Yesterday, jihadists from Ansarul Mujahideen killed four Pakistani soldiers in an IED attack in North Waziristan. The jihadist group, which is known to include Uzbek fighters, claimed that the attack was carried out to avenge the death of Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top Haqqani Network leader who was killed in a US drone strike in November. Ansarul Mujahideen has attacked Pakistani troops in the past in response to US drone strikes that have killed top Taliban leaders.
The IED attack took place in the Spinwam village in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan on Dec. 12. In addition to the four Pakistani soldiers who were killed, five more were wounded in the deadly blast.
Abu Baseer, the spokesman for Ansarul Mujahideen, told AFP that the IED attack was “in retaliation to the drone strike in Hangu.”
The drone strike in Hangu that Abu Baseer is referencing is the Nov. 21 attack that killed Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top Haqqani Network leader, and two Taliban shadow governors for eastern provinces in Afghanistan.
Jan has been described as “the right hand” and chief of staff of Sirajuddin. Jan often represented Sirajuddin in council meetings and mediated disputes with jihadist groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. He is also said to have directed and organized suicide assaults in Afghanistan, particularly in Kabul, as well as served as a key financier and logistics expert for the Haqqani Network.
Ansarul Muhajideen has claimed credit for four other attacks against Pakistani military forces in the past year. While Ansarul Muhajideen is often described as a group that is affiliated with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, it has claimed to have attacked Pakistani troops in retaliation for drone strikes that killed the emir of the Mullah Nazir Group and fighters from the Turkistan Islamic Party, as well as attacks against Shia to avenge the deaths of Sunnis in Syria and Iraq.
On Jan. 13, the group ambushed a Pakistani military convoy as it traveled on a road in the Ramzak area of North Waziristan. Fourteen soldiers were killed in the attack and 25 more were wounded. Abu Baseer said the attack was carried out to retaliate for Pakistani military complicity in the US drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Less than two weeks prior to the Ansarul Mujahideen attack, the US killed Mullah Nazir in a drone strike. Nazir was a powerful independent Taliban commander in South Waziristan who also said he was a member of al Qaeda; he was not affiliated with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
On July 26, Ansarul Mujahideen claimed credit for a double suicide attack in Kurram that killed 57 people and wounded 167 more. Abu Baseer said the group would “plan more similar attacks against the Shi’ite community in Pakistan to seek revenge for the brutalities of Shi’ites against Sunni Muslims in Syria and Iraq.” Sectarian attacks such as the one in Kurram are usually associated with the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
On Sept. 1, the jihadist group killed nine Frontier Corps troops and wounded 20 more in an IED attack on a convoy that was traveling from the Data Khel area, a known al Qaeda haven in North Waziristan, to Miramshah, a Haqqani Network stronghold. Abu Baseer said the attack was conducted to avenge a drone strike that killed four members of the Turkistan Islamic Party, a terror group that is allied with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and a host of other jihadist organizations based in the area.
And on Nov. 20, Ansarul Mujahideen said a suicide attack in North Waziristan that killed two paramilitary Frontier Corps troops was carried out to avenge the death of former Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan emir Hakeemullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike on Nov. 1.