While the takeaway for some Pakistan observers on the article below may be that there is infighting among Taliban leaders (this is nothing new), the real story here is that the overall Taliban leader in North Waziristan has created a new death squad, called the Saif-ul-Furqan, to root out undesirables. The reason? Because the Lashkar-e-Khorasan, the last death squad he helped create to hunt those providing intelligence to the US for Predator drone attacks, has gone off the reservation and is now wantonly executing anyone for the slightest infraction. The creation of such a unit is of course an overt violation by Bahadar of his ‘peace agreement’ with the Pakistani military, but don’t expect them to object to the actions of their pet ‘good Taliban’ leader. From Xinhua:
Maulvi Muhammad Iftikhar, listed among the six top level commanders of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, was attacked in Miranshah, main town in North Waziristan, late Thursday evening when he was travelling in a car with his guards. One of his guards was also killed while two others were injured, he said.
Motives behind the killing were not known but security officials believe that internal differences within the militants may be resulted into the incident.
Slain Iftikhar, who had been running a religious school in North Waziristan, was wanted to the authorities for attacks on security forces.
He was also one of the main suspects in attack on the security personnel in the Islamabad’s Red Mosque gun-battle in July 2008. He shifted to North Waziristan after the Red Mosque operation, which had killed several security personnel and militants, including deputy chief of the mosque.
Witnesses said the gunmen in a car with tented screens opened fire on the TTP commander who was heading to market from his religious school. They fled after the attack.
No group claimed responsibility for the incident. Security sources believe that the killing may be the result of differences in the ranks of different militant groups in North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan. The U.S. officials consider North Waziristan a main base for al-Qaida and Haqqani network, whose members cross-border into Afghanistan for attacks on foreign and Afghan forces.
Maulvi Iftikhar had shifted to North Waziristan, the only Taliban stronghold, after the Red Mosque military operation. He was studied in a Taliban-linked “madrassa” in Islamabad, according to TTP sources and his students.
It is the second killing of the TTP senior member in North Waziristan in less than four months.
In late June, gunmen had shot dead a senior Pakistani Taliban commander Shakirullah Shakir near Miranshah.
Also in August, Muhamamd Hanif, a prominent militant commander of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, an associate of the Haqqani network, was killed in North Waziristan during a clash with a rival group.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur group of the Taliban is not part of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who had signed a peace deal with the security forces in 2007 and both sides hold the agreement.
The militants in North Waziristan have formed a new group “Saif- ul-Furqan” to deal with the alleged spies in the region, according to a pamphlet distributed in Miranshah. The outfit has been formed weeks after the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group disowned the dubious secretive “Khurasan” group, which was behind the killing and abduction of the people.
The North Waziristan Taliban Shura or council had said last month that it had encouraged “Khurasan” to stop their mysterious activities but was disowned after the group ignored the call.
Another interesting, but unsurprising, point about this article is that Iftikhar was openly running a madrassa in North Waziristan, and yet the Pakistani authorities were unable to find and apprehend him. His rivals in the Taliban certainly had no problems hunting him down.
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