On July 12, 2010, Al-Qaeda's media wing Al-Sahab released an interview with Ustad Ahmad Farooq, Al-Qaeda's official in charge of the Da'wah and Media Department for Pakistan. The interview, which was released together with Arabic and Urdu-language transcripts, is titled "Jihad in Pakistan – Why?"
The interview's first part (see MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, Al-Qaeda Presents Ahmad Farooq, Head of Its Pakistani Media Department) was officially released by Al-Sahab in November 2009. The key reason behind its release was to present Ahmad Farooq to Pakistani audiences.
In the second interview – the Urdu-language transcript of which runs over 45 pages – Farooq offers detailed justifications for the decision by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban's shadow government) to open the battlefront against Pakistan. He argues that Pakistan – unlike other neighbors of Afghanistan – plays a fundamental role in the war from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Following is the first instalment of excerpts from the Urdu-language transcript of the interview. The second instalment will be released within the next few days.
"Afghanistan and Pakistan are the Same Battlefront"
Al-Sahab: "Al-Qaeda's name is being mentioned in connection with activities and attacks against the government and the army in Pakistan too... The religious circles of Pakistan, many of which are assisting the mujahideen in the jihad against America, complain that the jihad against America is understandable, but that the battle against the government and the army of Pakistan is incomprehensible...?
Ahmad Farooq: "The first point is that one who can understand jihad in Afghanistan, i.e. one who can understand jihad against America, should also be able to understand the jihad in Pakistan, for the reason that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are in effect the same battlefront. And the war underway in both places is an inseparable war; it is a single war...
"It is because of the ideas imported from the West into our minds that, consciously or unconsciously, we are forced to think of keeping ourselves in these categories... [and because of] the geographical division, which is not a natural division, but a division created by the infidels... Looking historically, geographically and as per faith, or from the perspective of a war strategy, these two regions – Pakistan and Afghanistan – are not disconnected from each other in any way. Looking at it historically, it appears that the political circles formed in Kabul used to have consequences felt in Delhi.
"Therefore, we see that a big factor in the spread of Islam in the [South Asian] subcontinent was the role of Muslim conquerors, who strengthened their throne in Kabul and then turned towards Delhi; there, they established their sultanate, which became a vehicle for the spread and propagation of Islam. To reject this fact is tantamount to rejecting history, and is contrary to the spiritual relationship which already exists among us."
"The point is not only that we alone are aware of this reality, i.e. that this entire region is connected and that developments in this region impact each other. Rather, more than us, the enemy is aware of this. Nevertheless, it has made us compliant with these geographical limits, while it itself does not abide by them. Therefore we see that recently [U.S. President Barack] Obama named his new policy – war strategy – for this region 'Af-Pak Strategy.' It is clear from this name, and from the [strategy's] details and contents, that they [i.e. the enemy] see this entire region as a single battlefront. Because of this point, from day one, when the Afghan war began, as important as they consider their task of maintaining strong control in Afghanistan, they are giving similar importance to the task of maintaining strong control, albeit using different resources, in Pakistan too...
"The second point is this. Those familiar with the jihad of the recent past knows that during the jihad against Russia in Afghanistan [in the 1980s], the fatwa justifying the targeting of and battle against all the Afghan communists who had sided with the Russians was issued by not the Ulema [religious scholars] of Afghanistan alone, but by the Ulema of the entire Islamic world.
"Even after this, in the jihad currently underway in Afghanistan, the rightful Ulema of Afghanistan, the rightful Ulema of Pakistan, and the Ulema of the different regions of the Ummah are all satisfied that battle against the Afghan National Army that sides with America is not only justified, but that its importance and necessity are required duties.
"If the Afghan National Army – whose strength is not even one fourth of the Pakistani Army's, and whose military experience, military equipment and weapons, and professionalism cannot be in any way compared with the Pakistani Army's – if battle against it is justified for this crime [of supporting the U.S. troops], and if all the mujahideen fighting for the Islamic Emirate target it and no objection is raised, then why isn't a battle against the Pakistani Army justified? Its strength and power is much greater and its role in the war is more dangerous than the role of [the Afghan] National Army..."
"The Pakistan Army is Responsible for Throwing This Region Into War... It Was Pakistan That Activated its Airspace, Territory, Airbases, Centers...For America"
Al-Sahab: "But the issue is that due to the launch of jihad in Pakistan and the mujahideen engaging against the Pakistani troops, the struggle for the establishment of the Islamic Emirate and the jihad against Americans in Afghanistan are weakened, and the focus of the mujahideen gets divided."
Ahmad Farooq: "The jihad that we are waging in Pakistan today is a war for defending the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan... If one looks at the past two and a half years, during which military operations have been launched [against the Taliban] in Pakistan, [one sees that] the goal of this jihad [against Pakistan], that is, to secure the back of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is being reached.
