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Pakistani officials promoting false split in Taliban leadership cadres, again



Hak-Wali-Bannu-jailbreak.jpg

Hakeemullah Mehsud [center right] as he organized the attack on a prison in Bannu.

For some reason, Reuters seems to want to perpetuate the myth that Hakeemullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the top two leaders of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, are "at each other's throats," a claim that Waliur Rehman himself has denied. Back in January, I debunked the claims, and the long-awaited clash between the two never materialized. You can read about that here.

Eleven months later, Reuters pretty much writes the same story. This time, unnamed Pakistani military sources are making the claims. But in the process of making the case for the split between the two leaders, the Pakistani officials tell an easily demonstrable lie. And "lie" isn't a term I use easily around here, but in this case, it applies.

While making the case that Hakeemullah is no longer in charge of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's operations, Pakistani officials told Reuters the following:

Intelligence officials said Mehsud had not commanded any recent operations, including an August 16 attack on the Minhas Airbase in Pakistan and a suicide attack on a street market in May that killed 24 people.

Military sources said Rehman planned the April 15 jail break in Bannu in Pakistan that freed 384 prisoners, including an estimated 200 Taliban members and an al Qaeda-linked militant who had attempted to assassinate former president Pervez Musharraf.

Now, the officials aren't clear how they know Hakeemullah wasn't involved in the Minhas suicide assault; it does fit the profile of other attacks he directed.

But the real kicker is the Bannu prison break. We know for a fact that Hakeemullah was involved. How do we know? The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan released a videotape of the operations, in which both Waliur Rehman and Hakeemullah appeared. And guess what? Hakeemullah himself appears on the videotape where the Taliban are staging to conduct the attack. You can see him there, and you can see his men surrounding him. So we know for certain that Hakeemullah was indeed directly involved in the Bannu prison break. The Pakistani officials who tracked the Bannu prison break would also know this.

Pakistani officials have been promoting a split between Hakeemullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman Mehsud for years, beginning with the fake battle at the shura to succeed Bailtullah Mehsud, the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan who was killed in an August 2009 drone strike. The battle never happened, yet Pakistani officials insist to this day that it did. We've covered this, and other such nonsense, extensively at The Long War Journal.

Dare I say that Pakistani officials are using Reuters and other news agencies as part of a not-so-sophisticated information operation designed to split the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's top leadership? It is high time that news organizations see through this patently obvious nonsense.



READER COMMENTS: "Pakistani officials promoting false split in Taliban leadership cadres, again"

Posted by Pakistan Tribune at December 6, 2012 2:45 PM ET:

Its amazing that Taliban are still surviving in middle of War Zone between Afghanistan and Pakistan are they more powerful than a worldly super power???

Posted by mike merlo at December 6, 2012 2:54 PM ET:

a very astute observation. Your view on why Pakistan is engaging in this misinformation campaign would be very much appreciated. Tension & episodic clashes are customary & traditional among tribal's & insurgencies 'peppered' with multiple groups of varying levels of allegiance but ultimately these differences are themselves ameliorated or subsumed into the greater whole. This is the result of self interests being confronted by a foe whose very presence dictates either a combined resistance if not then the resistance is destroyed piece meal. A united Afghan Mujaheddin resistance confronting Soviet occupation then resorting to internecine warfare with the abdication on the part of the Soviets is a 'case in point.'

Of the many publications that have surfaced with the Taliban & Afghanistan as 'its' subject Neamatollah Nojumi's 'Rise Of The Taliban In Afghanistan' as well as anybody dissects Pakistan's internal feuds & 'competitions' for control of the Mujaheddin & the ensuing chaos that followed in the wake of the Soviet retreat. The TLWJ, particularly the article's author, has 'touched' upon this subject repeatedly. Why the mainstream media has failed to focus on this critical variable is anybody's guess.


