Iran Receives Praise For Terror Aid to Al Qaeda: Zawahiri Letter

In an intercepted letter to Iran, Ayman Al Zawahiri praises Iran for their aid in setting up the terror cells in Yemen responsible for the recent US Embassy attacks there. In the past both Al Qaeda and the Taliban have sheltered in Iran, and without Iran’s logistics and weapons aid it’s doubtful that they can be effective in Pakistan and Afghanistan now that AQ is shut off from their ISI sugardaddies by the new Pakistan government. Story at The UK Telegraph:

Delivery of the letter exposed the rising role of Saad bin Laden, son of the al-Qaeda leader, Osama as an intermediary between the organisation and Iran. Saad bin Laden has been living in Iran since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, apparently under house arrest.

The letter, which was signed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second in command, was written after the American embassy in Yemen was attacked by simultaneous suicide car bombs in September.

Western security officials said the missive thanked the leadership of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for providing assistance to al-Qaeda to set up its terrorist network in Yemen, which has suffered ten al-Qaeda-related terror attacks in the past year, including two bomb attacks against the American embassy.

In the letter al-Qaeda’s leadership pays tribute to Iran’s generosity, stating that without its “monetary and infrastructure assistance” it would have not been possible for the group to carry out the terror attacks. It also thanked Iran for having the “vision” to help the terror organisation establish new bases in Yemen after al-Qaeda was forced to abandon much of its terrorist infrastructure in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

There has been intense speculation about the level of Iranian support for al-Qaeda since the 9/11 Commission report into al-Qaeda’s terror attacks against the U.S. in 2001 concluded that Iran had provided safe passage for many of the 9/11 hijackers travelling between Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia prior to the attacks.

Sayyid Imam Calls Zawahiri a Liar and Cursed Before God

In a book being published serially, Sayyid Imam points out the lies and double-dealing of Ayman Al Zawhari, and challenges him to a cursing before God. See here at Jihadica, partial list below:

  • Zawahiri repeatedly says I wrote the Document [the Tarshid] under the supervision of the U.S. and the Jews. He is a liar and I call him to a mubahala. I swear to God that I wrote the Document to help Islam and if Zawahiri has lied about this, may God curse him.
  • What Zawahiri says about the Document he also said about Bin Laden. Zawahiri accused UBL of being an agent of Saudi intelligence working among the Islamic movements when UBL didn’t support them with money in 1995. Zawahiri thinks everyone is a traitor like him.
  • Zawahiri accused me of being an agent of Sudanese intelligence. I swear that I heard Zawahiri say to me in Sudan at the end of 1993 that he had to carry out 10 operations for the Sudanese in Egypt and that he received $100,000 from them to that end. If he denies it, I call him to a second mubahala: I swear Zawahiri said this and if he denies it, may God send his curse down upon him.
  • He began working for the Sudanese a year after I cut off my ties with Islamic Jihad. He paid the Islamic Jihad group in Egypt to carry out operations there. I sat with them and warned them that it was futile and not required by Islamic law, but Zawahiri persisted. He and his brother swore they would go fight in Egypt until they died, but they did not; they let others die there instead.
  • For those not knowing who this person is, he wrote the book on Jihad originally used to train Al Qaeda, and is one of Ayman Al Zawahiri’s oldest associates.
    [ Editor: note that underlying this is not just fear of Allah, and it’s not just personal. A mubahala involves Zawahiri’s family as well, and who is to say how Allah’s will in the curse would be wrought? See this section from Wiki:

    Muhammad called them to Mubahala(Cursing), where each party should ask God to destroy the lying party and their families. Muhammad, to prove to them that he is a prophet, brought his daughter Fatimah and his surviving grandchildren, Hasan and Hussein, and Ali ibn Abi Talib and came back to the Christians and said this is my family (Ahl al-Bayt) and covered himself and his family with a cloak

    ]

    h/t Internet Hagganah

    Pakistan Reopens Torkham Border Crossing to NATO Supplies

    Pakistan shut down the border crossing at Torkham to NATO fuel supplies after a series of raids by the US in Pakistan aimed at taking out the leadership of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They reoppened the crossing today, and it demonstrates the power Pakistan has over Nato supply lines at the moment. The only other options to supply are by air, or overland and sea via Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, or through Russia. Either presents problems at the moment, as does negotiatng new supply routes from China via the silk road.

