Adnan Rasheed (left) and Niaz Muhammad (right) still from video
Niaz Muhammad (40) a former Pakistan Air Force (PAF) junior technician, who was sentenced to death for making an attempt on the life of former army chief Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in 2003 has allegedly been recorded on video with a message to senior Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) commander Adnan Rasheed.
The 7 minute 36 second film was presented by Pakistan Defence ( http://www.defence.pk ) which describes itself as “an authoritative website for Pakistan Military and international defense with military news & discussions.”
The video which is in urdu was said to have been made hours before the hanging of Muhammad and is aimed at his former co-conspirator who was freed from Bannu jail in a break-out organized by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) in April 2012. Nearly 400 prisoners escaped into the night when around 150 insurgents armed with guns, grenades and rockets launched a ferocious attack on the prison with a key aim to release Rasheed.
Niaz Muhammad in earlier times
In this latest video, Muhammad is seen flanked by uniformed men as he watches what appears to be footage of the TTP attack on Peshawar Army School which shocked Pakistan and left 140 adults and schoolchildren dead with 122 injured. There has been no indication that Rasheed was involved in the planning of this specific incident. Those who participated on the day were killed on site according to press releases and Rasheed does not appear to have been named in any FIR (First Incident Report). Muhammad is also shown appearing to watch footage of an old video of Rasheed training a “death squad” which contained a further specific warning to Musharraf to surrender or his life would be in danger.
Rasheed is known in the west as the Taliban leader who wrote to schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai expressing his shock that she was shot by TTP whilst he was in prison and advising her to return to Pakistan to study. He drew criticism from some fellow fighters for expressing his personal thoughts on this attack.. In previous interviews Rasheed has condemned the killing of civilians referring to an airstrike intended to target his family which killed local children,
“the Pakistan Air Force claimed that they targeted my house on January 20, 2014. By the Grace of Allah, I and my family are safe. However, the bombing killed four innocent civilians. They were Maryam (4 years old), her mother Ayesha (24 years old), her grandmother (80 years old) and her uncle Bakhtullah (17 years old). A young boy Shahzeb (7 years old) and his sister (14 years old) were taken to Peshawar for treatment; they had sustained burns and broken bones. The symbol of shame, Pakistan Air Force, killed innocent civilians of the Mehsud tribe in an attempt to kill me along with my wife, two year old daughter and infant son.
It was breaking news on TV that I, with my wife, children and mother were killed in an air strike by PAF jets. The government proudly made this claim but nobody in the Pakistani nation raised this simple question: Why were women and children targeted?”
Muhammad is asked his opinion on the Peshawar School massacre and whether he receives information in jail. He is asked about TTP but does not appear to have had contact with Rasheed since before the death of TTP Emir Hakimullah Mehsood in a drone strike. It seems the intention of the video is to condemn TTP and encourage Muhammad to advise Rasheed regarding his involvement with the group. Muhammad looks emotional at one point when asked about Rasheed whom he has described as being “a very good friend” and wipes his eye. A Pakistani colleague who viewed the film said at one point he appeared to defend Rasheed.
The video can be viewed on a Youtube link (though this may be blocked in Pakistan). Its unlikely Rasheed will view it due to restrictions and limitations on communication for those fighting against Pakistan’s armed forces in North Waziristan during operation Zarb-E-Asb and Kyber 1 and 2 operations.
Video Pakistan Defence
“Exposing the TTP’s mercenary nature” (Youtube link has now been removed)
was on here, http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2h27oi
Go to Facebook page Pakistan Defence and search “videos”… look for
“Confessions of a TTP terrorist” (same video, different title)
Note… the video on Facebook is incorrectly named as Muhammad Niaz was arrested and imprisoned in 2004 long before establishment of TTP in 2007 so he could not have had first hand knowledge of the organization and denied membership.
What is not clear from the video is what information the convicted prisoner was given on Rasheed and its accuracy as he delivers his message to him or whether Muhammad has been subjected to torture or threats to his family which is allegedly very common in Pakistan’s jails. It is not possible to determine if his message is given freely or if he has been coerced into participating so on that basis its relevance is limited.
Rasheed claimed to have been tortured whilst in prison. In the weeks before the Peshawar School attack both TTP and Tehreek-e-Taliban Jamaat -ul-Ahrar (TTP JA) gave repeated warnings to the army and police to stop alleged torture in custody, extra judicial killings and dumping bodies by the roadside or there would be retaliation attacks. Warnings were ignored. Bodies of prisoners piled up in detention centres and relatives are said to have been threatened if they took the matter further. The investigation around the Peshawar massacre does not appear to be willing to address the causes leading to this horrific attack which would be potentially damaging to all involved in such illegal actions.
Human Rights organizations such as Reprieve have highlighted alleged torture in Pakistan’s police stations and prisons for years, an example of which is given in the following Guardian article by Owen Watkins describing the case of Naheem Hussein and Rehan Zaman,
“torture techniques inflicted on victims such as Naheem and Rehan include falaka (foot whipping with a rod or cane), the pulling out of fingernails with pliers, the rubbing of hot chillies in eyes, endless beatings with sticks, and an excruciating practice called strapado, where the victim is hung by the wrists from the ceiling until the shoulders dislocate. The abuse is often so severe that police tire in their duties of kicking and beating detainees and are rotated, allowing them to recoup their lost strength. Each policeman comes armed with sticks, broom handles or bamboo canes”
The video may well have been made to provoke a reaction from Rasheed knowing that his friend Niaz was interrogated about him in the hours before his hanging on 31st December 2014. Pakistan has come under heavy criticism for announcing up to 500 “revenge” hangings in retaliation for the attack on Peshawar Army School. However those being punished had nothing to do with this assault so the government is creating a large number of new “martyrs” through its actions.
Reprieve have also highlighted the case of Khalid Mehmood, another former Pakistan Air Force technician,whose lawyers have confirmed that he was hanged on Friday 9th January in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, in defiance of a Lahore High Court stay of execution. They state, “Mr Mehmood’s lawyer, former Pakistan Air Force technician Colonel (ret’d) Inam ur Rahim, has filed a police report against the relevant jail authorities for their role in the unlawful killing.”
With regard to Rasheed the video gives a clear message that he will continue to be hunted down to face the same end as Muhammad. At present he remains free and according to his fellow insurgents is said to be alive and well despite several false reports claiming otherwise.
“Hanging took place despite courts stay of execution (Reprieve)”
“Taliban commander Adnan Rasheed advises Pakistan’s armed forces to repent, revise and revolt”
“Pakistan revenge hangings creating martyrs and a call to bring Musharraf to the noose”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.