Omar Khalid al Khurasani [center], from a Taliban propaganda video. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.
The former leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a political party that supports the Taliban, was the target of a female suicide bomber in Pakistan’s violence-ridden northwest.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the former emir of the Jamaat-e-Islami, was unhurt in the suicide attack, which took place in Mian Mandi Ganghad, the main bazaar in Mohmand, according to Dawn. One of Qazi’s bodyguards and three other people were wounded in the bombing.
Pakistani officials said a female suicide bomber wearing a burka and a suicide vest targeted Qazi’s convoy as it passed the bazaar. “[P]ieces of female clothes and hair found from the site make us believe that the attacker was a woman,” one Pakistani official told Dawn.
Qazi is a known jihadist supporter. In August 2012, Qazi spoke at the funeral of Engineer Ahsan Aziz, a Kashmiri jihadist commander who was killed in a US drone strike in the Shawal Valley in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Aziz was a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, an al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates in Kashmir, Pakistan’s northwest, and in Afghanistan.
Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan likely behind today’s attack
While no group has claimed credit for today’s bombing, the Taliban likely executed the attack. The Taliban in Mohmand are led by Omar Khalid al Khurasani, a dangerous commander who maintains close ties to al Qaeda and is believed to have given sanctuary to Ayman al Zawahiri in the past. Khalid also was close to slain al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden, and his fighters are from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and various Arab nations [for more information on Omar Khalid al Khurasani, see LWJ report, Taliban commander wants Pakistan’s nukes, global Islamic caliphate].
In August 2011, Khalid claimed credit for a female suicide attack in Peshawar. Khalid is closely 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]. The Taliban have used female suicide bombers at least four times in Pakistan since December 2010.
Across the border in Afghanistan, the Taliban have used females suicide bombers in at least three other attacks since June 2010. Additionally, the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), a Taliban and al Qaeda-allied group, has claimed credit for the September 2011 female suicide attack in Kabul.
Islamist political parties in the Taliban’s crosshairs
While the Jamaat-e-Islami is an Islamist political party that supports the Taliban and advocates the imposition of sharia, or Islamic law, the Taliban have targeted the party’s leaders in at least two other suicide attacks in the past.
On April 19, 2010, a suicide bomber attacked a Jamaat-e-Islami political rally in Peshawar, killing 23 people.
And at the end of March 2011, the Taliban twice tried to kill Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl political party. On March 30, a suicide bomber targeted Rehman in Swabi, killing 10 people. On March 31, 12 people were killed in the northwestern district of Charsadda in a roadside bomb attack against Rehman’s convoy.
The Taliban have been critical of Pakistani Islamist political parties for working with and participating in the Pakistani government, for seeking political power through elections, and for failing to put up armed opposition to Pakistani military operations against the Taliban and US drone strikes against al Qaeda in the tribal areas. According to Dawn, Pakistani Taliban emir Hakeemullah Mehsud recently criticized Qazi Hussain for supporting the Pakistani government.
Suicide attacks by female bombers in Afghanistan and Pakistan:
A female suicide bomber wounded four people in an attack on Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the former emir of the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin claimed credit for a suicide attack in Kabul that targeted foreigners and was executed by a female. At least 12 people, mostly foreign workers, were killed in the attack.
A female suicide bomber killed an elderly woman while attempting to attack a police outpost in Peshawar.
The Taliban gave an eight-year-old girl a bag of explosives and had her walk to a police outpost in the Cino Charo district. The explosives detonated before she reached the police, killing only the girl.
Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan
A husband and wife team, said to be Uzbeks, attacked a police station in the town of Kolachi. The team entered the town’s police station under the guise of filing a complaint and took several policemen hostage. The pair detonated their vests as police laid siege to the station, killing seven policemen and a tea boy. The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan claimed the attack, and said it was carried out to avenge the death of al Qaeda founder and former leader Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban claimed credit for a female suicide attack in the Marawara district that killed three interpreters. The Taliban released an official statement on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, and claimed that a “Mujahida sister” killed 12 US and Afghan troops.
A female suicide bomber killed 42 Pakistani civilians in an attack at a World Food Program ration distribution point in Khar, Bajaur.
A female suicide bomber struck for the first time in Afghanistan in Kunar province. In the attack, two US soldiers were killed and two Afghan children were wounded. Qari Zia Rahman claimed credit for the suicide attack.