Pakistan Releases over 2,500 Taliban, al Qaeda

Pakistan follows the truce to the letter and releases thousands of Taliban and al Qaeda members captured since 2001


Maulana Sufi Mohammad, head of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-

Shariat-e-Mohammed, freed from Pakistani prison.

The Pakistani government is living up to its commitments on the “Waziristan Accord,” and has emptied the prisons of Taliban and al Qaeda who have been captured since the fall of 2001. The “Waziristan Accord” calls for the Pakistani government to “release prisoners held in military action and would not arrest them again,” and that is exactly what is happening.

The Daily Telegraph discloses that Pakistan has released over 2,500 Taliban and al Qaeda, although an American military intelligence source estimates the number is higher. The Pakistani military has in the past put the number of al Qaeda and Taliban captured at around 500-700.

The Daily Telegraph then tracks down some of those released. The resultant interviews give the impression those released were somehow incorrectly identified as jihadis. A “young Tajik who entered Pakistan last year to study… at a madrassa in Peshawar… was shot in the side by Pakistani police as he tried to escape when the madrassa was raided.” A “37-year-old Algerian… worked in the honey business when he was arrested last year.” Al-Qaeda was deeply involved in the “honey business” and use this and other industries to mask their terror financing. A “Bangladeshi who has an American degree in engineering, admitted helping the Taliban against US-led forces in Afghanistan five years ago” was released to the al-Khidmat Foundation. The Daily Telegraph fails to recognize the al-Khidmat Foundation is in fact the Makhtab al-Khidmat, or the MAK, which was founded by Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and was used to funnel men and material into Afghanistan. The MAK is on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List.

But beyond the three low level operatives interviewed are a host of senior and mid level al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. A sample of those released included the following individuals, including the killers of journalist Daniel Pearl:

Ghulam Mustafa: “He was once close to Osama bin Laden, has intimate knowledge of al Qaeda’s logistics and financing and its nexus with the military in Pakistan.”

Maulana Sufi Mohammad: “Maulana Sufi Mohammad was Faqir Mohammed’s first jihadi mentor who introduced him to militancy in Afghanistan in 1993. Sufi Mohammad was one of the active leaders of Jamat-e-Islami (JI) in the 1980s. He was the principal of the JI madrassa in Tamaergra, a town in the northwestern part of NWFP. He was an instinctive hardliner and in due course developed differences with JI and left them in 1992 to form Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed [TNSM].” Sufi Mohammad organized Pakistanis to fight jihad in Afghanistan and along with the TNSM fought in Kunduz November of 2001.

Mohammad Khaled: A brigade leader who led the Taliban in against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “”It is a difficult time for Islam and Muslims. We are in a test. Everybody should be ready to pass the test – and to sacrifice our lives,” said Mohammad Khaled.

Fazl-e-Raziq: A senior aide to Osama bin Laden, and “an ethnic Pakhtoon resident of Swabi district of the North West Frontier Province.”

Khairullah Kherkhawa: The former Taliban governor of Herat.

Khalid Khawaja: “Khalid Khawaja is a retired squadron leader of the Pakistan Air Force who was an official in Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, in the mid 1980s. After he wrote a critical letter to General Zia ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan from 1977 till 1988, in which he labeled Zia as hypocrite, he was removed from the ISI and forced to retire from the airforce. He then went straight to Afghanistan in 1987 and fought against the Soviets along side with Osama Bin Laden, developing a relationship of firm friendship and trust. Khalid Khawaja’s name resurfaced when US reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted and subsequently killed. Pearl had come to Pakistan and met Khalid Khawaja in order to investigate the jihadi network of revered sufi, Syed Mubarak Ali Gailani.”

Mansour Hasnain: A member of the group that kidnapped and murdered Danny Pearl. He also was “a militant of the Harkat-al-Mujahedin group, is one of those who hijacked an Indian Airlines jet in December 1999 and forced New Delhi to release three militants — including Omar and Azhar.”

Mohammad Hashim Qadeer: “Suspected of being one of [Daniel] Pearl’s actual killers, was arrested in August 2005 and has notable al-Qaida links” and “ties with the banned extremist groups Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen and Jaish-e-Muhammad.”

Mohammad Bashir: Another Pakistani complicit in the murder of Daniel Pearl.

Aamni Ahmad, Hala Ahmad and Nooran Abdu: Facilitators/couriers, and wives of al Qaeda members. “Pakistani authorities arrested 23 Arabs, including two children, suspected of links to Osama bin Laden, officials said Wednesday. All of them sneaked into the country from Afghanistan in recent weeks. The suspects include three women, identified as Aamni Ahmad, Hala Ahmad and Nooran Abdu, who are believed to be relatives of bin Laden. An interior ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the arrests were made in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan.”

