9,ooo Russian Spetsnaz Come Ashore Between Two of Obama’s “Countries of Significant Concern,” Lithuania and Poland

[SEE: The Indian/Russian Mach 3 Carrier-Killer Missile]

Russia-Today
FILE PHOTO: A state-of-the-art Iskander-M short-range tactical missile system (RIA Novosti / Alexander Vilf)

FILE PHOTO: A state-of-the-art Iskander-M short-range tactical missile system (RIA Novosti / Alexander Vilf)

The Russian military has concluded a massive surprise drill in the Kaliningrad region to test the combat readiness of some 9,000 troops and 642 vehicles, including tactical Iskander-M ballistic missile systems rapidly deployed from the mainland.

READ MORE: NATO destabilizing Baltic by stationing nuke-capable aircraft – Moscow

The drills took place December 5-10, the head of the main Operation Directorate of General Staff, Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov announced on Tuesday. Military units and formations deployed in the Western Military District were brought to their highest level of combat readiness at 7 p.m. Moscow time on December 5.

READ MORE: NATO’s Estonia drills are anti-Russian, don’t make Europe more secure – Moscow

The exercises involved missile and artillery units, mechanized infantry, airborne troops and marines, division reconnaissance, communications, logistics, as well as the crews of combat and military transport aircraft and helicopters, and vessels of the Baltic Fleet.

Tactical Iskander-M ballistic missile systems of the Western Military District’s missile brigade were rapidly transferred from Russia’s mainland to conduct off-the-march combat training tasks. Within two days, two brigades were deployed in Kaliningrad by the military transport aircraft and vessels of the Baltic Fleet.

FILE PHOTO: Iskander-M missile system (RIA Novosti / Alexander Vilf)

FILE PHOTO: Iskander-M missile system (RIA Novosti / Alexander Vilf)

Meanwhile, the Air Defense forces repelled a simulated attack of the maneuver enemy on strategic government and military installations. The tactical border protection exercises also included sea and underwater drills.

A fully operational and self-sufficient interspecific group of troops was created within a “very short period of time,” Kartapolov said, adding that currently all the units taking part in tactical exercises have returned to the places of their permanent deployment.

In 2014, the Russian military held numerous maneuvers in several districts of Russia, including two major exercise events – Vostok-2014 and Russia-China Naval Interaction-2014. Vostok 2014 was the most prominent military drill, held in 11 areas in the Far Eastern part of Russia with about 150,000 people participating.

READ MORE: Surprise drill puts over 100,000 troops through their paces in Russia’s Far East

Marines ("Black Berets") in Kaliningrad. (RIA Novosti / Igor Zarembo)

Jamat-ul Ahrar, New Name for Pakistani Taliban Barbarians

[SEE:   Pakistani Taliban Slaughter 100+ Schoolchildren In Peshawar ]

Ideological purification: Understanding the TTP split

dawn

Muhammad Amir Rana

Khorasani  Jamatul Ahrar
Omar Khalid Khorasani is seen in the centre during an interview in Mohmand tribal region on June 2, 2011. —Reuters photo

There is nothing new or surprising in the news of a split among ranks of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as it had been in the process since November last year, when TTP’s head Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack.

While many see this split as a major blow to the terrorists’ umbrella organisation, it is worrisome that some relatively more brutal factions of the group are reorganising themselves.

The chance that this split will affect the existing militant landscape in the region is small.

The news indicates, in fact, that certain terrorist groups are in a process of transformation and are absorbing influences of newly emerging terrorist organisations like the Islamic State (previously ISIS, now IS).

The new influences and inspirations are causing ideological purification within terrorist organisations.

The newly established group Jamatul Ahrar, and its goals and objectives suggest that it is inspired by the achievements of the IS.

According to media reports, the group is the brainchild of Omar Khalid Khorasani — an ambitious Taliban commander and a member of TTP Shura who was not happy with peace talks between Taliban and the government.

Transformations and ideological purifications among terrorist groups usually entail a process of abrasion, which sometime goes deep, but should not be regarded as destruction.

Transformations do not make terrorist groups weaker.

Rather, they provide new ideological strengths, which help terrorists restructure their groups and revamp their operational strategies. When Ahrar claimed that the TTP now belonged to them, they meant to say that they had substituted the older organisational and operational formations with new ones.

Terrorist movements have passed through many transformations during the last one decade.

Much has been written about how Kashmir-based militant groups and sectarian groups in Pakistan came under al Qaeda’s ideological influence, which transformed major segments of these groups.

There were almost similar reasons behind the confrontation between the Taliban commanders Abdullah Mehsud and Baitullah Mehsud in 2004.

Abdullah wanted to speed up terrorist operations in Afghanistan, but Baitullah had come up with new ideological motives. While he did not object to Pakistani Taliban extending over help to their Afghan counterparts in Afghanistan, he stressed upon establishing the rule of Shariah in whatever tribal areas inside Pakistan were under Taliban control.

Under the influence of the Arabs and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Baitullah also developed differences with Waziri militant commanders.

In the subsequent years, differences between Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman Mehsud were primary of operational nature, but Waliur Rehman was not happy with the increasing sectarian tendencies in TTP.

When ideological transformations occurred across Pakistani militant groups within the broader concept of an Islamic state, it gradually ‘purified’ their objectives and evolved different trends among them.

