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November 14, 2013

Khalid Haqqani to lead TTP as functional head

 
November 14, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Despite the appointment of Mullah Fazlullah as the new Ameer of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the man spearheading the dreaded terrorist outfit as its functional head would be Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, the deputy Ameer of the TTP who is not only an Islamic ideologue but also a ruthless commander.
Actually hailing from the Swabi district of Peshawar, Khalid Haqqani would be practically calling the shots in the TTP on the behalf of Mullah Fazlullah because of the latter’s absence from Pakistan.
Well-informed tribal circles have refuted rumours of Fazlullah’s return to Fata after his appointment as the TTP Ameer.According to them, Fazlullah did express his desire to return to Pakistan but he was advised against staging a comeback because of the growing intensity of the US drone strikes in the Waziristan region.
The TTP leadership believes their new Ameer would be comparatively safer in Afghanistan, which has seen less US drone strikes compared to Pakistan.With the appointments of Fazlullah and Khalid, the command of the Waziristan-based TTP has clearly been shifted from the largely lawless tribal region to the settled districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. While Fazlullah comes from Swat, Khalid belongs to Swabi. Before joining the TTP ranks, Khalid led his separate faction called the Haqqani Taliban.
Khalid uses the surname of Haqqani because of being a former student of the famous Madrassa Darul Uloom Haqqania in Akora Khattak, which is located in Nowshera district of the KP and is led by Vice Chancellor Maulana Samiul Haq, who is also the Ameer of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam.
Often dubbed by critics as the ‘University of Jehad’, Darul Uloom Haqqania is one of the radical Deobandi Madrassas in Pakistan which is famous for being the place that educated the Ameer of Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Khalid Haqqani is considered to be a religious scholar in the TTP circles because of his past association with the

Madrassa Haqqani.When he was appointed Fazlullah’s No2, the TTP’s media arms had described him as one of the top Taliban intellectuals and the force behind a recent religious decree issued by the TTP against the Pakistani media.
The Fatwa was issued on October 18 by the TTP’s Shura Ulema Mujahideen, describing the Pakistani media an agent of imperialist powers. In a 20-page edict, TTP’s Ulema wing tried to prove by quoting the Quranic verses that during the war, those indulging in baseless propaganda instead of narrating facts [and that too despite warnings] were liable to be killed.
But Khalid Haqqani is not just a religious scholar. He has also participated in several ferocious terror attacks conducted by the TTP, including three major suicide operations. The most deadly of the attacks in which Khalid participated was the commando strike on the Frontier Corps Headquarters in the Shabqadar area of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The suicide bombers had targeted the Frontier Corps training facility at Shabqadar on May 13, 2011, killing 80 Pakistani soldiers, recruits, and civilians. The TTP had claimed responsibility saying it was meant to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden.
Back in October 2008, Khalid Haqqani was also involved in a failed suicide attack that targeted Asfandyar Wali Khan, the President of the Awami National Party, in his home in district Charsadda.
That Khalid Haqqani is an equally callous Jihadi commander just like Mullah Fazlullah can be further gauged from the fact that he had masterminded the December 22, 2012 suicide bombing that martyred Bashir Ahmed Bilour, the daring senior minister of the ANP. The TTP had martyred Bilour to avenge the May 2012 abduction and ensuing killing of Maulana Naseeb Khan Wazir, the former prayer leader of the Darul Uloom Haqqania. While claiming responsibility for the suicide bombing in the Qissa Khwani Bazaar of Peshawar that killed Bilour and eight others, the TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had stated, “The attack was carried out to avenge the killing of our elder, Sheikh Naseeb Khan.”
According to a statement issued by the media wing of TTP, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani was considered a very close associate of Hakimullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain Mehsud. While Hakimullah was droned on Nov 1 by the American CIA, Hussain, who used to run the Taliban suicide training camps and directed suicide operations, was droned on October 7, 2010. Khalid Haqqani has appeared in Taliban propaganda in the recent past. In September 2013, Umar Studio, the media arm of the TTP, released a video interview with Khalid Haqqani wherein he had castigated the media coverage of the Taliban and accused the Pakistani intelligence and American Blackwater of conducting attacks against innocent civilians in the Pakistani tribal belt. He had justified the attacks against the Pakistani security forces besides refuting the impression that the Ameer of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Mohammad Omar was unhappy with the TTP-sponsored operations against the Pakistani security forces.
“The Ameer of the Believers Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid supports the Pakistani Jihad, and there is no truth in the absurd propaganda reported in the media that he is angry with the Tehrik-e-Taliban because of their conducting Jihad against the forces of infidel in the country. Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid sacrificed his government in Afghanistan to protect one person – Sheikh Osama bin Laden. Therefore, how can he betray thousands of others?”
To tell the truth, it was none other than Mullah Omar on whose intervention Mullah Fazlullah was appointed TTP’s Ameer [following a deadlock as to who should lead the terrorist outfit after Hakimullah].
Khalid also appeared in a video titled “A special message to the emigrants and locals,” released in November 2012, stressing that unity was essential to the success of Jihad, and because the enemy recognises this and cannot defeat the fighters on the battlefield, it attempts to create rifts between them. He urged foreign fighters based in the tribal areas to avoid actions that will turn the local population against them — indiscriminately killing Muslims, and to respect the locals who provide them shelter despite the risks of doing so.
Khalid also outlined the TTP’s global Jihadi mission in the same video, saying: “Our ongoing struggle is not restricted to the boundaries of Pakistan but connected to all Jihadi movements in different regions of the world. Now we have people at the helm in the TTP who are opposed to talks with the Pakistan government. This indicates the mood within the TTP.”

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