A senior lieutenant loyal part of the so-called “pro-government Taliban” in South Waziristan threatened to attack Pakistani security forces in South Waziristan if US airstrikes against Taliban and al Qaeda leaders did not cease.
Commander Naubahar, a Taliban leader under Mullah Nazir, said the Nov. 22 US airstrike on a Taliban safe house in South Waziristan that killed eight people must be avenged. The Pakistani military is responsible for the US attacks as it is not protecting the tribes.
“He said they were left with no other option but to pick up arms against Pakistani security forces,” The News reported. “Commander Naubahar argued they did not fight against their armed forces. Therefore, he said, it was [the Pakistani military’s] responsibility to protect them against foreign aggression.”
The US military has conducted numerous strikes in Mullah Nazir’s tribal areas in Wana and along the Afghan border in South Waziristan. Nazir himself was wounded in one of the strikes that targeted a meeting near Wana that was attended by Tahir Yuldashev, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Yuldashev’s status is still unknown.
Nazir is a rival to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. He ejected a group of Uzbeks from the al Qaeda-allied Islamic Jihad Union from the Wana region in 2007. This action caused the media to describe Nazir as “pro-government Taliban,” a perception the Pakistani government wishes to promote. The government signed a peace agrement with Nazir in mid-October.
But Nazir openly supports al Qaeda and its leadership. He admitted he would provide shelter to senior al Qaeda leaders. “How can I say no to any request from Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar under tribal traditions, if they approach me to get shelter?” Nazir asked the Pakistani press in the spring of 2007.
Al Qaeda runs terror camps inside Nazir’s tribal areas and helps to finance his operations. Nazir’s forces fight against Afghan and Coalition forces inside Afghanistan.
The US has stepped up its aerial campaign against al Qaeda and Taliban camps in Pakistan’s northwest this year. There have been 36 recorded cross-border attacks this year, compared to 10 strikes total in the prior two years.
The strikes are is aimed at disrupting al Qaeda’s ability to attack the West. US intelligence believes the next attack launched against the West will originate from this, where al Qaeda operates 157 known training camps. Al Qaeda has been training terrorists holding Western passports to conduct attacks, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.