Pak Taliban forms "vigilance cell" to hunt US informers

The Pak Taliban in N Waziristan tribal agency have established a vigilance cell.

Last Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 15:36 PM IST

Islamabad: The Pakistani Taliban in North
Waziristan tribal agency have established a "vigilance cell"
to hunt people suspected of providing intelligence to guide US
drones in attacks on the militants, according to a media
report o Monday.

The cell, known as the Lashkar-e-Khorasan, has been
tasked to identify, capture and execute people working for
what is described as a "web of local spies" created by the US
Central Intelligence Agency, The Express Tribune newspaper
quoted its sources as saying.

The Lashkar draws it strength from the Haqqani
network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group two Taliban factions
that control regions along the Afghan border, the report said.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan led by Hakimullah Mehsud
has its sympathies for the cell and provides occasional
"active cooperation" to the Lashkar.

Though the exact number of members of the Lashkar is
not known, a source in the tribal areas told the daily it was
more than 300.

The regions where the cell works are Datta Khel,
Miramshah, Mir Ali and surrounding areas where US drone
strikes have been frequent.

The cell was set up last year by top commanders of the
Haqqani network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group, which have a
"tacit peace understanding" with Pakistan troops operating in
South Waziristan.

The military operation in South Waziristan is aimed at
rooting out home-grown Taliban striking inside Pakistan.

"In the beginning, it was a loose network with members
casually going out and trying to find out who is providing
information to the US... It is more organised now and they are
working scientifically on the counter-intelligence line," an
associate of one of the groups told the daily.

An intelligence official at the Pakistan Army
headquarters in Rawalpindi and local sources in Mir Ali and
Miramshah too confirmed the existence and activities of the
Lashkar but appeared unaware of its structure, the report
said.

The US stepped up its drone campaign in the
mountainous border regions last year to eliminate what US
officials called high-value targets, including top leaders of
al Qaeda and their local facilitators.

The unmanned aerial vehicles operated by the CIA to
eradicate Taliban militants in Pakistan`s border areas struck
more than 100 times last year alone.

Though US officials do not publicly comment on the
drone campaign, it is commonly known that the UAVs target a
mechanical chip on the ground that spies allegedly place at
Taliban hideouts.

"The Lashkar-e-Khorasan is working to find out who
exactly does that and how Americans are able to find out where
the mujahideen are holding a meeting or which vehicle they
are travelling in," the affiliate of the Bahadur group said.

Once a suspect is caught "spying", he is taken to a
Taliban court or Dar-ul-Qaza where judges or qazis ask him to
explain his position.

If proved guilty, the person is executed immediately.
Two months ago, the Lashkar-e-Khorasan was behind the
beheading of almost half a dozen motor mechanics in Mir Ali
after US officials changed their policy of hitting compounds
and instead started targeting vehicles with Taliban leaders on
board.

The mechanics, mostly from Bannu district in
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, became a prey of the militants`
outrage after they were blamed for placing chips in a Taliban
Hilux car to make it a target for the US drones.

PTI