Pakistani Taliban threaten former President Musharraf with 'death squad'
Adnan Rasheed (unmasked) is pictured with members of his "death squad." Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.
A Pakistani jihadist who escaped from prison during a Taliban jailbreak last spring appeared in a video in which he threatened to assassinate Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan who has recently returned from self-imposed exile. The jihadist, Adnan Rasheed, said he formed an assassination team and plans to attack Musharraf.
Rasheed appears on a video with Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban Pakistan, who is wanted by the Pakistan government. The video was produced by Umar Studio, the media arm of the Movement of the Taliban Pakistan, and obtained from a Facebook page by the SITE Intelligence Group.
In the video, Rasheed, who speaks in both English and Urdu, is shown training a group of fighters who have supposedly been assigned to assassinate Musharraf.
Rasheed says the "death squad" is split up in groups of "fedayeen, sniper team, special assault team, and close combat team." The term 'fedayeen' is often used to describe suicide bombers.
"Musharraf, you can see this death squad around me. We warn you to surrender yourself to us, otherwise we will hit you from where you will never reckon," Rashid says in English while surrounded by his team.
Rasheed issues the threat to Musharraf as he is surrounded by his "death squad." Fifteen men wearing masks and military uniforms are seen armed with RPGs, sniper rifles, and assault rifles.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan yesterday and said he is seeking to return to politics. He left Pakistan in April 2009 after resigning the presidency in August 2008. Pakistan's Supreme Court was planning impeachment hearings just before Musharraf resigned. Upon his return, Musharraf was photographed with a protective vest that is visible underneath his clothing.
Rasheed is a longtime jihadist associated with al Qaeda
Rasheed has a history with Musharraf. He is a Pakistani terrorist who was involved in the Dec. 14, 2003 assassination attempt against then-President Pervez Musharraf. A member of the Pakistani Air Force, Rasheed was sentenced to death for his role in the assassination attempt. While in prison, Rasheed owned several cell phones and frequently communicated with journalists. He also got married while in prison and fathered a child.
Rasheed worked for Amjad Farooqi, the Pakistani terrorist who engineered the two assassination attempts against Musharraf in December 2003 at the behest of al Qaeda leader Abu Faraj al Libi; Farooqi is suspected of involvement in other terror attacks as well. Farooqi was a member of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan; the Harkat-ul-Ansar and its successor, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen; Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami; and Jaish-e-Mohammed. He served as a close aide to Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the leader of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. In addition, Farooqi served as the group's representative to al Qaeda's International Islamic Front, which issued the 1998 fatwa that declared war on the US.
On April 15, 2012, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan launched a successful operation to free Rasheed and nearly 400 prisoners, including an estimated 200 Taliban fighters and jihadists, being held at a prison in Bannu. The operation was directed by Hakeemullah Mehsud, the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the group's emir for South Waziristan. More than 150 fighters assaulted the prison. Rasheed was later featured in a videotape celebrating the jailbreak.
Since Rasheed has been freed from prison, the Taliban have featured him in several propaganda tapes. Most recently, on Jan. 29, Rasheed appeared in a joint Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan video that announced the formation of of the Ansar al Aseer, a unit tasked to free jihadist prisoners and support their families. The video also featured Yassin Chouka, a wanted German commander in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; and Abdul Hakeem, a Russian IMU member.