Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the newest branch of the international terrorist organization, claimed two terrorist attacks in Pakistan during its first week of operations. The official spokesman for AQIS, Usama Mahmoud, released statements and photos on his Twitter feed offering details for both attacks.
The first attack occurred on Sept. 2, when AQIS operatives killed Brigadier Fazal Zahoor, a senior officer in the Pakistani Army. AQIS accuses Zahoor of killing innocent women and children in Waziristan, which is a hub for several jihadist organizations in northern Pakistan. Zahoor was apparently off duty when he was killed.
According to local press reports, Zahoor’s assassins were riding motorcycles and escaped unharmed.
On Sept. 6, AQIS operatives attempted, and failed, to execute an even more audacious attack. The terrorists boarded a Pakistani ship, the PNS Zulfiqar, which was docked. They apparently planned to launch missiles from the Zulfiqar at US warships.
Mahmoud even posted a purported diagram of the Zulfiqar, which the group says was obtained by insiders who served in the Pakistani Navy. AQIS included a picture of US warships above the diagram posted by Mahmoud.
The statement from AQIS says that the jihadists had taken over the PNS Zulfiqar and were set to attack the American warships when Pakistani forces interceded. Some of the attackers were “martyred.” Others were reportedly captured by security forces and have been interrogated.
Mahmoud says on his Twitter feed that a video of the martyrs will be released soon.
Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and other al Qaeda leaders announced the formation of AQIS earlier this month.
Mahmoud explained at the time that AQIS “was formed by the gathering of several jihadi groups that have a long history in jihad and fighting … so they united and came together and applied the directives of their beloved emir, Sheikh Ayman al Zawahiri, may Allah preserve him, on the ground.” He did not identify the groups that had joined the new al Qaeda branch, which is headed by Asim Umar, a longtime Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda ideologue.
Much of the press reporting on AQIS’ formation has focused on its potential impact inside India and other neighboring countries. But Mahmoud bristles at this reporting in his tweets, saying the group seeks to liberate the Muslims inside India, but is also focused on fighting the Pakistani military.
Both of AQIS’ claimed attacks serve to illustrate Mahmoud’s point. According to the group, Brigadier Zahoor and the Pakistani Army are “puppet[s]” of the US. And the group’s second attack was thwarted by Pakistani security forces, who prevented AQIS from attacking American warships.