Monday, October 19, 2009

Baluchi Insurgent-Jihadi Group Assassinates Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commanders, Internet Jihadi-Salafis Celebrate


***SEE END OF THE POST FOR SEVERAL IMPORTANT UPDATES***

The Baluchi (Balochi) Sunni insurgent (some say jihadi) group Jundullah ("Soldiers of God") carried out two bombings, including a kamikaze attack, on Iranian government and civilian targets in the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan on Sunday (October 18). Iranian state English-language media reports that 42 people were killed, including senior officers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and . Among those killed were the IRGC's deputy commander of ground forces, General Nur 'Ali Shushtari, and the provincial IRGC commander, Rajab 'Ali Muhammadzadeh, along with four other IRGC officers. Iranian Sunni and Shi'i tribal leaders and civilians were also killed. The dual attacks reportedly included a kamikaze bombing inside a mosque by a Jundullah member disguised as a soldier.

IRGC Deputy Commander of Ground Forces, General Nur 'Ali Shushtari

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other government officials have accused the government of the United States of supporting Jundullah and Pakistan of allowing the group to operate from its territory. The speaker of the Iranian parliament, 'Ali Larjani, said, "We consider the recent terrorist attack to be the result of US action. This is the sign of America's animosity against our country. Mr. Obama has said he will extend his hand towards Iran, but with this terrorist action he has burned his hand." The U.S. government makes similar claims about a wide array of alleged Iranian-backed groups in Iraq (and there are some allied to Iran) and Afghanistan. As a general rule, such propaganda is best ignored or taken with a large amount of salt.

The U.S. government condemned the attacks and denied involvement in them. The Pakistani government did the same. Ahmadinejad has accused Pakistani agents of being involved in supporting Jundullah, a claim the Pakistani government also denies. Pakistan's military intelligence services, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has supported armed groups, including jihadi groups, in the past, including the Afghan Taliban and Kashmiri insurgent groups.

The government and IRGC promise a "crushing" response to this latest Jundullah attack. The insurgent group, which has carried out bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, and murders against Iranian government officials, military figures, and policemen, is led by 'Abdul Makik Rigi, who is in hiding.

'Abdul Malik Rigi, leader of Jundullah

The reactions to the latest Jundullah attacks clearly show the politics involved in the naming of "terrorism." Right-wing commentators in the U.S. and others opposed to the Iranian revolutionary system and government tend to describe Jundullah as an "insurgent" group and avoid the use of the term "terrorism." It should be noted that many other neutral analysts view Jundullah as an insurgent group that often engages in acts of terrorism, like other groups in the region.

For its part, the Iranian government and its supporters label Jundullah a "terrorist" group, but does not describe its allies in Iraq or other parts of the region as such, even when they purposefully attack civilian targets or show a wanton disregard for civilians in their attacks (which is how "terrorism" is defined here at Views from the Occident).

Jundullah is a Baluchi insurgent group that claims to represent the Baluchi minority in southeastern Iran, which is often marginalized by the Iranian state, which tends to emphasize an Aryan "Persian" identity despite the fact that approximately half of Iran's population are not ethnic Aryans or native Persian speakers. Aryan Iranians in the West often equate Iranian identity with "Persian-ness," therefore cutting off non-Aryan Iranians ahistorically from an Iranian identity. Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations have documented discrimination against Iran's Baluch minority. [Please see Update #1 at the bottom of this post for an important update/correction to the text in red italics]

Jundullah reportedly has had ties to al-Qa'ida Central and the Afghan Taliban.

Members of jihadi-Salafi web forums have celebrated the attacks on the Iranian regime, which they view as a theological, doctrinal, and strategic enemy in no small part because most Iranians are Shi'i Muslims, who Salafis of all veins view as being either apostates or non-Muslims. Members of the web forums have also condemned the "conspiratorial intrigues" against what they see as Jundullah's jihadi-Salafi credentials and goals in its war against the "government of apostates," the Iranian Shi'i government.

Jundullah 2
Document #1
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Martyrdom Operation Against IRGC in Iran (Oct 18) #2
Document #2
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UPDATE #1 (4:55 A.M., Oct. 19): Alexander (whose blog, Ruh of Brown Folks, you should read, has made an important addendum/correction to my post in the Comments. I quote the relevant part here (but check out his full comment). I have left my original language for posterity, but have marked it in red with a note to refer to the updates.

