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Several Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders whom the Pakistani

Interior Ministry claimed were killed in an aerial assault earlier this year have
been providing their own proof of lifetheir voices. In early March, Maulvi
Faqir Mohammad called local reporters in Pakistan to let them know he was
unscathed in a recent offensive. I am alive and same is the case with the two
other commanders, Qari Ziaur Rahman and Fateh [Mohammed], Faqir
Mohammed assured news outlets [The News International [Islamabad], March
12). Several weeks later Faqir Mohammeds colleague, Qari Ziaur Rahman,
made a similar phone call saying, I think you would now believe that I am
alive as I am personally speaking to you (The News International [Islamabad],
April 13). Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik had trumpeted Fateh
Mohammeds demise in early March as a sure thing, while heavily speculating
that Maulvi Faqir Mohammad and Qari Ziaur Rahman had also been most
likely killed (Dawn, March 7). Malik proudly announced from Peshawar that
Vice amir Maulvi Faqir Mohammad was killed along with 30 other fghters in a
barrage by Pakistani military gunships in an anti-Taliban offensive launched in
the Mohmand Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (The Nation
[Lahore], March 6). Faqir Mohammed later telephoned Pakistani daily Dawn
and said defantly, Qari Zia and Fateh are alive. We were not there, Faqir
Mohammad said. We are still in Bajaur [Agency] (Dawn, March 12). TTP
commanders purportedly fed Bajaur Agency to Mohmand Agency while the
By Zachary Abuza......................................................................................................................2
By Murad Batal al-Shishani......................................................................................................4
By Rafd Fadhil Mohammed Ali...............................................................................................6
By Derek Henry Flood..............................................................................................................8

APRIL 30, 2010
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Maoist Rebels
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
Bajaur offensive was underway, believing Mohmand
could have been a temporary safe haven.
All three men are signifcant TTP leaders. Afghan Qari
Ziaur Rahmans claim to infamy was that he gave
Osama bin Laden instruction about the life and times of
Prophet Mohammed (Asia Times, May 23, 2008) and
that, compared to many other Taliban higher ups of his
generation, he is both literate and learned. For Faqir
Mohammed, once a disciple of Suf Mohammed and
temporary leader of the TTP following the assassination
of Baitullah Mehsud (BBC News, August 19, 2009),
denying his offcially announced death is a practiced
routine. In early August 2008, Faqir Mohammed, who is
the primary TTP commander in Bajaur (Reuters, March
6), called news outlets in Pakistan to let them know that
he was alive after an airstrike in Bajaur Agenncy on a
vehicle in which he was thought to be traveling killed
several of his companions (GEO TV, August 15, 2008).
How soon these men, if alive as claimed, will return to
the battlefeld is a vexing question for both the Pakistani
military leadership and NATO forces in the adjacent
Afghan provinces west of the Durand Line.
In February, Militant Leadership Monitor reported
that the Talibans Shadow Governor for northern
Afghanistans Kunduz province, Mullah Abdul Salam,
a spiritual leader to the insurgents was arrested
in Pakistan (Der Spiegel, February 18). Now, Mullah
Yar Mohammed, also referred to as Mullah Noor
Mohammed, who many believe was tapped to replace
the out-of-action Salam, has reportedly been killed by
Afghan and International Security Assistance Forces
(ISAF) in the province on April 26 (Deutsche Presse-
Agentur, April 29). It is not clear whether Yar Mohammed
was anointed by what remains of the Quetta shura to
take over critical insurgent operations in Kunduz or
whether he rose to recent prominence of his own volition
(RTT News, April 29). According to a now unclassifed
internal state department cable online from George
Washington Universitys National Security Archives [1],
Mullah Yar Mohammed was a Durrani Pashtun from the
Popalzai subgroup and he demonstrated an independent,
perhaps disobedient streak when he served at various
posts in the Taliban administration from 1995-2001
under Mullah Mohammed Omar. Yar Mohammed had
served as governor of Herat province after the ousting
of mujahideen leader and notorious warlord Ismail
Khan but was removed from his post and sent to lead
Ghazni province clear on the other side of Afghanistan.
Yar Mohammed had fought in the anti-Soviet jihad as
a member of Hezb-I-Islami under the command of the
ruthless Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the 1980s and joined
the Taliban movement in the mid-1990s. The reasoning
for Mullah Omar moving Yar Mohammed may have
been to prevent Yar Mohammed from developing an
independent power base in Herat. [2] This was likely a
way for Omar to monopolize control and ensure that a
challenger with a strong personality and following did
not emerge to challenge him within the shuras power
structure. Later Yar Mohammed was listed as the
Minister of Communication during the regimes demise
in 2001 (Dawn, October 7, 2001). Yar Mohammed
may have seen the disarray within the Quetta core after
the string of arrests in Pakistan as a chance to lunge for
power in one of the regions most critical to the Taliban
in destabilizing northern Afghanistan and keeping ISAF
busy in the north. ISAF issued a press release from its
Kabul headquarters stating that, a senior militant
commander of Kunduz province and two senior advisors
were killed in a precision air strike in northern Kunduz
this morning [Monday, April 26] and described the
men as traveling 18 miles northeast of the provincial
capital when they were liquidated by an airstrike. [3]
[1] A PDF of the original cable can be accessed here:
[2] Ibid.
[3] The original ISAF statement can be seen here:
Umar Patek: Indonesias Most
By Zachary Abuza
On March 10, Indonesian authorities killed one of the
most wanted members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Joko
Pitoyo, commonly known as Dulmatin, in a shootout
in a Jakarta internet caf (see Militant Leadership
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
Monitor, March 2010, Christian Science Monitor,
March 10). The presence of Dulmatin in Indonesia
was highly signifcant and portended a dire need for
leaders with Afghan experience to rebuild JIs depleted
ranks, especially following the September 2009 death
of Noordin Mohammad Top. Dulmatins death is also
signifcant because it catapults his compatriot, Umar
Patek, to the top ranks of JI.
