Captors kill Colonel Imam in North Waziristan

PESHAWAR - Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer Colonel Imam has been killed by the abductors in North Waziristan Agency, TheNation learnt reliably on Sunday. Sultan Aamir Tarar, commonly known as Colonel Imam, along with two other colleagues including Khalid Khawaja, a former intelligence agency officer, and Asad Qureshi, a journalist, was kidnapped by a militant group almost 10 months back in March 2010 on the charges of spying, when they were travelling from Bannu to Waziristan. Colonel Imam, who was also known as mentor of Taliban, had been picked up by the militant group, Asian Tigers, when he was on his way to Waziristan to meet Taliban leadership and make a documentary film in this regard. Sometime back a video footage of Colonel Imam was released by the abductors in which, he was shown as saying that his life was in danger and he urged the government to fulfil his kidnappers demand of freeing a number of prisoners held for terror activities. Though the government authorities are yet to confirm the killing of Colonel Imam, the sources said that he was killed Sunday in North Waziristan Agency at an undisclosed location. It may be mentioned here that out of the other captured colleagues of Colonel Imam, Asad Qureshi, was released a few months back while Khalid Khawaja was also killed by the said organisation on April 30, 2010 and his body was thrown in the suburbs of Mir Ali, North Waziristan Agency. The abductors are still keeping Imams dead body. According to the sources, Imam was murdered for failing to pay the ransom money demanded by his kidnappers. Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: Family of Sultan Amir Tarar commonly known as Col Imam was not accepting condolences for not being confirmed of his death after reports that his captors killed him, said General (Retd) Hameed Gul. Former ISI chief Gul told this scribe, I went to his home for condolence but they were not accepting as yet. He was unable to either deny or confirm the reports of Imams death. I have checked the root source of all the reports and that is only one. These sort of reports need to be confirmed by more than one source, he said. Talking about the reports that he might have passed away due to a heart attack, he said, He had a heart problem but not that sever. We were told that he had run out of his medicines and that too were dispatched to him, he added. Why I doubt his captors had killed him because he was a sort of insurance policy with them, he said. Recalling the story of his kidnapping, he said, initially so-called Asian Tigers group of some Usman Punjabi had taken him and his other companions into custody through a trap. Later on another group of Sabir Mansoor killed Usman Punjabi and others and took Imam in its custody. Eventually, Col Imam had gone to Hakimullah Mahsuds custody after they had killed Mansoor and his group. Of late, Gul said, Afghan Taliban, Mujahideen, and Haqanni group of North Waziristan were asking Mehsud to release Col Imam. According to former ISI chief, there were also reports that Mehsud had demanded release of his men arrested in connection with suicide attacks on GHQ and Parade Lane Mosque in Rawalpindi. There were also reports that they had demanded ransom money of Rs50 million. Gul feared that in case the captors had killed him, they would face music as most of the Taliban both in Pakistan and Afghanistan consider Imam, as their mentor, and would not spare Mehsud. That is why he said there were also reports that Mehsud group was asking for guarantees that they would not be attacked if they release Imam. The biggest question at present, he said, is why they are not releasing the dead body of Col Imam if they have killed him or he expired due to some heart attack. He was a great soldier, good Muslim, and basic character in development and training of Taliban in Afghanistan, Gul remembered Imam. Though he served as my subordinate but he was more like a friend to me, he added. He never missed collective prayer to my knowledge, he recalled the days with Col Imam. A retired Pakistan Army officer and special warfare operation specialist, Imam was a former member of the Special Service Group (SSG). Western media considered him inactive ISI intelligence officer who had served as former Pakistani Consul General at Herat, Afghanistan. A veteran of Soviet war in Afghanistan, he is widely believed to have played a key role in the formation of the Taliban, after having helped train the Afghan Mujahidin on behalf of the United States in the 1980s. According to Wikipedia, Colonel Imam, who was a commando-guerrilla warfare specialist, had trained Mullah Omar and other Taliban factions. Colonel Imam remained active in Afghanistans civil war until 2001 US-led war on terrorism, and supported the Taliban publicly through media. Imam was educated and a graduate of Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Kakul; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA. After his graduation from PMA, he joined the Pakistan Armys 15th Frontier Force Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant. His unit was sent to United States in 1974, and was trained shoulder-to-shoulder among with United States Army Special Forces. Upon his graduation from the Special Forces School, he was awarded American Green Beret by his training commander. Following his return to Pakistan, Imam joined the Special Service Group (SSG). In 1980s, he had participated in Soviet war in Afghanistan, notably the Battle for Hill 3234. Colonel Imam increasingly involved in Afghanistans politics even after the Soviet left the Afghanistan. After the Soviet-Afghan war, Colonel Imam had supported and trained Taliban fighters independently. After the Soviet defeat and the collapse of communism, Colonel Imam was invited to the White House by the then president George Bush (senior), and was given a piece of the Berlin Wall with a brass plaque inscribed: To the one who dealt the first blow. Today, western intelligence agencies believe Imam is among a group of renegade officers from Pakistans ISI who continued to help the Taliban after Pakistan turned against them following the attacks of September 11, 2001. During his career in Pakistan Army he had won three prestigious awards namely Sitara-e-Jurat, Tamgha-e-Basalat, and Sitara-i-Imtiaz(Military).

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