Making Sense of Jund al-Khilafah’s Claims

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by yaqubjan on 4/10/2012 · 5 comments

Jund al-Khilafah (JaK), a Kazakh-led terrorist group based in Pakistan, issued its second statement on the Ansar al-Mujahideen online forum on April 1 claiming affiliation to Mohammed Merah. JaK’s first statement was released on March 22.

On the day after Mohammed Merah was killed in Toulouse on March 22 JaK issued the following the statement (excerpted):

“On Tuesday, March 19, one of the Islamic knights, brother ‘Yousef al-Faransi’ – we ask Allah to accept him – took off in an operation that shook the pillars of the Zionist- Crusade in the entire world and filled the hearts of Allah’s enemies with terror…. We hereby claim responsibility for these blessed operations, and we say that what Israel is committing of crimes against our people on the blessed land of Palestine, and in Gaza specifically, will not pass without punishment. The Mujahideen everywhere intend on avenging every drop of blood that was unjustly and aggressively shed in Palestine, Afghanistan and other Muslim homelands.”

One week later, on April 1, JaK showed deeper knowledge about Merah in a second statement (excerpted):

And since I got to know the brother closely and sat with him in many occasions, and for a short period I was one of his mentors, I see that it is my duty to defend the honor of the brother…and seek to remove the fiction from the truth of what was going on in his mind, and the motives that pushed him to carry out the operations in France…. From Egypt to Ash-Sham, and from there to Palestine…. where he visited Jerusalem and prayed there, and thereafter to Kurdistan, Iraq, and then to Tajikistan, where he was able to get a visa to Afghanistan, and entered and searched for who would help him join the Taliban…. From Afghanistan he returned to France when he prepared a visa to Pakistan with the excuse of trade and went there. Allah graced him this time, as in Islamabad he met people who took him to the Taliban, who in turn facilitated his arrival in the tribal regions, when he ended up joining our brigade…. Brother, Yusef is not a reckless man as the media in the Western countries wants to view him. He was a serious young man…who was intelligent and mastered the use of a Linux computer and an Apple Mac in his possession and prepped it with many software programs for film production because he was fond of photography and always carried a Panasonic Full HD 14.2 Megapixels camera.

Neither of these statements has gathered much attention in the mainstream media probably because most analysts see JaK’s claims as false, but the claims were good enough for the administrators of Ansar al-Mujahideen online forum to post them. One of the major surprises about JaK claiming an attack in France is that in 2011 all of JaK’s attacks were carried out in Kazakhstan and all of JaK’s statements were directed against the Kazakh government.

Yet, one reason to believe that JaK’s claims are legitimate is its track record. In 2011, the three claims JaK made about three attacks in Atyrau, Taraz, and Boraldai (a village outside of Almaty) were consistent with the facts on the ground and were released within three to four days of the attacks, so they showed some degree of inside information.

For instance, on October 31, 2011 in Atyrau, a terrorist blew himself up next to an apartment building near the Prosecutor-General’s office and another bomb detonated in a garbage can blocks away. A claim of credit by JaK following the attack showed inside knowledge, especially since the statement was released the day after the explosions, which would not have given JaK much time to see the media’s depiction of the event. JaK said:

“We refute that the last attack was carried out as a martyrdom-operation. It seems that the bomb exploded accidently, which led to the martyrdom of its carrier. We ask Allah to accept him among the martyrs.”

A similar claim with a degree of inside knowledge was released three days after Maksat Kariyev went on a several hour noontime rampage in November 2011 in Taraz, Southeastern Kazakhstan killing five security officers, one gun shop guard, and himself in a suicide bombing that he detonated when a police commander approached him. JaK claimed responsibility and said:

“In Taraz, you saw with your own eyes what one soldier did to you, and God willing you will see horrors by the hands of men who don’t fear death and give their souls easily to support the religion of Islam and defend the honor of the Muslims.”

In Boraldai Village outside of Alamaty, five JaK fighters were killed on December 3, 2011 when Kazakhstan security forces surrounded them inside their safehouse. Four days later Jak came out with a claim that said:

“We are ready to be killed in the thousands in order to support [Islam]… losing our lives is a cheap price that we pay for this cause… God give glory to the fighters who were killed by the apostate forces of the Nazarbayev regime at a base where the five lions of the al-Zahir Baybars Battalion of Jund al Khilafa were gathered.”

