Within 24 hours after being classified as a terrorist organization by the Obama administration, ISI-sponsored Haqqani Taliban, mostly comprising Takfiri Salafis and Deobandis, have hit back by massacring 15 Shiite Muslims in Parachinar, Kurram Agency, in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
According to Reuters news agency, a previously unknown militant group, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan Ghazi Group, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was aimed at the Shia community. Takfiri Deobandis (Taliban, LeJ/ASWJ etc) have previously used various names to own up their attacks on Shiites, Sunni Barelvis and other persecuted groups in Pakistan. More than 19,000 Shiites have been killed by Takfiri Deobandis in the last few years.
“A white-coloured Corolla, packed with explosives, detonated in Turi Market around 2:40pm,” Political Agent Shahab Ali Shah told The Express Tribune. “It’s not clear whether it was a suicide blast or the bomb was set off remotely,” he added. Turi Market is situated in the heart of Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram Agency. Most shopkeepers here belong to the Pashtun Turi tribe, who are Shias by sect. Witnesses said that the car was driven into the market by a suspected suicide bomber. Political Agent Shah confirmed that 13 people were killed and over 50 wounded in the blast. The Express Tribune correspondent, however, said he counted 14 bodies. The blast destroyed over 20 shops and damaged six vehicles parked in the market. The site was littered with rubble and twisted metal.
“Mortar shells and rockets were also used in the bomb to kill maximum number of people,” an explosives expert told The Express Tribune. The victims were all members of the Shia community. Some of them were identified as Shahid Hussain, Salman Ali, Hidayat Hussain, his young son Muhammad, Manzar Hussain, Said Gul Agha, Sharif Hussain, Syed Ishaghat Hussain, Maulana Haji Akbar Hussain and Arshad Hussain. The injured, among them two women and as many security personnel, were shifted to hospitals in Parachinar, in neighbouring towns of Hangu and Thal. However, medics referred those with critical wounds to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. Residents said the blast also damaged the main electricity supply line, plunging Parachinar into darkness. Tribal elders from the local Shia community condemned the bombing and announced three days of mourning in the city. Political Agent Shah appreciated the community for maintaining calm after the blast. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Taliban have been carrying out similar attacks in the region. (Source). The car bomb ripped through a crowded market in a Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Monday, killing 20 Shiite Muslims. The emergence over the last 10 years in Pakistan of extremist groups such as al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban has added to the frequency and viciousness of attacks against Shiites. In February, a suicide attacker on a motorcycle blew himself up in Parachinar, killing 23 Shiite Muslims and wounding 50 people. Many of the recent sectarian killings in Pakistan have been blamed on the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ, currently operating as ASWJ), which is allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban. In the meanwhile in Lahore, A court released the founder of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on bail Monday, about a week and a half after he was arrested because of a speech he made that authorities said incited sectarian hatred, said police officer Ejaz Shafi. (Source)
While the incident is the latest in the country-wide attacks on Shiite Muslims in Pakistan, the location and timing of the current attack also shows that the Haqqani Taliban and its Pakistani sponsors are not happy with the USA decision. At least 19,000 Shiites have been killed so far at the hands of Takfiri Deobandi-Salafi militants with alleged links with Pakistan Army. In its recent report, Human Rights Watch hinted towards the complicity between Pakistan Army and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a Takfiri Deobandi group which remains affiliated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, a Takfiri Deobandi cleric in Islamabad and 19 others have been acquitted by Pakistani judiciary in the 2007 killing of a security officer. This shows an increasing level of understanding and cooperation between Pakistan army and Takfiri Deobandis. Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (aka ASWJ) was the prayer leader of the capital’s Red Mosque (Laal Masjid), a sanctuary for Takfiri Deobandi militants opposed to Pakistan’s support of the US-run war in Afghanistan. As opposition to the war grew, the mosque became a centre of religious agitation against the government, with armed students taking over the complex. Pakistani security officials later stormed the complex and 102 people were killed in the resulting week-long operation, most of them followers of the mosque. Abdul Aziz was allegedly caught by security officials trying to sneak out of the complex. He’s already been acquitted in 18 of the 27 cases registered against him. He was freed from house arrest in 2009 and is now back at the mosque leading prayers.
Also, in Lahore, another court acquitted LeJ Chief Malik Ishaq, who himself admitted to killing at least 70 Shias. On Youtube, there are dozens of his videos spreading hate speech against Shiites. (Source)
In the latest incident of Shia genocide, at least 15 people, mostly Shia Muslims, were killed and 55 others severely injured after a powerful bomb attack in Pakistan’s northwestern Parachinar town close to the Afghan border (10 September 2012). Officials and local sources told that the bomb was planted in a car, which went off in Kashmir Chowck near Turi market on Monday. The death toll is expected to rise as most of the injured are said to be in critical condition. Pakistan Army has mposed a curfew in the Shia-majority town.
