Center: Omar Khalid, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in the tribal agency of Mohmand. Reuters image.
Reuters has conducted an interview with Omar Khalid (identified as Omar Khalid al Khurasani), a deputy of Hakeemullah Mehsud’s Taliban movement who commands forces in the Mohmand tribal agency. Khalid is considered one of the Taliban’s most effective and powerful leaders in the tribal areas. He also maintains close ties to al Qaeda and is believed to have given sanctuary to Ayman al Zawahiri in the past [more on Khalid here].
In the interview, Khalid said the Taliban have been conducting attacks in Pakistan to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden, and would hit US targets outside of Pakistan. Khalid said that Ayman al Zawahiri is al Qaeda’s “chief and supreme leader” after bin Laden’s death. He also said that the Pakistani Taliban would fight the Pakistani government until an “Islamic system” was implemented in Pakistan.
Two items of note. First, in mid-May, Khalid vowed revenge on Pakistani and US forces for the death of Osama bin Laden, in an interview with Al Jazeera.
“We will take revenge of Osama’s killing from the Pakistani government, its security forces, the Pakistani ISI, the CIA and the Americans, they are now on our hit list,” Khalid said in the Al Jazeera interview.
Second, the Reuters report is somewhat dismissive of the Taliban’s attempt to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, 2010. The failed attack is often characterized as crude and amateurish as the car bomb failed to detonate. But the reality is that the Taliban were able to recruit Faisal Shahzad, get him in and out of a training camp in North Waziristan, and get him back to the US, where he assembled and deployed the bomb successfully, undetected. Had the fuse worked, people wouldn’t be describing it as an amateurish attack.
Below are excerpts from the Reuters report on Khalid:
“These attacks [in Pakistan] were just a part of our revenge. God willing, the world will see how we avenge Osama bin Laden’s martyrdom,” said Khorasani. “We have networks in several countries outside Pakistan.”
“Our war against America is continuing inside and outside of Pakistan. When we launch attacks, it will prove that we can hit American targets outside Pakistan,”
“The ideology given to us by Osama bin Laden and the spirit and courage that he gave to us to fight infidels of the world is alive,” said Khorasani, wearing a brown shalwar kameez, traditional baggy trousers and tunics, and a round top hat.
He described Ayman al-Zawahri, the former Egyptian physician who is the likely successor to bin Laden, as the Pakistani Taliban’s “chief and supreme leader”.
“Even if some rapprochement is reached in Afghanistan, our ideology, aim and objective is to change the system in Pakistan,” said Khorasani.
“Whether there is war or peace throughout the world, our struggle for the implementation of Islamic system in Pakistan will continue.”
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