Death of AQIS-linked Commander Abdul Jabbar: Another Blow to al-Qaeda in Pakistan

Publication: Militant Leadership Monitor Volume: 10 Issue: 12

Recent comments in jihadist publications in Pakistan and Afghanistan suggest there is animosity among jihadist groups over the death of Qari Abdul Jabbar in July. His body was found in the Rakkan area of the Barakhan district of Pakistan’s Baluchistan. Qari Jabbar was prominent in the Pakistani jihadist landscape since his break from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in 2002 and the subsequent founding of his own Islamist terrorist group, Jamaat ul Furqaan (JUF), and for perpetrating a number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The exact nature of his death is unknown, but jihadist groups have claimed that he was killed in the custody of Pakistani security forces. However, that has not been verified. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the local chapter of the terrorist group, issued a statement on August 1 condemning the killing of commander Qari Jabbar and blaming it on Pakistani security forces (Jihadology, August 4).

Who was Jabbar?

Abdul Jabbar, son of Ghulam Mohmmad, was born in Sahiwal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province in 1972. Jabbar received his early education from a local madrasah in the Sahiwal district and later joined several different jihadist organizations. Abdul Jabbar began his jihadist career with Harkat ul Mujahdeen (HuM), an Islamist terrorist group involved in the insurgency in Indian Kashmir during 1990s. [1] Later, in 2000, he joined JeM, led by Masood Azhar, and became his right-hand man. The JeM is a splinter group of HuM, and Masood was HuM’s secretary general. In a video uploaded to YouTube in July, the jihadist media group All Star Info eulogized Jabbar for his efforts to promote jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan alongside the Afghan Taliban. Jabbar remained close to other jihadist organizations, with his funeral being led by Fazal ur Rehman Khalil, the emir of HuM, who was a close confidant of Osama bin Laden. [2] Maulana Abdul Aziz, the notorious Islamist radical leader of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, also issued a statement describing Jabbar’s death as a loss (YouTube, July 3).

Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, Jabbar parted ways with Masood after policy differences arose over Pakistan’s assistance to U.S. efforts and the conutry’s abandonment of the Afghan Taliban. He established his own organization, JUF, in 2002 along with Abdul Shah Mazhar, another JeM commander. Both JeM and JUF were banned by the Pakistani ministry of interior in 2002 after the December 13 Indian Parliament attack that escalated tensions between the two countries. Jabbar was later arrested after investigations revealed that JUF terrorists were involved in the 2003 assassination attempt of then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, September, 2013). Jabbar was released in 2004 and went into hiding. Later he surfaced and joined the Maulana Sami ul Haq-led Pakistan Defense Council, an alliance of pro-jihadist political parties involved in staging demonstrations and protests against the country’s alliance with the United States.

Later Years

JeM, similar to its predecessor organizations, splintered into several militant groups, mostly named after former high-ranking JeM operatives. These included the Abdul Jabbar group, the Gul Hassan group and the Asmatullah Mauviya group. These three main commanders of JeM, along with Abdul Shah Mazhar, had rebelled against Masood Azhar’s acquiescence to state policy. Mauviya later reconciled, while Jabbar only partly reconciled and did not agree to the demands of the JeM high command. After his first arrest following the assassination attempt on Musharaff and his subsequent release, Jabbar remained in contact with the leaders of the Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-r-Jhangvi and Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP). Another serious issue concerned his close relationship with al-Qaeda central and AQIS. Jabbar remained defiant on issues related to operations and terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Sources believed he was in close contact with AQIS and played some tacit role in the group’s terrorist activities in Pakistan. However, his alleged links with Islamic State-Khorasan were never confirmed. [3] He was a frequent visitor to Pakistan’s tribal areas and remained in contact with foreign jihadists – another issue that placed him at odds with Pakistani law enforcement and security forces. He also founded the group Tehreek-e-Ghalba-e-Islam.


Jabbar was a shadowy character on the jihadist landscape of Pakistan. For years, his footprints were found in major terrorist attacks in Pakistan, but his involvement could not be proven. He was considered suspicious because of his links with a variety of terrorist organizations, ranging from Islamist Kashmiris to the sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, to al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. He was one of those first jihadist commanders to turn against the Pakistani state, but he later reconciled several times before finally being killed. For a number of years, he managed to portray the image of a jihadist who had reconciled with the Pakistani authorities and could convince TTP and other hostile groups to do the same. However, this was never the case. The condolence message that AQIS issued upon his death showcased his close relationship with al-Qaeda. Jihadist circles have mourned his death, indicating that there could be a future backlash. For this reason, Pakistan will need to maintain a higher level of security.


[1] Discussions with a senior Islamabad-based journalist on December 15.

[2] Fazal ur Rehman Khalil was also the co-signatory of the Fatwa against Jews and Crusaders in Afghanistan by Bin Laden in 1998.

[3] Discussions with Islamabad-based senior security analyst Mohammad Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, on December 20.