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'Good Taliban' leader Fazal Saeed Haqqani kills 39 civilians in Kurram suicide attack



A Taliban commander who left the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan after an internal feud last year claimed credit for a suicide attack today that killed 39 civilians at a market in Parachinar in the Kurram tribal agency. Fazal Saeed Haqqani defected from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan last June after publicly chiding the group for intentionally killing civilians. This is what he said when he defected and joined the Haqqani Network, or what Pakistani officials like to call the "good Taliban" (those who do not attack the Pakistani state):

"I repeatedly told the leadership council of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan that they should stop suicide attacks against mosques, markets and other civilian targets," Saeed told AFP by telephone.

"Islam does not allow killings of innocent civilians in suicide attacks," he said, likening what TTP does in Pakistan to "what US troops are doing in Afghanistan" and vowing to continue the fight alone against the Americans.

"I have therefore decided to quit TTP," Saeed said, claiming to have defected along with "hundreds of supporters." A 10-member consultative council will meet within days to formulate the group's programme, he told AFP.

Here is what he said today, while claiming credit for the suicide attack in a call to Reuters:

"We have targeted the Shia community of Parachinar because they were involved in activities against us," he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"We also warn the political administration of Parachinar to stop siding with the Shia community in all our disputes."

So, less than a year after he denounced the Taliban for intentionally killing civilians and defected to the Haqqani Network, Fazal Saeed decides he is justified in murdering civilians.

Last summer, when Fazal Saeed defected, the Pakistani military and government touted the development as a breakthrough in reducing the power of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The press uncritically repeated this line, held his defection up as yet another sign of the decline of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and inflated his position within the Taliban (the press called him the overall leader in Kurram when in fact he commanded several hundred fighters).

But at The Long War Journal and Threat Matrix, we warned you that such views were both wrong and dangerous. Here are two points from a post on June 27, 2011. We even predicted that Fazal Saeed may not consider the Shia to be civilians:

  • Note that Fazal didn't condemn suicide bombings, but only attacks against civilians, and at markets and mosques. Presumably all other targets are fair game. And one wonders if Fazal considers Shia to be "civilians," given that he's responsible for the butchering of quite a few in Kurram.
  • Fazal's defection from the TTP will likely be touted by some observers as a major blow to the terror group, but in all likelihood, little will change in the big picture. Fazal isn't going up against the TTP, he just dropped out of the fight. He still wants to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is continuing to battle US forces in Afghanistan. In all likelihood, Fazal merely joined the so-called "good Taliban," the groups that are favored by the Pakistani state. The Haqqani Network has expanded its influence greatly in Kurram [see this report at AEI from Reza Jan and Jeffrey Dressler for more information], and Fazal may be positioning himself to ally with them (note that Haqqani Network fighters were killed in his camps during last week's Predator strikes).

And see the conclusion to a July 5, 2011 post that addressed the so-called decline of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in the context of Fazal Saeed's defection:

What you are witnessing [Kurram with Fazal Saeed's defection] is a very cynical game by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment to get wayward Taliban groups back into the fold.

In other words, Fazal Saeed's "defection" from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan means little in the big picture when it comes to the jihadi groups that operate in Pakistan. He still supports jihad in Afghanistan, seeks to impose sharia law in Pakistan, and shelters terrorists, including la Qaeda, in areas under his control. Just like the Haqqanis and Taliban commanders such as Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Mullah Nazir, all of whom are not members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The only difference between them and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is that the former do not advocate attacking the Pakistani state.



READER COMMENTS: "'Good Taliban' leader Fazal Saeed Haqqani kills 39 civilians in Kurram suicide attack"

Posted by Neimoidian Taliban at February 17, 2012 2:59 PM ET:

Just like the fictitious alien species in 'Star Wars', known as Neimoidians, the Taliban if not the general characteristic of people in the AfPak region is to lie and deceive everyone, including each other.

How do you know when a Neimoidian is lying?

When his mouth is open.

Seems to be the case for the Taliban and "good Taliban" as well...

Posted by Joe at February 17, 2012 3:33 PM ET:

Hypocrisy seems to be as vital as oxygen to all of the players in this tragedy.

Posted by khan at February 17, 2012 4:39 PM ET:

I think that Fazal Saeed is an ISI represantitive in kurram agency. In the past,When amarican pressure built on Pak.Govt about to dismiss TTP in Waziristan, than the pak. intelligence ISI made feud in taliban and declared that Fazal Saeed is defected from the movement. His activities still continues according to the willings of ISI. The recent bomb blast in Parachinar has done by ISI and claimed credit from Fazal Seead.

Posted by Devin Leonard at February 17, 2012 7:39 PM ET:

There are no "Good" Taliban leaders...except the dead ones:)

Posted by Paul D at February 18, 2012 8:34 AM ET:

Look up Defend Pakistan Council to see who we are fighting in Afghanistan

Posted by Nic at February 18, 2012 10:16 AM ET:

@Neimoidian Taliban: One of the best comments ever! With your permission:

How do you know when the government of Pakistan is lying?

When its mouth is open.

Posted by Neimoidian Taliban at February 19, 2012 2:02 AM ET:

@ Nic, indeed, the government of Pakistan been two-faced for a long time.

It has played the victim card since the 1960s when Gary Powers got shot down. U2 flights over Russia were taking off from an airbase in Pakistan at the time and after the U2 got shot down, the Pak government immediately came out crying that they their trust had been betrayed by the US (U2 flights), despite the fact that Eisenhower had written a letter to the Pak leader at the time and an agreement made, with financial benefits for the Pakistani gov, of course.

Tribes and by extension the tribal allegiances, bonds, have survived for thousands of years on shifting sand.

The wise man in these parts, doesn't build a house on the sand. He erects a temporary tent and sleeps with one eye open on his AK.

Afghanistan needs to be as independent as possible from Pakistan and the recent move to have Afghan soldiers' families move from Pakistan to Afghanistan, while controversial, is a good one methinks.

Posted by Qadeer Ahmed at February 20, 2012 2:26 AM ET:

Taliban's are not representating Muslims. Taliban groups are doing a huge disservice to Islam by taking law in their own hands. one side Taliban's claims "Islam does not allow killings of innocent civilians in suicide attacks" as he said while on the other side it shows the Taliban’s double standards regarding their religious and moral duties.

This picture shows the real faces of Taliban and their ruthless act of terrorism and how they are loyal to Islam.

Posted by S66d9t at February 20, 2012 7:43 AM ET:

@Neimoidian Taliban... Your problem is Taliban don't let Americans take control of Afghanistan? or their honesty? When you will try to get into somebodyz house and kil his father saying that you are trying to help him because his father was really a bad guy what reaction you expect from the Son? Americans right now are not good or bad they are just intruders for everybody in Pakistan and Afghanistan! plz try to understand this fact! And what about the hypocracy of americans, while they have started calling Talibans, The Terrorists who were called before Jihadis and Freedom fighters while fighting against Russia?

Posted by Steve at February 20, 2012 5:42 PM ET:

@S66d9t ... It appears that the mistake was trying to help the "son". The fact is, the "father" is a bad guy, and he did allow his crazy brother a safe haven to plan the killing of thousands of innocent people. Going forward we should ignore the "son" and what he thinks about anything. I'm not so sure we should even consider leaving the house on its foundation. Maybe then the neighbors would take notice.