Pakistani Taliban commander claims female suicide attack

Umar-Khalid-TTP-Reuters.jpg

Center: Omar Khalid, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in the tribal agency of Mohmand. Reuters image.

A dangerous commander from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan who is closely linked to al Qaeda claimed yesterday’s suicide attack in Peshawar that was carried out by a female.

Omar Khalid, the Taliban’s leader in the tribal agency of Mohmand, said the use of a female suicide bomber was part of the Taliban’s evolving “strategy” in their war against the Pakistani state.

“It is part of our strategy and in war strategies keep on changing,” Khalid told AFP. “The blasts were in reaction to the current military operation in the tribal areas.”

Khalid also said that such attacks would continue until Pakistani Army offensives that are designed “to appease the United States” are halted. The Pakistani military has repeatedly claimed success in operations in the tribal areas, including in Mohmand, but in reality has failed to unseat the top Taliban leaders in the tribal areas.

Yesterday’s suicide attack in Peshawar, which targeted a police checkpoint but killed an elderly woman, was the third suicide attack carried out by a female in Pakistan since December 2010. The Taliban have also carried out three other suicide attacks inside Afghanistan since June 2010 [see LWJ report, Female suicide bomber strikes in Peshawar, for the list of attacks].

Omar Khalid, the Taliban commander of Mohmand agency.

Mohmand Taliban under command of able leader

Khalid is a senior deputy of Hakeemullah Mehsud’s Taliban movement. Khalid is considered one of the Taliban’s most effective and powerful leaders in the tribal areas. He also maintains close ties to al Qaeda and is believed to have given sanctuary to Ayman al Zawahiri in the past.

Khalid is also allied with Qari Zia Rahman, the dual-hatted Taliban and al Qaeda leader who operates in Pakistan’s tribal agencies of Mohmand and Bajaur as well as in Afghanistan’s provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. Rahman established and runs the suicide training camps that are used to indoctrinate and train female bombers [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda, Taliban create female suicide cells in Pakistan and Afghanistan].

Khalid has been active in the Taliban’s propaganda machine since the death of Osama bin Laden, and has been vocal in his support of al Qaeda. In mid-May, Khalid vowed revenge on Pakistani and US forces for the death of Osama bin Laden.

“We will take revenge of Osama’s killing from the Pakistani government, its security forces, the Pakistani ISI, the CIA and the Americans, they are now on our hit list,” Khalid said. “Osama bin Laden has given us the ideology of Islam and Jihad, by his death we are not scattered but it has given us more strength to continue his mission.”

In early June, Khalid said the Taliban have been behind the spate of attacks in Pakistan and again threatened the US.

“Our war against America is continuing inside and outside of Pakistan. When we launch attacks, it will prove that we can hit American targets outside Pakistan,” Khalid said.

In the same interview, Khalid said that Ayman al Zawahiri is al Qaeda’s “chief and supreme leader.” He stated this more than one week before Zawahiri was officially declared emir of al Qaeda.

Khalid gained prominence during the summer of 2007 after taking over a famous shrine in Mohmand and renaming it the Red Mosque in honor of the radical mosque in Islamabad whose followers had attempted to impose sharia in the capital.

The Mohmand Taliban took control of the tribal agency after the Pakistani government negotiated a peace agreement with the extremists at the end of May 2008. The deal required the Taliban to renounce attacks on the Pakistani government and security forces. The Taliban said they would maintain a ban on the activities of nongovernmental organizations in the region but agreed not to attack women in the workplace as long as they wore veils. Both sides exchanged prisoners.

The Taliban promptly established a parallel government in Mohmand. Sharia courts were formed, and orders were given for women to wear the veil in public. “Criminals” were rounded up and judged in sharia courts. Women were ordered to have a male escort at all times and were prevented from working on farms. The Taliban also kidnapped members of a polio vaccination team.

In July 2008, Khalid became the dominant Taliban commander in Mohmand after defeating the Shah Sahib group, a rival pro-Taliban terror group with ties to the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The military claimed it killed Khalid in January of 2009, but the Taliban denied the report and he has since surfaced.

