|Hafiz Gul Bahadur group targeted in N Waziristan drone strike|
|[DAWN] A drone strike in North Waziristan tribal region's Shawal valley area killed eight people and wounded two others on Sunday. This is the first drone attack of the new year in Pakistan.|
Sources says that the drone targeted a compound belonging to an Uzbek commander of the Taliban's Hafiz Gul Bahadur group. The area which was hit is the Wacha Basti village near Alwara Mandi in Datakhel.
Sources added that a high-value target may have been killed in the strike but his identity could not be ascertained yet.
Fear and panic gripped the area as drones were seen flying above in the skies after the attack.
Shawal valley lies on the border of Pakistan's North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal areaa.
North Waziristan is among Pakistan?s seven tribal districts near the Afghan border which are rife with insurgents and are alleged to be strongholds of Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, among others.
Drone attacks are widely unpopular across Pakistan and according to survey conducted in June 2013, 66 per cent of the country's citizens oppose these strikes.
|U.S. Drone Strike Targeting Warlord Kills 6 in NW Pakistan|
|[AnNahar] A U.S. drone strike targeting a Taliban-linked warlord killed at least six in Pakistain's restive tribal region near the Afghan border Sunday morning, Pak security officials said.|
The strike was aimed the stronghold of prominent warlord , as well as the nearby base of an Uzbek commander in North , one of seven semi-autonomous tribal districts that border Afghanistan.
"A U.S. drone fired two missiles which hit a compound and a vehicle in Alwara Mandi of North Waziristan... killing six terrorists," a told Agence Presse, .
The area has been a hub for al-Qaeda and Talibs since the early 2000s.
Another security official confirmed the strike and casualties.
The area is generally off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to independently verify the number and identity of the dead.
The Pak military launched a major offensive in the area in June and says it has killed more than 1,700 so far, with 126 soldiers having .
Bahadur, once seen as "pro-Pak," is unhappy with the military offensive in North Waziristan. He is aligned with the feared Haqqani network, which is frequently accused of sending fighters and s against U.S. and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
The latest strikes came after Pakistain ramped up its anti-terror strategy in the wake of a December 16 attack on an army-run school in which killed 150 people, 134 of them children.
Prime Minister has announced the establishment of military courts for terror-related cases in order to accelerate trials, and the premier has also lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty, reinstating it for terrorism-related cases.
|US drone strike in Pakistan kills 5 militants|
|[Ynet] A US drone fired two missiles at hideout in northwestern Pakistain on Saturday, killing at least five Taliban fighters, two security officials said.|
In a separate operation, the military said Pak security forces killed five "terrorists" on the outskirts of , where the Pak Taliban carried out a school massacre earlier this week, killing 148 people, mainly children.
The drone strike took place in the town of Datta Khel in North , where Pak troops have been carrying out a major operation against local and foreign since June, the officials said.
The officials said the men killed in the drone strike fought under local Pak . It was not immediately clear if the drone strike was connected to the school massacre.
|Al Qaeda leader among six killed in drone strike|
|[Dawn] A US drone fired two missiles at a compound in of North near the Afghan border on Sunday, killing six suspected and wounding two others.|
Sources said missiles were fired in Kher Tangi area. A vehicle was also destroyed in the attack that occurred at around 6am.
Names and nationalities of the dead and the could not be ascertained.
Agencies add: Some officials claimed that a senior member of Al Qaeda was among the dead. They identified him as Omar Farooq and said he operated in Afghanistan and Pakistain.
The Taliban sources said that Farooq, 38, belonged to where he worked as a religious teacher before joining Al Qaeda after the 2001 attack on New York.
Farooq was close to Al Qaeda leaders and Ayman al and was a key figure in running the group's operations and finances in Pakistain and Afghanistan, where he also helped direct attacks against troops, they said.
One Pak official, requesting anonymity, said Farooq, also called Ustad Farooq, was in charge of Al Qaeda's regional media department.
"He is the first Pak to be appointed to a senior-level position in Al Qaeda," a military official said.
