Posts Tagged ‘Swat’

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Report by Zia Ur Rehman

The Friday Times

July 29 – Aug 04, 2011

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20110729&page=5

Cross-border attacks show that Swat Taliban, who had fled to Afghanistan during the 2009 army operation, are now gaining foothold in Malakand

A graphic video footage was posted on the LiveLeak website on 18 July, showing militants executing 18 Pakistani policemen who were captured from Upper Dir. In the video, the Taliban militants first accuse the policemen of being enemies of God and of killing six children during the military operation in Swat, and then fire at the policemen, killing them all.

The policemen were captured on June 1 after around 300 Taliban militants crossed the border from Kunar province of Afghanistan and attacked police checkposts and villages in the Shaltalu area of Upper Dir, killing 75 people including 30 paramilitary and police personnel, according to locals and police officials. The video has not been attributed to a specific Taliban faction, but police officials and locals believe that the killings were carried out by the militants of Swat and Dir who had dispersed and fled to Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan during the military operation in 2009. They are now regrouping and trying to regain a foothold in the region. “In the video, the faces of militants were covered, but their Pashto accent clearly showed they belong to Swat or Dir,” a parliamentarian elected from Upper Dir told TFT.

In the past four months, 14 cross-border incursions allegedly carried out by Pakistani militants with the help of Afghan Taliban demonstrated the continued strength of the militants in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas, in spite of several recent Pakistani military operations and the presence of NATO troops across the border. Most of the attacks took place in Dir region while other incursions have occurred in Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency, Chitral and South Wazirstan Agency. Dozens of people, including security personnel and members of anti-Taliban Lashkars, have been killed. The most recent attack occurred on July 24 when more than 50 militants crossed the border from Afghanistan and stormed the Kitkot village in Mamond Tehsil in Bajaur Agency. Residents of the bordering areas, especially Upper Dir and Bajaur, are now asking the government not to install additional security posts in their areas for fear of new attacks.

The government believes Pakistani Taliban have hideouts in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces from where NATO had pulled out its troops. “Terrorists from Swat had found safe havens these areas in Afghanistan and are launching cross-border attacks inside Pakistan from there,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general Maj Gen Athar Abass told BBC Urdu. Many security analysts believe that militants led by Maulvi Fazlullah, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad and Hafizullah (heads of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in Swat, Bajaur Agency and Dir region respectively) who fled to Afghanistan during the 2009 military operation, have started returning and are now targeting their rivals, especially the security forces. The assertion was seemingly corroborated by the TTP leaders when they claimed responsibility for the attacks in Dir. Omar Hassan Ahrabi, a spokesman for TTP in Malakand division, said his organisation had carried out the attack “with Afghan allies”.

The attacks also show that the militants are not only regrouping but also adopting a new strategy of large-scale attacks on government and security forces. TTP Bajaur leader Faqir Muhammad, previous thought dead, recently told The News that his group, in collaboration with Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban, had changed its strategy and would now focus on large-scale attacks on state targets and security agencies like it did in Dir.

Hafizullah, who hails from Nihag Darra in Upper Dir, heads the TTP in Dir region, but Qari Abdul Jabbar from Timergara is emerging as a new leader, said a TTP militant from the region. He said Jabbar heads a small group of around 400 militants chased out of Malakand during the military operation. Elders and police officials in Upper Dir say militants are hiding in and operating from Kunar and Nuristan with the help of Qari Ziaur Rehman, a key commander of Al Qaeda who hails from Kunar. Rehman operates in Pakistan’s Bajaur and Mohmand tribal regions as well as in Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan.

“The presence of the militants in three areas in Upper and Lower Dir has already been reported: the Osherai pass that links Swat with Upper Dir, Barawal that borders with Afghanistan’s Kunar province, and the Maidan area of Lower Dir that borders with Bajaur Agency”, said Khadim Hussain, a security expert who has worked extensively on militancy issues in the Tribal Areas.

Locals claim that the militants have begun roaming in their hills, 12 schools in the area have been reportedly destroyed, and many pro-government people have been killed in the last few months. That sends shockwaves through the region and belies the military’s claims of having cleared the area.

Instead of weakening the militants, the army operation seems to have shifted the hub of militancy from settled areas of Swat and Dir to the border areas, said Bahram Khan, a leader of anti-Taliban militia in Upper Dir.

The alliance between the leadership of Al Qaeda, the TTP, Afghan Taliban and other national and transnational militant groups might be looking for a new but familiar safe haven in Malakand before starting a military offensive in North Waziristan, Khadim Hussain told the TFT. He said the recent cross-border attacks may be precursors to a battle between the security forces and the Taliban for the social and administrative control of Malakand division after high-profile targets were targeted by Drone attacks in FATA.

