While the terrorists of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are on the run in North Waziristan Agency in Pakistan’s restive tribal belt known as FATA after Pakistan military’s operation codenamed Zarb-e-Azb, another terrorist organization is advancing its own, and not very different from TTPs, agenda in the Middle East. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also dubbed as Israeli State of Iraq and Syria has taken advantage of sectarian strife, weak government and lack of professional army and captured a part of Iraq to set up “Islamic Caliphate” with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaiming to be the Caliph of all Muslims and demanding from them an oath of allegiance. The world fears that ISIS is capable of redrawing the map of Middle East, yet again, after WWI when British Secret Service bought the loyalties of Arab leaders to weaken the Ottoman Empire. Those who sold their souls to the British to pave the way for establishment of Israel were rewarded with their own kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq.
TTP had no different agenda for Pakistan. It had established an independent Emirate in the FATA region and had its own writ there; it had a command and control center, nerve center and every required wherewithal to launch deadly attacks on the state of Pakistan. Knowing fully well the weak resolve of political leader to keep the country together, it was targeting the ultimate bastion of Pakistan’s security, the armed forces, in order subsequently capture Pakistan. The TTP is being taken care of by Pakistani military but ISIS is on the march to capture more territory. The weapons of both the entities include fear; they carry out atrocities of inhuman nature to frighten their way through to power.
Both ISIS and TTP thrive on sectarian division and target one sect of Islam for killing and disabling for life. Both profess the extremist views of Takfir meaning a Muslim is justified to kill another Muslim, even innocent, if he is branded first as a non-believer.
Both ISIS and TTP have yet another similarity; these organizations were founded after their founders spent some time in US detention facilities and were released mysteriously. According to reports, Abdullah Mehsud, the TTP founder spent some time in a secret facility near the main Guantanamo Bay prison, dubbed “Penny Lane“, where captured jihadists and fighters from Afghanistan were turned into double agents. This fundamentally required that those who agreed in being American spies would guarantee full cooperation in “killing terrorists” (or, in other words, targeting anti-US elements).
The same report says that Abdullah Mehsud had lost a leg in a landmine explosion in 1996 and was captured sometime later by Uzbek-origin Afghan commander Abdul Rashid Dostum while fighting the Northern Alliance. He was imprisoned at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay for two years and later released in March 2004. What’s even more astounding is that he was also gifted a prosthetic limb by his captors, according to a statement by Brigadier General Jay Hood who was then running the camp.
The background of Al-Baghdadi is no different. According to Wikipedia, he is believed to have been born near Samarra, Iraq, in 1971. Reports suggest that he was a cleric in a mosque at around the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He earned a master’s degree and a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Islamic Sciences in the Baghdad suburb of Adhamiya. After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, al-Baghdadi reportedly led several smaller militant groups before being promoted to a seat on the Majlis al-Shura of the mujahedeen and the judicial council of the Islamic State of Iraq.
According to US Department of Defense records, al-Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca as a ‘civilian internee‘ by US Forces-Iraq from early February 2004 until early December 2004, when he was released. A Combined Review and Release Board recommended an ‘unconditional release’ of al-Baghdadi and there is no record of him being held at any other time. His release, like that of Mehsud’s, is mysterious, un-explained and smacks of intrigue and sinister designs.
Some people believe that al Baghdadi was trained by combined assets of US, UK and MOSSAD but that is yet to be verified.
But here is a problem for the creators of ISIS and TTP; both the organizations may be pursuing a similar agenda but mercifully Pakistan, despite its coward and greedy leaders, is not Iraq, thanks to its armed forces, people and quality of its arsenal.