PESHAWAR: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah ousted its Mohmand Agency chief Umar Khalid Khorasani from the organization on charges of "conspiring against the Emirates of Afghanistan Emir Mullah Muhammad Omar, and having links to shadow militant organizations".
In what appears to be a further disintegration of the Pakistani Taliban structure, well-placed sources within the TTP told Dawn.com that a meeting of the Taliban Shura led by Mullah Fazlullah decided to oust Wali Muhammad alias Khalid Khorasani as Mohmand Agency chief, and also cancelled his TTP membership.
The meeting observed that Khorasani had been conspiring against the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Muhammad Omar and had formed "dubious" organizations such as Junad-i-Hafza, Ihrarul Hind and now the splinter group Jamatul Ihrar. The Shura determined that this was damaging the TTP cause.
In the last few days, Umar Khalid Khorasani and his associates in Mohmand Agency had accused the TTP leadership of deviating from the TTP ideology, leading to the formation of splinter group TTP Jamatul Ihrar.
The group had announced they would no longer recognise or obey Mullah Fazlullah as their Emir. They also claimed the support of other like minded commanders from FATA and Malakand division.
A divided TTP
The TTP is now effectively divided into two factions.
One is headed by Mullah Fazlullah, who was elected last November following the killing of ex-chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike.
The other is headed by Umar Khalid Khorasani who is commanding the breakaway Jamatul Ahrar (freedom fighters group).
Fazlullah is the first non-Mehsud leader of the Pakistani Taliban and has struggled to impose his authority on the powerful tribe. He faced many challengers to become chief of the Pakistani Taliban last year after the death of the previous head in a drone strike. He has been hiding in Afghanistan since then.
Khorasani previously led a faction called Ahrarul Hind, which claimed several attacks during a ceasefire period between the government and Taliban earlier this year, including one on an Islamabad court complex that killed 12 people.
Analysts believe Khorasani has strong links to Al Qaeda and Zawahiri.
Who are the commanders?
A Yousufzai from Swat, he took charge as the head of the TTP after the death of Hakeemullah Mehsud last year. He controlled large parts of the Malakand division for nearly three years before escaping to Afghanistan in 2009 following a military operation. The mastermind of GoC Swat Maj Gen Sanaullah Khan Niazi’s killing, he maintains strong relations with the Afghan Taliban and is popular and well-respected within the TTP and similar ranks.
Umar Khalid Khorasani
One of the founding members of the TTP, Umar Khalid Khorasani (aka Abdul Wali) is a former journalist from Mohmand agency. Within organisational circles he is known as a formidable military commander. He was also given additional charge of the Khyber agency chapter for a brief period where he orchestrated a bloody campaign against government-backed lashkars.