Al Qaeda brokers new anti-US Taliban alliance in Pakistan and Afghanistan


One of al Qaeda's top leaders has reached out to the most powerful Taliban commanders along the Afghan-Pakistani border to create a new alliance to battle the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The new alliance, which is called the Shura-e-Murakeba, consists of four major Taliban groups that operate in Pakistan's tribal areas. The four groups that make up the alliance are the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which is led by Hakeemullah Mehsud and his deputy, Waliur Rehman Mehsud; Hafiz Gul Bahadar's group; Mullah Nazir's group; and the Haqqani Network. Each leader has appointed a deputy to represent them on the council.

The members of the Shura-e-Murakeba agreed to cease attacks against Pakistani security forces, refocus efforts against the US, and end kidnappings and other criminal activities in the tribal areas.

The deal was brokered by senior al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al Libi as well as by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational leader of the Haqqani Network, and Mullah Mansour, a senior Taliban leader who operates in eastern Afghanistan. An al Qaeda leader known as Abdur Rehman Al Saudi was also involved in the negotiations. Mullah Omar, the overall leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is said to have dispatched Siraj and Mansour to help negotiate the agreement.

The meetings took place over the course of the past two months, according to reports from the region. One of the first meetings was said to have been held in Azam Warzak in South Waziristan, an area under the control of Mullah Nazir, on Nov. 27. Another meeting was reported to have taken place in Datta Khel in North Waziristan on Dec. 11. Over the past weekend, pamphlets were distributed in North Waziristan announcing the creation of the Shura-e-Murakeba.

"All Mujahideen, local and foreigners, are informed that they should desist from killing and kidnapping for ransom innocent people and cooperate with this committee in curbing crimes. If any Mujahid is found involved in unjustified killings, crimes and other illegal activities he will be answerable to Shura-i-Murakbah and will be punished in accordance with the Shariah law," the statement said, according to Dawn.

Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, confirmed that the group was officially formed on Dec. 31, 2011 with Mullah Omar's approval. Ihsan denied reports that the alliance had agreed to cease attacks on Pakistani security forces.

The high-level meetings between al Libi and the leaders of the various Taliban factions took place as the US halted all drone strikes in Pakistan after a clash with Pakistani forces in the Mohmand tribal agency that resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers. The US has not carried out a strike in the country since Nov. 16, 2011.

A US intelligence official who tracks the terror groups along the Afghan-Pakistani border told The Long War Journal that the pause in strikes gave the Taliban and al Qaeda the ability to travel and meet without fear of being hit.

"After Atiyah [al Libi] was killed by Predators in the tribal areas a few months back, senior al Qaeda leaders aren't going to travel in Waziristan unless they are confident they can survive," the official said. "Abu Yahya knew he had freedom of movement there once the US put the program on hold."

This new alliance has emerged while the Pakistani government is negotiating peace agreements with elements of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Waliur Rehman Mehsud and Faqir Mohammed, the leader of the Taliban in Bajuar, are in talks with the government and are said to be close to agreeing to end hostilities. The Pakistani government does not seek to prohibit the Taliban from conducting attacks in Afghanistan, however.

The formation of the Shura-e-Murakeba also takes place as the US and NATO have begun to execute a significant withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan and are themselves seeking peace with the Taliban.

Agreement part of long-term al Qaeda strategy to unite jihadist factions

For years, al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network have been working to unite the disparate and sometimes fractious groups into alliances with a unified goal of waging jihad against the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and sometimes against the Pakistani state.

In late 2007, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan was formed at the behest of Osama bin Laden and Siraj Haqqani to pool their resources to take revenge on the Pakistani state for attacking the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, earlier that year. Abu Yahya al Libi was the first al Qaeda leader to call for Pakistanis to rise up against the military in 2007; his call was later repeated by bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan was formed by uniting more than 40 local jihadist groups in Pakistan's tribal areas and the settled districts of northwestern Pakistan. The group was led by Baitullah Mehsud until his death, and is now led by Hakeemullah Mehsud.

In February 2009, Baitullah formed an alliance with Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadar. Both Nazir and Bahadar opted out of joining the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan due to tribal rivalries with Baitullah's tribe as well as their opposition to attacking the Pakistani state. The alliance, which was called the United Mujahideen Council, was formed at the behest of Osama bin Laden, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and Jalaluddin Haqqani, the patriarch of the Haqqani Network and Siraj's father. The leaders of the United Mujahideen Council vowed to pool forces to fight the Pakistani state if the military moved into the tribal areas. The council also agreed to continue the jihad in Afghanistan and to strike at the US and India. It dissolved after Baitullah was killed in a US Predator strike in August 2009.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban attempted to keep the United Mujahideen Council intact during the summer of 2009 as the Pakistani military threatened to attack the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in its stronghold of South Waziristan.

