PESHAWAR - With the earlier departure of ‘Commander’ Sajna from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the recent dismantling of the bases in North Waziristan during the ongoing military operation, the terrorist organisation is fast losing its power in the region.
The command and control centre of TTP has shifted from North Waziristan to Mohmand Agency and Omar Khalid Khurasani, the head of TTP’s Mohmand chapter, is looking after the affairs of the organisation in the absence of Mullah Fazlullah, who reportedly remains in hiding in Afghanistan.
Khurasani’s men, according to sources, are active in providing shelter to the militants fleeing North Waziristan. “The fleeing militants are housed either in the tribal areas or across the border in Afghanistan,” said a member of the Mohmand Taliban.
While Adnan Rashid, a key TTP commander, has been arrested and the rest of the TTP cadres from their earlier stronghold of North Waziristan are in disarray, Khurasani is playing the role of saviour for the entire TTP. In these turbulent times, Khalid Khurasani is the only leading TTP commander who has issued policy statements from time to time while Fazlullah and his central spokesperson are off the scene. Khurasani’s men are also actively campaigning over social media and promoting the TTP cause.
After the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud and Mufti Wali ur Rehman, and the departure of Commander Sajna from TTP, Omar Khalid Khurasani is the topmost senior commander of TTP who is living in Pakistan. In the present arrangement, the iconic Mullah Fazlullah seems to have restricted himself to the role of spiritual leader of the militants while Khurasani is practically leading the organisation in Pakistan.
The dreaded Taliban commander, Omar Khalid Khurasani, whose real name is Abdul Wali, was born on July 18, 1980 in Qandaharo village of Safi tehsil in Mohmand Agency. His father was a religious figure who taught him basic Islamic education. After passing his matriculation from Lakari Secondary High School, he moved to Karachi for religious education. He also worked as a journalist with different Urdu and Pashto newspapers. Khurasani is also a poet and previously he was a permanent member of the poetic guild, “Mohmand Adabi Ghuncha”.
Malak Jamandar Khan, the great-grandfather of Abdul Wali, took part in the historic Anglo-Afghan War while his father took part in the Afghan ‘jihad’ against the Soviet forces. Due to this family background, Abdul Wali started taking interest in jihadi affairs in 1996. He adopted Omar Khalid Khurasani as his jihadi name. In 2000, he got militant training from Harkatul Mujahedeen (HuM). On February 22 the same year, he was made HuM head in Mohmand Agency.
After 9/11, Abdul Wali crossed over to Afghanistan and started fighting against the US-supported Northern Alliance in Bagram. With the fall of Mullah Omer-led Taliban regime he returned to Pakistan. In 2003, he was posted to the Hajera sector at the Pak-Afghan border. When the Afghan Taliban started resistance against Nato forces, Abdul Wali went to Paktika to help the Afghan Taliban against the foreign troops.
In Paktika he met Baitullah Mehsud, the founding leader of TTP and he promised his allegiance to him to work for the implementation of Islamic Sharia back home. On September 6, 2006 Baitullah Mehsud appointed Abdul Wali as the head of Taliban in Mohmand Agency and in a short period of time he united all the militants in the tribal agency. Later on he also served as the head of TTP in Khyber Agency. Currently his men are based in Mohmand, Khyber, and Bajaur agencies and the adjoining settled areas of KPK. He is reportedly hiding in areas of Mohmand Agency bordering Afghanistan.
Abdul Wali alias Khalid Khurasani played a key role in selection of Maullah Fazlullah as the head of TTP and at the moment he is looking after all the affairs of Taliban. According to experts of militant affairs if there were no Omar Khalid Khurasani, TTP would not be able to unite its member under the current circumstances or to present its case in the media. In Taliban cadres he is being deemed a “saviour” of the TTP.