Things Are Never How They Seem In Pakistan

Is Hakeemullah ‘losing control’ of Pakistani Taliban?

By Bill Roggio

This report from The Express Tribune claims that Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, is “isolated” and “losing control” of the terror group. The reasons given are as follows:

While it is tempting to fall for such an optimistic report, if the recent past is any indication, then the report is wrong. First, there are some factual errors and problems with the report. As noted here, Fazal Saeed Utezai is not the overall leader of the Taliban in Kurram. Maulvi Noor Jamal, who is also known as Maulvi Toofan, leads the Taliban in Kurram. Fazal’s influence is clearly being inflated (by Fazal and his brother, who appear to be the primary drivers of the story). A week ago, Fazal commanded a couple of hundred fighters. Now, today, he commands more than a thousand.

Second, infighting between Taliban groups and the assassination of leaders is not at all uncommon. The fighting between the groups in Khyber and Arakzai mentioned in the article is commonplace in the tribal areas. With little effort, you can find instances of infighting within the Pakistani Taliban, even when it was at its height in power during the Swat takeover in 2008-2009. Hakeemullah’s forces have butted heads with Mullah Nazir’s troops in the past, but both still work together (Nazir shelters Hakeemullah’s forces as well as al Qaeda’s). The same goes for intra-Taliban assassinations. These actions are the outcome of the Taliban’s version of power politics.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, defections by Taliban groups from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan are also nothing new. For the perfect example of this, look no further than the now-defunct Abdullah Mehsud Group. This Taliban subgroup, which was based in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank, was part of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (which at the time was led by Baitullah Mehsud) before it defected during the summer of 2009 and sought the support of the Pakistani military. The media gleefully held up the Abdullah Mehsud Group as a viable alternative to the Taliban; it was portrayed as a tribal resistance force akin to Iraq’s Awakening movement. And the power, influence, and size of the Abdullah Mehsud Group was also exaggerated (at one point, the media claimed the group had 3,000 fighters, when in fact it had several hundred).

But it was all downhill from there. On June 23, 2009, Zainuddin Mehsud, the leader of the Abdullah Mehsud Group, was assassinated. His brother Misabhuddin took control but was quickly ousted by Ikhlas Khan Mehsud, who was then replaced by Turkistan Bhittani. Bhittani’s forces were routed in large clashes with Baitullah, even though Bhittani received artillery and other support from the Pakistani military. In September 2009, Bhittani was disarmed by the military and went into hiding. The Abdullah Mehsud Group quickly faded from the scene.

Ironically enough, the Abdullah Mehsud Group was held up by the media as an “anti-Taliban” group, when it was anything but. This notion was supported by the Pakistani military, despite the fact that the leaders of the Abdullah Mehsud Group vowed to conduct attacks in Afghanistan and swore fealty to Mullah Omar, the leader of the overall Taliban movement. So, in fact, the Pakistani military attempted to bring the Abdullah Mehsud Group back into its fold, by making it “good Taliban.”

And that is very likely what is happening with Fazal Saeed Utezai’s faction in Kurram (note that Fazal said he still wants to kill NATO forces in Afghanistan and impose Sharia there and in Pakistan, he just opposes suicide attacks against Pakistani civilians and the military). Now Fazal’s group may not meet the same fate as the Abdullah Mehsud Group, and his defection from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan may weaken it, but it won’t weaken the overall Taliban movement.

What you are witnessing is a very cynical game by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment to get wayward Taliban groups back into the fold.

Withdrawing Troops To Be Replaced By Special Forces

[The replacement will be based on the following ratio:  “16 special operations personnel are considered to be worth the equivalent of 100 conventional troops.]

‘Mini-surge’ of U.S. Special Forces to hit Afghanistan

U.S. military leaders are working to replace some of the exiting American conventional forces from Afghanistan with a “mini-surge” of U.S. Special Forces, a measure to soothe commanders’ fears that the withdrawal of troops might put at risk military gains, according to the Times out of Australia.

Military sources told The Times that 16 special operations personnel are considered to be worth the equivalent of 100 conventional troops.

In June, President Obama announced plans towithdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. The remainder of the surge troops, about 23,000, would be withdrawn in 2012, leaving about 70,000 troops in Afghanistan until 2014.

Defense analysts have said of late that the reduction of conventional troops likely will place a heavier burden on clandestine units, such as SEALs, and Army Rangers and Green Berets.

The Times reports there are more than 7,000 U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and about 3,000 in Iraq, with many of the latter expected to be moved to Afghanistan.

Is Kurram Offensive Just Another Soap Opera?

[Once again, the Pak. Army proves the level at which it has been compromised by Imperial interests.  If Kayani and friends were not obsessed with impressing upon American leaders the depth of their struggle in this war, then they would not bother with all of this elaborate play-acting.  If this had been a real mission to eliminate the TTP in Kurram, then the public would be unaware of it before it actually began.  It would not have been announced ahead of time and encirclement of Kurram would have preceded any eradication operation (SEE:  The CIA/ISI Soap Opera In South Waziristan).  How many innocent Pakistani tribesmen have perished as the price for these theatrical productions?  There has never been a real tribal military campaign in Pakistan’s recent history, despite the fact that thousands of soldiers have died in firefights with militants/miscreants since entering the Tribal Region.  From the beginning with Nek Mohammed, to Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban have served as a fierce acting troop, putting on shows to entertain their Imperial overlords.  The fighting goes on long enough to give the impression that it is genuine war, then another peace deal is struck.  A lot is made in the Western press about Pak Army support for the Afghan Taliban, but nary a word is said in speculation that Pakistan might support the TTP, as well.  This goes to show just how effective Pakistan’s “psywar” has been, up to this point.  Will this latest act in Kurram fool Obama?

Will Obama be willing to accept this pseudo-offensive in Kurram in place of the real thing in North Waziristan?]

Forces enter militant strongholds in Kurram

PARACHINAR/PESHAWAR: Security forces on Monday entered three main strongholds of militants in Kurram Agency and hoisted the national flag on government buildings, which the Taliban fighters had occupied four years ago.Pakistan Army spokesman and Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Athar Abbas said the military operation in Kurram Agency had been launched formally on the demand of local people.

“The operation has been launched to clear the area of terrorists involved in acts of terrorism, including kidnapping and killing of local people, suicide attacks and blocking the road that connects Lower Kurram with Upper Kurram,” he said. Meanwhile, security officials and tribal sources said security forces had entered the areas considered to be strongholds of the militants. They said most of the government buildings had been reclaimed.

According to officials, the militants affiliated with Hakimullah Mahsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had captured all government installations, including schools and health centres in the area, for use for accommodation and training of fighters. Villagers said the militants had set up private prisons there to hold those kidnapped from other parts of the country.

The military sources said security forces did not face any resistance during their movement towards the difficult terrain in the mountains where the militants had set up sanctuaries.

The troops had secured the control of Gowaki, Dombaki and Manato areas in central Kurram, which are close to Orakzai Agency where security forces have been fighting against the militants for the last few years. Many villagers said the militants escaped to the neighbouring Orakzai and Khyber tribal region before security forces could launch the military operation,

The villagers said it was for the first time during the past four years that Pakistani troops reached parts of central Kurram and restored the writ of the state. “After taking control of these areas, the troops first hoisted the national flag on government buildings. It was for the first time Pakistani flags were seen flying on government buildings there,” said an official.

Pleading anonymity, the official said the Taliban were not against the Pakistani flag, but they didn’t allow government functionaries to serve there after occupying all government installations there. “For more than three years, there was no physical presence of the government in most parts of central Kurram. The government had left the people at the mercy of militants,” he added. The displaced villagers, who reached Sadda town in lower Kurram where the government had set up a camp for the uprooted families, said they had heard long-range artillery guns firing shells towards the remote mountainous areas of central Kurram where the militants were reportedly hiding.

Also, gunship helicopters were seen flying towards the area and pounding suspected positions of militants. There was, however, no word about the losses suffered by the militants during the two days of operation. Government officials said the military operation had forced 4,000 tribal families to flee their homes for relatively safer places in Sadda.

200 German Leopard Tanks Going To the Heartland of “Al-Qaeda”?

[This deal should serve to exacerbate anti-war sentiments in Germany.]

Berlin ‘Playing With Fire’ in Saudi Tank Deal

Everyone wants one: A Leopard 2 battle tank during exercises.

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Everyone wants one: A Leopard 2 battle tank during exercises.

The German government’s approval of the sale of “Leopard” tanks to Saudi Arabia has outraged opposition parties in Berlin, and the ruling conservatives aren’t happy about it either. Commentators say the deal undermines principles of German foreign policy and could exacerbate the crisis in the Arab region.

Info

German opposition parties are running riot against the government’s reported decision to allow the sale of up to 200 of the most modern “Leopard” battle tanks to Saudi Arabia.

The co-leader of the Green Party, Claudia Roth, said the decision, first reported in SPIEGEL, was a “blatant” breach of German guidelines banning the export of weapons to states in crisis regions and with questionable human rights records. She said Saudi Arabia flouted democracy and human rights, supported terrorism and had helped to crush recent anti-government protests in Bahrain.

Andrea Nahles, the general secretary of the center-left Social Democrats, said supplying battle tanks to Saudi Arabia flew in the face of the government’s pledge to pursue a value-oriented foreign policy. The head of the Left Party, Klaus Ernst, said the government was operating under the motto: “The most deadly tanks for the worst oppressors.”

More worrying for Chancellor Angela Merkel, the move has also been criticized by members of her own party, the conservative Christian Democrats. Reuters reported that a majority of the leadership of the party’s parliamentary group had argued against such a deal at a meeting on Monday evening.

The senior conservatives had included the chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, Ruprecht Polenz, and the president of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert. They mainly cited human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia. According to Reuters, Lammert had argued that Saudi forces used tanks to quell unrest in Bahrain just a few weeks ago.

So far, the government has declined to confirm the export approval, taken by the government’s security council last week. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday the decision was subject to the “usual and necessary secrecy” regarded export approvals.

For decades, Germany has refused to sell battle tanks to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states because of its historical obligation towards Israel and its policy of prohibiting the sale of weapons to crisis regions.