He said the compound belonged to loyalists of `commander' , who leads his own faction in the area.
"There is [suspicion] that an important `commander' was within the compound when missiles struck but this is yet to be verified," one intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.
The drone attack came a day after Pak troops killed a major Al Qaeda leader, Adnan el Shukrijumah.
|Key commanders of Gul Bahadur group killed in Datakhe strikes: reports|
|[Dawn] Conflicting reports suggest that air strikes conducted in Datakhel tehsil of North Agency have killed key commanders of the group.|
The dead are reported to include Gul Bahadur, Sadiq Noor and Akhtar Muhammad along with 30 other of the group.
Some sources are saying that at least seven key commanders of the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group have died in the strikes.
Pak F16 jet fighters targeted the compound and a vehicle in Seen Tanga area of Datakhel tehsil of the agency.
Military sources say that the strikes have been carried out against the in the area but their identity and the causality figure is yet to be confirmed.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur is commander of the Shura Mujahideen in North Waziristan. He had signed a peace deal with the in 2006, which had been renewed in 2008.
Bahadur however withdrew from the agreement citing the military operation in North Waziristan as a violation of the peace treaty.
Bahadur is also reportedly associated with the Haqqani group while leading his own group of the Taliban in NWA distinct from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain (TTP).
|U.S. Drone Strike Kills Four in NW Pakistan|
|[AnNahar] A U.S. drone strike killed at least four and two others in Pakistain's restive tribal region near the Afghan border on Sunday, security officials said.|
The strike took place in the Khar Tangi area of Datta Khel district in the North tribal region, where the Pak military has since June been battling linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
"The drone fired two missiles targeting a compound, killing four and wounding two others," a told AFP on condition of anonymity.
He added the compound belonged to loyalists of commander , who leads his own faction in the region.
Another official who confirmed the strike said the identities of those killed in the strike were not known.
North Waziristan is one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal districts that border Afghanistan. It has been a hub for Al-Qaeda and Talibs since the early 2000s.
The area is generally off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to independently verify the number and identity of the dead.
Washington pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which have used to launch attacks on forces in Afghanistan.
The Pak military launched a major offensive in the district in June and says it has killed more than 1,560 so far, with 125 soldiers losing their lives.
A soldier was killed and another when their vehicle was hit by a near Datta Khel district on Sunday, a local security official said.
|Consortium of Terror|
|Al Qaeda (AQ)|
AQ is not just a conventional group but the fountainhead of a violent ideology.
The organisation was founded at the end of the 1980s by Osama bin Laden while he was in Afghanistan/Pakistan waging war against the Soviets. According to Al Qaeda literature, the organisation's ultimate goal is to establish a hardline global caliphate. It seeks to fight America and her 'apostate' allies in the Muslim world.
While the organisation maintains a relatively low profile in Pakistan, it is behind much of the coordination between different jihadi groups in a bid to 'channelise' and 'streamline' the effort.
In contrast with many other jihadi groups, the overwhelming majority of their cadres in Pakistan are university graduates hailing from well-off urban families.
Al Qaeda regards Pakistan as a 'Daar-ul-Kufr wal harb' (abode of disbelief and war). It classifies the rulers as 'apostates' against whom it is obligatory to rebel and fight.
Al Qaeda considers Shias as disbelievers 'in the garb of Islam'. As such, the militant organisation considers it permissible to shed the blood of Shia Muslims and confiscate their wealth. However on strategic grounds, the Al Qaeda chief has advised the operatives not to engage minority groups anywhere in a confrontation unless 'absolutely required' such as in Syria and Iraq.
The organisation rejects the concept of nation-states. It seeks to expand the theatre of war, topple governments in Muslim countries and form a global caliphate.
Formally launched in 2007, the TTP is effectively Al Qaeda's local franchise in Pakistan. Among anti-state jihadi groups here, TTP maintains the strongest footprint with operatives all over the country. Its stated objective is to turn Pakistan into an 'Islamic state'.