The Taliban dispatched Siraj Haqqani along with Abdul Hakeem Sharaee and Mir Ahmad Jan Hashemi, two senior deputies of Mullah Abdullah Zakir, the Taliban's senior-most military commander in southern Afghanistan who had been released from detention at Guantanamo, to meet with Baitullah in an attempt to get him to back off his attacks against the Pakistani state and refocus efforts in Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda sent Abu Yahya Al Libi and Abdul Haq Turkistani, the former leader of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, an al Qaeda-linked group that is made up of Uighurs who fight the Chinese government. Abdul Haq served on al Qaeda's Shura Majlis, or executive council, before he was killed in Pakistan in early 2011.

The joint Taliban and al Qaeda delegation failed to get Baitullah to back off from attacking the Pakistani state, and the alliance fell apart after Baitullah was killed and the Pakistani military moved into the Mehsud tribal areas in South Waziristan. But Nazir and Bahadar did not end their support for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Many of the group's leaders and fighters sheltered in Nazir's and Bahadar's tribal areas during and after the Pakistani offensive.

Despite the dissolution of the United Mujahideen Council, al Qaeda continued to attempt to keep the peace among Taliban groups and coordinate military operations. In December 2010, five al Qaeda leaders from the Shura al Mujahideen worked to help the Taliban resolve local differences and direct operations against security forces in the tribal areas and in the Swat Valley.

Sources:

Al Qaeda tries to unite Pakistani militants, Monsters and Critics
Taliban factions regroup to fight US forces, Dawn
Militants agree to truce with Pakistan, unite against NATO, McClatchy
Taliban pledge not to target security forces, Geo News
North and South Waziristan Taliban groups form alliance, The Long War Journal
Al Qaeda organizes Taliban operations in Pakistan's northwest, Threat Matrix
Senior Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban leaders meet with Baitullah, The Long War Journal
Taliban waging 'jihad to purge Pakistan' - Zawahiri, The Long War Journal
Waziristan Taliban alliance declares support for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, The Long War Journal
Pakistan places bounties on Baitullah and other senior Taliban leaders, The Long War Journal



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READER COMMENTS: "Al Qaeda brokers new anti-US Taliban alliance in Pakistan and Afghanistan"

Posted by KaneKaizer at January 3, 2012 1:40 AM ET:

Fantastic...

Posted by Joey at January 3, 2012 2:15 AM ET:

Pakistan is still an ally, right? Have all the "bad" Taliban suddenly morphed into "good" Taliban?

Because with Shura-e-Murakabah now public knowledge as a group that will strike NATO from Pakistan, as well as the ending of attacks against civvies, Paki police, it seems that Pakistan has a perfect scenario.

Pakistan doesnt have to worry about Pakistani Taliban since they are not going to attack Pak anymore.

What will first six months of 2012 tell us about the war in Afghanistan? Just how much of it is now becoming a war fuelled by Pakistani-based militants.

Posted by Icarus at January 3, 2012 4:12 AM ET:

Considering that the drone strikes are on hold, most likely forever, or they will be allowed but in more limited scope it is safe to say this alliance will destroy every progress that has been made in the past 2 years. Goodbye Afghanistan!

Posted by Neonmeat at January 3, 2012 8:37 AM ET:

He has apparently asked the Groups to end all Criminal activities?

Since their main source of income is from criminal activities I do not see how this will work?

Also these groups are uniting against a common enemy, this does not mean that they will remain united once this enemy has been defeated. Did not many groups threaten retribution against the TTP for the execution of Colonel Emir? I believe this displays the fact that these groups do have differing aims and ideologies, despite their purported affiliation to Islam I do not think they are very religious men and this is merely a convenient banner to ally under as long as it suits their interests.

Of course if Afghanistan was to fall to the allied Taliban groups we would see a Civil War over which one is the leader of the pack.

Also if they work together perhaps the intel we can glean from captured operatives that work across these Networks will be of even more importance.

