Kazakh jihadi leader seeks restoration of Islamic caliphate

The leader of a little-known terror group that operates in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan said his organization seeks to aid in the restoration of an Islamic caliphate.

Rawil Kusaynuv, the emir of the Zahir Baibars Battalion, a primarily Kazakh jihadist group that fights in Afghanistan, granted an interview with Haydar al Khorasani from the Minbar Media Project, a jihadist propaganda outlet. The interview was recently posted on jihadist websites and was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Kusaynuv leads the Zahir Baibars Battalion, which he claims is one several units in the Jund al Khilafah, or Brigade of the Soldiers of the Caliphate. The group has recently emerged in jihadist propaganda, and has released two videos of attacks on US bases in Khost province, Afghanistan. The attacks took place in Haqqani Network areas in June and July, and the videos were released in September and October, respectively. Prior to the release of these tapes, there has been no mention of the group.

“The Brigade is composed of several battalions, most of which work in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world,” said Kusaynuv, according to the SITE translation. “It has a charter that has yet to be made public, but it might be published later, Allah willing. It follows the style of secret organizations in their non-disclosure of their administrative structures and their leaders.”

Kusaynuv said his battalion has “a group of mujahideen of different nationalities” but is primarily made up of Kazakh nationals. He would not disclose the name of the emir of the Jund al Khilafah.

“As for us in the Battalion, more than 90% of us are from Kazakhstan, and we have many military activities on the fighting lines in Afghanistan in collaboration with the rest of the battalions,” he said. “We are also interested in the military, faith, intellectual, and political support for our brothers in order for them to rise to an acceptable level of ability to wage the fight.”

In addition to fighting in Afghanistan, he said his battalion is “very interested in what is happening in Kazakhstan, and we dedicate a significant part of our resources to it, because we consider it one of our priorities.” The terror group carried out two bombings in Kazakhstan on Oct. 31 to punish the government for enacting a law that bans women from wearing the hijab in government-run places.

Kusaynuv also denied that the Jund al Khilafah is made up exclusively of Wahabbis.

“There are those who follow the doctrine of Imam Abu Hanifa, and those who follow the words of Imam Malik, and those who are Hambalis, Salafists, and so on,” Kusaynuv said. “We respect all the schools of thought and we revere all the scholars, and we do not have any reservation upon them, starting from Imam Abu Hanifa to Sheikh Ibn Abdul Wahhab.”

Restoring the Caliphate

Kusaynuv said the Jund al Khilafah was so named to remind Muslims that they have a “duty” to aid in the restoration of a global Islamic caliphate ruled by sharia, or Islamic law.

“This name reminds Muslims of their duty to revive the Islamic Caliphate as a system…. It is the system of Shariah-based governance that must be prevail in every Muslim country from the east to the west.”

“We believe that the region of Central Asia, in addition to the Islamic Maghreb [North Africa] and Yemen, are candidates to be the nucleus for the return of the Caliphate State in the future,” he continued.

Jund al Khilafah is one of several foreign fighter brigades operating in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas that support the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate. Other units include the Caucasus Mujahideen in Khorasan; the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its offshoot, the Islamic Jihad Group; Taifatul Mansura (Victorious Sect); and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement.

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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  • Eddie D. says:

    Not in all the dust particles in this or anyother universe will your Islamic caliphate be stored you murderers.

  • Graham says:

    This sounds like a bluff. We haven’t heard of Kazakh Taliban fighters before, and suddenly there are whole battalions of them?

  • mike merlo says:

    This is such a joke. Of course they’re little known there’s probably only one person in the group. This kind of surfacing of stupidity is in direct correlation to every time the issue of negotiation gets brought up. Every body & their cousin claims Emir of something then gets in line to receive a cash buy out of some nonexistent status that some bs diplomat caves in to. Set off a bomb, finger paint some nonsense on a piece of clothe & call it a flag then wait for some knucklehead to give out some cash.

  • JohnSmith says:

    I agree this group’s a joke but a global Islamic movement isnt. Think about what you are hearing about in this country: 52 US court cases decided by sharia, guys with connections to extreme groups being appointed to homeland security committees and misusing information and individuals with muslim brotherhood connections getting pentagon and state department jobs to name just a few. The main war may not be on the battlefield. Put this together with the ‘Arab Springs’ (winter to non-Arabs) all of Iran’s actions and the US partnering with the muslim brotherhood and you have a kettle that’s rising to a boil. These are interesting times thats for sure.

  • Observer says:

    A joke? A bluff? No.
    There was a terrorist attack today in Kazakhstan.

  • NUS says:

    You were given a chance to do so but you didn’t . . . . !
    The following paragraph was cited in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazakhstan “. . . However, “The Law On Religious Activity and Religious Associations” came into effect after October 25, 2011. The new religion law now restricts religious freedom in Kazakhstan. Islam is the largest religion in Kazakhstan followed by Russian Orthodox Christianity. After decades of religious suppression by the Soviet Union, the coming of independence witnessed a surge in expression of ethnic identity, partly through religion. The free practice of religious beliefs and the establishment of full freedom of religion led to an increase of religious activity. Hundreds of mosques, churches, synagogues, and other religious structures were built in the span of a few years, with the number of religious associations rising from 670 in 1990 to 4,170 today. . . ”
    They were given a chance and full freedom which lasted 11 years to prove correctness of their ideology. The government of Kazakhstan must have had a good reason to restrict religious activity for some of those religious groups with a tendency for terror, including this one.

  • JohnSmith says:

    Observer: Your point is definitely taken. Along another line of thought: Direct terror and armed conflict is & will be critical but the global jihad movement will win battles in the the social media on the internet, the ideology that’s taught in our college class rooms (whos to blame in the middle east etc) and in the news media. Who will be the soldiers on this battlefield ? I think there is a trumpet calling for these kinds of battles. The ‘Long
    War’ will out last an older guy like me and I dont know as much about it as I need to. I fear the outcome for our younger people and the people who have to live in these countries.


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