Left, Adnan Rasheed, Key TTP Commander, centre Hilal Ghazi (Ghazi Force) and right, TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah (Still from video)
Pakistan police will no doubt have their hackles raised with the release of a new video, “Shariyat or Shahadah” from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) Umar Media, the subject being the Ghazi Force. The militant organization was formed by Maulana Niaz Raheem following the 2007 Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) siege where government troops stormed what was viewed by the state as a “hardline” mosque and madrassa in Islamabad resulting in over 100 deaths, students and soldiers. The operation led by President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz came under heavy criticism from some quarters, accounts of the seige can be read in the “Links” section at the end of this article.
Ghazi Force was named after cleric Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi who was killed during the fighting and recruits were taken from the relatives of those who died during the siege. In 2009 Long War Journal stated, “the Ghazi Force runs a terror training camp in Guljo in the district of Hangu, and is also based in the tribal agency of Arakzai. At the Guljo camp, attendees are trained in the making of explosives, ambushing military units, and light and heavy weapons usage.”
The Nation reported in July 2010,
“The Ghazi Force helped recruit a security official who blew himself up inside the office of the World Food Programme last October, killing five people, according to Imam.
The force also sent a suicide bomber in September 2007 into the mess hall of the commando unit that attacked the Lal Masjid, killing 22 people, he said.
Ghazi Force members may also have been involved in the audacious June 9 attack north of the capital that killed seven people and destroyed 60 vehicles ferrying supplies to NATO and US soldiers next door in Afghanistan, Imam said.”
In January 2015, Economic Times highlighted, “Pakistan police is searching for nearly 300 former students of the Red Mosque after reports that some of them are trying to reactivate the defunct Ghazi Force militant group” however following investigations “almost all of them were cleared” see following link,
“Pakistan police fears reactivation Ghazi Force militant group”
Still from TTP video on Ghazi Force
The Taliban video features a fierce threesome. They are Commander Hilal Ghazi, ex student of Jamia Faridia who succeeded Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Alongside him are former Pakistan Air Force technician and Bannu prison escapee Adnan Rasheed, now a key Commander with TTP plus Mullah Fazlullah, head of TTP and responsible for the attack on Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in December 2014,
The video begins with images of Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi and shows his death during the assault on Lal Masjid. There is a TV interview with Pakistani journalist and news anchor Hamid Mir where two women are interviewed about their experience at the time of attack on the Red Mosque. Film footage is shown of what may be the wife of Maulana Ghazi who speaks strongly regarding the role of women in Islam, how they should behave and dress code.
Later the video moves to show the slain mujahadeen along with their biographical data of where they came from and what they did and how died in the line of duty whether martyrdom attacks or otherwise (including Maulana Ghazi).
Hilal Ghazi is the central speaker in the video who gives a talk encouraging youth to come and join the Taliban and fight with the Mujahadeen for the enforcement of Sharia and what has been commanded in the Quran and described in Hadith.
The last part features press clippings and mentioning militants achievements of hitting the security forces including GHQ, and other locations. It is a video to show solidarity with Ghazi Force by the Taliban and collectively demonstrates achievements for their common cause.
The video will raise concerns that Ghazi Force with TTP may again be a security threat to Pakistan. This comes at a time when the country is still reeling from the impact of a US drone strike in Balochistan region which targeted and killed Taliban Emir, Mullah Mansour and taxi driver Mohammad Azam whose family are now filing a criminal case. Authorities will anticipate some form of “blowback” following the drone strike but must now be contemplating that military Operation Zarb -e-Asb to clear insurgents from the Tribal Areas may not be quite as successful in eliminating risk as they report.
“Profile: Islamabad’s Red Mosque”
“Musharraf lauds Lal Masjid massacre”
“Obituary: Abdul Rashid Ghazi”
“The Ghazi Force: A Threat to Pakistan’s Urban Centers”
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”.