New leader plans attacks on Pakistan
By Hamza Ameer
ISLAMABAD - Al-Qaeda-linked 313 Brigade has appointed a new chief, Shah Sahib,
following the death of its commander Ilyas Kashmiri in a United States-operated
drone attack in the South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan in June.
The decision came after weeks of consultation among members of various militant
organizations active in the tribal regions on the border with Afghanistan.
Shah Sahib, a well-known Taliban commander, has been selected to initiate major
alliances and finalize consultations ahead of Eid - the end of the holy Muslim
fasting month of Ramadan - to launch fresh assaults against the Pakistan
South Waziristan-based journalist Din Mohammed Wazir
confirmed the appointment. "Recently, I spoke to one of the leading members of
313 Brigade of the Harakat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami in Wana [the largest town of South
Waziristan] and he confirmed the appointment of Shah Sahib as the new leader,
but added that his nomination was only for a certain period of time, and then
the central shura [council] will choose a permanent amir [leader]."
In addition to running 313 Brigade, Kashmiri was operational commander of the
Harakat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), an Islamic fundamentalist militant
organization most active in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India since the early
1990s. (For an interview with Kashmiri, see
Al-Qaeda's guerrilla chief lays out strategy, Asia Times Online,
November 3, 2009.)
Reports of Kashmiri's death surfaced in both local and international media
after a June 3 drone strike in a remote village of South Waziristan. Mystery
still surrounds his death, but ground sources, both local officials and the
Taliban, have persistently confirmed his death. Even his group - the HuJI -
reported his death in a press release issued to local media outlets.
Kashmiri was among the five most-wanted militants by the United States, a list
of which was handed to Pakistan when the Barack Obama administration recently
blocked US$800 million in aid on suspicions over Pakistan's loyalty in the "war
The death of Kashmiri has been used as a justification by the US for the
increased drone campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas, something that is strongly
opposed by tribal locals and which has been said to be "counter-productive" by
Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani.
However, the US received further good news this week with reports that
al-Qaeda's number two, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, had been killed in a drone strike
on August 27 in North Waziristan.
With the appointment of Shah Sahib as the new leader of Brigade 313 and fresh
alliances being formed, a major assault is now expected to be launched
immediately after Eid at the end of August.
Chinese leader for foreign militants
Abdul Shakoor Turkistani, a Chinese Uyghur, has taken control of overall
command of foreign militants in Pakistan's tribal region. He has always been on
good terms with the major Pakistani Taliban outfits.
Turkistani is also believed to have played a key role in the formation of the
Itehad-e-Shur-e-Mujahideen in 2009 (Union of the Consultative Council of
Mujahideen) comprising militant groups focused on fighting in Afghanistan. Also
a part of this was the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban - TTP).
Turkistani worked under Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, a former leader of the Eastern
Turkistani Islamic Party, and the late Qari Tahir Yuldashev of the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan. He belongs to the Chinese Uyghur, a banned group
actively operating in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. He is
known for promoting "Islamic extremism".
The Chinese government recently deployed at least 200,000 security personnel to
pursue Uyghurs in the region following a clash between Uyghurs and the Chinese
security personnel that left at least 23 Uyghurs dead in Hotan city last month.
The three major factions of the TTP, meanwhile, are strengthening their
alliance. The aim is to launch joint operations in Afghanistan against
coalition forces, to hunt down spotters for drones and to adopt a collective
strategy to confront any military adventures by the Pakistani government in
restive North Waziristan.
Well-placed Taliban sources told Asia Times Online that the decision was made
at a recent meeting of members of the TTP and factions led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur
and Mullah Nazeer in a remote area on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The
sources added that the meeting was overseen by the powerful Haqqani network and
Lashkar-e-Khorasan (Army of the Khorasan) has been specifically formed to
monitor drone spies in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. It consists of
six members from each group and operates under the aegis of Bahadur.
The group has so far hunted down dozens of local and Afghan tribesmen allegedly
spying on militants for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-operated drones.
One of the group's members told Asia Times Online, "A week ago, we conducted a
series of secret operations across Wana sub-division and captured an aged man
hailing from the Mehsud tribe. We shifted him to our secret compound and during
investigation he revealed that the spy network consisted of both local and
Afghan tribesmen. This was one of the most successful operations in recent
years against CIA-linked spy networks active in the region."
The Afghan Taliban have also become more active in Pakistan's border areas,
making more alliances with the TTP for increased attacks against coalition
forces in Afghanistan and for joint operations against Pakistani security
As Pakistan reels from floods, political paralysis, unrest in the major city
port of Karachi and sectarian violence in Balochistan province, militants are
preparing to escalate their activities on both sides of the border.
Hamza Ameer is a Pakistan-based journalist. He is a news correspondent
for Press Tv Iran & Egypt News.
(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please
contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)