Dulmatin and Umar Patek were the deputy feld
commanders for the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202
people. The 40 year-old Dulmatin was a protg of JIs
top bomb-maker, Dr. Azahari bin Husin, who himself
was killed when counter-terrorism authorities raided
his safe house in 2007. Patek, also known as Umar
Kecil, is Javanese of Yemeni-extraction. Like Dulmatin,
he was born in 1970 in Central Java. The two trained
in al- Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s
before returning to Indonesia. In addition to being close
friends, they were brothers-in-law as Dulmatin married
Pateks sister.
According to Nasir Bin Abbas, the former head of JIs
Mantiqi III, in 1995 Umar Patek was dispatched to
Mindanao to succeed him, and to work with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). By 1998, a full-
scale training facility for JI members, known as Camp
Hudaibiyah, had opened. Patek returned to Indonesia,
around 1999-2000.
Following the 2002 Bali bombing, the two fed Indonesia
in mid-2003, and arrived in the southern Philippines
where they were frst given sanctuary in camps run
by the MILF, according to Dulmatins wife, who was
arrested by Philippine authorities in an October 2006
in the town of Patikul on Jolo island in a raid where
they sought to capture Dulmatin (Mindanao Examiner,
October 9, 2006). There they trained both JI and MILF
members, until late-2004, when their continued presence
was impeding the MILFs peace talks with Manila and
bringing unwanted attention to the MILFs continued
ties with JI. Umar Patek and Dulmatin were forced out
of the MILFs territory and sought refuge with the Abu
Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Sulu archipelago, in early
2005, where they remained until sometime between
2008 and 2009. In the Philippines, the two were
implicated in a string of bombings throughout the last
Despite his post-Bali exile in the southern Philippines,
Patek remained very engaged in JIs operations in
Indonesia. Dulmatin focused on bomb making and
logistics, while Patek was responsible for recruitment,
fundraising and cell formation.
Patek maintained active communications in 2003-2005
with Abdullah Sunata, a leader of a Central Javanese
cell, and a former head of the Ambon branch of a JI-
linked civil society organization KOMPAK. [1] On
Pateks orders, Sunata dispatched Indonesian militants to
Mindanao for training. [2] Indonesian counter-terrorism
offcials broke up Sunatas cell in June and July 2005,
arresting 17 people in total. Sunata admitted, he was
tasked by Patek to solicit funds for terror arracks in the
Philippines and recruit suicide bombers in Indonesia to
be sent to central Mindanao. Through Sunatas cell,
Patek had a limited role in organizing the September 9,
2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.
The communications between Patek and Sunata revealed
a fascinating exchange of funds and materials between
the cells in the Philippines and Indonesia. Patek was
soliciting funds for both JI and the ASGs operations,
including from a Saudi Arabian donor known as
Abu Mohammad. One of Pateks letters warned his
colleagues in Indonesia that the ASG might revert to
kidnappings if they could not get funds from external
supporters- something that the ASG has eschewed
since 2002-2003. In return, the Indonesian cell wanted
assistance in purchasing explosives as well as increased
training for members in the southern Philippines. [3]
At some point in 2008-2009, Dulmatin slipped back
into Indonesia. Indonesian counterterrorism police
learned of his presence following a February 22 raid of
a terrorist training camp in the westernmost province
of Aceh. There is some speculation that Dulmatins
return was necessitated by the September 2009 death of
Noordin Mohammad Top, which created a leadership
vacuum, especially among the hard-line faction that
articulates a strategy that focuses on Western targets.
Although Noordins followers were able to perpetrate
simultaneous suicide bombings on two luxury hotels in
Jakarta in July 2009, their last successful attack was a
triple bombing in Bali in 2005. [4] Though the group
came close to perpetrating attacks in 2006-2008, it was
thwarted and crippled by arrests, causing a rift amongst
the organizations leaders.
Noordin Mohammad Top established a breakaway
group, al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago, to signal his
dissatisfaction of the proponents within JI of a strategy of
sectarian bloodletting. The camp in Aceh, on the island
of Sumatra, was ostensibly run by al-Qaeda in Aceh,
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
and in a recruitment video put online, the members
actually denigrate JI leaders as being too moderate (AP,
March 16). The Afghan-trained Dulmatin, who had
front line experience in the southern Philippines against
the American troops working alongside and training the
Armed Forces of the Philippines, was an obvious choice
to succeed Noordin Mohammad Top.
It is unclear whether Umar Patek joined Dulmatin.
Although it is unlikely that they would have traveled
together for security reasons, there is considerable
suspicion that such close colleagues would remain
together. But others are not so sure. In March, Indonesian
police asserted that Patek remained in Sulu province in
the far southern Philippines with the ASG (Jakarta Post,
March 27). If that is the case, with Dulmatins death,
there is even greater pressure on Umar Patek to return
to Indonesia to fll JIs current leadership void if he is not
already there.
Patek, along with Indonesian national named
Zulkarnaen, is one of the last senior JI commanders
with signifcant experience in the original Afghan al-
Qaeda camps and long standing ties to the international
jihadist network and its donors. His history of attacks
on the far enemy Western targets in the region
including US forces in the southern Philippines makes
him a considerable risk, and therefore, one of the
regions most wanted men and the present speculation
on his precise whereabouts only heightens his infamy in
Southeast Asia.
Zachary Abuza is one of the leading scholars on
Terrorism in Southeast Asia. He is currently Associate
Professor for Political Science and International
Relations at Simmons College.
