An al Qaeda and Taliban-linked terror group known as Jundallah claimed credit for murdering 18 Shias who were traveling on a bus in a relatively quiet area of northern Pakistan. In the past, the terror group has targeted Shia as well as members of Pakistan’s military.
Jundallah, or Soldiers of Allah, said it was behind the brutal execution today of 18 Shia travelers who were riding on four buses on the Karakoram Highway in the Kohistan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
“They were Shias and our mujahideen shot them dead,” said a Jundallah commander, who identified himself as Ahmed Marwat, according to Daily Times.
The Jundallah fighters were reported to have worn military uniforms during the attack. The gunmen opened fire on the buses, forcing them to stop, then proceeded to check the identities of passengers before executing them. Eight of the passengers, including two women and three children, were wounded during the attack.
Pakistani police officials claimed the attack was carried out to avenge the deaths of two Sunnis in Giglit, a town far away in the Northern Areas, The Express Tribune reported.
Jundallah is a Pakistani terror group that is based in Karachi and maintains close ties with both al Qaeda and the Taliban. The group is best known for its attempts to assassinate General Ahsan Saleem Hyat, commander of the Pakistani Army’s Karachi Corps, in June 2004. Shortly after the assassination attempt, Pakistani security officials arrested Jundallah’s emir, Ata-ur-Rehman, and his deputy, Shahzad Bajwa.
Jundallah also has a history of targeting Shia. The two most high-profile attacks against Shia took place in May 2004, when Jundallah killed 38 Shia worshipers in separate attacks at the Hyderi Mosque and the Jinnah Road Mosque in Karachi.
Jundallah has also established a presence in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan. The terror group is known to have set up a camp in the Shakai area, which is administered by Haji Omar Khan, a senior Taliban leader in South Waziristan who has strong ties to Mullah Omar.
In March 2008, the US killed a dual-hatted Jundallah and al Qaeda operative known as Dr. Arshad Waheed in a drone airstrike in South Waziristan. Waheed, who had close links to Ata-ur-Rehman, and his brother Akmal, who is also a doctor, had been detained by Pakistani security forces in 2004 for treating Jundallah fighters involved in the assassination attempt on General Hyat. It is unclear why Pakistani security forces freed the brothers. Waheed returned to South Waziristan to serve as a military trainer for al Qaeda’s Shadow Army. After Waheed’s death, Mustafa Abu Yazid, who was al Qaeda’s overall leader in the region before he was killed, gave a eulogy for him.
And in June 2010, the US killed Hawza al Jawfi, an Egyptian who is said to have led Jundallah, during a drone strike in the village of Karikot near Wana, the main town in South Waziristan. Jawfi was sheltering in a safe house that was known to have been used by al Qaeda operatives. The Wana area is administered by Mullah Nazir, a senior Taliban leader who has openly professed his allegiance to al Qaeda.