Pakistan Security Brief - May 19, 2011

New AQ commanders chosen; TTP source denies al Adal chosen as interim director; Qasim had lived in Karachi for ten years; Bin Laden audiotape released; U.S. forces engaged in international hunt for AQ operatives; Gates: “somebody” inside Pakistan knew of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad; TTP deputy commander vows militants will fight with “new zeal;” Saudi Arabia turns down request to admit bin Laden family; Grossman meets with Zardari; Security checkpoint near Peshawar attacked; School blown up in Shabqadar; Power pylons in Peshawar destroyed; Roadside bomb in Akora Khattak; LJ militants killed seven; Five Chechen suspects “unarmed;”UAE denies control of Shamsi airbase.

 

Al Qaeda Interim Director Named

  • Al Jazeera reports that along with the appointment of Saif al Adal as the interim leader to replace Osama bin Laden as the head of al Qaeda, new commanders have also been chosen. “Adnan al Khairi al Masri was named al Qaeda's general command head, while Mohammed Nasser al Wahshi [head of AQAP] would be Africa chief, Mohammed Adam Khan, an Afghan, would be in charge in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Fahd al Iraqi would be responsible for the Afghan-Pakistani border region.” However, a senior Taliban source has claimed that “No one was has been appointed as the new leader of al Qaeda, and [Saif al Adal] is far away from such responsibility. [Saif al Adal] is a key figure, but he has not taken an active position yet.” The Taliban source told CBS News that there had recently been a “low level” meeting of al Qaeda members, but a new leader has not yet been appointed. He stated that the most likely outcome is that Zawahri will ultimately “be made bin Laden's official replacement -- if any is named at all.”[i]
  • Further information has emerged about Muhammad Ali Qasim, the al Qaeda operative arrested in Karachi by Pakistani security forces. According to senior security officials, Qasim had been living in Karachi for almost ten years and was involved in terrorist activities within the city. He previously lived in South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Peshawar, and Faisalabad and had facilitated movements of al Qaeda operatives along the Afghan border.[ii]

 

Osama bin Laden Raid and Response

  • An audio tape recorded by Osama bin Laden prior to his death was released on Thursday. The 12-minute message that was posted on jihadist forums details bin Laden’s perspective on the recent “Arab Spring” uprisings. In the recording, he declared, “We watch with you this great historic event and we share with you joy and happiness and delight and felicity. We are happy for what makes you happy, and we are sad for what makes you sad. So congratulations to you for your victories.” Bin Laden called on the global Muslim community to be freed “from servitude to the desires of the rulers, manmade law, and Western dominance.” The statement appears to have been recorded a week before his death and are his first public comments on the events of the Arab Spring. Meanwhile, ABC News reports that U.S. forces are currently engaged in an international hunt for al Qaeda operatives as the U.S. intelligence community is pursuing leads from files recovered from bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad.[iii]
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that while he assumed that “somebody” inside Pakistan knew of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, there has been no evidence so far that anyone in the country’s senior leadership was aware of bin Laden’s whereabouts. In a Pentagon news conference with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Secretary Gates said, “My supposition is, somebody knew… We don’t know whether it was retired people, whether it was low level — pure supposition on our part…I have seen no evidence at all that the senior leadership knew. In fact, I’ve seen some evidence to the contrary.” He also said that Pakistan had been “humiliated” by the raid, while Admiral Mullen said it has caused “soul searching” within the Pakistani military. Secretary Gates also declared that continued American aid to Pakistan is in the interests of the U.S., stating “We do have significant interest in Pakistan. My own view is we need to continue the assistance that we have provided that benefits the Pakistani people.” Reuters details the ongoing debate in the U.S. about the repercussions and benefits of aid to Pakistan. The media outlet argues that “Pakistan is one of the top recipients of U.S. aid along with Egypt and Israel, but it has not bought America much popularity. Opinion surveys show an overwhelming majority of the Pakistani public holds an unfavorable view of their ostensible ally.”[iv]
  • The deputy commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Waliur Rehman, has vowed that the Taliban will fight “with new zeal,” as the U.S. has intensified drone strikes in the tribal region following bin Laden’s death. Rehman declared that militants would continue to stage attacks and that "We have the same target, program and mission…Our enemies are NATO, Jews and Christians." Rehman also argued that bin Laden had detonated a suicide jacket to avoid being arrested by the Navy SEALs. The statement comes a day after another Taliban commander, Umar Khalid, released his own videotaped message, vowing revenge for bin Laden’s death.[v]
  • Saudi Arabia officials have turned down a formal request from Pakistan to admit bin Laden’s three widows and nine children into the country. Yemeni authorities had previously turned down a request by Pakistan to accept one of the three widows. Pakistani security officials have declared that Monday's attack on a Saudi diplomat in Karachi was linked to the Saudis' "indifferent attitude towards [bin Laden’s] family who have been subjected to interrogation by the United States.”[vi]