Up till its recent splintering, The group regarded the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Umar, as its supreme leader.
As with Al Qaeda, the TTP regards Pakistan as a 'Daar-ul-Kufr wal harb' (abode of disbelief and war) and considers its rulers apostates.
While the TTP also considers Shia Muslims to be apostates, there is currently a debate within the organisation on whether a front should be opened against them.
The TTP is also increasingly looking at global operations, most recently with top TTP leaders forming splinter group TTP Jamaatul Ahrar; the group has openly pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
The IMU was founded by Tahir Yuldashev and Jumma Kasimov (both Uzbeks) in 1991. The two had earlier fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion of the country.
The initial objective of the organisation was to topple Islam Karimov's regime in Uzbekistan and to establish an 'Islamic state' in the country. They also fought alongside the Taliban against the Northern Alliance.
Kasimov died in the fighting while Yuldashev, along with his fighters, managed to escape into Pakistan's tribal areas during the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan. IMU maintains strong contacts with Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban as well as the TTP.
For now, its focus remains on strengthening the group as it prepares for the war in Central Asia.
An offshoot of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), the virulently sectarian LJ was formed in 1996. Its founders Riaz Basra, Akram Lahori and Malik Ishaq had differences with the SSP and believed that the parent organisation had drifted from its original ideals.
LJ's primary targets are Shia Muslims and it has indiscriminately targeted them through both assassination and mass casualty attacks. The LJ has killed thousands of people, including many women and children. Its largest attacks to date have been against the Shia Hazaras of Quetta.
LJ leaders say their aim is to turn Pakistan into a Sunni Islamic state and consider it a 'priority' to target Shia Muslims. The group also seeks to establish stronger ties with anti-Iran groups operating in the region.
Splinters, subdivisions and shadow groups
The lines blur when it comes to differentiating between militant groups in Pakistan. They share space, tactics and resources and sometimes, subdivisions are created for specific purposes and for creating confusion in the public's minds.
TTP Jamaat ul Ahrar
On August 26, 2014, key commanders belonging to the TTP announced the formation of a new group by the name of TTP Jamatul Ahrar, with Maulana Qasim Khorasani as the new Ameer and also comprising other commanders. The new group comprises of members from four of the seven tribal districts bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, namely Mohmand, Bajaur, Khyber and Orakzai.
Former TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan, who has been nominated as the spokesman for the splinter group says the new group only wants the Shariah system to prevail in the country.
At least 60 people were killed on Sunday November 2, 2014 in a blast near the Wagah border, the responsibility of which was claimed separately by the outlawed Jundullah and TTP-affiliated Jamaat-ul-Ahrar outfits.
Ahrar ul Hind
The group's name literally means freedom fighters of India (referring to the Indian subcontinent as a whole).
According to a commander of a Taliban group, the group derived its name of 'Ahrar' from Majlis-i-Ahrar-ul-Islam, because the Ahraris were against the formation of Pakistan, and they believed that the entire subcontinent was their homeland. The commander said that the group planned to expand their operations to the remaining part of the subcontinent.
A North Waziristan based group primarily concerned with the 'welfare' of locked-up jihadis. Its tasks include intelligence gathering about Pakistani jails and planning jailbreaks to release militants. It is closely allied to TTP and draws many of its fighters from TTP and IMU. Its basic agenda is to free all militants locked up in jails across the country.
Al Qaeda allied group with a single point agenda to track down and eliminate 'spies' in North Waziristan.
A small organisation affiliated with the TTP. Its primary focus is targeting armed forces personnel and politicians. As with AQ and TTP, Ansar al-Mujahideen aims to turn Pakistan into an 'Islamic State' and use the state to launch 'jihad' against other belligerent states.
Al Qaeda affiliated group that started off from South Waziristan. It gained most notoriety for its assassination attempt on the then Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat. The outfit has also targeted Shia Muslims and foreign tourists.
