PESHAWAR: The battered Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan has suffered another blow with the emergence of a new group of militants within it, leaving the TTP leader, Maulana Fazlullah, high and dry.

The announcement to form the group, named Jamaatul Ahrar, was made in a 90-minute video released by its media production house. The video shows TTP’s Mohmand chief Khalid Khurasani, Ahrarul Hind leader Maulana Qasim Khurasani, Maulana Haider Mansoor from Orakzai and Maulana Abdullah from Bajaur.

Khalid Khurasani, named the intelligence chief of the new group, announced the appointment of Maulana Qasim Khurasani as its chief and Ehsanullah Ehsan as its spokesman. Ehsan who served as TTP’s spokesman has been keeping quiet for some time.

Haider Mansoor and Maulana Abdullah announced that they had joined the new group.

Speaking on the occasion, Maulana Qasim Khurasani said the formation of Jamaatul Ahrar had been necessitated by circumstances which led to groupings and infightings and weakened the struggle for a “true Islamic system” in the country. He alleged that some commanders had made the TTP hostage to their whims and deviated from true objectives for which the TTP had been formed.

He said the armed forces, politicians and lackeys of western powers were their enemy and the group would target them.

Khalid Khurasani said the new group had pledged allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and would follow his ideology.

According to him, militant outfits of Khyber and Charsadda also decided to join Jamaatul Ahrar and called upon other groups to do the same.

The emergence of the new group has further weakened the already deeply divided TTP.

The Ahrar leaders did not say anything about the fate of Maulana Fazlullah who is believed to be in the Afghan province of Kunar.

Meanwhile, Fazlullah is reported to have mediated a temporary truce between Khan Said alias Sajna and Shehryar Mehsud – militant commanders from South Waziristan.

What course other smaller TTP groups will adopt following the emergence of the new militant platform is not clear, but analysts believe the division will intensify struggle for space and authority.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2014

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