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Tuesday April 16, 2024

Pakistan now has a native Daish Ameer

ISLAMABAD: In a disturbing development for Islamabad, a former commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Hafiz Saeed Khan, has replaced an Afghan national, Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, as the ameer of the Khorasan chapter (which includes Pakistan) of Daish or the Islamic State (IS), led by Abu Bakar Al Baghdadi.

By Amir Mir
January 13, 2015
ISLAMABAD: In a disturbing development for Islamabad, a former commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Hafiz Saeed Khan, has replaced an Afghan national, Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, as the ameer of the Khorasan chapter (which includes Pakistan) of Daish or the Islamic State (IS), led by Abu Bakar Al Baghdadi.
The previous Daish ameer for the Khorasan chapter, Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, was a former Guantanamo prisoner, who had earlier spent several years in a Pakistani prison after being freed by the Americans. He had been appointed for an interim period to organise the Khorasan chapter of the IS which includes Pakistani, India, Afghanistan, Iran and some Central Asian territories. Rahim was operating from the Zamindawar district of Afghanistan which is situated on the right bank of the Helmand River to the northwest of Kandahar. However, Maulvi Saeed Khan, the new ameer of the Khorasan chapter of Daish, comes from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan and belongs to the Mamozai area of Orakzai Agency. Before discarding the TTP umbrella in mid-October 2014, Saeed was the ameer of the Orakzai Agency chapter of the Pakistani Taliban.
Saeed Khan’s departure from the TTP along with the then central spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and five other regional commanders of Fata was the biggest loss to the jehadi conglomerate mainly because of his mass following and influence in the Taliban circles. After the November 1, 2013 killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud in a drone attack, Saeed, who is basically a cleric just like Mullah Fazlullah, was one of the three main contenders for the top slot of the TTP ameer, along with Khan Said Sajna and Sheharyar Mehsud.
He was considered close to Baitullah Mehsud and had been affiliated with the TTP ever since its inception in December 2007. Saeed Khan is known in the militant circles of the tribal belt as one of the most hardline and dangerous commanders. He had organised dozens of deadly terrorist attacks on key installations across Pakistan, including the March 2013 attack on US Consulate in Peshawar which killed 12 people, the December 2012 fidayeen attack at Peshawar airport which killed nine people, military checkpoints, mourning processions of Shia community and worship places of the Christians and Ahmadis.
Saeed Khan was also responsible for dispatching a suicide car bomber to hit the tribal jirga in Orakzai Agency on October 10, 2008 which had killed over 50 people. Similarly, he had claimed responsibility for the October 3, 2013 bombing by a suicide bomber who had rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into the compound of Mullah Nabi Hanafi, the ameer of the Hanfi Karwan, in the Buland Khel Orakzai Agency.
Although Hanafi had survived the suicide attack, 17 people were killed and the compound was completely destroyed. Like Maulana Fazlullah, Saeed Khan too had two wives and is the father of three children. Saeed’s selection as the ameer of the Khorasan chapter of Daish was announced through a video released by the IS on January 11, 2015 which has proven true the fears about the growing influence of the lethal terrorist organisation which is expanding its ideological boundaries to Pakistan after extending its area of influence in Middle East.
The Arabic-language video shows Shahidullah Shahid, the former spokesman of TTP, along with a large group of 100-plus turbaned jehadis, many on horseback and holding rifles and black flags and identifying themselves as from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Shahidullah then addresses the militants while pledging a collective allegiance to Daish and Baghdadi, before announcing that Saeed Khan from Pakistan’s Orakzai Agency has been chosen with consensus the new ameer of the Khorasan chapter of IS that includes Pakistan and Afghanistan. Saeed Khan was then shown in the video taking a pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakar Al Baghdadi. Shahidullah then announces the appointment of Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, who was the interim ameer of the IS, as a member of the central Shura of Daish along with several others.
Shahidullah Shahid then announces the names of the commanders of the IS for different areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Commander Gul Bali has been made the ameer of IS in the Bajaur Agency, Gul Zaman Fateh for Khyber Agency, Huzaifa for Dir Agency, Ghulam Rasool for the North and South Waziristan agencies, Hafiz Daulat for Kurram Agency, Khalid Mansur for Hangu District and Mufti Hassan Swati for Peshawar District. Similarly, Qari Haroon has been made the ameer of the IS in Kunar province of Afghanistan, Abu Abdullah for Nangarhar province of Afghanistan and Umar Mansoor Saad Emarati for the Logar province of Afghanistan. Although Shahidullah Shahid did not mention his designation in the IS Khorasan set up, it is believed he is the central spokesman of the group.
Shahidullah was the only known face in the IS video who had abandoned the TTP on October 15, 2014 along with five other Taliban leaders while pledging allegiance to Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Caliph. Five other TTP commanders who had pledged allegiance to the IS along with Shahidullah at that time were Saeed Khan, TTP chief in Orakzai Agency; Hafiz Quran Daulat, TTP chief in Kurram Agency; Gul Zaman, TTP chief in Khyber Agency; Mufti Hassan, TTP chief in Peshawar; and Khalid Mansoor, the TTP chief in the Hangu district. All these TTP commanders have been given positions in the newly announced IS set up.
Shahidullah Shahid was replaced with Mohammad Khorasani as the central TTP spokesman. Shahidullah, whose actual name is Sheikh Abu Omar Maqbool, belongs to the Orakzai Agency and was associated with the TTP since its inception in December 2007. While abandoning the TTP, Shahidullah said on October 15, 2014 in a video that he had joined IS and conveyed his affiliation to Abu Bakar Al Baghdadi through a Jordanian jehadi, Abu Tasir al Urdani. Shahidullah’s departure was a major blow to an already struggling Fazlullah because he had laid the foundation of the TTP along with Baitullah Mehsud and was considered close to Hakeemullah Mehsud also. Shahidullah has close ties with the Afghan Taliban and has spent much of his time in Afghanistan ever since the TTP’s inception in 2007.
The release of the latest IS video has set alarm bells ringing in the security establishment which was already worried about the growing activities of the international terrorist group in a country which already has 100-plus al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked terrorist groups.