Hizbul Ahrar takes birth as internal rifts tear Jamaatul Ahrar apart


PESHAWAR: Jamaatul Ahrar (JA), a splinter group of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is showing signs of internal rifts after its active commanders and fighters announced the establishment of Hizbul Ahrar, with Omar Khurasani as its head.

Mukkaram Khan, famously known as Omar Khurasani, belongs to Mohmand Agency of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Through his first video message released to media on Sunday, Khurasani claimed that Jamaatul Ahrar was involved in anti-Islamic acts committed in the name of jihad, thus compelling them to start their own group.

In this respect, he particularly mentioned terrorist attacks against National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) office in Mardan, attack on security forces at Wahga border, attacks in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park Lahore, which claimed the lives of many Christians, and other such attacks carried out around the country.

He said that these terrorist attacks had cost the lives of innocent people, including women and children. In the video Khurasani recalled that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamataul Ahraar (TTPJA) had claimed responsibility for all these deadly attacks.

Khurasani claimed that he had made attempts to bring reforms in the militant group, but failed to achieve any success. He said that it led him take part ways with the JA and create his own group. He accused Khalid Khurasani of attacking him one week back, in which he was also injured.

He claimed that a number of leading commanders have also announced disassociation from the TTPJA, and now they were a part of Hizbul Ahrar. Some important names in the newly created group included, Hizbul Ahrar Military Wing chief Jihadyar Mehsud, Financial Commission head Commander Muslimyar, Political Commission chief Haji Rashid, Mohmand Agency Commander Imran Aurakzai, and Qari Ismael Afridi of Khyber Agency. Khurasani named Aziz Yousafzai as the spokesman for the new militant group.

Through this video message, Khurasani claimed that he and his comrades were determined to continue their ‘jihad’ for the supremacy of Islam and against the United States and its allies. He further claimed that they would not indulge in acts that injured or killed innocent people.

It merits mention here that the TTPJA had been mired with crisis since the past couple of months, after its active spokesperson and confidential aide, namely Qari Ihsanullah Ihsan, surrendered to the government.

Qari Ihsan is now in custody of security forces, but he was allowed to talk to some private news channels soon after his surrender. This move had sent a wave of concern and uncertainty among the parents of students killed in the deadly attack on Army Public School Peshawar on December 16, 2014, who demanded that no airtime should be provided to terrorists, especially under the government’s watch.

Qari Ihsan, during his statement to news channel, had claimed that the banned TTPJA were involved in over a 100 terrorist acts that mostly occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The parents of APS victims and other civil society organisations have been demanding a trail of Qari Ihsan in a military court, in the same manner as other terrorists who have been executed according to the National Action Plan.