Over the past couple of weeks Lahore-based band Baygairat Brigade has burst onto the internet scene after posting its video “Aalo Anday” on YouTube. Baygairat’s song criticizes Pakistanis for, among other things, making heroes out of violent extremists such as Malik Mumtaz Qadri and Ajmal Kasab – the former assassinated Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for opposing the blasphemy law and the latter was one of the perpetrators of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai. There’s great coverage of this in American press (New York Times) as well as Pakistani Press (Dawn, Dawn, Express Tribune).
Check out the video here:
On September 30, 2011 Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born propagandist for al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in an airstrike approximately 90 miles outside of Yemen’s capital Sana’a. Awlaki’s death is considered a significant blow to al-Qa`ida because it eliminated a charismatic communicator who used his conversational English and fluent Arabic to preach al-Qa`ida’s violent extremist ideology to English-speaking audiences (Jihadica has a list of sources that provide varying views on the impact of Awlaki’s death here).
However, Awlaki’s influence was not limited to Arabic- and English-speaking audiences. Specifically, several of his statements and written works have been translated into Urdu over the years. Following his death, users on two separate Urdu-language jihadi forums, the Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum and the Ahl-e-Sunnat Forum, posted a nearly 300-page compilation of Awlaki’s work in Urdu. The posted document contains 14 bookmarks with selected titles below:
- 44 Methods of Jihad
- Call to Jihad
- Allah, Prepare Us (Muslims) for Victory
- Constants on the Path of Jihad
- The Battle of Hearts and Minds
- Ways of Establishing Khilafah
- Suicide or Martyrdom?
Here are some images from the compilation of Awlaki’s work in Urdu:
Beginning in August 2011, monsoon rains hit large swaths of Pakistan – in Sindh, Balouchistan, and Punjab – causing devastating flooding for the second consecutive year in the country. According to recent reports, the floods have affected 8.9 million Pakistanis and destroyed 1.5 million homes in Sindh alone. Over 400 people have been killed as a result of the floods, including 107 children. Currently, about 660,000 people are living in refugee camps.
After last year’s floods, the Pakistani government was (relatively) better prepared to deal with this year’s natural disaster (see article in Dawn on improved institutional and infrastructural preparedness; also see National Disaster Management Authority response in Sindh here and here).
However, despite these improvements there remain serious deficiencies in the delivery of humanitarian aid services, which are being filled by several different types of organizations including national and international NGOs and charitable organizations. As noted in other posts on this blog, illicit charities affiliated with several of Pakistan’s violent extremist organizations have become adept at exploiting the humanitarian deficiencies of the Pakistani government as opportunities to raise funds and cultivate sympathy and support among local audiences. This year’s floods are no different.
Since the beginning of this year’s floods, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and Al-Rahmat Trust – charitable front organizations for Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, respectively – are using the floods as a means to raise funds and cultivate local support for their groups. Their activities on the ground have included providing emergency healthcare, food items, shelter, and trafficking individuals from flood affected-areas to safe camps. FIF in particular has been especially adept at using the internet, specifically its website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel to advertise its activities to a broader, more global target audience across Pakistan and the Pakistani Diaspora community around the world for raising funds and gaining support.
Let’s take a look at some of FIF and JeM’s online efforts.
The flyer below was posted on the FIF website and calls on Pakistanis to donate money to the efforts of FIF. In an effort to solicit support, the flyer cites a verse from the Quran that states, “He who saves one man’s life, it is as if he has saved entire humanity.” Also included on the flyer are the phone number and address of the group as well as its email address for those interested in making a donation.
The two flyers below are from JeM’s online weekly magazine al-Qalam. The first flyer provides a list of humanitarian items and their respective costs. For example, the flyer says that weekly rations for a family can be fulfilled with a donation of Rs. 1,700, beds for winter cost Rs. 2,000, new clothes are Rs. 700, and a water cooler runs Rs. 1,000. The second flyer includes similar information and indicates that the group needs five ambulances that cost Rs. 600,000 each.
The pictures below are from the FIF Facebook page and show the LeT affilate openly providing humanitarian services.
Picture 1: A FIF aid distribution camp.
Picture 2: Members of FIF collecting donations.
Picture 3: FIF shuttles people from flood-affected areas to dry land.
Picture 4: FIF camp
Picture 5: FIF medical relief camp.
Picture 6: Flood victims receive medical care from FIF ambulance.
The State Department released the latest iteration of its annual Country Reports on Terrorism, which you can find here. As expected, there is plenty in there about Pakistan. I pulled some of the Pakistan bits.
Expectedly, Chapter 1 of the report opens with an assessment of the threat from al-Qa`ida Core (AQC). According to the report, while AQC is weaker, the terrorist threat to the United States emanating from Pakistan remains high due to resurgent affiliates:
“Al-Qa’ida (AQ) remained the preeminent terrorist threat to the United States in 2010. Though the AQ core in Pakistan has become weaker, it retained the capability to conduct regional and transnational attacks. Cooperation between AQ and Afghanistan- and Pakistan-based militants was critical to the threat the group posed. In addition, the danger posed by Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LeT) and increased resource-sharing between AQ and its Pakistan-based allies and associates such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Haqqani Network meant the aggregate threat in South Asia remained high.”