Not to be confused with the
A group formed after the Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad. It is named after Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, the former Lal Masjid cleric who was also killed in the operation. Most of its members are relatives and friends of the people killed in the 2007 operation.
This group has practically merged with the TTP. Some of its members and sympathisers in and around Islamabad are known to provide intelligence and a footprint in the capital. Members of the group consider it a priority to target former president Pervez Musharraf.
The 'Other' Militants
Then there are those jihadi groups who, for one reason or another, have historically been classified as 'good' militants by the state. Part of the reason for this is that these groups do not prioritise targeting the Pakistani state and instead turn their energies outwards. However, there is evidence that militants from their ranks can and at times do join other organisations, such as the TTP, AQ and LJ.
They also share ideological commonalities with those groups and in some cases even share resources and physical space.
Formed in the early 90s in Afghanistan, the group has been primarily operating in Indian-held Kashmir. It seeks to 'liberate' the people of Kashmir from 'Indian oppression' and establish an Islamic state' in the region.
It sees India, the United States and Israel as eternal enemies of Islam and boasts about defeating them through armed struggle. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the head of Jamat-ud-Dawa denies that his charity is simply a cover for the banned militant outfit. However the lower cadre not only acknowledges their connection with LeT but proudly boast about their operations in India.
In line with their particular brand of Salafism, the organisation is strongly opposed to rebellion against the Pakistani state. Members of the group say they are bracing themselves for the Ghazwa-i-Hind ' a grand war in which Muslims will regain control of India, they claim.
Jaish-e-Muhammad was formed in 2000 by Maulana Masood Azhar. Shortly after its inception, it effectively swallowed a previously existing but now largely defunct Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM). Its primary goal is to 'liberate' Kashmir from Indian rule and it has carried out various attacks on Indian interests including the 2001 attack on Indian parliament.
The group was banned by then President Pervez Musharraf and rebranded itself as Khuddam-ul-Islam. It continues to engage in open fundraising outside many Pakistani mosques on Fridays.
The group emerged as an offshoot of Jaish-e-Muhammad after serious differences emerged between various commanders. TGI is led by Commander Abdul Jabbar and operates primarily in Afghanistan. Publicly, the organisation opposes rebellion against the Pakistani state. It stresses on its cadre to focus on Afghanistan.
The group has recently emerged in parts of Balochistan bordering Iran. It has targeted Shia Muslims and claims to be countering Iranian interference in Pakistan. The group also seeks to extend the theatre of war into Iran.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur group
He is one of the most influential figures in North Waziristan but at the same time, maintains a very low profile. Bahadur is politically affiliated with Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman's Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur have been very secretive about their plans. In public, they have always maintained focus on 'liberating' Afghanistan and re-establishing Taliban rule. He is considered a pragmatic figure who knows how to consolidate his position. He has successfully managed his relations with both the military and the TTP.
He has never made his position on the Pakistani state public. However one of his most prominent commanders, who has since been killed in a US drone strike, gave an hour-long interview to Al Qaeda's media wing As Sahab in 2009.
In the interview he made it clear that he did not have any differences with Al Qaeda or the TTP and that they were his 'brothers'. He had also said that his men would fight against the Pakistan army if it sided with the Americans.
This setup operates primarily in the Eastern Afghan provinces of Khost and Paktika even though it has carried out 'daring' attacks in Kabul. The network has also attempted to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The group is currently headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, one of the sons of veteran Afghan jihadi commander Jalaluddin Haqqani. He is one of the most powerful commanders in the region and maintains good relations with Al Qaeda and the TTP.
The group has been silent on their view of the Pakistani state, however when questioned about the TTP, Sirajuddin Haqqani is on record as saying that he does not have differences with his 'brothers'. Their future plans focus on the reinstatement of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
The group was formed in the 90s in response to the anti-Shia violence perpetuated by Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). It maintains a very low profile and seeks to primarily target leaders of anti-Shia militant organisations such as SSP and LJ.
