Taliban create Lashkar-e-Khorasan to hunt Predator spies

The Taliban have created a group assigned to hunt down tribesmen suspected of providing information to the CIA that enables the Predator campaign to target terrorist leaders in Pakistani tribal areas.

The group, known as the Lashkar-e-Khorasan, or Army of the Khorasan, was established in North Waziristan last year by both the Haqqani Network and Taliban forces under the command of Hafiz Gul Bahadar, The Express Tribune reported. The creation of the group was confirmed by Pakistani intelligence officials, tribesmen, and members of the Taliban.

The Pakistani government continues to maintain that Bahadar and the Haqqani Network are “good Taliban” as they do not attack the Pakistani state. But both Bahadar and the Haaqani Network shelter al Qaeda and also various Taliban groups that do conduct attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Lashkar-e-Khorasan was first established as a “loose network with members casually going out and trying to find out who is providing information to the US,” but has become an “organized” unit that is “scientifically on the counter-intelligence line,” a Taliban member associated with Bahadar’s group told the The Express Tribune.

The unit is estimated have more than 300 fighters and to operate primarily in the Datta Khel, Mir Ali, and Miramshah areas. These three areas are strongholds of the Haqqani Network and Bahadar’s Taliban forces, as well as for al Qaeda and allied terror groups, and have been heavily targeted by the CIA.

The group has sought to uncover the network of tribesmen believed to be aiding the US Predator campaign that targets leaders and operatives of al Qaeda and allied groups, including the Haqqani Network and Bahadar’s fighters. The Predator campaign has focused on taking out al Qaeda’s external operations network, which is assigned to hitting Western targets. The campaign has also targeted terror groups that attack the Afghan and Pakistani states.

The local anti-Taliban spy network is thought to observe the location of meetings and to plant tracking chips on compounds and vehicles used by the terror groups. The information is provided to the CIA, which then executes the attacks via unmanned Predator and Reaper strike aircraft. The US has executed 234 strikes total since the program began in 2004; 224 of those strikes have taken place since January 2008. Of the 234 strikes since 2004, 168 have taken place in North Waziristan. [See LWJ report, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2011.]

The Lashkar-e-Khorasan not only attempts to root out the spy network, it carries out the executions. Increasingly, the Taliban’s counterintelligence unit has been executing so-called US spies in batches. On March 1, the Taliban executed four “US spies” in North Waziristan; four more were executed on March 21.

The Lashkar-e-Khorasan has also carried out the executions of alleged spies outside of North Waziristan. On Feb. 5, the Taliban executed four people accused of “spying for Indian and Jewish intelligence agencies” in the district of Karak, and on March 18, the Taliban executed a spy in Kohat.

The executions are occasionally carried out in public, in a brutal fashion. On May 21, 2010, the Taliban placed suicide vests on the so-called spies, and detonated them in front of crowds of onlookers.

The Taliban’s usage of the term “Khorasan” indicates that they are working in conjunction with al Qaeda in the effort to hunt down the spy network in North Waziristan. Al Qaeda’s forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan are known as Qaidat al-Jihad fi Khorasan, or the Base of the Jihad in the Khorasan. It was in North Waziristan that the US killed Mustafa Abu Yazid, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Khorasan, in a Predator strike last summer.

The Khorasan is a region that encompasses large areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran. The Khorasan is considered by jihadists to be the place where they will inflict the first defeat against their enemies in the Muslim version of Armageddon. The final battle is to take place in the Levant: in Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.

Mentions of the Khorasan have begun to increase in al Qaeda’s propaganda since 2007. After al Qaeda’s defeat in Iraq, the group began shifting its rhetoric from promoting Iraq as the central front in its jihad and has placed the focus on the Khorasan.

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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  • jayc says:

    Bill, as usual another excellent article. It should also be noted that the “Taliban” execute individuals
    who are contrary to their line of thinking and then brand them as “U.S. spies.”

  • Matt says:

    Very interesting. So it sounds like the Taliban and Al Qaeda are getting ticked off enough to get organized in their efforts to find these heroes.

  • Brent says:

    Very interesting article Bill, thank you for posting this. Is there any possible link between Lashkar-e-Khorasan and the kidnapping and eventual murder of Khalid Khawaja and Colonel Imam. If I recall correctly they were accused of spying for the CIA, and I personally believe Iman and Khawaja were the ones who were getting us close to Hakimullah Mehsud.

