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