The US today announced a USD 5 million award for information leading to the arrest of Afghanistan-based Maulana Fazlullah, leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an outfit which carries out terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. Under its rewards for justice program, the US also announced a USD 3 million reward each for information on Abdul Wali, of Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA), and Mangal Bagh leader of Lashkar-e-Islam.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is a terrorist organization that split away from TTP while the Lashkar-e-Islam is based in the Khyber Tribal Agency in Pakistan. The announcement came as the Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua held meetings with officials of the Trump administration including the White House and the State Department. The State Department said TTP is a terrorist organization based in the tribal areas of eastern Afghanistan. It has historically maintained close ties to al-Qaida.
Since being appointed by the group’s central Shura Council in November 2013, Fazlullah has organized and directed several TTP attacks against Pakistani interests and has publicly blamed the US for military operations against the group. In December 2014, Fazlullah’s operatives carried out the most lethal terrorist attack in Pakistani history when its operatives killed 151 people, including more than 130 children, during an attack against the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan.
In 2012, Fazlullah ordered the failed assassination of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai who promoted girls’ right to education and publicly criticized Fazlullah and the TTP, the State Department said. Abdul Wali reportedly operates from Afghanistan’s Nangarhar and Kunar Provinces. Under Wali’s leadership, JuA has been one of the most operationally active TTP networks in Punjab Province and has claimed multiple suicide bombings and other attacks throughout Pakistan.
In March 2016, JuA conducted a suicide bombing at a public park in Lahore, Pakistan, that killed 75 people and injured 340. In August 2015, JuA claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Punjab that killed Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada and 18 of his supporters. Wali is also known as Omar Khalid Khorasani. He was born in Mohmand Agency, Pakistan, and is believed to be in his late 30s. He is a former journalist and poet and studied at a number of madrasas in Karachi.
According to the State Department, Mangal Bagh and his group earns revenue from drug trafficking, smuggling, kidnapping, raids on NATO convoys, and taxes on transit trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bagh has led Lashkar-e-Islam since 2006 and has routinely shifted alliances to protect illicit revenue streams while enforcing an extreme version of Deobandi Islam in the areas of eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan that he controls, particularly Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Born in Khyber Agency, Pakistan, he is believed to be in his mid-40s. Bagh is a member of the Afridi tribe. He studied at a madrasa for several years and later fought alongside militant groups in Afghanistan.