[1] Komite Aksi Penanggulangan Akibat Krisis- The
Action Committee for Crisis Response- An Islamic
charity based in Central Sulawesi Province, Indonesia
that is also involved in jihadist activities (The Age,
October 5, 2005).
[2] A three-man cell was arrested in the Philippines in
December 2004 and a two-man cell was arrested in
Malaysia in June 2005.
[3] On October 13, 2005, Indonesian authorities arrested
three Malaysians and an Indonesian who were caught
smuggling 175 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, 900
detonators and fuses, entering Nunukan, Kalimantan
province (Indonesia) from Sabah.state (Malaysia) on
the island of Borneo.
[4] On October 1, 2005, a series of three simultaneous
suicide bombs attributed to JI rocked the resort island
of Bali killing approximately 25 at restaurants in Kuta
beach and Jimbaran beach (ABC News [Australia],
October 2, 2005).
In the Shadow of al-Zarqawi: A
Profle of the Saudi Militant Saleh
By Murad Batal al-Shishani
he late leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi, who was killed on June 7, 2006 in
a U.S. missile strike, always had ambitions to
create a Salaf-jihadi movement in the Levant region.
[1] Zarqawi worked to achieve his goal since the
establishment of his al-Matar military training camp in
Afghanistans Herat province in 1999. At al-Matar, he
was recruiting and training individuals primarily from
the Levant region to form the now-defunct Jund al-Sham
(Soldiers of the Levant) (Reuters, July 15, 2007) with
the express purpose of exporting jihad to their home
countries (Lebanon Wire, March 28, 2005). Inspiring
many Arab fghters in Iraq through his violent activities,
his anti-Shia and anti-Western ambitions became
heightened after his death as the returnees from the Iraq
theater continued to spread his virulent ideas. A small
but dangerous group of radical jihadis who consider
themselves the heirs of Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawis legacy
are now focusing their efforts throughout the Levant
region. This group is referred to as the neo-Zarqawists.
Saudis have consistently represented the majority of
young Arabs who have volunteered to fght American
and allied troops in Iraq. Their numbers began to
increase in Iraq because of pressure being applied by the
Saudi security services on domestic jihadists who fought
in multiple clashes with the Kingdom from 2003-2007.
The core jihadists of Saudi Arabia were initially reluctant
to go to Iraq, preferring to fght in the the land of the
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
two holy mosques. Opinions supporting this notion
can be found in the magazine that was considered to
be the mouthpiece of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, Sawt
al-Jihad. One of the most active contributors to Sawat
al-Jihad was Saleh al-Qarawi.
The 27 year-old al-Qarawi was born in the ultra
conservative Saudi city of Buraidah in al-Qasim
province. According to friends, he was not especially
pious at the time of the 9/11 attacks against the eastern
United States but, within months of the aftermath of
that attack, he began to gravitate toward extremists
ideas. In 2003 he drifted away from his childhood
friends and became fond of speeches and lessons given
by a fgure named Sheikh Sulaiman al-Elwan, who was
later jailed for inciting youngsters to go to Iraq for
fghting (, February 11, 2009).
Around this time, al-Qarawi moved north to a broken
Iraq. He reportedly took part in bitter fghting in Falluja,
and then Abu Musab al-Zarqawi sent him away from
the battlefeld for something to do in Syria (al-faloja.
net, April 4) [2], where he was arrested and handed
back to his countrys authorities who jailed him for
two months before he left for UAE using a fraudulent
passport. The Saudi authorities claim that he has used
up to 14 aliases in his movements and the Saudis have
stated that he has been based in Iran since September
2006. They also report that al-Qarawi is trained to
use electronically-controlled explosives, and that he is
the crucial link between al-Qaeda in Iraq and Lebanon
(Asharq al-Awsat, February 5, 2009,,
February 11, 2009, Okaz, September 15, 2009).
In an interview published on jihadi web forums, al-
Qarawi confrmed that he was sent by Abu Musab al-
Zarqawi to facilitate activities outside of Iraq, especially
facilitating the fow of fghters into Iraq from abroad.
He was allegedly responsible for organizing the escape
of seven jihadis from al-Malaz prison in the Saudi
capital Riyadh before smuggling them to either Iraq or
Lebanon. [3]
In February 2009, al-Qarawi appeared as number 34 on
a list of the 85 most-wanted jihadists in Saudi Arabia.
His whereabouts remain unknown. He said vaguely that
he is in the land of Allah, without giving any clues to
his location. [4] His family members stated that they
received a phone call from him on September 4, 2009,
two years after his disappearance and a few days after
the attempted assassination of Saudi Deputy Interior
Minister the Prince Muhammad bin Nayef by an al-
Qaeda operative (see Militant Leadership Monitor,
February 2010). Al-Qarawis father said that his son
told him he is in Afghanistan. When his father dialed
the same number it was not an Afghan one but another
country code that the elder Qarawi did not reveal.
(Okaz, September 15, 2009).
Al-Qarawi seems to be a seminal fgure in todays
confguration of al-Qaeda. Aside from being one of the
operatives that was closely allied to al-Zarqawi, he is
also now rooted in al-Qaeda central in the Afghanistan-
Pakistan region since his marriage to Muhammad Khalil
al-Hakaymahs daughter, which took place while he was
hiding in Iran. Al-Hakaymah was one of the key leaders
of the Egyptian terrorist group al-Gamaa al-Islamiyah
(G.I.), leading a merger with al-Qaeda that was refused
by the mainstream leadership of G.I. Such a divisive
merger shows how easily al-Qaeda generates its new
operatives by splitting older organizations and pulling
factions into their orbit.
Al-Qarawi appears to be in charge of al-Qaeda foot
soldiers in the Levant region with a particular focus on
Lebanon. In his latest interview, he confrmed several
reports about the possible involvement of al-Qaeda in
Iraq in the launching of missiles into northern Israel.
He also, as one of the most militantly anti-Shia neo-
Zarqawist leaders, criticized Hezbollahs position,
stating that the rafdah [5] -- a derisive term used
by fundamentalist Sunnis to describe Shiites -- are
defending Israeli borders. He considers the Sunni
communities in Lebanon and Syria to be the victims of
Shia ascendancy, arguing that Sunnis should not listen
to enemies, and that the jihadis are not against them.
Al-Qarawi threatened to attack the Lebanese army and
UNIFIL peacekeepers [6], and sent a message to Gazans
promising them that they would not be forgotten. He
has asked the jihadis in the Levant to work on gaining
the trust of local people using grassroots techniques, and
warned them of being lured into irrational behavior. [7]
Al-Qarawi is one of the leading operatives of the neo-
Zarqawist school of thought and his prominence is an
indicator of the increasing importance of the Levant
in the strategy of al-Qaeda and affliated Salaf-jihadi
movements. The role of the neo-Zarqawists is expected
to strengthen in the near term as those indoctrinated in
Zarqawist ideology disperse from the battlegrounds of
central Iraq and move across the greater region.
Murad Batal al-Shishani is an Islamic groups and
terrorism issues analyst based in London. He is a
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
specialist on Islamic Movements in Chechnya and in the
Middle East.
[1] The Levant, known as Sham in Arabic, consists
of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine/Israel, southern
Turkeys Hatay Province, and sometimes can include
Iraqs western reaches and the northern Sinai peninsula
in Egypt.
[2] Interview with Saleh al-Qarawi online at Al-Fajr
Media Center (Arabic), April 4.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Rafdah is a derisive term applied by Sunni
fundamentalists and sectarian militants to Shiites whom
the consider deserters of Islams true path.
[6] United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon-UNIFIL
was created by the UN Security Council in March 1978
to confrm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore
international peace and security and assist the Lebanese
Government in restoring its effective authority in the
[7] Al-Fajr Media Center. Op.cit.
AQAPs Man in the South: Nasir
By Rafd Fadhil Mohammed Ali
n January 2009, Nasir al- Wuhayshi (a.k.a Abu Basir)
appeared on a video to announce the merger between
al-Qaeda branches in Saudi Arabia and Yemen under
his command. The new organization was given the
name Qaedat al-Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, or al-
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Wuhayshi
was surrounded by three leaders of AQAP, his fellow
Yemeni Qasim al-Rimi, who was reportedly killed in an
airstrike in January (Yemen Observer, January 16) and
the Saudis Said al-Shihri and Mohammed al-Of. Each
of the four men made a statement about the evolution
of their group (Al-Jazeera, January 29, 2009). [1] The
leadership of AQAP made it clear that, in addition
to targeting the near enemy in Sanaa and Riyadh, it
would target Western interests and ultimately the West
itself. But before the end of the year, the organization
went even further, conducting the most serious terrorist
operation to affect the American homeland since 9/11.
Nasir Abdul Kareem al-Wuhayshi was born 34 years ago
in the town of Mukayris, which was part of the South
Yemeni governorate of Abyan. The area is now part of
the northern governorate of al-Bayda after Yemen was
united in 1990. In a rare interview with the Yemeni
journalist Abdul Elah al-Shayea [2], al-Wuhayshi talked
about his personal history after he decamped from his
native Yemen and traveled to Afghanistan in the mid-
I stayed in the Talibans Afghanistan for about
fve years. With Allahs grace we lived under that
state After we withdrew from Torah Bora in
2002, I left Afghanistan and went to Iran. I stayed
in the areas of the Sunni community inside Iran
until the rafdah [2] arrested me. The Iranians
kept me in custody for about one month and
a half and then turned me over to the Yemeni
During those fve years al- Wuhayshi was Osama Bin
Ladens secretary. But this fact remained hidden until
al- Wuhayshi assumed his position as the leader of al-
Qaeda in Yemen. He became the head of the group
(amir) while in prison in 2006.
While the group was struggling after a series of setbacks
between 2003 and 2006, al-Wuhayshi and 22 other
inmates escaped from their prison in Sanaa in February
2006 (Asia Times, January 8). Although many of
the runners surrendered, were captured or killed, al-
Wuhayshi and his most trusted lieutenant Qasim al-
Rimi (a.k.a Abu Huraira al-Sanaani) stayed on the
run and managed to rebuild the organization. The
group developed signifcantly under al- Wuhayshi. (see
Terrorism Focus, March 18, 2008), launching a number
of attacks, mainly on tourists and Yemeni forces but also
on the American embassy in Sanaa, which it attacked
twice in 2008. (, September 18, 2008)
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
As a leader of al-Qaedas branch in Yemen, al-Wuhayshi
has been very ambitious. In 2008, the group changed
its name to al-Qaeda in South Arabian Peninsula. The
escalating economic and military diffculties the Yemeni
government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh was facing
created the circumstances that al-Wuhayshi needed to
consolidate the presence of his group; Yemen was under
pressure from the Houthi rebellion in the north and the
secessionist movement in the south.
Under al-Wuhayshi, AQAP has been very adept at
producing its own brand of literature and propaganda.
The group started its bi-monthly magazine Sada al-
Malahim (The Echo of the Battles) in late 2007. In
addition to al-Wuhayshi, many leaders, scholars and
activists of AQAP contribute to the online publication,
which can be found on various Islamist websites. The
content propagates AQAPs views on contemporary and
theological issues facing those in the convoluted jihadist
Al-Qaedas New Weapon
The failed assassination attempt on the Saudi Deputy
Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef was executed
using a bizarre a new weapon. The assassin, Mohammed
al-Assiri (a.k.a Abu al-Khair) was able to pass through
the security search with explosives planted inside his
body. When he met with bin Nayef, in the Princes own
house, he looked clean and clear to the guards (see
Militant Leadership Monitor, February 2010).
