In Saturday’s report from Pakistan I noted that there was fighting between militant units of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan. Post fighting it appears the TTP / Harkat ul Mujahideen force beat the Lashkar e Taiber (Tayyaba) force and is now in control of Mohmand Agency as outcome of that. Umar Khalid is their leader, and this appears to be the same group(s) responsible for the Kohat fighting last year. The LeT group is mostly derived from the Kashmir intifada fighters against India, they are responsible for many of the terror attacks there in the past, and have direct alliance with Al Qaeda.
From the Daily Times:
The Mohmand Agency has come under the “complete control” of Umar Khalid after he eliminated another jihadi organisation operating in the area, local residents told Daily Times.
Khalid, a Safi tribesman who is commanding the Taliban in a very strategic tribal district, took “greater control” of Mohmand following a bloody campaign against the Shah Sahib militant group, whose chief and deputy chief were among eight killed on Friday. “He (Umar Khalid) is the strongest and most influential Taliban leader after Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Faqir,” residents told Daily Times by phone from Ghalanai.
A member of the militant group, following a meeting with Umar Khalid, said that there was now less likelihood that a fact-finding team sent from Baitullah Mehsud would penalise Khalid for his July 18 actions against the Shah Sahib group.
People from the banned militant organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyaba had originally led the group. “Any group not showing allegiance to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan will not be tolerated in the Mohmand Agency,” Khalid had told reporters in his first press conference after taking over the headquarters of the rival jihadi outfit.
Also note that Jaish e Muhammed and HuM have fought old differences with HuJI over the Kashmir, and at one point they were part of Harkat Ansar, here’s more from WebIndia.
I’m not sure if this is a case of pushing the bubble in one place and having it bulge out another – e.g. are these mostly jihadis who fled from the earlier offenses in Khyber, Swat, or Hangu, or is it just one of power consolidation? It’s more likely the latter as Baitullah steadily campaigned to put NWFP under his power in a series of strategic moves from FATA. Baitullah also has compiled an enemies list of 300 prominent leaders from PPP, ANP, and MQM, expect targetted suicide assassinations to continue.
From the way that the government stopped the offense and is negotiating peace in Hangu from their knees, I would wager he could make it through a quarter of that list before the coalition stops infighting and he gets real, committed response back. As long as the government’s offenses against Taliban remain “poking at the edges” instead of directed attacks against the leaders, they will continue to fail.
Update: Bill Roggio has more details at The Long War Journal.