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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Monday, June 14, 2004

Is Pakistan Dismantling Ramzi Yousef's Terror Network?

By J.M. Berger

Pakistani authorities arrested two figures connected to Ramzi Yousef over the weekend, both of whom are accused of working with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorist group.

According to Reuters, Pakistan arrested Daud (or Dawood) Badini, a brother-in-law of Yousef who is associated with LeJ.

Like Yousef himself, Badini is accused of targeting Shi'ite Muslims in bomb attacks. Badini is a suspect in a 2003 Quetta mosque bombing that killed more than 40 people, according to Pakistani authorities. Badini's sister is believed to be Yousef's wife.

The Pakistan government also announced the arrest of someone they called a nephew of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed named Mosabir Aruchi (alternately spelled Aroochi, Musabir Urumchi, Masrab Arochi, and Musaad Aruchi in various reports). KSM is also Ramzi Yousef's uncle, which presumably makes Aruchi and Yousef cousins.

According to Pakistani authorities, a $1 million reward had been posted for Aruchi's arrest, but there is no information to that effect posted under any of the spellings listed above. Given the timing of the report, it's possible Aruchi is an alias used by Badini. This story will be updated if this becomes clear.

LeJ is a small and extremely violent group of Sunni Muslims who are opposed to Western and Shi'ite Muslim influences in Pakistan. It seeks to overthrow the government of Pakistan and replace it with an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy.

LeJ splintered from a Saudi-sponsored Pakistani terrorist group in 1996, about a year after Yousef was arrested. It appears to have consolidated Yousef's surviving terror network under the new umbrella, possibly under the leadership of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed prior to his arrest.

If that is the case, the LeJ might be considered the "Delta Force" of al Qaeda, a special forces unit trained with or under Yousef and KSM, tasked with specific high profile tasks, such as recent attempts to assassinate of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. LeJ and Badini personally have been linked to those attempts by Pakistani officials.

LeJ was directly involved in at least one KSM-sponsored act of terrorism, the 2002 videtaped beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. According to Pakistani authorities, KSM killed Pearl with his own hand. He was reportedly assisted by several LeJ operatives, some of whom are serving time for the murder.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may also be tied to LeJ. He was reportedly a member of its predecessor group, and U.S. authorities have said Zarqawi is also linked to Yousef. Zarqawi shares LeJ's anti-Shi'ite predilictions and its ultraviolent techniques, right down to the videotaped beheading of U.S. businessman Nicholas Berg in 2004. (related story)

The South Asia Analysis Group, an India-based think tank, claims that Zarqawi and Yousef worked together on a 1994 attack on an Iranian Shi'ite mosque and that Zarqawi is closely tied to LeJ (external link). The claim is not inconsistent with other sources reviewed by INTELWIRE, but positive independent confirmation is not yet available. SAAG also reports that LeJ volunteers have traveled to Iraq to fight the U.S. occupation.

There have been other clues that a Yousef-linked terror network is still active in Pakistan and elsewhere. In September 2003, the U.S. Treasury Department froze the assets of Abdul Hakim Murad, a close accomplice (and childhood friend) of Yousef's who has been imprisoned since January 1995. (related story)

Additionally, Zarqawi, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Murad, Yousef and several other known co-conspirators in Yousef's circle may all belong to a violent extremist sect known as Al-Takfir Wal Hijra.

The sect is known for killing Westerners, as well as Muslims who do not meet its extremist Wahabbi/Sunni-influenced standards. The sect also preaches that members may be exempted from normal Islamic rules and strictures in order to assist them in infiltrating Western cultures. Takfiri influences are believed to pervade al Qaeda.

AFP reported that Aruchi is a member of a "new" terror group in Pakistan known as Jund Allah. A group with that name exists in Egypt and has previously been tied to al-Takfir Wal Hijra.

Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Egpytian Islamic Jihad, is believed to be a member of al-Takfir Wal Hijrah and may also be tied to the Egyptian branch of Jund Allah. The suspects were said to have been trained in the same region of Pakistan where Zawahiri is believed to be hiding, according to a report in the Australian media.

An Algerian group operated under the name Jund Allah as early as 1985, according to Jane's Intelligence Review.


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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