"Is it hidden from anyone that a few years ago this region was not in the situation that it is in now? Today, from Afghanistan to Pakistan, there is war everywhere. And if there is a force that is fundamentally responsible for throwing this entire region into bloodshed and war, it is the Pakistani Army. When the U.S. decided to launch an attack here, it needed a local host to support it and assist it, so that its attack would remove the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
"No neighbor of Afghanistan was ready to play this role, and even if a country offered aid, it was only partial, so that it could not play the role of a center or provide a fundamental platform like America wanted. It was Pakistan that activated its airspace, territory, airbases, centers and everything to be available for America. The precious information of the intelligence department needed for all operations and all the secrets of the Islamic Emirate and mujahideen were provided to America. It was Pakistan that played this role. Without Pakistan's role in this war, it would not have been possible for America to achieve these objectives: to confront the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, to launch an attack against it, and to successfully remove it."
"Martyrdom and Arrests of the Leaders of the Islamic Emirate by Pakistan"
"After the fall of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, when the mujahideen tried to take refuge in Pakistan, [Pakistan] arrested more than 800 mujahideen and handed them over to America, as acknowledged by leaders of the Pakistan Army. Among those arrested were not only Pakistani and Arab mujahideen, but also big names of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, those responsible at the level of the Shura [executive council] on whose shoulders the entire system was in place.
"After that, many among them were hounded and martyred; for example, the martyrdom of Mullah Akhtar Usmani. Among those arrested, the examples of Mullah Abdul Lateef Hakimi, Ustad Yasir and Mullah Mansur Dadullah are before us. Their arrests came on the hands of the Pakistani system of government...
"If you remove the heinous role of the 600,000 Pakistani troops from this battlefront, then the doors of comfort and ease will be opened for the mujahideen. The mujahideen's decision to open the Pakistan battlefront for the first time obstructed the Pakistani Army's struggle to weaken the Islamic Emirate. And it is due to the blessing of Allah that two and a half years later we are at a stage where the fundamental concern for the Pakistani system of government is to somehow stop the targeting of its intelligence centers in Karachi, Lahore, [Rawal]pindi and Islamabad, and the targeting of its military centers and top officers... The jihad against Pakistan provides strength to the jihad in Afghanistan... and this is one objective, which owing to Allah's blessings, appears to be being fully achieved."
Al-Sahab: "Then, will it not be satisfactory for America that a section of the mujahideen's power is engaged against the Pakistan forces, and therefore its presence in the region is extended?"
Ahmad Farooq: "Look, this misunderstanding – if one focuses here, weakness will set in there – originates from the thinking that these are two wars. As I said earlier, these are two arms of the same battlefront... There is no doubt that America wants to extend its presence here. But it knows, better than we, that the strengthening of jihad in Pakistan, the weakening of America's control in Pakistan, and the weakening of the Pakistani system of government will not in any way aid in extending its survival [i.e. its presence in Afghanistan]. It will shake up the American game plan for this entire region...
"We are seeing what Obama the enemy said in his recent speech, in which he discussed his new strategy. He said that 'the path of victory in Afghanistan goes through Pakistan.' When the path of victory for the enemy goes through Pakistan and he accords central importance to it, then how can we ignore this battlefront? To leave America here in peace? To leave Pakistan Army which provides strength to the American system in peace? That would be foolish..."
"The Servant Army of the Infidels – Past and Present"
"The second aspect of this war is aimed at weakening the Pakistani system of government. To argue that 'the existence of a strong Pakistani system is against American interests' shows ignorance of this entire situation, because the services provided by the Pakistan Army to the infidels in this entire region cannot be provided by anyone else.
"If one looks back at the past, before the establishment of Pakistan, at the service rendered by the military of this region [i.e. the Indian troops] for the global infidels [i.e. for the British Empire], [one sees that] the infidels could not have found such a large and organized force from anywhere else.
"Why would they [i.e. the Americans] need to enter the battlefield, when they have the best force of more than 600,000? This [Pakistani] force is also armed with latest weapons; it has the experience of fighting many wars; it has also been close to the mujahideen and knows their weaknesses, and how to fight against them. And this army is willing to offer its services. Why would Americans like to see such an army being weakened? What interest would they have in that? ...
"We can see how the military operation was carried out in Swat [in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province], and how the operation was carried out in South Waziristan. Do you think that something bigger than this would have happened if America were undertaking these operations instead of the Pakistan Army? They targeted mosques, they targeted madrassas, they forced hundreds of thousands of people to migrate from Swat alone; they did not discriminate against anyone in massacring, and even bombed civilian populations. If you look at this entire situation, what could America like better?
