The biography lauds Mullah Mansur's "jihadi acumen," describing him as a pious and visionary warrior who is "naturally bequeathed with unique leading and guiding capabilities."
It says his biggest achievement was reviving Afghanistan's air force and airports as the civil aviation minister during the Taliban's largely unrecognized 1996-2001 regime. The biography is also scattered with details about his purported lifestyle, claiming that "he likes and wears loose, neat, and clean clothes...dislikes and avoids extravagance." It adds that he "speaks less and tries to listen more to other people." The biography gives details of Mullah Mansur's life, from his birth in Kandahar in 1968 to his early studies, which were interrupted by the Soviet invasion in 1979. The document says he is a capable military leader who was twice wounded in combat fighting the leftist Afghan government and Soviet forces. After the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, Mullah Mansur was the shadow governor of Kandahar, according to the document. The biography makes no mention of a key period at the center of an assertion made by Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum the same day as the Taliban document's release. Dostum, a long-time warlord, claimed on August 31 that his forces turned Mullah Mansur into their spy after his capture in northern Afghanistan in 2001. “The same Mansur was our spy, he was giving information to us," Dostum was quoted as saying by Pajhwok news agency, adding quizzically, "And now he is leading the Taliban?" Dostum's spokesman summarized the vice president's remarks in a subsequent tweet: The biography adds that Mullah Mansur was appointed deputy Taliban leader after Mullah Obaidullah and Mullah Baradar, the first and second deputies of the group, were killed and detained by Pakistan, respectively.
Quell Internal Rifts
Observers call the biography an attempt to shore up Mullah Mansur's position and consolidate his power while quelling growing infighting over his appointment. His selection has been contested by senior members of the group, including the son and brother of late leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Mullah Mansur was named as new chief last month after the Afghan government revealed that Mullah Omar had died in 2013, which the Taliban confirmed in the biography. The biography described Mullah Mansur as being appointed "in full compliance with Islamic Shari'a law," making him "totally legitimate." The document even says Mullah Mansur "never nominated himself for leadership. Rather he was selected as the only candidate and by the members of the leading council of the Islamic Emirate [the official name of the Taliban movement] and religious scholars." Hundreds of Taliban fighters, including battlefield commanders, are meeting in the Pakistani city of Quetta in an effort to resolve the leadership dispute.
Like Mullah Omar, Mullah Mansur has shunned public appearances. The few pictures believed to be of him show a middle-aged man with the dark beard and turban that essentially serve as the uniform for senior Taliban cadres. He was a relatively minor figure in the Taliban but rose to prominence after the demise of senior leaders. Mullah Mansur, who has been effectively running the insurgency for the past three years, appears pragmatic and moderate compared to Mullah Omar. He is believed to be a proponent of peace talks with the Afghan government and is seen as close to Pakistan, which is thought by many to be sheltering and supporting the militant leadership despite its denials.
Taliban fighters have stormed a prison in the central Afghan city of Ghazni, killing police officers and releasing many prisoners, police officials said on the 14 Sep 15. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack. Around 0230 hrs six Taliban insurgents wearing military uniforms attacked Ghazni prison. First they detonated a car bomb in front of the gate, fired an RPG and then raided the prison. At least four police guards were killed and seven others were wounded, and that three Taliban fighters were also killed in the early morning battle. The interior ministry said 355 of the prison's 436 inmates escaped. Most were charged with crimes against national security and other criminal offences. The jail was under Taliban control for a period of time.
