Lashkar-e-Islam chief targeted for assassination in Khyber

Mangal Bagh, the leader of the Taliban-linked Lashkar-e-Islam, was targeted for assassination by members of his own group in an ambush today in the Pakistani tribal agency of Khyber. From Dawn:

Sources said that the attackers belonged to Lashkar-e-Islam as well, eight members of the banned outfit got injured amid fierce fight among rebels, while there was no immediate reports on Mangal Bagh himself.

Sources also said that the former commander of the group, Ghuncha Gul was behind the attack as he rebelled against Bagh. Gul and his followers had prepared themselves to take on Bagh’s men.

For more information on Bagh and the Lashkar-e-Islam, see LWJ report, A profile of Mangal Bagh. Based in Khyber, the Lashkar-e-Islam has established its own Taliban-like government in large areas of the tribal agency, including Bara, Jamrud, and the Tirah Valley. The group provides recruits to battle US and Afghan forces across the border, and attacks NATO’s vital supply line moving through Khyber.

In December 2010, the US captured a Taliban commander linked to the Lashkar-e-Islam in the Afghan province of Nangarhar, and in the fall of 2010, the US carried out four Predator strikes in areas under Lashkar-e-Islam control. Ibn Amin, a top al Qaeda and Taliban commander, is reported to have been killed in one of the strikes.

The Pakistani military has targeted the Lashkar-e-Islam during five operations over the past two years, but has failed to dislodge the group from power. The military operations are thought to have been a show, however. Haji Namdar, the former leader of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice group, which is allied with the Lashkar-e-Islam, was seen riding with the Pakistani Frontier Corps during operations in 2008, despite being wanted.

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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