Aftermath of the Bajaur Airstrike

Demonstrations, political maneuvering follows the attack on the Taliban and al Qaeda training camp in the Chingai madrassa

Sirajul al-Haq addresses a rally in Bajaur, Pakistan. Click image to view.

The aftermath of the destruction of the Taliban madrassa in the town of Chingai in Bajaur agency, Pakistan was predictable. Local tribesmen and Islamist Pakistani politicians are in an uproar over the earlier strike that killed 80 over Taliban. The strike occurred just hours prior to the signing of the ‘Bajaur Accord,’ an agreement between the local Taliban and the Pakistani government, modeled after the surrender of the Pakistani government in North Waziristan.

The Associated Press describes one such rally, and encapsulates the situation in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal agencies. The Taliban have no fear of openly threatening the Pakistani government or Army. Despite claims the madrassa was just a school, the threats emanating from the region are boilerplate jihadist responses.

Qazi Hussain Ahmad, president of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and amir of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, during an anti-U.S., anti-Musharraf rally in Bajaur after the Damadola strike in January 2006. Click image to view.

Inayatur Rahman, a local pro-Taliban elder, said he had prepared a “squad of suicide bombers” to target Pakistani security forces in the same way that militants are attacking Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. “We will carry out these suicide attacks soon,” he said, asking the crowd if they approved the idea. The angry mob yelled back in unison, “Yes!”

Liaquat Hussain, the leader of the madrassa, has been confirmed killed. He was second in charge of Tehreek-e-Nifaaz-e-Shariah-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), a Taliban organization in western Pakistan. TNSM is led by Faqir Mohammed, who escaped the air strike. NBC News’ Mushtaq Yusufzai was just a mile away from the Chingai raid, preparing to cover the aborted Bajaur Accord, and was able to interview Faqir just after the strike.

NWFP/FATA. Click map to view.

Mr. Yusufzai describes Faqir as “the al-Qaida leader in the area, was one of the first people in the area to publicly support the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. He tells people that it is their responsibility to support the Taliban and Osama bin Laden because he says we are at war with people who are fighting Islam. He has said it is their responsibility to support mujahedeen and war with the West. The school was known as a strong supporter of the Taliban.” Ayman al-Zawahiri is said to have been invited to tour the madrassa, one of twenty two training camps in the region, at the behest of Faqir. Faqir addressed the crowd of thousands during the funeral of the Taliban killed in the strike, “and swore jihad against what he called occupation forces.”

The Pakistani Islamist political parties are in an uproar over the attacks, just as they were after the January 2006 raid on nearby Damadola. Sirajul al-Haq, the senior minister and “emir” or leader of Jamaat-i-Islami in the Northwest Frontier Province, resigned his post and traveled to speak at yesterday’s demonstration in Chingai. “I will now utilize all my energies and efforts for Islamic revolution in the country,” said Haq, according to a Pakistani television station.

Muttahida Mujlis e Amal leaders: Prof. Sajid Mir (who later departed the alliance), Qazi Hussein Ahmed, Maulana Noorani, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and Maulana Samiul Haq. Click image to view.

Sirajul al-Haq joined Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the “emir” of Jamaat-i-Islami in Pakistan, to address rallies and protest throughout the NWFP. The Bajaur strike highlights the incestuous relationship between Pakistan’s Islamist parties and the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Jamaat-i-Islami is but one of four extremist parties that make up the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (or MMA). The parties are united in their opposition to the U.S. led war on terror, support of the Taliban, and the promotion of Sharia law. The MMA controls the provincial governments of the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan, the two provinces that border Afghanistan and serve as the Taliban’s support base. The MMA in effect serves as the political front for the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan, providing a shield of legitimacy to the Islamist cause. The madrassa and other infrastructure of the MMA serve to shield the indoctrinating and training of Taliban and al Qaeda recruits, as well as safe houses for senior leaders.