Al-Wuhayshi then urged his followers to use the new
formula and tactic. In the eleventh issue of Sada al-
Malahim, published in September-October 2009, al-
Wuhayshis wrote an article entitled War is deception.
It centred on lauding the assassination attempt on bin
Nayef. But al-Wuhayshi also outlined the new tactic, to
be used again about two months later in a failed attack
by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young Nigerian
student trained in Yemen, who, on Christmas Day, tried
to blow up an airplane traveling between Amsterdam
and Detroit just minutes before it landed. Al-Wuhayshi
You do not need to make a big effort or a huge
amount of money to manufacture 10 Grams or so
of these explosives. And do not waste much time
looking for the raw material, they are in your
mothers kitchen. Manufacture it as a bomb to
throw, a time bomb, an electric device, a picture,
a paper folder or an envelope.
More signifcantly, al-Wuhayshi went on to list the
favorite targets for such attacks including airplanes and
Blow it up on any target of evil; intelligence
headquarters, a prince, a minister, a crusader
(Christian especially Western) wherever you
fnd those. Also explode them in the airports
or the airlines of the western crusade countries
which participated in the war against Islam. Or
target residential compounds or underground
trains of those countries. You will fnd the way
if you think and depend on Allah. And do not
worry that those explosives could be discovered
after you hide them properly. It is impossible to
discover them.
AQAP refuses to label the two attacks as thwarted
efforts. They argue that they both succeeded on the
grounds that they shocked aviation security and returned
America to the atmosphere of anxiety and fear spawned
by 9/11, despite the untold sums of taxpayer funds and
manpower efforts that have been spent since that era to
consolidate the security situation.
The Palestinian Question
Long before the emergence of al-Qaeda, the Palestinian
question has been a central challenge within circles
of Salaf-jihadi thought in the Muslim world. They
frequently had to answer fellow Muslims asking
different versions of the same question: why do you not
fght the Israelis in Palestine?
Al-Wuhayshi has placed the ongoing Palestinian crisis
at the centerpiece of his propaganda campaign. A
video accnouncing the merger of the Saudi and Yemeni
branches of al-Qaeda to form AQAP contained the
wording, From here we will begin and in al-Aqsa we
shall meet, referring to al-Aqsa mosque in heavily
disputed Jerusalem. In the video, he stressed that
Palestine has always been the cause that al-Qaeda has
fought for, even when it was waging jihad on differing
fronts. He echoed Abu Musaab al-Zarqawis words
that while fghting in Iraq, he never took his eye off of
Jerusalem (al-Quds in Arabic), and stressed that Osama
Bin laden swore that America will remain unsafe until
the people of Palestine are safe. But al-Wuhayshis vision
for his groups involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian
confict is typical of the indirect approach of the wider
al-Qaeda grand strategy:
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
We went to Afghanistan in order to prepare for
the liberation of Palestine but, before we enter
Palestine, we have to break the blockade that
the Arab rulers, the betrayers, are imposing on
it. Also, the actual supporters of the Israeli
occupation are America and Europe. So we have
to destroy the Crusaders interests in the Arabian
Peninsula, including Yemen, and prepare the
generation that the Prophet Mohammed said
would come out of Yemen to liberate al-Aqsa
South Yemen
AQAP is more active and operative in the eastern and
southern governorates, which historically made up the
Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen (otherwise
known simply as South Yemen or PDRY) until the unity
of Yemen in 1990. The frustration and resentment of
the population in those governorates, against what they
consider a northern domination by President Salehs
regime, provided AQAP with the population-centric
raison detre that they needed to operate against Saleh.
Al-Wuhayshi, who is from the south himself, supported
the struggle of the South Yemenis but condemned both
Saleh and the former Marxist rulers of South Yemen,
the leaders of the Yemeni Socialist Party who currently
lead the secessionist movement (see Terrorism Monitor,
November 19, 2009). Future developments in Yemens
southern governorates will play a major role in the
future of al-Wuhayshis organization. While President
Saleh still has a considerable amount of support
from the tribes in the north, minus those supporting
the Houthi rebellion in the Saadah governorate, his
southern support has been on the wane for some time
as evidenced by the increase in north-south agitation by
southern political actors.
After the attempt made by Abdulmuttalleb and the
shooting spree of Nidal Malik Hasan [3], particularly
the AQAP link with both, al-Wuhayshi and his group
have found themselves at the center of the international
confict between America and the salaf-jihadists. The
impact of the three airstrikes last year on Abyan, Arhab
and Shabwa have yet to be completely understood.
[4] AQAP denied that al-Wuhayshi was killed in one
of them but he did not release a statement and he did
not compose his usual editorial in Sada al-Malahims
January-February 2010 issue. Al- Wuhayshi succeeded
in rebuilding and reordering al-Qaeda in Yemen,
benefting from the diffculties that President Salehs
regime faces on the economic and security fronts. He
also can be credited for the successes of a major regional
organization by unifying the Yemeni and Saudi branches
of al-Qaeda. But this honeymoon phase is now over
and Nasir al-Wuhayshi and his group are facing more
direct challenges by virtue of increased American, Saudi
and international support for the Yemeni government.
The capacity and developments of this confict will be
of critical importance to the regional and international
scene for years to come.
Rafd Fadhil Mohammed Ali is a freelance journalist
based in Iraq who specializes in Iraqi insurgent groups.
[1] Video footage available on Youtube.
[2] A derisive term denoting Shiites used by Sunni
militants; in this case implying the Iranian authorities.