"We should not see this army as different from the American army. In Pakistan, we are fighting against the troops of America [sic]. The only difference is that here the American [sic] army is more than 600,000 strong, and is dressed in khaki. We should stop thinking of this khaki-uniformed army as 'our army.' An army whose intelligence agencies are involved in martyring the Ulema, an army which invades the Red Mosque [of Islamabad] and martyrs the Ulema, an army which martyrs the innocent sisters of Jamia Hafsa [the women's madrassa at the Red Mosque] and the female students of madrassas, an army which targets every mosque in the entire tribal region and Swat, which targets mosques in Orakzai and Hangu [areas] –it is strange how a believer can describe such an army as 'our army.' The point to understand is that this is an American army against which we are waging war...
"The last point regarding this is: Do not worry about America. Allah willing, America is packing up. It has clearly admitted its defeat [in Afghanistan]. The 'new strategy' about which Obama delivered his speech – what is that strategy? It is a strategy of escape, of fleeing from here. A year and a half remains, after which they themselves say that they are to begin their withdrawal. So do not worry about America. Allah willing, there are many lions in Afghanistan to confront them... It is Allah's blessing that the opening of the jihadist battlefront in Pakistan has not led to any decline or shortage in the jihad of Afghanistan; instead it has gained greater force and has become stronger...
"The recent attack on the CIA officers in Khost [province of Afghanistan]... is one of history's biggest attacks on the CIA. It is as acknowledged by America itself that during the last eight years, the CIA was not attacked on such a large scale, including the targeting of officials responsible for its various departments."
"As Per Shari'a, Is There a Difference Between the Pakistan and Afghan Wars?"
Al-Sahab: "One question arises: Isn't the war in Afghanistan different from the one in Pakistan, in that Afghanistan has been attacked by and occupied by an infidel country and there jihad is being waged against it, whereas here it is a Muslim country in which khurooj [rebellion against an Islamic state] is being created for which many see no justification?"
Ahmad Farooq: "After so much has happened, one should mourn the intelligence of anyone who considers Pakistan a free country, and who continues to see a difference between the status of Afghanistan and Pakistan...
"The Pakistani media is full of news reports about the expansion of the U.S. Embassy. The American troops, many of whom were secretly present here in some numbers, have begun to flood in, because their number are proving insufficient to fortify their supremacy. The media institutions working under the government and carrying its slogans are now themselves declaring that these Americans do not face any search at the airports [in Pakistan]; their baggage is not checked... These secret militaries, only the names of which have been familiar to us to date, whether they be Blackwater or other such institutions, are establishing their space in Pakistan very rapidly.
"[U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard] Holbrooke spends more time in Pakistan, less time in America. This makes it clear how much importance they give to this region... In what capacity he is making these trips? Prior to this, [U.S. Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton [visited] many regions, from the Badshahi Mosque [in Lahore] to the tribal areas. Is there any place she did not visit?
"Therefore, it should be clear to all that Pakistan has become the 53rd state of America. Pakistan is 'American occupied Pakistan.' The concern should be to liberate it...
"The battle which is being fought here in Pakistan, if it is seen in the light of this discussion, it cannot be described as khurooj; it is jihad. The way we are confronting America in Afghanistan and any army that is siding with America, whether it be the Afghan National Army or different tribal chieftains, is the same way we are confronting America in Pakistan and the Pakistani Army that is aiding America. That is jihad, and this too is jihad. It is a duty incumbent upon every individual. Therefore, to consider any distinction between the two will not be correct...
"Another aspect of this is that what we are doing at this time is jihad in defense It is not that we have taken the step. During the past eight years, whatever has occurred, the [first] step was taken by the enemy –by America and the Pakistan Army. The Islamic Emirate was in power in Afghanistan. The Pakistan Army, joining with America, overthrew the Islamic Emirate. We are waging a war in its defense.... Whether the mujahideen today are launching operations in Lahore, Karachi or [Rawal]pindi, wherever they target the army, they do so in their own defense. After their patience of over seven and eight years, they are for the first time raising their hand in their own defense.
"In the Shari'a that we have studied and the religion that we know of, we find no restriction against the act of defending in that religion. Rather, the Ahadith [sayings and deeds of the Prophet] enumerate its virtues to us. There are many traditions of the Prophet of Allah, some of which are [in both Arabic and Urdu]: 'one who is killed in the defense of his property is a martyr'; 'one who is killed while defending his life is a martyr'; 'one who is killed in defense of his honor is a martyr'; 'one who is killed while defending his family members is a martyr'..."From any perspective, we are waging jihad in defense, which is not prevented by the Shari'a – rather, it explains the reasons for it. Examine the books of Fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence]. Even in a Shari'a-based system, if the ruler of such a Shari's system is guilty of atrocities and raids the lives and properties of Muslims, then is battle permitted or not against him? Refer to what Allama ibn Abidain, Allama ibn Hamam and other Ulema have written [about this]..."