Ihsanullah Ihsan, the former spokesman of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP), confirmed in an email to The Long War Journal that the newly formed Jaamat-ul-Ahrar TTP is “separate from the TTP leadership.”
“Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has become separate from the TTP leadership,” Ihsan told LWJ. “TTP Jaamat-ul-Ahrar deals with itself and does not take orders from TTP leadership.”
The formation of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, followed by Ihsan’s confirmation that the group is a separate entity from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, is the final nail in the coffin for the latter.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan will likely continue in some form; but without the Mohmand and Kurram factions, and the Mehsuds in North and South Waziristan, it is a rump organization. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar can serve as a nucleus for Taliban factions that wish to continue the fight against the Pakistani government.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan made a major mistake by appointing Mullah Fazlullah as the group’s emir after Hakeemullah Mehsud’s death in a US drone strike last year. Fazlullah, despite having served as Hakeemullah’s deputy, was disconnected from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s traditional power base and appears to have been widely disliked.
If Jamaat-ul-Ahrar does emerge as the successor to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the group will likely be just as dangerous if not moreso than its predecessor. With Omar Khalid al Khorasani in the top leadership cadre, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is sure to continue a relentless campaign of attacks against the Pakistani state and will continue to ally with groups such as al Qaeda.