Posted by mike merlo at December 6, 2012 4:26 PM ET:

@Pakistan Tribune
interesting post from a publication whose nation is experiencing a full on melt down

Posted by Captain Louis Renault at December 6, 2012 4:32 PM ET:

"But in the process of making the case for the split between the two leaders, the Pakistani officials tell an easily demonstrable lie." I am shocked, shocked to find that Pakistan is duplicitous. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1DEG6BWgp0 )

Posted by Charu at December 6, 2012 4:35 PM ET:

The Pakistanis are clearly promoting this lie, but to what purpose? The line touted is that Waliur Rehman Mehsud is more inclined to fight in Afghanistan. So is this a ham handed attempt to get the Americans to take out WRM? And why? Could they fear him more than HM, or is the number 3 in their pocket? There is more to this story.

Posted by blert at December 6, 2012 4:35 PM ET:

This dis-information op seams oriented only towards the West. Perhaps it's a sop to the CIA and MI6. Islamabad may be pitching the idea that islamist elements are infighting to such a degree that it's best to not intervene until things 'settle down.'

It can't have any hope of gaining traction with the islamists.

========

In another time, another place, the FBI tried to split up the 'Pierpont Gang' by re-naming it the 'Dillinger Gang.' (That entity never existed, of course. You'll see it in the movies, though.)

Harry Pierpont, the brains and leader of the bunch laughed his head off. For, the FBI had selected the junior apprentice, of all people.

Press release lies are a weak tactic that only plays well with fools.

========

Posted by bard207 at December 6, 2012 7:06 PM ET:

Pakistan Tribune,

Its amazing that Taliban are still surviving in middle of War Zone between Afghanistan and Pakistan are they more powerful than a worldly super power???

________________

Afghanistan and Pakistan border each other, so there is no Middle of War Zone between the two countries. There are a fair number of Taliban that take safe harbor in Pakistan, so your suggestion of them surviving in the middle between Afghanistan and Pakistan is false.

An alternative POV is that Pakistan does not exist West of Attock and the PA (Pakistani Army) has ceded the land to the Taliban which would then be in agreement with your Middle of War Zone suggestion.

In recent years, the United States military has had some casualties inside the Continental U.S. from accidents and Major Hasan, but I don't remember any from U.S. civilians targeting the U.S. military. The PA wished it was so lucky since Pakistani civilians are targeting and killing Pakistani military personnel in addition to damaging Pakistani bases and equipment.

It is quite ironic that you question the abilities of the U.S. military at a location thousands and thousand of miles from the U.S. when the Pakistani military can't even protect themselves in their own country.


Posted by bard207 at December 6, 2012 8:50 PM ET:

Pakistan Tribune,

I glanced at your web site and noticed that it has a .com/.pk URL ending which strongly suggests that it is Pakistani based.

As you very likely know, the Long War Journal is among the web sites that are blocked by the Pakistani government (read: PA & ISI).

Since you linked to a web site that presents an alternative presentation to what is here at the Long War Journal, I was left with the impression that you are for the full exchange of ideas, perspectives and analysis.

Yet, I was unable to find a writeup on your web site advocating that the blocking of the Long War Journal and similar web sites by the Pakistani government (read: PA & ISI) be lifted so that those in Pakistan are able to read alternative presentations & analysis that are different from what is presented in Pakistan.

The last time that I looked, Bill had let the link to your web site remain. It would be a simple courtesy in return for you to go on your web site and chastise - criticize the Pakistani government (read: PA & ISI) for blocking the Long War Journal and similar web sites.

Please post the link when you write that Editorial - Opinion piece critical of the Pakistani government (read: PA & ISI) censorship so that I and other won't miss it.

If you are unable to write that Editorial - Opinion piece, then please explain to us why the censorship - blocking by the Pakistani government (read: PA & ISI) is acceptable while you should be able to take full advantage of the freedom (non censorship) that Bill has provided to you.

Posted by Bill Roggio at December 7, 2012 12:39 AM ET:

Mike,

I believe the military/government have several reasons to foist this nonsense. Blert is correct, part of this is a stalling tactic; an excuse not to take action, and that message is directed at the West. Look at all of the North Waziristan operation nonsense that Western leaders have fallen for over the past decade; you still have US officials sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for it.

