Pakistani jihadists form Ahrar-ul-Hind, vow to continue attacks
A new global jihadist group that is unwilling to negotiate with the Pakistani government has announced its formation and vowed to continue attacks in the country despite the outcome of ongoing peace talks. The group, which is calling itself Ahrar-ul-Hind, said its goal is the establishment of sharia, or Islamic law, and that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan are still "our brothers" despite separation from the group.
Ahrar-ul-Hind emailed two statements to The Long War Journal on Feb. 9: one from its spokesman, and another that outlined its "aims and objectives," according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which translated the communiques. Ahrar-ul-Hind has also posted both statements on its Facebook page.
"Ahrar-ul-Hind was part of TTP [Tehrik-e-Taliban or Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] and 'other jihadi organizations' but split from TTP due it [TTP] engaging in talks with the Pakistani government," Adam Raisman from SITE told The Long War Journal.
The Pakistani government is currently engaged in peace talks with radical mainstream clerics who were appointed by the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. [See Threat Matrix report, Taliban 'negotiator' Abdullah Aziz appears with armed guards.] The Taliban demand that sharia be implemented throughout Pakistan and the military withdraw from the Federally Administered Tribal areas, where numerous Taliban groups as well as al Qaeda and a host of regional and global jihadist groups are based.
Asad Mansour, the spokesman for Ahrar-ul-Hind, said "[i]t is very clear that Shariah can never be attained through talks," and that even if the government makes a concession, "it will only be limited to tribal areas."
Additionally, Mansour said that a potential peace agreement would bypass "urban areas and mujahideen belonging to urban areas." The group is based in "the urban areas of Pakistan," Mansour indicated, and its "activities will be concentrated in major cities."
Mansour identified Ahrar-ul-Hind's emir as Maulana Umar Qasmi, and said that attacks would continue in Pakistan's cities despite the outcome of peace talks between the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and government.
"Therefore, we grouped under the leadership of Maulana Umar Qasmi, under the banner of Ahrar-ul-Hind. We aim to carry forward our armed struggle and sacrificing attacks until the establishment of Shariah in Pakistan," he said. "In the past, we used to participate in jihad with Tehrik-e-Taliban and other jihadi organizations, but from this point onwards we will conduct attacks independently ...."
"Mujahideen associated with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are our brothers, but if they opt for a ceasefire with the government, we shall not be bound by their agreement, nor are we willing to accept such a ceasefire," Mansour continued.
In the statement announcing its "aims and objectives," Ahrar-ul-Hind threatened to wage war on the "Indian subcontinent" and beyond, with the ultimate goal of imposing sharia worldwide.
"We aim to carry an armed struggle on the Indian subcontinent with an aim to establish Islamic Shariah in the whole world," one bullet announced.
"We fight for the liberation of holy lands including Jerusalem and other occupied places in the Muslim world," another stated.
The establishment of Ahrar-ul-Hind may explain the spate of attacks throughout Pakistan as the Taliban negotiates with the government. On Feb. 10, a suicide bomber killed four women in Quetta. On Feb. 4, a suicide bomber killed eight people in Peshawar; that attack was denied by the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan but claimed by the group's emir for Peshawar, Mufti Hasaan Swati.
The formation of Ahrar-ul-Hind may also be a ruse by the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in give it plausible deniability for any attacks its commanders execute during negotiations. Splinter jihadist groups are often formed in Pakistan, only to be reabsorbed after serving their purpose.