So far, Israel has made no public comment on the deal, suggesting that it has no fundamental objections, German commentators say.

Most editorials in the German media are critical of the deal on Tuesday, but some point out that a supply of powerful battle tanks may help Saudi Arabia preserve a balance of power with Iran, which is pushing for dominance in the region. But commentators also concede that if Iran gets hold of nuclear weapons, even the most formidable battle tanks in the Saudi arsenal will prove irrelevant.

Conservative Die Welt writes:

“Of course it’s not the best time for a large tank deal with Saudi Arabia given theArab rebellion. After all, Riyadh is one of the worst suppressive regimes in the region and has been helping to crush the uprising in Bahrain. But the outrage among opposition parties in Berlin is a little short-sighted. After all, Leopard 2 tanks are pretty unsuited to fighting rebels, unless one is trying to destroy whole cities like Moammar Gadhafi. Besides, Riyadh needs the tanks for quite a different reason: to counter Iran’s attempts at domination in the Gulf region.

“For years Germany and its allies tried in vain to stop the Iranians from trying to build a nuclear bomb. Now that an Iranian bomb is becoming increasingly likely, a rearming of Saudi Arabia is only logical to prevent the balance of power in the Gulf from completely tipping in Tehran’s favor.”

“Last week, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal made clear that Saudi Arabia would seek a nuclear option if Tehran had one. It will only be possible to prevent such a nuclear arms race if one helps the Saudis to place a weighty deterrent on the scales in terms of conventional weapons.”

Left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:

“The German government’s actions in the tank deal with Saudi Arabia are pitiful. The same foreign minister who refused to back a UN mandate (German abstained in the UN Security Council on establishing a no-fly zone over Libya in March) because he was against removing Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi by force has now silently voted in favor of selling 200 Leopard 2 battle tanks to Saudi Arabia.”

“The guidelines of the German government on arms exports are threefold: the export of weapons is to be undertaken restrictively; it must not go to crisis regions and must not be aimed at boosting domestic employment.”

“Either Saudi Arabia is no longer in the crisis region of the Middle East under the German government’s definition, or Angela Merkel, Guido Westerwelle and Economics Minister Philipp Rösler no longer feel bound by these guidelines. Instead of openly standing by their decision, the center-right coalition government has fled into secrecy. Such a policy isn’t value-bound, it’s nefarious.”

Left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:

“The center-right government is operating geostrategically and in tandem with the United States. Chancellor Merkel mistrusts the Arab Spring as much as other Western leaders. The foreign policy and economic consequences of democratization in the Arab world — and especially of its failure — are too uncertain.”

“The supply of a fighting machine geared to waging assymetiric war against rebels and partistans follows the logic of arming Saudi Arabia in order to keep ‘evil’ Iran in check. But this is playing with fire because the absolutist monarchy is based on Salafism. This form of Islam is particularly intolerant — not just towards Shiites.”

— David Crossland

Russia will only benefit from Karabakh conflict resolution

Russia will only benefit from Karabakh conflict resolution

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Sahib Aliyev
News.Az interviews Sahib Aliyev, member of Milli Majlis, the parliament of Azerbaijan, and political expert.

How do you asses the outcome of the recent Kazan meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan mediated by Russian leader Dmitriy Medvedev? 

I did not feel optimistic about any significant results on the Karabakh conflict settlement in a Kazan meeting. Negative psychological moment around the participants of the meeting in Kazan played a role in absence of any tangible results in negotiations. One such reason was Russian State Duma’s ratification of the agreement with Armenia which extended stay of Russian military base in Armenia for a longer period and that surplus weapons and munitions from the base were donated to the Armenian side.

Of course, all this showed that Armenia would take a constructive position in the negotiations. Thus, Armenia once again benefited from the policy of maintaining a balance between the conflicting parties used by the Karabakh conflict mediators, including Russia itself. In other words, officially, mediators and Russia show the same approach both to the aggressor and to the side which is subject to aggression.

Russian media, quoting a diplomatic source close to the talks, reported that the Russian president is so disappointed with the outcome of the Kazan summit that he was ready to terminate his mediation mission. In this case, what might be the “destiny” of the negotiating process on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement?

As you know, the states acting as international mediators in the Karabakh conflict settlement, at one time or another, took the initiative and acted as moderator in solving this problem. Russia has acted as a moderator for the last three years. Judging by the Russian proverb that “a holy place is never empty,” we can assume that if Moscow departs from the active mediation in the Karabakh settlement, it can be replaced by another moderator from the OSCE Minsk Group member countries.

On the other hand, the Azerbaijani side, which is all the more impatient about continuation of the status quo in the Karabakh conflict, might not accept this. However, Russia has the most significant potential to solve the Karabakh conflict among the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

In the meantime, Russia also will be a party that will benefit from the solution of the Karabakh conflict to a greater extent. Only a superficial analysis might show that preservation of the Karabakh conflict in a frozen state meets Russia’s interests in the short term. But this state of affairs for the Russian side can continue until the first case of force majeure. I mean resumption of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Therefore, the option of a phased settlement of the Karabakh conflict meets interests of not only Azerbaijan but also Russia.

Russia will retain its influence in the South Caucasus region once Armenia withdraws forces from areas around Nagorno-Karabakh. Besides, Russia can get some dividends in exchange for providing such services. We should not forget that Azerbaijan has already given Russia certain signals about some dividends. Shortly before the meeting in Kazan Azerbaijan joined the Non-Aligned Movement making it clear for the Russian side that Baku will not consider NATO membership even in the long term.

Moreover, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev shortly before the meeting in Kazan said that Baku does not see a need to build an additional pipeline to transport its energy resources. However, as it is evident from statements by members of the Russian ruling elite, this country has no common approach towards the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. In other words, Russia’s political leadership initiates the meeting between Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, makes efforts to achieve progress in the negotiations, however, the military leadership of Russia makes statements in favor of the Armenian side.

Western countries openly support Georgia, and in some cases engage in confrontation with Russia because of Georgia. However, the same West agrees to and trusts Russia’s mediation in the Karabakh conflict settlement. What is the reason for such a dual approach of Western countries in relation to Azerbaijan and its problems?

In this context, one should emphasize the results this kind of support provided by the West had for Georgia. I mean the war in the Caucasus in 2008. West’s support for Georgia ended up in a complete loss of control over the country’s two regions. Also, Azerbaijan holds talks rather with countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group than with Armenia in Karabakh issue.

In other words, Azerbaijan’s diplomatic resources are directed not only against Armenia, but also to neutralize, and in some cases to attract OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries to its side. After all, it is clear that the co-chair countries, without diplomatic efforts from the Azerbaijani side, will have no interest in solving the Karabakh conflict. Since all three co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group are interested in preserving the status quo in the Karabakh conflict settlement.

In this respect, I want to emphasize the increased efforts by co-chairs lately. Looking at the current situation in the world, one can see absence of significant events that could change the international situation on the Karabakh issue. The fact that Azerbaijan becomes stronger makes international mediators step up efforts.

What impact the futile Kazan meeting can have on the Karabakh conflict settlement and the region as a whole?

Of course, the threat of war will remain on the agenda as long as the lands of Azerbaijan are under occupation especially if Baku constantly says that the threat of war resumption will continue.

However, the statements by the Azerbaijani President make it clear that there are still hopes for peaceful resolution of the conflict. So, we can say the potential for negotiations still exists.

Lala B.
News.Az

The Empire’s Nuclear Double-Cross of India

Reversing the logic of the nuclear deal

ANIL KAKODKAR

File photo of Tarapur atomic power station. The NSG waiver for India does not affect the commerce related to nuclear reactors and their fuel supplies, it appears to shut doors on commerce related to enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Photo: V.V.Krishnan    The Hindu

The recently reported decision of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) on additional restrictions for transfer of ENR (enrichment and reprocessing) technologies with adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) being a condition for transfer has caused huge unease in India. It negates the positive and forward-looking orientation with respect to ENR issues that was built into bilateral and multilateral agreements developed as a part of development of our international civil nuclear cooperation. The NSG waiver for India now seems to have been circumscribed. While this does not affect the commerce related to nuclear reactors and their fuel supplies and our rights to reprocess and recycle used fuel, it appears to shut doors on commerce related to enrichment and reprocessing technologies. The United States, Russia, and France have issued statements reiterating their adherence to understandings with India. One would only hope that this does not amount to doublespeak and the NSG waiver in respect of the NPT condition that was granted to India earlier remains undiluted in respect of ENR transfers as well. The statements of these countries are far from being explicit in this respect.

India is a responsible country with advanced nuclear technologies. Indian capability is comprehensive and covers the entire nuclear fuel cycle, including enrichment and reprocessing. Understandings embedded in our international civil nuclear cooperation arrangements are premised on sustained access to international commerce for facilities that we place under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. At some stage, we would set up reprocessing plants to reprocess used fuel arising from reactors under IAEA safeguards. Similarly, we could set up enrichment plants for enriching imported uranium under IAEA safeguards to feed our growing programme. Such plants, if they have to be under IAEA safeguards, must have the benefits of international commerce and not denied that access. That we have our own technological capability in respect of these technologies cannot be an argument to allow others to reverse the positive and forward-looking sentiment built into our understandings.

Reprocessing and recycle (particularly in fast reactors) of used fuel from nuclear reactors enables extraction of several tenfolds larger carbon-dioxide-free energy from a given amount of uranium. Reprocessing is thus the key to nuclear energy, addressing the twin challenge of sustainable global energy supply as well as mitigating the threat of climate change. Claims made about the capability of available uranium to meet global energy needs, in once-through mode, for a long enough time are true only in the context of the current rate of consumption, which is primarily in rich countries with more or less stabilised energy supply needs. They are not true in the context of the rapidly growing energy needs of countries in the developing world. A closed fuel cycle involving reprocessing is thus a key necessity. Concerns on ENR technologies arise because they handle large quantities of weapon usable material in loose form. To meet the needs of the energy-hungry world and make the energy benefits more widely accessible, such technologies should be in responsible hands and technological solutions worked out to minimise the proliferation concerns. Simply depending on inspection and policing regimes and placing additional restrictions on ENR technologies, though necessary, could in fact jeopardise the larger contribution of nuclear energy to sustainable development and bring the climate change-related threat closer. We need to realise that restricting access to fuller carbon-free nuclear energy potential could present far greater risks to humankind eventually.

