Badar Mansoor or the confusion of words (2)
On February 9, 2012, a US drone strike killed Badar Mansoor, a notorious militant commander, along with four other associates in Miranshah area of North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The strike took place when Mansoor and others had gathered at the hujra (Pushto for guesthouse) of Qari Imran at Zafar Colony market in Miramshah.1) Apart from Mansoor, others killed in the strike were identified as Qari Fayaz, Maulvi Faisal Khorsani, Qari Mushtaq and Yasir Khorasani, who were some of the top commanders of the Badar Mansoor Group.2) The wife and daughter of Mansoor living in a nearby house were also injured in the attack.
This report has been written by the GCTAT team in cooperation with our local correspondents. Intelligence sources provided some insights into Badar Mansoor's deeds and functions.
Badar Mansoor, whose real name was Fakher Zaman, was around 40 years at the time of his death. He came to the limelight in 2008 after he joined the Taliban struggle in Afghanistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. He belonged to the Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab Province.3) Mansoor was a former member of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) - a Pakistani militant group which was formed during the so-called Afghan jihad against the former Soviet Union in the 1980s. Later, the HuM also fought against the Indian security forces in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and Mansoor took part in militant attacks. After the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan in 1995, HuM also fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan against anti-Taliban forces comprising the Northern Alliance. While HuM remained involved in attacks on US and NATO forces post-September 2001 overthrow of Taliban regime, however, its involvement was limited and mainly confined in East Afghanistan.
Badar Mansoor’s Focus on Afghanistan
In 2007, Mansoor split from the HuM in the aftermath of counter-terrorism operation by Pakistani security forces against Lal Majsid in Islamabad in July 2007. He developed differences with HuM’s head, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, when the latter distanced himself from the Lal Masjid clerics, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi, by refusing to support their cause against the government.4) Subsequently, Mansoor established Al-Badar5) group under the tutelage of Haqqani Network and Al-Qaeda. He had reportedly around 200 militants under his command.6) Most of his rank and file are non-Pushtun and belongs to Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan; hence he and his group came to be known as the Punjabi Taliban. Similarly, since ethnic identity plays an important role within the spectrum of militant landscape in the FATA region, therefore his non-Pushtun associates used to call themselves as Khorasani (s) – a widely-held Islamic belief centered on an Islamic army rising from Khorasan7) and paving the way for the khilafat of Al-Mahdi (A.S.) by fighting the infidels, Zionists and crusaders.
Mansoor’s Al-Badar group established training camps and maintained presence in places in and around Miranshah, Boya, Datakhel, Mir Ali, Tapi and other areas of the NWA.8) Initially, the group mainly concentrated its fight in Afghanistan, and Mansoor was sending fighters to Afghanistan after training them in NWA.9) Al-Badar also cooperated closely with the Haqqani Network and North Waziristan Taliban led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Subsequently, Badar Mansoor and militants belonging to Al-Badar group were targeted by the US drones in the past. On September 12, 2008, a US drone attack killed 12 Al-Badar militants in Tol Khel village in NWA.10) On October 3, 2008, 16 militants from Al-Badar groups were killed in NWA in a drone strike.11) On February 24, 2010, Badar Mansoor was targeted in a drone strike in Dargah Mandi area near Miranshah. Initial reports claimed that Mansoor along with Qari Zafar and Rana Afzal alias Noor Khan of sectarianist militant outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), were killed in the attack.12) However, it seems Mansoor survived the attack. Similarly, in another drone strike on October 2, 2010, nine militants of Al-Badar group were killed in Datta Khel area of NWA.13)
Links With Other Militant Groups
Somewhere in 2010/2011 Badar Mansoor became a member of Al-Qaeda. This could mean that he brought his entire Al-Badar group within the ambit of Al-Qaeda. Although the US and Pakistani officials claim that he succeeded Ilyas Kashmiri, member of Al-Qaeda’s Shura and head of Brigade 313 and Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), but it could could not be ascertained. The Pakistani Taliban also denied that Mansoor took over Kashmiri’s responsibilities after the latter’s death.14) According to a senior Pakistani official, “His [Badar Mansoor] death is a major blow to Al-Qaeda's abilities to strike in Pakistan.”
