|"I first met al-Zarqawi at the Zaid bin Harith mosque in the city of Peshawar in Pakistan. I was also at his home in Jordan. He made a terrific impression on me. He is a great believer, and everything that he does is exclusively for Islam. We entered the city of Kabul together, after the Russians pulled out, and with us were the greatest Afghan mujahidin, Jalaloddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who are today the most wanted people on the US blacklist, next to al-Zarqawi." At the very end of the interview, we asked Usama Abu Janah what the connection is between Islam and the murder of Iraqi civilians, soldiers, and policemen.
"They are slaves to the Americans, not to Allah, and as such they are our mortal enemies. We have a fatwa from Bin Ladin to kill anyone who cooperates with the occupiers and crusaders, and even to kill their children," Usama responded curtly.
[Box, p 14] Responsibility: Blacklisted Alongside Al-Qa'ida
The group Asbat al-Ansar (Jund al-Sham) founded by Abdullah Shreidi [name as published], who was killed in 2003 in the Ein al-Helweh Palestinian camp in southern Lebanon, is responsible for the attacks on the Russian Embassy in Beirut in 2001 and on the offices of the United Nations and foreign missions in Damascus in 2003, and in a videotape broadcast on the Arab television network Al-Jazirah a member of that group also took responsibility for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.
The group, which now has a large number of fighters in Iraq under the command of Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, has been on the US blacklist since 11 September, right behind Al-Qa'ida.
[Box, p 15] Mujahidin in Bosnia: I Will Never Forgive the Croats
"I fought in Bosnia too. After the liberation of Kabul in 1992, we all set out in an organized fashion for Bosnia via Saudi Arabia, in order to help our Muslim brothers. I spent two days in your country (Croatia). I fought all through Bosnia, mostly against Croats. We will never forgive them for the cowardly murders of Abu Haris Libi and Shaykh Anwar Shaban [names as published], who were killed at an HVO [Croat Defense Council] checkpoint near Zepce. A lot of prominent members of Al-Qa'ida died in Bosnia. Al-Moataz [name as published], the former commander for the defense of the city of Jalalabad, died in combat near Zavidovici, and our brother Adnan Pezo [name as published] (the former director of the Islamic Youth organization) was also wounded there.
"Others who died near Zavidovici were Adu Abdallah Libi [name as published], also known as the Mountain Lion, the best fighter against the Russians, and many others of our brothers from around the world who came to defend Islam. The Muslims in Bosnia disappointed us. We gave them a lot, in blood and in money. We set roots there in the hope and belief that one day Bosnia would enforce Muslim laws and become Allah's state. It is sad to see our brothers who stayed there being arrested and extradited to the Americans. Despite our disappointment, we know that one day Islam will rule over Bosnia."
[Box, p 15] Rules: Exchange of Money for Nonbelievers
"The rules are clear: If we capture a nonbeliever, we begin by treating him as a prisoner, and then we demand a prisoner exchange or money. That happened when our leader Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi captured some Americans. A large number of prisoners were released from the Abu Ghurayb prison in exchange. We ask ourselves whether there is a fatwa (Muslim obligation) to kill prisoners. The Prophet Muhammad himself issued an order for the massacre of 750 prisoners. That command was carried out by his son-in-law, Imam Ali. The Prophet Muhammad killed 750 Jews with his own hands in war. That means that the Prophet Muhammad issued a fatwa for the murder of prisoners, and that is not considered a sin. Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi does not murder because he likes it, but rather in order to defend Islam against the enemy, which only understands the language of force. The Americans and crusaders do not understand the meaning of reconciliation and the offering of a hand. They understand only force, and we are following their example."
[Box, p 15] Goals: We Are Fighting to Create an Islamic World
What are the group's goals in Iraq?
"To found an Islamic state, and then to also enforce Islamic laws. In many Islamic countries life does not go on under Allah's command, and that even holds true of Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The only true Islamic country was Afghanistan when it was led by Amir Mullah Mohammad Omar. I pray to Allah that Afghanistan will be an Islamic country again as soon as possible. Allah demands that we fight for Islam and implement Islam. Islam will rule the world."
