According to The News, al Qaeda has announced the naming of a new commander for its network in Pakistan. Farman Shinwari, the new emir for Pakistan, has several brothers who are involved in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. One brother also serves as a Harakat-ul-Mujahideen commander while leading Taliban fighters in Khyber and Waziristan. From The News:
The statement issued by al-Qaeda’s Dawa Wing said that after consultations and approval of top Al-Qaeda leadership, Farman Shinwari was selected as head of the network in Pakistan. The statement said that reason of his selection was his close affiliation with Badr Mansoor and his knowledge about FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas].
Farman Shinwari, 30, was close to Badr Mansoor, the former al Qaeda figure killed in a US drone attack in North Waziristan on February 9, 2011. Farman married about three years ago and has two children.
The statement also mentioned the names of all al-Qaeda leaders, right from Badr Mansoor to top commanders including Osama bin Laden. It was stated that their men have sacrificed their lives for the sake of Islam.
The sources said the al-Qaeda commanders based in Pakistani was not involved in the decision, but they only ratified it. Farman Shinwari belongs to Khugakhel sub-tribe of Shinwaris based in Landikotal, and has five brothers. He got B.Sc degree in Chemistry and Biology from Landikotal Degree College a few years ago and did his master’s in International Relations from the University of Peshawar in the first division.
All of Farman Shinwari’s brothers are affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups. His elder brother Hazrat Nabi Shinwari, alias Tamanchy Mulla, was a theology teacher in a government-run school in Landikotal. He was leading the TTP in Khyber Agency in 2005 and also used to send militants to Kashmir and Afghanistan. He has remained the head of Harkatul Mujahideen and is nowadays said to be leading his group of TTP men in Waziristan.
Shinwari succeeds Badr Mansoor, who was the “de facto leader of al Qaeda in Pakistan” before he was killed in a US drone strike in Miramshah, North Waziristan on Feb. 9. Here is more on Mansoor, Shinwari’s predecessor, from the LWJ report on his death; note that Mansoor also had close ties to the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan:
Two US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal confirmed that Mansoor uses his ties to both the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan to recruit from their ranks, train them, and place them into al Qaeda.
“Mansoor funneled Pakistani jihadists from HuM and TTP [Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] into the ranks of al Qaeda,” one official said. “He didn’t just recruit low level-jihadists, but also convinced more experienced commanders to fill positions in al Qaeda.”
Another US intelligence official said that Mansoor is part of the “deep bench” of commanders who are culled from the plethora of Pakistani and Central Asian jihadist groups operating in Pakistan to fill vacant leadership positions in al Qaeda.
“Al Qaeda is taking advantage of decades of networking in Pakistan, not just in the tribal areas, but in Pakistan proper, to develop a deep bench of leaders and foot soldiers who can be brought into the organization when there are vacancies,” the second official told The Long War Journal. “Badr Mansoor and Aslam Awan are perfect examples of how al Qaeda takes advantage of this relationship.”
Before he was killed in the Jan. 11 drone strike in Miramshah, North Waziristan, Awan was a deputy to the leader of al Qaeda’s external operations network. Awan was a Pakistani citizen from Abbottabad, the same town where Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in a cross-border raid in May 2011.