After deceptive media and the general public with false information about his demise a number of instances, the chief of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) militant group has now been confirmed lifeless by a number of sources within the Afghan and Pakistani governments and the Taliban.
Bagh, who was also referred to as Haji Mangal Bagh, had been hiding throughout the border in jap Afghanistan since 2014, the 12 months Pakistan launched an enormous anti-Taliban operation, Zarb-e-Azb, in its North Waziristan tribal district.
The operation was step by step prolonged to different tribal districts, dislodging a number of different militant outfits such because the LeI from their strongholds together with shattering the command and management construction of the as soon as dreaded Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which was the prime goal of the operation.
The TTP is a unfastened alliance of a number of armed teams from the trial area comprising seven tribal districts alongside the Afghan border. It was as soon as seen as a significant menace to Pakistan’s inside safety primarily due to its widespread terror infrastructure spreading from the rugged tribal area to cities as distant as Lahore in Punjab province and Karachi in Sindh, and its monetary assets generated from extortion, kidnapping, smuggling, and charities from the Gulf international locations.
Though Mangal Bagh by no means cast a proper alliance with the TTP and by no means swore allegiance to any of the TTP chiefs, reminiscent of Baitullah Mehsud, Hakimullah Mehsud, or Mullah Fazlullah, he was thought-about to be a sympathizer.
Additionally, in contrast to the TTP commanders and foot troopers, who had a confirmed historical past of combating throughout the border towards the U.S., NATO, and Afghan forces, Bagh and his males have been principally targeted on the Bara and Jamrud area in Khyber tribal district.
Bara is positioned lower than 10 miles from Peshawar, the primary city heart in Pakistan’s northwest, and Bagh turned it into his headquarters. For instance, his males would impose fines on locals and guests for not protecting their heads, shaving beards, and never attending the mosque 5 instances a day. At one time, Bagh’s males would preserve a document of locals not showing on the mosques for the early morning prayer after which publicly punish them.
Was Bagh a Outstanding Jihadi Chief?
Not like high and even mid-ranking TTP commanders, who have been identified for his or her battle-hardened acumen combating the Pakistani safety forces, Afghan forces, and NATO/U.S. troopers throughout the border in Afghanistan, Bagh’s observe document was much less that of a jihadi commander and extra a violent armed reformist and an extortionist who was important of the function of tribal maliks and elders within the tribal society.
He imposed strict Islam for women and men in his space, forcefully stopped the liquor enterprise, and attacked those that resisted, however Bagh by no means challenged the Pakistani state to demand the implementation of Shariah to the nation writ giant.
When the Pakistani authorities launched the primary operation towards Mangal Bagh’s LeI Bara headquarters in June 2008, Bagh merely withdrew his males with out presenting any resistance.
I used to be one of many few reporters who sneaked into Bara and traveled as much as the Sipah space, whereas the so-called huge operation was underway, however by no means seen any hint of combating between the 2 sides.
The one notable scene got here once I witnessed the safety forces razing Mangal Bagh’s mud home. Later, after the conclusion of the operation, Bagh was paid an enormous sum of cash to rebuild the razed construction.
Mangal Bagh’s Emergence as a Commander
With a humble household background, Mangal Bagh belonged to the comparatively smaller Sipah clan of the Afridi tribe in Bara sub-district of Khyber tribal district. The opposite seven clans embrace Malakdinkhel, Qambarkhel, Kamarkhel, Zakhakhel, Adamkhel, Akakhel, and Kukikhel.
He didn’t go to high school, however attended a non secular seminary for a while. As a younger man, Bagh labored as a bus cleaner to assist his household. Bagh’s important views in regards to the tribal maliks have been apparently influenced by his impoverished household background. However the change in his non secular views occurred as a result of his journeys with the evangelical motion, the Tableeghee Jamaat, propagating the Islamic ideas.
Nonetheless, the actual shift in Bagh’s mindset got here after he got here into shut contact with Mufti Munir Shakir, a firebrand cleric propagating the Deobandi jurisprudence of Hanafi Islam. Shakir’s fundamental goal was his Barelvi rival Pir Saifur Rahman, an Afghan who had come to settle within the Khyber tribal space a long time in the past.
In 2005, the Mufti and Pir rivalry moved to the airwaves as each launched unlawful FM radio broadcasts and continued questioning and focusing on one another’s non secular credentials. The state was a silent spectator because the Mufti-Pir disagreement continued brewing.