Caught off-guard by Usama's interpretation of Islam, we asked him whether al-Zarqawi shares his views.
"Not only he does; Bin Ladin and Basayev in Chechnya do too. We are working together to create an Islamic world, and in order for us to succeed we must first destroy the Vatican, Satan's nest, so that everyone becomes slaves to Allah."
[Description of Source: Zagreb Vecernji List in Croatian -- tabloid, best-selling daily]
Pakistan Ex-ISI Officer Claims To Have Trained Taliban, Mullah Omar, Met Usama
SAP20050714000010 Karachi Ummat in Urdu 08 Jul 05 p 3
[For assistance with multimedia elements, contact FBIS at 1-800-205-8615 or firstname.lastname@example.org Interview with Col Sultan Amir by Wajeeh Ahmad Siddiqui; date and place not given: "Mullah Omar Received Training From Me: Col Sultan Amir Alias Col Imam"]
Col [ret] Sultan Amir Tarar, known as Col Imam among the Afghan mujahidin is a prominent figure of the Afghan Jihad against the former Soviet Union. He remains associated with the Special Services Group [SSG] and Inter Services Intelligence [ISI] of Pakistan Army. He also served as consul general of Pakistan in Herat [province] during the Taliban period.
Introducing himself, Col Imam said: "I hail from Chakwal, Punjab. Born in a small village, I am Rajput and Tarar by caste. After studying in local educational institutions, I joined Pakistan Army and was commissioned in 1965. Later, I was posted to an infantry unit. God had blessed me with an exemplary physique. Therefore, I was inducted into the SSG. I performed better there, and was sent to the United States for different courses. Then I joined the paratrooper wing. On my return from the United States, I was appointed commandant of the jumps school of the SSG. General Pervez Musharraf was very senior to us and we had an opportunity to work with him.
Musharraf was senior captain and we were junior captains. We fought together during the 1971 war. No one could compete with him in official work. He used to guide his juniors. He was a balanced officer. He was extremely strict during parades but showed frankness like friends in private meetings in the mess. During my service with the SSG, I was introduced to the Afghan mujahidin in 1974 or 1975 through General Naseerullah Babar [former interior minister]. Later, others were assigned to this program, and I returned to the army and was appointed unit commander.
Later, I was recalled to the ISI and was appointed to take charge of training. At that time, the program had been assigned to the ISI. I was not working in this program single-handed; 200 officers were assisting me in imparting training. My chiefs included General Akhtar Abdur Rahman and General Hameed Gul. Under their supervision, we carried on with the program along the pattern set by my predecessors. As I remained associated with it for most of the time, I earned fame, but the mujahidin had also demonstrated performance. It is an honor for me that the mujahidin trained by me also performed well against the Soviet Union, and now during peacetime as well, they are producing well administratively.
Q: You are a known figure of the Afghan Jihad. You imparted training to Afghan mujahidin and remained Pakistan consul general in Herat during the Taliban period. How do you see today's Afghanistan in the light of your past experience?
A: Communism penetrated in Afghanistan during Zahir Shah's period. All of his successors had also established good relations with the Soviet Union. Officers of the Afghan Army and civil bureaucracy were sent to the Soviet Union for training. The officials of Soviet Communist Party had brainwashed these officers and they were impressed by communism. In this way, the influence of communism started growing in Afghanistan. It spread extremely fast in the cities including Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat. In reaction, Afghan Muslims launched an Islamic movement in the rural areas. This movement gained momentum in the period of Sardar Daud [former president]. Besides other groups, Zamanan-e Musliman of Maulvi Younus Khalis, who had much influence in Nangrahar and Paktia provinces had joined this movement.