During the Bush regime, restrictions were sought to be placed on transfer of ENR technologies to countries that do not have them already. This would have limited the spread of these sensitive technologies, with India remaining eligible for their transfers, as we already have our own technology in this area. The latest NSG decision has changed the logic completely: it essentially targets India as we are the only country outside the NPT eligible for nuclear transfers.

For us, a closed fuel cycle involving reprocessing of uranium and thorium has been an integral part of our policy from the beginning of our nuclear energy programme. While our interest in thorium arises primarily due to the huge energy potential that thorium provides for us, it is now becoming increasingly clear that the thorium fuel cycle also offers several advantages with respect to proliferation resistance. Since thorium by itself does not have a fissile component, it needs initial fissile inputs. Enriched uranium with thorium makes for an efficient fuel that could produce as much energy from mined uranium and leads to used fuel that can be recycled with a much-reduced proliferation risk. Uranium enrichment has thus a special significance in the context of the thorium-based proliferation-resistant fuel cycle as well. Given the present comprehensive capability and the rapid pace towards reaching the full objectives of the three-stage programme, Indian developmental efforts could well be a part of the solution the world is so desperately seeking. While we have a well-defined programme ahead of us for setting up reactors as well as fuel cycle facilities to support a growing power programme, progressively these technologies would evolve towards large-scale thorium utilisation. This programme being somewhat unique would anyway have to be evolved by us on our own. However, the inherent proliferation-resistant features of thorium that are of wider interest should have led to greater interest in collaboration with India. That somehow does not seem to be the case, at least for the present.

There is also a question of supply of other hardware and equipment not specifically concerning ENR technologies to enrichment and reprocessing plants that India might set up under IAEA safeguards. Clearly, there could be a number of alternative approaches to configuring such plants. Denial of a specific hardware or equipment cannot be allowed to jeopardise a mutually satisfactory resolution between the IAEA and India to ensure the safeguardability of such plants.

We live in an interdependent world where the terms of engagement depend upon how strong and capable you are. We have an ongoing mission to expand the share of nuclear energy in our energy mix to meet our rapidly growing energy needs and to reduce carbon intensity in our energy production. With the framework for international civil nuclear cooperation and the key provisions that are already in place, we can accelerate that process keeping our strategic interests intact. We however need to exercise caution and due diligence at every specific step as we negotiate the establishment of nuclear power plants with France, Russia, the U.S., and possibly others and as we do so, also press for adherence to the letter and spirit of our understandings.

There is also the question of NSG membership in the air. It would be strange if India were to become a member of a group that denies us cooperation on the basis of the NPT.

(Dr Anil Kakodkar, an eminent nuclear scientist, is a former Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission. He was a key negotiator of the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear deal.)

45 Per Cent of Fukushima Children Had Thyroid Exposure To Radiation After Only Two Weeks

“Earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11….In late March, local and central governments carried out the survey on 1,080 children under the age of 15 in areas near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after the crisis.”

45 per cent of Fukushima children had thyroid exposure to radiation

DPA

In this March 13, 2011 photo a man holds his baby as they are scanned for levels of radiation in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

The plant has been leaking radioactive substances since it was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11

About 45 per cent of children in Fukushima prefecture experienced thyroid exposure to radiation after the nuclear power there was damaged in March, officials said Tuesday.

But the results were not high enough to require further examination, the Nuclear Safety Commission said.

In late March, local and central governments carried out the survey on 1,080 children under the age of 15 in areas near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after the crisis.

The plant has been leaking radioactive substances since it was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11.

Among children who tested positive for thyroid exposure, the amounts measured 0.04 microsieverts per hour or less in most cases, while the largest exposure was 0.1 microsieverts per hour, equivalent to a yearly dose of 50 millisieverts for a one-year-old baby, Kyodo News reported.

None of the children examined was exposed to more than 0.2 microsieverts per hour, the official benchmark for further examinations, Kyodo said citing the commission.

Children and babies are at highest risk of developing thyroid cancer after exposure to radioactive iodine released into the environment.

In the case of 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, most victims who developed the cancer in following years had been babies or children living in the affected regions at the time of the world’s worst nuclear accident, Kyodo said.

A survey of soil at four locations in the city of Fukushima, 60 kilometres from the plant, found all samples were contaminated with radioactive caesium, measuring 16,000 to 46,000 becquerels per kilogram, exceeding the official limit of 10,000 becquerels per kilogram, citizens groups said Tuesday.

The city is located far from the 20-kilometre no-go zone around the plant.

The group detected as much as 931,000 becquerels per square metre at one location, above the 555,000-becquerel limit for compulsory resettlement in the Chernobyl disaster. Samples from the other three locations measured between 326,000 and 384,000 becquerels per square metre, Kyodo reported.

‪The Torture Hearings‬‏

“Pre-existing conditions,” a.k.a., “personality disorders,” are legal outs for the military to take advantage of, in order to get out of all combat-related conditions, as a means for saving the government money at the veteran’s expense. These victimized soldiers are just the latest form of “cannon fodder.”

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‘Isolated Hakimullah losing control of TTP’

‘Isolated Hakimullah losing control of TTP’

A file picture dated 4 October 2009 shows chief of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Hakimullah Mehsud (C) sitting with Taliban Spokesman Azam Tariq (R). PHOTO: EPA

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Hakimullah Mehsud has been in isolation for more than a year and is rapidly losing control over the terror group he once led with absolute command and authority, his associates and intelligence officials said.

Insiders of the dreaded militant outfit in the country’s lawless tribal badlands and intelligence officials in Islamabad told The Express Tribune that Hakimullah might soon be faced with more rebels from within the TTP after last week’s defection by one of his top commanders.

Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who was appointed by Hakimullah for the strategic Kurram tribal region, announced to separate his group of more than 1,000 fighters from the main outfit in what appeared to be the first serious fracture for the TTP.

The defection took place within days after unknown attackers killed a spokesperson for the TTP’s Fidayeen-e-Islam group – the suicide bombing squad.

The killing of Shakirullah Shakir, a key figure of the TTP, in Mirali town of North Waziristan has raised questions over how influential Hakimullah still is in the region.

“It was like a slap on the face for him. Nobody could have imagined such things here sometime back,” a tribal source commented on the murder, which is still unsolved.

A day after Haqqani’s announcement to split, a group of the Taliban from Khyber Agency attacked their counterparts from Orakzai in what appeared to be another sign of growing friction within the TTP and lack of a centralised and coordinated leadership.

“All these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. There may be a series of challenges for him … you will see more of his boys turning against him and this is exactly what we desired and have been working on,” claimed an official, who deals with counter-terror operations in the tribal areas, while choosing to stay anonymous. His comments were verified by some of Hakimullah’s associates.

“It looks as though he is just a figurehead now. He can hardly communicate with his commanders in other parts of the tribal areas … he is in total isolation. Only a few people within the TTP know where he is,” said one of Hakimullah’s affiliates.

Although Pakistani military officials claimed credit for Hakimullah’s isolation, tribal sources said it was more likely due to fears of being hit by drones rather than anything else.

Published in The Express Tribune

For Some Tribal Leaders It’s Either Form Lashkars or Go To Jail

“We don`t know whether army has been deployed for security of tribal people or tribesmen will provide security to the troops.”

 

Military operations opposed: Fata jirga backs talks with Taliban

The jirga was organised by All Political Parties (Fata), a conglomeration of different political forces including Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F, Pakistan People`s Party, Awami National Party, Pakistan Tihrek-i-Insaf and both factions of Pakistan Muslim League- Reuters Photo

PESHAWAR: Almost all mainstream political parties demanded of the government during a jirga here on Monday to hold negotiations with the non-state actors instead of conducting military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The jirga was organised by All Political Parties (Fata), a conglomeration of different political forces including Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F, Pakistan People`s Party, Awami National Party, Pakistan Tihrek-i-Insaf and both factions of Pakistan Muslim League, at Nishter Hall.

The jirga rejected the newly introduced Aid of Civil Power Regulation, 2011 in Fata and Frontier Crimes Regulation and demanded political and administrative reforms in tribal areas. However, the participants of the jirga failed to develop a consensus whether the tribal areas should be integrated with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or left as they were.

A tribal elder proposed at the jirga that Fata should be declared a separate province named as `Pakhtunistan`. Other participants rebuked him for demanding a separate province. However, leader of PTI from tribal area supported the elder`s proposal and assured him that his party would give status of province to Fata if it came into power.

The JI favoured limited autonomy for Fata and proposed elected council for the region, but unlike PPP and ANP it did not support its integration with the province.

The jirga through a joint declaration called upon the government to bring insurgents in Fata to the negotiation table. The declaration said that the US had announced troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and started talks with Afghan Taliban.

“Our government should stop military action and resolve issues through talks in the light of joint resolution of the parliament,” it said. The jirga condemned detention of people by security forces during military operations and demanded open trial of them.

The jam-packed hall echoed with anti Obama slogans when the jirga opposed drone attacks in Fata, terming them inhuman and unlawful.

The jirga took strong exception to detention of 170 elders of Safi tribe by the political administration of Mohmand Agency and demanded their immediate release.

The participants of the jirga said that administration detained the 170 elders when they refused to set up a lashkar against militants in their area about two months ago.

The declaration asked security forces to refrain from forcing tribesmen to raise lashkar, illegal detention and imposition of fines. It also asked President Asif Ali Zardari to extend Political Parties Order, 2002 to Fata and bring major amendments in FCR. Addressing the jirga, JUI leader from Fata Ainuddin Shakir said that despite presence of over 100,000 troops tribal people were feeling insecure.

“We don`t know whether army has been deployed for security of tribal people or tribesmen will provide security to the troops,” he said, adding the honour and dignity of local people were at stake. He alleged that tribal people were treated as slaves. He demanded restoration of fundamental rights of the people of Fata. He said that federal government should abolish unnecessary checkposts and checkpoints in Fata.

