‘ISIS-TTP Nexus Will Be Disastrous For Pakistan’

‘ISIS-TTP Nexus Will Be Disastrous For Pakistan’
The former spokesperson of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA)’s founding member Ehsanullah Ehsan – who escaped from the custody of Pakistani authorities in January – recently made startling revelations in his interview to international news outlet Al-Jazeera. Naya Daur spoke to security analysts to verify the authenticity of his claims.

In the first week of February, an audio clip of Ehsanullah Ehsan started doing the rounds of social media, in which the terrorist claimed that he ‘escaped’ from the custody of Pakistani authorities on January 11. Meanwhile, on February 7, English daily The News published a report, quoting the former TTP spokesperson as saying that he had escaped to Turkey along with his family. Last week, the former TTP spokesman – since his release – gave a first detailed interview, in which he made some shocking claims.

‘Pakistani terror groups trying to win over ISIS’:

Ehsanullah Ehsan told the international news agency that the Pakistan-based terrorist outfits, including TTP – for last many years – had been trying hard to ‘impress’ the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, to win the leadership of its South Asian Chapter. "The way that ISIS was handling the media and its propaganda, there was definitely a race within groups [Pakistani terrorist organisations] to join them.

The high-profile terrorist told the Arabic news outlet that TTP and JuA’s sleeping cells were still present in Pakistan. "We cannot say that the TTP, JuA or other anti-Pakistan [armed] groups are completely finished. They have gone silent as part of a plan. They are present in Pakistani cities and they have the ability to carry out attacks,” he claimed.

But security expert Lt Gen (R) Talat Masood denies Ehsan’s claims that he was residing in Turkey, after escaping from the Pakistani security agencies’ custody, saying that it was not possible as Turkey is a friend to Pakistan and won’t give refuge to an escapee. “He is most probably in Afghanistan, since it is the only safe place for him at the moment.”

The retired Pakistan army general, when asked about the mysterious escape of Ehsanulah Ehsan, said that someone either from Pakistan or a foreign country was definitely involved in the break-out of the terrorist. “It isn’t acceptable that no official word regarding the escape has come yet from the government officials,” he added.

Prospects of ISIS-TTP alliance?

Lt Gen (R) Talat Masood commented on the prospects of any nexus between ISIS and TTP or JuA and its future implications for Pakistan. He said that any such joint-venture would be ‘disastrous’ for the country.

“The nexus between ISIS and TTP or JuA is definitely on the cards, as all of these banned outfits are currently desperate to prove their presence in the region.”

Dr Hassan Askari, the former caretaker chief minister of Punjab and a security analyst commented on Ehsan’s shocking claim that TTP and JuA could still carry out big attacks in Pakistan and told Naya Daur that since the launch of Pakistan army’s Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, things have changed a lot in last 2-3 years. “TTP and JuA or any other militant outfit no longer has the capacity to carry out any large-scale attacks in Pakistan."

Ehsanullah had also claimed in his interview that he provided no information to the Pakistani authorities or facilitated them in any way. While commenting on this claim, Askari said that Ehsanullah Ehsan was neither a dependable nor ‘reliable’ source for Pakistan army. “Our army has multiple sources of information. Ehsan was never a trustworthy source for them, considering his full of dark criminal past.”

The writer is a student of Masters in Development Journalism at University of the Punjab and can be reached on Twitter @jazibrehmankhan.