Pakistan Security Brief
Drone strike kills seven militants in Datta Khel, North Waziristan; TTP chief rumored dead in drone strike in Afghanistan; AQIS spokesman condemns Peshawar school attack; IMU justifies Peshawar school attack; Lal Masjid chief cleric apologizes for not unconditionally condemning the Peshawar school attack; Suspect arrested in Punjab for alleged links with Peshawar school attackers; Afghan forces launch anti-militant operations in Kunar province; TTP senior commander urges soldiers to break ranks with army, join TTP; Five militants killed in clashes with security forces near Peshawar; Pakistan military airstrikes kill 24 militants in Khyber Agency; Security forces repulse militant attack, killing 25 militants in Shawal, Waziristan; Two militants killed in Charsadda district; Warrants issued against TTP chief, others for Karachi airport attack; Two militants killed in Karachi; Six militants arrested in Karachi; Frontier Works Organization convoys targeted in Balochistan; Five militants arrested in Quetta; Wagah border suicide bomber identified; Potential suicide bomber arrested in Hangu; Two militants killed in Punjab; Tribal elder shot dead in Kurram Agency; Police forces launch search operation in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, arrest 70 suspects in Peshawar; Appeal against LeT leader’s bail order delayed; TTP threatens revenge for execution of its members; U.S. forces to not target Taliban chief, others starting January 2, 2015; Afghan, Pakistani forces to coordinate actions against terrorists; No mention of TTP chief during meeting with Pakistan army chief, claims Afghan army chief; Military offensive to be expanded to urban and rural areas, says Prime Minister Sharif; Anti-terrorism working group submits recommendations to ATNAPC; Development funds to be diverted to national security; Punjab government intensifies security at all prisons; 55 terrorists on death row to be executed soon; Five terrorists executed for involvement in the assassination attempt on former President; PTI leadership condemns all terrorist groups, pledges support to armed forces in combatting terrorism; PTI chief asks federal government to better equip provincial police forces.
U.S. Drone Strike
On December 20, a U.S. drone strike killed seven militants and injured three others in the Mada Khel area of Datta Khel sub-district in North Waziristan. Some reports claim that three Uzbeks, one Arab and two Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants were among those killed in the strike while others claim that those killed included members of the TTP Punjabi and members of the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group.
In an update regarding a U.S. drone strike reported on December 19 in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, unconfirmed rumors suggest TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah is among the eight militants killed in the strike.
Peshawar School Attack
According to a December 20 Long War Journal report, al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS) spokesman Usama Mahmood released a statement on his Twitter account condemning the Peshawar school attack conducted by the TTP as “un-Islamic.” Mahmood stressed that the attack violated the jihadist version of the Shariah law and that an attack that seeks “revenge” from “innocent Muslims” cannot be justified.
On December 19, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) issued a statement stating that the attack on the Peshawar school was “justified” and “defensive.” The statement was posted on the IMU’s website in Uzbek and an English translation was posted on the Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum. The statement cited the “atrocities” by the Pakistan Army against Muslims, the Pakistani government’s role in the fall of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the ongoing military offensive in North Waziristan and several other reasons as justification for the attack on teenagers in the school. Separately, the IMU posted a video on its website on December 14 focusing on the group’s children in a camp in Pakistan’s tribal areas as a part of “What is happening in the Tribal Areas” series.
According to a December 21 Express Tribune report, Lal Masjid’s chief cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz, apologized for failing to unconditionally condemn the Peshawar school attack and denied claims that he had threatened civil society members. Civil society activists launched a protest against Maulana Aziz on December 19 in response to a statement by Aziz in which he refused to condemn the Peshawar school attack. Separately, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan declared on December 21 that the Interior Ministry had withdrawn the official security provided to Maulana Aziz since 2011 and that Aziz was not the official preacher of the mosque.
On December 22, lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir, one of the main organizers behind the Lal Masjid protests, received a threatening phone call from an individual claiming to be the spokesman of the TTP Jamaatul Ahrar, Ehsanullah Ehsan. The caller reportedly warned Nasir to end the Lal Masjid protests or be ready to face consequences against Nasir and the demonstrators.