PPP parliamentarian from Bajaur Agency Akhunzada Chattan in his address rejected the new regulation signed by the president for Fata. He said that government should take all stakeholders on board before introducing the regulation in Fata. JI provincial chief Senator Mohammad Ibrahim Khan, Vice-chairman of Pakistan Bar Council Abdul Lateef Afridi, PPP leader Malik Waris Khan Afridi and JUI provincial chief Maulana Amanullah addressed the jirga.

Grand tribal jirga demands end to drone strikes, military operations

Grand tribal jirga demands end to drone strikes, military operations

The all parties tribal jirga organised by the Jamat-e-Islami was held at Nishtar Hall in Peshawar.

PESHAWAR: The all parties tribal jirga organised by the Jamat-e-Islami was held at Nishtar Hall in Peshawar on Monday.

The speakers stressed that political parties should be given the right to work in Fata under the Political Parties Act 2002, and that the law should also be extended to the tribal areas.

The jirga demanded that drone strikes should be stopped immediately.

“The prime minister should resign immediately if he does not have the power to stop these strikes,” said Professor Ibrahim.

The resolution of the jirga stated that the military operations in Fata should be stopped with immediate effect because even the US has chalked out a plan for peaceful negotiations with the Taliban.

The jirga emphasized that the government should stop military operations initiate peace talks instead.

Members also said that people should not be forced to form lashkars.

They said that the IDPs should be given compensation like the displaced persons from Malakand.

They also said that the Frontier Crimes Regulations should be abolished and that the thousands of people arrested in search operations under the collective responsibility act should be either released or presented in court for a fair trial.

The provincial assemblies should be extended to the tribal belt.

Suo moto action by the Supreme Court should be taken on the basis of the corruption worth millions by the fata secreteriat and political administration.

Almost all major political parties were present at the occasion.

Akhunzada Chattan from Bajaur Agency , Ijaz Mohmand from the Fata lawyers forum,  Jalil Jan and Sheikh Amanullah  from Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Samiul Haq, Tajuddin Khan from the Awami National Party and several other tribal elders and journalists attended the jirga.

India has outsourced its foreign policy to US:

India has outsourced its foreign policy to US:

Shobhan Saxena
New Delhi, July 4, IRNA – India has outsourced its foreign policy to Washington. It’s no longer the purpose of Indian foreign policy to protect India’s interest, its objective is to protect and serve American interest, said Shobhan Saxena an editor with Indian English daily Sunday Times of India.
India has outsourced its foreign policy to US: Shobhan Saxena
In his blog posted on June 29, Saxena wrote that our foreign policy mandarins no longer use their brains, they look at Washington for inspiration, guidance and orders.
“A very good example of this complete sell-out was seen last week, when India failed to send a representative to an international summit on terrorism in Tehran. Though Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent an invitation to Indian vice-president, the government not only ruled out Hamid Ansari’s participation in the meeting but it also failed to name a replacement,” Shobhan wrote referring to India’s non-participation in Iran’s international conference.
(In recent years, Iran has invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at least twice and he hasn’t responded at all). As a result, there was no Indian participation in an important regional meeting on a crucial issue like terrorism. No points for guessing why the Indian government, whose ministers see a terror threat everywhere, declined the Iranian invitation. Obviously, it was done under American pressure. New Delhi doesn’t want to be seen having friendly relations with a country which is at loggerheads with US. It’s difficult to say if India chickened out after someone from Washington called someone in Delhi, but Indian leaders know very well what makes the Americans happy or what irritates them. So, to make their masters in Washington happy, India’s foreign ministry decided to annoy the Iranians.
India was not the only country under pressure to give the meeting a miss, the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan too were being pressured – both by US and Saudi Arabia – to decline the Iranian invitation. But not only Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari attended the summit, they also had a tripartite meeting with Iran, underlining the “necessity for further cooperation among the regional and the neighboring countries”. They pledged to expand their “cooperation in political, security, economic and cultural areas, as well as fighting terrorism and foreign interventions”.
In a brutally frank statement Karzai emphasized Iran’s role in creating peace and stability in the region, saying “The Afghan nation demand for withdrawal of foreign forces from their country, in this situation Iran and Pakistan can have an important role in establishing peace in Afghanistan.” And Zardari said that the relations between Iran and Pakistan are supported by a firm cultural and historical background. ‘These relations will have a far brighter future,’ he said.
What does this mean for India? It means India has become a non-player in Afghanistan and it has pushed Iran towards Pakistan. In the past 10 years, India has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan with the objective of curtailing Pakistan’s influence in the country. Now, it’s very clear from Karzai’s statement that India has no role in Afghanistan at all. Why? Blind followers of US foreign policy, Indian ministers and diplomats have been speaking the American lingo on Afghanistan and playing silly side-kick to the American big brother. Now, as Americans are planning to pull out of Afghanistan while striking a deal with Taliban, India stands lost and confused. All the regional countries – Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan – and the US are in the picture but India is out, looking like a non-state actor.
By aligning our foreign policy with American interest, India is now on the verge of losing old friends and making new enemies. Our friendship and cultural relations with Iran go back to centuries, but we now have begun to believe western propaganda about Iran. I was in Tehran in June 2008, when the country was preparing to vote for its presidential election, and I saw how democracy works in that country. There were TV debates between the four presidential candidates; young boys and girls campaigned on the streets late at night; different groups organized political rallies every day; and the polling was as free and fare as possible. But, following some disturbances in Tehran, the western media went to paint the entire Iranian system as illegitimate even as western governments continued to support corrupt, medieval and illegal governments in the Arab world – from Morocco to Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Bahrain.
The fact is that Iran has been the only functioning democracy in the entire Middle Eastern region. And it’s the only country which refuses to hand over its resources (oil and gas) to greedy American companies. That explains American hatred towards Iran. That explains the US plans to destroy Iran’s oil industry. Under US pressure, India hasn’t paid Iran any money in six months for the oil bought from that country. India owns $5 billion to Iran. The oil is coming every day but India is not showing any interest in paying Iran. This is despite the fact that there is no UN sanctions against Iran’s oil industry. China and European countries are buying oil from Iran but India is proving its loyalty to America by inventing new excuses every day.
“This government wants to make India a client state of United States. The way it’s functioning, its dream of being an American lackey may succeed one day, but it will come at a very heavy cost of losing real and trusted friends in our immediate neighbourhood,” he claimed.
2160**1412
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30461217

Pakistan’s Jihadist Movements – Top 25 Commanders

Pakistan’s Jihadist Movements – Top 25 Commanders

memri.org
1. Introduction

2. Pakistan Army Operations

3. Taliban’s Top Commanders

i. Hakimullah Mehsud
ii. Maulana Waliur Rehman
iii. Qari Hussain Mehsud
iv. Maulvi Nazir Ahmad
v. Hafiz Gul Bahadur
vi. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad
vii. Qari Ziaur Rehman
viii. Maulana Fazlullah
ix. Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri
x. Abuzar Khanjari
xi. Azam Tariq
xii. Umar Khalid

4. Non-Taliban Commanders

xiii) Maulana Abdul Aziz
xiv) Maulana Masood Azhar
xv) Hafiz Muhammad Saeed
xvi) Syed Salahuddin
xvii) Abdul Wahid Kashmiri
xviii) Mangal Bagh
xix) Rashid Rauf
xx) Matiur Rehman
xxi) Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi

5. Upcoming Commanders

xxii) Wali Muhammad
xxiii) Ahmadullah Ahmadi
xxiv) Mohammad Omer
xxv) Maulana Halimullah

6. More Militant Commanders

7. Conclusion

1. Introduction

This paper seeks to identify the top jihadist commanders of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other Sunni terrorist organizations in Pakistan who remain free despite the security operations conducted by the Pakistani military in recent years.

On September 1, 2010, the U.S. Department of State designated Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or the Movement of Pakistani Taliban) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and declared Hakimullah Mehsud, the Emir of TTP, and his deputy Waliur Rehman as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.[1] A reward of $5 million each was also announced for information leading to the location of the two terrorist commanders.

The decision came within a month of the U.S. Department of State declaring Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) as an FTO and its commander, Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.[2] On August 6, the United Nations also listed Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri as a global terrorist for “being associated with” Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, or the Taliban, and for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf [of], or in support of” Al-Qaeda.[3]

Like Hakimullah Mehsud and other TTP commanders, Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri is also believed to be based in the Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan. Kashmiri heads the Brigade 313, an operational unit of Al-Qaeda. In a sign of undeniable cooperation between the TTP and Al-Qaeda, Pakistani media reports indicated that the December 31, 2009, suicide attack on the CIA’s forward base in Afghanistan’s Khost province was planned by Ilyas Kashmiri, Hakimullah Mehsud, and other jihadist commanders based in the Pakistani tribal region.[4] A video that emerged later showed Humam Al-Balawi, who carried out the Khost attack, sitting alongside Hakimullah Mehsud while recording his reasons for carrying out the suicide bombing.[5]

Now, the operational relationships between the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, HuJi, and other Sunni jihadist organizations are so linked that it is impossible to delineate true differences between these groups. The Taliban are united under the leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar, Emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban’s shadow government in Afghanistan). Though the Afghan Taliban are currently focused on their goal to drive out the U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan, their relationships with the Pakistani Taliban are inalienable. The Pakistani Taliban are united under the banner of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but consider Mullah Omar as their Emir.

After the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, a large number of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants returned to their familiar bases in South Waziristan, where they were commanded by Nek Mohammad. However, after the killing of Nek Mohammad in mid-2004 in a U.S. missile attack, the militants were leaderless.[6]

In December 2007, Baitullah Mehsud established the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan to organize the militants in South Waziristan. The TTP soon emerged as a loose confederation of a number of militant groups based in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs), which are situated along the Afghan border. Haroon Rashid, a senior Pakistani journalist who has reported developments in the Pakistani tribal region over several decades, noted in August 2009 that “unlike the other Taliban commanders such as Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir Ahmad, Baitullah Mehsud’s objectives were not limited to establishing Islamic Shari’a within South Waziristan and the tribal region; rather Baitullah Mehsud wanted the enforcement of Islamic Shari’a in Pakistan and across the entire world, and had indeed begun planning and was prepared to take bigger risks.”[7]

2. Pakistan Army Operations

There are seven districts in the FATAs: South Waziristan Agency, North Waziristan Agency, Kurram Agency, Orakzai Agency, Khyber Agency, Mohmand Agency, and Bajaur Agency. Militant organizations are active in all seven districts. In recent years, the Pakistani Army has carried out several military operations against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda across the FATAs (except North Waziristan), and in the Swat and neighboring districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. One distinguishing feature of these military operations is that the top Taliban militant commanders have invariably escaped, except for those who were killed in the U.S. drone attacks.

