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First Issue of Jihadi Magazine 'Ihya-e-Khilafat' Praises 9/11 Hijackers, Reveals Realignment Of Pakistani Taliban Groups, British Youths Joining Jihadists In Pakistan

Author: Tufail Ahmad
Publication: Memri.org
Date: October 20, 2014
URL: http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8183.htm

The cover page of Ihya-e-Khilafat
A Pakistani Taliban organization that was recently expelled from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or the Movement of Pakistani Taliban) has released a new English-language magazine that aims at recruiting Muslim youths from the West, praises the 9/11 hijackers, and indicates that some British youths have recently joined the group in the Pakistani tribal region.

The magazine, Ihya-e-Khilafat (Revival of the Islamic Caliphate), has been published in the past in Urdu language, but this is the first time it has been published in English. Its Issue No. 1 is dated October 2014. In an editorial, the magazine states one of its objectives: "[T]here was a need to address English-speaking population of the world. To address that need, we decided to start Ihya-e-Khilafat in English as well and Alhamdolillah [Praise be to Allah] the first English magazine is in your hands. Kuffar [infidels] famously say that the first casualty of the war is truth but we shall try to bring you the news and articles based upon truth even though we are fighting a war."

The magazine publishes contact details for the potential jihadi youths to reach it, and advises them not to use their own home computers which might be tracked by intelligence agencies.

The magazine is brought out by the Pakistani Taliban faction led by Omar Khalid Khorasani, who was expelled from the TTP recently for challenging the leadership of TTP emir Maulana Fazlullah. It should be noted that Maulana Fazlullah is the first person from outside the Mehsud tribe of Waziristan to take over the TTP leadership after Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone strike in November 2013. Omar Khalid Khorasani is supported by Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former TTP spokesman, and a number of Taliban commanders. At the time of his expulsion from the TTP, Omar Khalid Khorasani, a leading commander from the early days of the establishment of TTP in 2007, had been the TTP's emir for Mohmand Agency, a Pakistani tribal district.

Khorasani's expulsion came after a number of new Taliban-related terror groups came to the fore whose emergence was seen as challenging the authority of Maulana Fazlullah. Now, Omar Khalid Khorasani leads Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar (TTPJA), a group he established while he was still in the TTP and named it cleverly to indicate that he wanted to remain in the TTP while having his own independent organization. Formally, the TTPJA's emir is Maulana Qasim Khorasani. Interestingly, the cover page of the English-language Ihya-e-Khilafat presents itself as "the Voice of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan" in a bid to claim that the new group is the real TTP.

The magazine has a series of statements and articles, including an interview of Omar Khalid Khorasani who talks about his upbringing and career in jihad in Pakistan-Afghanistan region as well as the Kashmir jihad. A second part of the interview is to be published in a later issue of the magazine. The magazine is edited by Dr. Abu Obaidah Al-Islamabadi, who is a former doctor from the Pakistan Army whose real name is Dr. Tariq Ali. In a recent interview, Dr. Tariq Ali revealed that he lived in Britain and was captured on way to join the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Iraq. It is not clear where and when he was captured but in the interview he disclosed that he was jailed in Croatia, perhaps indicating a policy of rendition adopted by the Western forces who arrested him.

After his release from Croatia, Dr. Tariq Ali reached Pakistan and joined the TTPJA led by Omar Khalid Khorasani. In the interview, the former Pakistan army doctor also revealed that he lived in Britain for about nine years and studied surgery in London and Cambridge. In the past while based in Britain, Dr. Tariq Ali had been associated with pro-jihadist groups led by leading British Islamist Anjem Choudary. It appears that upon his return from Britain, the former Pakistan Army doctor also brought some British youths who joined the TTPJA.

The magazine contains an article by a British youth who is identified as Abu Okasha Al-Britani, which may not be a real name. In the article titled "Why? I Chose to Join Jihad-e-Pakistan," he goes on to state: "I am a muhajir [immigrant] from the West and was born and raised in the UK." The British youth also identifies three objectives of the Taliban in Pakistan: i) Fight for an Islamic state and full implementation of Sharia in Pakistan; ii) Take revenge of "our martyred brothers and sisters and the oppressed that are in the prisons"; iii) Make sure the secret agency operating in Pakistan, i.e. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistani military, is given a "justified ending."