On December 21, security forces arrested a terrorism suspect, Muhammad Arshad, in the Toba Tek Singh area of Punjab province. Arshad was arrested on charges of having links with and facilitating the Peshawar school attackers.
According to a December 22 AFP report, Afghan security forces have launched anti-militant operations in several parts of the Dangam district in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah is believed to be hiding in Kunar, a rear base for TTP militants. According to Afghan deputy defense ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri, 21 armed militants have been killed and 33 others injured so far. Seven security personnel also have been wounded in the operations. Governor of Kunar, Shujaul Mulk Jalala further claims that about 1,500 Afghan Taliban fighters attacked remote villages in Dangam and that TTP and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants were also battling the security forces in Dangam.
On December 22, the TTP released a video of a speech given by its senior commander, Adnan Rashid, urging members of Pakistan’s armed forces to revolt against the military and join the ranks of the TTP. Rashid claims in the speech that Pakistani forces do not represent Islam and the good of the country but represent money, the personal interests of its leaders and foreign interests. Rashid was a former member of the Pakistan Air Force and was sentenced to death in December 2003 for his involvement in the assassination attempt on former President Pervez Musharraf. Rashid was freed in the Bannu prison break in April 2012.
On December 20, five militants, including a key commander, were killed in clashes with the security forces near the town of Darra Adam Khel in Frontier Region Peshawar. The dead commander was identified as Mustafa alias Manan and belonged to the Darra Adam Khel chapter of the TTP. Mustafa is also reportedly the brother of Umar Mansoor, the alleged mastermind of the December 16 Peshawar school attack. Two security personnel were also injured in the clashes.
On December 20, Pakistan military airstrikes killed at least 24 militants in the Santana, Nangrosa and Therko Kas areas of the Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency. Seven hideouts, reportedly belonging to Lashkar-e-Islam militants, were destroyed in the airstrikes. Eight civilians were also killed in the airstrikes.
On December 21, militants equipped with heavy weapons attacked a Pakistan Army check-post in the Shawal area on the border of South and North Waziristan. The security forces repulsed the attack, killing 25 militants, and injuring several others. Three soldiers were also injured in the attack. Three militants among those killed were reportedly Uzbeks.
On December 20, security forces conducted a search operation, killing two militants in the Saro Kali area of Shabqadar in Charsadda district. One of those killed was allegedly a facilitator of the Peshawar school attackers. Two police personnel were also killed in the encounter.
On December 20, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) issued a non-bailable arrest warrants for TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and nine others for their involvement in the Karachi airport attack in June 2014.
On December 20, two Frontier Works Organization (FWO) convoys were targeted by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Gogkdan Mai area of Turbat and Chattkan area of Panjgur in Balochistan. One solider was injured in clashes with gunmen following the blast in Turbat.
On December 22, security forces arrested five militants in a search operation, including a key Taliban commander, in the Kuchlak area of Quetta. Security personnel also recovered heavy weapons from the militants.
On December 19, security forces claimed to have identified the suicide bomber involved in the November 2 Wagah border attack that killed 61 people. The 23-year old Hanif Ullah was reportedly a resident of the Mohmand area in Bajaur Agency. Security forces have taken his family into custody for interrogation.
On December 20, security forces launched a comprehensive search operation in different areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition. Police forces reportedly arrested 300 suspects in the search operation in Islamabad.
According to a December 22 Dawn report, state prosecutor Azhar Chaudry said that he could not challenge the bail order of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, because of inadequate documentation regarding the bail order. Chaudry is expected to challenge the bail order after receiving a copy of the court bail order. Lakhvi was granted bail on December 18 by an anti-terrorism court. The decision had triggered a strong response from the Indian government.
On December 20, the TTP posted a message on its website threatening revenge for implementing the execution of two TTP militants, Muhammad Aqil alias Doctor Usman and Arshad Mahmood. The message threatened to “teach a lesson to the Army and Gen. Sharif’s family” for executing the death penalty. Both militants were executed on December 19 in Faisalabad.
