A Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan commander and three other people were killed in a bombing yesterday in Wana, the main town in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan. The bombing appears to be related to an assassination attempt on another senior Taliban leader who is linked to al Qaeda.
Maulvi Abbas Wazir was killed in a blast at his office, which was located near a bazaar in Wana. The cause of the attack is unclear; some reports indicate that a bomb was placed in the office, while another indicates that it was a suicide bomber that killed Abbas.
Abbas was one of six Taliban commanders in Wana who joined up with Hakeemullah Mehsud’s Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan back in the fall of 2010 [see LWJ report, Pakistani Taliban enlist 6 local groups in Wana region of South Waziristan]. The Wana branch of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is led by Wali Muhammad, the son of famed Taliban commander Nek Muhammad, who was killed in the first recorded US Predator strike in Pakistan in 2004. Wali replaced Haji Omar, another Taliban commander who was killed in a drone strike in early 2010.
The presence of Abbas and other Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan leaders in the Wana area is a direct violation of a peace agreement between Mullah Nazir, one of the tribal agency’s most powerful Taliban commanders, and the Pakistani military. Nazir agreed to not shelter or support the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in exchange for the military bypassing his tribal areas during an offensive that was launched in 2009. Additionally, Nazir, who has described himself as an al Qaeda commander, has continued to shelter al Qaeda and other allied terror groups. The Pakistani military is well aware of Nazir’s violations, yet continues to allow him operate without repercussions.
According to Pakistani press reports, Abbas was closely allied with Uzbek fighters in the al Qaeda-allied Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its splinter organization, the Islamic Jihad Union. In 2007, Abbas was ejected from the Wazir tribal areas of South Waziristan by Mullah Nazir after the latter clashed with Uzbek fighters over the assassination of al Qaeda financiers [see LWJ reports, The Taliban’s internecine war in Waziristan and Spinning the Fighting in South Waziristan]. Abbas and Nazir reconciled in 2010, and Abbas was allowed to return to Wana.
Abbas’s killing is likely linked to the suicide attack that targeted Mullah Nazir on Nov. 29. Nazir was wounded in the attack. After the assassination attempt on Nazir, he ordered all members of the movement of the Taliban in Pakistan to leave the Wana area. Nazir has made similar decrees in the past, only to continue to shelter the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s top leaders and its fighters.
No group has claimed credit for the suicide attack that targeted Nazir, or the bombing that killed Abbas.
Mullah Nazir’s Taliban faction is one of four major Taliban groups that have joined the Shura-e-Murakeba, an alliance brokered by al Qaeda late last year. The Shura-e-Murakeba also includes Hafiz Gul Bahadar’s group; the Haqqani Network; and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which is led by Mehsud tribesmen Hakeemullah Mehsud and his deputy Waliur Rehman Mehsud. The members of the Shura-e-Murakeba agreed to cease attacks against Pakistani security forces, refocus efforts against the US in Afghanistan, and end kidnappings and other criminal activities in the tribal areas.
Blast in Wana kills militant commander, three others, Dawn
Militant commander among three dead in blast, The News
Militant commander among three dead in SWA blast, Daily Times
Pakistani Taliban enlist 6 local groups in Wana region of South Waziristan, The Long War Journal
Al Qaeda-linked South Waziristan Taliban commander wounded in suicide attack, The Long War Journal