Islamabad - As Tahreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) prepares for a long haul in North Waziristan, a new amalgam of foreign fighters in collaboration with remnants of Al-Qaeda stationed in this tribal area is fast spreading influence and operations between Mir Ali and Miranshah, and eliminating commanders and fighters who are in peace agreements with Pakistani military, sources privy to the developments said.
“Khurasan” is namely the new group operating in North Waziristan, and comprises Arab, Chechen, Uzbek, Punjabi and even some German and French origin militants who have made North Waziristan their permanent abode, and have recently taken some targeted heavy pounding from Pakistani military.
“These foreign fighters are on a killing spree in these areas of North Waziristan and kill anyone on charges of spying,” an independent observer having recently returned from Waziristan informed. “This group is being blamed for killing of a famous commander Shafique who was associated with Hafiz Gul Bahadur and his onetime second-in-command, Good Abdur Rehman (media name Ahmedullah Ahmadi)”, he added.
“Good” Abdur Rehman and Hafiz Gul Bahadur are at loggerheads these days as the former is fiercely opposing the Khurasan group activities, and living is some settled area of KPK. “Good” has been an all-purpose Number Two and top commander of Gul Bahadur for a long time, and he also fought across the border in Kunduz Afghanistan along with Mullah Dadullah. The Khurasan group is after him these days.
Sources say only the Haqqani network headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani has the capability and respect to chalk out a truce between Khurasan and pro-Pakistan military elements.
Haqqanis, a mainstay of Afghan Taliban in provinces bordering Pakistan, are the focus of attention of United States, Afghan National Army and their intelligence agencies for inflicting maximum damage to allied troops since 9/11. In fact, this group is the main target of CIA drone attacks in Afghanistan, and Pakistani tribal agencies. There are fears in American camp that Haqqanis and their affiliates will inflict heavy damage as majority of US troops and equipment withdraw via Pakistan till end of 2014. Americans also fear Haqqanis have presence in settled areas of KPK bordering Afghanistan, and adjoining districts, a charge that has always been rubbished by Pakistani government.
Foreign fighters, al-Qaeda elements and TTP militants in Waziristan don’t indulge in any confrontation with Haqqanis. “Haqqanis are mysteriously silent over the rift between Khurasan group and pro-Pakistan Taliban,” the source added.
North Waziristan is originally the land of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who heads the Ahmedzai Wazir tribal warriors, and even TTP recognises this fact. A Wazir, who commands trust of Ahmedzai Wazir tribe Mishran (elders) as well as tribesmen, Gul Bahadur’s grip on his own area has weakened considerably during the last many months. People who rarely go to this militant-infested area believe Gul Bahadur’s weakened finances and less number of warriors has played havoc with his capacity to control this vast land. Plus, given the strength and ferocity these foreign fighters have in his area, he is unable to oppose them.
In fact, many of his top commanders are collaborating with Khurasan group for the want of dollars, or for fear of survival. Some pro-Pakistan military elements in his ranks fear that Gul Bahadur might change loyalties, and this might be the reason his commanders received pounding by Pakistan military, the other day. Officially, Gul Bahadur is till date in peace agreement with Pakistan Army. On the other hand, an agreement with TTP in February 2008 that also includes Mullah Nazir Group from South Waziristan binds him not to fight with TTP till date.