In the September 2015 edition of Al Sumud, the Taliban’s official magazine, the jihadist group devoted significant space to al Qaeda leaders and pro-al Qaeda clerics eulogizing its former emir, Mullah Mohammad Omar. The seven al Qaeda representatives who lauded Omar include al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, former Islamic Caucasus Emirate leader Abu Usman Gimrinsky, senior al Qaeda-linked cleric Abdullah al Muhaysini, and designated terrorists Hani al Siba’i and Sheikh Hamid bin Abdallah al ‘Ali.
The al Qaeda leaders and operatives are featured in the 113th issue of Al Sumud, which was released on August 30. The September edition of the magazine is devoted exclusively to Mullah Omar, whose death was disclosed in late July, and includes eulogies, poems, and other writings to commemorate the founder and first leader of the Afghan Taliban.
Thirty-two articles, euologies, and poems devoted to Omar were published. Of those, six items, or 19 percent, were written by confirmed al Qaeda leaders or senior operatives. An additional five items, or 16 percent, were written by pro-al Qaeda clerics or suspected al Qaeda operatives. Another article was written by a jihadist who has been linked to al Qaeda in the past.
The articles by al Qaeda leaders and senior operatives in the latest edition of Al Sumud include:
“Message of Condolences and Oath of Allegiance from the Emir of Al Qaeda, Sheikh Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri” – The Taliban republished Zawahiri’s oath to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the new leader of the Taliban, as well as his condolences for the death of Omar, which was issued on Aug. 13. Just one day after Zawahiri swore allegiance to the Taliban, Mullah Mansour accepted it.
“Dr. Abdallah al Muhaysini’s Words on the Death of Mullah Muhammad Omar, May Allah Have Mercy on Him” – Muhaysini is an al Qaeda-linked cleric and works with al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. He has repeatedly backed Zawahiri in al Qaeda’s dispute with the rival Islamic State. Most recently, Muhaysini was featured in a video that promoted an Al Nusrah Front training camp for children.
“Statement of Condolences for the Death of the Commander of the Faithful Mullah Muhammad Omar by the Abu Usman Gimrinsky, The Emir of the Caucuses Emirate” – The Islamic Caucasus Emirate has repeatedly demonstrated its allegiance to al Qaeda, and al Qaeda has also supported ICE in the Russian Caucasus as well as in Syria. Gimrinsky (AKA Magomed Suleimanov), was killed by Russian troops shortly after eulogizing Mullah Omar.
“The Death of the Muslim Reforming Ruler Mullah Omar, May Allah Have Mercy on Him” – A reproduction of a sermon eulogizing Mullah Omar by Dr. Hani al Siba’i, a radical Egyptian cleric who was a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad before it merged with al Qaeda. Siba’i is one of seven “al Qaeda associates” who were added to the US Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals List in 2005. “The activities of these individuals included training and providing material support to al Qaida, as well as conspiring to commit terrorist acts,” Treasury stated.
“Eulogy Poem for the Commander of the Faithful Mullah Muhammad Omar, May Allah Have Mercy on Him” – A poem by Sheikh Hamid bin Abdallah al ‘Ali, who was listed by the US Treasury Department as Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2006. According to Treasury, ‘Ali is “a Kuwait-based terrorist facilitator who has provided financial support for al Qaeda-affiliated groups seeking to commit acts of terrorism in Kuwait, Iraq, and elsewhere.”
“Departure, A Must” – A eulogy by “Tilmiz [student of] Osama Bin Ladin,” a prolific al Qaeda writer who routinely publishes on Twitter.
Additionally, Al Sumud published a letter from December 2001 [“Letter from Multiple Honorable Sheikhs to Mullah Muhammad Omar”] that was written by three radical al Qaeda-linked clerics from Saudi Arabia. All three clerics, Hammud bin Aqla al Shuaybi, Sheikh Ali bin al Khudayr, and Sulayman bin Nasir al Alwan, supported al Qaeda’s attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Shuaybi, who died in 2002, was cited several times by Osama bin Laden. Khudayr, a protege of Shuaybi, was arrested after issuing a fatwa, or religious edict, that permitted the killing of Saudi security personnel. Alwan issued fatwas that call for suicide attacks against Israel and declare any Muslim who supported the US to be an infidel. His brother-in-law, Yusef al Ayeri, was the first leader of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.
Other authors published in Al Sumud who are thought to be linked to al Qaeda include Adham al Sharqawi (a Bahraini), Al Muhajir al Kurdi (an ethnic Kurd), Uqayl al-Shami (a Syrian), and Abu Fahr al Muslim.
Also included was a poem by Mustafa Hamid (AKA Abu Walid al Masri), who the US Treasury Department described as “a senior al Qaeda associate who served as a primary interlocutor between al Qaeda and the Government of Iran” when he was listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2009. “Before the fall of the Taliban, Hamid served as an instructor at a terrorist camp near Jalalabad that trained in the use of explosives,” Treasury stated. His father-in-law is senior al Qaeda leader Saif al Adel. Hamid’s status is currently unclear.
Taliban publicize relationship with al Qaeda
Al Sumud’s heavy reliance on al Qaeda leaders to eulogize Mullah Omar should come as no surprise. The Taliban and al Qaeda have deep ties spanning decades, and the Taliban has actively publicized the relationship over the past several months.
Six weeks before the Taliban announced the death of Mullah Omar, Mullah Mansour described al Qaeda’s leaders as the “heroes of the current jihadist era” and bin Laden as the “leader of mujahideen.” Mansour’s statement contained other parallels to al Qaeda’s messaging as well. [See LWJ report, Taliban chastise Islamic State for dividing jihadist ranks in Afghanistan and beyond.]
“Among these respected brothers, I first and foremost accept the pledge of allegiance of the esteemed Dr. Ayman ad-Dhawahiri [al Zawahiri], the leader of international Jihadi organization (Qaedatul Jihad) and thank him for sending a message of condolence along with his pledge and pledge of all Mujahideen under him,” Mansour said.
In addition to Mansour’s statement, the Taliban posted an English-language translation of Zawahiri’s oath along with an embedded copy of his complete audio message. An accompanying note from the Taliban reads: “This step is evidence of the great resolve of the said organization [al Qaeda], acumen of the esteemed Dr. Ayman ad-Dhawahiri [Zawahiri] (may Allah protect him) as well as strong determination and commitment to well-being of the Muslim Ummah by the Mujahideen under his leadership.”
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