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