Sure, JaK may be bluffing about Mohammed Merah. But what may have happened is that Merah passed through a JaK training camp in Pakistan’s tribal areas with the approval or guidance of the Taliban or al-Qaeda. This is not such a far stretch considering that the IMU, JaK, TIP, and other Central Asian groups all have camps supported by the Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. To Merah, JaK could have been a typical al-Qaeda outfit, but to JaK Merah could have been perceived as one of theirs— hence the claims.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Jacob Zenn holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Georgetown Law where he was a Global Law Scholar and a Certificate from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Nanjing Center for Chinese-American studies. He works as a legal advisor, international affairs analyst, and he has extensive experience in Central Asia, including completing a course of Russian language study in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2007, Farsi/Tajiki language study in Samarkand, Uzbekistan in 2008, and Uyghur/Uzbek language study in Urumqi, Xinjiang Province, China in 2011. He has traveled in all seven "Stan" countries and has contributed to the Johns Hopkins SAIS Central Asia and Caucasus Analyst, the Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor, Militant Leadership Monitor and Terrorism Monitor, and the CTC Sentinel.

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Noah April 11, 2012 at 9:22 am

There are some basic problems with your argument here: first of all, ASFICT, none of these claims for credit of the previous attacks inside Kazakhstan show actual inside information that wasn’t otherwise available in the press already. It may not have been in the English press, but it was there in Russian or local press that these guys were actuall reading anyway. I don’t see any compelling details that make me think the alleged JaK spokespeople had some inside access to information that wasn’t available to everyone else who could read local press.

Secondly, JaK retracted their claim on the Taraz attack. How does that fit the theory? Sure, there are lots of potential motives for the retraction that don’t necessarily preclude the possibility that they were involved, but at that point we’d be heaping speculation upon speculation and claiming to reach a conclusion.

Your whole argument depends on so many “it’s certainly possible” suppositions–yes, you can maybe demonstrate that in some potential universe, there could be a tenous link between JaK, a group that may or may not actually exist but previously has claimed to only be primarily interested in Kazakhstan, and an attack in Southern France by a person who didn’t speak Russian or Kazakh and had no demonstratable ties with Central Asia at all. It’s still not by any means clear whether the Toulouse attacker was even acting in concert with anyone (initial media speculation about an al-Qaida tie seems to have been disproven at this point).

So theoretically, in some potential universe, this pretty spurious link could be real. I’m not at all convinced at this point that the potential universe you outline co-incides with ours. Occam’s razor sez: it’s much more likely that some angry Kazakh dudes have learned they can use the internet to make themselves sound much more influential than they really are.

yaqubjan April 11, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Would you please provide a link to the info about the retraction of the Taraz claim? Rahmat. I do not see it as completely out of worldly possible that a jihadi like Merah who passed through and trained in Af-Pak would come across Central Asians also training there from Kazakhstan, which is intended to be the premise of this piece.

Noah April 12, 2012 at 6:04 am

I’ve not looked at it for a few months (and don’t do this kind of thing on a regular basis) but it’s not clear to me now looking back on the sources if this is really a retraction or whether there is a question about whether or not they ever actually claimed credit for it in the first place. Here’s an example, there are a lot of other sources in the Kazakh media that report similar stories (or recycle the same story).

But again, you are building on assumptions here. As I understand, we have no independant proof (the only other data being a ‘confession’ that he made while in a gunfight with French police) that Merah attended any training camps at all.

yaqubjan April 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Do we agree that he DID indeed go to Afghan or Af-Pak border region at least? If yes, what was he doing there? Not going to training camps, just tourism?

abc April 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Что скрывает от вас Акскл.

Все нормальные люди произошли от шимпанзе в Африке, и только казахи и монголы произошли от австралопитеков.
Доказательство: гаплогруппа казахов С происходит из Индонезии, Полинезии и часто встречается у папуасов и аборигенов Австралии.
Вывод: казахи кыш в Индонезию или к папуасам!

Haplogroup C2 appears to
have expanded throughout
East Indonesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia after the hybridization of Austronesian colonists, ultimately from the Asian
mainland, with pre-existing Melanesians. Third, Haplogroup C4 is the predominant male
lineage among the indigenous Australians.

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