Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 14

Afghan Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi has delivered the movement’s reaction to Washington’s decision to make changes in the command of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan (Sawt al-Jihad, May 12). Responding to President Obama’s May 11 replacement of General David McKiernan with former Joint Special Operations Command Chief Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal and the appointment of a former general, Karl Eikenberry, as the new U.S. ambassador in Kabul, the Taliban spokesman suggested the changes were a sign “the Americans and their allies have totally lost their way as far as how to win the war in Afghanistan and are increasingly losing patience and focus.”
Qari Yusuf claimed that seven years of warfare had only resulted in “an increase in [the occupiers’] economic burden and total failure on the battlefield.” He went on to suggest the Taliban’s assessment was one shared by “the international media and experts,” who were predicting total American defeat in the military and political fields. “At present, the enemy is in a state of panic throughout the country, rural areas have come under the control of the mujahideen and the enemy supply routes are under our watchful eyes. It seems that the latest urgent measures and leadership changes by the enemy are the result of this pressure.”
According to Qari Yusuf, it was only some months ago that there was steady discussion by American officials and the Western media of the failures and corruption of the Hamid Karzai government in Kabul, yet as elections approach, the U.S. has realized there is “no worthy political leadership in Afghanistan,” with the result that they are preparing Karzai and his corrupt team for another term in office. This political failure has led to changes in the political and military leadership of the American presence in Afghanistan.

With regard to the change in military command, Qari Yusuf pointed out, “In the past four years [the Americans] have repeatedly changed their military commanders – with every new commander boasting about new strategy and military experience. However, with the passing of time, it has been made clear to them that this war could not be won… Just like the former Soviet Union, they will be forced to admit to the realities, but it will be too late by then and many of their generals would have lost their lives and careers.”


A spokesman for Iraq’s Jaysh al-Mustafa (Mustafa Army) used an internet question and answer session to admit setbacks but vowed to prevent the Kurdish takeover of the northern Iraqi province of Ninawa (Nineveh), the main base of the Sunni militant group (Media Commission of the Al-Mustafa Army in Iraq, May 15).  

According to the spokesman, Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Iraqi, the group was formed in Ninawa Governate two months after the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. At first they operated under the name “al-Fatihin Army” during their earliest operations in Mosul. In time, the group expanded to Salah al-Din Governate and even into the outskirts of Baghdad. This continued until April 2004, when “occupation forces broke into our locations and arrested our most prominent leaders.” After this serious setback, the group slowly recovered and today consists of 12 “brigades,” though only four of these are operational due to “poor resources and lack of funding.”  Shaykh Abu-Abdallah al-Ansari is the Amir of the Al-Mustafa Army in Iraq.
Abu Abd al-Rahman also attributed the lack of internet videos depicting al-Mustafa Army operations to “weak financial capabilities” and “the geographical nature of the city Mosul,” though the latter point was not explained. The Mustafa Army relies on “the charitable people in Ninawa Governate” for their funding, though these contributions have declined dramatically after threats were made to those funding the group. This has resulted in a decrease in the number of operations. Al-Mustafa Army supports the use of martyrdom operations (suicide bombings), but has not conducted any due to a “lack of assets.” Despite this, Abu Abd al-Rahman insists the jihad in Iraq is mandatory for every man, woman and child.

Admission of new fighters is made on the recommendation of a trusted person or a mosque cleric. Recruits must meet certain requirements regarding religious observance, good manners, etc. Abu Abd al-Rahman denies that foreign fighters are in the ranks of al-Mustafa Army. “In fact, we have not received any admission request from expatriate brothers, but we do not deny their fraternity and we are grateful to them.” The group claims to have Kurds as well as Arabs as fighters and leaders.

Abu Abd al-Rahman commented on al-Mustafa’s relations with a number of other Iraqi armed groups:

• Army of Men of the Naqshabandi Order (a Sufi militant group; see Terrorism Focus, February 21, 2007; July 28, 2008): Al-Mustafa Army has good relations with this group and is ready to cooperate with them in all jihad activities.

• Gaza Martyrs Brigade: Three individuals broke from al-Mustafa two months ago and have since formed this group. “We wish them success, but we confirm there has not been any split in the group.”

• The Shi’a:  Al-Mustafa Army has “no relations” with the Shi’a public and the group does not fight them. However, the group considers the “Persian Safavids” (a reference to Shi’a militias) to be their enemies.

• Ba’athists:  Abu Abd al-Rahman denies the Mustafa Army is composed of Ba’athists, saying these are rumors designed to undermine the group, though it “does not belittle” the Ba’athists.

• The Islamic State of Iraq (al-Qaeda affiliated):  The group has good relations with ISI and has worked with several of its field commanders in the past.

• The Sahwa (Awakening) Councils:  These individuals have made mistakes by joining with the occupation forces, but the “door of repentance” remains open for them.

Though the group has suffered from security round-ups and financial shortfalls, it is still determined to resist efforts by the Kurdish Regional Government of northern Iraq and its peshmerga militias to annex parts of Ninawa like Sinjar, Rabi’ah and the Ninawa plain. “We have future plans to anticipate events and preempt any attempt to tear up the governate of Ninawa, which will have to be over our dead bodies…”