Response: the TTP, Mullah Omar, and Bin Laden
I’ve had a bracing welcome to the blogosphere and see that there are some folks who disagree with me on the relationship between Mullah Umar, Bin Ladin, and the TTP. Of course issues like relationships are always open to interpretation and intelligence analysts with access to the full range of available sources debate this question ...
I’ve had a bracing welcome to the blogosphere and see that there are some folks who disagree with me on the relationship between Mullah Umar, Bin Ladin, and the TTP. Of course issues like relationships are always open to interpretation and intelligence analysts with access to the full range of available sources debate this question on a daily basis. It’s also a fact that the situation on the ground is fluid, and the insurgency in Pakistan-Afghanistan is continuously evolving. What is true today about relationships between groups might not be true next year.
But here’s why I said that — at least today — the TTP are "under the authority" of both Mullah Umar and Bin Ladin: leaders of the TTP have publicly said that this is true. On March 1, Hakimullah, the head of the TTP posted a video on the Jamia Hafsa website in which he clarified the relationship between the TTP and Mullah Umar, saying among other things that "the Afghan Taliban are doing jihad under the leadership of Mullah Umar, and the mujahidin of the Tehrik-e-Taliban [TTP] are also doing jihad under his leadership. The commander of the faithful [i.e. Mullah Umar] is the leader of the Afghan Taliban as well as the Pakistani Taliban."
As for the relationship between the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qa’ida, this is how Mullah Nazir, a local commander in the TTP, put it last year in an interview with al-Qa’ida’s media wing, al-Sahab. First, he confirmed their allegiance to the global jihad:
Our Jihad isn’t limited to Pakistan or Afghanistan. We do not even accept these boundaries that separate us, that ‘this shall be Pakistan’ and ‘that shall be Afghanistan…’ this is nothing but an inanity devised by the Jews and we reject it…’ Our Jihad is a global Jihad, and we aim to liberate Muslims throughout the world and obliterate tumult, oppression and mischief, and establish the system of Shariah all over the world.
He then affirmed their commitment to both Mullah Umar and Bin Ladin as commanders of the jihad:
Al-Sahab: What are your sentiments regarding the leadership of the Mujahidin i.e. Mullah Muhammad Umar, Commander of the Believers, and Shaykh Usama bin Ladin?
Mullah Nazir: We want to say to them that we are your Mujahidin and your soldiers. We await your orders. Do not worry, for the Mujahidin here in Waziristan alone suffice you. We are proud of your leadership and consider it an honor for us. We give away our lives at your command and feel proud to obey you at all times.
Of course, whether Bin Ladin actually gives the TTP orders and they actually obey him is another question.