Now, Pakistan has militant groups with interests ranging widely from tribal and nationalist ambitions to sectarian, regional and even global ones. There is a lot of diversity in these groups.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan appears to be one of the major reasons behind new developments within the TTP.

As the military operation uprooted militants from their safe heavens and dispersed them, many militant commanders and groups looked confused as to how to respond to this situation, particularly in absence of an agreed-upon leadership.

TTP already had cracks, and it appeared that two Mehsud factions were fighting with each other over the issue of leadership and resource distributions.

One of these groups was the Khorasani group.

Omar Khorasani was not happy with the infighting among militants. He contested Fazlullah’s leadership, had reservations on his ideological vision and believed that the latter was focused too narrowly on his native region (Swat), which damaged the operational effectiveness of the TTP across the country.

Khorasani aspires to make his group part of a broader Khorasan movement, which he believes will bring global change and help establish the Caliphate system in the world.

The emergence of the IS also influenced some TTP and other militant commanders to revamp their movement and to revisit their strategies, capacities and operational targets.

The Khorasani group has been under the influence of al Qaeda, which unlike IS, does not hold any territory. Al Qaeda is an underground organisation that operates through its affiliates, which can intensify conflicts in certain regions; but it is not capable of leading the movements on the ground. Even on an operational front, al Qaeda depends on terrorist attacks and cannot develop and lead a force like IS.

The IS is inspiring more groups other than just Pakistani militants. Boko Haram and other terrorists groups that emerged after 9/11 have also pledged allegiance to this new movement.

Though the chances that groups like Jamatul Ahrar will announce allegiance to IS are few, it is safe to say that they are getting inspired by this new entity.

With al Qaeda getting weaker in the region, these groups may imitate the operational tactics of IS in the near future.

Pakistani Taliban Slaughter 100+ Schoolchildren In Peshawar

At least 104 dead in Taliban school attack in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: Taliban militants attacked a school in Peshawar on Tuesday, leaving at least 104 people dead including 84 students.

LIVE UPDATES:

03:23 p.m: Two twin explosives alongwith gunshots are just heard at the ground zero.

03:17 p.m: Two close relatives of ARY News correspondent in Peshawar were amongst the deceased.

03:14 p.m: ISPR has stated that three blocks of the school have been cleared from terrorists.

03:11 p.m: Nawaz Sharif has arrived in Peshawar to review the hostile situation.

03:05 p.m: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has condemned the attack on Army Public School and appealed the citizens to donate blood for the victims of the attack.

02:42 p.m: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has also left for Peshawar.

02:40 p.m: PTI Chairman Imran Khan has left for Peshawar.

02: 27 p.m: Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah has held both federal government and PTI Chairman Imran Khan responsible for the attack.

02:18 p.m: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has left for Peshawar where he will monitor the operation and relief work himself. He has called the incident a national tragedy. maryam02:12 p.m: CM KP Pervez Khattak has said that 104 people have been killed in which 84 are children. He has announced three-day mourning. He said that the terrorists were dressed in Frontier Corps (FC) uniform and were speaking Arabic. 02:05 p.m: 23 children have been killed so far. A soldier escorts schoolchildren after they were rescued from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar02:00 p.m: Two terrorists have been killed in the operation so far. A Pakistani soldier takes up a position above a road near a military run school that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar01:47 p.m: At least 23 people have been killed so far which includes large number of children. A female teacher and a soldier is amongst the deceased as well. Schoolchildren cross a road as they move away from a military run school that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar01:46 p.m: Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Pervez Khattak has condemned the attack on Army Public School.

01: 19 p.m: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif contacted Federal Interior Minister and instructed him to complete the rescue operation as soon as possible.

A soldier escorts schoolchildren after they were rescued from from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

01:15 p.m: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has condemned the attack on Army Public School.

01: 09 p.m: The death toll has increased to 18.

A rescue worker waves to make way for an ambulance as it speeded away form a school that was attacked by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

01:05 p.m: Hospitals are appealing the citizens to donate blood for the wounded.

12:55 p.m: A terrorist has just blew himself outside the auditorium.

12:54 p.m: According to ARY News correspondent, at least 12 children have been killed in the Taliban attack so far.

12:51 p.m: The children said that the terrorists attacked the auditorium where they were giving their examinations.

12:48 p.m: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has said that the children and staff have been evacuated from the building.

Pakistani security forces drive on a road leading to the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

12:43 p.m: Another child has been killed in the terrorist attack.

Pakistani security forces takes up a positions on a road leading to the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

12:39 p.m: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the violent incident and ordered the safe rescue of the children trapped inside the school.

12:39 p.m: A rescue operation is underway to rescue the schoolchildren. Security sources have said that majority of the children have been rescued.

12: 37 p.m: A school teacher had said that around 1400 to 1500 students study in the school.

Details:

Taliban militants stormed the Army Public School in Peshawar in broad daylight in a latest major offensive after military operation currently underway.

Five or six militants wearing military uniforms have entered the Army Public School in the city of Peshawar, a source at the school told AFP.The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the gunmen had been ordered to shoot older students but not children.

TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani told AFP there were six attackers.

“They include target killers and suicide attackers. They have been ordered to shoot the older students but not the children,” he said.

“There has been an incident of firing at Army Public School in Peshawar. Troops have cordoned off the area and (are) searching for the militants,” a senior military official told AFP. (AFP)