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Viewing cable 09ISLAMABAD478, NEW WAZIRISTAN TERRORIST ALLIANCE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ISLAMABAD478 2009-03-04 14:02 2010-11-30 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Islamabad
P 041421Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1740
INFO AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 
AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 
AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
S E C R E T ISLAMABAD 000478 


NOFORN 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2034 
TAGS: PREL PTER PK
SUBJECT: NEW WAZIRISTAN TERRORIST ALLIANCE 

Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

1. (S/NF) Summary: Rival Pakistani Taliban leaders Baitullah 
Mehsud, Maulvi Nazir, and Hafiz Gul Bahadur formed a new 
militant alliance on February 23. The new alliance 
recognizes Taliban leader Mullah Omar as its leader, and its 
goal is to fight the planned U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan. 
The Pakistani militant leaders will maintain their 
independent militants groups but will now facilitate 
cooperation in cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. It is 
too early to say how effective this new alliance will be in 
launching cross-border attacks against U.S./NATO forces in 
Afghanistan, but it does give the largest and most powerful 
Pakistani Taliban leaders unfettered access across North and 
South Waziristan. Formation of the alliance demonstrates 
that the GOP's tribal "divide and conquer" strategy is not 
working, at least not to our advantage. Civilian leaders are 
concerned about the continuing loss of government writ in the 
Waziristans after this agreement, but Pakistan's security 
forces may see few downsides to an alliance that focuses its 
attacks outside of Pakistan. End summary. 

2. (SBU) On February 23, Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) leader 
Baitullah Mehsud signed a deal with two powerful rival 
Taliban commanders Maulvi Nazir of South Waziristan and Hafiz 
Gul Bahadur of North Waziristan. The three, according to 
press reports, have formed a new group called Shura 
Ittihad-ul-Mujahideen (Mujahideen Unity Council), that they 
claim will unite them against external forces trying to 
divide the multiple Taliban groups based in Pakistan. They 
have formed a 13-member shura to run the affairs of the new 
alliance. The militants named Mullah Omar as their supreme 
leader, but the group did not choose a leader of its 
operational shura. According to a joint public statement, 
the militant leaders praised Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar 
as defenders of Islam and Muslims. The spokesman for 
Baitullah Mehsud, Mufti Waliullah, said that the three 
Taliban commanders would now operate from a single platform 
under the new alliance. Currently Baitullah Mehsud controls 
the eastern portion of South Waziristan, which is populated 
largely by Mehsud tribesmen. Maulvi Nazir is based out of 
the Ahmedzai Wazir area of South Waziristan on the agency's 
western border with Afghanistan. Hafiz Gul Bahadur leads his 
Utmanzai Wazir militants from Miram Shah, North Waziristan. 

3. (C) The formation of the new alliance follows Baitullah 
Mehsud's December 2007 formation of TTP as an umbrella group 
to better coordinate pro-Taliban activities. The creation of 
the TTP was the merger of various Pakistani militant groups 
operating under disparate commands in different tribal 
agencies. The TTP alliance runs as a loose federation rather 
than a strictly controlled organization. Each of the 
militant leaders maintains a degree of autonomy and Baitullah 
Mehsud, as the strongest leader of Pakistani Taliban, lends 
his support and coordination to the various TTP subcommanders 
in places such as Bajaur and Swat. Nazir, who broke openly 
with Mehsud in the spring of 2007 (see para 6), was not a 
part of TTP. Bahadur, who had jockeyed with Mehsud for the 
title of pre-eminent local militant leader in the 
Waziristans, had maintained some distance from the TTP label 
before now. 

4. (C) The new Mujahideen Unity Council will likely be 
another loose federation with each Taliban commander 
maintaining his own authority. Federally Administered Tribal 
Areas (FATA) Secretariat Additional Chief Secretary 
Habibullah Khan expressed concern to Peshawar Principal 
Officer in a February 24 meeting that this new body provides 
all three militant leaders with unfettered access to all of 
South and North Waziristan. Baitullah Mehsud will be a main 
beneficiary of this new access, giving his fighters easier 
entry to the Afghanistan border through Maulvi Nazir's 
Wazir-held territory. Before the deal, Mehsud had limited 
access to the border from his portion of South Waziristan 
because he was blocked either by Maulvi Nazir or Gul Bahadur. 
While the alliance will not work as a tight top-down 
militant organization, it will facilitate access and 
coordination of various Pakistani Taliban as they cross into 
Afghanistan. 

5. (C) While Khan had no hard facts, he detected the hand of 
the Haqqani network in bringing these rival commanders 
together. The new coordination, he feared, will allow the 
Taliban to focus on sending militants across the border into 
Afghanistan. Sirajuddin Haqqani also claimed in the press 
that he had convinced the three rival Taliban leaders to 
meet. Sirajuddin and his father Jalaluddin Haqqani lead much 
of the Taliban militancy in eastern Afghanistan. Sirajuddin 
often travels to the tribal areas of Pakistan, North 
Waziristan in particular, and has served as a mediator 
between these rival Taliban leaders. 

