Pakistani Terror Groups Openly Involved in Bajaur Protests

Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa openly protest the Bajaur madrassa strike

NWFP/FATA. Click map to view.

As further details emerge on the airstrike on the al Qaeda and Taliban training camp in Bajaur, Pakistan, the Pakistani military has sealed off the tribal agency to prevent travel into and out of the region. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the emir of the al Qaeda and Taliban supporting Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) political party, along with other leaders of the MMA, were denied access to Bajaur. Qazi slipped through and was intercepted by Pakistani officials. By denying access to Qazi and others, Pakistan is preventing the jihadi political leadership such as Qazi from coordinating with al Qaeda on a political message.

Pakistan maintains the strike was “preemptive,” designed to “prevent the militants being trained there from conducting terrorist activities.” The government claims the Pakistani military carried out the strike, only with the assistance of U.S. intelligence (oddly this claim was later denied). Pakistan maintains the 80 killed in the air raid were Taliban.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, and Abu Ubaidah al-Masri, al Qaeda’s operational commander in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province and Bajaur, have been guests at the Chingai madrassa in the past. Al-Masri “was identified as the mastermind of a plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners flying from London’s Heathrow airport that was foiled earlier this year.” He coordinated with Rashid Rauf, who is currently in Pakistani custody. All roads to international jihad seem to eventually point back to Pakistan.

Protests in Bajaur, Pakistan. Photo courtesy of AP. Click image to view.

Further protests are expected throughout Wednesday. Tuesday’s protests included 15,000 in Bajaur, 5,000 in Khyber, 1,500 in Peshawar, and 500 in Karachi. Protests were also reported in Islamabad and Lahore. The Gulf Daily News provides further details on the nature of the protests. “The gathering also verbally approved a resolution to stone to death any spies for the Pakistan government or US forces in Afghanistan,” according to the Gulf Daily News.

Protests in Bajaur were “ringed by masked men brandishing Kalashnikovs and ammunition belts. No government security forces could be seen in the area, and most of the protesters wore black armbands.” An American intelligence source informs us the security detail is in fact made up of Faqir Mohammed’s Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed (TNSM, the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Sharia). Faqir Muhammad called Musharraf an “American agent, killing innocent people at the US behest” and said the “Elimination of Musharraf is a must to restore peace.”

Jamaat-ud-Dawa also made an appearance at the protests. “‘The only way of survival now is jihad,’ Inamullah, the district chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, told supporters.”

That Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) can openly operate inside Pakistan speaks volumes on the nature of the situation inside Pakistan. TNSM has been outlawed by the Pakistani government, as has Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s predecessor, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Jamaat-ud-Dawa is currently on the U.S. Department of State’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities. JuD, along with Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq (IKK) were created as “aliases” after Pakistan banned the LeT.

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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8 Comments

  • Michael says:

    Excellent reporting Bill. This helps me to get a clearer picture of who the enemy leaders are, who is gathering the faithful together, and where. It gives us a good idea of how many they can muster at such protest. Looking closer at the picture I see some children scattered thru out.
    The cleric Inayatul Rehman calls for suicide bombers just lets us know more about who is who in this war. He no doubt was already involved, now he is fully declared for public consumption.
    What is so sad is the children and the followers who are led so into such blind hatred thinking they’re going against evil, when in fact it is their leaders that are killing innocents around the world.
    I wonder if our military did leaflet drops explaining it is their leaders who are wrong, that it is their leaders who are attacking innocents, would it make a dent? Something simple directly from the people of Afghanistan.
    Why are you killing innocents in Afghanistan? Why do you support an Egyptian(Zawahiri) who kills your brother Pashtuns? If you keep supporting Al Qaeda and Taliban against your brothers, then we must fight against you. Stop supporting our enemey and we will stop. Americans will go away and we all can live in peace.
    If only it were so easy…

  • Veritas says:

    Bill:
    You provide insightful coverage of the War on Terror. Your expertise in military and strategic issues provides us all with fresh perpectives so absent from the mainstream media.
    Naturally, you can’t be knowledgeable on everything. I hope you won’t mind therefore if I point out that to call Qazi Hussain Ahmad “the emir of the al-Qaeda and Taliban supporting Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) political party” may be a tad misleading on details.
    Qazi Husain Ahmed is the elected leader [“Emir”] of Jamaat-e-Islami [JI], one of the oldest political parties in Pakistan, having been founded in 1941, and the only political party that has regularly conducted elections to choose its leader. The JI was for the Taleban regime when their leaders had close relations with US business and government, but have distanced themselves from them since their overthrow. The JI have never supported terrorism, nor do they support al Qaeda. Whether we like their politics or not, if we are bringing democracy to the Muslim world, we will have to tolerate elected leaders of established political parties that denounce terrorism.
    Nor should we demonize the title “Emir”: we have a lot of friends who are Emirs – of Kuwait, and of the 7 Emirates of the United Arab Emirates, among others.
    MMA (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, meaning United Action Front/Assembly) is a coalition of 6 right-wing (Islamic) political parties, one of which is the JI. The head [“General Secretary,” not “Emir”] of MMA is Maulana Fazlur Rahman, and not Qazi Husain Ahmed.
    The MMA has never supported al Qaeda. However, except for the Jamaat Islami (think of them as the Pakistani equivalent of the Likud Party in Israel), most if not all their constituents have been students (or “taleban,” the local word for “students”), teachers, or graduates of madrassas (the local word for “schools”). The JI has been anti-madrassa as a matter of policy and most of their members are not madrassa graduates. The madrassa-schooled elements of MMA however are naturally sympathetic to the taleban, in both senses of the word: (i) to masrassa students (taleban – mostly 10-15 year old kids) such as those killed in Bajaur recently; and (ii) to the student militia that seized power in Afghanistan briefly (“the Taleban”), who are not necessarily the same as those who are identified as the Taleban by coalition forces in the present fighting in Afghanistan (all anti-occupation forces of Pashtun ethnic origin are called Taleban today).
    It is interesting that the parties that constitute the MMA, including the JI, had never done well in the past. But they were elected in greater numbers in the wake of a massive rise in anti-American sentiment, when elections were held, following the bombing of Afghanistan (in which, according to a study, some 4,000 civilians died just in the first 9 weeks of bombing in 2001).
    I hope you find this useful. Keep up the good work.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Veritas,
    I couldn’t disagree with you more on the MMA and JI. Unfortunately I am preparing to travel and don’t have much for a full explanation. I’ll just say comparing the MMA to Likud is just crass, and you should read the statements made by the political leadership. I read the Pakistani news daily, it ain’t pretty.

  • Veritas says:

    Bill,
    I compared the JI to Likud. MMA is a motley coalition of 6 parties.
    Have a nice trip!

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Veritas,
    This has to be brief, I gotta enjoy my vacation… the first in 2 years.
    I never demonized the title of emir. Youmust have read something into it I did not write.
    If JI doesn’t support madrassa, why are they calling for the rebuilding to the Chingai madrassa? And funding it?
    //www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\11\03\story_3-11-2006_pg7_15
    Qazi Husain Ahmed and Fazlur Rehman have deep ties with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. I strongly suggest you read their own words to this effect. I’ve linked to them often in the past. Why do you thnk the MMA and JI are up in arms over this strike, Damadola, and a host of other Pakistani and American actions against the Taliban and al-Qaeda?
    NATO/US/Afghan intel and military do NOT call all Pashtun fighter Taliban. The use the term AGE – for Anti-Government-Elements. I know because I’ve heard the term used in country. They recognize there is a diverse group of fighters, and not all fall under the Taliban.
    However, from my perspective, there is very little distinction between the Taliban, ‘Neo-Taliban’, TNSM, al-Qaeda, etc. Many in the military intel community don’t either. They fight for the same causes, share command structures and resources, etc. See Waziristan, for instance.

  • Veritas says:

    Bill,
    You do deserve some rest, so I’ll make this my last post and just respond to your question: If JI doesn’t support madrassa, why are they calling for the rebuilding to the Chingai madrassa? And funding it?
    Simple: the raison d’etre of the JI, their MMA colleagues, and all other political parties in Pakistan for that matter, is to overthrow the military regime of Musharraf. If Musharraf were to go today, the MMA would break up tomorrow. Meanwhile, they have all been squeezing him on whatever excites the public at any time. Along with the others, the JI and MMA have agitated against his military uniform, the building of Kalabagh Dam, the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti of Balochistan, just to mention a few issues at random. Today the concern of the day is this madrassa. Even Benazir Bhutto has called for an investigation into the airstrike on it. Just politics, Bill!
    Enjoy your vacation!

  • Nicholas says:

    Simple: the raison d’etre of the JI, their MMA colleagues, and all other political parties in Pakistan for that matter, is to overthrow the military regime of Musharraf. If Musharraf were to go today, the MMA would break up tomorrow.

    The raison d’etre of Hizb’allah was to get Israeli forces out of Southern Lebanon. I’m not saying that we can compare Hizb’allah and MMA on an apples-to-apples basis, but that doesn’t give me confidence that any of these radical organizations aren’t going to go onto “bigger and better things” once their most obvious goal is completed.

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