A would-be suicide bomber who failed to detonate his vest in an attack at a Sufi shrine on April 3 has told officials that hundreds of suicide bombers are currently training at camps in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
The failed suicide bomber, who was identified as Fida Hussain earlier this week, was captured after his vest failed to detonate outside the Sakhi Sarwar shrine in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province. Hussain is a 14-year-old boy from North Waziristan.
In the April 3 attack, the two suicide bombers who successfully detonated killed 41 civilians and wounded more than 60. Hussain and the other failed bomber were to detonate their vests as rescue workers arrived at the scene of the first attack.
As he was dragged away from the scene, Hussain screamed that he wanted to kill the police.
“Let me go, I want to be a martyr,” he yelled at the police. “I want to send all you policemen to hell!”
Hussain said he was among 350 men and boys who trained at camps in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan. He said he was trained in “class IX,” according to Geo News. Hussain further stated that the camps are commanded by a Taliban leader who is known as Commander Sangeen Khan, who “used to constantly be away on travel,” Dawn reported.
Both foreigners and Pakistanis are training in the camps, according to Hussain. He said that Uzbeks, Tajiks, Arabs, and Punjabis were among those in the Mir Ali camps.
Mir Ali is one of three major areas in North Waziristan that serve as havens for the Taliban, al Qaeda, and a host of Pakistani and South and Central Asian terror groups. The other two major areas are Miramshah and Datta Khel.
Mir Ali is a known stronghold of al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi. He has close links to both al Qaeda and the Taliban, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in January 2007. An Iraqi national, Kasha operates in Mir Ali and serves as the key link between al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council, and the Taliban. His responsibilities have expanded to assisting in facilitating al Qaeda’s external operations against the West.
The suicide camps in Mir Ali, Miramshah, and Datta Khel are still in operation despite the covert US air campaign that targets al Qaeda, the Taliban, and allied terror groups in North Waziristan. The US campaign is on hold after the March 17 strike in Datta Khel that killed both Taliban and tribesmen.
Over the past few years, the US has resorted to launching airstrikes in Pakistan using unmanned Predators and Reapers as the Pakistani government refuses to strike the terror groups in North Waziristan.
Despite the known presence of al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist organizations in North Waziristan, and requests by the US that action be taken against these groups, the Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on Hafiz Gul Bahadar, a senior Taliban commander, or the Haqqani Network, the other major Taliban group based there. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are considered “good Taliban” by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan. Yet Bahadar, the Haqqanis, and other Taliban groups openly shelter groups that carry out attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.