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TTP confirms killing of Omar Khalid Khorasani

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Tuesday confirmed the killing of its senior commander Omar Khalid Khorasani during a blast in eastern Afghanistan.

According to a statement from the terrorist group, Khorasani had increased his movement near the Durand Line in recent times and was targeted on the evening of August 7.

The TTP, the banned outfit, said that three other members of the terrorist group were also killed during the attack. The group also vowed to continue its activities, saying that despite the big loss, the activities of the group will continue.

It warned that just like it defeated the enemy on the Afghan side of the border, it will also defeat the enemy on the other side of the border too.

Khorasani belonged to the Safi tribe of Safo village of Mohmand district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. At the time of his death, he was 45 and living with his family in Afghanistan’s Kuner area, which borders Mohmand.

He received his early education in his village school and later moved to Karachi for further religious education. At a religious seminary in the metropolis, he joined Harkatul Mujahideen and listed his name among the fighters battling for the freedom of Kashmiris. However, he was delisted by the organisers because he was too young for the cause.

After completing his religious studies, he joined Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan. In 1996, when the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, most of the manpower came from the tribal districts and the local Afghans, local Taliban sources told The Express Tribune via telephone.

Read more: TTP’s top commander Omar Khalid Khorasani reportedly killed in Paktika blast

But when the US toppled the Mullah Omar regime in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks on World Trade Centre in New York and Pentagon in Washington, Khorasani returned to his village in 2002 and formed the TTP along with Baitullah Mehsood, to wage a war against the government.

He was among the top TTP leaders from his district. He established Turangzai Baba Mosque after the Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad, and also established Sharia courts for justice proceedings in Mohmand in 2007.

He parted ways with Mullah Fazalullah of Swat when his close buddy and TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsood was killed in a drone attack in 2013. Then the TTP Shura favoured the Mullah Fazalullah chapter over the Mehsood and Wazir chapters for the top leadership.

Khalid Khorasani desired to be at the helm of affairs but failed due to the majority decision in Mullah Fazalullah’s favour. So, he formed his own militant wing with the name of Jamaatul Ahrar, according to sources.

The Jamaat was considered ruthless, as it was involved in extortion and target killing of the Amn Committee members, Malik notables and even the religious scholars, who opposed them in the now merged districts. Even the Jamaat members were engaged in skirmishes with the TTP to secure power.

In 2017, the Jamaatul Ahrar was declared a banned outfit due to its ruthless attacks on the US and its allied forces in Kunar, Nooristan and Nangarhar provinces of Afghanistan. The US had placed a bounty of $3 million on his head, while the K-P government had announced Rs20.5 million bounty.

Read: Taliban-brokered TTP talks end in deadlock

In 2020, a reconciliation process with the TTP was initiated with the help of the Afghan Taliban. Scores of the TTP splinter groups re-joined the umbrella organisation, including the Jamaatul Ahrar. Khorasani was among the top 10 people from the TTP who partook in talks with the military, tribal leadership, parliamentarians and religious scholars of Pakistan under the patronage of Mufti Taqi Usmani of Karachi.

Negotiation process

Khorasani manipulated the peace talks and the reconciliation process. He was pushing the K-P government and the military leadership for rolling back reforms in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), allowing them to return with their weapons and protection.

He was considered the most lethal in targeting political leaderships, extorting politicians of Khyber and elsewhere in erstwhile Fata. He was among those operational leaders of the TTP who waged war against the government institutions.

The TTP sources declined to comment when asked whether the body of Khorasani would be repatriated to his native Safo village or would be buried in the area adjacent to Mohmand tribal district.

A source said that the negotiation process would not be affected by the killing of three “super leaders” of the TTP. “The TTP leadership will take decision about the final approval of the talks. In my view, I don’t think that it will hamper the talks, but a seed of mistrust has been sown,” he added.

“The fourth round of talks will be held in Kabul soon, but the Shura is going to hold a meeting in Afghanistan to take the final decision after the killing of Omar Khalid Khorasani,” the source replied, in response to another question.

Namesakes

Some of the researchers get confused with the similarity of names of Omar Khalid Khorasani and Omar Mansoor Khurasani, aka Naray aka Khalifa, the mastermind of the attack on Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in December 2014. Another resemblance of names surfaced after Khalifa Omar Mansoor was killed in a drone attack in Afghanistan many years ago.

Abdul Wali Mohmand aka Omar Khalid Khorasani had condemned that APS attack and he wasn’t part of the TTP at that time. The former TTP spokesperson, Ehsanullah Ehsan, had issued a statement of condemnation on behalf of Jamaatul Ahrar.

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