PESHAWAR: The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Tuesday denied any link with the shadowy organisation Jandullah which was one of the two militant groups that had claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings on Sunday at the All Saints Church in the city in which 83 innocent persons were killed.
However, the TTP, through its spokesman, conceded that another little-known militant group, Jundul Hafsa, was one of its offshoots. It insisted that Jundul Hafsa had not claimed responsibility for the Peshawar church attack.
The TTP maintained that Jundul Hafsa had made no such claim, but reporters in Kohat and elsewhere insisted that its spokesman Ahmadullah claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on the Peshawar church in a phone on the day of the incident. They recalled that Ahmadullah had tried to justify the attack by arguing that their children and women too were being killed in US drone strikes and in military operations in the tribal areas.
Jundul Hafsa isn’t a strong and consistent militant group. It had claimed responsibility for an attack some two years ago and then gone quiet. Its first spokesman introduced himself as Asmatullah and now one Ahmadullah, whatever his real name, has claimed responsibility for the church attack.
It would be a challenge for the TTP to prove that Jundul Hafsa isn’t behind the Peshawar church bombing. The challenge would be bigger as Jundul Hafsa itself volunteered to call reporters on their cell-phones while claiming responsibility for the attack.
It is interesting that the TTP specifically mentioned Jandullah as the organisation that had claimed responsibility for the church bombings. It apparently did so to absolve the Jundul Hafsa of responsibility for any wrongdoing and instead focus attention on Jandullah. The TTP stressed that neither it nor any other mujahideen group had links with Jandullah.
The case of Jandullah and its commander and spokesman Ahmad Marwat is interesting. He has been claiming responsibility for every terrorist strike in Pakistan and some even abroad. Some of his claims have been exaggerated and some journalists he used to call have now stopped taking his calls or treating him seriously.
Some of the claims of responsibility of attacks made by Ahmad Marwat include the Bhoja Airlines crash that in his view happened due to the presence of two suicide bombers who blew up the plane. This wasn’t established by the investigation into the crash.
Ahmad Marwat, who reportedly is based in North Waziristan with a small band of followers, had also claimed that Ajmal Kasab was innocent because the Mumbai attacks were carried out by his men. He promised to provide a video-tape to prove his claim, but failed to do so.
He also claimed that Jandullah men had bombed the Ziarat Residency where Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had spent his last days of life. He was proved wrong when the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack and also put its flag on the destroyed building.
Jandullah’s Ahmad Marwat also claimed responsibility for the killing of nine foreign mountaineers and their Pakistani guide at the base camp of Nanga Parbat mountain peak in Gilgit-Baltistan. Soon afterwards, the TTP claimed that its men had carried out the attack. The media and the people believed the TTP claim rather than that made by Jandullah and Ahmad Marwat.
Ahmad Marwat once warned JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman not to visit Lakki Marwat for carrying out political activities as he was on Jandullah’s hit-list. The Maulana ignored the threat and contested and won the election for the sole National Assembly seat from Lakki Marwat. He later campaigned in the by-election on the same seat for his younger brother Maulana Attaur Rahman, who lost it to PTI candidate Col (retd) Amirullah Marwat.
On one occasion, Ahmad Marwat even threatened attacks in France and claimed that the French militant Muhammad Merah, who had killed seven people including three Jewish children in the French city of Toulouse before the police shot him dead, was a Jandullah fighter. His claim turned out to be untrue.