The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s deadly suicide attack at the Torkham border crossing in Khyber. The attack killed 22 Pakistani border guards as they prepared to break fast for the Ramadan meal.
Tariq Azam, the new spokesman for Hakeemullah Mehsud and the Pakistani Taliban, said the attack was aimed at the US and was a response to the assassination of former leader Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed after an Aug. 5 airstrike in South Waziristan.
“We claim responsibility for the blast,” Tariq told AFP.
“This is our first response since the death of our chief Baitullah Mehsud,” Tariq continued. “We will continue similar attacks in the future also.”
The Taliban conducted the attack at Torkham because the crossing is used by the US to move supplies into Afghanistan. “The victims of the suicide attack were all those supporting the United States,” Tariq said. “Anybody supporting the US is our enemy.”
Earlier a group called the Abdullah Azzam Brigade took credit for the attack. The Abdullah Azzam Brigade is based in Arakzai, and is one of the units commanded by Hakeemullah Mehsud.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigade is named after the influential jihadi ideologue who co-founded al Qaeda along with Osama bin Laden. Its members include Taliban fighters from the Arakzai-based Commander Tariq Group as well as Arabs from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Zawahiri urges Pakistanis to fight the government
The same day the Taliban took credit for the Khyber attack, Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, released a tape on the Internet urging Pakistanis to battle their government and their Army.
“People of Pakistan … back the jihad and mujahideen with your persons, wealth, opinion, expertise, information and prayers and by exhorting others to help them and preach their message,” Zawahiri said.
Zawahiri said the fighting in Pakistan’s tribal areas and in the Swat region was part of a US “crusade” against Islam.
“The war in the tribal areas and Swat is an integral part of the crusade on Muslims across the world,” Zawahiri said, according to Reuters. “There is no honor for us except through Jihad.”
For the past two years, Al Qaeda has been urging the Pakistani people to fight against their government. Abu Yahya al Libi, an al Qaeda spokesman and ideologue, first issued the call in August 2007 when he told the Pakistani people and the Army to turn against then-President Pervez Musharraf’s regime after the military stormed the radical Red Mosque in the heart of Islamabad. Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden have repeated this call to rebellion several times since then.
“Your brothers in the Taliban are not fighting to liberate Afghanistan only, but also the Taliban in Pakistan are carrying out jihad to purge Pakistan from the United States and its agents in the Pakistani Government and army,” Zawahiri said in a tape released in February 2009.
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