Additionally I believe the government wants to portray the TTP as weak and fractured so they can claim success. Also, they believe that if they keep saying the TTP is divided, it will eventually drive a wedge between the leaders.

I also think the ISI/military are lobbying for Waliur Rahman Mehsud to take control of the TTP, as he is likely considered to be a - wait for it - "good bad Taliban" (I made that one up all by myself) - or a TTP leader they can work with. My guess is they believe that Waliur Rahman is like Nazir, Bahadar, and the Haqqanis, and would prefer to focus efforts on Afghanistan.

Posted by Viv at December 7, 2012 1:39 AM ET:

Terrific Analysis. I have been thinking exactly on the same lines. This story of a so called split between the two has been going on for many years. Also, reported news of Hakimullah's death from "Reliable Tribal Sources" have been proven wrong atleast 6 to 7 times. You have also rightly pointed out how Hakimullah participated in the Bannu jailbreak captured on video. He is hated for his ruthless killing of Pakistani soldiers and also for specific killngs like that of Colonel Imam.

Posted by Chengez K at December 7, 2012 6:04 AM ET:

Why are you so keen that TTP should not split?

Why are you defending Mehsud.....is he really a CIA asset as ISI says?

Posted by Pakistan Tribune at December 7, 2012 11:32 AM ET:

Yes...I am representing a Pakistan based website...I have posted comment on this site which means that site is accessible on Pakistani Soil. I will have a look and Will definitely write if I find Long War Journal Blocked.

My comment has received diversified replies. I respect all the views but I have impression that all responses have a disconnect from Pakistani Soil. Everybody is ready to criticise PA & ISI for no obvious reasons.

Please note that Taliban exist on both sides of Border. Pakistan Side is guarded by Pakistan Army while the Afghan side is protected by Afghan Army, NATO and ISAF Troops. Taliban are moving on both sides of border. Those Taliban who are fighting against Pakistan Army are operating from Afghanistan.

Ok. Suppose that PA is not doing its Job and allowing Taliban to cross to Afghanistan. But what the army deployed on other side is doing? Why cant they get hold of intruders. Who is stopping them to arrest those who illegally cross the border.

Lets be fair.........

Posted by Bill Roggio at December 7, 2012 5:02 PM ET:

Chengez K, I am not "keen that TTP should not split" nor am I "defending Mehsud." I am reporting facts, not government fantasies and propaganda.

Posted by mike merlo at December 7, 2012 6:18 PM ET:

@Pakistan Tribune
"Everybody is ready to criticise PA & ISI for no obvious Reasons." Huh? You gotta be kidding me! ....and yet Osama Bin Laden was located & killed on Pakistani soil.

Posted by bard207 at December 7, 2012 6:25 PM ET:

Pakistan Tribune,

Please note that Taliban exist on both sides of Border. Pakistan Side is guarded by Pakistan Army while the Afghan side is protected by Afghan Army, NATO and ISAF Troops. Taliban are moving on both sides of border. Those Taliban who are fighting against Pakistan Army are operating from Afghanistan.

I am under the impression that you are referring to those allied with Radio Mullah.

Pakistan had ample opportunities to deal effectively with him and other militants well inside Pakistani borders and chose not to.

This report is nearly five years old.
Pakistan: State of Emergency

Finally, two months into the uprising, Musharraf acted, ordering 20,000 soldiers into Swat and declaring a national emergency on November 3. Hundreds of Fazlullah’s men were killed, as the army regained control of the major towns in the valley. But Fazlullah and his top commanders escaped into the mountains, where they continue to launch attacks. “I think the operation has been a total disaster,” Rashid tells Montero. “The military moved in, as usual, far too late….This could have been nipped in the bud two years ago by a small police operation.”

Over a year later...

New 'sharia' accord signed between NWFP government and TNSM

the United States has reacted strongly to the step saying the deal would merely give insurgents time to regroup, and carry out their nefarious activities.

Pakistan region in grip of fear as leader begins to implement sharia law

The provincial authorities struck a deal with him hoping that he would be able to influence the local Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah, who is his son-in-law. But despite the "peace deal", the situation is far from settled. This week in Swat Taliban forcibly occupied the house of a member of parliament and overran an emerald mine.


