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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Syed Saleem Shahzad: Al-Qaeda seeks a new alliance

In this regard, Asia Times Online spoke to a top ideologue, on the condition that neither the name of the man nor the location of the meeting be hinted at in the writing. He said that al-Qaeda had already anticipated that Washington would bring Pakistan and India on board in the fight against militants, and even try to get cooperation from Iran. The aim would be to geographically isolate the militants. But the militants, said the man, planned to occupy a strategic corridor that stretched from Nangarhar province in Afghanistan through Pakistan's Khyber Agency and the Pakistani Balochistan area of Tutrbat all the way to Iranian Balochistan. The militants plan to establish a new regional alliance. In this regard, Iranian Jundullah (Army of God) leader Abdul Malik Rigi is due to meet an al-Qaeda emissary in the near future near a Pakistani Balochistan coastal town to lay the foundation for joint regional operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India.


Jundullah has the narrow aim of destabilizing the Iranian Shi'ite regime. Al-Qaeda wants to sell its franchise to Jundullah, with two main aims:

To destroy or disrupt operations at Chabahar port, which could be used for North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) supplies going to Afghanistan. The current main route through Pakistan is under heavy attack by the Taliban.

Establish al-Qaeda's presence in Iran to carry out operations to create a strategic balance against any Iranian role in Afghanistan and Iraq. At present, Jundullah is a naive and financially poor organization which only carries out low-profile, stand-alone, sporadic attacks inside Iran. It claims to have killed about 400 Iranian soldiers over the years, but it does not pose any real threat to Tehran.


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