The US State Department today added two Pakistani jihadist groups to its list of global terrorist entities.
Both Jamaat ul Dawa al Quran (JDQ) and the Tariq Gidar Group (TGG) have now been sanctioned, meaning Americans “are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with” the jihadist organizations.
The Jamaat ul Dawa al Quran (JDQ)
Jamaat ul Dawa al Quran (JDQ), which is “based in Peshawar, Pakistan, and eastern Afghanistan” has “long-standing ties to al Qaeda and Lashkar e-Tayyiba,” according to State.
JDQ, which is also known as the Jamaat al Dawa ila al Sunnah, Jamaat ud Dawa il al Quran al Sunnah, and the Salafi Group, operates in Kunar province, Afghanistan.
In January 2010, JDQ pledged an oath of allegiance to then Taliban emir Mullah Omar. That pledge was accepted by the Taliban. It is unclear if JDQ renewed its oath after Omar died, or will pledge again in the wake of the May 21 airstrike that killed Omar’s replacement, Mullah Mansour.
The US military began targeting JDQ in special operations raids in August 2010. Two months later, US Navy SEALs accidentally killed Linda Norgrove, a British aid worker who was held by JDQ in Kunar, during an attempt to free her.
Several members of the JDQ were once held at the American detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [See LWJ reports, US targets Salafist group allied with the Taliban in Kunar and Ex-Gitmo detainee killed in Afghanistan.]
One of these former Guantanamo detainees, Haji Sahib Rohullah Wakil, was identified as the JDQ’s overall leader.
In a leaked 2005 threat assessment, JTF-GTMO (Joint Task Force – Guantanamo) concluded that Wakil was a “high risk” to the US and allies and should be retained in the Department of Defense’s custody. Nearly three years later, on Apr. 30, 2008, Wakil was transferred to Afghanistan.
In Apr. 2009, the US government included Wakil on its list of “former Guantanamo detainees confirmed or suspected of reengaging in terrorist activities.” The threshold for labeling a former Guantanamo detainee a “confirmed” recidivist is higher than for “suspected” cases. Wakil was listed as a “suspected” recidivist. The reason given was his alleged “association with terrorist groups.” The Defense Department did not provide any more details.
A few months later, in July 2009, McClatchy published an account in which Wakil and other sources denied that he was ever a terrorist, let alone a recidivist. Wakil claimed that he was a loyal servant of Hamid Karzai’s post-Taliban government. While admitting that he was a member of the JDQ, according to McClatchy, Wakil said he was “never a fighter” and “that his group promoted a certain thread of Islam, not terrorism.”
But the story told in JTF-GTMO’s threat assessment was quite different. Wakil became the head of the JDQ after his uncle was assassinated. There were rumors that Wakil had even “engineered the assassination of his uncle,” according to JTF-GTMO.
US intelligence officials concluded that Wakil was a “supporter” of al Qaeda and its “global terrorist network.” Wakil allegedly “assisted Arabs associated with al Qaeda to infiltrate/exfiltrate from Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
US officials also suspected that while Wakil ostensibly supported Karzai’s government in post-Taliban Afghanistan, he was really playing a double game, with the assistance of Pakistani intelligence.
“Reporting indicates [Wakil] worked in conjunction with Pakistan Intelligence Service Directorate (ISID) to undermine the current Afghanistan government under Karzai,” the JTF-GTMO noted in its file for Wakil. An explanatory note from JTF-GTMO’s analysts was included in the next line: “Rogue factions of the ISID have routinely pursued private interests and acted against the stated policy of the Government of Pakistan.”
“In January 2002,” the file continued, “ISID financed efforts of several factions” in Kunar province “in order to destabilize” the Afghan government. Then, in March 2002, “the ISID reportedly provided [Wakil] with $12,000 to finance military operations against the [Afghan government] in hopes of destabilizing the new government.”
The State Department does not identify JDQ’s overall leader in today’s designation. It is not clear if Wakil is still active, or a leader in the organization today.
In Sept. 2011, Afghan and coalition forces killed Sabar Lal Melma, who also once held at Guantanamo. JTF-GTMO found that Melma was a former member of the JDQ, while McClatchy referred to him as Wakil’s military commander. ISAF referred to Melma as “a key affiliate of the al Qaeda network.”
The Tariq Gidar Group (TGG)
According to State, the Tariq Gidar Group (TGG) is “linked” to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, or TTP) and is “responsible for multiple large-scale, fatal attacks,” including the Dec. 16, 2014 “massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan.” The TGG’s assault on the school left “132 school children and nine staffers dead.” The State Department notes the assault was the “deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan’s history.”
The TGG has claimed credit for a number of other attacks, including the Sept. 2015 assault on a Pakistani airbase in Peshawar (29 killed) and the Jan. 2016 attack on a school in Charsadda (29 killed).
According to State, the TGG was responsible for “the 2008 kidnapping and beheading of Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak in Attock, Pakistan.” According to reports, a Taliban commander known as Zakir Mehsud was responsible for kidnapping Stanczak. Fighters loyal to Qari Hussain Mehsud, the former head of the TTP’s suicide teams, beheaded Stanczak. [See LWJ report, Taliban feud over murder of Polish hostage.]
Khalifa Umar Mansour is the TGG’s top man and has led the TTP’s forces in Peshawar and Darra Adam Khel. Mansour proudly claimed credit for the Dec. 2014 suicide assault on the Peshawar high school that resulted in 141 deaths. Mansour is said to be close to Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the TTP.
Multiple designated terrorist organizations in Pakistan
Pakistan hosts a plethora of jihadist groups that have been listed by the US as terrorist organizations. Some of these target elements of the Pakistani state, while others have been supported by Pakistani intelligence.
Other jihadist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ul-Dawa and Harakat ul Muhajideen are on the US terror list, but operate openly with the support of the Pakistani state.
And, of course, al Qaeda has long operated inside Pakistan, often with the help of allied groups.
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