Analysis of Audio messages of two militant leaders

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Last week two militants released their audio messages. On May 9, head of Al-Qaeda Dr. Ayman
Al-Zawahir released an audio message for Syrian conflict while head of Jamat-ul-Ahrar Umar
Khalid Khurasani released an audio message on May 10 to address internal divisions of militants
fighting in Pakistan. Apparently both the leaders seemed crying over infighting among militants.
Ayman Al-Zawahir’s message:
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged rival militant groups in Syria to unite or risk death in
an audio recording released Sunday. Currently, in the multipronged civil war in the country, al
Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State group are the two main groups battling
both U.S.-backed rebels as well as forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“We have to want the unity of the Mujahideen in Sham [Syria] so it will be liberated from the
Russians and Western Crusaders. My brothers … the matter of unity is a matter of life or death
for you,” Zawahiri, who was named the leader of al Qaeda in June 2011 — a few weeks after
Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan — reportedly said in the audio recording. Jabhat alNusra,
along with the militant group Ahrar al-Sham, is currently part of an alliance known as
Jaish al-Fatah, which has been carrying out attacks on Syrian and Iranian forces near the Syrian
city of Aleppo. In the past, the two groups have, unsuccessfully, tried merging into one unit. In
the clip, which has since been taken down from YouTube, Zawahiri also lent his support to alNusra’s
plan to create a sovereign state in Syria — one that would compete for loyalty against
the self-declared caliphate of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. “If they create their
government, and choose their emir, what they choose is our choice,” Zawahiri reportedly said,
calling ISIS militants “extremists and renegades.”
We at PICSS believe that the audio message of Zawahir to allow Jubhat al-Nusrah (Al-Nusra
Front) to delink itself from main body of Al-Qaeda is an effort to rebrand the Syrian chapter of
Al-Qaeda as a local militant group acceptable to international community as a legitimate
participant in peace talks. Al-Nusrah Front was left out from peace talks along with ISIS. Also
other local militant groups shy away to work with Al-Nusrah Front because of its linkage with
Al-Qaeda. After rebranding the group might be acceptable to other militant groups as well as
seen more favourable by some Arab regimes to receive external support as the group is major
fighting force after ISIS in the country.
Umar Khalid Khurasani’s Message
Head of Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a militant group fighting against Pakistani government and military to
implement its own brand of Sharia, has issued an audio message on social media to his
followers and other militants who are fighting against Pakistan. He emphasized that militants
should keep fighting against Pakistani military and government and nothing should confuse
them to shift their focus from Pakistan to Afghanistan or elsewhere. He criticized DAESH in the
region (Khurasan Chapter of ISIS) without naming them openly. He said that it is ironic that one
group of Mujahedeen (DAESH) is killing people from another group of Mujahedeen (Afghan
Taliban) by declaring them Murtad (apostate). He blamed Pakistani intelligence agencies for
creating confusions among militants. He said that Pakistan is making efforts that attention of
militants fighting in Pakistan is diverted to Afghanistan or elsewhere. He admitted that the
confusion is affecting hearts and minds of the militants. He stressed that militnats should not
lose focus from Pakistan and they must inensifty their attacks in Pakistan which will help them
overcome their confusion and fear. He mentioned difficulties the militnats have been facing
(apparently due to Zarb-e-Azb) and said that these are part of ‘Jihad’.
Head of the most active militant group fighting against Pakistan was looking desperate in his
audio message which is recorded in Pashtu language. His desperation was at highest level when
he said that he will keep fighting against Pakistan even if every militant left him. There are
reports that TTP and Jamat-ul-Ahrar are losing their fighters who are joining Afghan Taliban to
fight against Afghan and NATO forces.
Interestingly, Khurasani was criticizing DAESH for declaring other militants as ‘apostate’ while
Khurasani himself declares Pakistani Armed Forces apostate. He legitimized killing of fellow
Muslim soldiers of Pakistani military but criticized infighting among militants motivated with
the concept of Jihad.
Khurasani was supposed to join DAESH and PICSS had credible information that he had been in
negotiation with DAESH leadership but now it seems that he has backtracked like many other
militant commanders who had joined DAESH but now left the group in Afghanistan. His audio
message suggests that despite indirectly criticizing DAESH he wants to keep a neutral stance. He
has not said anything about gains of Afghan Taliban in the battle field. Overlooking them means
he is not happy with them as well. He must not happy with them because they are attracting his
fighters and he thinks that this is weakening his campaign against Pakistan.

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