Throughout this time, Mufti Munir Shakir based the LeI and Mangal Bagh joined his group of key volunteers. LeI, nevertheless, got here into the limelight following the eruption of armed clashes between the followers of Mufti and Pir.
It was after one such armed conflict in early 2006 between the followers of the 2 that the state equipment got here into motion and ordered each clerics to go away the realm. Twenty-five individuals from either side have been reportedly killed in combating within the Sur Dand space of Khyber.
Chatting with reporters in Malakdinkhel space of Bara, the commander of LeI, Mangal Bagh, accused his rival group of “supporting terrorists.” He added that the LeI has no “ill-will in direction of the federal government.”
Because the state banished Mufti Munir Shakir and Pir Saifur Rahman from Khyber, Mangal Bagh emerged because the self-proclaimed head of the Lashkar-e-Islam.
Navy Operations In opposition to Mangal Bagh
Bagh step by step prolonged his sphere of affect by defeating a rival group, which was later named Ansar-ul-Islam (AI), and utilizing coercion, threats, and power wherever it was wanted. In time, he received over the assist of a majority of individuals within the space.
Not solely had Bagh began intimidating the individuals in Bara and Jamrud of Khyber, however he additionally started extorting businessmen and rich individuals within the metropolis of Peshawar. Aside from settling land disputes and enterprise feuds in his space, individuals from cities reminiscent of Peshawar and Mardan began approaching Bagh for resolution of their disputes with rivals, sturdy rivals specifically.
Bagh’s actions have been utterly ignored by the civilian and navy authorities sitting lower than 10 miles away within the heart of provincial authorities in Peshawar till he kidnapped practically a dozen Christians from town on June 22, 2008, accusing them of promoting liquor and organizing events with music.
The kidnapped males have been later launched with an apology, however the kidnapping created rumors in regards to the metropolis being on the verge of a takeover by the Bara-based militant group. To silence the rumors, the Pakistani safety forces launched their first operation towards Mangal Bagh on June 28, 2008.
Codenamed “Sirat-e-Mustaqeem” or “the straight path,” the primary operation was adopted by a sequence of others with comical and dramatic Pashto names, creating each drama and doubt.
One such operation, “Daraghlam” (“Right here I come!”) was launched in December 2008. This was adopted by one other operation in September 2009 codenamed “Bia Daraghlam” (“Right here I come once more!”) The third within the sequence was launched on November 24, 2009 with the code title “Khwakh Ba De Sham,” a Pashto expression meaning “I’ll repair you.”
None of those operations achieved the outcomes of defeating or reining in Mangal Bagh. As a substitute, every displaced hundreds of individuals from their villages and cities, who then got here to reside in tents or rented homes within the cities.
One frequent impression of the operation among the many locals and metropolis dwellers was that the federal government was not severe and that the entire hype and fuss was meant to impress the Individuals to get extra help as a associate within the warfare on terror.
Bagh’s Significance for the Taliban and Future
Throughout all 4 navy operations towards Mangal Bagh in 2008 and 2009, he by no means confronted the Pakistani safety forces. Nonetheless, his males remained engaged in bloody clashes with the rival Ansar-ul-Islam and later Tawheed-ul-Islam teams within the distant Tirah Valley bordering Afghanistan.
Mangal Bagh returned to his Bara stronghold after the conclusion of every navy operation. It was the menace from a rival group, the Darra Adamkhel-based Geedar Group of the TTP, and never the safety forces, that shifted his headquarters to Tirah Valley from Bara.
On account of his no-war coverage with the Pakistani safety forces, Bagh was not favored by most of the TTP commanders. His hassle with Geedar Group of TTP within the neighboring Darra Adamkhel was as a result of his this coverage, in addition to their dispute over the incomes from smuggling routes.
Since his escape into Afghanistan after June 2014, Bagh largely vanished from the militant scene. For a while in 2015, he entered right into a unfastened alliance with the so-called Islamic State (or Daesh) in Afghanistan’s Achin district. Daesh held the distant districts of Achin and Nazyan in 2015. Nonetheless, Bagh then switched to the TTP, which can be an ally of the Afghan Taliban.
Though he cast an undeclared alliance with the TTP, Bagh’s demise isn’t going have an effect on the group’s operations as he was not among the many most energetic and violent commanders. He was main a smaller power of 120 to 250 males, principally from Khyber tribal district they usually have been principally engaged in extortion actions.
Though Mangal Bagh might probably get replaced by his deputy Zalla Khan, his demise has virtually closed a violent chapter within the historical past of Khyber, a key space connecting Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar with Afghanistan.