Taliban suicide bomber targets Lashkar-e-Islam mosque, kills 5

A powerful commander of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan claimed credit for a suicide bombing at a mosque run by a rival terror group in the contested tribal agency of Khyber today, killing five people.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside of a Lashkar-e-Islam mosque in the Tirah Valley in Khyber, killing three militants and two civilians, and wounding nine other people, according to AFP. A spokesman for the Lashkar-e-Islam blamed the Taliban for the attack.

Mohammed Afridi, a spokesman for Taliban commander Tariq Afridi, told The Associated Press that his factions carried out the attack. Tariq Afridi, the powerful commander based in Darra Adam Khel, has taken control of Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s operations in Khyber.

Today’s attack is the second carried out by the Taliban outside a mosque in the Tirah Valley this month. On March 2, a suicide bomber killed 22 people outside another Lashkar-e-Islam mosque. The Taliban claimed credit for the suicide attack, and said it was carried out to avenge the deaths of several Taliban fighters at the hands of the Lashkar-e-Islam last month.

The Lashkar-e-Islam occasionally allies with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and occasionally feuds with the terror group. Lashkar-e-Islam has also clashed with the Pakistani military and the government-backed Zakhakhel tribe, which has allied with the Ansur-ul-Islam, a banned terrorist group. The military has recently claimed it drove the Lashkar-e-Islam from the Tirah Valley, but the group still has a strong presence there.

Pakistani officials claimed that they killed Mangal Bagh, the head of the Lashkar-e-Islam, during a six-day-long operation earlier this month [for more information on Mangal Bagh, see LWJ report, A profile of Mangal Bagh]. The report has not been confirmed, however, and Bagh’s spokesman denied that the leader had been killed.

The Lashkar-e-Islam has established its own Taliban-like government in large areas of the tribal agency, including Bara, Jamrud, and the Tirah Valley. The group provides recruits to battle US and Afghan forces across the border, and has attacked NATO’s vital supply line which moved through Khyber before it was shut down by the Pakistani government in November 2011. The Pakistani military has targeted the Lashkar-e-Islam during multiple operations since 2008, but has failed to dislodge the group from power.

The Tirah Valley is a known haven for the Taliban, the Lashkar-e-Islam, al Qaeda, and other Pakistani terror groups. Safe havens in this valley enable these terror groups to launch attacks inside Pakistan as well as across the border in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. In a December 2010 drone strike in the Tirah Valley, the US killed Ibn Amin, a dual-hatted Taliban and al Qaeda military commander who operated in the Swat Valley. The Lashkar-e-Islam avenged Amin’s death by executing four of its members who were thought to have betrayed him.

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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8 Comments

  • Scott says:

    You just can’t make this stuff up.

  • mike merlo says:

    Good info. One could go back century by century for a millennium & the only thing that’s changed among these people/region are the weapons. At some point in time Pakistan either stops thinking they can somehow manage the violence or by simply standing aside they allow this secessionist movement to run it’s cycle. What a mess.

  • Eddie D. says:

    Way to Go! Now this is News worth reporting on.

  • Mint says:

    Sit back and watch he show.

  • Devendra says:

    GREAT!!!! Get out of the way. Let them kill each other.

  • Max says:

    May their explosions increase…;)

  • Jim says:

    Muslims killing fellow Muslims in the name of Islam has been happening for centuries and will continue to happen for centuries to come… Reporting on these Islamic killings truly is a Long War Journal.

  • Bruce Marsh says:

    This is the only war where we do not attack the underlying belief system that motivates the enemy. Where is the protest and outrage for the deaths of fellow muslims, or at least for the burning of the literature carried by the victims of both bombings? Every time a mosque gets blown up, how many korans get burned?
    The West needs to face the fact that the Koran is a terrorist cult handbook, which prevents civilization and civilized thinking. Islam itself is the enemy and killing its adherents who attack us does not prevent further attacks unless we address the recruitment issue by telling muslim children that they have been fooled, because Muhammad was not a prophet of God.

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