September 21, 2020

Bureau Report


PESHAWAR

A high-level meeting of banned outfits with a history of targeting Pakistan took place in the first half of September. According to a circular issued by the office of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police (IGP), dated September 16, high level commanders of the former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA) met in the Afghan province of Kunar, where they vowed to work together to plan and execute attacks inside Pakistani territory. The circular was made available for the media on September 21.

According to other details provided by the circular, the meeting was headed by TTP Ameer Mufti Noor Wali, a UN designated terrorist. Several lower-ranked militants were also present at the meeting. The militants announced a complete plan of action for their upcoming offensive on Pakistani soil.

In addition to targeting government officials and other pro-government stakeholders, the militants have also issued a list of some politicians they will be aiming at. Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a senior member of the Awami National Party (ANP), and Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, former president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Bajaur, were particularly singled out in the report. Moreover, the group pledged to target kill any tribal chief or leader who went against them.

During the meeting, the terrorists also chalked out plans to extort money from the businessmen of the area to finance their operations.

Copies of the circular were dispatched to police units in Mardan, Malakand, Mohmand, and Charsadda. Police have raised the threat alert in the areas mentioned in the report and have tightened the security of all important personnel in the area.

Before this meeting, on August 17, TTP posted a video on their official website, OmarTv, boasting of a merger between these radical groups. In the video Umar Khalid Khurasani, Ameer of Jamat-ul-Ahrar, and Ammer Umar Khurasani, Ameer of Hizb-ul-Ahrar could be seen pledging allegiance to Mufti Noor Wali. The two leaders also formally announced the dissolution of their respective organizations.

The groups also called upon other splinter factions of the Taliban to join them under the unified umbrella of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

The Split

After the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in 2014, TTP broke up into several smaller fighting factions. Sources reveal that after Hakimullah was killed, it was the infighting along tribal lines and struggles for control over the group which intensified leading to several splits in the organization.

In 2014 a group under the leadership of Qasim Khurasani broke away from the TTP and announced the formation of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA). Later another group under the leadership of Umar Khalid Khurasani broke away from the JuA, stating disagreements over policy and strategy, and formed the Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA).

Sources reveal that several high ranking Mehsud commanders refused to work under a leadership that was not from the Mehsud tribe. But after continued pressure from a sustained offensive by the Pakistan army the groups have come together to pool in their resources.

The recent merger of these groups has raised alarm in Pakistan where police officials worry that the merger may lead to a further deterioration in the law and order situation of the area.

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