  • James says:

    The time is now and is a golden opportunity for US to get onboard with India to form a combined intelligence unit to counter this threat.
    We should have been on the side of India from day one in the general WOT, especially when considering AQ and that region in general.
    I can’t wait for the dissolution and break up of the failed Pakistani state.

  • David Eliezer says:

    Is there any reason to believe that these guys will actually be able to find our spies? What do they
    look for, special cell phone equipment?

  • don owen says:

    With a little luck this trigger (or should we say botton pushing exploding vest) happy group will kill about as many guys in the wrong place at the wrong time as spies. Turning on each other is not unexpected for a group of naturally paranoid individuals under constant stress.

  • JRP says:

    James . . . When Pakistan fails & breaks up, what happens to its atomic bombs??? The present horror in Japan is just a foretaste of what is to come, if Pakistan breaks apart and Bin Ladin gets hold of one, some or all of its nuclear stockpile. It is irresponsible for the U.S. Gov’t to be taking all the trouble it is taking to protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi whilst doing any less than it should be doing to protect American civilians from Al Qaeda.

  • Charu says:

    Another indication that Pakistan’s “good” Taliban are a part of al Qaeda. And what does that make the ISI, and by extension Gen. Kayani?

  • crusader says:

    is it just me or is the AQ taliban feeling they are actually losing this war?
    it seems their propaganda and methods become more and more sudden and nervous…
    i wonder how many of those “spies” executed were actually spies…a scorched earth tactic perhaps?

  • sports says:

    Watched a program about Hitler and his tactics to rule Germany with an iron fist and I see lots of similar tactics being used by the AQ and Taliban. History has already proven that while these tactics work in the short term they’ll fail in the long run. Don’t they learn from history or are they so delusional to think they are above history?

  • Clear as daylight says:

    “The group, known as the Lashkar-e-Khorasan, or Army of the Khorasan, was established in North Waziristan last year by both the Haqqani Network and Taliban forces under the command of Hafiz Gul Bahadar,…”

    “The Pakistani government continues to maintain that Bahadar and the Haqqani Network are “good Taliban”…”
    So Pakistani gov. supports Bahadar with intel to find and kill the spies using Lashkar-e-Khorasan?
    I guess just another classic case of Pakistani government playing two-face, working with the enemy and still taking US money for it.

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    This is good in many ways. They are being hurt by drone strikes. I imagine they will kill alot of people, and make many enemies.

  • Charu says:

    “When Pakistan fails & breaks up, what happens to its atomic bombs???”
    Good question. Also Pakistan is on track to have more nukes than Britain and France. Some additional questions:
    1) It takes considerable money to manufacture and maintain nuclear weapons. Since Pakistan is an economic basket case kept afloat only by US aid, how does it manage to keep its nuclear program going? Who is subsidizing this WMD program? Us? The Saudis? The Chinese? All of the above? If the Saudis or Chinese, what do they expect in return?
    2) Where does Pakistan get its uranium from in order to overtake Britain and France in these weapons? Who is providing this failed state with nuclear materials?
    They have already shown that they can proliferate WMDs like no one else. And virtually every Islamic terrorist attack in the West has had its origins in Pakistan. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that we ignore Pakistan’s rapidly growing nukes at our peril.

  • indus says:

    Searching for our spies in Pakistan’s frontier areas is like looking for a few specific kinds of needles in a humongous haystack, full of needles. In all likelihood every fifth or sixth male of fighting age in these areas is a spy for someone or the other, be it ISI, AQ, Saudi, Iran, Chinese, Taliban, some tribal chief, or other.
    Wouldn’t it be easier for them to attack the airfields in Pakistan or Afghanistan from where the drones are launched? After all these are fixed assets and probably common knowledge to their friends in the ISI as well as others. Befuddles me as to why they are focusing on spies and not the drones. After all they are known to have attacked other fixed assets such as transport depots.

  • Colin says:

    In Malaysia it was the hunt within for spies that lead to the final destruction of the CT’s. I suggest spreading rumour causing the Taliban to kill the wrong people, sow mistrust and anger the locals.


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