Japan/Islamic State – Tokyo has ordered all diplomatic offices abroad to beef up security after the Islamic State militant group called on its supporters to attack Japanese missions in Indonesia, Malaysia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on the 11 Sep 15. The militant group issued the message in the latest edition of Dabiq, its English-language magazine whose copies are circulated over the Internet. Japanese expats in the three countries are also urged to be conscious about their safety, Suga added. “We are aware that such an article has been carried (in the magazine). We are cooperating with host countries to guard the overseas government offices,” Suga said. After the militant group killed two Japanese hostages earlier this year, the magazine published photos of the victims, 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa and 47-year-old Kenji Goto. The magazine said the group executed the two to “humiliate the arrogance of this Japanese government,” and accused Japan of having been a player in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 361 COMMENT: As usual this accusation by the terrorist group is ridiculous as Japan has never sent any of its military to support military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were military personnel in the south of Iraq but employed purely on a humanitarian operation and poured numerous dollars into projects to help the Iraqi people. COMMENT ENDS
Maldives/Islamic State – In an ISIS video released on 31 Aug 15 on social media, three masked men threatened to kill the president of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, and to unleash a terrorist campaign on the islands, one of the world's most sought-after holiday destinations. The group are demanding the release of opposition leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who was arrested in May 15 following anti-government protests. So far the video's authenticity remains unconfirmed. Abdulla was accused by the government of inciting violence among protesters, who were demanding the resignation of the president over the imprisonment of former president Mohamed Nasheed and other political leaders. Abdulla aimed to overthrow the government and "called for clashes with the police if necessary," according to reports in the Guardian newspaper. In the video the men threatening to bomb resorts. The threat of terrorism could seriously undermine the country's tourism industry, which would be disastrous for the local economy. The Maldives in the Indian Ocean is sold has a holiday paradise to the world's wealthy. Famous for its pristine, palm-fringed beaches and warm, azure waters, it is a top destination for luxury, long-haul tourism but that could soon change in the event of attacks, in the same way as Tunisia has been targeted by Islamic militants. This could be a hammer blow to the islands' economy that is heavily dependent on tourism, which accounts for 28% of the economy and more than 60% of foreign exchange. All of the island's infrastructure development is led by tourism revenues. The video is the latest and most high profile action by Isis on the archipelago's 1,200 atolls, but Islamists have been active here for some time and many jihadis have left to fight in Syria. It is estimated that between 50 and 100 of the country's 300,000 strong citizens have so far left to pursue jihad. The threat of terrorism is not solely a domestic issue. The first departures of Maldivians to Syria were reported in 2013 and so far at least five citizens have been killed there. There are fears that they could travel further afield; several countries, including the UK, do not require entry visas from Maldives residents. "There are serious concerns," said one western diplomat in the region. "The risk is either of an attack locally or someone coming to Europe or even going on to the US." Democratic elections in 2008 ended three decades of autocratic rule, but have brought political instability in their wake. The World Bank has blamed the ease with which criminal gangs have recruited young Maldivians on "inactivity and apathy, unemployment, drug use and "the need for young men to prove their masculinity." Violent attacks on so-called secular activists in the Maldives have been blamed on radicalised gang members. One blogger was badly injured in 2012 and a moderate cleric and parliamentarian stabbed to death outside his home. Gang members last year threatened local activists who ran blogs and Facebook pages calling for tolerance for homosexuals, and in Aug 14 local journalist Rilwan Ahmed Abdulla was abducted and has not been seen since. "Ahmed's abduction was related to this radicalisation of the gangs. He was exposing and angering them. First they threatened him, then they disappeared him," said Rilwan Moosa, brother of the journalist. Moosa believes people in the west should pay more attention to local troubles. "This place is more dangerous than they think. It is becoming highly radicalised. This is not a paradise on Earth any more," he said.
Pakistan/Islamic State – Pakistan militants who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State said on the 13 Sep 15 they had attacked a paramilitary checkpoint along the Afghan border, in the first such assault claimed by a former faction of the Taliban in several months. A militant affiliated with the faction told Reuters the group attacked Damadola district of the Bajaur tribal area in Pakistan's northwest, where the military has been battling a militant insurgency since 2007, late on the 12 Sep 15. "Our men destroyed the post, set it on fire and left it after our operation was complete," he said by telephone. Two Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed a checkpoint had been attacked, but there were no casualties. The Pakistani government says that Islamic State does not have a credible presence in the country. Several smaller militant groups and factions of the Pakistani Taliban have, however, pledged allegiance to Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi since 2014. So far, Islamic State has not formally accepted any of those pledges, nor has its central leadership claimed responsibility for any attacks carried out in Pakistan.