Its leader Syed Ghulam Raza Naqvi has been in prison since the mid-90s. Pakistani intelligence agencies claim the group is backed by Iran in a bid to extend its influence in the region.
|Second drone attack in 24 hours kills four in NWA|
|[DAWN] At least four suspected including a local were killed in yet another US drone strike in Shawal tehsil of North Agency on Saturday night raising the toll from a series of attacks this week to 29.|
Intelligence sources said that a US drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in Maraga area of Shawal tehsil of the troubled North Waziristan Agency bordering Afghanistan. Four suspected including a commander have died in the strike, they added.
Sources also said that the has been identified as Mustafa, who they claimed belonged to group.
The incident, however, could not be independently verified as access of journalists is restricted in the area.
Earlier in the day, a US drone strike had killed four suspected and left several others injured on the Pak-Afghan border area near 's Tirah valley.
Official sources said that the drone targeted hideouts in the Cancharo Kandoa area on the Afghan side.
The village is right on the zero-line but the area which was targeted falls under the Afghan jurisdiction.
The identity of the dead is yet to be ascertained.
Khyber and North Waziristan are among Pakistain's seven semi-autonomous regions governed by tribal laws and lies near the Afghan border. The Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked groups, who stage attacks in both Pakistain and Afghanistan, are known to have strongholds in the zone.
The Pak military launched a major anti-militant offensive, in North Waziristan in June and say they have killed more than 1,000 so far, with 86 soldiers losing their lives in the operation.
Drone attacks are widely unpopular across Pakistain and according to survey conducted in June this year, 66 per cent of the country's citizens oppose these strikes.
|80pc of Miramshah cleared, army says|
|[DAWN] Major General Zafarullah Khan on Wednesday said that 80 per cent of has been cleared during the North operation, adding that outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain commander , if spotted, would be eliminated without any delay.|
The general further said that evidence of Al Qaeda's presence in the region was found and the army was still facing opposition from some areas.
The army official maintained that the civilian population was not targeted during the operation. This information, however, could not be independently verified.
Major General Zafarullah Khan is the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7th Infantry Division Miranshah, North Waziristan.
The general acknowledged that foreign and local were residing in the area.
Bahadur is known to have links with notorious groups in tribal North Waziristan, including the Haqqani network.
Jet fighters carried out s on suspected hideouts destroying three of them while 11 suspected were also killed earlier today during the Zarb-e-Azb operation in the North Waziristan tribal region, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) sources said.
The , however, could not be independently verified.
First time since the launch of this operation, Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, was opened for national and international media as media personnel, particularly from the television networks, were allowed to take shots of several destroyed hideouts.
|Zarb-i-Azb Bad news for 'Good' Taliban?|
|[DAWN] The North military offensive is on.|
As we all hope, it will change the landscape of the country besides having a far-reaching impact on the political and strategic dynamics of conflict in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
So far, in North Waziristan were the ones least challenged by the state's counter-terrorism efforts. The tribal agency is (or was) considered the last resort of s, which is why a comprehensive military campaign was required to establish the writ of the government.
But when news of the offensive first broke, one thing many Paks found themselves submerged in was questions:
Comprehensive and all-out
It is an inbuilt compulsion in the North Waziristan operation that Pakistain should go after the comprehensively and objectively. It will make Pakistain's position difficult both on international and domestic fronts if continue using the tribal territories for hiding and launching operations both in Afghanistan and Pakistain or elsewhere.
The s going on in North Waziristan are mainly targeting foreign but boots will be on the ground soon in the second phase of the operation.
Good and Bad now hard to distinguish
The operation will eventually lead to termination of all the peace treaties made by the government with some of the groups in the past and distinction between the good and bad Taliban will become blurred.
Most importantly, it will become harder for Haqqani to stay in the tribal agency as their argument of having sought shelter in uncontrolled territories will no longer be valid.
Even during the operation, distinguishing between the good and bad would be difficult.
Just a day before the launch of the military operation, the government was trying to resolve some issues with a so-called good , who heads local Taliban's council, Shura Mujahideen.
He had signed a peace agreement with the government in 2006.