"approximately half of Iran's population are not ethnic Aryans or native Persian speakers.
" (Me)

"Remember, "Aryan" is not merely a euphemism for "Persian" (despite what some diaspora Persians might have you think!) If we treat "Aryan" as a real concept, it must be based (in an Iranian context) on being a member of an Indo-Iranian ethnolinguistic group. Thus, in addition to Persians, you must also count Baluchis, Kurds, Lors, Gilakis/Mazandaranis, among others. (Indeed, many people from these groups do self-identify as "Aryan"). While around 50% of Iran does not speak Persian natively, only around 30% is non-"Aryan." " (Alexander)
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UPDATE #2 (4:57 A.M., Oct. 19): What appears to be a news interview in Urdu with 'Abdul Malik Rigi, who is looking a bit more spiffy with sunglasses and a cool Afghan hat than his mugshot-type photograph above, was posted at 6:39 A.M. GMT to an English-language jihadi-Salafi web forum. The initial post with the video link does not specify when the video interview was originally produced, but from the moving of the thread to a section for "previous releases," it appears the video is not brand new. The requisite footage of firearms, and particularly the "amir's" handling of them, is included. Rigi wastes ammunition from an automatic pistol, an automatic rifle or machine gun, a sniper rifle, and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. His sunglasses, however, prevent one from taking his jihadi tough-guy schtick seriously.

Jihadi GQ: 'Abdul Malik Rigi, Jundullah's Amir (commander)



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UPDATE #3 (5:11 A.M., Oct. 19): I've found another interesting thread dedicated to Jundullah, a PDF of which I've embedded below. Readers can find links to what appears to be the group's YouTube user account and blog(s) in the thread, including links to a very interesting video "series" complete with jihadi-style anasheed (songs). The author of the initial post, and many jihadi-Salafis, identify Jundullah as a Sunni group first and a Baluchi group second, if at all.

جماعة جند الله السنية في أيران
Document #3
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UPDATE #4 (5:41 A.M., Oct. 19; Correction @ 4:39 P.M.): Two "logos" from what appears to be a Jundullah-affiliated blog, as well as another spiffy photograph of Jundullah amir Rigi:


Interestingly, the Jundullah logo in the video(s) linked from the above thread on the group is very similar (almost the same as) to the logo that appears in videos released recently by a "Jundullah Studio" of Uzbek, Turkish, and German jihadis associated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in Waziristan in Pakistan's North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP). If it is the same logo and the same production outlet is producing and releasing media materials for both Jundullah and the IMU, this seems to support allegations that the former has some connection to other Sunni jihadi groups (though not necessarily al-Qa'ida Central), in this case an Uzbek group known to have had friendly relations with the Afghan Taliban in the past and similar relations with some of the Pakistani jihadi groups and Pashtun militias.




Jundullah logo from the video linked in the web forum thread discussed in this Update
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Jundullah Studio logo featured in several recent videos of Uzbek, Turkish, and German jihadis in Waziristan in the NWFP, Pakistan.


Watch the Jundullah video from the web forum thread (notice that the introductory nasheed "nahnu jundullah", "we are God's soldiers," is in Arabic).

Thanks to reader "turan saheb" for pointing out a correction re: my misreading of the Persian language blog post originally embedded here, as well as for sharing his/her insights re: the similar logos. Finally, thanks to them for also for providing a link to another blog with the official Jundullah statement in Arabic on the attacks, which appears to be the same text as other copies of the statement that have been posted to jihadi-Salafi web fora.

Jundullah Blog Post About Oct 18 Attacks
Document #4
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UPDATE #5 (6:57 A.M., Oct. 19): There is dissension among Internet jihadis over Jundullah's attacks in Iran. Rigid Salafi-like takfir (declaration of apostasy with regard to other Muslims) has been criticized before, including by a senior jihadi Sunni strategist, Abu Mus'ab al-Suri. Refer to the work of Brynjar Lia.

One user, sivaslimucahid, (a Turk judging from his/her use of the Turkish spelling of the Arabic term "mujahid," "warrior of faith," in their forum name), writes: "i dont accept this. this act is not good. this is a jew plan. i'm turkish sunni muslim and i worked in iran and iran is supporting mujahideen. jundullah dont make this attack. israel is wanting to attack iran if they use seperatism they can break down iran and hezbollah. i joined war with my brothers and friends in 2006 we bought lots of weapons from algeria and tunissia. we carried metis missiles for hezbollah. we are fighting to rise islams flag everywhere and we want shahadat. our biggest enemy is kuffar. if anybody believes allah and kur'an and Allah's prophets and Allah's angels and the fate and the judgement day and every event comes from allah and who says "eshedu en la ilahe illallah ve eshedu enne muhammeden abduhu ve resuluh" and who does conditions of islam i say this person is muslim. i'm acting with sheriah. i read and understand jihad ayaths and i moved from my birthplace to join jihad." (sic)

Another user, Ibn Ali al-Turki, tries to explain why "the Shi'a" are also "their" (jihadi-Salafis') enemy: "Assalaamu alaikum brother sivaslimucahid: The Shi'a are an enemy to us as well. A Shi'a nuclear state would be a disaster to us as well. Every front we open to fight the enemies of Allah is important. We should fight them everywhere, insha'Allah.

As Turks, how do you and I feel to see statues of that sickening, disgusting kaffir Ataturk in every city and square? I find it disgusting. We are people from a country where people are allowed to insult Allah, but should one raise even a breath against the person of Ataturk, we face punishment. I could not find employment at an Islamic bank because of my beard. Should we have mercy for such a people? Alhamdulillah, Allah provides for me and I am able to continue my efforts, insha'Allah.