Afghan authorities have also expressed concerns over infiltration from the Dir and Chitral areas of Pakistan to Afghan provinces of Nuristan ad Kunar. “Both Afghan and Pakistani Taliban from the bordering areas are regularly attacking the Afghan security officials and people in Nuristan’s Bargmatal and Kamdesh districts,” Nuristan governor Jamaluddin Badar told Afghan media.

Security officials say the militants will not be able to regain control of Dir. Instead, they will continue the hit-and-run tactics, an ideal guerrilla-warfare approach in the rocky terrain. There will be significant impact on the neighbouring Bajaur Agency, Swat and Chitral districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan. Dir will be a strategic base for attacks in these areas and a safe haven for militants fleeing military operations in these regions.

Zia Ur Rehman is a journalist and a researcher who works on militancy and human rights. He can be contacted at zia_red@hotmail.com

by Zia Ur Rehman

2011-05-23

Central Asia Online

KARACHI – Sindh’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has arrested three suspects belonging to the Abu Mansoor group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The three were involved in assassinations of “pro-government” Swat residents visiting Karachi, officials said.

Central Asia Online exclusively reported that TTP Swat militants who fled to Karachi after a military operation began in Swat have been assassinating pro-government Swat residents under cover of the targeted killings.

After reports from intelligence agencies and media suggested dozens of Swat anti-Taliban peace committee members had been killed in the past year in Karachi, CID personnel raided Orangi Town’s Sector 10-1/2 under the supervision of Superintendent of Police (SP) Fayyaz Khan May 19, said a CID official.

Police arrested Alamzaib (alias Noor Shah), Hassan Daar (alias Sheena) and Enamur Rehman, Karachi Police Chief Ahmed Mirza said. Hit lists containing names of political leaders and officials from CID Sindh and intelligence agencies were found in their possession, he said.

Police also recovered 20kg of explosives, two hand grenades and other arms, he added.

The arrested militants were associated with TTP Swat’s Abu Mansoor Group in the valley but in Karachi, they were working for the Omer Mufi group of the TTP, he said, adding that the held militants were also involved in robberies and kidnapping the businessmen for ransom to generate funds for the militant outfit, he added.

Alamzaib, in Swat, worked for a TTP local commander Akram aka Mohsin, belonging from Fateh Pur area and after joining the group, the former started to target government and military installations, said a CID official, citing the information obtained upon interrogation at the department.

Alamzaib aka Noor Shah

Following the successful military operation against the TTP in Swat, Alamzaib fled to Karachi, where he joined the TTP’s Omar Mufti and allegedly killed 18 people who were either suspected for providing information on the militants to law enforcement agencies or those who were key member of anti-Taliban peace committees in Swat, the CID official added.

Daar, another held suspect, was also an active member of the TTP and worked for the Adeel, a local commander in Matta area of Swat. Daar was also deputed with the task of targeting military personnel in Swat but due to the military operation, he also fled to Karachi where he targeted Swat’s people residing here who were suspected for giving information to Police, the CID disclosed.

Hassan Daar aka Sheena

Enamur Rehman, the third suspect, was trained for carrying out suicide attacks and was waiting for a directive from Mufi. Rehman, who joined the TTP in 2008 in Swat and worked under the local commander Hamzullah, also moved to Karachi following the military operation against militants in Swat, the CID official told the Central Asia Online.

Enamur Rehman

The three held militants were suspected of being involved in the murders of dozens of anti-Taliban people which include: Fazal Mohammad (a constable of Swat’s special Police Force) in SITE-A, Nasir Khan (A leader of Swat’s anti-Taliban peace committee in Kabal) in Peerabad, Farman Ali in Peerabad, Zahoor Ali in SITE-A, Mohammed Shakirullah Khan in SITE-A, Mohammed Ali in Peerabad and Farooq Ahmed in Momin Abad, along with several others.

The militants hiding in Karachi have been killed many elders of Swat in Karachi who were very helpful to the government during the military operation”, said She Shah, a parliamentarian from Swat valley, told the Central Asia Online.

“Government should also launch a “selective and surgical” operation against the militants who are working in different outfits in Karachi and killing peace committee members there”, Shah said.

“Recent arrests of the Swat’s militants by the CID in Karachi are of significant importance as the held militants were hardcore members of TTP Swat chapter, an official in Swat Police told the Central Asia Online.

Ibn-e-Aqeel aka Khog ans Sher Muhammad aka Yaseen are also key commanders of Swat militants hiding in Karachi who are also amongst the most wanted people in Swat, he said, adding that both are leading a group which mainly targets the anti-Taliban elders of Swat travelling to Karachi for personal and business reasons, he added.

