Suicide bomber kills more than 40 at Pakistani mosque

A suicide bomber killed more than 40 people and wounded more than 100 in an attack today at a mosque in Pakistan’s tribal agency of Khyber.

The bombing took place at a mosque in the village of Ghundi in the Jamrud area of Khyber. The suicide bomber detonated his vest just after Friday prayers ended.

“It was a suicide attack. The bomber was wearing about 8-10 kg of explosives and was on foot. He detonated in the main prayer hall,” a Pakistani official told Geo News.

No group has take responsibility for the attack, but the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is known to operate in the area. In the past, the Pakistani Taliban have targeted tribal leaders and local officials who attempt to raise militias to oppose Taliban rule. The Taliban have attacked anti-militant leaders in mosques in the past [see list below].

Khyber agency is a terrorist haven

Khyber has become a hub of Taliban and al Qaeda activity since the Pakistani military launched an operation in the Mehsud tribal areas in South Waziristan in October 2009. Taliban forces have relocated to the Bara and Jamrud regions and the Tirah Valley in the Khyber agency [see LWJ report, Taliban escape South Waziristan operation].

Tariq Afridi, a powerful Taliban commander based in Darra Adam Khel, has taken control of Taliban operations in Khyber. The Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Islam, a local Taliban ally commanded by Mangal Bagh, have gained power in Khyber despite a series of Pakistani military operations that began in the summer of 2007 which were supposedly designed to relieve Taliban pressure on neighboring Peshawar. A total of five military offensives have failed to dislodge the terror groups.

Both the Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Islam are known to operate bases and training camps in the Tirah Valley as well as in Bara and Jamrud. These safe havens in Khyber enable these terror groups to launch attacks inside Pakistan as well across the border in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan. In November 2008, the US military attacked Taliban forces in the Tirah Valley after they retreated across the border from Nangarhar in Afghanistan. US strike aircraft and artillery killed seven Taliban fighters during the hot pursuit.

In 2009, US Predators killed Ibn Amin, a Taliban and al Qaeda commander, in one of four strikes between Dec.16-17 in the Tirah Valley. Amin was the commander of the Tora Bora Brigade, one of six formations in al Qaeda’s Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army. He operated in the Swat Valley.

The Khyber Pass is NATO’s main conduit for supplies into Afghanistan; an estimated 70 percent of NATO’s supplies move through this strategic crossing point. Between September 2007 and April 2008, the Khyber Pass was shut down seven times due to Taliban attacks.

Taliban target religious sites

Over the past four years, the Taliban and allied Pakistani terror groups have shown no reservations about striking inside mosques and other religious sites, as well as during religious processions and events. There have been 34 major attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007, according to information compiled by The Long War Journal.

One of the most brazen attacks took place on Dec. 4, 2009, when a suicide assault team stormed a mosque frequented by military officers in Rawalpindi. Two senior generals were among the 40 people killed.

Another major attack took place on July 1, 2010, when suicide bombers struck the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore, killing 41 people and wounding more than 170. Three suicide bombers detonated their vests at the shrine at a time when it was most frequented, in an effort to maximize casualties.

The last major attack against religious targets took place on April 3, when a pair of suicide bombers killed 41 people in an attack at a Sufi shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province.

Major attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007:

Aug. 19, 2011: More than 40 people were killed in a suicide attack at a mosque in Jamrud in the Khyber tribal agency.

April 3, 2011: The Taliban killed 41 people in a double suicide attack on a Sufi shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan.

March 4, 2011: The Taliban killed nine people in a bombing at a mosque in Nowshera.

Jan. 25, 2011: Suicide attacks that targeted Shia religious processions in Lahore and Karachi killed 16 people. The Fedayeen-e-Islam, a subgroup of the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed credit for the Lahore attack.

Nov. 5, 2010: A suicide attack outside a mosque in Darra Adam Khel killed 50 people.

Oct. 25, 2010: Five people were killed when an IED was detonated inside a shrine in Pakpattan.

Oct. 22, 2010: Five people were killed when an IED was detonated inside a mosque in Peshawar.

Oct. 7, 2010: Two suicide bombers killed eight people in a coordinated attack on the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi.

Sept. 3, 2010: A suicide bomber attempted to storm a mosque in Mardan, but was stopped by security guards. One person was killed after he detonated his vest.

Sept. 1, 2010: Suicide bombers detonated during Shia religious processions in Lahore, killing 28 people.

Aug. 23, 2010: A suicide bomber detonated at a mosque in Wana, South Waziristan, killing 18 people.