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

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6 Comments

  • Marlin says:

    ABC has another interesting post up at The Blotter on the air strike against al-Qaeda in the Bajaur Agency.
    —————————–
    A senior Pakistani intelligence source tells ABC News that an American Predator drone fired the first missiles to strike a religious school, or madrassa, in Pakistan where al Qaeda militants were believed to be hiding yesterday.
    After the Predator strike, the source says, Pakistan sent in attack helicopters to chase down 15 men who took shelter in a mosque at the compound. The men then fled the area and headed toward the mountains along the Afghan border, where they were fired on by the Pakistani helicopters.
    American intelligence officials at the CIA had no comment.
    According to the Pakistani intelligence source, al Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al Zawahiri, regularly stayed at the madrassa, along with Abu Obeida al Misri, the alleged mastermind of last summer’s plot to blow up airliners from Britain to the U.S., but neither was killed in the strike.
    Those who died, the source says, were Taliban members from Pakistan.
    The Blotter: New Details on Strike Targeting Al Qaeda

  • Michael says:

    Well… almost, almost…. to bad Zawahiri was not there.

  • Marlin says:

    A little OT, but I’m glad to see the Brits are still actively engaging the Taliban in Afghanistan.
    ——————-
    Royal Marine Commandos are believed to have killed up to 10 Taliban fighters yesterday following a brief but ferocious battle in southern Afghanistan.
    The Marines were conducting a foot patrol six miles east of the town of Gereshk in the southern province of Helmand when they were ambushed by insurgents armed with 81mm mortars and automatic weapons. The attack provoked a fierce response by the commandos, who fired more than 2,000 rounds during the 25-minute battle. No Marines were injured.
    It was the first time the Marines, who took over control of Forward Operating Base Price (FOB Price) from the Paras a month ago, had been involved in a sustained “contact” with the Taliban.
    Senior officers said the action disproved press reports at the weekend that the Marines had been confined to their makeshift barracks at Camp Bastion because commanders were too afraid to engage the Taliban.
    “We are conducting normal military operations to make the province secure,” said a senior Army officer. “It is ludicrous to suggest they spend their time just sitting around watching DVDs. This is a tough mission and they are entitled to rest when they are back at base.”
    […]
    In an unusual departure from normal Taliban tactics, the commandos believe the Taliban may have been using mirrors to range their fire on to their position. The tactic, however, backfired and gave away the Taliban’s position, enabling the commandos to locate and “neutralise” the insurgents.
    Major Ewen Murchison, commander of J Company, who was leading the patrol, said that in the initial stages of the battle none of his men could identify the Taliban positions until they started communicating with each other using mirrors.
    Daily Telegraph: Commandos kill up to 10 Taliban in gun battle

  • Dale in Atlanta says:

    PS: another great piece by Dr. Walid Phares:
    //counterterrorismblog.org/site-resources/images/JISS%20article%20Mutant%20Jihad%5B1%5D.pdf
    over at the CT Blog!
    Keep up the great work Bill!

  • Wally Lind says:

    The “uproar” over the previous attack hasn’t engangered the President of Pakistan any further (he is attacked anyway), so why worry about the Pakistani response to American attacks? I believe there is a provision in international law that allows “fresh pursuit” of hostiles across international borders. I also don’t see what legitimate complaint the Pakistanis can have when they have surrendered control of border territories to terrorist organizations.
    If Pakistan’s nuclear weapons fall into the hands of Islamic exteremists, the United States and India will take them out.
    It’s the same with Iran and nuclear weapons. Isreal has been telling it’s people that building nuclear bomb shelters is a waste of money, because they will never allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. Since Iran’s nuclear program reportedly cannot be taken out with conventional bombs, I asssume that Isreal will attack those sites with nuclear weapons, since the threat against them is nuclear.

  • Pakistan: A Bajaur ‘peace deal’ is coming

    Fourth Rail article link Pakistan: A Bajaur ‘peace deal’ is comingA peace deal in imminent in Bajaur, despite the worsening situation in the tribal agenciesThe Pakistani government is preparing to cede the Federally Administered Tribal Agency of Bajaur to

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis