Pakistan Security Brief - April 5, 2011

New leadership in militant groups; Prime Minister Cameron in Pakistan for talks; U.S. military personnel barred from leaving Pakistan; Taliban has offered to mediate between LI and lashkar; “Factories of suicide bombers in South Punjab;”Bahadur condemns attacks on JUI chief; Coalminers killed in Balochistan.

 

New Leadership in Militant Groups

  • The Express Tribune reports that al-Qaeda and associated militant groups such as the Haqqani Network (HQN) are dividing their groups into smaller cells in order to confuse intelligence agencies and survive counter-terrorism operations. In regards to Haqqani, the media outlet reports that a new leader may soon head the network’s organizational activities, stating “Badaruddin, one of several sons of Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, would now be introduced to the outside world as the network’s main operative, leading the group and spearheading its operations across Pakistan-Afghanistan border.” An unidentified source associated with the group said that the move was to “make sure that there will not be any crisis if one leader got killed,” while separately, intelligence officials believe that, “It is to save him from the public exposure… they don’t feel safe after an intensified drone campaign against them by the US.” The Express Tribune also reports that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan is undergoing leadership changes, as Hakimullah Mehsud had delegated the majority of his power to a council led by Sheikh Khalid.[i]

 

U.K.-Pakistani Relations

  • In his first visit to Pakistan, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron participated in talks with Prime Minister Gilani on Tuesday. At a news conference with Gilani, Cameron declared that, “Let me begin by saying without any hesitation that Britain's friendship with Pakistan is unbreakable." The British prime minister called for a "fresh start" in U.K.-Pakistani relations after suggesting last year that Pakistan exported terrorism. Cameron also said that the two countries have agreed to work to double bilateral trade by 2015. He additionally called for continued strides in relations between India and Pakistan.[ii]
 

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • Pakistan has barred a number of U.S. military personnel assigned to the U.S. Office of Defense Representative in Pakistan (ODRP) from leaving the country due to expired visas and other procedural issues. Dawn reports that, “Most of these people had been working on different projects with the Pakistan military. Some of the soldiers had overstayed their visas while a majority of them had expired NOCs [No Objection Certificate].” ODRP and the U.S. Embassy have been in discussions with Pakistani officials to renew the expired visas. Various sources claim that between 20-30 personnel have been affected while others believe the number to be around 100.[iii]

 

Fighters Gravitating to Yemen

  • The New York Times reports that a “small but steadily growing stream of Qaeda fighters and lower-level commanders from other parts of the world, including Pakistan, are making their way to Yemen to join the fight there.” Some unidentified official sources attribute this phenomenon to counterterrorism operations in Yemen having ground to a halt amid the recent political chaos.  However, the paper also reports that “U.S. intelligence officials are divided on whether the political crisis in Yemen is drawing more insurgents than would be traveling there under normal conditions.”[iv]
 

FATA

  • Dawn reports that the Taliban has offered to serve as a mediator between the Zakha Khel lashkar and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) in order to resolve growing tension between the two groups in Khyber Agency. The Zakha Khel lashkar had recently made advances into the Sipah area controlled by LI chief Mangal Bagh. The lashkar has reportedly asked for Bagh to hand over LI commander Khan Zakha Khel, accused of beheading his rivals, before negotiations could begin. Separately, a group of the Afghan Taliban has threatened to avenge LI’s beheading of a cleric in Khyber, Maulana Hashim, which sparked the clashes between the lashkar and LI.[v]

 

Suicide Bombers in South Punjab

 

Assassination Attempts on JUI Leader

  • The main militant commander in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, has condemned the recent assassination attempts on Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. A spokesperson for Gul Bahadur stated that the attacks were a conspiracy and the perpetrators would be punished publicly. He said that the “motives behind the attacks were to create hatred against Muslims and jihad.”[vii]

 

Coalminers Killed in Balochistan

  • Three coalminers were killed in separate incidents in Marwar and Machh on Monday. In the first incident, a mud avalanche fell on five miners in Marwar, killing two of them. Meanwhile, a third coalminer was killed after being hit by a trolley inside a mine in Machh.[viii]
 
 


[i] Zia Khan, “Evolution of militancy: Al Qaeda, Taliban grooming new leadership,” Express Tribune, April 4, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/142637/evolution-of-militancy-al-qaeda-taliban-grooming-new-leadership/
[ii] Chris Brummitt, “UK leader calls on Pakistan, India to make peace” Associated Press, April 5, 2011. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110405/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_britain
[iii] Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Another diplomatic row with US brewing,” Dawn, April 5, 2011. Available at
[iv] Eric Schmitt, “Unrest in Yemen Seen as Opening to Qaeda Branch,” New York Times, April 4, 2011. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/world/middleeast/05terror.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1302015717-Vg5re4sKvaABu25IwqkSmA
[v] “Mediation offer by Taliban halts lashkar in tracks,” Dawn, April 5, 2011. Available at
[vi] “`S. Punjab hub of suicide bombers`” Dawn, April 5, 2011. Available at
[vii] Pazir Gul, “Militant leader to investigate attacks on Fazl,” Dawn, April 5, 2011. Available at
[viii] “Three coalminers killed in Balochistan,” The News, April 4, 2011. Available at