On Monday, we looked at the case of al-Miskin al-Muhajir/asdasd99, who finally made his way to Afghanistan. Miskin had hoped to go to Iraq in April with a group from Kuwait, but unnamed obstacles stood in his way. We don’t yet know the fate of Miskin, but we do know what happened to this earlier group.
The story begins with Abu `Umar Badr al-Harbi, 36, from Kuwait. According to a friend of his, al-Furqan al-Junubi, Harbi was the oldest of his brothers and very close to his mother. He became “committed to the path (of jihad)” at the age of 14.
During his military service in Kuwait, Harbi met his best friend, al-Bawasil. Bawasil was at the beginning of his commitment to jihad when 9/11 happened. Both men rejoiced at the attack and were impressed that someone had been able to strike so deep inside the U.S.
One day, Harbi came to Bawasil and convinced him of the duty to undertake jihad. By 2004, both men were encouraging others to also take up arms. Many people said they were being foolish or accused them of being spies; others said there was no permanent jihad or banner to fight under.
In 2005, Harbi and Bawasil met the followers of Shaykh `Amir Khalif, the co-leader of a militant network in Kuwait, but they didn’t get to meet him before he died.
Soon after meeting Khalif’s followers, they learned of a way to go to Afghanistan through Iran. Both men were worried that it was a trap. Bawasil went first to make sure the way was secure. After arriving safely, he spent two weeks in Afghanistan with the mujahids before returning to Kuwait.
Upon Bawasil’s return, he told Harbi of the glories that awaited him on the front. The two then began preparing for to go to Afghanistan for a longer period of time. They trained themselves physically and psychologically, studied some Islamic legal subjects pertaining to their endeavors, and gathered money.
Together with their friend Abu Khalid al-Kuwaiti, Bawasil and Harbi went to Iran by airplane and then made their way to Afghanistian. They stayed there three months training and guarding the front line.
While there, Abu Layth al-Libi (a high-ranking, now-deceased al-Qaeda member) entrusted them with a special mission in Kuwait. The mission was so secret that not even Abu Nasir al-Qahtani, another high-ranking AQ member, knew of it and was puzzled when the men refused his request for them to stay.
Harbi and Bawasil tried to return to Kuwait via Iran, but Iranian security forces imprisoned them for several days because they had lost their passports. They were finally released and returned to Kuwait, but the Kuwaiti security forces imprisoned them for twelve days, tortured them, and took their passports.
To be continued…..
In part 3 we’ll look at Harbi and Bawasil’s special mission and their preparations for another trip to the front. Some of the details already sound familiar if you’re read up on the foreign fighter literature. What stands out to me is the role that Iran plays as a transit point between Kuwait and Afghanistan. A few days ago, I noted that the Saudis are claiming that a Jihadi in Iran is directing a large network of militants in the Kingdom. By itself, this doesn’t mean much given the source. But here we have an insider remarking that Iran is a transit point for Jihadis going to fight in Afghanistan. That’s worrying.
There’s been a lot of talk about Syria’s role as a transit point, but it’s still unclear from the open source materials if it’s ignorance, benign neglect, or something more sinister. It looks like Iran presents the same puzzle.