Al Qaeda condemns Pakistani Taliban’s attack on Peshawar school

The spokesman for al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Usama Mahmood, has released a statement condemning the Pakistani Taliban’s attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar earlier this week. More than 140 people, mainly children, were killed during the assault.

AQIS’ four-page statement was released on Mahmood’s official Twitter feed. In an accompanying tweet, Mahmood writes that the “massacre of innocent children” makes “our hearts burst!”

Mahmood stresses in the statement that al Qaeda only learned of the attack through the media, and his statement is based on the assumption that those reports are accurate. In particular, Mahmood says, it is al Qaeda’s understanding that the attackers targeted children on purpose and that most of the victims were children.

Mahmood argues that al Qaeda carefully selects its targets inside Pakistan so as to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties. He says that the group focuses on “American targets,” the “puppet rulers” in Pakistan, and America’s “mercenaries” in the Pakistani security and intelligence services.

It is true that the Pakistani Army is subservient to the US, Mahmood writes, and America is completely dependent on Pakistan’s military to suppress “any voice” advocating for the implementation of sharia law in Pakistan. But this cannot justify an attack that seeks “revenge” from “innocent Muslims,” Mahmood writes.

In harsh terms, Mahmood condemns the Pakistani Taliban’s attack as “un-Islamic” and says that al Qaeda’s jihadi scholars have already set forth the rules for engaging the enemy, which were not followed in Peshawar. The attack violates the jihadis’ version of sharia law, Mahmood claims.

Mahmood also portrays al Qaeda as the defender of Muslims inside Pakistan. Addressing “our beloved Pakistani Muslims,” Mahmood says their defense is “our responsibility” and al Qaeda seeks to “relieve” their pain.

Other al Qaeda operatives on Twitter have similarly come out against the attack. One of them is known as Shaybat al Hukama, or “the eldest of the wise.” On his own Twitter feed, al Hukama writes that al Qaeda “strongly condemns the massacre of innocent children” in Peshawar and “declares its innocence in front of Allah” for the “shedding [of] innocent blood.”

Al Hukama is an al Qaeda media operative and works for the group’s senior leadership. In his tweets on the Peshawar attack, posted earlier today, he appears to speak in AQIS’ name as well. [For more al Hukama, see LWJ report, Well-connected jihadist tweets, then deletes, explanation of al Qaeda’s oath to Mullah Omar.]

AQIS is al Qaeda’s newest regional branch, and likely brings together several jihadist groups in Pakistan and the surrounding nations under al Qaeda’s banner. Ayman al Zawahiri and other senior al Qaeda leaders announced the formation of AQIS in early September. The group quickly claimed responsibility for an attack on two Pakistani frigates and the assassination of a Pakistani officer.

Mahmood and other AQIS officials have stressed that their jihad is focused on the Pakistani government, including especially the Pakistani Army. But the Pakistani Taliban’s siege of the Army Public School, where young children from military families were instructed, was clearly not the type of attack al Qaeda currently endorses.

Al Qaeda and its branches have indiscriminately killed women and children in the Muslim-majority world in the past. But al Qaeda’s leaders, including Ayman al Zawahiri, learned that this was a liability for the group.

Other prominent jihadist groups condemn Peshawar attack

The massacre of children in Peshawar has sparked widespread outrage throughout Pakistan and the world, doing damage to the jihadists’ battle for hearts and minds in the process. Several prominent jihadist groups have condemned the attack.

Al Qaeda’s statement follows a similar condemnation by the Afghan Taliban earlier this week. Other groups have followed the Afghan Taliban’s lead.

A group called the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan Jamaat ul Ahrar (TTP-JA) broke away from the Pakistani Taliban’s leadership earlier this year. The TTP-JA includes some of the strongest elements of the original Pakistani Taliban coalition.

“Like them [the Afghan Taliban], we condemn the attack on the school and killing of innocent children,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, the TTP-JA spokesman, said earlier this week.

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, both of which have longstanding relationships with al Qaeda, have similarly condemned the attack. The head of LeT, Hafiz Saeed, has reportedly blamed the carnage on India.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), another al Qaeda-linked group, is one of the few jihadist organizations to endorse the Peshawar siege. According to the SITE Intelligence Group, the IMU has released a statement calling the attack “justified” and “defensive.”

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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  • Tea Tree says:

    Awesome! Cracks have started appearing among these beasts. Makes it easier for the military powers to divide and conquer .. I meant divide and eliminate.