Bahadur was not happy about military's surgical strikes, before the launch of operation, and warned the government of revoking the peace agreement. A tribal jirga mediated and tried to convince Gul Bahadur to clear the region of foreign s.
Perhaps Gul Bahadur was among the few who were certain that the military was going to launch an operation in North Waziristan. He had asked the residents to leave North Waziristan before June 20. His announcement, which asked people to move towards the Afghan border instead of going to relief camps in Bannu, expressed his anger over pre-operation military strikes, which he declared a violation of the peace treaty.
Though considered a "good Taliban" commander, Bahadur is known to have provided sanctuaries to foreign from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and Al Qaeda. His friendly attitude towards anti-Pakistain groups and special affiliation with the ETIM was frustrating for the security establishment.
Sajna's future hangs in the balance
Apart from Gul Bahadaur, the future of Said Khan Sajna has also become uncertain.
Sajna was recently trying to emerge as a new good . He was planning to organize a new Taliban alliance to replace Mullah Nazir group, which is currently headed by Bahawal Khan. In 2007, Mullah Nazir successfully threw out Uzbeks from South Waziristan; Uzbeks again started pouring in after Nazir's death in a drone strike in January 2013.
Though Sajna is trying his best to be bracketed with the good ones, his group's network in has become a matter of trouble for him. His faction is involved in criminal and terrorist activities in Karachi.
The Gul Bahadur episode reflected that the government considers it important to make the anti-state groups including the TTP weak enough before 2015 so that the Afghan Taliban would not be able to use them as a bargaining lever and should continue to look towards Pakistain for political support.
Lots to decide for the Army
Eventually it is the military leadership that will have to decide the fate of the groups based in North Waziristan during the recently launched offensive.
On the face of it, it appears as if the security establishment has decided to eliminate or push the infrastructure towards the other side of the Pak-Afghan border.
Now, when the operation has been launched, past peace deals with the have no legal and moral grounds. At the same time, allowing Haqqanis to live in and operate from Pakistain's tribal belt will not be strategically suitable as it will raise questions about the ability of Pak troops to hold its own areas after clearing them of the s.
TTP elimination not guaranteed
The military operation in itself is not a difficult task. Pakistain army has capabilities to reclaim and hold the area in a minimum time-frame.
The post-operation situation seems hazy and subject to different scenarios. For example, a full-scale operation in North Waziristan cannot guarantee the TTP's elimination.
There are two reasons for that:
|Hafiz Gul Bahadur group extends ceasefire to June 20|
|[DAWN] The North Wazristan Taliban Shura led by has extended the ceasefire till June 20 and also assured the government to carry out probe into the Boya checkpost which left at least three FC soldiers and a child dead earlier on Monday.|
Ahmedullah Ahmedi, the of North Taliban in a statement issued to the media said that after a meeting with the grand jirga of North Wazristan, the shura has decided to extend the ceasefire deadline by ten days.
Following massive s by Pak jet fighters that killed at least 60 in North Waziristan last month, s met to reconsider a non-aggression treaty with the government. The Taliban group later warned the to flee the area by June 10 and also warned to take up arms against the Pak security forces.
The also condemned the attack on Boya checkpost on Monday and said the Taliban Shura would probe into the incident and take action against the culprits.
Ahmedi further said that the Taliban shura would have more sittings with the jirga during this period to resolve the issue.
The statement came days after tribal elders from North Waziristan were asked by Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan and Corps Commander Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani to oust foreign from their area.
The jirga was led by Utmanzai Wazir and Dawar tribal elders -- the two main tribes that inhabit North Waziristan -- and Haji Sher Mohammad Khan, a descendent of the famous anti-colonial rebel Faqir of Ipi.
|N Waziristan tribes agree to oust foreign fighters in 15 days|
|[DAWN] A representative jirga (tribal elders) of North Agency on Friday agreed to oust from the area in 15 days as they assured Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan that all efforts would be made for restoration of peace in the agency.|
The North Waziristan Taliban, led by