Major Taliban Tribe Splits from Pakistani Taliban

The Mehsud tribe of the Pakistani Taliban quits Taliban over ‘un-Islamic’ principles.

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Credit: The Guardian

In what appears to be an unprecedented move within the Pakistani Taliban, the Mehsud faction – the founders of the dreaded militant group Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – have split from the umbrella of TTP, saying that the group leadership was no longer working for the agenda of jihad.

In a press conference in North Waziristan, the new spokesperson Azam Tariq (his real name is Raees Khan) said that the Mehsud Taliban had decided to break their ways from the TTP. He said that the decision was reached after a long wait for unity.

Azam Tariq was the first spokesperson for TTP when the group was led by its founder Baitullah Mehsud. And he was key member of the Taliban council.

Soon after the death of Baitullah Mehsud in 2008, a fight between Hakumllah Mehsud and Wali-U-Rehman began over the position of leadership chair. Initially, both sides attempted to keep the rivalry discreet but as of last year, both commanders’ followers exacerbated the conflict by openly killing each other. According to an estimate, a total of more than 500 militants have been killed on both sides in the past two years.

Azam Tariq elaborated on the decision to split from the Pakistani Taliban due to TTP involvement in crime, killing for money and kidnapping of innocent people. According to experts, kidnapping and extortion are the main source for the Taliban income.

In a recent video released by Al-ain Arab TV, a German citizen named Bernd Johannes requests to the German government, family and company to accept the demands of the kidnappers as they free him. When it was asked to the source what their demands were, he said money.

Johannes was kidnapped from Multan, the southern city of Punjab, along with an Italian citizen. They both were working in NGOs to help people.

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During my talks on the phone from an undisclosed place with Commander Irfan Mehsud, he said that “our group name is TTP Waziristan.” Replying to a question, Irfan said that as usual we welcome all the mujahedeen but not the kidnappers and extortionists.

Commander Irfan is very close to Azam Tariq and works in his media cell.

Irfan added that “Khan Sayed Sajna is our Emir, Mulvi Khatair is our Deputy and Azam Tariq is our spokesperson.” Soon we will call a meeting of our leaders and will discuss the whole situation, Irfan stated.

Gohar Mehsud is a special correspondent for a Karachi-based TV on militancy. He can be reached at gohar.mehsud@gmail.com. In 2012-13, Gohar was awarded the Northwest Community College Initiative scholarship, a special scholarship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. Read other articles by Gohar.