20 kilogrammes of explosives, two hand grenades and three TT pistols along with bullets was recovered during the raid from possession of the militants.

Most of the militants fled from Swat following the military operation to Karachi have joined the ranks of the TTP-linked banned Jihadi outfits especially Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, in Karachi, he said.

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By Zia Ur Rehman
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2010-10-01

KARACHI – The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s network in Karachi is completely shattered, senior police sources claim.

Police have arrested dozens of Taliban militants fleeing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas after the 2009 military operations in those regions, the sources said.

Karachi, the country’s commercial hub and a city of 18m, is considered an ideal place for militants to lose themselves in the crowd. So far this year, police have arrested 75, compared to 79 all of last year, according to a survey of media reports.

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Officials present a suspect to the media at the Criminal Investigation Department in Karachi February 17. The suspect, identified as “Abdullah,” recruited numerous girls as suicide bombers, police official Omar Shahid said. [REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

The suspected TTP members came mostly from Swat, South Waziristan and Orakzai, and some possessed ready-to-use suicide jackets and huge quantities of explosives and weapons, police said.

Terrorists caught include high-profile figures

On September 22, two Afghan Taliban suspects, Abdullah Al-Hajri and Qari Hamza Ali Shah, were arrested on Super Highway, police sources said. They were planning to kill Faisal Raza Abidi and Farooq Sattar, two Karachi parliamentarians who belong to the Pakistan People’s Party and Mutahida Qaumi Movement, sources added.

Another high-profile catch is Fawad Ali, a reputed aide of Swat TTP leader Maulana Fazlullah. Police seized the suspected bomb-maker August 30 in Qasba Colony. He was arrested with 1kg of explosives, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) senior official Omar Shahid told Central Asia Online.

On August 30 police arrested Ashgar and Riaz, said Irfan Bahadur, a senior police officer overseeing Sohrab Goth and adjacent areas. The pair allegedly ran the South Waziristani TTP branch’s financial affairs, Bahadur said.

“Police have largely broken TTP’s network in the city because we have arrested consecutive amirs (heads) appointed for Karachi, including Akhter Zaman Mehsud and his successors, Bahadur Khan Mohmand – alias Sadiq – and Maulvi Saeed Anwar,” one anonymous official claimed.

Police accuse the detainees of beheading innocent civilians, attacking security forces and police, destroying private property and committing other crimes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas.

Still another arrest on June 3 netted four heavily armed suspected dacoits (bandits) in Ali Garh Colony after an attempted bank robbery. Police later identified the suspects as TTP members.

The arrest of the Afghan Taliban’s suspected second-in-command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in January spotlighted the city’s role as a Taliban sanctuary.

“I personally know that a dozen hard-line militants who killed innocent Swatis and burnt their houses have been arrested in Karachi by local police,” Jamal Nasir Khan, a former Swat district mayor, told Central Asia Online.

Militants raise money in Karachi, send it to camps in tribal regions

“Most of the militants coming to Karachi are low-profile members of the TTP,” said Raja Omar Khitab, a senior police investigator who runs the counterterrorism operation in the city. “They hide here and work as labourers. Some of them are perhaps waiting for the right time to return to the tribal areas and fight Pakistan’s security forces.”

They raise funds through extortion, bank robberies and kidnappings and send the money to training camps in tribal areas where militants plan terrorist acts, Khitab said.

TTP-affiliated clerics in tribal areas have issued fatwas authorising their followers to commit crimes to fund the fighting, according to media reports.

Many suspected militants admit during interrogation that they came to Karachi to raise money for activities in tribal areas, police said. The suspects reportedly have admitted to hijacking oil tanker trucks and committing robberies and kidnappings. They send half of their ill-gotten gains to commanders in tribal areas, police added.

Taliban insurgents from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa prefer not to stage militant acts in Karachi, preferring instead to raise money there, a senior police official and counterterrorism specialist told Central Asia Online on condition of anonymity.

Militants are fleeing tribal areas to escape the threat of aerial attacks, a political activist hailing from South Waziristan but living in Karachi said.

“We are getting information that the TTP is forming links with other jihadist networks or splinter groups in the city and recruiting people from here to fight in Pakistan’s tribal areas and Afghanistan,” a police official said, adding that authorities are cracking down on TTP-linked jihadist groups.

A recent wave of sectarian targeted killings in the city left dozens dead. Evidence leads to links with TTP Waziristan, said Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Militant groups trying to re-establish contact with each other have been foiled and have suffered numerous arrests, he added.  The crackdown on militants has taken a toll on police, as dozens of them have died, one official said.

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