Red Mosque leader preaches jihad after release

Maulana Abdullah Aziz, the leader of the insurrection in Islamabad in 2007 who was released from prison two days ago, called for jihad and the nationwide implementation of sharia, or Islamic Law, during his first sermon at the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque.

“I tell you that you should be ready to make sacrifices for Islam,” Aziz told thousands of followers during his first sermon the Red Mosque, where he led the effort to impose sharia in 2007. “The day is not far away when Islam will be enforced in the whole of the country.”

Aziz fomented the 2007 uprising in Islamabad that led to the establishment of sharia in Swat and the Malakand Division and the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

“What we have seen in Swat and the tribal areas is the result of the sacrifices at the Red Mosque: the students, the people who were martyred,” Aziz said.

He also called for his followers to sacrifice themselves for the cause. “My only son was killed for this great mission of Islam,” Aziz said. “If I had 100 sons, I would ask them to die for Islam.”

Aziz and his brother Ghazi Abdul Rasheed attempted to impose sharia in Islamabad during the spring and summer of 2007. Their followers enforced a harsh Taliban-like brand of Islamic law just one mile from the parliament. Known as the Lal Masjid Brigade, the radical students and followers occupied buildings, beat Pakistanis that violated their strict code, and kidnapped policemen and civilians.

The events led to a showdown in early July. Government forces surrounded the Lal Masjid compound and clashes ensued. More than 100 of Aziz and Ghazi’s followers and 11 security personnel were killed in the fighting. Ghazi was among those killed, but Aziz was detained while trying to evade police by disguising himself in a burka.

Aziz served less than two years in prison, and was the last person in government detention related to the Red Mosque uprising. Hundreds of his followers were released and fled to Pakistan’s tribal areas to join the Taliban and other jihadi groups.

Aziz was purportedly released by Pakistan’s Supreme Court under the condition he not incite violence or agitate against the government, Dawn reported. Aziz denied the report, however.

After his release from jail yesterday, Aziz said he and his followers were prepared fight the government again if needed.

“If we are pushed to the wall we would have no option but to defend ourselves.”

Aziz is closely linked to Pakistan’s jihadi movement. He has strong ties to al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, including Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the pro-Taliban Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed [TNSM or the Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammed’s Law], as well as TNSM/Taliban leaders Fariq Mohammed (Bajaur), Mullah Fazlullah (Swat), and Omar Khalid (Mohmand).

Both Ghazi and Aziz were behind the 2004 fatwa, or religious edict, which stated that Pakistani soldiers killed while fighting against the Taliban and al Qaeda in South Waziristan did not deserve a Muslim funeral or burial at Muslim cemeteries. This fatwa had an impact on Pakistani soldiers and some refused to fight.

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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  • conycatcher says:

    His release may be part of the Swat agreement. This will only serve to embolden extremists to Talibanize all of Pakistan. What options do the Pakistani government have now? What about the United States? Will there ever be an “Awakening Movement” among the Punjabis?

  • kein angst says:

    The Pak government does not have the will to fight. Yet they want our money. Why? Where would this money end up? Being used against us, thats where. Why do we bother pretending any longer? Yes, I know, nuclear armed-Taliban/AQ would be a nightmare. But its looking like a foregone conclusion.

  • Minnor says:

    When police die and criminals bail out, police resort to ‘fake encounter’. For people unfamiliar, police will kill the criminal instead of arresting. No court, no trial, no bail, only human right shouts.

  • NS says:

    Reading about these developments are as predictable as the sun setting in the west.
    Let us see how “moderate” citizens of Pakistan who we have been repeatedly told never vote for fundamentalists/religious parties in elections react to this. After all Islamabad is the capital city of the country and not some hotbed in the NWFP.
    I shudder at the reports that i keep reading about the imminent “collapse” of Pakistan, including one by David Kilcullen
    If it has nt already started unraveling, I dont know how else to describe the current situation


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