 

  U.S.-Pakistani Relations

 

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

 

Balochistan

  • On Wednesday, seven members of the Shia Hazara community were killed in Quetta by militants of the sectarian terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). The assailants opened fire on the men in the Killi Kamalo area and escaped the scene following the attack. The Hazara Democratic Party, Hazara National Jirga  and Hazara Youth Organisation  have issued statements condemning the attack.[xii]
  • New information has emerged about the killing of five Chechen suspects in Quetta, believed to have attempted to blow up a police checkpoint. Witnesses report that the Chechens were unarmed and “may have been trying to surrender when they were fired on, despite FC and police assertions that they were armed either with grenades or suicide vests.”[xiii]

 

UAE Denies Control of Shamsi Airbase

  • In a closed briefing to Parliament last week, Pakistani Air Force officials asserted that the United Arab Emirates has been in control of Shamsi airbase in Balochistan, an alleged launching point for U.S. drone strikes, since the 1990s. However, Emirati officials have denied claims that the Gulf state has played any operational role in the running of the airfield. [xiv]

 



[i] “Al Qaeda likely remains leaderless, and lost,” CBS News, May 18, 2011. Available at
[ii] Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Al Qaeda terrorist Makki lived in Pakistan for 10 years,” Dawn, May 19, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/19/al-qaeda-terrorist-makki-lived-in-pakistan-for-10-years.html
[iii] Pierre Thomas, “Osama Bin Laden: Authorities Hunt for Terrorists Named in Files Found at Bin Laden's Compound,” ABC News, May 19, 2011. Available at
[iv] “Is It Worth It? Pakistan, U.S. Weigh Aid Calculus,” Reuters, May 19, 2011. Available at
[v]Rasool Dawar, “AP Interview: Pakistan Taliban vow to fight on,” Associated Press, May 18, 2011. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110518/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan
[vi] Qaiser Butt, “Saudi Arabia refuses to accept Osama’s family,” Express Tribune, May 19, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/171786/saudi-arabia-refuses-to-accept-osamas-family/
[vii] “US, Pakistan Try to Repair Ties After Bin Laden,” Associated Press, May 19, 2011. Available at
[viii] Ali Hazrat Bacha, “Militants attack security post,” Dawn, May 19, 2011. Available at
[ix] “Another school destroyed in Shabqadar,” Dawn, May 19, 2011. Available at
[x] Ali Hazrat Bacha, “Anger rises as power pylons go down,” Dawn, May 19, 2011. Available at
[xi] http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/19/one-injured-in-grenade-blast-outside-jalozai-camp-nowshera.html
[xii] Saleem Shahid and Amanullah Kasi, “Terrorists kill seven Hazaras in Quetta,” Dawn, May 19, 2011. Available at
[xiii] “Chechens killed in Quetta were unarmed: witnesses,” Dawn, May 19, 2011. Available at
[xiv] “Questions Linger Over Control of Pakistan Airfield,” ASssociated Press, May 19, 2011. Available at