In Swat district, where the Taliban militants led by Commander Maulana Fazlullah began enforcing Islamic Shari’a and their complete ban on girls’ education in early 2009 and started marching towards Islamabad, a military operation was launched in May 2009, with the Pakistan Army estimating the number of militants there to be over 4,000.[8]  In late-June 2009, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik noted that “most troubled areas” of Swat and neighboring districts were cleared of the militants.[9] The militants dispersed, but have been trying to reorganize themselves in recent months.

In South Waziristan, where the Taliban’s top leadership has resided over the years with support from the Mehsud tribe, a military operation was launched in October 2009, formally coming to a close on March 30, 2010.[10] Most of the militants escaped to North Waziristan or went underground. However, the Pakistani security forces remain present in the area. North Waziristan, where the Pakistani military has resisted U.S. pressure to carry out an operation, has remained a key militant safehaven. In September 2010, General (retired) Mirza Aslam Baig, the former chief of Pakistan Army, noted: “if America wants the Pakistan Army to launch military operation against the Taliban in North Waziristan, it will not happen.”[11]

The operation in Bajaur Agency was launched in August 2008 and has been continuing in some form, with Damadola, the Taliban’s nerve-center in the district, falling to the Pakistani security forces on March 3, 2010.[12] In Khyber Agency, where the militants of non-Taliban militant organization Lashkar-e-Islam are led by Mangal Bagh, the military launched an operation on April 26, 2010 to root out the militants from their stronghold of Bara.[13] In the summer of 2008, the Pakistani Army carried out a show of military force there, but avoided targeting the militant commanders.[14] The Pakistani Army has also carried out low-scale operations against the Taliban and other militant groups in Orakzai Agency, Mohmand Agency and Kurram Agency. Some military operations were meant to simply ward off U.S. pressure on Pakistan.

During the military operations, the militants have generally chosen not to fight, apart from offering some initial symbolic resistance and simply disappearing into mountains and neighboring safehavens. The Pakistani Army claimed to have killed hundreds of Taliban militants and arrested a large number of them, though the military’s claims are hard to verify as Pakistani journalists were not permitted to visit these areas during the operations. The only access to these areas for journalists was through press tours arranged by the Pakistani military.

However, the Pakistani Army has captured Maulvi Mohammad Omar, a spokesman of the TTP in August 2009,[15] and Muslim Khan, a spokesman of the Maulana Fazlullah-led Taliban in Swat district, in September 2009.[16] Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, a Lashkar-e-Taiba commander, has been detained under international pressure in connection with the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the chief of Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Prophet Muhammad’s Shari’a), is also under Pakistani custody, but he had not been underground. The Taliban militants in Swat are led by his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah. It must also be noted that the Pakistani military operations and the U.S. drone attacks have degraded the resources earlier enjoyed by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, though they never have had an infrastructure of industrial dimension.

The militants of the Haqqani Network, the third-largest terrorist group in Afghanistan, have their safehavens in Pakistan’s North Waziristan district. There are concerns that the top commanders of the Pakistani Taliban remain safe, though a large number of low-ranking militants and criminals have been detained by the Pakistani security forces. In late-September 2010, the Pakistani military indicated that low-ranking militants may benefit from a rehabilitation program. Major General Ashfaq Nadeem, a senior commander of the Pakistan Army in the Swat district, announced that suspects involved in “insignificant terrorist activities” will be rehabilitated.[17]

3. Taliban’s Top Commanders

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is a loose confederation of various militant groups based in Pakistan. In recent years, several Sunni jihadist groups based in the Punjab province of Pakistan, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Muhammad, have been working in close operational partnership with the Taliban. Details of the top living Taliban commanders are as below, in no specific order.

i. Hakimullah Mehsud

 

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Hakimullah Mehsud, also known as Zulfiqar Mehsud, succeeded Baitullah Mehsud as the Emir of TTP after Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone strike on August 5, 2009 in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan.[18] Early this year, Hakimullah Mehsud survived a U.S. missile attack.

In the first week of March, Umar Studio, the broadcasting arm of the TTP, released a video of Hakimullah Mehsud, with the new TTP chief stating: “The Afghan Taliban are waging jihad under the leadership of Mullah Omar, and Pakistani Taliban are also waging jihad under his leadership. The Emir of the Afghan Taliban and Emir of the Pakistani Taliban is also Emir-ul-Momineen [Leader of the Faithful] Mullah Omar. The Emir-ul-Momineen, Mullah Omar, is bravely confronting the infidels, and in this war against infidels the Pakistani Taliban are standing alongside him.”[19]

Hakimullah Mehsud sat alongside Humam Al-Balawi as the latter recorded a video statement before his suicide attack on the CIA base in Khost on December 31, 2009.[20] The last time Hakimullah Mehsud came on scene was in a video released hours after the May 1, 2010 failed bombing by Faisal Shahzad in New York’s Times Square. In that pre-recorded video, Hakimullah Mehsud warned: “From now on, the main targets of our fidaeen [suicide bombers] are American cities.’’[21]

ii. Maulana Waliur Rehman

 

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Among the top-ranking Taliban leaders, Maulana Waliur Rehman is of scholarly reputation and a strong claimant for the leadership of the Taliban movement. In February 2010, as speculation over the death of Hakimullah Mehsud was in full swing, an unidentified Taliban commander told a Pakistani newspaper that Maulana Waliur Rehman could be the next chief of the TTP.[22] Like Hakimullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain, Maulana Waliur Rehman carries a reward on his head of 50 million Pakistani Rupees.[23]

The scholarly Taliban leader is currently the Emir of the Taliban for the Mehsud region in South Waziristan. The Mehsud tribe forms the main support base of the Taliban, and therefore Maulana Waliur Rehman is a strong contender to succeed as the chief of the Pakistani Taliban.

At the time of Baitullah Mehsud’s killing in a U.S. drone attack in August 2009, there were reports of violent clashes for succession between the factions of Maulana Waliur Rehman and Hakimullah Meshud. However, in early October 2009, about two months after the killing of Baitullah Mehsud, Al-Qaeda’s media arm Al-Sahab released a video in which Maulana Waliur Rehman denied any internal differences, stating: “What our enemies are saying about disagreement among us is pure falsehood.”[24]

While Waliur Rehman has emerged as a key contender to succeed Hakimullah Mehsud, there are many others who are considered excellent operational commanders.

iii. Qari Hussain Mehsud

Qari Hussain Mehsud, or simply Qari Husain, is one of the top Taliban commanders, and is responsible for training suicide bombers. Popularly known as Ustad-i-Fidayeen (teacher of suicide bombers), he was reported to have been killed first in 2008 and again in June 2009.[25] In mid-October 2010, one Pakistani newspaper reported that Qari Hussain Mehsud was killed in an October 4 U.S. drone attack, but a Taliban commander close to him accused the “infidels and their agents” of spreading disinformation to demoralize the Taliban, telling the Dawn newspaper that he is “alive and healthy and will soon contact the media.”[26]

In October 2009, when Hakimullah Mehsud invited a small group of militants to meet with him, three key commanders – Qari Hussain Mehsud, Maulana Waliur Rehman and Azam Tariq – were present with him.[27] All four commanders form a decision-making nucleus of the Taliban leadership in South Waziristan. A cousin to Hakimullah Mehsud, Qari Hussain is a strong contender to take over the Taliban’s killing machine.

The Pakistani government has announced a reward of 50 million Pakistani Rupees for his capture or killing.[28] In March 2010, police arrested Noor Jahan and Rehmat Gul, two members of Pakistan’s para-military Frontier Corps force, from Islamabad over their role in planning an attack on a foreign mission in cooperation with Qari Hussain and another militant commander Muhammad Hanif.[29] In April 2010, Qari Hussain was in the news, claiming responsibility for a suicide attack on a police station in Kohat, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[30] He is a top operational planner for the TTP.

iv. Maulvi Nazir Ahmad

 

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Maulvi Nazir Ahmad controls his own group of the Taliban in North and South Waziristan. Before the October 18, 2009, security operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan, the Pakistani military reached an understanding with Maulvi Nazir Ahmad not to target his fighters or carry out a security operation in North Waziristan. At a grand jirga (meeting of tribal elders) at Wana in South Waziristan, Pakistani military authorities assured that a peace accord reached with the Nazir group of the Taliban in South Waziristan in 2007 remained intact, with a report noting: “The assurance was given by Major General Sajjad Wazir and other military officers.”[31]

The Pakistani military’s truce with the Maulvi Nazir Ahmad group of the Taliban was seen with suspicion by independent observes, with some arguing that such a truce made North Waziristan a safehaven for militants who would flee from South Waziristan as a result of the military operation. The Pakistani military’s stance was that it is necessary to wedge a division among the Taliban ranks to gain a tactical advantage. However, North Waziristan has now emerged as a safehaven for the militants.

Maulvi Nazir Ahmad and Gul Bahadur are seen as pro-government Taliban commanders in Pakistan, though their relationship is complex, sometimes tactical and at other times strategically useful to each other. In April 2008, the government of Pakistan gave cash compensation to more than 500 people for the Taliban fighters killed or wounded during the 2004 military operation in South Waziristan. The Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jasarat reported that Mullah Nazir Ahmad and about 150 senior Taliban fighters, affected by the military operation, were given an undisclosed large amount.[32]

The Pakistani military is not known to have undertaken any security operation against Maulvi Nazir Ahmad’s fighters recently.

v. Hafiz Gul Bahadur

In early 2009, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Maulvi Nazir Ahmad, and Baitullah Mehsud (who would later be killed on August 5, 2009) were reported to have joined together, thereby constituting the top leadership of the Pakistani Taliban. In recent months, Gul Bahadur’s name hasn’t figured in Pakistani media regularly, though this may be due to the fact that he is safely placed in North Waziristan.