-------------------------------
Ok. Suppose that PA is not doing its Job and allowing Taliban to cross to Afghanistan. But what the army deployed on other side is doing? Why cant they get hold of intruders. Who is stopping them to arrest those who illegally cross the border.

The U.S. and most of the ISAF forces are far far away from home and it is pointless to keep fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan that scurry back to safety across the border in Pakistan.

As you likely know, the U.S. and the rest of ISAF are reducing troop levels and don't have the forces available to put a significant blocking force along the Afghanistan - Pakistan border.

There have been other Pro Pakistan commenters that have participated over the years here at the Long War Journal.

They usually take delight at the struggles of the U.S. and other ISAF in trying to quell the Taliban caused violence in Afghanistan.

When it is pointed out to the Pro Pakistan commenters that the PA (Paskitani Army) is operating within its own borders and is unable (unwilling?) to stop the violence, they try to ignore it.

You pointed out that currently the TTP types have some basing along the Paksitan border and into Afghanistan, but you didn't provide the background - history of how the Pakistan made Peace Deals rather than deal effectively and completely with Radio Mullah .

Posted by Pakistan Tribune at December 8, 2012 12:06 AM ET:

@bard207

You really made an interesting reply....loved that....U.S and ISAF troops can not guard Afghanistan side of Border because they are far away from Home....I really enjoyed this.....If they are so homesick and cant do their Job...Then what they are doing there....

Ok...fine U.S and ISAF is working on exit strategy...can anybody tell what will happen after them??? Is Pakistan Army is supposed to protect both sides of border.

One more aspect....You referred to PEACE deals between Pakistan Army and Militants......It seems that you are not aware that Pakistan has recently released some of detained Taliban leaders on US and Afghan Pressure. Why they were keen to get them freed rather than detained?

It further seems that you are unaware about ongoing talks between US and socalled "Moderate Taliban".

It was once again surprising to note that you are classifying commenters as "Pro Pakistani" and "anti-Pakistani". This proves that people comment here are biased...They comment on the basis of "Pro" and "Anti" attitude.

Discussion should base on facts rather than "Pro" and "Anti" sentiments.

Posted by naresh c. at December 8, 2012 12:47 AM ET:

Wishful thinking and planted stories will not do any good to the munafiq Pakistani army. Taliban will impose sharia in every Pakistani city and will take over soon.

Posted by bard207 at December 8, 2012 9:19 PM ET:

Pakistan Tribune,


You really made an interesting reply....loved that....U.S and ISAF troops can not guard Afghanistan side of Border because they are far away from Home....I really enjoyed this.....If they are so homesick and cant do their Job...Then what they are doing there....

Please show were I have previously used the word homesick in this discussion.

I don't know if it is intentional or not, but you took what I said the wrong way. What should be obvious is that the U.S. and ISAF troops are far far away from home trying to help stabilize Afghanistan and you ridiculed their efforts.

The PA (Pakistani Army) is fighting on its home turf with some obvious advantages compared to what the ISAF forces face in Afghanistan.


1 Much shorter supply lines

2. Familiarity with language & local customs.

3.The PA is Native to the area and doesn't face the issue of being obvious Outsiders that the ISAF has in Afghanistan.

4. The PA should be much much more motivated to save & improve their country than the ISAF forces that are on temporary assignments in Aghnaistan. Yet the PA has been very reticent to clean out the terrorist havens in their midst.

No pride.

_______________


Ok...fine U.S and ISAF is working on exit strategy...can anybody tell what will happen after them??? Is Pakistan Army is supposed to protect both sides of border.

The PA can't even stabilize South Waziristan (part of Pakistan), so your question made me laugh.

_____________

One more aspect....You referred to PEACE deals between Pakistan Army and Militants......It seems that you are not aware that Pakistan has recently released some of detained Taliban leaders on US and Afghan Pressure. Why they were keen to get them freed rather than detained?

