by Giovanni Giacalone
On March 4th, unknown gunmen shot dead Syed Noor Shalobar in the Bara area of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan.
Shalobar was heavily involved in carrying out terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. According to the Indian media, he was working at the behest of ISI and was responsible for recruiting terrorists. Indian sources also claimed that following the attack, the Pakistani ISIS increased the security of terrorist leaders in Pakistan in fear of further targeted killings.
Two other jihadist commanders were killed in Pakistan since the beginning of the year: on Sunday February 26th, the leader of the Al Badr group, Syed Khalid Raza, was gunned down in Karachi. A few days earlier, on February 21, Bashir Ahmad Peer alias “Imtiaz Alam” of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) was killed in an identical manner by unidentified gunmen outside his residence in Rawalpindi, not far from the headquarters of the Pakistani Army. All three have been involved in carrying out terror attacks in India.
Additionally, on February 14th, Pakistani terrorist Aijaz Ahmad Ahangar was killed in the Kunar province of Afghanistan last week; he was a top ISIS commander.
The most credible hypothesis so far is that the murders are the result of an ongoing fight between the various terrorist groups to gain power supremacy inside Pakistan. However, the possibility that the long hand of Indian intelligence is behind these incidents cannot be fully ruled out, while some even speculate that this could be the work of Pakistani intelligence trying to downsize the presence of terror groups in Pakistan, especially since Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan launched a series of attacks in Peshawar, in the Tribal Areas and in Karachi, all aimed at Pakistani police and armed forces.
Noor Dahri, director of the UK-based think-tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism explained:
“There is no confirmation that who is actually behind their killings, but the killers were locals, not outsiders. It could be the work of Indian intelligence because these individuals were wanted by India. However, most doubts point towards the Pakistani intelligence agency because they want to show the US and FATF that they are working hard to get rid of terrorists. Surprisingly, all three terrorist leaders had already left Jihad and were back to normal life. One was working in a local company and the other was working in a school. I can say that they had no connection with terrorism anymore for many decades so in this case they were useless for Pakistani intelligence, therefore they got rid of them to receive appreciation from the US and FATF”.
On Monday March 6th, nine police officers were killed and at least 13 others were wounded when a suicide bomber rammed a motorbike against their truck in Bolan. The militant group Tehreek-e Jihad Pakistan (TJP) claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that they would continue to carry out attacks on government forces until Sharia law was established in Pakistan. Some analysts believe that Tehreek-e Jihad Pakistan is just a cover name for Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan.
This is the second attack on security forces in Balochistan within 24 hours. On Sunday, a security official was killed and eight others were wounded after a vehicle was targeted in a bomb attack in Gwadar, a port city in the province, on Sunday.
In the meantime, the Pakistani authorities are still investigating the terror attack perpetrated against the police headquarter in Karachi’s Saddar area on February 17th which caused the death of five people (three police officers, one ranger and one civilian). The terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack. Just two weeks prior, a terrorist disguised as a police officer, blew himself up inside a Peshawar mosque attended by police personnel, killing over one-hundred people and injuring more than two-hundred.
The new year has started in the worst way for Pakistan, with systematic bloodbaths perpetrated by jihadist groups that are targeting the police and military. Possibly, different jihadist groups but a single objective, the Pakistani state.