Located about 290 kilometers (180 miles) west of the capital Islamabad, Parachinar is the main town in the Kurram Agency tribal region; Kurram Agency, along with North Waziristan is considered a main base for the Haqqani Network of the Taliban. Shiite Muslims of Parachinar were able to bravely dislodge the Haqqani Taliban from Parachinar in the aftermath of the 9/11.
Pakistan’s pro-Taliban militants, including Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ, a Takfiri Deobandi outfit, have launched a violent campaign against Shia Muslims over the past years.
The country’s Shia leaders have called on the government to form a judicial commission to investigate the bloodshed. The killing of Shias has caused international outrage, with rights groups and regional countries expressing concern over the ongoing deadly violence.
Leading Takfiri Deobandi cleric of Afghanistan, Mullah Muhammad Omar, derided the US’s announcement that it would add the Haqqani Network to the list of terrorist entities and claimed the designation was an attempt to divide the group. The Taliban released the statement yesterday on its propaganda website, Voice of Jihad. The statement was signed by “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the official name of the Afghan Taliban. In the statement, the Taliban claimed that there is “no separate entity or network in Afghanistan by the name of Haqqani,” and that its overall leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, is a member of the Quetta Shura, the group’s top leadership council. “The honorable Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani is a member of the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate and is a close, loyal and trusted associate of the esteemed Amir-ul-Mumineen [leader of the faithful, Mullah Omar] and those Mujahideen entrusted under the command of his sons are in fact the heroic Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate who like other Mujahideen strictly obey the esteemed Amir-ul-Mumineen and wage Jihad against the invaders throughout the country,” the Taliban statement said. The Taliban said the addition of the Haqqani Network to the list of terrorist organizations would be “ineffective” as “the Islamic Emirate does not have any trade agreements with any American companies or individuals and neither does it have monetary funds there which could be frozen.” Calling past designations of individuals also “ineffective,” the Taliban said the addition of the Haqqani Network to the terror list “is indicative of your [the US’s] complete defeat and dismay.”
The Haqqani Network is a powerful Taliban faction that operates in eastern, central, and northern Afghanistan, and is based in North Waziristan in Pakistan. The terror group has close links with al Qaeda, and is supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, leads the Miramshah Shura, one of four major Taliban regional councils.
Since 2008, nine top Haqqani Network leaders, including Sirajuddin, have been placed on the US list of terrorists; six of them were designated in 2011. All of them have ties to al Qaeda. Surprisingly, Jalaluddin has not been added to the list which casts doubts about the sincerity of Obama administration to fight the Taliban. (Source)
In a report to the US Congress on September 7,2012, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, intimated it of her decision to designate the Haqqani Network, an affiliate of the Afghan Taliban operating from the Kurram—North Waziristan areas of Pakistan, as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
She said in a separate statement:
“Today, I have sent a report to Congress saying that the Haqqani Network meets the statutory criteria of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). This action meets the requirements of the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-168). Based on that assessment, I notified Congress of my intent to designate the Haqqani Network as an FTO under the INA. I also intend to designate the organization as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224.
“The consequences of these designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing material support or resources to, or engaging in other transactions with, the Haqqani Network, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organization that are in the United States, or come within the United States, or the control of U.S. persons. These actions follow a series of other steps that the U.S. government already has taken against the Haqqanis. The Department of State previously designated key Haqqani Network leaders under E.O. 13224, and the Department of the Treasury has designated other militants with ties to the Haqqanis under the same authority. We also continue our robust campaign of diplomatic, military, and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating the United States’ resolve to degrade the organization’s ability to execute violent attacks.
For some weeks now, the State Department had been under pressure from sections of the Congress to declare the Haqqani Network as an FTO because of its role in killing US and other NATO troops in Afghanistan. The State Department was resisting the pressure because US intelligence reportedly believed that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl of the US Army, who disappeared from southern Afghanistan in June,2009, might be in the custody of the Network. They were worried that the designation of the Network as an FTO could hamper efforts to rescue him. The decision now to designate the Network as an FTO would indicate that the US intelligence is pessimistic about its chances of being able to rescue him.