July 1, 2010: Suicide bombers detonated at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore, killing 41 people and wounding more than 170.

May 28, 2010: The Punjabi Taliban assaulted two Ahamadi mosques in Lahore, killing more than 70 people.

Dec. 18, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated inside a mosque frequented by policemen in Lower Dir, killing 12.

Dec. 4, 2009: A suicide assault team stormed a mosque in Rawalpindi that is frequented by Army officers, killing 40.

Oct. 20, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers detonated their vests at Islamabad’s International Islamic University, killing five.

June 12, 2009: A suicide bomber killed five Pakistanis, including anti-Taliban cleric Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi, in an attack on a mosque in Lahore during Friday prayers.

June 12, 2009: A suicide bomber killed six worshipers and wounded more than 90 in an attack inside a mosque in Nowshera. The attack collapsed the dome of the mosque.

June 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 49 worshipers in an attack on a mosque in a remote village in Dir.

April 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 24 worshipers and wounded more than 100 in an attack outside a Shia religious center in the Chakwal district in Punjab province.

March 27, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed more than 70 worshipers and wounded more than 125 in an attack at a mosque in the Khyber tribal agency.

March 5, 2009: An attacker threw a hand grenade into the middle of a mosque in Dera Ismail Khan, wounding 25 worshipers.

March 2, 2009: A suicide bomber killed six people during an attack at a gathering in a mosque in the Pishin district in Baluchistan.

Feb. 20, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 32 Pakistanis and wounded more than 85 in an attack on a funeral procession for a Shia elder who was murdered in Dera Ismail Khan.

Feb. 5, 2009: A suicide attack outside a mosque killed more than 30 Shia worshipers and wounded more than 50.

Nov. 22, 2008: A bombing at a mosque in Hangu killed five civilians and wounded seven.

Nov. 21, 2008: A suicide attack on a funeral procession in Dera Ismail Khan killed 10 mourners and wounded more than 25.

Sept. 10, 2008: The Taliban attacked a mosque filled with Ramadan worshipers in the district of Dir in northwestern Pakistan. More than 25 worshipers were killed and more than 50 were wounded.

Aug. 19, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 29 Shia mourners and wounded 35 after detonating in the emergency ward of a hospital.

June 17, 2008: Four Pakistanis were killed and three wounded in a bombing at a Shia mosque in Dera Ismail Khan.

May 19, 2008: Four Pakistanis were killed in a bombing outside a mosque in Bajaur.

Jan. 17, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 10 and wounded 25 in an attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar.

Dec. 28, 2007: A suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a mosque in Charsadda in an attempt to kill former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao as he conducted Eid prayers. More than 50 were killed and more than 200 were wounded.

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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  • Max says:

    Strange, isn’t it? The Islamic terrorists claim to be on a jihad against the west, but they kill far more muslims than anyone else. I know that they claim to be targeting “false muslims” who are serving the West’s interests, but I don’t see how they can ever possibly succeed in their war if they turn the vast majority of professing muslims against them with bloody massacres of those who profess their religion.
    Most muslims may sympathize with militant rhetoric, but will become their enemy if they are being slaughtered for not being “Islamic enough”. This is a strategy for ultimate failure.

  • Nic says:

    What sect owned the mosque? Shia, Sunni, Sufi, other. Was the attacking group a member of the sect that owned the mosque or a member of a different sect? These details are key to the story. Does the reason for the attack involve intersect or intrasect conflict? I can understand that one sect would have no qualms about bombing the mosque of another sect. That is a dog-bites-man story. Bombing a mosque owned by the bomber’s sect seems like a man-bites-dog story or maybe the Muslim is just different. Maybe the “who done it” of all of the mosque bombings would be the basis for another article. Is destroying copies of the Koran as a result of a bombing an issue?

  • Villiger says:

    So will you Pakistanis come out on the streets and show solidarity with the innocent?
    Will you come out on the streets and protest against these barbarians?
    Will you come out on the streets and protest against your Army who is ultimately responsible for security?
    Or are you all going to wait for another trivial cartoon competition on facebook before you take to the streets?!
    What about you, General Kayani are you going to comment on this attack? Like you came out and did on the drone attack after Davis’s release?
    Do you have the courage to actually do something about your ‘wayward brothers’? Or are you too scared your Army will divide/mutiny?
    And Prez Obama, it may be a little unfair to drag you into this situation, but quite what is your strategy in dealing with this cancerous Pakistan? I don’t mean AfPak; i mean plain, simple toxic Pakistan.