[3] The interview was placed on al-Shayeas blog on
May 14, 2009,
[4] On November 5, 2009, the American Major Nidal
Malik Hasan opened fre on the Fort Hood camp in
Texas, killing 13 of his colleagues. Hasan, a Muslim
of Palestinian descent, is believed to have had contacts
with the Yemeni-based radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
[5] On December 17, 2009, an airstrike by the United
States followed by a raid by the Yemeni ground forces
was launched on a suspected al-Qaeda target in Abyan.
Another airstrike hit a target in the city of Arhab in the
Sanaa governorate. On December 23, 2009, yet another
strike occurred on targets in Shabwa. Dozens were
killed in those offensives including women and children
according to both Arab and international media. (al-
Jazeera December 18, 2009, AFP, December 23, 2009).
AQAP claimed that the Christmas day attempt by Umar
Farouk Abdulmuttalab was launched in response to
these air strikes.
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
Kishenji: A Profle of the Leader
of the Indian Maoist Insurgency
By Derek Henry Flood
Mallojula Koteshwar Rao, better known by the nom de
guerre Kishenji, is the military leader of the Communist
Party of India-Maoist (CPI-M) and may have recently
surpassed the leaders of Pakistans Lashkar-e-Tayyba as
the biggest security headache for Indias ruling elites in
New Delhi. Kishenji is 53 years old and was born in
Karimnagar, Andhra Pradesh states northern Telangana
region in South India. Kishenji is an exceptionally savvy
commander who gives regular interviews to the Indian
media showing the cameras only his cotton clad back
with a scarf around his head and a Chinese manufactured
Type 56 Assault Rife always draped over one shoulder.
Kishenji has been fghting the Indian state for 34 years
and although reports of him being missing from the
front after a recent injury have led to speculation about
his future in the Maoist movement, judging by his
audacious, repeated public statements, he displays no
intention of abating armed struggle at any time in the
near future if the status quo of cat-and-mouse warfare
with the Indian state remains unchanged.
After emerging in the ranks of the Communist Party
of India-Marxist-Leninist during the mid-1970s in the
midst of The Emergency, [1] Kishenji co-founded the
Peoples War Group in 1980 and in 2004 successfully
merged his movement with the then ideologically
divergent Maoists Communist Centre of India to form
the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
(Times of India, February 17). Kishenji often describes
his father in interviews as a freedom fghter, meaning
that he was part of the struggle to oust European rule
in colonial India in the 1940s. Kishenjis wife Sujata is
also purportedly a committed Maoist working in close
concert with her husband to consolidate his power.
Sujata is now in charge of a unit dedicated to protecting
Kishenji from the security forces (Indian Express, April
Kishenji leads a peasant insurgent force which seeks to
overthrow Indias parliamentary democracy through
a protracted peoples war in a manner outlined by
the late Chinese revolutionary and ideologue, Mao Tse
Dong. He seeks to use violence or counter-violence
as he terms it (Tehelka, November 21, 2009), to attain
political power in a landscape of contiguous districts
throughout Indias impoverished central Deccan Plateau
and along the steamy coast of the Bay of Bengal. He
advocates the nationalization of both Indian and
global cooperate business concerns within and adjacent
to Maoist territories and redistribute the wealth of
Indias most powerful men such as Ratan Tata and
Anil Ambani (Tehelka, November 21, 2009), heads of
the Tata Group and the Reliance Group respectively.
Kishenjis armed insurrection though primarily confned
to the red corridor stretching from the Nepali frontier
to the northern boundary of Tamil Nadu state which
will spread beyond the current most heavily insurgency-
plagued states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand,
Chhattisgarh, parts of Maharashstra, and northern
Andhra Pradesh. Kishenji has told the Indian press that
he currently has no plans to cease his war of attrition.
What began 43 years ago as a highly localized revolt
against agrarian feudalism is being re-branded as a
war against globalization after Indias Prime Minster
Manmohan Singh began the process of opening up
Indian markets for foreign direct investment and
generally liberalizing the economy from the Nehruvian
model in his previous post as Finance Minster in 1992.
[2] Indias embrace of market capitalism and corporate
multinationals in the last two decades has only further
accelerated Maoist fury toward the state.
Western analysts may still believe that Indias increasingly
aggressive Maoist insurgents solely pose a grave threat
to Indias often tumultuous internal political dynamics
though Kishenji told New Delhi Television Limited,
U.S. imperialism is our frst and foremost enemy and
second is the Congress [Party] and the UPA [United
Progressive Alliance] led by the Congress (NDTV,
October 23, 2009). Kishenji claims to be fghting for the
disaffected aboriginal tribal populations, known locally
as Adivasis, who have been largely neglected by the
central government since Indias independence in 1947
and who have the most to lose with the expansion of
exploitation of natural resources in the countrys poorer,
less developed eastern and central states. Kishenji stated
in an interview last year:
We feel the independence that we [Indians]
acquired is a fake one. It only strengthened those
in power. The rich became richer and the poor,
poorer. Those in power are not doing anything
for the lot of the tribals [Adivasis]. Take the
case of Lalgarh [West Bengal], for instance. The
problem rose from the state governments [West
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
Bengal states] negligence and indifference. The
ruling party never did anything to help the tribals
of the area (, October 22, 2009).
The estimated 22,000 insurgents believed to be under
Kishenjis command have traditionally used hit-and-
run attacks and ambushes on Indian security forces
comprised of small arms fre, laying anti-personnel and
anti-vehicular mines, and in the last several years have
become quite adept at using improvised explosive devices
to infict mass casualties on their opponents who often
travel and congregate in large groups. Maoists have
overrun police installations and run security forces out
of their barracks thus holding these areas temporarily
and further emboldening Kishenjis Peoples War.