The Agence France Presse (AFP) reported as follows on September 8,2012:
“The network’s founder is Jalaluddin Haqqani, a disciplined Afghan guerrilla leader bankrolled by the US to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s and now based with his family in Pakistan. In the 1980s, Jalaluddin was close to the CIA and Pakistani intelligence. He allied himself to the Taliban after they took power in Kabul in 1996, serving as a cabinet minister under the militia’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar. When American troops arrived after the 9/11 attacks, Haqqani looked up old friends and sought refuge in North Waziristan, becoming one of the first anti-US commanders based in Pakistan’s border areas. He has training bases in eastern Afghanistan, is close to al Qaeda and his fighters are active across east and southeastern Afghanistan and in Kabul. Militarily the most capable of the Taliban factions, the network operates independently but remains loyal to Omar and would probably fall behind any peace deal negotiated by the Taliban. Now in his late 70s and frail, Jalaluddin’s seat on the Afghan Taliban leadership council has passed to his son Sirajuddin, who effectively runs a fighting force of at least 2,000 men.
“The United States blames the network for some of the most spectacular attacks in Afghanistan, such as a 2011 siege on the US embassy and, in 2009, the deadliest attack on the CIA in 25 years. Washington has long since designated Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin “global terrorists” but in July Congress urged the State Department to blacklist the entire network. Supporters of the designation say the financial sanctions will help disrupt the Haqqani network’s fundraising activities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“But Pakistanis fear it could further worsen ties between Islamabad and Washington just as cooperation had resumed after a series of major crises in 2011, particularly the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Any such decision will take the relationship back to square one, ruining the improvement seen in ties between the two countries during the last couple of months,” a senior Pakistani security official said.
“Last year, the outgoing top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, called the Haqqanis the “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI, although other American officials later distanced themselves from the remarks.”
The designation of an organisation as an FTO impairs its ability to collect funds from the diaspora in the US. Where an organisation does not depend on flow of funds from the diaspora in the US, it has very little impact on its operational capabilities.
The US started the practice of declaring foreign terrorist set-ups as FTOs in 1997. Since then, there has not been a single instance of any terrorist organisation withering away due to drying-up of funds because of its being declared an FTO. All organisations declared by the US as FTO continued to maintain their terrorist activities without any problem. Since 1997, the US has declared the Harkat-ul-Ansar also known as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh as FTOs. The declarations have had no impact on their activities. They continue to be as active as before. This is because the jihadi terrorist organisations based in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan get their funds not from the diaspora in the US, but from the diaspora in the Gulf, from so-called charitable organisations in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries and from the intelligence agencies sponsoring them such as those of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They also get their funds from the narcotics trade in the Af-Pak region.
Unless these real sources of funding are tackled, just designating an organisation as an FTO and making it illegal for persons in the US to help it financially will not help.
The US war of attrition based on precise intelligence, which has been effective against Al Qaeda in the tribal areas, has not been that effective against the Haqqani Network. Al Qaeda is perceived largely as an Arab organisation. Some Pashtuns have had no qualms over co-operating with the US against Al Qaeda as one saw in the case of the Pashtun doctor, now in Pakistani custody, who allegedly collaborated against Osama bin Laden. But the Haqqani Network is a Pashtun organisation. It has been more difficult to find Pashtun sources willing to collaborate against the leadership of the Network.
Only the Shias of Kurram, who have been suffering due to the atrocities committed by the Afghan Taliban and the Network, and the Tajik remnants of Ahmed Shah Masood’s pre-2001 organisation might be in a position to help in neutralising the Haqqani Network through ground and air operations. The suspicions between the US and the former followers of Masood have come in the way of such operations. The US has been reluctant to seek the co-operation of the Shias of Kurram because of their traditional ideological links with Iran. Only through a closer cooperation between Iran and the US on jointly flighting the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the hub of global Slafist terrorism Saudi Arabia, peace can be secured not only in South Asia but also in the Middle East and the West.
Only punitive pressure against Pakistan Army can help in neutralising the Haqqani Network. The Network operates from sanctuaries in North Waziristan and Kurram. It maintains close links with the ISI, which is well-informed regarding the location and movements of its leaders. The ISI is in a position to help the US in neutralising the Network, but is hesitant to do so as it looks upon the Network as its strategic ally for recovering its influence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the US and other NATO forces from there.
The US is not prepared to declare Pakistan Army a state-sponsor of terrorism for its collusion with the Network. Declaration of Pakistan Army as a State-sponsor of terrorism could entail follow-up steps such as a rupture of diplomatic relations with Pakistan, termination of all military-military and intelligence-intelligence co-operation and suspension of all economic and military assistance. No US Government would be prepared to take such actions. The US has to tolerate Pakistan and find ways of getting along with it whatever the difficulties and consequences of such a policy.
In the absence of a capability to mount an Abbottabad style unilateral strike against the Haqqani leadership, the only transit option left to the US is to have the Network designated as an FTO. That is what it has done without any illusions that it will lead to the neutralisation of the Network. However, a more durable approach will be to start form neutralizing the source of Salafist-Deobandi terror in Saudi Arabia, which remains key sponsor and financier of the Taliban and other Takfiri Jihadi groups. (Source)