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Pak Taliban take their jihad to Afghanistan

Last updated on: May 3, 2012 08:06 IST

Pak Taliban take their jihad to Afghanistan

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The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has decided that the outfit will now focus on jihad inside Afghanistan, reports Tahir Ali

In a recent high-level meeting held in the North Waziristan Agency, top leaders of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan decided to support the Afghanistan Taliban, headed by Mullah Muhammad Omer.

The Afghan Taliban had already kicked off its spring offensive with coordinated attacks in the heart of Kabul in April.

A number of small and large Taliban factions are active in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas. Most of these groups profess their allegiance to Mullah Omer, the reclusive chief of the Afghan Taliban and one of the world's most wanted men.

These Taliban factions often attack Pakistani security forces and other sensitive government installations. The TTP, led by Hakimullah Mehsud, has often carried out suicide attacks inside Pakistan.

The TTP has been severely criticised for carrying out suicide attacks in crowded places, in which innocent civilians end up being the casualties.

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Image: Hakimullah Mehsud with Pakistani journalists


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'The meeting was called by Hakimullah Mehsud'

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Mullah Omer, due to his policy of non-interference in the affairs of the Pakistani Taliban, has always kept quiet over such acts by Mehsud's men.

According to sources, during a recent high-level meeting of the TTP's leading members, it was decided that the outfit would focus on jihad inside Afghanistan.

A senior member of the TTP, on the condition of anonymity, told rediff.com, "The meeting was called by Hakimullah Mehsud. Many leading commanders of the TTP from various tribal areas participated in it. It was decided to shift the focus of attacks across the border and to support the Mullah Omer-led Afghan Taliban in such a way that US-led forces leave the country in a hurry."

According to the Taliban commander, the decision has been taken for three reasons -- to support the Afghan Taliban; to garner the sympathies of 'good' Taliban commanders like Hafiz Gul Bahadur, head of all Taliban factions in North Waziristan and Mullah Nazir, another powerful Taliban commander in South Waziristan; and to portray a positive image of the Taliban for the Pakistani masses. 

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Image: South Waziristan Taliban commander Mullah Nazir


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Hakimullah Mehsud has been 'killed' twice

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TTP made the decision to get the support of other militant groups and to make its image better in the eyes of Pakistani masses," the commander added.

After this decision, the attacks inside Pakistan have reduced drastically, but this doesn't indicate that the Taliban had made its peace with the civilian government, warned the commander.

Another important feature of the TTP's recent meeting was the participation of Hakimullah Mehsud.

To escape drone strikes by the United States, Mehsud frequently changes his hideouts in the tribal areas of Pakistan, while sometimes he crosses over to Afghanistan.

Though Mehsud was reportedly 'killed' twice in US drone strikes -- once in February 2010 and then again in February this year -- he is still leading the TTP from his hideouts.

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Image: Hakimullah Mehsud


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'No other wounds on the body of Mehsud'

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Sources in Waziristan have revealed that TTP founder Baitullah Mehsud was not killed in a drone strike in August 2009, as claimed by US authorities, but by strangulation.

A Taliban source said, "Baitullah Mehsud was not killed in a US drone attack. He was strangled while he was on an intravenous infusion atop the house of his father-in-law. When his wife rushed to the spot, the killers threw a hand grenade that killed her."

The source added, "Apart from the remnants of the hand grenade, there were no other wounds on the body of Baitullah Mehsud. In almost all drone strikes in Waziristan, the dead bodies are so badly mutilated and disfigured that they can hardly be identified."

Local sources confirmed that reports of Baitullah Mehsud's death by a drone strike were merely rumours.

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Image: Security personnel stand outside a building at Lower Dir district, in the Swat region
Photographs: Reuters

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US mum about Baitullah Mehsud's death

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If he was targeted atop a building by a drone, then it would be difficult even to retrieve parts of his body from the rubble," said a local tribesman.

According to some experts, the US has kept mum over the issue as the Central Intelligence Agency needed to show that Baitullah Mehsud and other high-value targets had been killed by drone strikes to justify such strikes in the first place.

After the death of Baitullah Mehsud, Taliban took his father-in-law Akramud Din into custody and started probing his alleged role in the killing of his son-in-law.

Mufti Waliur Rehman, the head of TTP's South Waziristan chapter, kept him in detention for six months but Akramud Din still did not admit to his role in the killing of Baitullah Mehsud.

Akramud Din was finally released but the killing of Baitullah Mehsud remains a mystery.

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Image: Baitullah Mehsud's father-in-law Akramud Din
Photographs: Reuters

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