Gul Ahmed Shami & Hamid Noor: Al-Qaeda foot soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. “I want to be the next Osama bin Laden,” said Shami in 2001. “Allah is with us. The Americans have technology but they don’t have the courage to face death, which we do. I will be there until my death if need be. I know I probably won’t come back,” said Hamid.

These “miscreants” and “foreigners” are said to be streaming back to al Qaeda’s new safe haven of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, and reconstituting al Qaeda’s organization.

As the Pakistani government lives up to their end of the “Waziristan Accord,” the Taliban and al Qaeda have broken it repeatedly. Anti-Taliban clerics and tribal leaders have been shot and beheaded in Waziristan. A government official was also kidnapped in Waziristan, and a reporter was murdered in Dera Ismail Khan. The Taliban flaunts the terms of the truce and expends into neighboring agencies, and the Pakistani government continues to look the other way.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • ElamBend says:

    Can you provide sourcing for the rest of the data, particularly that the Pearl killers were also released?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The names are from a confidential source who has seen the list. However the rest of the information is sourced (follow the hyperlinks).

  • Plus + Ultra says:

    Mushi Dumps 2,500 Al-Qaeda, Taliban Onto Street

    Its get out of jail free time in Pakistan.
    Thanks to Fourth Rail for the link

  • JW says:

    Why would the pakistan do this, this is crazy.

  • Catch and release:

    “Pakistan’s credibility as a leading ally in the war on terrorism was called into question last night when it emerged that President Pervez Musharraf’s government had authorised the release from jail of thousands of Taliban fighters caught fighting coa…

  • Wally Lind says:

    If Pakistan has made this pact to recognize the autonomous nature of this tribal area, why is our agreement to respect that part of Pakistani territory still valid? Why can’t we send small or large teams into this area to deal with people? If Pakistan doesn’t have legal control of this area, how can they object? It seems to me that a modest enlargement of our Pedator/Helfire fleet is in order.

  • WK says:

    JW, Bill Roggio has been busy this month posting information about a fact that is escaping all of the MSM and even much of the blogosphere and explains much of what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan currently. Bill has been reporting that a ‘truce’ in effect has been signed between alQaeda/Taliban and the Pakistani government, and much of what Pakistan is doing is tantamount to what a defeated armed force is doing. Winners do not release their prisoners, Pakistan has lost this conflict in that part of their country. The maps of the world say its Pakistani territory, but Bill has correctly pointed out that this is basically the Islamic caliphate state of Waziristan fully under control of al Qaeda and Taliban. It is only a matter of time before this area is recognized as a state within a state by the international powers, and considered an enemy of civilization. The comparative model is Hezbollah in south Lebanon, where Lebanon wrote off southern part of their country.
    I am fully in favor of wiping this piece of s*it region off the face of the globe, and it can be done yesterday as far as I’m concerned. Those that harbor the terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves, remember the Bush doctrine.
    What is truly disturbing is the lack of awareness in the American public about this major and growing problem, The MSM does such a poor job sometimes in keeping its eye on the ball, and reporting the more truly important issues in the War on Terror.

  • Pakistan Releases 2,500 Prisoners Linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda

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  • GK says:

    That’s it. We’ve lost the war. America is no longer capable of winning wars. We may have the best technology and best soldiers, but lack the stamina and will necessary to win.
    Pakistan (as well as Russia) seemed to be on our side in 2002 when we appeared to be strong. Now we look weak, and they know they have no reason to comply with us.
    I don’t see the WoT ending before 10 Million Westerners and 200 Million Muslims have died, over the next 15 years.

  • DaveK says:

    Not only does this pretty well confirm that Pakistan lost its war in Waziristan, I think we can safely say that Musharraf’s days as Pakistan’s head of state are numbered. I don’t believe Parvez would have made such a capitulation unless he feared his own survival was threatened by attack from within his own government and military.

    Unfortunately, such capitulations are usually good only to buy a little time while your enemies gather their strength. If Musharraf is smart and has a bit of good intel (and good luck), he’ll be conveniently out of the country when the next coup takes place.

    The prospects for dealing with the next government of Pakistan are grim. They are likely to be Salifiest, or at least heavily co-opted by the Jihadist agenda. And with working nukes at their disposal, things along the India-Kashmir border will heat up again. Worse, an Islamist government might well consider active defense of the Waziristan region, should military forces enter from Afghanistan.

    Things are going to get a lot worse in South Asia before we see any real signs of improvement.

    Just my $.02


  • Justin B says:

    That’s it. We’ve lost the war. America is no longer capable of winning wars. We may have the best technology and best soldiers, but lack the stamina and will necessary to win.

