Hakeemullah Mehsud [right] as he organized the attack on a prison in Bannu.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan released a propaganda video that details the April 15 jailbreak in Bannu that freed 384 prisoners, including an estimated 200 Taliban members and an al Qaeda-linked terrorist who attempted to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf. Two of the top leaders of he Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, who are often reported to be at odds with each other, are shown organizing the attack and mustering more than 150 fighters.
The 34-minute-long video, which was produced by Umar Studio, the propaganda arm of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was originally being sold in bazaars in North and South Waziristan, according to the International News Network. The videotape was then published in three parts on YouTube by the Khyber News Channel [see parts 1, 2 and 3].
Hakeemullah Mehsud, the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the group’s leader in South Waziristan, both appear in the video. Both men give speeches, and Hakeemullah vows to fight the Pakistani government and military to “the last bullet and the last man.” Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman are routinely said to be in violent opposition to each other, and were even wrongly reported to have killed each other during a shura meeting in August 2009 to select Baitullah Mehsud’s successor.
In the video, both Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman are shown directing an estimated 150 fighters who are gathering to conduct the attack. The Taliban leaders are organizing the large Taliban group in the daylight out in the open. The location of the meeting place is not clear.
The Taliban appear to have had good intelligence on the layout of the Bannu prison. A Taliban leader, whose face is digitally blurred, uses a detailed hand-drawn map to brief the Taliban commanders and fighters on the plan of attack.
The fighters are then shown eating and praying before being put into vans and driven to the Bannu prison. The tape shows the nighttime assault as the Taliban attack the prison with rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine-guns, and assault rifles. The Taliban are then shown opening the jail cells and releasing the prisoners.
The video also includes interviews of the freed commanders and prisoners. Adnan Rasheed, a Pakistani terrorist who was involved in the Dec. 14, 2003 assassination attempt against then-President Pervez Musharraf, is among those interviewed. Rasheed was a member of the Pakistani Air Force and has been sentenced to death for his role.
Rasheed worked for Amjad Farooqi, the Pakistani terrorist who engineered the two assassination attempts against Musharraf in December 2003 at the behest of al Qaeda leader Abu Faraj al Libi; Farooqi is suspected of involvement in other terror attacks as well. Farooqi was a member of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan; the Harkat-ul-Ansar and its successor, the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen; Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami; and Jaish-e-Mohammed. He served as a close aide to Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the leader of the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. In addition, Farooqi served as the group’s representative to al Qaeda’s International Islamic Front.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.