Russia/Caucasus – The Islamic State’s so-called “province” in the Caucasus region has claimed responsibility for its first official attack since it was established earlier this year. In a statement released online (seen above), and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, the group says “the soldiers of the Caliphate were able to mount an attack on barracks of the Russian army in southern Dagestan, in Magharamakint village.” The raid allegedly “led to the killing and wounding of a number of them.” Afterwards, “the soldiers of the Caliphate returned to their positions safely and with spoils, and unto Allah is all praise and gratitude,” SITE’s translation reads. The Islamic State announced its Caucasus branch in Jun 15, but the jihadists had not claimed responsibility for any attacks since then. In an audio message released on 23 Jun 15 the Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, accepted the bayat (oath of allegiance) from jihadists who defected from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Caucasus Emirate (ICE). Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the “Emir of the Faithful,” has “accepted your bayat and has appointed the noble sheikh Abu Muhammad al Qadarī as Wali [or governor] over [the Caucasus],” Adnani said at the time. He continued by calling for all the mujahideen in the Caucasus “to join” al Qadari’s “caravan and to hear and obey him in everything except sin.” It appears that Qadari is Rustam Asilderov, an ICE leader in Dagestan who defected to the Islamic State late last year. One of Asilderov’s known aliases is very similar to “Abu Muhammad al Qadari,” the same name used by Adnani. Al Qaeda and ICE have tried to stem the tide of defections to the Islamic State. But the loss of three leaders in just over a year and a half has destabilized ICE’s operations and likely contributed to the Islamic State’s gains in the region. Russian forces killed ICE’s emir, Magomed Suleimanov (also known as Abu Usman Gimrinsky), in Aug 15. Suleimanov was publicly identified as ICE’s new leader just weeks earlier. Also killed in the raid was the jihadist selected to lead ICE’s Dagestan “province” after Asilderov’s defection. Suleimanov had succeeded Aliaskhab Kebekov, more commonly known as Ali Abu Muhammad al Dagestani, who was killed by Russian forces in April. Kebekov rose to ICE’s top leadership position after his predecessor, Doku Umarov, perished sometime in either late 2013 or early 2014. Today’s (2 Sep 15) claim of responsibility by the Islamic State’s Caucasus arm is formatted in the same fashion as other statements by the “caliphate’s” declared “provinces.” The consistent branding demonstrates that the Islamic State’s propaganda machine is coordinating information across multiple countries where the jihadists are fighting.
Thailand – Thailand’s police chief has linked the Bangkok shrine bomb to Chinese Uighur Muslims for the first time, but insisted the atrocity was a revenge attack by a criminal gang rather than terrorism it was reported on the 15 Sep 15. Somyot Pumpanmuang blamed last month's deadly bombing on a people smuggling network that trafficked Uighurs and was angered by Thailand's recent crackdown on their trade. He ruled out Thailand's controversial forced deportation in July of 109 Uighur men to China, despite criticism that Uighurs faced persecution in the country, as a possible motive for the attack. Thai junta officials have been at pains to avoid mentioning a possible Uighur connection – or any link to terrorism – to avoid frictions with their Chinese allies and to protect the lucrative tourism business. But a series of arrests and breakthroughs have pointed strongly to a link to the Uighurs and to Turkey. The Uighurs are an ethnic Turkic people living in China’s restive western Xinjiang province and have militant support in extreme Turkish nationalist circles. In the latest development, the lawyer for one of two foreign suspects detained in Thailand confirmed that his client was a Chinese Uighur. The other man in custody was carrying a Chinese passport issued in Xinjiang.
Turkey/Da’esh – A Turkish soldier who went missing the first week of the reporting period on the border with Syrian territory controlled by ISIS has been seen in a hospital run by the militants, Hurriyet newspaper reported on the 5 Sep 15. If confirmed, the soldier's capture would be a major problem for Turkey, after it stepped up military action against ISIS in Jul 15, opening its air bases to U.S.-led coalition war planes and launching air strikes. The soldier vanished and another was killed in cross-border shooting with ISIS fighters on the 1 Sep 15 near the Turkish town of Kilis, close to Syrian territory that has been under ISIS control for months. According to security sources citing intelligence reports, Hurriyet Daily News reported that the soldier had been wounded in the foot and was taken by militants to a hospital under their control close to the Syrian city of Aleppo. Turkish officials declined to comment.