US and Afghan forces have targeted al Qaeda operatives in at least three Afghan provinces in recent weeks. One of the jihadists killed has been identified as Omar Khetab, the deputy leader of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Khetab and other AQIS operatives have been supporting the Taliban’s insurgency.
On Aug. 31, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s leader, Zakir Musa, released an audio message in which he criticized the Pakistani government for supposedly betraying the jihad in Kashmir. Musa’s critique is consistent with al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s “code of conduct.”
Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has released a 20-page code of conduct outlining its approach to waging jihad throughout the region. The group says its men are currently fighting “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the Taliban and calls on Muslims in the surrounding countries to pledge allegiance to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (another name for the Taliban).
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) presented its written “Worldwide Threat Assessment” to the Senate last week. The analysis confirms that the Islamic State is capable of sustaining insurgencies in both Iraq and Syria, Afghan security continues to “deteriorate,” and al Qaeda remains a threat in several parts of the globe.
Usama Ibrahim was a member of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s top leadership body and the chief of Al Sahab Media, al Qaeda’s official media production arm. Tariq Bhai was AQIS’ “head of Bangladeshi Affairs.”
The US has killed or captured approximately 250 al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent leaders and members in Afghanistan in 2016. US officials have downplayed the extent of al Qaeda’s presence in the country for years. After the raids this year, US intelligence should prepare a fresh assessment.
Al Qaeda claims that two of Ayman al Zawahiri’s daughters and a third woman were exchanged for the son of Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in either late July or early August. The Long War Journal cannot independently verify the claim, but it is known that al Qaeda had been trying to exchange at least one kidnapped son of Pakistan’s elite for the women. Al Qaeda announced that the women and their children were released in early August.
The US government and intelligence services have consistently underestimated the strength of AQIS, which is an official branch of al Qaeda that is based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.