055 Brigade

055 Brigade

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The 055 Brigade was an elite guerrilla organization sponsored and trained by Al Qaeda that was integrated into the Taliban army between 1995 and 2001. It comprised mostly foreign guerrilla fighters (Mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

) from the Middle-East, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and South-East Asia who had some form of combat experience, either fighting the Soviet invasion during the 1980s or elsewhere.

They were equipped with weapons left behind by the Soviets, as well as those provided by the Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

ese and Taliban governments. The Brigade was also the beneficiary of Al Qaeda's worldwide network of procurement officers who obtained sophisticated equipment including satellite phone
Satellite phone
A satellite telephone, satellite phone, or satphone is a type of mobile phone that connects to orbiting satellites instead of terrestrial cell sites...

s, night vision
Night vision
Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range...

 goggles, and even airplanes.

Reports from Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine indicate that members of the 055 Brigade were often deployed in smaller groups to help reinforce regular Afghan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 members of Taliban. This was often achieved via threats or intimidation designed to enforce discipline and a commitment to the mujahedin philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

.

Estimates on the strength of the 055 Brigade vary, however it is generally believed that at its peak it comprised somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 personnel. The 055 Brigade suffered heavy losses during the 2001 war in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 and many were captured by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Those that survived retreated with Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 to the Afghanistan-Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 border area where they regrouped with the intention of waging a protracted campaign.

According to Joint Task Force Guantanamo
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
Joint Task Force Guantanamo is a U.S. military joint task force based at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba on the southeastern end of the island. JTF-GTMO falls under US Southern Command...

 counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 analysts the brigade was a unit of foreign fighters in Afghanistan under the command of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

.
JTF-GTMO analysts said that, under bin Laden's command, the 55th Arab Brigade was integrated into the Taliban's military.

A Summary of Evidence memo
Summary of Evidence (ARB)
Counter-terrorism analysts prepared a Summary of Evidence memo for the Administrative Review Board hearings of approximately 460 captives in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba from December 2004 to December 2005.-Release of the memos:...

 prepared for Guantanamo captive
Said Ibrahim Ramzi Al Zahrani
Said Ibrahim Ramzi Al Zahrani
Said Ibrahim Ramzi Al Zahraniis a citizen of Saudi Arabia who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 204....

's first annual
Administrative Review Board,
on 14 October 2005 stated:
  • The detainee spent two days at the Muaz house in Kabul
    Kabul
    Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

     and then took a truck to the front lines. He was given a Kalashnikov
    AK-47
    The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

      with four magazines and two hand grenade
    Hand grenade
    A hand grenade is any small bomb that can be thrown by hand. Hand grenades are classified into three categories, explosive grenades, chemical and gas grenades. Explosive grenades are the most commonly used in modern warfare, and are designed to detonate after impact or after a set amount of time...

    s. The detainee then was sent to a bunker facing the Northern Alliance in a position called the Bilal Position.
  • The Bilal unit is part of the 55th Arab Brigade.
  • The al Qaida Force, or 55th Arab Brigade, is Usama bin Laden's primary formation supporting Taliban objectives. Information indicates that the ideology of those in the 55th Arab Brigade includes willingness to give their lives for tactical objectives as declared by Usama bin Laden and the Taliban.


According to the 2005 "Warlords Rising: Confronting Violent Non-State Actors" the 55th Arab Brigade was a mechanized unit.

According to the Long War Journal, the 055 Brigade has been reestablished as part of the Taliban's Lashkar al Zil or 'Shadow Army.'

See also

  • Afghan Arabs
    Afghan Arabs
    Afghan Arabs were Arab and other Muslim Islamist mujahideen who came to Afghanistan during and following the Soviet-Afghan War to help fellow Muslims fight Soviets and pro-Soviet Afghans....

  • Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya
    Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya
    The Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya is an international unit of Islamist Mujahideen fighting in Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus....

  • Pan-Islamism
    Pan-Islamism
    Pan-Islamism is a political movement advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic state — often a Caliphate. As a form of religious nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary...



Yugoslav wars:
  • Bosnian mujahideen
    Bosnian mujahideen
    Bosnian mujahideen were foreign Muslim volunteers who fought on the side of Bosnian Muslims during the 1992–1995 Bosnian war. They arrived in Bosnia with the aim of fighting for Islam and on behalf of Muslims who were at the time brutally attacked by Serbs and Croats in different parts of the...


External links