I am aware of the discussions, but since Pakistan can't be bothered to do anything about the Haqqani Network and similar Good Taliban groups, the past eleven years of U.S. - ISAF actition in Afghanistan has been a bit of a waste of lives and money. If Pakistan would have gotten serious about things a decade ago and did something about the Taliban that took safe haven in Pakistan, then things would be much different today and the ISAF mission in Afghanistan would have had more success.

Pakistan didn't cooperate with the U.S. & ISAF nearly as much as it could have which you should know . Yet you have the nerve to question why the U.S. is having to beg its way out of Afghanistan?

________________

It further seems that you are unaware about ongoing talks between US and socalled "Moderate Taliban".

I am aware of those talks and think that they are a waste of time since the Taliban aren't the type of people that can be housebroken. The U.S. and the rest of ISAF are leaving and/or significantly reducing force levels. Some in the U.S. policymaking circles are either naive or trying to make the best of a bad situation.

_______________

It was once again surprising to note that you are classifying commenters as "Pro Pakistani" and "anti-Pakistani". This proves that people comment here are biased...They comment on the basis of "Pro" and "Anti" attitude.

I remember using Pro Pakistan, but don't remember using anti-Pakistan. Please cite where I used that phrase - word.

I was naive in 2001 -- 2006 when I was under the impression that Pakistan wanted to be a progressive country and be a part of the Modern World. After waiting, waiting and waiting on the PA to do something about the Taliban safe havens in Pakistan, I finally accepted the fact that Pakistan was more interested in being in alliance - league with the primitive Taliban than being part of the Modern World.

That was a decision that the Pakistani people will have to dearly pay for in future years.

If you want to say that I have a bias against Pakistan, I can accept that because I don't appreciate the Taqiyya Pakistan did to the U.S. and the rest of the world.

It is amusing that you are eager to use the bias word against myself and others that are disappointed in Pakistan, yet the reasons why we have a dislike for Pakistan aren't something that you are interested in discussing.

______________________________
Discussion should base on facts rather than "Pro" and "Anti" sentiments.

Facts?

Here are a few more.

Taliban are 'patriots,' says Pakistani Army official

A senior Pakistani military official called two senior Taliban leaders "patriots," signaling a shift in posture against the Taliban in the Northwest Frontier Province. The Mumbai terror siege and India's reaction may lead the Pakistani Army to negotiate peace agreements with the Taliban to free up troops for the eastern border with India.

The official, who was not named, called Taliban leaders Baitullah Mehsud and Mullah Fazlullah "patriots" during a briefing with senior Pakistani journalists, The News reported. He said the military and the Taliban are clashing due to "some misunderstandings."

"We have no big issues with the militants in Fata [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas]," the official said. "We have only some misunderstandings with Baitullah and Fazlullah. These misunderstandings could be removed through dialogue."


The ‘airlift of evil’

Pakistan had hundreds of military advisers in Afghanistan before Sept. 11 helping the Taliban fight the Northern Alliance. Hundreds more former soldiers actively joined Taliban regiments, and many Pakistani volunteers were among the non-Afghan legions of al-Qaida.


Now that you mention this emphasis about Facts, I have been seeking the detailed report on bin Laden living in Abbottabad. I have read many times about Dr Afridi, but haven't found the detailed report about who helped bin Laden get that land and build that house so very close to the Pakistan Military Academy.

Could you provide that for me and probably a few others that would like to get the Facts about bin Laden in Pakistan?

Posted by Villiger at December 10, 2012 6:38 PM ET:

Just peeked in to catch-up.

Bard, brilliant arguments--thank you.

Yes the essence is that Paqistan is out of the step with the modern world happily being mislead and bled by its Army who are at once incompetent and corrupt. Paqistan has become the Sick Man of Asia. Sick minds, sick economy, sick relationships with all its neighbours.

Paq Tribune, no one needs to be anti-Paqistan. You are anti-yourself: your own worst enemy.

Posted by bard207 at December 11, 2012 11:23 AM ET:

Pakistan Tribune wrote


quote:"


"unquote


Then the Pro Pakistan people wonder why there is a bias against Pakistan by some of the Commenters at the LWJ?


__________________

Villiger,


Thank you