Unveiling the Complexities: Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and Afghanistan’s Turbulent Landscape

Jamaat al-Ahrar, an affiliated to TTP
The flag of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a terrorist organisation that has link with Jamaat al-Ahrar (Credits: ArnoldPlaton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 32 Issue 7
Author: Giuliano Bifolchi

The assassination of Qari Mohammad Dawezi in Afghanistan, a field commander affiliated with the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction withing the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), highlights the intensifying factional infighting within the organisation and the significant role that the Afghan territory has for jihadist militants.

This event occurs in the context of increased instability in Afghanistan, following the Taliban’s rise to power and recent turbulence regarding Pakistan.

The presence of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of the TTP, adds another layer of complexity to the regional security landscape. With JuA’s origins in the Mohmand District and its continued involvement in terrorist attacks, the risks posed by extremist elements within the region are further heightened.

Information Background

On July 13th, 2023, Qari Mohammad Dawezi, a prominent field commander associated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, was assassinated in Sharan, Paktika Province.

Dawizai, originally from the Mohmand District in the former Federally Administrated Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan, had risen to the position of “emir” in Karachi under the banner of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. Notably, his two brothers, Mir Jafar, and Kari Kadim, had previously lost their lives during U.S. and NATO military operations in Afghanistan.

Qari Mohammad Dawezi , also known as Mohammad Ibrahim, came from the Kurram District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. He held a significant position as a field commander within the TTP and enjoyed the trust of the group’s leader. Additionally, he was a member of the leadership council of the terrorist organisation Jamaat al-Ahrar.

In an effort to locate his whereabouts, the Pakistani government offered a reward of one million Pakistani rupees for any information leading to his capture. Notably, the Taliban government has refrained from providing any official statement regarding the killing of Qari Muhammad Dawezi.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar And Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan: A Brief Overview

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a collection of Pakistani militant groups that oppose the state of Pakistan, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), and U.S.-led coalition forces before their withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Aligned with the Afghan Taliban, the TTP formerly fought against the U.S.-backed Afghan government. Founded in 2007 by Pakistani militants with ties to both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the TTP has consistently targeted Shi’ite and Ahmadi mosques, with numerous attacks claimed by various splinter groups.

The addition of anti-Shia elements to the TTP in recent years shows a growing sectarian outlook. While the group’s name suggests a national focus, it primarily represents the Pashtun-speaking regions of Pakistan, lacking broad support in Punjab, Sindh, and Baluchistan.

The TTP’s refusal to acknowledge the Durand Line and its allegiance to the Afghan Taliban highlight its Pashtun character.

Following a decline in support because of military operations in Pakistan, the TTP experienced a resurgence when the Afghan Taliban acquired power in Kabul in August 2021. The group reorganised former members and successfully recruited additional extremist factions, thanks to Wali Mehsud’s skilled diplomacy.

Wali Mehsud, a Pakistani Islamic scholar, cleric, and jurist who is the fourth emir of TTP, reintroduced the discussion on jihad and portrayed those joining the organisation as devout followers of “true Islam.”

In November 2022, TTP declared the termination of an open-ended ceasefire agreed upon with the Pakistani government in June 2022. In addition, the TTP has instructed its fighters to initiate attacks throughout the country.

The United Nations Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the suicide terrorist attack at a mosque in Peshawar occurred on January 30th, 2023, which was claimed by the TTP and resulted in the deaths of at least 63 Pakistanis with over 150 injured.

Today, TTP includes Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI), Baloch Mazari Group, Jundallah Group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), Ghazi Abdul Rashid Shahid Brigade (GARSB), Tehrik-e Taliban Punjab (TT Punjab), Musa Shaheed Karwan group, Amjad Farooqi Group and Hakimullah Mehsud Group.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), listed as an associated group of the TTP, emerged in August 2014 through the merger of a TTP faction in the Mohmand District and Ahrar-ul-Hind. JuA is primarily based in Lal Pur District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

Its commanders and operatives largely hail from the Mohmand Agency, dispersed after Pakistan’s military operation Zarb-e-Azb, and continue to launch terrorist attacks within Pakistan.

Established in August 2014 by former TTP leader Abdul Wali, JuA has orchestrated numerous attacks in Pakistan, specifically targeting civilians, religious minorities, military personnel, and law enforcement.

In August 2015, JuA claimed accountability for a suicide bombing in Punjab, resulting in the death of Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada and 18 of his supporters. JuA handled the murder of two Pakistani employees from the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar in early March 2016.