  • Soccer says:

    I think it’s absolutely fair to drag Obama into this, Villiger.
    He knows where the safe havens are, and does nothing about them except for maybe one drone strike a week.
    He still gives aid to Pakistan.
    He sends MORE troops to get killed in Afghanistan rather than dealing with the actual problem, which are the safe havens in border regions.
    Obama has had more failures than successes when it comes to foreign policy, fighting terrorism and national security.
    It’s too bad that much of the American populace does not know what “AFPAK” even is; Obama would not be re-elected if the American people were as informed about the GWOT as the average LWJ reader was.
    Obama claims that as long as he’s President, he would not tolerate any safe havens for those that wish to kill us; clearly, his actions contradict his own words.

  • Villiger says:

    “( General Kayani) Do you have the courage to actually do something about your ‘wayward brothers’? Or are you too scared your Army will divide/mutiny?”
    I want to add:
    And General Kayani, if you are indeed too scared, let us help you to carve your country into Good-Pak, Bad-Pak. Just like you have done so “successfully” and astutely with the Taliban.

    The HEADLINE i would like to read tomorrow is:
    Then, let’s talk.

  • Mr T says:

    Wow. 40 innocents Muslims killed. Not to mention the 34 other attacks against Mosques.
    What will the Islamic street do about that? Nothing, and yet they wonder why they are unfairly maligned.

  • Villiger says:

    Soccer, i agree with you Obama is not walking the talk. Another blessed politician. He’s proved himself to be ineffective and doesn’t seem to listen to his military advisors. In the tinker-tailor-soldier-sailor model he is definitely the unavowed tinkerer. Surge 30,000 troops up for a few months and then deflate. He’s all show, no substance. No real leader, as in leading from the front which is what he should have been doing in a time like this on the international stage.
    And then there’s Hillary, who has just presented the US response to this latest mosque bombing:
    “The slaughter of worshippers as they gathered at a mosque for Ramadan’s Friday prayers underscores the brutality of those who would target civilians during a time of celebration and reflection for Muslims throughout the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones affected by this deplorable violence. The United States deeply respects Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against extremism and we continue to stand with Pakistan against those who seek to undermine democracy.”
    A. I didn’t know that Ramadan was “a time for celebration”, any more than Lent is a period of celebration! Quite to the contrary, MadameSec-of-State. (Even my secretary knows that.)
    B. Utter hypocrisy going on about Pakistan’s sacrifices, all the while when we know that Haqqani is their man and Pakistan-based just like AQ Central.
    Read: ” Pakistan says it can bring Haqqani to peace talks”, clearly inspired by Bill Ardolino’s recent interview with Gen Allyn
    And Soccer, your point about the lack of awareness in the American public about the GWOT is also noteworthy. Of course, one part of it is a sign of the times. The Strauss-Kahn story had 12,000 articles on google news, at its peak; this mosque bombing has 905. But it comes back to my point of a lack of leadership by Obama to inform public opinion and carry and lead the public. Its a sad reality we are living.
    Thank you for engaging in this dialogue.

  • Villiger says:

    Concerned Muslim(s):
    Where are you?

  • Eric says:

    @ Nic: You are right on the money with those questions, when looking for the motive inside the group responsible for the bombing. This is indeed deserving of close inspection and wide media exposure. However –
    @ villager:
    Impressive callout to the many Pakistanis and key figures who were brutalized yet again by the kings of ruthless brutality: the taliban.
    The taliban is not islamic. it is a band of cut-throats without a ship to fly a jolly-roger from.
    Pakistan should have seized any of the 34 opportunites listed above to publically denounce them as unislamic-satanic-baby-killing lower than snakeshit, and the national outrage should propel vigilanteism to tear them from their hiding places and deliver them matted in blood and dirt to the feet of the Pak army. This should not be any kind of problem for a sufficiently outraged populace.
    They love to fill the streets and shout angrily about stuff they hate, and burn other countries’ flags, anyway. Cartoons and burned korans in free countries are enough to get them out there wrecking shit.
    Pakistan should – but cannot – muster that courage to act against anti-muslim murderers. They are as afraid of the ISI as they are of the Taliban, and there is your real problem. The ISI.
    When the state security force can be counted on with absolute certainty to act against the vigilante mobs with cold ruthlessness of their own, to round people up in the night and dump their dead corpese in ditches – you can see why there will be no mob retaliation for another holy mosque blown to bloody shreds by satan’s little black-beards.
    So we the mighty USA should do something !!….
    cricket… cricket… chirp… chirp…
    Ummmm, well what?
    Invade Pakistan? In 2001 or even 2002, yes. In 2011? No longer feasible. Cannot muster the political will to widen the war that far, cannot finance the escalation, and gotta have India’s buy-in to go ahead with it anyhoo.
    India going to buy into US invading Pakistan. In a million years?
    God love ’em those Paki’s sure are a mess. We will talk about them fondly for years to come.
    One day they will get us all killed.
    Until that day, we do what we can, I guess, within the constraints of western ideology that limit our political resolve, limit our tactics to what is humane, and put us through a self-inflicted hell predicated by the notion that failure is not an option and that we will bear any cost to acheive a victory.
    $400 billion is too much to pay for conquest of a shit-smelling countryside full of illiterate opportunists with an utterly broken system of power, and a culture of xenophobic jingoism.
    What stings like a mother is knowing that Bin-Laden was right. Sucking us into this mess was too easy. That really sucks.