Although he and Maulvi Nazir Ahmad are seen as pro-government militant commanders, there were some conflicts in this relationship, such as in June 2009 when 22 Pakistani soldiers were killed in two attacks in South and North Waziristan districts. Soon after the incident, a report in the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Khabrain noted that Hafiz Gul Bahadur announced the scrapping of the peace agreement with the government.[33]

However, the understanding exists currently between the two militant commanders and the Pakistani army not to attack each other in North Waziristan.

Following the October 18, 2009, security operation in South Waziristan, a large number of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants moved to North Waziristan, the territory controlled by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir Ahmad. In late-April 2010, a media report noted the security situation in North Waziristan: “The fighters – including Arabs, Chechens, and Uzbeks – roam through markets, frequent restaurants, and watch jihadi movies or surf the web at Internet cafes, their weapons propped up against the table. Pakistani troops wave them through checkpoints even though they’re armed with assault rifles and rocket launchers.”[34]

The Pakistani military continues to resist U.S. pressure to carry out an operation against the Taliban in North Waziristan.

vi. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad

 

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Maulvi Faqir Muhammad is the Deputy Emir of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as well as the Emir of the Taliban fighters in Bajaur Agency, one of the tribal districts along the Afghan border. After Baitullah Mehsud’s killing, he claimed to have temporarily taken over as the TTP chief. In February 2010, there were reports that Maulvi Faqir Muhammad had been removed from his as position as the TTP’s Emir for Bajaur Agency for not conducting resistance against the Pakistani army.

The pro-Taliban Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Islam reported that, revealing a rift in the Taliban leadership, the TTP’s Shura (executive council) replaced him by Maulvi Dadullah, who is also known as Maulana Mohammad Jamal,  as the Emir of the Taliban in Bajaur Agency.[35] The newspaper said that a group of militants led by Afghan Taliban commander Qari Ziaur Rehman had pressed for strong resistance against the Pakistani security forces in Bajaur Agency, but Maulvi Faqir Muhammad was opposed to any action against Pakistani security forces.

However, there were no subsequent media reports that could shed light on this rift. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad remains the Deputy Emir of the Taliban as well as their Emir for Bajaur Agency. It should be noted that these distinctions of designation are to an extent immaterial, as most of the Taliban commanders have their own loyal force of fighters, while the TTP is a loose confederation of various militant commanders.

Maulvi Faqir Muhammad has enjoyed support of the Pakistani military commanders, though his group has suffered as a result of recent army operations. In March 2010, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad threatened to resume attacks on Pakistani security forces in Bajaur Agency if the Pakistani government did not stop military operations in the area, stating: “We abdicated our positions and chose not to fight against the security forces following an ‘understanding’ that our people will not be harmed. But the government appears to be continuing with its repressive policies.”[36] He is currently lying low.

vii. Qari Ziaur Rehman

Qari Ziaur Rehman is a top Taliban commander who has been fighting against the Pakistani security forces in the tribal district of Bajaur Agency, which borders Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province. His fighters are active in Bajaur Agency as well as in the Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Pakistan has announced a reward of 5 million Pakistani Rupees for his arrest due to his connections with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

In February 2010, Qari Ziaur Rehman rejected a Pakistani government claim that he is an Afghan national, saying: “You may know the tribesmen live and have properties on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border. My forefathers were born and died in Bajaur and I am a Pakistani by birth.”[37] However, the militant commander claimed that he also operates in the Marawara area of Kunar, telling a Pakistani newspaper that he has been appointed the Taliban’s commander for both Bajaur Agency and the Marawara area.[38]

His statement was made amid rumors that Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, the Taliban’s Emir for Bajaur Agency, has been removed from his post. In March 2010, a statement of Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik that Maulvi Faqir Muhammad and Qari Ziaur Rehman were killed was denied by Waliur Rehman, a militant commander who is based in Bajaur Agency.[39] Qari Ziaur Rehman is believed to be alive.

viii. Maulana Fazlullah

 

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In early 2009, Maulana Fazlullah, who is the Emir of The Taliban in the Swat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was in international headlines after his fighters began enforcing Islamic Shari’a across the region following a Shari’a-for-peace deal with the secular Pakistani government. However, an international outcry against the militants’ total ban on girls’ education forced Pakistan to launch an army operation in the Swat district in May 2009.

In July 2009, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik disclosed that Maulana Fazlullah was injured in a clash with the security forces.[40] However, the Taliban released an audio message in Fazlullah’s voice, denying that he was wounded and warning that jihad will be continued against the government until the enforcement of Islamic Shari’a.[41] These reports preceded two more reports in September 2009, at a gap of two weeks, that the militant commander was “detained” by the Pakistani security forces.[42] It is not clear how Fazlullah escaped, most likely aided by some security officials. He is son-in-law of militant cleric Sufi Muhammad, the architect of the infamous Shari’a-for-peace deal, now under flimsy custody.

In November 2009, Fazlullah called Pakistani media organizations from an Afghan mobile telephone number, claiming that he was in Afghanistan, and warned of guerrilla-style attacks in Pakistan.[43] However, it is well known that mobile phones with Afghan phone service are in circulation in the Pakistani tribal region. In late-April 2010, Omar Hasan Ahrabi, a spokesman for Maulana Fazlullah, claimed that the fugitive commander “is somewhere in Pakistan, but is easily able to cross the border to Afghanistan whenever the need arises… I am in touch with him through handwritten letters. He is in our ‘watan’ (homeland).”[44]

In May this year, Afghan media reported that Maulana Fazlullah has been leading the Taliban fighters against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan’s eastern Nuristan province.[45] He is believed to be currently in the Barg-i-Matal district of Nuristan.

ix. Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri

 

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Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, a former commando of the Pakistani Army, used to be the Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami’s head for the Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK or the Pakistani Kashmir). In recent years, he has moved to the Pakistani tribal areas and has been working in close cooperation with the Haqqani Network, the second most powerful component of the Afghan Taliban. Several media reports of his killing in U.S. drone attacks have turned out to be false.

Kashmiri, who was declared a global terrorist by the United Nations and the U.S. Department of State in August 2010, is believed to be based in the Pakistani tribal district of North Waziristan. His role in India’s Jammu & Kashmir has been widely reported. Kashmiri was behind the 2002 attack on the American Centre in the eastern Indian metropolis of Kolkata.[46] He was also responsible for planning the February 2010 bomb blasts on a bakery in India’s western city of Pune.[47] Having escaped from a prison in Indian Kashmir on multiple occasions, he heads the Brigade 313, which was initially formed by him within the HuJI.[48] Brigade 313 is now considered as an operational planning unit of Al-Qaeda.

In May 2010, a Pakistani newspaper reported that Ilyas Kashmiri leads the Lashkar-e-Zil (Shadow Army), an Al-Qaeda organization responsible for the December 2009 suicide bombing at the CIA base in Afghanistan’s Khost province.[49] In an editorial, the liberal Pakistani newspaper Dawn noted that the CIA base attack was a “spectacular example of collaboration” between the Afghan Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and the Pakistani Taliban.[50] On August 6, 2010, the United Nations and the U.S. State Department both declared him as a global terrorist.

x. Abuzar Khanjari

Abuzar Khanjari is chief of the Punjabi Taliban, a reference to militants who speak Punjabi and Urdu languages and come from the Pakistani province of Punjab, where a large number of Sunni militant groups have emerged as committed ideological feeder organizations for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

In March 2010, a Taliban statement confirmed the killing of Qari Muhammad Zafar, who was wanted for the 2006 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, in a U.S. drone attack in North Waziristan.[51] Zafar was the chief of the Punjabi Taliban and had links with the anti-Shi’ite militant organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has been working in close cooperation with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in recent years.

Abuzar Khanjari succeeded Zafar as the Emir of the Qari Zafar group of the Punjabi Taliban, with the reference “Qari Zafar group” meaning that it is just one possible cell of terrorists among the non-Pashtun Taliban.  Soon after his appointment as the Emir, Khanjari warned that Pakistan will continue to be the center of their operations, also vowing to avenge the death of Qari Zafar.[52] There are no current indications about his whereabouts.

xi Azam Tariq

Being the official spokesman of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Azam Tariq is the most-often heard voice internationally.  Although untraceable by the Pakistani security forces, he is able to reach the Pakistani journalists easily, almost after each terror attack. In July 2010, he claimed responsibility for the killing of Mian Rashid Hussain, the only son of Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a senior minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.[53] Recently, he has been able to reach Pakistani journalists in August and September.

Azam Tariq, who has connections in Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was appointed to the post of spokesman after TTP spokesman Maulvi Omar was captured by the Pakistani security forces in August 2009.[54] In the crucial month of August 2009, when Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone attack, Azam Tariq’s appointment as TTP’s spokesman came simultaneously after Hakimullah Mehsud was appointed as the Emir of TTP.[55] The two are close, and Azam Tariq could potentially succeed Hakimullah Mehsud.

xii. Umar Khalid

At the end of the July 2007 military operation in the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) of Islamabad, hundreds of Islamic militants occupied the shrine of Haji Sahib Turangzai, a cleric who waged jihad against the British rule, and a nearby mosque. The mosque, in the Ghazi Abad village in Mohmand Agency, was renamed as Lal Masjid (Red Mosque).[56] The group’s commander was identified as Umar Khalid, the Emir of local Taliban.