Jalaluddin Haqqani was also a member of this group at that time. These people safeguarded Islam against communism in their respective areas and struggled against the foreign ideology imposed on them. When communist officers of the Afghan Army saw that the struggle was gaining momentum, all of a sudden they toppled the government of Sardar Daud and the Communist party captured power. In this way, Nur Mohammad Tarakai became the head of Afghanistan. He did not succeed and Hafeezullah Amin replaced him. Even then the Soviet Union was not satisfied and manipulated in Amin's murder and installed Babrak Karmal.
Karmal did not prove himself to be useful and Dr Najibullah was installed. Unfortunately, he also could not prove himself as well. When the Soviets murdered Hafizullah Amin, they thought that the Afghans were not capable of taking over the affairs of their country. Therefore, the Soviets arrived on the conclusion that Afghan affairs will not run smoothly unless they invade the country. They believed that Soviet troops would take control of the major cities and the problem would be solved within a few months, but as the Soviet Army landed, stiff resistance began in Afghanistan. The Afghan people started migrating, and various small groups launched a movement against Communism.
The [resistance] movement began to step up but these groups lacked resources. Assistance was also not coming from abroad. Therefore, these people sold their personal assets and after buying weapons from the tribal areas of Pakistan, they started fighting. In December 1979, the resistance further intensified and the freedom movement continued to grow. The facilities Pakistan had extended to the mujahidin included shelter for Afghan refugees and medical treatment for the injured. Pakistan did not create any hurdle in the purchase of rations and fuel by Afghans. Pakistan bore the brunt till 1981. In late 1981, US President Ronald Reagan came to power and he decided to provide aid to the Afghans.
The former US officials were confused whether or not these people would be able to fight the Soviet Union. Even the United States was discouraging Pakistan from annoying the Soviet Union and helping the Afghans. Instead, Pakistan was advised to convince the mujahidin and restrict their movements to within its territory so that they cannot cross back into Afghanistan as they were totally defenseless. They neither had weapons nor wealth to fight the Soviet Union. However, it was the good luck of the Afghan mujahidin that a military general was in power in Pakistan. He decided that Pakistan would not only check the Soviet Union but also force it to pull back. In the first three years of jihad in Afghanistan, the United States had seen that the Afghans were offering stiff resistance. So it decided to help them.
Besides providing assistance, arrangements were made to give them guerrilla training. First, this training was imparted on an extremely small scale but this was gradually upgraded. As the United States increased aid, arms started to pour in from all over the world. These weapons were purchased from the funds the United States was providing, and whatever weapons could be better used in the guerrilla war were provided to the Afghans. More or less 95,000 mujahidin were trained in almost 10 years.
Q: When did you join the training program?
A: I joined the program a long time ago. It was during the period of Sardar Daud. Golboddin Hekmatyar and Ahmad Shah Masud came here [Pakistan] with a program of resistance against the communists. A few students also accompanied them. I joined this program for a brief period in late 1974 and early 1975. Afterwards, I gave it up because Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's dismissal from power [5 July 1977] led to the dismantling of this program. I discharged my professional responsibilities in another wing of the army. This mujahidin training program continued for some time during the Bhutto regime. This job was done secretly on an extremely small scale. Later, the program was re-launched during Gen Ziaul Haq's period in 1980.
I was called back in 1983 and appointed to take charge of training. I worked in this position till retirement. Training the Afghans was extremely easy because they were already well versed with weapons. These were short-term training courses. The mujahidin were made familiar with the use of weapons and assigned a limited target so that they do not face problems. They were provided training according to the target assigned. In their assignments, they were to hit the target within a stipulated time. On their return from the mission, they were once again provided with specific weapons. In this way, thousands of teams continued to move throughout Afghanistan. That was why we remained busy almost round the clock.
It was due to this training that the Soviet Army found it extremely difficult to stay in Afghanistan. They remained confined only to the big cities. The mujahidin had blocked all their routes. Therefore, the Soviet Union had no option but to use air routes. If the Soviets used land routes, they would be accompanied by tanks, armed personnel carriers and aircraft. I believe the Soviet troops were extremely professional. They were extremely brave. However, when they faced stiff resistance in Afghanistan, they dealt with the Afghan people and the mujahidin with extreme brutality. About 1.5 million Afghans including a large number of mujahidin were martyred in 10 years, but even then there was no let up in resistance; rather it continued to intensify.
