As the US and its NATO allies continue to draw down forces in Afghanistan and seek to negotiate a peace agreement with the Taliban, al Qaeda persists in highlighting its operations in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, the SITE Intelligence Group noted that As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda outlet, “debuted a new video series on attacks in Afghanistan called, ‘Scenes from the Line of Fire.'” The first video promoted al Qaeda’s operations in the eastern Afghan province of Ghazni. From the SITE description of the video:
…and in the first episode, showed raids against enemy bases and a supply convoy in Qarabagh district of Ghazni province. The 17 minute, 33 second video was posted on jihadist forums on July 11, 2013, and came in Arabic, Pashto and Urdu. Footage is given of fighters engaging enemy forces with machineguns and rifles, and also shows the burial of those who were killed in battle by enemy fire. During the video, the narrator lauded fighters for their commitment to jihad, and especially those who receive serious injuries, heal, and then return to the battlefield, and praised fighters in Syria.
Al Qaeda reported that 12 of its fighters were killed in two separate engagements in the province. In one of the clashes, the video claimed, “the American war planes used cluster bombs on a group of mujahideen so as to finish a battle that was already unequal, and due to this, nine mujahideen were killed.”
Ghazni province is a known hub for the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Lashar-e-Taiba in the southeast. Last September, the governor of Ghazni warned that the Taliban were bringing in “foreign militants” into the province, and the deputy chief of the Ghazni provincial council said a large number of Pakistanis are currently fighting in Ghazni. Pakistanis, Arabs, and Chechens have been spotted fighting in the province [see LWJ report, ‘Foreign militants’ still present in Ghazni].
The presence of al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Lashkar-e-Taiba cells has been detected in the districts of Andar, Deh Yak, Gelan, Ghazni, Shah Joy, and Waghaz, or six of the province’s 16 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.
Over the past several years, a number of al Qaeda and other terrorist leaders and operatives have been killed or captured in Ghazni. Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani scientist who has been dubbed “Lady al Qaeda” by the press, was captured in Ghazni in 2008. And in April, special operations forces captured a Lashkar-e-Taiba leader in the province.
In all, during the 21 raids in Ghazni that have been documented by ISAF since October 2008, four al Qaeda-linked leaders and operatives have been killed and nine more have been captured. ISAF has reported on 357 raids against al Qaeda and allied terror groups in Afghanistan between April 2007 and July 2013. ISAF ended reporting on its raids against al Qaeda last month, despite the fact that Western forces are continuing to conduct operations against the group.
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