Pakistani Taliban active in Logar
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan released an interesting video two days ago. The summary below is from the SITE Intelligence Group:
Umar Studio, the media arm of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), released a video of military and suicide operations carried out in Afghanistan's eastern Logar province by a TTP-affiliate called the "Sa'ad bin Abi Waqas Front." The 67-minute, Pashto-language video is titled, "The Caravan of Truth," and shows a production date of January 2012. It was posted on the Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum (JHUF) on April 22, 2013. Footage shows undated ambushes, mortar strikes and raids against enemy forces, and in one scene, the execution of an "apostate" with a rocket launcher. Another scene shows fighters preparing explosives for a suicide bombing, and then shows the explosion at a joint US-Afghan base in Khushi district.
Several times in the video, the group displays white and black banners giving the names "Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar" and "Emir of the Movement Hakeemullah Mehsud".
Interestingly enough, Sa'ad bin Abi Waqas was the al Qaeda emir in Kunar province who was killed by the US military in an airstrike on April 14, 2011. His group was known as the Sa'ad bin Abi Waqas Front. See LWJ report, Al Qaeda's commander for Kunar, several operatives killed in airstrike. for more information.
This is how ISAF described Waqas in the press release that announced his death:
Waqas was a Pakistani al Qaeda leader operating in Kunar, who coordinated attacks against coalition forces. He was associated with another Pakistan-based senior al Qaeda leader and together they conducted training for members throughout the province, as well as weapons procurement.
It is unclear if the Sa'ad bin Abi Waqas Front operating in Logar is the same unit that operated in Kunar, or if the Logar unit was named in honor of Waqas.
One thing is clear: Waqas is the perfect example of how Pakistanis have backfilled leadership positions for al Qaeda after leaders are killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and raids in Afghanistan. Waqas epitomizes the "deep bench" of unheralded jihadists that US intelligence officials are constantly warning LWJ readers about.
Video depicts execution of Afghan militia commander in Paktia
There is something else that is interesting about the video released by the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. One of the video clips shows the execution of an Afghan man, who was killed with a recoilless rifle as a large group of Taliban fighters watched.
The video [embedded above] is the same video shown at The Long War Journal on Aug. 25, 2011, but from a different angle [see LWJ report, Video shows Taliban executing Afghan police commander with recoilless rifle]. TIME reported in December 2012 that the man executed commanded a 60-man militia assigned to protect a dam. From TIME:
What was Khan Wali's [the militia commander] crime? He was protecting one of Afghanistan's most important resources: water. Khan Wali led a 60-man semiofficial militia tasked with defending the Machalgho dam in eastern Paktia province. Already two years behind schedule because of security concerns, the dam would irrigate about 16,000 hectares of land and produce 800 KW of electricity once completed. The government had pledged that if Khan Wali held his ground for two months, he and his men would receive weapons and cash. But Khan Wali lasted only 20 days into the mission.
The SITE Intelligence Group said it was highly likely that the Sa'ad bin Abi Waqas Front carried out this execution. The banners displayed by the Taliban fighters note their allegiance to Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan emir Hakeemullah Mehsud as well as to Mullah Omar.
The Pakistani Taliban are eager to flaunt their operations in eastern Afghanistan (note that the Haqqani Network is very active in Logar and Paktia provinces; the Pakistani Taliban are likely operating with their permission and support). Additionally, they are happy to promote their allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, something that Omar does nothing whatsoever to dispel. So much for the Afghan Taliban being interested only in Afghanistan, and the Pakistani Taliban being interested only in Pakistan.