Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the newest official branch of al Qaeda’s international organization, has released a nine-page “press release” explaining its “targeting of [the] American and Indian Navies” on Sept. 6. The group says the operations were part of “a plan to strike America’s military strength on the seas” that was prepared “on the orders of the respected [Emir], Shaykh Ayman al Zawahiri.”
AQIS spokesman Usama Mahmood claims that the Pakistani government has covered up the extent of its planned operations and, he says, the media coverage thus far does not accurately reflect what transpired. Therefore, Mahmood has published al Qaeda’s response on his official Twitter feed.
What follows is a summary of al Qaeda’s version of events and is not an independent account. None of the purported details have been publicly verified by US intelligence officials.
All citations are from the statement released by Mahmood. AQIS is eager to claim that the operations caused more damage than the Pakistani government is letting on.
“The operation was portrayed as an attack on the naval dockyard by ‘outsiders’ who had infiltrated the facility,” the AQIS document reads. But al Qaeda claims the “operation took place under the leadership of two brothers from Al Qa’eda in the [Indian] Subcontinent, namely Oweis Jakhrani (former Second Lieutenant in the Pakistan Navy) and Zeeshan Rafeeq (Second Lieutenant).”
The AQIS document includes photos of both Jakhrani and Rafeeq. Only Jakhrani was not an active duty officer at the time of the attacks, according to AQIS, as he “had only recently resigned from the Pakistan Navy due to his faith and zeal.” All of the other al Qaeda operatives “who attained martyrdom during this operation were serving officers of the Pakistan Navy.” (Emphasis in original.)
The goal of the operation was to take “control of two important warships of the Pakistan Navy,” the PNS Zulfiqar and PNS Aslat. There “were several Mujahid brothers” aboard both ships and they were “provided with the necessary weapons and explosives required for this operation,” AQIS says.
The first al Qaeda team was on board the PNS Zulfiqar, which departed Karachi on Sept. 3 and was allegedly scheduled “to be refueled by USS Supply,” which “is one of the most important American naval ships after aircraft carriers.”
While the PNS Zulfiqar was being refueled, “some of the Mujahid brothers present on board…were to target and destroy the American oil tanker [USS Supply] with the 72 mm anti-aircraft guns on their frigate.”