Pakistani Taliban establish ‘base’ inside Syria

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has sent “experts in warfare and information technology” to Syria to establish a base and monitor the fighting there. The disclosure of the existence of the Pakistani Taliban’s Syrian cell occurred just two days after a group that bears the same name as an al Qaeda unit in Pakistan claimed to have executed an attack on Hezbollah in Beirut.

The Pakistani Taliban sent 12 “experts in warfare and information technology” to Syria in the past two months to aid Syrian jihadists, while the base was established in Syria six months ago, the BBC reported.

The BBC interviewed a senior Pakistani Taliban leader known as Mohammad Amin, who is described as the “coordinator” of the group’s efforts in Syria.

“He [Amin] said that the cell has the approval of militant factions both within and outside” of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the BBC noted.

“They were facilitated by our friends in Syria who have previously been fighting in Afghanistan,” Amin said. The Pakistani Taliban cell is in Syria to “assess the needs of the Jihad in Syria, and to work out joint operations with our Syrian friends,” he continued.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan works closely with the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and a host of non-aligned Taliban groups and jihadist organizations in Pakistan. Amin did not disclose which of these groups approved the Pakistani Taliban’s establishment of a cell in Syria. Al Qaeda has a strong presence in Syria, and its official affiliate, the Al Nusrah Front, and the rogue Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, control territory throughout the country [see LWJ report, Islamic State of Iraq leader defies Zawahiri in alleged audio message].

The Pakistani Taliban are capable of establishing a cell in Syria even as they are waging jihad against the Pakistani government and fighting in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government has insisted that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is weak and fractured due to military operations against the group.

The announcement of the existence of the Pakistani Taliban cell in Syria took place just two days after a group calling itself “313 Brigade” claimed credit for a bombing in a Hezbollah-dominated neighborhood in Beirut, Lebanon. More than 50 people were wounded in the blast. The 313 Brigade blamed Hezbollah, which it calls the “Lebanese Party of Iran,” and elements of the Lebanese government for intervening in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Syrian government.

The Syrian 313 Brigade shares the same name as the group that serves as al Qaeda’s military organization in Pakistan. There is no direct evidence to link the Pakistani and Syrian groups, but al Qaeda is known to have tasked top operatives and recruits to fight in Syria. Al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria is known as the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant [see LWJ report, Islamic State of Iraq leader defies Zawahiri in alleged audio message].

Maulana Asim Umar, an al Qaeda ideologue based in Pakistan, claimed in May that some leaders and fighters from the region have been transferred to the Syrian front.

“And now the black flags of East Persia are moving to Syria after Iraq. The Mujahideen have established their centers in Syria … in order to help establish caliphate,” Umar said, according to a translation of his statement that was obtained by The Long War Journal.

“At present, al Qaeda and other Mujahideen of Islam have fully controlled this movement.” he continued. “Several lashkars from Afghanistan are also leading in Syria.”

The Pakistani Brigade 313 is made up of members from the Taliban and allied jihadist groups. Members of Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jundallah (the Karachi-based, al Qaeda-linked group), and several other Pakistani terror groups are known to have merged with al Qaeda in Pakistan, and the group operates under the name of Brigade 313. This group is interlinked with Pakistan’s Taliban and also recruits senior members of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, a senior US intelligence official has told The Long War Journal.

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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  • Karachiite says:

    Dont want to disparage your info, but speaking as someone who lives in Karachi and encounters Mehsuds from Waziristan on an almost daily basis, these guys are the sandal wearing AK toting type. I find it just too difficult to believe that anyone from among them has the technical capability to be of use to jihadists in Syria who I assume are far more sophisticated and have access to much better technology and training…they do have, or have had, official support from very wealthy states. Furthermore, it is well known in Pakistan that the Afghan Taliban are fed up with Al Qaeda types because the former is focused on the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan whereas the latter is focused on picking fights with pretty much everyone in the world. I would urge LWJ to question its sources for a more accurate picture…it helps no one to be misinformed on a subject this important.

  • EDDIED. says:

    How can the USA help the Syrian rebels with Pakistan Taliban there in Syria now, can’t we just say NO? Seems like by providing weapons and equipment to Syria we are arming Al-Queda, Taliban, Hezbollah and no telling who else. Is this a war strategy that I just don’t know about?

  • Mr T says:

    @ Karachiite
    What is Ayman Zawahiri’s address in Karachi? Do you ever see him in the local bazaar? Or did the ISI move him back to Quetta? Has Mullah Omar been seen around town? Do these guys tote AK’s around town?