Later that same month, JuA conducted a suicide attack at Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal amusement park, claiming the lives of over 70 individuals, with nearly half of them being women and children. The attack also left hundreds injured.

AfPak: A Geopolitical Risk Analysis

Afghanistan’s instability, since the Taliban’s rise to power, has created a conducive environment for the resurgence of terrorist activities. The presence of JuA, based in Nangarhar Province, adds another dimension to the security landscape, given its association with the TTP.

Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan include roadside and suicide bombs, rocket, and mortar fire, direct fire, kidnappings, and violent crimes. The likelihood of attacks in or around religious sites and during religious festivals has increased.

Local sources and reports reveal Afghanistan has become a staging ground for terrorism once again.

The Taliban and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) have been engaged in conflicts, with the ISKP launching attacks on ethnic minorities and government institutions, while the Taliban conducts raids on ISKP hideouts.

The negative effects of terrorism in Afghanistan are far-reaching, impacting various aspects of life, including the economy, society, culture, and politics.

The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri by a U.S. drone strike in August 2022 confirmed the link between al-Qaeda and the Afghan territory and the upsurge of terrorist organisations in the country after the Taliban’s rise to power.

The close proximity of Afghanistan to Pakistan highlights the transnational dimension of the threat, with the potential for terrorists to cross borders and exchange resources and expertise among different extremist factions.

The involvement of JuA, originating from the Mohmand District and continuing its terrorist activities, highlights the persistent risks faced by Pakistan. The dispersal of JuA operatives after Pakistan’s military operation Zarb-e-Azb further underscores the challenges of countering terrorism within the country.

The remnants of JuA’s network pose a significant threat, as they persist in launching attacks against Pakistani targets, contributing to the overall security concerns in the region.

Looking at local political stability in Pakistan, it should be stressed that Islamabad continues to face significant challenges in combating terrorism, violent attacks, and civil unrest, with these concerns expected to persist in the medium term.

Although the main terrorist threat comes from the TTP, the Islamic State is also active in Pakistan. While both groups’ activities are primarily directed against the Pakistani state, they have in the past stated an intent to launch attacks on western interests.

Areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, including Peshawar, suffer regular terrorist attacks, and there are threats of attacks in Karachi and daily violence. Terrorist attacks against diverse targets in Baluchistan and Sindh provinces are also conducted by separatist militant groups.

Indeed, Pakistan has been prominently engaged in the global fight against both transnational and domestic Islamist terrorism, positioning it as one of the key battleground states in this ongoing struggle.

The country’ economic crisis and political uncertainty further contribute to the complex security landscape. The detention of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 9th, 2023, triggered a surge in violent protests.

It is likely that additional rallies and clashes will occur in the near future, especially leading up to and following the general elections scheduled for October or later.

Crime rates vary across different regions, with areas like Karachi experiencing high crime rates while rural areas often have lower levels of criminal activity.


The killing of Mohammad Dawizai might confirm internal fighting within the TTP, which greatly interests the AfPak region. The intensifying factional infighting within the TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) raises the possibility of increased violence and instability in the region.

On the other hand, Dawezi’s assassination may have been ordered by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in response to a recent terrorist attack on an army base, which was allegedly carried out by factions of the Afghan Taliban or other groups opposing him within the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.

Indeed, on July 12th, 2023, during a visit to injured personnel from an armed attack by the Jihadi Movement of Pakistan (TJP) on an army base in Balochistan province, General Asim Munir Ahmed Shah HI, Chief of Staff of the Pakistani Army, issued a warning to militants belonging to Pakistan’s Taliban Movement and other terrorist organisations operating in Afghanistan, indicating that revenge would be sought against them.

Afghanistan faces a significant terrorism threat, as several terrorist groups operate within the country. Violent attacks and jihadist propaganda have significantly impacted the country whose future is undermined by harsh socioeconomic conditions and the Taliban’s strict rule.

Pakistan’s security challenges are complex because of religious and political factors. The policing system has deficiencies, including inadequate training, limited equipment, weak intelligence-collection mechanisms, and insufficient coordination among law enforcement agencies.

Efforts to counter terrorism in Pakistan must focus on strengthening the police and local law enforcement, with a centralised coordination unit based on intelligence.

On the other hand, the political uncertainty, economic crisis, and civil unrest in Pakistan could worsen the security challenges faced by the country. This scenario may cause an escalation of violent protests, social tensions, and a further decline in governance and security.

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