AQIS announces death of 2 senior leaders in US operation

Two senior leaders of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the newest branch of the global jihadist group, were killed in a recent US operation along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, AQIS’ spokesman announced yesterday. One of those killed was a former Pakistani Army officer who had been directly linked to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an architect of 9/11. The other operative was a doctor who also served as a AQIS propagandist.

Usama Mahmood, the spokesman for AQIS, announced the death of the two leaders in a series of statements that were released today on his Twitter account. The tweets were obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Mahmood announced the “Martyrdom of Dr. Sarbaland (Abu Khalid) with his two young sons, [and] his brother-in-law, a former major in the Pakistani Army Adil Abdul Quoos.” He described Qudoos and Sarbaland as “senior leaders of the group.”

The two AQIS leaders and the two boys were killed “as a result of an American drop on the Afghan border, followed by bombing from spy aircraft” Mahmood claimed.

According to Xinhua, they were killed in a “drone strike along the [Pakistan-Afghanistan] border on November 9.” No strikes were reported in Pakistan on Nov. 9, but there was a strike in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Nov. 11. If US ground forces were involved in the raid, then the operation may have taken place in Afghanistan, as US troops are not reported to have entered Pakistani territory.

Qudoos was known to be active in jihadist circles in the early 2000s while he served as a major in the Pakistani Army’s signal corps. He is said to have owned the home in the garrison city of Rawalpindi where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested during a joint US and Pakistani raid in early 2003. Qudoos’ father and brother lived in the residence at the time. His father, Abdul Qudoos Khan, is a doctor who is reported to have been a leader in the pro-Taliban and al Qaeda Jamaat-i-Islami political party; he may have known Osama bin Laden while living in Sudan in the 1990s.

Major Qudoos was arrested in March 2003 along with two colonels, Abdul Ghaffar and Khalid Abbasi, and charged by the Pakistani military with subversive activities. “One of the charges they faced was facilitation of al Qaeda-linked fighters,” Imtiaz Gul wrote in his book, Pakistan, Before and After Osama. “They had also put associates of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind arrested from Rawalpindi in 2003, at army’s hostels.”

After a conviction, the former Pakistani major was sentenced to six years in prison. He was released in 2008 and quickly “immigrated with his family to the fields of jihad until Allah blessed him with martyrdom,” Mahmood wrote.

The AQIS spokesman described Sarbaland as both “a skillful surgeon and a strategic ideologue for the group, and he provided many services to the Pakistani and Afghan jihad.”

The US has killed one other AQIS leader since the group was founded at the end of the summer. On Oct. 11, the US killed Sheikh Imran Ali Siddiqi (a.k.a. Haji Shaikh Waliullah), a veteran AQIS leader who had a pedigree in Pakistani jihadist circles. The strike, which took place in North Waziristan, also killed a “good Taliban” commander who served in the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group. [See LWJ reports, US drone strike kills veteran jihadist turned senior AQIS official and AQIS leader, ‘good Taliban’ commander killed in 2 US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.]

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent was formed on Sept. 3 and includes elements of some of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India’s most prominent jihadist groups. Since its formation, AQIS claimed credit for a Sept. 6 attack on a Pakistani naval vessel. During the operation, jihadists attempted to hijack the ship and fire missiles at US warships in the Indian Ocean. According to both the terrorist group and Pakistan’s defense minister, Pakistani naval officers were complicit in the attack. [See LWJ Report, AQIS claims plot to strike US warships was executed by Pakistani Navy officers.]

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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  • Steve says:

    The U.S. should leave AQIS to India and Pakistan.
    We should pull out of Afghanistan and withdraw the huge amount of aid we give to Pakistan.
    Russia would have to pull out Ukraine to deal with Afghanistan.

  • Arjuna says:

    Nice job, quiet warriors. Six years only for treasonous terrorist behavior? Only in PK.
    Steve, leave them be when they are led by Zawahiri and trying to kill Americans (on the USS Supply in the Karachi Naval Dockyard attack)?
    No can do, I’m afraid. Even if they weren’t trying to start WWIII on the subcontinent (which they are; just look at the Wagah attack), they are a gang with deep anti-American roots going back to KSM and inside people in Pakistan’s security establishment (as this article points up) who will try to access Paki nukes and use them against America or India. This old wine in a new bottle is a Grade A National Security threat to the USA, and world peace more generally.
    Your point about withdrawing aid to the Janus-faced Pakis is sound, however. We should not reward bad behavior and hiding our enemies.
    Russia doesn’t dance to America’s tune. Can’t you see that? Putin will surprise you. We should work with him and not antagonize him. Ukraine is their AO and always has been. We should butt out and stop stirring the pot with spies and, most recently, Special Forces and regular Army.
    We are picking so many fights these days (China, Russia, Syria, Iran), we can’t keep our enemies straight. AQ, and by extension ISIL, is job one and we should stay on it exclusively. Otherwise we could lose the farm, not just our influence in Europe, the ME and Asia.

  • Steve says:

    If we pull out of Afghanistan and cease aid to Pakistan, we should not be docking at Pakistani Ports.
    I for one would much rather dock at an Indian port. There is more to see and probably better food. A person would probably be safer shopping in an Indian city too.
    Russian like any country has limited resources. They would have to choose whether to dismember Ukraine or take care of jihadis stirring up trouble in or on the order of the former central Asian Soviet Republics.
    I don’t care if Russia has Crimea. It should have been done via plebiscite not through force. Crime was only made Ukrainian by Kruschev, but again the plebiscite was the way to go IMHO.
    China could say Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India are all in their back yard, their AO and tell the US. to butt out.
    I do not not know the full extent or scope of U.S. involvement (underhanded or above board) In Ukraine, butI will say this. If there is a legitimate government anywhere int the world and we make a treaty with them or they want to make a treaty with us, it should not matter where that countries map coordinates are.


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