At the time of his death, Mansoor was acting as head of Al-Qaeda’s internal operations in Pakistan. His major effort was therefore concentrated on Pakistan, and has involvement in Afghanistan had dwindled considerably. Before joining Al-Qaeda, Mansoor had been working closely with Sheikh Isa al-Masri, an Egyptian militant who did not belong to Al-Qaeda, but enjoyed cordial relations with many militant outfits, including Al-Qaeda, and who is presently in prison in Egypt.15)
Mansoor’s main responsibilities under Al-Qaeda were to raise finances and fresh recruits for the global terror outfit. He had developed strong links with militant networks in Punjab and Sindh provinces as well as with the leadership of other militant groups, such as Brigade 313, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Harkatul Mujahideen (HuM). These links helped him in channeling resources to Al-Qaeda in North Waziristan. Mansoor had also developed strong links with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is an anti-Pakistan militant outfit, involved in attacks in Pakistan. Mansoor’s role was crucial for Al-Qaeda during this entire period because Pakistan is viewed by the terror outfit as a lifeline and to keep itself afloat through raising finances and induct new recruits.16)
Activities in Pakistan
After Mansoor’s focus on Afghanistan shifted to Pakistan, his group conducted terrorist activities in Pakistan. While his involvement in terror attacks against security forces is not clearly known, his name did appear in attacks against Muslim minorities in the country. He was indicted in a May 2010 terrorist attack on two places of worship of the Qadiani / Ahmedia sect17) in Lahore, provincial capital of Punjab Province. The twin attacks killed 98 worshippers. One of the attackers, Abdullah alias Muhammad, confessed during police interrogation that he was trained by Badar Mansoor group for the said attack. It was also confided that Abdullah’s younger brother Muneeb worked for Badar Mansoor and imparted training to Abdullah in NWA.18)
In Karachi, terrorists associated with Badar Mansoor were arrested in various incidents of terrorism, criminal activities to raise finances, as well as recruit fighters for the group. For example, in May 2011, the Karachi police arrested four terror suspects belonging to the group. The group was led by Maaz Ali alias Irfan, who planned and orchestrated the December 2010 attack against Shia Muslim students belonging to Imamia Student Organisation on the campus of Karachi University.19) Maaz told the police investigators that he and his other associates received training in North Waziristan at a training camp run by Badar Mansoor, and he even saw Mansoor from a distance of 10 feet, but never got the opportunity to engage him in a conversation.20)
Maaz also spread the hate and propaganda literature, such as booklets, pamphlets in Karachi and the Karachi University campus on behalf of Badar Mansoor group. Through the internet, Maaz also downloaded videos containing hate material, which he would put onto a CD and sent to people throughout the country. In addition to this, the group’s leaders provided him with a USB containing videos of militant training camps in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as speeches by prominent extremist leaders. Maaz was also instrumental in delivering electronic goods to Badar Mansoor. The militant outfit's leaders would deliver the cash to Maaz and it was his responsibility to procure items, such as remote controls, capacitors, resistance and ICs used to make bombs and other weapons of destruction. The TTP member himself gained expertise in manufacturing bombs and prepared a number of explosive devices.21) Maaz further told investigators that the instructions from Badar Mansoor were crystal clear. He wanted him to increase the organisation's manpower by distributing hate material and wooing youngsters towards terrorism. Up until his arrest, Maaz had been ordered to prepare bombs and suicide jackets as the militant outfit was targeting police and military installations. Among their targets was the Police Training Centre in Saeedabad.22)
In August 2011, Karachi police arrested three suspected terrorists associated with Badar Mansoor, and recovered a huge cache of arms and explosives from their possession. The arrested suspect admitted that they were trained in Waziristan and were sent to Karachi to target political and religious leaders.23) One of Badar Mansoor group cell, Al-Mukhtar, was active in Karachi and was assigned the task to collect extortion money, kidnap people for ransom and carrying out bank robberies. Al-Mukhtar was involved in a bomb blast in an illegal gambling den in Ghas Mandi area on April 21, 2011, which killed 22 people and injured dozen others. The attack took place after the owner of gambling den refused to pay extortion money to the militants.24)
In June 2011, Badar Mansoor reportedly attended a meeting attended by Ilyas Kashmiri, Asmatullah Maavia and Amjad Farooqui in North Waziristan. The meeting discussed forming a new terrorist outfit, Lashkar-e-Osama to avenge the death of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011 by conducting attacks in Pakistan.25)
The killing of Badar Mansoor will deal a severe blow to Al-Qaeda’s internal operations in Pakistan. Although, there is a chain of Pakistani leaders available within the Badar Mansoor group to fill his position, however, it would be hard to replace his experience and contacts.
