Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent claims 2 attacks in Pakistan

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the newest branch of the international terrorist organization, claimed two terrorist attacks in Pakistan during its first week of operations. The official spokesman for AQIS, Usama Mahmoud, released statements and photos on his Twitter feed offering details for both attacks.

The first attack occurred on Sept. 2, when AQIS operatives killed Brigadier Fazal Zahoor, a senior officer in the Pakistani Army. AQIS accuses Zahoor of killing innocent women and children in Waziristan, which is a hub for several jihadist organizations in northern Pakistan. Zahoor was apparently off duty when he was killed.

According to local press reports, Zahoor’s assassins were riding motorcycles and escaped unharmed.

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On his Twitter feed, AQIS spokesman Usama Mahmoud posted this image purportedly showing a diagram of the PNS Zulfiqar beneath a photo of American warships.

On Sept. 6, AQIS operatives attempted, and failed, to execute an even more audacious attack. The terrorists boarded a Pakistani ship, the PNS Zulfiqar, which has been docked. They apparently planned, according to AQIS, to launch missiles from the Zulfiqar at US warships.

There are widely conflicting accounts in the press of the attack on Sept. 6. The version reported here is based on tweets by the AQIS spokesman and is not an independent account of the raid.

Mahmoud posted a purported diagram of the Zulfiqar, which the group says was obtained by insiders who served in the Pakistani Navy. AQIS included a picture of US warships above the diagram posted by Mahmoud.

The statement from AQIS says that the jihadists had taken over the PNS Zulfiqar and were set to attack the American warships when Pakistani forces interceded. Some of the attackers were “martyred.”

Other terrorists, not mentioned by Mahmoud, were reportedly captured and are being interrogated.

Mahmoud says on his Twitter feed that a video of the martyrs will be released soon.

Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and other al Qaeda leaders announced the formation of AQIS earlier this month.

Mahmoud explained at the time that AQIS “was formed by the gathering of several jihadi groups that have a long history in jihad and fighting … so they united and came together and applied the directives of their beloved emir, Sheikh Ayman al Zawahiri, may Allah preserve him, on the ground.” He did not identify the groups that had joined the new al Qaeda branch, which is headed by Asim Umar, a longtime Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda ideologue.

Much of the press reporting on AQIS’ formation has focused on its potential impact inside India and other neighboring countries. But Mahmoud bristles at this reporting in his tweets, saying the group seeks to liberate the Muslims inside India, but is also focused on fighting the Pakistani military.

Both of AQIS’ claimed attacks serve to illustrate Mahmoud’s point. According to the group, Brigadier Zahoor and the Pakistani Army are “puppet[s]” of the US. And the group’s second attack was thwarted by Pakistani security forces, who prevented AQIS from attacking American warships.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Arjuna says:

    They did not attack the “wrong ship”.
    This bs “meme” is all over the media.
    Is this bad reporting or disinformation or propaganda or what?
    They were going to use the nice new (2009) Chinese-built Paki frigate’s missiles to attack American vessels.
    This was a serious try. Cole comes to mind.

  • My2Cents says:

    It’s unfortunately the typical level of most US reporting. The question is whether the reporter is truly that clueless, if it is editor’s fault, or both.
    That’s why a knowledgible sources like the is so important.

  • Eric says:

    PNS Zulfiqar has sat in a Pakistani navy repair yard since 2011, when it was strafed at anchor off Karachi by Pakistani Air Force F-16’s after being mistaken for an Indian Navy missile boat. Zulfiqar is not in a seaworthy condition, and while it may have been poorly guarded, it probably has no ordnance on board. There are widely conflicting accounts of the attack in different news outlets. I am unconvinced as to which PNS ship was targeted.
    Even with the hands-on expert assistance of a Pakistani naval officer, this attempt to seize a frigate and use it to target other warships had no chance of success. For dozens of reasons, they could not get such a ship underway, could never get its fire control systems working, and could not operate the magazine and launcher systems without codes and detailed procedural knowledge they would never have possessed.
    All the while defending against airborne, seaborne, and land-based attacks against them? Far from do-able.
    The claim of intending to attack US warships is a juvenile reach for notoriety for propaganda purposes, and not more.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    No surprises there. This AQIS I mentioned before, will only target Pakistan. They won’t have the capabilities to attack India, Bangladesh or Burma, unless of course the Pakistani ISI agents help them. But that won’t happen when the AQIS are attacking Pakistani targets itself. If the ISI thought AQIS would be good news for their proxy war against India, well they’ve been hugely mistaken and the ISI are going to pay a heavy price for creating Frankenstein islamic terrorists.

  • Howard Harris says:

    Does AQIS have the capability to operate and actually launch missiles accurately from a frigate like the Zulfiqar?

  • Once again attackers allegedly had insider help. No surprise, my colleague, Pakistani investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad was murdered for highlighting the insider help related to Mehran incident. I have no doubt we will see more of this in coming months…

  • manus says:

    Funny how Pakistan is finally ratcheting up the fight against militants in their Country…now that the U.S. is exiting the arena. They should have cooperated with us from the git-go. They will now pay the price for their ambivalence.

  • Arjuna says:

    It’s really quite amazing to see the Pak Mil ISPR winning the PR battle to make Pakistan look secure. More major news outlets are buying the lies that it was the wrong ship attacked. By a Paki naval officer who was saluted on the gangplank by the ship’s guards? I don’t think so… Had they commandeered the control room and let fly with a volley of ship-to-ship missiles at the USS George Washington (in a harbor, at night, by surprise, from close range), that would have been an impressive feat and a potentially devastating loss. Good job to foil it, Pakistan. And hats off to your spin doctors, for preserving your “honour.” Ha!

  • bard207 says:

    PNS Zulfiqar has sat in a Pakistani navy repair yard since 2011, when it was strafed at anchor off Karachi by Pakistani Air Force F-16’s after being mistaken for an Indian Navy missile boat. Zulfiqar is not in a seaworthy condition, and while it may have been poorly guarded, it probably has no ordnance on board.
    There was a previous PNS Zulfiqar that took friendly fire in the 1971 conflict.
    The same thing happened to the current PNS Zulfiqar in 2011?

  • Arjuna says:

    Eric, I think you have the wrong ship and story. You meant 1971, I think. This was the ship they were attacking, and the GW was offshore. Let’s all please stop misunderestimating this enemy. Serving naval officers would know how to launch cruise missiles and could steal codes. I hope Eric is right that the ship was missing its armaments. Where are the martyrdom videos mentioned in the take-credit message? Are they being withheld?
    PNS Zulfiquar 251 Commissioned 19 September 2009

  • Arjuna says:

    If successful, this could have been the biggest attack since 9/11. Anyone still think the existence of AQIS is “just crazy”?
    “It appears the officers on board were to be joined by other militants who were to arrive by boat from the sea and then stow away on board,” a Pakistani security official said. “The plan was to get close to the U.S. ships on the high seas, and then turn the shipboard weapon systems on the Americans.”
    Four naval men aboard the frigate, each an al-Qaida recruit, were killed, one by exploding a suicide bomb as he was surrounded.
    Read more:

  • my2cent1 says:

    it is not so simple, and all this is only tip of iceberg. suppose they
    succeed than what next, did this attack destroy the us navy, not at all. so what was the objective, just for big goal achievement bear a little loss, not understand, ok if missile hit the us ships and some damage occur than what reaction we expect from us.
    same as 9/11.
    yes it was another 9/11 drama stage by ( you know it).


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