At last Soviet Union was compelled to decide to withdraw from Afghanistan. Afghan leaders and we, who were working as their advisers, committed one mistake throughout this struggle. We had provided military training to them, and as a result they had become extremely skillful and expert, but they could not be given political training. There were two reasons. Firstly, no one had even imagined that the Soviet Union would decide to pull back within 10 years. The Soviet decision was extremely surprising for all of us. We had never expected that Soviet Union to make this decision.
Even when the Soviet Union announced its withdrawal, we were confused whether the report was correct or a fabrication. The Soviets were certainly facing difficulties but we never expected that they would pack up so quickly. We believed that they would stay in Afghanistan for five to seven more years. That was why a political group could not be formed and political training could not be imparted to the resistance leadership. Secondly, there was not a one but seven Afghan groups and they lacked ideological harmony. The Afghan nation is well known for its lack of harmony. This is the reason they never sat down together and formed a political setup that could immediately take over the country. When the Soviet Army departed, the Afghan nation had to face numerous problems in forming their own government and running politics.
Q: Will you like to name prominent Afghan leaders and mujahidin who remained in touch with you during this training program?
A: I was lucky enough to have been in touch with almost every renowned leader. They were extremely brave and great people. I still highly respect them from the core of my heart. I had developed extremely deep and close relations with all the seven leaders. I was in touch with all prominent commanders and all of them would contact me from time to time and we would arrange training for their mujahidin. They included extremely prominent people. For instance, when the incumbent Governor Herat Province Mohammad Ismail Khan revolted against the Afghan Army, he was a senior captain. In 1978, he joined the mujahidin. General Alauddin Khan would visit Pakistan almost every year and bring his mujahidin for training.
There was another extremely prominent Afghan commander Mullah Naseem Akhundzada. However, he was not in the headlines because he carried out his activities on the fronts where the media teams had no access. He was commander of Alizar tribe of Helmand Province and had an extremely large number of soldiers under his command. He commanded almost 20,000 to 25,000 mujahidin. Many commanders of Kandahar Province became prominent and this included Mullah Malang whose real name was Maulvi Mohammad Saleh; Commander Abdur Razzaq and Mullah Yar Mohammad, who later became members of Mullah Omar's advisory council; Mullah Faizullah Akhundzada; Mullah Naqeebullah who later changed his name to Mullah Gul Akhund; and an extremely prominent commander of Hekmatyar Group, Sarkatab Ata Mohammad. There were countless number of commanders and I was in touch with almost all of them. They were in the thousands.
Q: You have said that you imparted training to Afghan nationals, but the Soviet Union said that Pakistani and foreign mujahidin particularly Arabs were also trained. Was that training imparted under your supervision or was there some separate arrangement made for that?
A: This story has some truth. When the jihad began and gained momentum, a large number of mujahidin were required. At that time more than 4 million refugees had come to Pakistan. This was the largest influx of refugees in the world history. These refugees had brought their scholars with them. They established their seminaries in refugee camps in Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob, Loralai and the mountains of Quetta. They established seminaries wherever there were refugee camps. Therefore, these seminaries served as mujahidin recruitment centers. When students of these seminaries were able to pick up a gun, they would join the mujahidin.
As far as the question of the training of Pakistani mujahidin in these seminaries was concerned, I provided training to those who were selected by prominent mujahidin from inside Afghanistan. I had nothing to do with these seminaries. As the scope of training expanded, we assigned the basic training to mujahidin and began the training in superior and bigger weapons. The mujahidin had established basic training centers for their respective parties inside Afghanistan. Whenever seminaries were closed for vacation, the Afghan students returned to Afghanistan and the Pakistani students also accompanied them.
