What ‘anti-Taliban militia’?

Here is a perfect example of what happens when news organizations aren’t familiar with the topics they cover. This AFP article, reprinted in Dawn (whose editors should have known better than to reprint this as is), characterizes the Abdullah Mehsud Group as an “anti-Taliban militia” when the group is anything but:

A suicide bomber targeted an anti-Taliban militia in northwest Pakistan on Monday, killing one member of the force and wounding two others, police said.

The bomber walked into the office of the militia in Tank and blew himself up shortly after an anti-Taliban meeting.

“One volunteer was killed and two others wounded. It was a suicide attack,” Liaqat Ali, a police official in Tank, told AFP by telephone.

An intelligence official in Peshawar confirmed the incident, saying the office belonged to Qari Misbahuddin, brother of Qari Zainuddin, a late rival of former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

Qari Zainuddin was shot dead by assassins in Dera Ismail Khan in June 2009, while Mehsud was killed in a US missile strike in August.

Just a little refresher on Mr. “anti-Taliban” Qari Misabhuddin. He was appointed the leader of the Abdullah Mehsud Group, a rival Taliban group based in Tank and Dera Ismail Khan, after his brother was murdered by a bodyguard loyal to Baitullah Mehsud. Misabhuddin was quickly replaced by Ikhlas Khan Mehsud. The group has received the backing of the government, even though its leaders have sworn allegiance to Mullah Mohammed Omar and vowed to continue fighting US forces in Afghanistan.

Abdullah Mehsud, the founder of the group, had been the senior Taliban leader in South Waziristan before he was killed during a shootout with Pakistani security forces in Zhob in Baluchistan province in 2007. Abdullah had also been a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.

The Abdullah Mehsud Group is no more “anti-Taliban” due to its rivalry with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan than the Tattaglia family is “anti-mob” because of its rivalry with the Corleone family.

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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