Center for Strategic Communication

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Omar Khalid al Khorasani, from a 2012 propaganda video in which he called for the establishment of a global caliphate and said he wanted to take possession of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.

A senior leader of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, urged the Islamic State and the Al Nusrah Front, “and other mujahideen of the region” to put aside their differences and fight together against the US and allied countries that are launching airstrikes against jihadists in Iraq and Syria. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is the latest al Qaeda-linked group to call for reconciliation between jihadist factions in the region.

Omar Khalid al Khorasani, who is on the executive ruling council of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, released a videotape “suggesting Islamic State (IS,ISIS), Jabhat al Nusrah (JN) and other mujahideen of the region to reconcile among each other,” his spokesman, Ihsanullah Ihshan, wrote in an email sent to The Long War Journal. Khorasani’s video was published on YouTube but has since been removed for violating the video service’s terms of publishing.

“As Kuffar [a derogatory term for non-Muslims] and their helper Murtadeen [apostates, or Muslims who support the West] have formed a coalition to attack the Muslims of Iraq and Sham [Syria], it is important that the Mujahideen of the region and of the whole world are united together against this aggression,” Ihsan said.

“Omar Khalid Khorasani has also offered his influence to mediate between Islamic State, al Qaeda and Jabhat al Nusrah,” Ihsan continues. “He has urged the Muslims of the whole world to become united like a fist against the Kuffar and their Murtadeen helpers.”

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is the latest al Qaeda-linked jihadist group to call for the Islamic State and the Al Nusrah Front and its Islamist allies to put aside their differences. The Afghan Taliban, Shabaab (al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia), al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and various pro-al Qaeda ideologues have all called for the jihadist groups to accept mediation and unite over the past year.

The Al Nusrah Front and its allies have said they are willing to reconcile, but the Islamic State, which declared a caliphate after taking control of large swaths of Iraq this summer, has refused. The Islamic State has declared its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, as the emir of the caliphate and has insisted that other jihadists swear allegiance to him.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar formed in late August after splitting from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan over a leadership dispute. Factions from Mohmand, Arakzai, Bajaur; Khyber, Charsadda, Peshawar, and Swat broke away from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan after claiming that its emir, Mullah Fazlullah, and other leaders, strayed from the path of jihad. The jihadist group signaled its affinity with al Qaeda and the global jihad when it released a graphic that celebrated the 9/11 attack on the US. [See LWJ report, Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar forms in northwestern Pakistan, and Threat Matrix report Jamaat-ul-Ahrar celebrates 9/11 attack.]

Omar Khalid is a powerful commander who was in the running to take over the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan after the death of then emir Hakeemullah Mehsud in a US drone strike late last year. Omar Khalid is close to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, and has said that the Taliban seek to overthrow the Pakistani government, impose sharia, or Islamic law, seize the country’s nuclear weapons, and wage jihad until “the Caliphate is established across the world.” [For more information on Omar Khalid al Khorasani, see LWJ report, Quetta airbase attacks carried out by Pakistani Taliban, IMU.]