These Muslim students had developed the spirit of jihad. Their language [Pashto] was commonly spoken. Therefore, there was no cultural restrictions on their movement neither from their home nor from our side. The CIA and the Americans were aware of this fact, and they had no objections. These people received basic training at the camps of mujahidin and then joined them in jihad. On their return, they rejoined the classes to get an education. As far as foreign mujahidin are concerned, they used to come from outside the country, got the basic training and joined the mujahidin directly. They were in contact with different leaders. For instance, the Arab mujahidin would contact Prof Abdur Rab Rasool Sayyaf.
Similarly, those who belonged to Islamic groups like Jamaat-e Islami Bangladesh, Jamaat-e Islami India or the Islamic organizations of Far East, joined Hekmatyar. There were also some people, who had direct access to prominent commanders including Jalaluddin Haqqani. They were imparting the same training in the seminaries and training centers. The mujahidin themselves had made elaborate arrangements for training. For instance, Sayyaf had established a big training center in Ali Khalil area of Paktia Province. A large number of Arabs, who were later labeled as Al-Qa'ida for propaganda purpose, visited Sayyaf's training center.
Q: What kind of Arab mujahidin came for jihad?
A: There were three kinds of people. Fifty percent of them had developed the spirit of jihad. Some Arab governments had prohibited them but these people came there even without permission from their governments. However, some of them possessed valid documents while others had fake ones. Some others, who had no documents were apprehended but even then they managed to reach the battlefront. In my opinion, 25 percent of the people were fed up with their governments for certain reasons and it was extremely difficult for them to stay in their own countries. They received shelter and being Muslims they had established relationships and decided to take part in jihad. They decided not to return home.
The third kind of people were adventurers. You can name them tourists. Their beliefs were neither strong nor were their jihadi spirits high. They joined the mujahidin just for adventure. When they saw a conducive environment for their adventure, they extended their stay. However, the biggest number of people had come here for jihad with the true Islamic spirit.
Q: Which was the group that invited Usama Bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri?
A: This has an extremely long background. When jihad began against the Soviet Union and the United States began to support it, the entire Muslim world became extremely happy and started supporting the jihad. Muslim scholars also supported the jihad and thronged from different areas to witness it. Every capable and educated person helped the mujahidin. Those with funds supported their host groups individually. When the people started coming from the Arab world, the need was felt to organize them. A Jordanian Arab scholar, Abdullah Azam, was a teacher at the International Islamic University, Islamabad. He also joined the mujahidin. He was a great scholar. He formed a group of mujahidin and maintained a record of their particulars.
He collected funds from the Arab world. The title of his organization was Islamic International Fund. I am not aware of its Arabic nomenclature. It was almost an underground group. I was in touch with different types of like-minded people who spent funds on training and other requirements for the Arab mujahidin. Surprisingly, neither the ISI nor the CIA were concerned about them till 1999. Abdullah Azam was martyred in a bomb blast in Peshawar along with his two sons. At that time, he was doing an extremely important job. Two to three hundred Arabs contributed to the jihad against the Soviet Union but if other foreign mujahidin are added, the number exceeded 4,000.
When the Soviets departed, the number declined steadily. After Azam's martyrdom, the question arose as to who should fill the gap. Usama Bin Ladin, who had come four years ago, was a civilian and he had nothing to do with the militant training. However, he possessed considerable resources. Besides the resources of his family and friends, he himself possessed considerable wealth with which he used to help the mujahidin. At that time, no one had raised any objection to his assistance to the mujahidin. The Arab people requested him to take over the place of Abdullah Azam. He did not have the experience of Abdullah Azam. He had come with the spirit of jihad to extend just non-military assistance specifically in the field of engineering.
He accepted to become head of the organization. He met the mujahidin from other countries to learn about their personal as well as training requirements. You can name it International Islamic Front. The organization was labeled Al-Qa'ida after some time. In my opinion, the number of members of this group would be higher in other countries rather than in Afghanistan. The group does not have big structure inside Afghanistan.