We should not differentiate between Shi'a, Turk, or any other kaffir (meaning nationality or any other association should not matter besides being of ahlus sunnah wal jama’ah). Should they be successful, goodness will be defeated. Many of my relatives have abandoned Islam. They are same to me as any Shi'a, murtad, or kaffir. I am a Turk, but should the entire Turkish nation apostatise, I would not shed a tear while battling them, not even for the son of my mother and father. The Shi'a are not out our brothers. Shi'ism is not Islam. We should not befriend them.

Narrated AbuHurayrah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.

{Book 41, Number 4815 : Sunan Abu Dawud}
" (sic)

Jundullah Claims Responsibility for Terror Attack (Oct 19) #2
Document #5
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UPDATE #6 (8:25 A.M., Oct. 19): A statement from Jundullah, under its preferred name of the "Iranian People's Resistance Movement," claiming responsibility for Sunday's attacks, and primarily the kamikaze bombing ("martyrdom operation," as it's called in the statement), was recently posted to jihadi-Salafi forums:

Jundullah....Statement Regarding the Martyrdom Operation in Sarbaz
Document #6
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Jundullah....Statement Regarding the Martyrdom Operation in Sarbaz (R)
Document #7
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UPDATE #7 (12:39 A.M., Oct. 21): A new research report on Jundullah from the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment has been PUBLISHED (PDF-direct link).
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NOTE: The term "jihadi" is a much-contested and often problematic one. "To struggle" (ja-ha-da) in Arabic has several connotations, and can refer to both physical and spiritual struggle. It can also have a militaristic meaning, which is how I use it on Occident. After much consideration I have decided to use the term, despite its potential problems. I have done so because the movements, such as al-Qa'ida Central and its affiliates, use the term to describe themselves. They of course do not use "jihadi" as a noun, and instead use the noun form of the Arabic root, "mujahideen/mujahidun," which translates approximately to "those who struggle for faith." Given my use of "jihadi" primarily in its militaristic sense, I translate "mujahideen" as meaning, approximately, "warriors of faith."

5 comments:

Alexander said...

Great post!

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other government officials have accused the government of the United States of supporting Jundullah ... As a general rule, such propaganda is best ignored or taken with a large amount of salt.

While I certainly agree that all such claims should be taken with (at least) a grain of salt, it can be just as dangerous to ignore them as it is to believe them unquestioningly. In this case, there is a large body of evidence to suggest that the U.S. does in fact support Jundullah in several ways, including financially. I'm working on a post for my blog on the recent attacks, and will include some background and links about that.

It should be noted that many other neutral analysts view Jundullah as an insurgent group that often engages in acts of terrorism, like other groups in the region.

Could you provide links to some of the analysts who believe that? It seems like you might share their view (or at least are sympathetic to it)-- in light of that, what do you make of claims that Jundullah's has links to al-Qa'ida, the Afghan Taliban, etc.?

approximately half of Iran's population are not ethnic Aryans or native Persian speakers.

Remember, "Aryan" is not merely a euphemism for "Persian" (despite what some diaspora Persians might have you think!) If we treat "Aryan" as a real concept, it must be based (in an Iranian context) on being a member of an Indo-Iranian ethnolinguistic group. Thus, in addition to Persians, you must also count Baluchis, Kurds, Lors, Gilakis/Mazandaranis, among others. (Indeed, many people from these groups do self-identify as "Aryan"). While around 50% of Iran does not speak Persian natively, only around 30% is non-"Aryan."

turan saheb said...

On your Update #4 - while the language is Persian, it is not a statements on the attacks. I can't open the link on scribd, so I can only read the title, but this says "Childish Threats of Sepah Commander".
You can however find the official statement on the attacks even in Arabic (http://junbish.blogspot.com/2009/10/blog-post_18.html).

Concerning the similarity of the old Jundullah-logo (they renamed themselves jombesh-e moqawamat-e mardomi-ye iran) to Jundullah studios, my guess is that it's mere conincidence.
All that is known from people travelling to Islami Cihad Ittihadi-Camps in Pakistan is, that they were in the FATA. This fits also better with the wooded, mountaineous terrain shown in all the 'Jundullah studio' videos. JMMI on the other hand seems tooperate/ find refuge inside Baluchistan.

إبن الصقلي said...

Thanks, Alexander! As you may have already seen, I have added a note about your comment-correction.

I'll need to go back and do some searching through past pieces I've read re: your second point. You're right in your assessment of my views, though. From what I know about Jundullah, it strikes me as an insurgent group that has engaged in acts that it could be argued are terrorism (under the definition I use).

إبن الصقلي said...

Thanks, turan saheb. I have made a note thanking you, and have also quoted part of your comment re: the similar logos. I appreciate your insights very much.

Alexander said...

Hi Christopher,
I've finished writing my piece on the suicide bombings; you can read it here.