The US killed the Islamic State Khorasan Province’s mufti, or senior religious and legal scholar, in an airstrike in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, where the global jihadist group is strongest in the country. Jalaluddin, the mufti, was a disciple of a senior Taliban leader and al Qaeda facilitator who is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. He attended a madrassa in Pakistan that is listed by the US as a terrorist facility.
Jalaluddin was killed on Oct. 13 in a US drone strike in the Nangarhar’s Mohmand Dara district, the Afghan Islamic Press reported yesterday. The news agency is closely linked to the Taliban and jihadist groups operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has accurately reported on deaths of senior figures in the past.
The Islamic State’s mufti was traveling in a vehicle “with his five men” when he was killed, Afghan Islamic Press reported. The district of Mohmand Dara directly borders Pakistan. The Islamic State Khorasan Province’s top leaders and much of its rank and file are largely made up of disaffected former members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan as well as the Afghan Taliban.
Jalaluddin’s death has not been officially announced by the Islamic State. The Nangarhar Governor’s Press Office and Islamic State supporters on social media sites have said that he was killed.
While the Islamic State has not had much success establishing itself in other Afghan provinces, it has made inroads into Nangarhar at the expense of the Taliban. Over the past year, the group has battled with the Taliban for control over the province, and is said to have assassinated the Taliban’s shadow governor for Nangarhar. The Islamic State is known to have a strong presence in nine of Nangarhar’s 22 districts. The district of Achin is said to be controlled by the Islamic State. According to The New York Times, the jihadist group has an estimated 4,200 fighters in Nangarhar.
The US has killed several senior Islamic State commanders in airstrikes in Afghanistan. In July 2015, airstrikes killed Shahidullah Shahid, the group’s spokesman, and Gul Zamn Fateh, the deputy emir and commander for the Khyber tribal agency in Pakistan, in Nangarhar. In February 2015, the US killed Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, Khorasan Province’s deputy emir and a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, in an airstrike in Helmand.
Khorasan Province’s Mufti was tied to Taliban, al Qaeda
Jalaluddin, the former mufti for Khorasan Province, rose thought the jihadist ranks in the Afghan-Pakistan region and was previously mentored by Fazeel-A-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen al Peshawari, an influential Taliban leader and al Qaeda facilitator who is also known as Sheikh Aminullah.
Sheikh Aminullah was was placed on the United Nations Sanctions Committee’s list of “individuals and entities associated with al Qaeda” and the US list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in 2009 for directly supporting al Qaeda and the Taliban. As of 2012, Aminullah was said to lead the Afghan Taliban’s Peshawar Regional Military Shura. In 2013, Aminullah’s Ganj Madrassa in Peshawar, Pakistan, was listed a terrorist facility. The madrassa is still in operation. [For more information on Aminullah and the Ganj Madrassa, see LWJ reports, Taliban appoint al Qaeda-linked commander to lead Peshawar shura and Treasury designates al Qaeda leader, madrassa.]
According to Dawat-e-Haq, an Urdu-language website that is linked to Islamic State Khorasan Province, Jalaluddin was trained by Aminullah at the Ganj Madrassa, and later taught there.
“He [Jalaluddin] is a student of Sheikh Aminullah Peshawari and he used to teach Koranic commentary at a university [madrassa] established by Sheikh Aminullah Peshawari,” Dawat-e-Haq noted when Jalaluddin joined the Islamic State in August. “God be praised, Sheikh Jalaluddin, may God protect him, has pledged allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, may God protect him, and thus, has joined the caravan of the Caliphate.”
In September, Jalaluddin justified his defection from the Taliban by claiming it was a Muslim’s duty to support the declared caliphate, and that unlike the Afghan Taliban, the Islamic State is not controlled by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. This a common criticism of the Taliban by members of the Islamic State.
“We are pleased that our reins are not in the hands of a despicable organization like the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence]. Our reins are not in the hands of the United States,” he said.
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