soldier from the Dargai suicide attack. Click image to view.

The toll in the suicide attack on Pakistani Army recruits in Dargai in the Northwest Frontier Province has risen to 45 soldiers killed and wounded 20. Pakistani investigators are hunting for a second suspect, who was spotted near the scene of the bombing. It is likely he was a second suicide bomber.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf lashed out against the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, the Islamist political party that supports the Taliban and al Qaeda, for their role in inciting the population after the Chingai airstrike. “The MMA has no right to criticise the operation as they give tickets of heaven to extremists while their own children sit in full comfort at home,” said Musharraf to a group of ministers. We noted the MMA’s and other political parties’ role in the organization of protests one day after the strike.

As we predicted just hours after the attack, al Qaeda and Faqir Mohammed’s Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM, the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law) would be the prime suspects in the strike. Pakistani investigators suspect TNSM, and the Taliban have claimed responsibility. Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yousafza received a phone call from someone claiming to be “Pakistani Taliban.”

“He said that the group behind the suicide attack at an army camp is led by Abu Kalim Mohammad Ansari,” Yousafzai told AFP. “We have recorded the statement which the suicide bomber gave before the attack and we will release it soon,” the caller said. “We have 275 volunteers who have offered to be suicide bombers,” he added. “We had a policy not to attack Pakistani forces, but after the Bajaur attack we have changed our policy now,” the caller said.

Taliban. “Pakistani Taliban.” Neo-Taliban. Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat- e-Mohammadi. Al-Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan… The distinctions between the groups in Pakistan are becoming meaningless. They share the same ideology, goals, training camps, tactics and recruiting bases. Their command structures often intermesh.

Some in the American military intelligence community refer to these groups as AQAM – Al-Qaeda and Allied Movements. This is analogous to what the Indians call the International Islamic Front – the umbrella group of jihadi movements banded together by Osama bin Laden in the 1998 fatwa declaring war on the West. The International Islamic Front includes groups such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh, and Harakat ul-Mujahidin. Several other groups remained unnamed to provide cover for their activities.

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

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