Omar Khalid Khorasani
Omar Khalid Khorasani

NORTH WAZIRISTAN: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pak­is­tan lost one of its most hardliner ‘commanders’, Abdul Wali alias Omar Khalid Khorasani, in a bomb blast in the Afghan province of Paktika, the proscribed group and security sources across the border in Afghanistan confirmed on Monday.

Two other ‘commanders’ of the outfit were killed in the bomb attack that occu­rred in Saraki village of Birmal tehsil of Afghanis­tan, near the Pakistan border, on Sunday.

While confirming the incident, TTP spokesman Mohammed Khorasani said Omar Khalid Khorasani, Mufti Hassan and Hafiz Dawlat were killed in the bombing.

According to TTP sources, an improvised explosive device (IED) hit the vehicle carrying Khorasani and the other ‘commanders’. Funeral prayers were held in Afghanistan on Monday. Khorasani’s death occur­red at a time when the outfit has been enga­ged in extensive peace talks with the government of Pakistan in the Afghan capital, in order to end the two decades long militancy in the region.

Hardline ‘commander’ was part of Taliban team holding talks with govt

The Taliban interim government has been facilitating talks between the two sides. Islamabad has sent several delegations, comprising religious scholars and tribal elders, to convince the TTP leadership to give up armed struggle.

Khorasani, who belonged to Mohmand tribal district, was also a member of TTP’s powerful Guidance Council. Sources said he was part of the TTP delegation that is holding peace talks with the Pakistani government. Khorasani has seen as more extreme than the hardliners within the TTP.

The talks between the two sides remained inconclusive so far.

“He (Khorasani) had taken a hawkish position in peace talks in Kabul and the TTP leadership was made aware of this fact,” said one source. TTP has lost several of its key commanders, including its chief Maulvi Fazlullah, in mysterious blasts or drone attacks in Afghanistan.

Khorasani became member of TTP in 2004-05. He claimed responsibility for various attacks on security forces, schools and suicide bombings in Mohmand district in which scores of people were killed and wounded.

Initially, he was head of Tehreek-i-Taliban Mohmand (TTM). Later, the group joined TTP. In 2014, he formed his own group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and was ousted by the Mullah Fazlullah-led group. The same year JuA swore allegiance to the militant Islamic State group. However, a year later he rejoined TTP.

It may be mentioned that Khorasani was one of the founding members of TTP. He had strong links to Al Qaeda and Ayman al Zawahiri.

Sources said Hafiz Daulat, who belonged to Orakzai tribal district, had also affiliation with IS’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter while Hassan hailed from Malakand Division.

Pakistani officials said Omar Khalid Khorasani’s death could deal a blow to nascent peace talks with TTP, according to Reuters.

JuA was designated as a terrorist group by the United Nations and United States, which had offered $3 million for information leading to Khorasani’s capture or death.

Fauzee Khan Mohmand also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022

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