INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR—PAPER NO. 539
Since February last, a debate has been going on in the jihadi circles in Pakistan over the wisdom of the attacks launched by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud, its Amir, against the Pakistani Armed Forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
2.Some of the jihadi organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) have been uncomfortable over the attacks launched by the TTP on the Pakistani Armed Forces and the ISI. They are of the view that the TTP should focus its attacks on the US and other NATO troops in Afghanistan.
3.Even the Afghan Taliban headed by its Amir Mulla Mohammad Omar has been critical of the TTP.
4.The only jihadi organizations supportive of the tactics of the TTP are the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which is an anti-Shia organization.They are of the view that since the Pakistan Army has been collaborating with the US forces in their operations against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, attacks on it and the ISI are justified.
5.Till now, Al Qaeda was silent in this debate. In a message addressed to the Pakistani nation on June 3,2009, on the fighting in the Swat Valley, Osama bin Laden has justified the attacks of the TTP on the Pakistan Army by describing the Government of Asif Ali Zardari as a Government of kafirs and by denouncing the Pakistan Army under Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani as an army of kafirs.
6.According to his arguments, since the Government of Zardari and the Army under Kayani have let themselves be used by a kafir state like the US for killing faithful Muslims, who wanted to live according to the Sharia, they have become kafirs and ceased to be true Muslims.
7.bin Laden says: “ There is a response to those who deprecatorily question: How do the Mujahideen fight the Pakistani Army, which is a Muslim army? The Pakistani Army is the one which came to the tribal region to fight them in agreement with America and in response to its demands. It should be clear if a Muslim supported kafirs against Muslims, his faith will recoil. He will become a kafir and apostate…. Who stood by America the Christian and who supported it? Isn’t that Zardari, his Government and the Army? How would you judge? He who supports kafirs becomes one of them. He must be fought against even if he fasted, prayed and claimed he is a Muslim…..The Pakistani Army is with America in the same trench against Islam. It is the duty of the honest people of Islam to fight them.”
8.bin Laden has compared the Pakistani Army under Kayani to the Afghan Army under Najibullah, which allegedly let itself be used by the Soviet Army for killing true Muslims in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda remnants in Pakistan expect Kayani to meet the fate of Najibullah. They point out that religious clerics in Pakistan had issued fatwas against Najibullah for co-operating with the Soviet Army and ask how can they now support Kayani, who has been co-operating with the US army.
9.In their propaganda, Al Qaeda remnants in Pakistan have sought to address the question as to why Al Qaeda has not been able to carry out another 9/11 in the US Homeland. They attribute this to its preoccupation with the fighting against the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
10.At the same time, they claim that Al Qaeda has not given up its plans for another 9/11 in the US Homeland. They believe that the growing Pashtun anger against the US and the exodus of over two million Pashtun refugees from their homes as a result of the anti-TTP operations allegedly forced on the Pakistan Army by the US have created favourable conditions for planning another 9/11 in the US Homeland. They also believe that just as the “martyrs” of 9/11 came from the Arab world, the “martyrs” of the next 9/11 will come from the Pashtun world.
11. Al Qaeda remnants in Pakistan say that bin Laden would soon be coming out with a fitting rejoinder to President Barack Obama’s Cairo message addressed to the Muslims.
12.My earlier comments on a version of the same audio message
of June 3 as disseminated by Al Jazeera may be seen at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers33/paper3229.html. Kindly also see my earlier article of June 7,2009, titled “Anti-Taliban Operation Projected as Anti-Pashtun” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers33/paper3238.html ( 27-6-09)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2gmail.com )