1) “Pakistan: Taliban Commander, Three Others Killed in Drone Attack”, The News, February 10, 2012, http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=12350&Cat=13.
2) “Badr Mansoor, Al-Qaeda Commander in Pakistan, Reported Killed”, Central Asia Online, February 9, 2012, http://www.centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2012/02/09/feature-02.
3) “Death of Badar Mansoor “Al-Qaeda” Commander in Pakistan US Missile Strike”, Al-Seyassah, February 10, 2012, http://www.al-seyassah.com/AtricleView/tabid/59/smid/438/ArticleID/177191/reftab/36/Default.aspx
4) “Deadly Drone Strike Signals Renewed US-Pakistan Cooperation”, Boston Herald, February 9, 2012, http://www.bostonherald.com/news/international/asia_pacific/view/20120209us_drone_strike_kills_key_al-qaida_operative/srvc=home&position=recent.v
5) Badar Mansoor’s Al-Badar is in no way associated or part of Al-Badr mujahideen group active in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. The latter led by Bakht Zameen and is believed to be a splinter group of Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM) led by Syed Salahuddin.
6) “US Kills Al-Qaida-Linked Militant in Pakistan”, U-T San Diego, February 9, 2012, http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/feb/09/us-kills-al-qaida-linked-militant-in-pakistan/?print&page=all.
7) The Greater or Ancient Khorasan was a province of Persia during the Sassanid Dynasty (AD 224 to AD 651). It comprised parts of present day Iran (Nishapur and Tus), Afghanistan (Balkh, Heart and Ghazni), Turkmenistan (Merv), Uzbekistan (Samarqand and Bukhara), and Tajikistan. However, a strong believe based on findings of some Arabic geographers exists within the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Pakistani militants that the entire Afghanistan as well as present-day FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province was part of the Ancient Khorasan, and they therefore consider themselves as the Islamic army of Al-Mahdi.
8) “Badr Mansoor, Al-Qaeda Commander in Pakistan, Reported Killed”, op.cit.
9) “Pakistan Al-Qaeda Chief 'Killed by US Drone”, Times Live, February 9, 2012, http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/article3919625.ece.
10) “Drone Strike Data Analysis”, http://dronedata.wordpress.com/.
11) “Covert Drone War Data”, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/08/10/the-bush-years-2004-2009/.
12) “3 top Taliban militants among nine killed in drone attack”, Zee News, February 25, 2012, http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/3-top-taliban-militants-among-nine-killed-in-drone-attack_607089.html.
13) “U.S. Drone Attacks Kill 17 Militants in Pakistan”, The New York Times, October 2, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/world/asia/03pstan.html.
14) “Pakistan: Taliban Commander, Three Others Killed in Drone Attack”, op.cit.
15) Telephonic interview with an intelligence official, February 12, 2012.
17) Qadianis/Ahmedia consider themselves Muslim, but have been disowned by mainstream Islam because the sect differs on several core beliefs, notably the status of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as the final messenger of God.
18) “Lahore Attacker Reveals Key Information”, The News, June 4, 2010, http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=29263&Cat=13&dt=6/4/2010.
19) “Four TTP Suspects Remanded”, The News, May 14, 2011, http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=46852&Cat=4&dt=5/14/2011.
20) “From Promising Student to Feared Militant”, The News, May 23, 2011, http://old.thenews.com.pk/23-05-2011/ethenews/e-48493.htm.
23) “Three LJ Activists Arrested”, The News, August 28, 2011, http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=64993&Cat=4.
24) “Karachi's New Terrorist Groups”, The Friday Times, January 06-12, 2012 - Vol. XXIII, No. 47, http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120106&page=5.
25) “Al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri planned new death squad to avenge bin Laden”, The Telegraph, June 7, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/8562623/Al-Qaeda-leader-planned-death-squad-to-avenge-bin-Laden.html.