  • mike merlo says:

    A very interesting & significant development. If this ‘Pakistani Overseas’ trend keeps up I’ll have to “eat my words.” Could the Brigade 313 possibly be ‘related’ to the Asian Tigers in some way?
    “This group is interlinked with Pakistan’s Taliban and also recruits senior members of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, a senior US intelligence official has told The Long War Journal.”
    I’ve always been inclined to believe that elements from the Muslim Nations Intelligence Community, Para Military & Special Operations ‘Organizations’ have had & continue to have a very active role & presence with the various Islamic Extremist groups & organizations scattered about the globe.
    This supposed surfacing of Pakistani’s in the Middle East could also portend a more sinister vein slithering just beneath the surface of ongoing events. For quite some time the Shia Community in Pakistan has been the repeated target of Sunni’s. Yet to my knowledge the Western Press has never published or spoken of comments by the Iranian Government condemning these ‘assaults’ among their fellow acolytes. Nor can I recollect any of the same emanating from the leadership or rank & file of the Shia Ummah & the Iranians.
    Based on recent events in Western Afghanistan, particularly Farah & Herat, it is quite possible that sources of these attacks had their origins in Iran. Maybe signaling the Iranians & ‘Pakistanis’ are reattempting to establish their perceived ‘Spheres of Influence.’
    Combining ‘all of the above,’ & much not mentioned here, there is strong circumstantial evidence suggesting a serious rift emerging between those elements of Iran & Pakistan that support ‘exportable’ dogma & doctrine. These type off frictions naturally occur as activity begins taking place in what are considered ‘Core Interests’ or ‘Spheres of Influence.’

  • Gaz says:

    They also have contributed men to assist the Rohingyas in Burma, according to Kavkaz Center

  • Paul D says:

    This group is interlinked with Pakistan’s Taliban and also recruits senior members of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, a senior US intelligence official has told The Long War Journal
    Afghanistan is not the enemy Pakistan and Iran are!

  • MT says:

    If you look into this…is it really coming down to AQ vs Hezbollah with outside supporters?
    Maybe its time to pull and Iraq v Iran strategy. Arm them both and let them destroy each other.

  • o3 says:

    the US keeps creating frankensteins which we later have to fight. even so, aQ vs hezzbollah is favorable. as churchill noted, when one’s enemies fight each other, stay outta the middle!

  • mike merlo says:

    it is safe to assume that the Pakistani personnel being ‘spoken of’ are non-Afghan. Hence not “the sandal wearing AK toting type.” Besides those “sandaled” guys are to busy with their Bacha Bazi Boyz & abusing drugs

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    I think it’s very unlikely that the Pakistani Taliban will travel all the way to Syria for so called experts to help in the fight in Syria. There is enough fighters in Syria already and the Syrian opposition fighters get help from Middle Eastern countries anyway.
    Also unlikely that the Pakistani Taliban have sent fighters to Burma, when the Muslim population in Burma don’t form a majority in any state in Burma or let alone have guns and other weapons in the area. The photographs of this so called Rohingya mujahideen sent by Gaz on his comments, looks very suspicious, as there is no video to prove that they are in Burma.
    Why send photos instead of video, if a terrorist group wants to prove a point. The pictures of them training could be anywhere in the sub-tropical !!

  • NP says:

    It seems that AQ and their allies see the conflict in Syria as chance to set up shop there. I do not under estimate the bonds that have been forged between global Islamic Jihad groups. Fighters from Afghanistan are found all the way in Somalia. The Taliban and other groups have learned a lot from fighting Coalition forces there. They have studied our Special Operations and how they operate. I believe that they have even tried to mirror with their own Tier One elements. The situation in Iraq seems to be heading into a sectarian war as AQI has pushed the Shia into a tit for tat response. Perhaps it is easier to let Syria fail. Let AQ and their allies mass and then use it as pretext to wipe them out. Just like in Iraq.

  • mike merlo says:

    Reuters has now come out with an article claiming hundreds of Pakistani’s Militants are now present in Syria with absolutely no evidence or facts to back ‘these’ claims up.
    I remember a while back of spurious claims suggesting significant numbers of personnel of Al-Shabaab having made their way to Yemen. Yet
    ‘to-date’ ‘we’ve’ yet to see any evidence of consequence supporting this supposed ‘massive’ influx of Al-Ahabaab personnel from Somalia to Yemen.
    While I could possibly believe or accept a ‘handful’ of experts/technicians versed in some of the more arcane aspect’s of ‘war making’ surfacing in the various ‘conflict zones;’ this spectre of a Pakistani ‘Terrorist Hydra’ ‘blossoming’ in the Middle East to me is quite a stretch. Logistically speaking I could easily envision a scenario where under the cover of Ramadan moving personnel to visit Mecca. However until I ‘see’ evidence supporting these “Pop Goes The Weasel” happenstances I’ll demur until….

  • Don says:

    @MT you are quite the buffoon, arent you? Maybe you should appreciate veterans like me who served in Iraq and the thousands who gave up their lives and bodies for there to be a slim chance at peace in that country.

  • Charu says:

    The Pakistani military already provides manpower to the Sunni Gulf States to help the sheiks to suppress their Shia minorities. The former director general of the ISI, Shuja Pasha, who hates the US, was quickly employed in the Gulf. It is a matter of time, if not already, that the ISI’s many proxies move from the AfPak theater to serve the greater Sunni jihad in the ME. And from there to the rest of the world, if nothing is done to stop them. Syria is a turning point. Look no further than the plight of the ancient Christian community in Syria and which side they tacitly support to stave off their extermination.


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