    These raids have increased in tempo since the beginning of the year, but have not to our knowledge taken out anyone higher than mid level in either organization. Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Omar, Ayman Al Zawahiri, Baitullah Mehsud, Haqqani, and Abu Yazid Al Masri are still all out there to the best of my knowledge.

    While many Taliban and AQ were killed, the identities are largely unknown until we get confirmations from other sources.

    More on the interdiction of supplies from Bill Roggio:

    The US has recently stepped up attacks against Taliban and al Qaeda safe houses and training camps inside Pakistan’s tribal areas of North and South Waziristan over the last week. The US has conducts five strikes in the Waziristans in the past week, including a controversial helicopter assault in a village along the border.

    But other Pakistani officials are maintaining that the border crossing was closed due to a deteriorating security situation. Rahmin Malik, the advisor to Prime Minister Gilani on internal security, said the road was closed after members of the security forces protecting the road to Afghanistan were kidnapped.

    This is a political move, demonstrating the new President’s independence from US control, but ultimately the Pakistan economy could not withstand the shock of stopping the supplies permanently, as well as the other likely reprecussions. It is significant that Pakistan also made this move as the India nuclear deal took place, allowing open trade with India and bringing them back into the nuclear arms treaties. Similar deals were in the works with Pakistan, but those fell through, more from the chaos of the elections and the aftermath of forming a new coalition after the initial one collapsed.

    Pakistan’s future could be bright: They sit on the best path for energy and food supplies to most of the subcontinent, but as long as their frontiers remain out of control they will never be able to leverage that geopolitial advantage very well.

    Yazid Al Masri Update: Army Spokesman Partially Confirms Death of AQ #3

    From the Pakistan Daily Times we have a named source saying that they think Abu Yazid “Saeed” Al Masri is dead. He refuses to confirm until secondary verification from ground sources however.

    From the Daily Times:

    Strikes by Pakistani fighter jets have killed a senior Al Qaeda commander in the Bajaur Agency, according to unofficial reports on Tuesday. Military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said the security agencies had intelligence on presence of top Al Qaeda operative Abu Mustafa Al Yazid but his death could not be confirmed as yet by “contacts on the ground”. “I can only speak when we have 100 percent confirmation that he was killed,” Abbas told Daily Times. However, he confirmed air raids in the area by security forces.

    UPDATE II: In the International Times they have both Taliban and “Arab” sources denying the death of Abu Yazid “Saeed” Al Masri. This looks like another false report from Pakistan’s Military at the moment, but note that the military also states that intercepted insurgent radio chatter is where they first heard of the death, we’ll give this another 48 hours since Al Qaeda ususally does confirm when we kill a leader.

    Update: Apparently after the strike the bodies where taken away, and then sent to separate villages, see this article.

    Militants’ positions were also targeted by artillery and mortars from the paramilitary Bajaur Scouts headquarters in Khar, they added. The officials said 21 militants were killed and several were injured in the daylong bombing and artillery shelling on their hideouts.

    Officials said the militants later took bodies of the slain and injured colleagues to their headquarters in Seway village of Mamond subdivision. “After their funeral prayers offered in Seway, the bodies of the militants were dispatched to their respective villages for burial,” sources close to militants told The News from Seway.

    Sources said the militants from other tribal regions, including South Waziristan, Khyber, Mohmand and settled districts of Mardan, Peshawar, Nowshera, Dir and Swabi also reached the area to fight alongside their fellow fighters in the Bajaur Agency against the security forces.