Insurgents use these attacks to replenish ammunition and
stockpile more weapons that they are able to abscond
with before order is restored. Regular kidnappings and
beheadings of police offcers have become a hallmark of
Kishenjis movement. He considers those kidnapped by
his followers as prisoners of war and the capture of
enemy forces to be arrests. In 2009, during the Lalgarh
siege he was chastised by the Indian press for releasing
one such POW, West Bengal policeman Atindranath
Dutta (NDTV, October 23, 2009) while, on the other
hand, beheading a Jhakhand policeman named Francis
Induwar which Kishenji lamented as a mistake and
described his war as a largely just one where such
mistakes were made in the process of enacting different
operational strategies (Tehelka, November, 21, 2009).
A primary non-kinetic tactic for Kishenji is to call for
what is known in South Asia as a bandh, or a general
strike. A bandh is generally a form of non-violent civil
disobedience used to Indias political parties to keep
business closed and damage the local economy until
their point is heard by the local or national government.
When the CPI-Maoist called a bandh to protest the
killing of fve civilians by Central Reserve Police Forces
(CRPF) [3] last year, Maoist insurgents staged perhaps
their largest attack in terms of scale in the history of the
movement. On April 22, 2009, an initial group of 50
Maoists hijacked a passenger train in Jharkhand state
and held close to 500 commuters hostage for four hours
in which no one was harmed and the attackers simply let
the train go and melted back into the forest, infuriating
the central government. The Maoist offcial reasoning
for the attack was apparently that the state railways,
by merely functioning during the supposed state-wide
strike, violated the Maoist diktat and were therefore ft to
be punished (The Telegraph [Kolkata], April 22, 2009).
No one was killed in the incident but the insurgents
apparent ease with which they embarrassed state actors
making them appear enfeebled as the insurgents showed
a massive display of strength and tactical agility.
Lalgarh: Naxalbari Redux?
Naxalites, as Maoist rebels are know throughout
South Asia, gained their name from Naxalbari, the
now quiet place name in far northern West Bengal on
the Nepali frontier that is infamous as the epicenter of
Indias initial Maoist uprising in 1967. West Bengal
was ruled locally by a communist government that
had broken away from the mainstream Communist
Party of India that was assuredly on the Soviet side of
the Sino-Soviet split following the Sino-Indian war of
1962. According to historian Ramachandra Guha, the
new Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) tried to
strike a balance between Soviet communism (Marxism)
and Sino communism (Maoism) [4] which backfred and
radicalized an already disenfranchised rural poor who
had grown tired of being abused by feudal landlords
and received no assistance from West Bengals Marxist
rulers. The aggravated peasants of Naxalbari fell on the
Maoist side of the split in Eurasian communism that
took place in the mid-twentieth century in reaction the
West Bengals ruling Marxists not aligning with them.
An initially small-scale dispute that fared into a full-
scale uprising that would come to symbolize the anger
of Indian lower caste farmers and tribal populations in
perpetually underserved parts of the country for decades
to come.
Lalgarh, meaning red fort in Hindi, is a cluster of
several dozen villages far west of Kolkota (formerly
Calcutta) in West Bengal state near the border with
perennially troubled Jharkhand state. Lalgarh stood in
the control of Maoists for eight months from November
2008 until June 2009 when Operation Lalgarh restored
state control over the district by force (BBC, June 19,
2009). Many analysts thought the continued siege of
Lalgarh to represent a neo-Naxalbari. The temporary
control of Lalgarh became a symbol of the Maoists, and
Kishenjis, power. While the end of Lalgarh as a Maoist
liberated zone may have to looked to be a victory for
the central and state governments, for Kishenji it was
a victorious, although temporary, show of his strength
and cunning.
Jawaharlal Mahato, a doctor captured by local police
in the Lalgarh area, claims to have treated Kishenji after
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
he suffered a bullet wound to his left leg in a recent
clash (Press Trust of India, April 8). On March 25, he
was injured in a shootout with government forces in the
Lakhanpur forest outside of Lalgarh which has limited
his normally fuid movement between Indias least
developed states where the Maoists hold sway (Indian
Express, April 23). Kishenjis brother, Venugopal Rao
(a.k.a. Bhupati), who is suspected to be behind the
large-scale attack in Chhattisgarhs Dantewada district,
has been anointed to be the new insurgent leader in
Lalgarh though Kishenji will still consult on operations
undertaken by his cadres (Daily News and Analysis
[Mumbai] April 20).
From Red Corridor to Golden Corridor
One of the core elements of Indias Maoist insurgency
is the persistent expansion of the Red Corridor
through the creation of what are known as Compact
Revolutionary Zones where they run parallel systems
of local government in the areas that contain the bulk
of Indias natural resources (see Terrorism Monitor,
February 9, 2009). Along Indias west coast sits, what
is now termed the Golden Corridor in the states of
Gujarat and Maharashtra. This is the India that has
benefted from integration into the global economy and
where from most of the Indian diaspora in the West
hails. The Golden Corridor is where much of Indias
industrial and tech industry resides and although the
idea of the Maoists expanding their operations that far
from the Red Corridor may seem far-fetched, the idea
that the Secretary General of Indias radical Maoists,
Muppalla Lakshmana Rao (a.k.a. Ganapathy), stated
in recent communiqu to his politburo intercepted by
authorities in Bihar state to focus on the area near the
Golden Corridor (The Economic Times [Bangalore],
April 6). The idea to launch attack in the countrys much
more prosperous west may be intended to either throw
the authorities off their trail or it may be a genuine way
of dispersing Kishenjis forces in reaction to Operation
Green Hunt.