A former commander of the anti-India jihadist group Harkatul Mujahideen, Khalid – whose real name is Abdul Wali – has the experience of Kashmir jihad. He is currently the Emir of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan for Mohmand Agency. He is believed to control about 5,000 Taliban militants, including some Arab and Uzbek fighters.[57]

After the May 1, 2010, failed Times Square bombing, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Pakistani military officer facilitated a meeting between Umar Khalid and Faisal Shahzad, who is now under custody in the U.S. for the failed bombing.[58]

4. Non-Taliban Commanders

The expression “non-Taliban” is not a strict classification, as over the past decade several Sunni jihadist organizations in Pakistan have joined hands with Al-Qaeda and the TTP, which is primarily based in the Pakistani tribal region along the Afghan border. Some groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed do not attack Pakistani institutions and, therefore, have differences with the Taliban as the latter target the Pakistani security forces. However, their ideas of jihad against the West are alike. The militant commanders below are known for their extensive contacts within the Pakistani jihadist movements.

xiii. Maulana Abdul Aziz

 

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In mid-2007, female students of Jamia Hafsa and male students of Jamia Faridia – the two madrassas controlled by Maulana Abdul Aziz and his brother Abdur Rashid Ghazi – began enforcing Islamic Shari’a in Islamabad, occupying a government children’s library and forcing citizens to follow an Islamic code in their daily lives. Maulana Abdul Aziz and Abdur Rashid Ghazi were prayer leaders at the Red Mosque, known for its proximity to top Pakistani military generals.

The occupation of the library and enforcement of Shari’a in the federal capital was publicly seen as a challenge to the authority of the Pakistani state, forcing then-Pakistani ruler General Pervez Musharraf to order a military operation in the Red Mosque. Dozens of armed fighters and students were killed, along with Abdur Rashid Ghazi. Maulana Abdul Aziz was caught by the Pakistani security forces while fleeing clad in a burqa (women’s full-body veil).

The renaming of the mosque in Mohmand Agency as Red Mosque by the Taliban militants led by Umar Khalid point to the Taliban’s links to Maulana Abdul Aziz. His brother Abdur Rashid Ghazi had fought in the ranks of the Taliban during the Afghan jihad of the 1980s. Maulana Abdul Aziz was released from custody in April 2009 after a court granted bail in the last of a series of cases brought against him by the Pakistani government.[59]

Over the past few years, Pakistani prosecutors have avoided presenting evidence against Maulana Abdul Aziz in various cases that were brought against him. In June 2010, when a court acquitted him in one of the cases, the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Express noted that the cleric has been acquitted in a number of cases earlier “amid public criticism in Pakistan that the Pakistani government is not pursuing the terrorism charges against him seriously.”[60] Although not strictly an operational commander currently, the jihadist connections of Maulana Abdul Aziz are known to be within the Pakistani military as well as in the militant organizations.

xiv. Maulana Masood Azhar

 

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Maulana Masood Azhar leads the Jaish-e-Muhammad, which has emerged as the most powerful Al-Qaeda-linked Sunni jihadist organization, with its headquarters based in Bahawalpur city in Pakistan. Azhar is one of three terrorists freed by India in exchange for the passengers of an Indian aircraft hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in 1999.[61] The Jaish-e-Muhammad has been fighting against India, especially in Kashmir, for more than two decades.

In recent years, the Jaish-e-Muhammad and its fighters have been fighting alongside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda against the Pakistani state institutions.

There are indications that Jaish-e-Muhammad was involved in recruiting Faisal Shahzad, who unsuccessfully tried to explode an explosives-laden car in New York’s Times Square on May 1, 2010. According to a Pakistani daily, Shahzad met with Mohammad Rehan, the head of Jaish-e-Muhammad in Peshawar, in Karachi and the two drove in a rented pick-up truck to Peshawar, where they stayed together in July 2009.[62]

The group’s publications, including the weekly jihadist magazine Haftroza Al-Qalam, are freely available in Pakistan and on the internet. Azhar is underground but the Pakistani government has not shown any intention to act against his organization.

xv. Hafiz Muhammad Seed

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Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is an internationally known terrorist commander with a close relationship with the Pakistani military. Saeed, who is the founder of jihadist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), functions as the Emir of Jamaatud Dawa. Following the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa, along with a number of its charities, were outlawed by the UN Security Council.

In late-April, M. K. Narayanan, the former National Security Adviser of India and now the Governor of the Indian state of West Bengal, warned that Lashkar-e-Taiba has “proven links” with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), noting: “The LeT is linked to the ISI; these links are well-proven. There is a specified section of the ISI to oversee covert operations of the LeT, which has networks in 21 countries, including Australia, North America, Europe, and Asia.”[63] The group is known for having propped up several militant groups in India recently, e.g. Indian Mujahideen, Deccan Mujahideen.

Around the same time as M. K. Narayanan was making his statement, General David Petraeus, the Commander of U.S. Central Command, warned that the Lashkar-e-Taiba is planning attacks similar to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, noting: “We should observe that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group LeT that carried out the Mumbai attacks, we think they’re trying to do more damage and they’re trying to carry out additional attacks.”[64]

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed’s group does not target Pakistani security forces and works to advance the strategic interests of Pakistan in the region, especially against India. He is free, as Pakistani prosecutors fail to provide evidence for courts to convict him. In late-April, six “most wanted” militants were arrested from the Jamaatud Dawa headquarters in Muridke, near Lahore, though some Pakistani newspapers made it a point to note that they were seized from the gate of the headquarters.[65]

In recent months, Saeed’s Jamaatud Dawa has transformed itself as the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation. As early as May 2009, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that Jamaatud Dawa has emerged as Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIH), with around 2,000 members of Jamaatud Dawa helping the victims of Pakistani military operations. Mian Adil, a ‘former’ member of Jamaatud Dawa and deputy chairman of Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation, said: “We are silently helping the homeless, hungry and needy people, and let us do our work without maligning us.”[66]

During the August 2010 floods in Pakistan, the FIH emerged in a major way, helping the flood victims.[67] Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Aid, was mired in a controversy for visiting a flood relief camp set up by the FIH in Pakistan’s Sindh province.[68]

xvi. Syed Salahuddin

Syed Salahuddin is the Chairman of Muttahida Jihad Council, a coalition of over two dozen militant groups based in Pakistan. However, the number of the militant groups constituting the coalition has gone down in recent years. Salahuddin is the Supreme Commander of his own militant organization Hizbul Mujahideen, which has been fighting against the Indian security forces in Indian Kashmir.

In April this year, Syed Salahuddin, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar were scheduled to address an audience in India’s Jammu & Kashmir via teleconference.[69] However, the teleconference was cancelled an hour before, with the Indian security forces arresting Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, an Islamist human rights activist who had organized the event.

Like Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Syed Salahuddin is a strong advocate of jihad internationally. As of now, the international community has largely ignored him. However, Syed Salahuddin’s relationship with the other jihadist organizations across Pakistan has a long history.  He survives under the watchful eyes of the Pakistani military. In July 2010, Syed Salahuddin, along with several other militant commanders, made a rare public appearance at an anti-India rally in Islamabad, telling the protesters: “If the Pakistan government could not protect the interests of the Kashmiris, it should step aside as they are capable of fighting for their cause.”[70]

In the town of Kotli in Pakistani Kashmir, a number of jihadist organizations led by Syed Salahuddin organized a “Defense of Pakistan Conference” on March 23, 2010. At the conference, Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abdul Wahid Kashmiri appeared in public for the first time in a decade, declaring: “It is the right of mujahideen to fight the invaders and oppressors across the world. The mujahideen fighting the occupation forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Kashmir are fully justified in doing so under religious obligations… The secret of success and freedom from the oppressor lies in jihad and not at the negotiating tables…”[71]

xvii. Abdul Wahid Kashmiri

Along with Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Abdul Wahid Kashmiri is a founding member of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Following the 9/11 attacks on America and under mounting international pressure on Pakistan to act against militants, Saeed quit his post as the Emir of Lashkar-e-Taiba and appointed Abdul Wahid Kashmiri, on December 24, 2001, as his successor.[72] Abdul Wahid Kashmiri went underground to avoid a crackdown launched by Pakistan’s military ruler General Pervez Musharraf under U.S. pressure. Appearing in public in March this year in Pakistani Kashmir, he told a conference that it is the “right of mujahideen to fight all invaders and oppressors across the world.”[73]

It is believed that Lashkar-e-Taiba, a pro-military organization, has been functioning under the leadership of Abdul Wahid Kashmiri and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Its two charities Jamaatud Dawa, which is outlawed, and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, which is not outlawed, are above ground. Pakistani Kashmir is an area heavily fortified by the Pakistani military. Abdul Wahid Kashmiri’s emergence in public indicates that it is now acceptable to the Pakistani military for him to publicly engage in jihadist activities without constraints.

In August 2010, a report in the Pakistani daily The News noted: “Once focused closely on the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir [in India]… the Lashkar is evolving into a global exporter of terror, as its extremist leadership has opened its training camps to foreigners… [and its] terrorist training camps still operate in Pakistan…”[74]

xviii. Mangal Bagh

Mangal Bagh is the Emir of Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant organization active in Khyber Agency. Although Lashkar-e-Islam is a non-Taliban militant group, there are no differences in their ideological objectives and military tactics.  Lashkar-e-Islam is the dominant militant organization in Khyber Agency, while its rival is Ansarul Islam. In June 2008, the Pakistani military carried out an operation against the two organizations, capturing low-ranking militants but avoiding taking on the top commanders.[75]

In mid-2009, the Pakistani government showed a strong inclination to target Mangal Bagh and other top commanders of Lashkar-e-Islam. In September 2009, the Pakistani government announced a cash reward of five million Pakistani Rupees for information leading to the arrest of Mangal Bagh.[76] The government also announced bounties on Mangal Bagh’s top fighters, including Safoor son of Saadullah, Nazir son of Saeed Mohammad, Adnan son of Zar Gul, Wahid son of Sarwar Shah. However, a threat by Mangal Bagh in September 2009 forced policemen in Khyber Agency to avoid their duty. As a result, 715 policemen were sacked by the government.[77]

However, Mangal Bagh, who rose from a bus conductor to become the Emir of Lashkar-e-Islam, and his fighters have avoided engaging in head-on fighting against the Pakistani security forces, and are currently underground.

xix. Rashid Rauf

Rashid Rauf escaped easily from custody in 2007 after the Pakistani police allowed his uncle to drive him back from a court appearance in Islamabad.[78] A British citizen of Pakistani origin, he is believed to be Al-Qaeda’s director of European operations. His sister is married to Mohammad Tahir, one of the younger brothers of Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar.[79]

Rashid Rauf was involved in the August 2006 plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airplanes by using liquid explosives. He was allegedly killed in a U.S. drone attack on November 22, 2008 in the Alikhel village of North Waziristan. However, the British and U.S. intelligence agencies have failed to confirm his killing, and he is believed to be alive.[80]

Given Rashid Rauf’s operational expertise and vast connections in the Pakistani jihadi networks, his role in the September-October, 2010 terror plot involving targets in the United Kingdom, Germany and France cannot be ruled out.

xx. Matiur Rehman

Matiur Rehman, believed to be in his early 30s, has been affiliated with Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) as well as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – both linked to Al-Qaeda – at different points of his career.[81] The Pakistani government has announced a reward of 10 million Pakistani Rupees for information leading to his arrest.