Chapter 2 is the chapter that extensively discusses Pakistan. The report discusses several aspects of counterterrorism including: 2010 terrorist incidents; legislation and law enforcement; countering terrorist finance; regional and international cooperation; and countering radicalization and violent extremism. Some key findings from each of these categories include:
2010 Terrorism Incidents
“Pakistan experienced hundreds of bomb blasts, suicide attacks, and sectarian violence, resulting in more than 2,000 dead and scores more injured. Known terrorist organizations such as Tehrik-e-Taliban (the “Pakistani” Taliban) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for a number of attacks. The Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and al-Qa’ida also have a significant presence in Pakistan and maintained the capability to plan, influence, and assist violent extremist organizations within Pakistan and regionally.”
Legislation and Law Enforcement
“While Pakistan’s law enforcement community continued to pledge to prosecute those responsible for terrorist acts inside Pakistan, a 2010 review by the United States of Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Court rulings revealed that Pakistan remained plagued an acquittal rate of approximately 75 percent. The review, in conjunction with information provided by Pakistani law enforcement partners, painted a picture of a legal system almost incapable of prosecuting suspected terrorists.”
Countering Terrorist Finance
“Pakistan strengthened its counterterrorist finance regime and committed to making additional improvements. Pakistan’s terrorist financing law is ambiguous on key points, however, and the country’s implementation of UNSCR 1267 was incomplete.”
Regional and International Cooperation
“Pakistan continued to cooperate in regional and international counterterrorism forums. However, India-Pakistan counterterrorism cooperation was lacking in 2010.”
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism
“The Government of Pakistan has realized that counter-radicalization through non-military means is a critical component to long-term success against violent extremism, and has initiated certain counter-radicalization efforts in 2010.”
These efforts included plans to set up a television channel focusing on culture and traditions of the country with the objective of countering violent extremism, an army-run school in Malakand for rehabilitating Taliban-influenced youth, and the creation of interfaith committees at the district level to meet monthly to address issues of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue.
Terrorist Safe Haven
Chapter 5, which addresses terrorist safe havens, also mentions Pakistan, stating that, “despite efforts by Pakistani security forces, al-Qa’ida (AQ) terrorists, Afghan militants, foreign insurgents, and Pakistani militants continued to find safe haven in portions of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Khyber Paktunkhwa (KPK), and Baluchistan.”
Today is the 17th day of Ramadan and on this day in 624 A.D. (2 AH – Hijri/Islamic calendar) a critical battle in the history of early Islam was fought – the Battle of Badr. At this battle, the Prophet Muhammad defeated the powerful Quraysh tribe that controlled Mecca.
I thumbed through my old copy of Pickthall’s translation of the Quran and copied below one of its references to the Battle of Badr. The Quranic excerpts indicate that it was divine intervention that aided in the unexpected victory of Prophet Muhammad’s forces. From surah Al-Imran (2:123-126):
- “Allah had already given you the victory at Badr, when ye were contemptible. So observe your duty to Allah in order that ye may be thankful.” (2:123)
- “When thou didst say unto the believers: Is it not sufficient for you that your Lord should support you with three thousand angels sent down (to your help)?” (2:124)
- Nay, but if ye persevere, and keep from evil, and (the enemy) attack you suddenly, your Lord will help you with five thousand angels sweeping on.” (2:125)
- “Allah ordained this only as a message of good cheer for you, and that thereby your hearts might be at rest – Victory cometh only from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise.” (2:126)
In their recent Ramadan issues, multiple Urdu-language jihadi publications referenced this historic battle. For example, in its August 2011 issue Nawa-i-Jihad Afghanistan contained at least four articles about the Battle of Badr. Lots of fodder here for future posts, but in the interim here are some of their topics:
- A prologue titled “The Prophet’s Prayers for Success at the Battle of Badr” (pictured below)
- “Identifying Believers and Unbelievers at the Battlefield of Badr”
- “The Aim of the Muslims in the Battle of Badr – The Caravan of Quraysh Traders”
- “How Can You Forget the Battle of Badr?”
Another example is from Jaish-e-Muhammad’s (JeM) weekly Urdu-language magazine, al-Qalam, which contained an article referencing the historic battle. In the article (referenced in the previous blog post), the author encourages his readers to increase certain habits, including jihad and cites the Battle of Badr as an illustrative example.
In both publications the references to the Battle of Badr are likely an effort to draw a comparison between the Prophet Muhammad’s unlikely victory over the Meccans and current global jihadist efforts to defend Islam against the so-called “Crusader-Zionist alliance” in order to generate support for their cause. Simply put, these publications use this historical imagery to convey to their target audiences that as Allah helped defeat the powerful Meccans in Islam’s early period, he will also help defeat those they consider currently as enemies of Islam.