Operation Green Hunt: Blow to Blowback
Operation Green Hunt and the wider paramilitary
offensive launched by Delhi in late 2009 was meant
to strike a decisive blow to Kishenjis guerrilla cadres
operating with relative impunity throughout the so-
called red corridor but the massive attack that killed
no less than 75 Indian paramilitaries, signaling that
the Maoist forces retained the ability to hit back hard
against the Indian state while under tremendous duress.
When asked of peace talks with Delhi, Kishenji had this
to say:
they declared war and started Operation
Greenhunt in entire India. Not in Lalgarh only.
There are two-and-a-half lakh (250,000) forces
in our area. More than 2000 ordinary people and
fve or six hundred of our comrades are behind
bars in [West] Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and other
states. Without their release, there is no scope for
talks. Their (Delhis) condition is that Maoists
should surrender arms. Surrendering arms is out
of the agenda. We never accepted it as part of
our agenda. So we are not ready for peace talks.
In the name of peace, they declared war (NDTV,
October 23, 2009).
Following a massacre of 24 paramilitary security men
in their encampment in the town of Silda, West Bengal
on February 15, Kishenji called local television stations
in Kolkata and told them, This is our Operation Peace
Hunt. It is our retaliation against the Operation Green
Hunt of the government (Asia Times, February 23).
As if the Silda camp massacre were not brazen
enough, on April 6, red rebels slaughtered 76 CRPF
jawans (young infantrymen) in a precision two-stage
ambush while on a patrol in a Maoist stronghold
deep in Chhattisgarh states Dantewada district. The
CRPF jawans became ensnared in a series of booby-
trapped mines followed by unrelenting small arms fre
killing many of them where they stood. When CRPF
reinforcements arrived in the area, they were caught
in the next stage of the operation (Hindustan Times,
April 7). A regional Maoist commander calling himself
Gopal speaking on Kishenjis behalf stated, The attack
in Chhattisgarh and the earlier one in Orissa [5] is a
direct consequence of the central government persisting
in Operation Green Hunt (Zee News, April 6).
Alleged Links
According to Indias Minister of Home Affairs
Palaniappan P. Chidambaram, weapons emanating
from Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma) have been
reaching Kishenjis Maoist insurgents in the dense
forests of central India stating that, there is
certainly evidence of weapons being smuggled from
abroad through Myanmar or Bangladesh which reaches
Militant Leadership Monitor
Volume I u Issue 4 u April 30, 2010
the Maoists and it is possible weapons may also
be coming down from Nepal (Press Trust of India,
October 24, 2009) though Chidambaram provided no
clear evidence of precisely these logistical feats of arms
traffcking could be mapped. There has been talk of the
CPI-M having tenuous links with Lashkar-e-Tayyba
(LeT). On this allegation, Kishenji stated last year; We
may support some of their demands, but their methods
are wrong and anti-people. LeT should stop its terrorist
acts because it cannot help accomplish any goals.
The Philippines National Intelligence Coordinating
Agency has asserted that trainers from the Philippines
own communist insurgency, the New Peoples Army
(NPA), have traveled to India to train Maoists there
(Asia Times, April 22). Two Maoist insurgents recently
arrested in western Indias Gujarat state claimed they
had knowledge of Philippine communist militants
training Indian Maoists in Kerala state in Indias deep
south (Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 6)
Kishenji has regularly vacillated about the concept
of peace talks on the national level with Delhi all the
while issuing statements that he refuses to lay down
arms as a pre-condition of arriving at the negotiating
table. On the local state level Kishenji claims to have
personally made contact with West Bengals Marxist
Chief Minister Buddhabeb Bhattacharjee, a statement
the Chief ministers offce strongly denies (Tehelka,
November 21, 2009). The lifelong rebel seems to be an
eternal one believing that anyone who is even a shade
less radical than himself has become part of the despised
bourgeoisie or a class enemy. Kishenji believes that the
Nepali Maoists led by the charismatic Prachanda, once
his ideological brothers in arms, have compromised
themselves. After the Communist Party of Nepal-
Maoists successful overthrow of the monarchy of King
Gyanendra, by joining in a coalition government with
the Nepali Congress party to build a republican Nepal
they have sold out genuine Maoism and their path to
peace should not be used as a model for ending his own
Peoples War (Tehelka, November 21, 2009). Kishenji
is under immense pressure since the start of Operation
Greenhunt and like counterinsurgency operations
throughout the Red Corridor that are ongoing at
present. Normally in regular communication with the
media, as of this writing, he has recently fallen silent.
Ganapathy stated in the captured Bihar orders that
Maoist leaders should remain invisible from both the
press and the public and go into a strategic retreat
(The Economic Times [Bangalore], April 6). Whether
due to Ganapathys orders or his reported injury, or a
combination of the two, Kishenji may lay low for the
time being but unless the underlying grievances of Indias
desperately poor tribal tracts and struggling agrarian
peasantry are properly addressed, if not resolved,
Kishenjis Peoples War appears to have absolutely no
end in sight on the horizon.
Derek Henry Flood is an independent author and
journalist who blogs at Derek is
the editor of Jamestowns Militant Leadership Monitor
[1] The Emergency was a period of 21 months from
June 1975 to March 1977 when a state of emergency
was declared during the rule of Prime Minister Indira
[2] Steve Coll, On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey
into South Asia (New York: Penguin Books, 1994,
2009), p. 277.
[3] The Central Reserve Police Force is a paramilitary
force under the command of Indias Ministry of Home
Affairs and is tasked with taking on internal insurgencies
within the republic among other law and order duties.
[4] Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi: The
History of the Worlds Largest Democracy (New York:
Harper Perennial, 2007), p. 422.
[5] On April 4, Maoists killed 11 elite Special Operations
Group state police with an improvised explosive
device in Orissa state as they traveled in their vehicle
in the interior Koraput district near the border with
Chhattisgarh state.