6. (S/NF) In the past, the Pakistani government has supported 
Maulvi Nazir in an attempt to counter Baitullah Mehsud in 
South Waziristan. In the spring of 2007, an open break 
between Nazir and Mehsud took place over the presence of 
"Uzbek" fighters in South Waziristan. The disagreement 
culminated in an operation in which Pakistani security forces 
fought alongside Nazir's followers to oust Uzbeks from the 
area. While Nazir appeared to draw on genuine local anger 
and desire to remove "Uzbeks," his activities as an al-Qaida 
facilitator and promoter of cross-border attacks have always 
complicated Pakistani efforts to sell this episode as a 
"success" story. A South Waziristan-based contact told 
Principal Officer Peshawar on February 24 that Mehsud and 
Nazir are showing signs of getting past old disagreements and 
that "Uzbeks" are re-appearing in growing numbers in the 
area. 

7. (SBU) According to Pakistani newspapers, Ahmedzai Wazir 
elders of South Waziristan, who are concerned about the new 
alliance and the possibility of "Uzbeks" coming back into 
their territory, questioned Maulvi Nazir about the deal with 
rival Mehsud. At a meeting in Wana, South Waziristan Maulvi 
Nazir assured the elders that each militant group will 
continue to have its own independent status and remain 
sovereign in their own territory. Nazir explained that the 
alliance was formed "only to act together against the United 
States" because the Taliban was concerned about the troop 
surge in Afghanistan, according to Pakistan press reports. 
The elders publicly cautioned Nazir that they would turn 
against him if this new deal brought any harm to their areas. 

8. (C) While he did not touch on a possible ISI role in 
brokering this new alliance, Habibullah Khan noted that 
pressure has been building on the Pakistani military in the 
Waziristans. The Pakistani military and then Northwest 
Frontier Province Governor Orakzai quietly entered peace 
deals with North Waziristan commanders in December 2007 and 
with Baitullah Mehsud in February 2008 in order to achieve 
relative peace. Those agreements came after a series of high 
profile attacks on the military in the Waziristans, including 
the kidnapping of over 250 security forces by Baitullah 
Mehsud and Jan 2008 fighting at Ladha Fort in South 
Waziristan. While violence directed at the military in the 
Waziristans has been minor in the last few months, Peshawar 
observers regularly note that the military remains concerned 
with its ability to keep a lid on trouble in these two 
agencies. Chief of Army Staff General Kayani believes the 
respite offered by this latest agreement is necessary for his 
stretched forces to continue fighting in Bajaur and Mohmand 
agencies. However, the relative quiet in South and North 
Waziristan has allowed Baitullah Mehsud to increasingly send 
his fighters in other parts of the FATA and Northwest 
Frontier Province, including Swat. 

9. (C) Khan also noted with deep dismay that this 
announcement demonstrates that these militant commanders see 
themselves in a strong enough position to form an alliance 
that takes them one step closer to a formal territorial 
takeover of the Waziristan as an "Islamic Emirate." South 
Waziristan contacts also commented that there is an 
increasing presence of Punjabi militants from Jaish-e 
Muhammad in the Mehsud areas of South Waziristan. (Comment: 
A development if accurate that is almost certainly of concern 
to the Pakistani military. It is significant that Baitullah 
Mehsud's strength and open militancy are drawing fighters 
from places such as southern Punjab.) 

10. (C) As this new alliance formed, Mullah Omar ordered 
militants in North and South Waziristan to immediately stop 
their attacks on Pakistani security forces, according to 
press reports. Omar said in a letter to the militants, "If 
anybody really wants to wage jihad, they must fight the U.S. 
and NATO troops inside Afghanistan." The letter also stated 
that Omar was responsible for the agreement between Mehsud, 
Nazir, and Bahadur, and that after this agreement "the 
attacks on Pakistani security forces by the local Taliban 
will decrease if not end completely." Mullah Omar continues 
to exert considerable influence on the militants in South and 
North Waziristan. Halting attacks against Pakistani forces 
may increase the militants' safe haven space in Pakistan, 
allowing the militants to cross the border to attack NATO 
forces in Afghanistan. 

11. (C) Comment: It is too early to predict how effective 
this new alliance will be in launching cross-border attacks 
on U.S./NATO forces, but its formation will provide the group 
with unfettered access to Afghanistan across North and South 
Waziristan. It is another indication that the GOP's tribal 
divide and conquer strategy against militants is not working, 
at least not to our advantage. Pakistan's security forces, 
however, may see limited downsides to an arrangement that 
focuses militant attacks outside of Pakistan.