    [also note that the village mentioned has a history. You also see that the Mullah Faqir mentioned in the article and released in 2006 is leading the Taliban here.]

    Today’s Earlier Post:
    Pakistan has announced the death of Abu Yazid “Saeed” al-Masri in the Bajaur region as a result of their ongoing offensive there. (The Reuters story specifies an “Unamed Official, but that’s normally how these reports come from Pakistan.) Originally billed as Al Qaida’s leader in Afghanistan way back in May 2007 in an As Sahab video, he later seemed to have been replaced in subseqent announcements by other AQ leaders in Afghanistan as they tried Emir after Emir. I think this was by design after Dadullah’s death, their second tier now leads from the rear. He was the replacement after we killed Mullah Dadullah, and from what I can see he was in the second tier of leadership of Al Qaeda, managing both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here is the video announcing him as leader in Afghanistan from Memri.

    While I’m calling Abu Yazid as a “tier II” leader, some refer to him as Al Qaeda’s number three, he also served time in the same cell alongside Ayman Al Zawahiri in Egypt. Regardless of where you place his position, he is part of the critical strategic leadership for AQ, and this is a tremendous blow to them if the initial reports pan out.

    He was the one who declared Jihad against Turkey, and later he pops up in the news claiming credit for the Benazir Bhutto assassination for Al Qaeda. ( Rememeber that many think Baitullah Mehsud did it as well, I would still wager that AQ ordered the killing and that Baitullah managed the logistics.)
    You can also see in this dispatch at Memri that he doesn’t distinguish between civilians and government for purposes of Jihad.

    Here’s the story from Fox News:

    Senior Al Qaeda commander Abu Saeed al-Masri has been killed in recent clashes with Pakistani forces in a Pakistani region near the Afghan border, a security official told Reuters on Tuesday.

    “He was believed to be among the top leadership of Al Qaeda,” the senior security official told the news agency on condition of anonymity.

    Al-Masri, which means Egyptian, was the senior most Al Qaeda operative to have been killed in Pakistan’s tribal belt since the death of his compatriot, Abu Khabab al-Masri, an Al Qaeda chemical and biological weapons expert, last month

    You can also see that Abu Yazid Al Masri, like all Al Qaeda leadership, interprets Jihad the way he wants to at the moment. Here he specifically states that blowing up mosques is forbidden, but later you saw Al Qaeda suicide bomb the mosque at Charsadda in an attempt to get Aftab Ahmed Sherpao:

    In the interview, Abu Al-Yazid stated that Al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad last June. He said that the bomber was a Saudi, and added: “We are proud to have carried out [this operation], and we congratulated our brothers for completing this task. We timed the attack in such a way that no Muslims were in the vicinity.” Abu Al-Yazid also stated that Al-Qaeda had been responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On a previous occasion, he claimed that the organization had carried out the December 27, 2007 assassination of former Pakistani prime-minister Benazir Bhutto.

    Referring to the permissibility of suicide bombings, Abu Al-Yazid said that eminent Islamic scholars around the world had issued fatwas sanctioning them. He added: “Suicide attacks are justified by Islamic shari’a. [However, Islamic] scholars [who are affiliated with] governments issue whatever fatwas they are told to issue… However, suicide attacks inside mosques are forbidden.”

    Meanwhile the offensive in Bajaur is continuing, I think the ruling coalition in Pakistan has realized that they must get AQ and Baitullah before the terrorists get them. ( Baitullah circulated a list of 300 PPP and PML-N stalwarts up for assassination last month.)

    More at Jawa Report

    More at The Long War Journal

    Al Zawahiri Injured or Dead? UPDATE: False Report From CBS Based on Flimsy Doc.