According to a December 22 Dawn report, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby declared at a recent news briefing in Washington D.C. that U.S. policy in Afghanistan will change from January 2, 2015. Kirby declared that under this policy, U.S. forces in Afghanistan will not actively target Taliban chief Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders unless they pose a direct threat to the U.S. Kirby added that Afghan forces would now be responsible for targeting Mullah Omar and others. Kirby further announced that the U.S. would not conduct operations against suspects merely for being members of the Taliban but also clarified that operations would continue against those who continued to fight.
On December 20, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz declared that security forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to coordinate actions against terrorists in their respective areas and also agreed on not allowing their respective territories to be used against each other.
On December 19, Afghan army chief Gen. Sher Muhammad Karimi declared that, contrary to reports, Pakistan Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif had not asked for the extradition of TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah during his visit to Kabul on December 17. Karimi further added that Mullah Fazlullah was not mentioned during the meeting and that Fazlullah neither lived in Afghanistan nor was being sheltered.
On December 20, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Iyad Amin Madani announced that the OIC will organize a peace conference in Peshawar of Ulema and ambassadors of Muslim countries in order to adopt a joint strategy against terrorism. Mr. Madani also condemned the Peshawar school attack and expressed sympathy for the loss of lives.
On December 22, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that the military offensive against militants in tribal areas will be expanded to include militants in urban and rural areas of the country. Prime Minister Sharif also said that the government will not differentiate between terrorists and their facilitators and that all militants will be targeted without any discrimination. Prime Minister Sharif made these remarks at a high-level counter terrorism meeting in Islamabad. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sharif has directed Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt and his legal team to proactively pursue cases related to terrorism where courts have granted stay orders against executions. 
On December 19, army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif visited Khyber Agency to review the progress of the ongoing military offensive against militants in the region and declared that the operation would continue until the last terrorist was eliminated.
On December 21, an anti-terrorism working group comprised of civilian and military counter-terror experts finalized its recommendations for an anti-terrorism action plan. These recommendations will now be reviewed by the Anti-Terrorism National Action Plan Committee (ATNAPC) and presented in parliament for approval. 
According to a December 21 Express Tribune report, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked a committee to prepare a strategy to divert a section of development funds toward national security. Prime Minister Sharif has reportedly directed the party leadership to immediately review the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) and Punjab Annual Development Plan (PADP) in an attempt to assess the amount of funds available to divert from development toward national security.
On December 20, the Punjab government intensified security measures in all central jails in the province in the wake of expected executions of convicted terrorists. According to government officials, at least 900 armed personnel were deployed in and around Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore to preempt violence. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry issued a directive to all provinces to strengthen security at sensitive buildings and locations, following intelligence that militants might retaliate to avenge the execution of terrorists. 
According to a December 22 Dawn report, at least 55 terrorists on death row are expected to be executed in the next few days following a rejection of their mercy petitions by President Mamnoon Hussain.
On December 21, four out convicted terrorists were executed in Faisalabad for their involvement in an assassination attempt on former military ruler, Gen. (retd.) Pervez Musharraf. Four other terrorists are expected to be executed within the next two days in Lahore. A former Pakistan Air Force technician, also convicted for involvement in the assassination attempt, will likely be executed in Adiala Central Jail. One of the executed terrorists, Akhlaque Ahmed, was also a Russian citizen. The Russian government had appealed unsuccessfully to Pakistani authorities to reconsider his death sentence on humanitarian grounds. Meanwhile, Kot Lakhpat jail authorities have also finalized arrangements for the execution of three other terrorists who had been convicted for attacks on military installations in Kamra and Gujrat.
On December 21, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) information secretary, Dr. Shireen Mazari, condemned the TTP and all other terrorists groups for targeting the people of Pakistan. Dr. Mazari also expressed the PTI leadership’s total support of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies in combatting terrorism. The PTI core committee further endorsed a 20-point draft of recommendations to be presented at the ATNAPC. The condemnation by the PTI’s leadership is seen as an apparent attempt to distance itself from its generally-perceived pro-Taliban image.
On December 22, PTI chief Imran Khan asked the federal government to equip the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police with tools to gather intelligence, claiming that the police were not equipped to combat terrorism. Khan also asked the federal government to deploy Frontier Constabulary (FC) forces to protect the province from unrest in tribal areas.