The Pakistani government has placed a $123,000 bounty on Khalid’s head.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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11 Comments

  • Villiger says:

    Bill, can you comment a little further on the following statement please:
    “Khalid gained prominence in Mohmand during the summer of 2007 after taking over a famous shrine and renaming it the Red Mosque, after the radical mosque in Islamabad whose followers had attempted to impose sharia in the capital.”
    Was this guy actually in that mosque at the time, or was he coordinating from outside? Please clarify, as its important to know if he was physicall within the grasp of the Pak military at that time.
    Thanks and best,
    Villiger

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I think you may have misread what I wrote, he took over a shrine (in Mohmand), and then renamed it the Red Mosque.

  • Villiger says:

    Yes Bill you’re right, thank you. The risks of speed-reading or maybe acquired dyslexia!
    Keep up your good work!

  • Villiger says:

    On the picture: OF PURE EVIL. May God withdraw these brutes from the planet and correct his mistakes. By 2014.
    As for the Pathetik-stanis what wimps you are in not getting in there and acting upon your tarnished ‘sovereignty’. May the mistake of the Brits also be corrected before 2014, so that you should fall apart–the smaller the pieces, the better. The quicker the better. I actually don’t wish pain on the people of Pakistan, only upon your military. You need to be saved from yourselves. And you don’t have any leaders that can help you lead as one nation. So far better that you build, bottom-up, your local economies and give up your nuclear ego and ambitions. The World is prepared to give you a lot of money, imagine, just for that. Far better you have electric power….fans, air-conditioning….clean water, medical facilities, hygiene, food…than feeding your nuclear ego with utter false pride. God, you are being so totally mislead…and have been for 64 years this Sunday.
    Will you still need me?
    Will you still feed me?
    When I’m 64….
    ANSWER: No to the former, definitely NO. Yes to the latter, if you re-settle into your own new smaller nations (which is your actual reality), get rid of your Talibanis, madrassas and your military so that you can’t terrorize the world anymore, including your own citizens.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    In all fairness I think the sentence was a little confusing, so we made a minor modification to clarify it. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Jim Clark says:

    Explosives in cars/trucks, shoes, underwear, printer cartridges, children, turbans and now females. What next, Whitman’s Samplers?

  • Civy says:

    So are they now recruiting lesbian bombers, or male virgin martyrs to seed paradise with the requisite 70 virgin enticement for female bombers? Just sayin…

  • Vienna,13-08-2011
    It is of course good to keep cool humour even at war
    and battles. If by 2014 goal is achieved, which would
    prove a miracle, still the goal keeping is a continuous
    job. What wrong policies were followed for more than
    eighty long years, can not be amended by over night
    operations. Even if a THIRD mass destructive weapon
    is used. A healing process is long and expensive
    especially when the patient Pakistani troika is not
    in co-operative mood. The kidnapping in Lahore is
    not unrelated. As for us Indians, we have been living
    all along with Americans pumping Pakistanis both
    with Qur

  • Observer says:

    I do not know why Americans seem worried, they are winning this war so far. They have a President from an African Family with a Muslim background – on the other hand Fazul could not get into the AQ Shura despite his tactical genius and business acumen: he was raising millions per year! Remember OBL was found with 500Euros while Fazul was found with US$40,000. AQ released a statement after the Nairobi bombing in 1998 claiming it had killed 12 Americans and that the rest were monkeys! Can you imagine the AQ Shura appointing an African from a Christian family to its ranks? Not possible!
    The only mistake that the USA can make at this point, is spending too much: Remember USSR? I believe that the battle in Afghanistan will in future only need minimal staff to direct it. The focus should be on Homeland Security. Retaining a global presence and strike capability is much cheaper than today’s daily combat.

  • Qudratullah Rahmat says:

    Taliban are still active and overtly making efforts to expand their community-bases supports in Quetta to keep attacking Afghanistan, and from Northwest, Waziristan to attack Pakistan military targets. This is the fault of US that forgot supporting Afghan government after the withdrawal of former Soviet Union. If today US and allies leave Afghanistan without complete eradication of terrorists and their supporters, Taliban, again the war of this evil movement will be reached to New York streets and Washington’s city center. It is better to US that put pressure on Pakistan and ISI to stop supporting and feeding Taliban and AQ in its territory. Pakistan is terror-producing machine of the world, and the risk of AQ and extremists

  • akw says:

    kulamarva balakrishna at August 13, 2011 10:13 AM ET:
    As for us Indians, we have been living
    all along with Americans pumping Pakistanis both
    with Qur

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis