Friday, April 30, 2010

Former Pakistani Intelligence Officer Executed in North Waziristan

Via The Long War Journal -

A former officer in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency who has close links to terror groups has been found dead, apparently executed by a Taliban-linked group.

A group calling itself the "Asian Tigers" killed Khalid Khawaja, a former Squadron Commander in the Air Force, and dumped his bullet-ridden body in Taliban-controlled North Waziristan.

The Asian Tigers pinned a note to Khawaja's corpse and claimed credit for murdering him. The Asian Tigers had previously accused Khawaja of working for the Pakistani government and the CIA.

Khawaja, along with a former ISI officer known as Colonel Imam and a British journalist, was kidnapped several weeks ago after visiting the town of Miramshah in North Waziristan. In early April it was reported that the three men had disappeared while trying to link up with key Taliban leaders, including top South Waziristan commander Waliur Rehman Mehsud.

On April 18, the Asian Tigers released a videotape showing Imam and Khawaja, and calling for the release of three top Afghan Taliban leaders. The Asian Tigers demanded that Pakistani intelligence release Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former leader of the Afghan Taliban's Quetta Shura; Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the former leader of the Peshawar Regional Military Council; and Mullah Mansur Dadullah Akhund, a former military commander in the south.

On the tape, Imam and Khawaja both stated that they had been directed to visit the Taliban in North Waziristan by two top former ISI officers. Some news reports from Pakistan claimed that Imam and Khawaja were sent to broker a deal with the Taliban to end their fight against the Pakistani state and reorient their efforts against Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Four days after the tape was released, the Afghan Taliban denied any connections to the Asian Tigers and said that Colonel Imam was "widely respected among the Taliban for his independent views and sympathies towards the mujahideen."

The Asian Tigers are thought to be members of the so-called Punjabi Taliban, a group of fighters from Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and various other jihadist groups that are based in Punjab province.

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