He has been wanted in connection with several terrorist attacks, including the 2002 bomb blast at the Karachi Sheraton Hotel and the December 25, 2003 attack on Pakistani ruler General Pervez Musharraf.[82] He is also linked to the August 2006 plot to bomb the trans-Atlantic aircraft and the September 2008 Marriot Hotel bombing in Islamabad.[83]

In recent years, Matiur Rehman, who is also known as Samad Sial, has worked as the chief operational commander of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and has also been identified as Al-Qaeda’s planning director by the Pakistani investigating agencies. Last year, a Pakistani daily described Matiur Rehman as “extremely dangerous because of his role as the liaison between Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani jihadi community.”[84]

Pakistani security agencies have not been able to trace his whereabouts recently. In January 2010, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan published a list of 119 most wanted militants, including Matiur Rehman.[85]

xxi. Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi

 

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In February this year, Punjab’s provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah was widely criticized for seeking the support of Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi to win a by-election from Jhang constituency to the provincial legislature.[86] Ludhianvi is the most powerful of all jihadist commanders in present-day Pakistan.

The cleric heads the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, which is also known as Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan. These are new names of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a formerly political-religious party that has been outlawed for its decades-long violence against Shi’ite Muslims in Pakistan. The SSP is also known as the mother of all major Sunni jihadist organizations in Pakistan. In recent years, the SSP’s cadres have been working alongside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

In July 2010, following the controversy surrounding Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, Ludhianvi claimed that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also met with him and sought the support of the SSP to win elections this year.[87] Under popular pressure, the Sharif government ordered a crackdown against the SSP members in July 2010; 210 members of the SSP in Punjab province were arrested;[88] and 22 SSP offices were sealed across the province.[89] However, the provincial government cannot act against Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi and other top leaders of the group for fear of violent reprisals.

5. Upcoming Commanders

There are hundreds of low-ranking militants whose names do not figure in the Pakistani media as they are yet to draw the attention of international intelligence agencies. However, a few such names which crop up under the radar of the Pakistani spy agencies for being in supporting role to top commanders are listed below. These commanders could easily succeed their superiors in the near future.

xxii. Wali Muhammad

Wali Muhammad is the spokesman of the Taliban (Maulvi Nazir Ahmad group) in South Waziristan. He is also known as Shaheen.

Amid escalating tensions between India and Pakistan after the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008, he warned of suicide attacks in India in the event of a war, adding: “Our differences with the [Pakistani] government notwithstanding, if the issue is national security, we have 500 suicide bombers who will enter India.”[90]

xxiii. Ahmadullah Ahmadi

Ahmadullah Ahmadi is a spokesman for the Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led Taliban in North Waziristan. In June 2009, when 22 Pakistani securitymen were killed in attacks in North and South Waziristan, Ahmadi warned of more such attacks on the Pakistani security forces if the U.S. drone attacks did not stop.[91]

xxiv. Mohammad Omer

Mohammad Omer is a spokesman for the Taliban’s Media Center in North Waziristan. In April 2010, he accused the Pakistani media of playing as government’s ally in the fighting between the Taliban and the Pakistani armed forces.

In a letter to various media organizations, Omar accused the media of presenting only one-sided reports of the security operations in the FATAs. The letter asked the media to stop its one-sided reports on the security operations in the FATAs and noted that it is the last such warning to the Pakistani media.[92]

xxv. Maulana Halimullah

Maulana Halimullah is a militant commander based in Pakistan’s South Waziristan district. He owes his allegiance to Maulvi Nazir Ahmad. Militants loyal to Maulana Halimullah are based not only in South Waziristan but also across the border in Afghanistan.

In August 2010, Maulana Halimullah issued pamphlets, giving a two-day ultimatum to the Mehsud supporters of Hakimullah Mehsud to leave Wana, the district’s main town.[93] The decision seems to have followed the assassination a few days earlier of former Pakistani lawmaker Maulana Noor Mohammad, a leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam.

Maulana Noor Mohammad is believed to have been killed by the Hakimullah Mehsud group, as the cleric had opposed militant attacks inside Pakistan. Maulana Halimullah and Maulvi Nazir Ahmad currently enjoy a peace agreement with the Pakistani military.

6. More Militant Commanders

According to various Pakistani media reports, the following militant commanders are believed to be active in the jihadist groups. However, detailed information about them is not easily available as the media attention remains focused on top commanders.

Abdul Rehman Makki, a prominent Lashkar-e-Taiba commander, has been working alongside Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Like Makki, Abdul Aziz Alvi works as part of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s charity arm Jamaatud Dawa in Pakistani Kashmir.[94]

Azmatullah Mehsud, a serious claimant to leadership, is a Taliban commander working closely alongside TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud. Wali Mohammad, Shamsur Rehman, Alimullah, Raees Khan, Sharif Khan and Noorul Islam work alongside Maulvi Nazir Ahmad. Maulana Noor Syed, Haji Aftab Khan and Maulvi Abdullah Jan belong to the Baitullah group, now led by Hakimullah Mehsud. Maulvi Aleem Khan, Saifullah, Abu Shoaib and Commander Khalil belong to the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group. Aslam Farooqi has been the Taliban’s commander in Orakzai Agency.

Hafiz Noor Saeed Khan is a leader of the Taliban in Orakzai Agency. Maulvi Noor Salam is a Taliban leader in Kurram Agency. Tariq Afridi is a prominent Taliban commander in Khyber Agency. Qari Shakil is a deputy to Umar Khalid in Mohmand Agency. Dr. Ismail is a deputy of Maulvi Faqir Muhammad in Bajaur Agency. Ibn Amin is a deputy of Maulana Fazlullah of the Swat district. Maulvi Dadullah, who is also known as Maulana Mohammad Jamal, works among the Taliban in Bajaur Agency.[95]

7. Conclusion

While a number of top terrorist commanders such as Baitullah Mehsud – and Nek Mohammed before him – have been killed in the U.S. drone attacks, the Pakistani military operations have failed to capture the top militant commanders.

This list of top jihadist commanders does not include religious leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami or other religious-political parties, or Maulana Fazlur Rehman, whose Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (part of the federal governing coalition in Islamabad) has been known to have nursed a generation of Taliban militants. The above-listed names of the top Pakistani jihadist commanders do not constitute an exhaustive list.

Each of these commanders is supported by a core group of advisers and hundreds of fighters. It is also believed that hundreds of influential militant commanders have gone underground under international pressure and due to the Pakistani military operations.

However, some militant groups such as Hizbut Tahrir Pakistan, which advances Al-Qaeda’s goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate, are active publicly despite a government ban. Similarly, anti-India jihadist commanders such as Syed Salahuddin are untouched by the Pakistani military. Meanwhile, scores of younger generations of ideologically committed jihadists are also beginning to make their own mark in Pakistan’s jihadist movements.

*Tufail Ahmad is Director of MEMRI’s Urdu-Pashtu Media Project.

 

Endnotes:

[1] U.S. Department of State (www.state.gov), U.S., September 1, 2010.

[2] U.S. Department of State (www.state.gov), September 1, 2010.

[3] United Nations Security Council, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI28410E.shtml, accessed September 18, 2010.

[4] The News (Pakistan), January 11, 2010. Also, see MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, Report No. 2741, January 8, 2010.

[5] MEMRI TV Clip No. 2338, January 9, 2010.

[6] Daily Times (Pakistan), June 19, 2004.

[7] BBC Urdu, August 8, 2009; http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/multimedia/2009/08/090807_baitullah_video.shtml

[8] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), March 9, 2009.

[9] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), June 24, 2009.

[10] Daily Times (Pakistan), March 16, 2010. The Pakistani military has previously carried out at least three major operations in South Waziristan.

[11] Wrazpanra Weesa (Afghanistan), September 22, 2010.

[12] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), March 3, 2010.

[13] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), April 26, 2010.

[14] For a detailed analysis, see: Pakistani Military Drive Avoids Targeting Taliban, Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 454, MEMRI, July 10, 2008.

[15] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), August 9, 2009.

[16] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), September 12, 2009.

[17] Roznama Express (Pakistan), September 22, 2010.

[18] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), January 15, 2010.

[19] “Taliban’s New Video of Hakimullah Mehsud Fails to Conclusively Establish That He Is Alive,” The MEMRI Blog, March 5, 2010.

[20] MEMRI TV Clip No. 2338, January 9, 2010.

[21] TTP Declarations: Targeting American Cities, MEMRI Special Dispatch Series No. 2935, May 3, 2010.

[22] The News (Pakistan), February 10, 2010.

[23] Wrazpanra Wahdat (Pakistan), November 2, 2009.

[24] In New Al-Sahab Release Waliur Rahman, “Emir of the Mujahideen of the Mehsud Tribe,” Vows to Avenge Killing of Baitullah Mehsud; Denies Reports of Internal Dissent,” The Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, MEMRI, October 5, 2009.

[25] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), June 25, 2010.

[26] Dawn (Pakistan) October 15, 2010.

[27] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), October 5, 2009.

[28] Daily Times (Pakistan), January 17, 2010.

[29] The News (Pakistan), March 23, 2010.

[30] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), April 19, 2010.

[31] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), October 5, 2009.

[32] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), April 30, 2008.

[33] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan), June 30, 2009.

[34] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), April 22, 2010.