The Taliban are a diverse mix of different groups, each led by its own leader, which support each other in militancy. Still, it is not uncommon to see two Taliban groups at cross-purposes with each other, and fighting. At that point, something happens and the groups give up hostilities and once again become “brothers in faith and comrades. Most certainly, somewhere there is an infrastructure in place that makes this happen, such as a particular terror “secretariat” in Waziristan.
Some people in FATA who have had the opportunity to see the terror secretariat from inside shared with me what they observed. According to them,
The secretariat consists of three complexes owned by Jalaluddin Haqqani and run by his son Sirajuddin Haqqani. The first complex is located right in front of the Frontier Constabulary, FC Fort in main Miranshah bazaar in North Waziristan. Apparently there is a computer institute in this complex but the complex also contains compounds which are well-guarded and no-go area. The second complex is located in Sirai Darpakhel just behind Miranshah Bazaar. This complex consists of seven compounds and is believed to be the headquarters of the Taliban, who move back and forth between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The complex is believed to be commanded by diehard Taliban Bakhta Jan Afghani. The third complex, at a distance of not more than a kilometre from the Pakistan army camp in North Waziristan, is situated in Dandi Darpakhel on the road to Afghanistan.
The secretariat is a huge and spacious structure spread over an area of a 100 kanals. There is a madressah in the complex in Sirai Darpakhel. All the three complexes have large open grounds, big guest houses and no-go areas. Taliban and Al-Qaida terrorists active in various parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan are believed to stay in the guesthouses. The no-go areas are believed to contain a large quantity of weapons and ammunition. Also, the large grounds are quite possibly used for training terrorists. Jalaluddin Haqqani’s extended family resides in the Dandi Darpakhel complex.
The people who went to the compound said that they talked to many students and teachers at the madrasa and observed them. It may well be that the teachers were teaching more than basic education to the students and that they were being trained to become suicide bombers. Qari Hussain, who is believed universally to be a master trainer of suicide bombers, is also resident in the area. There were many Pakhtuns, especially Mehsud and Wazir, as well as Punjabis, Arabs and Tajiks, Uzbeks, Afghans and Africans.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, an Afghan, is a former Mujaheedin leader. Due to his old age he has left the management of the complex to his son Sirajuddin. The senior Haqqani is widely respected among the Taliban and he uses his position to make peace among warring Taliban groups. When two Taliban groups anywhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan get at each other’s throats and kill each other, Jalaluddin asks his son to invite the two to one of his guest houses in the terror secretariat. He ultimately convinces them to stop fighting each other, by giving money to some and weapons to others. Jalaluddin is also a key link between the Taliban of Swat and Baitullah Mehsud. Some time back he managed to make peace between Maulvi Nazir, who leads a strong group of Taliban in North Waziristan, and Baituallah Mehsud. The dispute was over the presence of Uzbeks in the area. Maullvi Nazir wanted them kicked out of Waziristan because they were not interested in fighting in Afghanistan.
In case of any action against the complex, the government will have to consider its close proximity to the FC fort in the area. It is quite possible that in case of an attack on the terror secretariat, the terrorists would try and take control of the fort and kidnap the FC soldiers deployed there. Also, the complex is not far from the main Miranshah bazaar, so any error in the operation may bring about significant collateral damage. The terrorists use women and children as human shields.
An attack on these terrorists needs to be considered, because of the major impact it could have on the coordination and networking of Taliban groups in FATA. (The News, 4 April 2009)
The writer is a research fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Oslo, and a member of Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy. Email: email@example.com