    I would not go that far.
    Again the problem comes down to what Pakistan is willing to do to aid us in the WoT. The unfortunate part for us is that until 9-11, Pakistan was a huge supporter of the Taliban, and even since 9-11 and our invasion, Taliban folks continue to hold high positions in the Pakistani armed forces, intelligence community, and government.
    Pakistan is trying to help us, but they are limited in the scope of how large of a war they can declare on these tribal regions. We really don’t want to weaken Pakistan’s government any more than we have to because I can promise you, the next government there will be much more difficult to deal with. These folks have nukes and we are walking a very fine line.
    While this release is extremely troubling, the fact is that Pakistan has the right to function as an autonomous nation and make their own decisions. A lot of my concern if I were running things would be based on the US policy debate going on right now in the election cycle. If the US is not committed to the WoT and the Leftist Appeasement folks get into office, why should Pakistan take a hard line against these folks if we are not going to support them and help prop up the increasingly unpopular Military government of Pakistan.
    It is the mixed messages we are sending that is forcing our allies to hedge their bets in case we pull out of Iraq and possibly Afghanistan.

  • kindlingman says:

    Pakistan lets Taliban out of jail

    Countries are never friends. Do not expect them to act like ones.  And yet, how far does friendship extend anyway?
    “Pakistan’s credibility as a leading ally in the war on terrorism was called into question last night when it emerged that P…

  • Pakistan Officially Quits ‘War On Terror’

    That is right, Pakistan has now officially quit the ‘war on terror’, which it of course was fighting half-heartedly anyway.

    The Pakistani government…

  • Angel says:

    Justin B.
    I agree with your analysis of the Pakistan position on the WoT. I’m amazed Musharraf is still living. Many people don’t understand the situation in that part of the world but your comments were clear and concise.
    We’ll have to wait until the elections are over to see what the U.S. response will be.

  • Paki Bashing or Disaster?

    The deal with Pakistan had a good run. Is it over? If so, what now?

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  • Arun says:

    Please have your list checked again by your source.
    E.g., Khairullah Kherkhawa is/was apparently our guest in Guantanamo. When was he released to the Pakistanis?
    Mansour Hasnain – the chief accused in the Musharraf assassination attempt and the Daniel Pearl murder – was apparently reported killed by the Pakistanis. More significant than his release would be the fact that he is still alive.
    (September 2004):
    Pakistani security agencies on Sunday killed Amjad Hussain Farooqi, alias Mansur Hasnain alias Imtiaz Siddiqui alias Hyder alias Doctor, who, according to them, was the mastermind behind the two aborted attempts to kill President General Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi¬†last December. ….In a report under the heading “Real conspirators in Musharraf case may never be exposed”, Kamran Khan, a Pakistani investigative journalist, stated as follows in The News of September 28: “Senior lawyers say that the killing of Amjad Farooqi, the main accused in the President Musharraf and Daniel Pearl cases, may also influence the final outcome of the two most important cases.

  • m.takhallus says:

    No one of any note on the Left is talking about bailing out on Afghanistan. It’s the Bush administration that insists on conflating Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror all together in one big pie. The Democrats differentiate and have supported Afghanistan from the start and still do today. In fact some Democrats want more men in Afghanistan, not fewer, more committment of resources, not less.
    If something is making Musharraf nervous it’s almost certainly domestic having little to do with us directly. (To the extent he does take the temperature of the Americans in making his decisions perhaps Musharraf has noted the lack of committment by the administration itself to winning wars.)
    Musharraf has a lot going on: Baluchistan, Kashmir, problems in his own security apparatus, and the tribal areas. Pakistan borders Afghanistan, India and China. I suspect we’re the least of his worries.
    I think the one thing that is clear is that Pakistan (with 15 to 100 nuclear weapons) has been shifted from the “Ally” column to the “Neutral” column in the war on terror. That’s a huge loss for the good guys.

  • Bobby F says:

    [The Daily Telegraph fails to recognize the al-Khidmat Foundation is in fact the Makhtab al-Khidmat, or the MAK,..]
    That’s complete fantasy. They are entirely different organisations.
    The news from Pakistan is bad enough without people just making stories up, so unless you have some very good evidence that the Khidmat Foundation has relations with terrorists you should amend your fictions accordingly.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    You are thinking of Farooqi, who used Mansour Hasnain’s id card at some time, henc ethe alias. Farooqi is indeed dead. Hasnain was involved in the Pearl kidnapping as well.
    As for Khairullah Kherkhawa, well, we’ve released flolks from Gitmo before to their host countries. No different here.
    Bobby F.,
    Believe what you like about Khidmat. They even did ‘earthquake relief.’ Do you remember how al-Qaeda was using NGOs to infiltrate the area and move trainies into Pakistan? Khidmat is intricately linked with the Islamist party Jamaat-i-Islami, the same party that al-Qaeda is using to rule in Waziristan. al-Khidmat is the left over services agency (which is what Khidmat means) from the MAK, the ‘legitimate’ services group.