It should be noted that in recent months, especially since the Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared himself as Emir-ul-Momineen (Leader of the Faithful Muslims) in late June, the TTP and all other Pakistani groups have mostly retained their allegiance to Mullah Mohammad Omar in his capacity as Emir-ul-Momineen. Mullah Omar is also regarded as Emir-ul-Momineen by Al-Qaeda and all its affiliates. However, five TTP commanders led by its spokesman Shahidullah Shahid did express their bai'yah (oath of fealty) to Abu Bakr Al-Baghadi in October, which along with the expulsion of the Khorasani faction indicates some serious split in the TTP. Omar Khalid Khorasani recently called for reconciliation between ISIS and Al-Qaeda, offering to mediate between Syria-based Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra and the ISIS of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Since the new magazine is published soon after Omar Khalid Khorasani's expulsion from the TTP, it makes a concerted effort to present the split as "restructuring" of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan aimed at managing dissent within the organization and therefore presents a number of statements of leading TTPJA commanders. There are four statements on the subject of indiscipline in the TTP and its failure to achieve its ideological objective of implementing Islamic Sharia rule in Pakistan, which according to these leaders necessitated the formation of TTPJA.

These four statements are by: Omar Khalid Khorasani; Maulana Qasim Khorasani, who is the emir of the TTPJA; and Qari Shakeel Ahmad Haqqani and Maulana Abdullah, the last two being members of the Shura (executive council) of the new group. In their statements, the breakaway leaders indicate that they are still part of the TTP but the purpose behind the formation of the TTPJA was solely to adopt the pattern of the organization of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Although some media reports have presented the expulsion of Omar Khalid Khorasani as a split in the TTP, the emergence of the TTPJA suggests a realignment of jihadist forces in the Pakistani tribal region as both the TTP and Al-Qaeda retain substantive presence in the region.

The new magazine has several articles. In an article titled "Operation Zarb-e-Azb," Asadullah Khorasani presents the anti-Taliban Pakistani military operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan as a way of making money for the Pakistan Army, noting that it was carried out because the U.S. Congress had put a condition for releasing U.S. aid to Pakistan Army. In an article titled "In Pursuit of Territory," Abu Rumaysah stresses the need for territory in establishing Islamic caliphate – an issue that has been debated in the global media since the Islamic State led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi captured several cities in Iraq – and argues that unlike for the Western countries, "The pursuit of territory for Muslims is thus not a mean[s] to subjugate nations…."

In an article titled "Nationalism – An Old Concept and a New Religion," the magazine's editor Dr. Abu Obaidah Al-Islamabadi rejects territory-based nationalisms of modern times. An article authored by Qari Shakeel Ahmad Haqqani raises the question of bombing of mosques and madrassas by Pakistani armed forces during military operations and wonders why Pakistanis who protested the demolition of Babri mosque in India by extremist Hindus in 1992 do not rise up in the case of such desecration of religious places in Pakistan. The author rues that the Pakistan Army exploded dozens of mosques in Pakistan but there are no public protests.

Another article, written by Ehsanullah Ehsan who has emerged as a key lieutenant for Omar Khalid Khorasani, discusses how public opinion has emerged as a "major challenge" faced by the jihadi movements of Pakistan. In his article, Ehsanullah Ehsan, who is a former spokesman of TTP and now serves as the central spokesman of TTPJA, notes that the public opinion in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria is in favor of the jihadists but in the case of Pakistan is a major challenge. He states: "If we look towards Iraq and Shaam [Syria], we see that Shias are all united together. So the Sunnis are all united together against them. Most of the Muslims support each other and they are finding huge successes against the enemies of Islam. However if we look at Pakistan, then here the mujahideen receive little support from the people. There is a massive media propaganda launched against them nationwide putting hatred in hearts of lay people against the mujahideen."

The magazine also pays tributes to the 9/11 hijackers (see the image above), describing them as "The Magnificent 19" and observing: "The 'Magnificent 19', armed with nothing but Taqwa [piety] and Yakeen [steadfastness] brought the so-called superpower down to its knees. We will never forget your sacrifice and your determination and strife [sic, possibly strive]. You attacked the enemy of Islam whose Fitna [mischief] was rife. You made the Muslimeen [Muslims] proud on that day…." The tributes appear to be taken from a past statement of British Islamists.

* Tufail Ahmad is director of MEMRI's South Asia Studies Project (www.memri.org/sasp)
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