    Terrorists are the same,they are facists and strong defenders of racism, pakistans do not listen to the cheap politics of those killers

  • Dr. Ayesha Ali says:

    Pakistan, is long, fighting the WAR of others and paying heavy debt in it. about 142 children died, to present, i think no human being could do this. terrorism must not be confused with religion. No religion allowed such killing, and killing un-armed women and children is not allowed and strictly prohibited in Islam.
    Second thing, involvement of India must not be ruled out in Peshawar Attack killings. Pakistan has provided Indian Government many times with evidences, both video and pictorial, but Indian Government always make it a part of dust bin and did nothing in past too. There was a meeting of high Indian Politician in India with Taliban Leader. I think its duty of media persons to dig the truth, and stop this blame game in the region of heavy nuclear neighbors, lest the debt will be given by the whole human race.

  • wallbangr says:

    @ Dr. Ali: typical that a Pak government apologist would instinctively look to blame India. It is this very type of ignorance that allows the Pak government to keep the same dangerous extremists around as so-called “strategic depth” against the hated Indians. Because shills like you continue to turn a blind eye to the threat within while vigilantly watchful for the next underhanded move from India. This same ignorance, spewed in the media and from the military and politicians, is effective at masking the real strategic flaws because folks like you foam at the mouth whenever the insinuation of Indian involvement is floated as the real problem. It’s a crying shame that a hundred some-odd youth had to pay with their lives for it, but this is classic blowback for misguided government policy in Pakistan. If I keep a vicious dog because I am paranoid about my neighbor, and the same vicious dog turns and bites the hand that feeds it, that is clearly the fault of my neighbor, right? Oh, but if it isn’t New Delhi’s fault, then it must be Kabul’s. Always a lot of finger pointing going on. Ever notice how no one in Islamabad is ever at fault? Curious, that. And why wouldn’t the rest of the world trust your fearless government? I guess because its people have suffered losses at the hands of the very terrorists it aids and abets, we should all just turn the same blind eye and feel sorry for dear Pakistan. Hmm. Hard to do when on the same day of this attack your government frees the LeT mastermind of the Mumbai attacks. Kind of hard to be taken seriously about denouncing terrorism while you continue to actively support it behind the scenes. I’m sure that when the LeT turns on the Pak government you and the Pak media will find some way to blame India or Afghanistan for that, as well. No point in soul searching when there is always the convenient boogie man next door to pin the blame on. Say what you want about what is and is not permitted in the name of Islam. Just like the failure of anyone to speak out against misguided government policy, when nobody dares speak out against the co-opting of religion, history is doomed to repeat itself.

  • Steve m says:

    Enough with the idiotic India did it mentality. It is time to wake up to reality, Pakistan did it! There is no none in the world outside of Pakistan that believes otherwise. But please, enlighten us, show us one piece of evidence that would suggest India’s involvement. Please don’t give me some rumor about a meeting you read on some blog somewhere. Your ISI wants you to blame India because that is how they control you.

  • Evan says:

    Ayesha Ali,
    I had heard that Pakistanis had a “problem” with conspiracy theories, but whoa…..seriously?
    Also, Islam doesn’t allow for the killing of MUSLIM women and children, everybody else’s wives and children are fair game though, just ask the Taliban, they’ve literally just shown you, your country, and the world what not only they believe, but what ALL of you who deny, lie, and cover up the truth for “people” just like the Taliban believe. Just like Hafiz Saeed.
    Just like Baghdadi, and Adnani. Just like the one eyed mullah Omar, Bin Laden, and Zawahiri.
    You Pakistanis cant get enough of these murderers, you invite them to your country, protect and hide them, arm and train them, defend them when we find them and kill them, lie to us and the rest of the world when we find them living comfortably in your country, and somehow, someway, you people still have the audacity to expect the rest of us to feel bad for you when things like this happen, even though we KNOW who did it, and you aren’t smart enough to stop propagating that empty “India did it” propaganda without the slightest shred of proof or evidence?
    I don’t feel bad for people like you when these types of things happen, because people like you, with beliefs like yours, are the reason why those things are even capable of happening in the first place.
    I’m glad that so many of you brave, strong Pakistanis
    feel that the armies of international terrorists that you aide and abet are “not your problem”, it will be easier for everyone that way you see. Once the groups of murdering jihadi thugs come for you, and kill all of your politicians, lawyers, doctors, healthcare workers, elderly, gay, Shiite, Sufi, Christian, artists, teachers, musicians, disabled, female, anybody who disagrees with them, it will be much easier to tell who the bad guys are, because that’s all that will be left in your country…

  • Arjuna says:

    Evan, that quite a broadside. You must have spent time abroad and seen purity in action.
    It bites when the hand you feed chews yours off. There’s no escaping the Paki karma now; their hellhounds will take them down in flames.
    Saeed was Bin Laden’s buddy, and is Hamid Gul’s darling. He sounds itchy to do some killing in India. I hope he gets killed first. I wonder if LeT and AQIS have any joint ops planned?
    Abdel Aziz is showing his true colours today too. Ah, Pakistan….


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