Pakistan has freed a senior al Qaeda commander who served as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard, according to a report from the region.
Dr. Amin al Haq, who served as the security coordinator of Osama bin Laden’s Black Guard, was recently released by Pakistani authorities, according to a report in the Afghan Islamic Press, a jihadist news organization based in Peshawar. Al Haq was released from Pakistani custody several weeks ago, his family members told the Afghan Islamic Press. According to the report, Pakistani officials released him as his connections to al Qaeda “could not be proved,” and he is also “not in good health.”
A US intelligence official who tracks al Qaeda in the region told The Long War Journal that Al Haq has been released from Pakistani custody.
Al Haq was reported to have been detained in the eastern city of Lahore sometime in December 2008, presumably by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.
Al Haq has a long pedigree with both the Taliban and al Qaeda. He was born in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, was educated as a physician, and practiced medicine in Pakistan. He was a member of the Hizb-i Islami Khalis (HIK), a faction of the Hizb-i-Islami that was founded by Maulvi Mohammed Yunis Khalis.
Based in the vital eastern province of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan, HIK was one of the seven major mujahedeen groups that battled the Soviets during the 1980s and were collectively known as the Peshawar Seven. Jalaluddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani Network, which is also closely tied to al Qaeda, was one of Khalis’ top three commanders. Khalis was instrumental in welcoming leader Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan after al Qaeda was ejected from Sudan in 1996, and played a key role in helping Osama bin Laden escape the Battle of Tora Bora in 2001.
On Dec. 19, 2001, al Haq was identified as a senior member of al Qaeda per United Nations resolution 1267. He accompanied Osama bin Laden during the 2001 battle at Tora Bora in Nangarhar province, and helped senior al Qaeda leaders escape the US and Afghan militia assault on the cave complex.
During renewed fighting at Tora Bora in the summer of 2007, al Haq was reported to have been wounded and fled across the border into Pakistan’s Kurram tribal agency. A large Taliban and al Qaeda force, which is said to have included Arabs, Chechens, and Uzbeks, battled with Afghan and US forces, raising speculation that bin Laden was in the area. As security coordinator for the Black Guard, Haq was believed to be in close proximity to bin Laden.
Several senior al Qaeda leaders — such as Saif al Adel, and Walid bin Attash — rose through the ranks in al Qaeda by serving in the Black Guard. A Special Forces raid against the Black Guard camp in Danda Saidgai in North Waziristan, Pakistan in March 2006 resulted in the deaths of Imam Asad and several dozen members of the Black Guard. Asad, who served as the camp commander, was also a senior Chechen al Qaeda commander and associate of Shamil Basayev, the Chechen al Qaeda leader killed by Russian security forces in July 2006.