    FINAL UPDATE:

     Pakistan Taliban Deny Zawahiri’s death. Maulvi Omar is the spokesworm for Baitullah Mehsud, and while he might be lying, it’s not likely. The Taliban are quick to promote the death of leaders on the internet when there are deaths (as they did this week with the real death from the missile strike) as this gains them more recruits at times. Once again CBS news has run with a weak story based on probably fraudulent documents. From Maulvi Omar, Spokesworm:

    “Ayman al Zawahri was not present there. Ayman al Zawahri is neither present in Waziristan nor in Bajaur,” Omar said, referring to another Pakistani tribal region known as a sanctuary for al Qaeda militants.

    A senior Pakistani intelligence officer also rejected suggestions that Zawahri was present when al-Masri was killed. “It’s absurd,” he told Reuters, adding that the only notable casualty had been al-Masri.

    Once again I will mention that if Zawahiri and Bin Laden are in Pakistan it’s more likely that they are in a large walled compound in the exurbs of Peshwar, Lahore, or Islamad. (Remember where they found Kardazic?)

    Previous Report:

    CBS has an unconfirmed report up that Ayman Al Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s number two but also their strongest master of strategy, might be injured. Judge for yourselves, I’ve seen no mention of this in Pakistani papers, but I’m on my way out to dig now:

    CBS News has obtained a copy of an intercepted letter from sources in Pakistan, which urgently requests a doctor to treat al-Zawahiri. He’s believed to be somewhere in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas of Pakistan.

    The letter refers to Sheikh Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri by name – and says that he is in “severe pain” and his “injuries are infected.”

    It is reportedly written by local Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, whose signature and seal are visible on the letter.

    The Taliban logo and the Mehsud’s seal have been confirmed by experts as legitimate.

    However, CBS News has not been able to confirm the authenticity of Baitullah Mehsud’s signature and seal.

    Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, the TTP and AQ have shown that they want nothing less than a separate state for themselves carved out of the frontiers of Pakistan. Failing that they will attack Pakistan, and have throughout the negotiations. Baitullah Mehsud’s previously mentioned assassination list of 300 PPP and ANP politicos also sends clear message that Pakistan needs to get the leaders of AQ before AQ gets them. Against that background I could see this happening…

    Update: more at the Jawa Report

    UPDATE: Bill Roggio is reporting that the information CBS is basing the story on comes from a suspect source. Unfortunately there’s a conflict out there that seems to be between IE and Sitemeter.com, which Bill uses. You can’t get to the site with IE, so use firefox if you want to read.

    Update: More from Hot Air and from Lawhawk

    Four days later, two reports emerged that stated Zawahiri was either killed or seriously injured in the strike. The first news on Zawahiri’s involvement in the strike came from STRATFOR, which repeated the claim from a Pashtu television station that Zawahiri was killed. The Pakistani station broadcast the report of Zawahiri’s demise on July 29, yet the report was not repeated in Pakistan’s robust, independent media outlets.

    Update: AFP writes that there is not yet confirmation.

    [Editor: I will back up what Bill is saying – surfing all of the Pakistani major newspapers, blogs, and forums reveals zero stories on this. The factor that’s different about this story is the letter that CBS in theory has. As we know however, they’ve been suckered by fraudulent documents in the past.]

    Interesting, but probably unrelated.

    Factors for Doubt:

    • Zawahiri has been referenced in missives to the Doctors in Jundullah in the past, along with Bin Laden however they have always been referenced by code names, and vagueness – like “the good doctor in Quetta”.
    • There are active raids, like the one against the Haqqani compound Monday, but so far they seem to have come up dry.
    • So far no secondary confirmation in the Pakistani press, I’m still looking for news that does not circularly reference the CBS article.

    In other news from Pakistan the TTP insurection in Swat continues, with the Army using convential tactics to fight against the Taliban. Also note that security forces are swinging into place on the borders of Swat, possible to bottle up the Taliban. NWFP will continue operations in Swat.
    The order transferring the sometimes renegade ISI of Pakistan under the Interior Ministry is still standing. [editor: I seem to have lost the four links in the bottom section during my updates, you can see the stories confirming the “other news” section in Saturday editions of The Frontier Post, The International News, The Pakistan Observer, and The Daily Times.]