  • 2500 Al Qaeda Released in Pakistan, Including Daniel Pearl’s Murderers


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  • Pakistan Releases over 2,500 Taliban, al-Qaeda

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    Pakistan follows the truce to the letter and releases thousands of Taliban and al-Qaeda members captured since 2001
    The Pakistani government is living up to its commitments on the “Waziristan Accord,” and has…

  • Arun says:
    As per Wikipedia, Khairullah Khairkawa was in Guantanamo as of May 2006.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Plenty of detainees have been transferred from GTMO. I’m going to leave it at that…

  • This is such a golden opportunity to follow the Taliban/Al-Qaeda into Pakistan and destory them I will be suprised if the U.S. doesn’t take it. I have more to say about this in my blog here:
    btw: Great job Bill!

  • Serurier says:

    Wikipedia?you can change it anytime .

  • MlR says:

    “While this release is extremely troubling, the fact is that Pakistan has the right to function as an autonomous nation and make their own decisions.”
    I agree with all of your post but this. Governments have the ‘right’ to function so long as they do not step on the toes of others. Giving aid to Al Qaeda in the name of sanctuary, makes Pakistan free game.
    If Pakistan is truly done helping us, send SFs in the area w/airpower, and dare the Pakistanis to do a thing about it. If you can’t control your own territory, you forfeit the right to complain to others when they need to handle it for you.
    Nukes? Stuck between India and they’re going to threaten us? Ours aren’t just for show.

  • Thanos says:

    I fear that Bill might be right in this, but think some are going over the top in the comments, this is one that will have to play out over time.
    This isn’t the first truce and payoff that’s been made with the tribes in this region (do a search on “the great game”,) and it probably won’t be the last. Some have been honored and some haven’t. This goes well back, to British rule and before, payoffs, prisoner trades, banditry, and terrorism are part and parcel with this region, and the Pak govt has made payoffs to keep the area quiescent many times in the past.
    The real question is will the Waziris become the “Pak Taliban” as opposed to fighting cross-border, & have they kept or will they send packing the foreigners. There are conflicting signs both ways.

  • sanman says:

    JW wrote:
    “Why would the pakistan do this, this is crazy.”

    Like Bonez McCoy once said, “Jim, if a man had a child that went anti-social, he’d still tend to protect that child.”

    Musharraf sees that Taliban are getting stronger, while Bush is getting weaker. It’s only reasonable for him to assume that in a few years, Taliban will still be around, while Bush won’t. He’s gambling that if he switches now, he can preserve his own position, while Bush won’t have the leverage to do anything against him.

    Here’s a useful analysis on it:

  • We got al-Qaeda’s #2 (again)!!

    Where have we heard this before??
    Security forces have killed a top aide to al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq and captured another in separate operations, Iraqi and U.S. officials said on Thursday.
    The Interior Ministry said Abu Jaafar al-Liby was killed alon

  • Pakistan Releases Taliban & Al Qaeda Prisoners

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  • blert says:

    Musharraf has taken note of the State within a State ‘solution’ that is Hezbollah.
    Hence the timing.
    The arrival of the Fall dictated that AQ and the Taliban be kicked loose now. Certainly the Pakistan Army needs these days to retreat.

  • Leah says:

    The al Khidmat Foundation is NOT the same as MAK, which was established by Azzam. Refer to the CTC Harmony database for Mustafa Hamid’s book, in which he outlines of the organisation’s separate heritage, commencing 1992. Interestingly, it was founded by Afghan Arabs but they had a different ideological slant than AQ and other groups who maintained a presence in Peshawar at that time.

  • Chris W. says:

    Once all the “streaming” back to the new Emirate is finished, that sounds like a target rich environment to me…not that we would ever bomb it or anything, because that might, you know, actually work or something.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Justin, m.takhallus,
    Let’s save the political debate for another site. I am trying very hard to keep the political fighting off of this site and don’t want to have to close comments down because of this. I’ve done it before and will do it again.
    I have removed the comments.

  • Rob says:

    Releasing 2,500 Taliban and AQ terrorists into the terrorist’s battlefields around the world sounds horrible. And what does General Musharaff gain??
    This will certainly prolong and inflame the fighting in Afghanistan. Maybe many of these guys will be killed, but what about the ones who are not.
    Analysis and understanding of this seems to be largly lacking in the wider media.
    What if the Indian army moved away from the Pakistan border so Pakistan Army can shift and deal with Al Qaeda in Waziristan. They are not going to abide by their deal with Musharaff.
    This is very strange.
    Is India taking this as a chance to destroy Pakistan?? Is that really what they want??
    Afghanistan will justifiably be very unhappy with all the increased violence.
    Will the Pakistani military move to protect Pakistan? This has been the pattern. Is the Pakistan military then starting to break up?
    Plenty of questions.

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