  • villiger says:

    Soccer,thanks and i agree. Btw i did post a more elaborate response to you but for some reason it hasn’t appeared yet–i’ve requested Bill to look out for it, else will repeat a little later.
    Eric, we are on the same page.
    Still, a solution must be found. It is said, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This is something the Pak Army/isi could do (tho i doubt it somehow), but it’s not an option for the mighty US.
    I don’t think the US is being clever enough. Yes the US played into the hands of OBL, as also into Pakistan’s grubby little hands.. Now the US and Pak are playing the same old game of chess, day after day–one day/one move at a time–STUPID! And that too by Pakistan’s rules.
    Ok, carry on with this chess, but why not open up another game….dominoes on another table:
    1. Declare support for a re-unified Pashtunistan/ remove the ‘hardship’ of the artificial Durand Line.
    2. Give cunning/covert, yet strong support to the Balochistan freedom movement. If necessary, get India’s help behind-the-scenes.
    3. All the while, build/buy perfect knowledge on Pak’s nukes. Buy Musharraf if necessary (everyman has his price). He’s vulnerable–you’ve seen where Mubarak ended up. Musharraf is not immune, Pakistan is an unpredictable, viscious place. Well let’s immunize him, quietly, and more.
    4. Even if one ‘new’ Nation is born in that region, the rest will follow like falling dominoes.
    The pakistan Army, in its present form, including the highly venomous ISI will be left redundant, or at worst splintered. They can be finished off from there.
    Unfortunately this Administration doesn’t seem to be up to the challenge of anything half as innovative. The State Dept in particular is a write-off. Hillary, by her own admission, is tired. She’s marking time to the end of this term. Obama may not realise it but that might prove true for him too.

  • Bing says:

    villiger, a Pashtunistan formed by US decree will be just as much of a puppet regime like the current Karzai regime. The Pushtuns are largely a xenophobic tribal culture and we should not expect them to be pro American.
    It is not a viable option at this time.

  • villiger says:

    Bing, what are the viable options?
    My point is carve the area up into more ethnic-natural nations instead of dealing with the federations of Af and Pak, both of which have failed. Smaller nations will be more manageable in terms of internal politics and their economies. And most importantly sequester and isolate the Taliban into Pashtun-land, rather than having them be adventurous all over the place.
    Nobody is suggesting that it’ll be easy or a bed of roses. But at least it’ll be a start towards breaking the status quo of the viscious inter-linked circles that Afghanistan and Pakistan are today and have been for 10 years now.

  • Spooky says:

    The Muslims of Pakistan are more concerned for the virtual civil war in Karachi, since that has more potential to harm them…and besides, in their view, those who died were mere tribals, not worth their attention.
    When religion is the same, its ethnicity that often creates myopia. The reverse is also true, as shown by Yugoslavia.
    So rather than ask sarcastic questions about why Muslims don’t care, do a bit more research. They’re worried about other just as bad things in their country and they don’t care about what doesn’t happen in their society.
    We’re the same way.

  • Neonmeat says:

    @ Spooky
    The very fact we are on this forum talking about the deaths and lives of people thousands of miles away from us, living in a culture that is alien to us indicates we do care and are very interested in matters that are outside our society.
    If the Pakistanis do not care about things outside their immediate vicinty then why do they come out on the streets and burn Obama effigies for some perceived slight or protest over the Danish cartoon thing? There are many more examples that demonstrate the Pakistani people do not have blinkers on to what is happening in the rest of the world. I suspect that like many of us they just feel helpless to do anything about it.


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