Counter-Terrorism: The Taliban's Unlikely Ally


August 4, 2009: A new terrorist group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Balochistan (TTB), in southwest Pakistan, is becoming more active, especially among the Baluchi tribes. Apparently the TTB is not subordinate to the rest of the Pakistani Taliban, who tend to follow Baithullah Mehsud. TTB has declared that suicide bombing as un-Islamic and rules out any vendetta with the Sherani faction, led by Maulana Sherani of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI).

TTB collects its manpower from the madrassas in and around Quetta, in Baluchistan. The Pakistani Taliban came from Pushtun madrassas in Pushtun territories northeast of Baluchistan.  Taliban militants plan to establish a regional alliance in Balochistan with the Iranian Jundullah (Sunni Islamic Baluchi rebels) which has support in Pakistan Baluchistan and Iranian Baluchistan. Taliban cooperation with Jundullah could result in joint regional terrorist operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India.

Al-Qaedaís alliance with Jundullah has two main objectives:

1.To annihilate or disturb operations at Chabahar port, which could be used for NATO operations.

2. Persuade al Qaeda operatives in Iran to fight against Iranian interference in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

At present al Qaeda is acting as an umbrella under which militant organizations such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are operating along the Afghan border in Waziristan. The already established militant madrassas on the Afghanistan border will act as an ally for al Qaeda operations in Baluchistan. Recently Balluchistan has witnessed an upsurge in sectarian violence, with Taliban-linked militants killing five Shia Moslems in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. At least 15 people were killed and 20 others were injured in a bomb attack on a Shia mosque in Quetta in February.

So far, most of the violence in Baluchistan has been nationalist, and little cooperation with  the Taliban or al Qaeda. But if Pakistan continues to ignore al Qaeda and Taliban operations in Baluchistan, that will change. Sarajuddin Ė son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a member of the Talibanís leadership Council has called for a change in the Quetta Shura leadership, arguing that lack of leadership has led to the killing of some of the Talibanís most senior commanders.

Ignoring the security challenges in Baluchistan is only magnifying their volume and intensity. The Baluchi nationalists must be engaged as allies, if you want to keep the Taliban and al Qaeda out.

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