Mohammed Khurasani, spokesman for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, announced that Jamaat ul Ahrar, its breakaway faction (2014), and Hizbul Ahrar, a splinter group of the JuA (2017), have been dissolved and merged into the TTP. Both leaders have sworn allegiance to TTP chief Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud.
This is a serious development considering the new-wave of terrorism in Pakistan. But this is not the first time when different factions are rejoining the group. Difference among the commanders and fighting between different factions and offshoots of TTP played a key role in failure and Decline of TTP.
The history of division in TTP starts from 2014, when “Ahrar Ul Hind” announced separation from Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan.
The history of division
Ahrar Ul hind
In February 2014, Ahrar-ul-Hind, headed by Umar Qasmi (former leader in the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) splinted from TTP, after TTP started talks with the Pakistani government. The group carried out multiple attacks violating the ceasefire between Pakistan and TTP.
Ahrar ul Hind had Strong ties with Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Harkat-ul-Mujahidin and Jundullah. Militants were mostly from Southern Punjab. But Ahrar was active in Orakzai and Bajaur agency as well. The group was responsible for Islamabad court Attack, 2014
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) is mostly based in Mohmand Agency. Abdul Wali Mohmand aka Khalid Khurasani, on 4 September 2014 splinted from TTP central after accusing them of deviating from the ideology of establishing of Islamic state in Pakistan. The group took the responsibility for the Wagah border suicide attack.
–> In September,2014 Ahrar ul hind and Jamaat-Ul-Ahrar Joined hands under the banner of Jamaat-Ul-Ahrar with Omar khalid Khurasani appointed as the head of the organization.
Division Post Hakimullah Mehsud
The Mehsud tribe served as the backbone of TTP and the division between the ranks of TTP took place Soon After the appointment of Fazrullah. Major factions especially comprising fighters from Mehsud Tribe broke away from TTP central.
–> But the conflict between the Sajna group and Hakimullah loyalist started during the reign of Hakim ullah.
Hizb-ul-Ahrar based in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan splinted from Jamaat-Ul-Arhrar (off-shoot of TTP) Accusing JUA of attacking minority Christians, killing civilians, extortion, kidnapping for ransom. This group was headed by Mukarram Khan. Mukarram Khan served as a Shura member and head of its intelligence wing in Jamat Ul Ahrar. The group took responsibility for Data Darbar attack.
TTP under Fazlullah
On 7 November 2013, after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in US drone strike TTP appointed Fazlullah as head (Emir) of TTP. The split and division in TTP reached its peak after TTP appointed first non-Mehsud Emir “Fazlullah”. Things got worse for TTP when ISIS announced creation of new chapter in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
– ISIS Khorasan Provience
– Sajna Group
– TTP Hakimullah Mehsud Group
ISIS Khorasan Provience
In October 2014, the TTP’s spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, and the group’s commanders in Orakzai, Khurram and Khyber tribal regions and Peshawar and Hangu Districts defected from the TTP and pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) in Khorasan (Afghanistan-Pakistan).
Tehreek Taliban South Waziristan (Sajna Group)
In May 2014, the faction comprising militants from the Mehsud tribe announced creation of a separate group called “Tehreek Taliban South Waziristan.”
Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the group, said the breakaway faction would be led by Khalid Mehsud, known by the name of Khan Said alias Sajna. The group made the decision sitting TTP terror activities of targeting public places which the group considered as “Unislamic”.
Side Note: Khalid Mehsud was killed in a drone strike on 8 February 2018 in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan.
TTP Hakimullah Mehsud Group
TTP factions loyal to hakim Ullah exited TTP after the appointment of Fazlullah as the new head of TTP. The new group was named after the slain commander Hakimullah Mehsud TTP HK. This faction was led by Shehryar Mehsud. Shehryar being loyal to Hakimullah wanted the throne but was denied by the Shura. Soon after the creation of TTP HK fighting between Sajna group and TTP HK broke out. Resulting in death of dozens of fighters.
The infighting between Sajna group and Hakeem ullah Group continued even in 2019 where it reached its peak. Sanja group pushed TTP HK (Hakimullah Mehsud group) out of Patkia region. Later TTP HK got sheltered in Kunar by central TTP lead by Fazrullah and Khalid Haqqani (Deputy of TTP).
But in this infighting between dozens of key commanders were reportedly killed.
Commander killed in 2019-2020
⦁ Shehryar Mehsud (Head TTP HK) killed in an unclaimed IED attack in Marawara, Kunar Afghanistan, February 2019
⦁ Qari Saifullah Mehsud, spokesman for the Hakimullah Mehsud group, was shot dead by gunmen outside the Guloon camp in Khost province, eastern Afghanistan, December 2019
⦁ TTP deputy Sheikh Khalid Haqqani aka Calipha Mansoor killed in high-end Intercontinental Hotel, Kabul along with Eastern zone commander Qari saif Younis. Kabul, Jan-Feb 2020.
Fazlullah got killed on June 15,2018 in a strike in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar. After the death of Fazlullah TTP appointed Abu Asim Mansur (Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud) as new Emir (head) of TTP.
TTP under Noor Wali (Abu Mansur)
Noor wali wrote the most prominent book in TTP circles “Inquilab-e-Mehsud”, with a background of Education and politics, he adopted political approach from the day one. Noor Wali is on a quest to reunite all the anti-Pakistan terrorist groups under the umbrella of TTP.
Noor Wali was a member of Halqa-e-Mehsud (a powerful group within the Pakistani Taliban), another Mehsud leader who was close to Hakimullah Mehsud is now leading the organization what appears to be like “Going back to the basics”.
Under the leadership of Noor Wali TTP changed its stance and through its propaganda magazines and social media accounts, the group is looking forward to changes its outlook of being a Global Jihadist organization to pan-Islamist and Pashtun-centric group.
The regrouping of TTP a renewed threat
Multiple factors added to this “Forced Rebranding” of TTP. Most important factor is US-Taliban deal and possible US exit from Afghanistan. TTP wants to regain its strength by reuniting itself. Even though ttp tried this adventure back in 2017; But this time it is going to be more difficult for them to achieve its goals.
In July 2020 TTP HK group lead by commander Mukhlis Yaar Mehsud Rejoined TTP. Now the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has officially announced merger of Jamatul Ahrar & Hizbul Ahrar the splinter groups into TTP. This is not the first-time different offshoots are rejoining the mother organization. Even in 2017 most of the factions rejoined TTP. But interestingly the development comes after a recently released U.N. report suggesting that more than 6,000 terrorists are hiding in neighboring Afghanistan — most of them belonging to militant groups behind attacks on Pakistani military and civilian targets.
Most of the commander including Noor Wali, Omar Khalid Khorasani are already on UN and US Global terrorists List. Recent UN report and US-Taliban peace deal can be the building blocks of new campaign involving Direct military action against TTP inside Afghanistan which has been long due.
Author: Talha Ahmad (Editor in Chief PSF)
About Author: Talha Ahmad is a Freelance Journalist. He is an independent Geo-Political Analyst, commentator, and keen observer of International relations. Talha Ahmad opinions have been featured in different News-websites like Daily times, Pakistan Today, Global Village Space, Morning Mail. He can be reached on twitter @talhahamad967.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Pakistan Strategic Forum.