Posted by Nic at January 3, 2012 10:26 AM ET:

" A US intelligence official who tracks the terror groups along the Afghan-Pakistani border told The Long War Journal that the pause in strikes gave the Taliban and al Qaeda the ability to travel and meet without fear of being hit. " Pakistan should never have been allowed to win this round by default. If we had an opportunity to "score big" we should have hit those meetings. Niccolò Machiavelli had a few choice words for situations like this current mess: "One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived." " The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present. "

Posted by JRP at January 3, 2012 10:38 AM ET:

"Goodbye Afghanistan! "??? How about Goodbye America? History is long on examples where defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory by the folly of the imminent victor, for whatever reason, letting up on the opponent just at the point where victory is in the grasp. Not since the December 2009 CIA ambush at FOB Chapman has Al Qaeda pulled off such a coup. Lest we forget, it is only Al Qaeda that truly is looking to bring down the U.S. by any means possible. My sympathies to the Pakistani people, but if their Government, whether Civilian or Military or ISI, chooses to provide safe harbor to Al Qaeda, then we must invoke President Bush's post-9/11 promise to root out & destroy Al Qaeda wherever it is located and by whatever means necessary. It would be virtually criminal to allow Al Qaeda, apparently on the ropes, to revitalize and get back in the fight against America.

Posted by Abdullah Pakhtoon at January 3, 2012 12:43 PM ET:

"when cat's away. mice will play." The US must resume drone attacks against these killers and terrorists... If Afghanistan fall in the hands of Taliban and al Qaida say good bye to the world's peace and security and say hello to murder, car bombs, suicide bombings in every country of the world... To stop all these is to keep the pressure on pakistan and its army, don't give up and don't back off or you will pay dearly in the long run!

Posted by blert at January 3, 2012 12:44 PM ET:

This is merely the glove that hides the Pakistani fist.

We are witnessing an invasion by proxy.

It took Pakistani 'grease' to smooth the way westwards.

That 'grease' came from American funding.

The gambit is to so increase the pressure that the Poltroon in Chief turns the money spigot back on.

At which point Islamabad can reverse course and throw the Talibs to the West.

Mullah Omar has NO freedom of action and is merely a cut-out for the ISI.

Posted by jayc at January 3, 2012 2:37 PM ET:

Exclusive: Pakistan Taliban commanders "at each other's throats"
By Chris Allbritton | Reuters – 7 hrs ago

Here is a look form the opposite side of the coin. Hope the Taliban have a Lucky Luciano who can patch things up. Sincerely doubt it.

Posted by Devin Leonard at January 3, 2012 3:03 PM ET:

Our drone strikes maybe on hold, but or Spec Ops boys can still operate. We need to continue night raids to kill these scumbags, and if we can't use drones, then we go in the old fasioned way like we had to when I was "in country". The Rangers, Special Forces, SEALs, Marine Spec Ops (hoo rah) and the tier 1 units. can all be brought to bear along with the CIA's SAD. These guys can kill what's left of Al Qaida in Afghanistan and we need o make clear to the Pakis the if they want ANY aid left we WILL be able to use our drones...simple as that.

Posted by NUS at January 4, 2012 2:50 AM ET:

AQ/Taliban being friend with PakMil/ISI = AQ/Taliban goes nuclear.

NATO/US Military! Terminate this baby monster before 2014 or it will catch you at your home.

Posted by joey at January 4, 2012 7:59 AM ET:

Just read that Tehrk e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Hakeemullah Mehsud's group said in reply to Mullah Omar's new orders, that TTP will respect the orders but will however continue with targeting Pakistan security forces and military, which was a serious no-no for Mullah Omar.

Is the Taliban being torn apart? It seems the new Shura-e-Murakabah is a unification of some Taliban groups, not all. This could mean a vicious internal Taliban on Taliban conflict if the current clash of interests continues.

Anyone rememeber the anti-spying brigade that Pakistani Taliban formed and which has killed many people in Waziristan for alleged spying? I'd say that if that brigade refuses to stop killing suspected spies as per Mullah Omar's statement, there will inevitably be a clash of Taliban groups.

Posted by Infidel4LIFE at January 4, 2012 3:53 PM ET:

Sounds like the P-stani's have made a choice. Its our move. How far are we willing to go? Can the ANA be ready wen we leave, IF we leave? Relations with PAK are crumbling. This will get worse.

Posted by mike merlo at January 4, 2012 9:38 PM ET:

I wonder how Hekmatyar feels about 'all this?'

Posted by Jay at January 5, 2012 2:30 PM ET:

"Why did you sting me?" asked the Frog. "Now we both will drown."

"It's my nature," replied the scorpion. "It is better we should both perish than that my enemy should live."