Former Taliban spokesman exposes militants as enemies of Islam

By Muhammad Ahil 


Ehsanullah Ehsan (centre) is shown in an undated photograph with the late Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud (right) and Khalid Balti alias Muhammad Khurasani, Ehsan's successor as militant spokesman. [Courtesy of Muhammad Ahil]

PESHAWAR -- Militants received sharp criticism from former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Liaquat Ali, alias Ehsanullah Ehsan.

After almost a decade of vocally supporting outlawed groups, Ehsan, who also was a founding member of the TTP splinter group Jamatul Ahrar (JA), surrendered to Pakistani authorities and called on other militants to lay down their arms.

The TTP, JA and other militant groups have been misusing religion as a tool to loot, plunder and kill the innocent in the name of Islam, he said in a scathing confession released in April.

Ehsan said he was disgusted with militant commanders who distort Islam and propagandise youth into slaughtering the innocent and destabilising the region.

"The so-called 'jihadists' have misled people in the name of Islam, especially the youngsters," said Ehsan in his confessional video released April 26 by Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). "They never followed Islam in its true spirit or by the standards they demand of others.

Their crimes against youth and other civilians, such as "bombing public places and attacking schools and universities", traduce Islamic teachings, he said.

'Victory in war on terror'

Ehsan's startling revelations of the brutality and anti-Islamic actions of militant groups carry weight among the groups' members, already splintered and hiding along the Pakistani-Afghan border, say analysts.

The confession exposes the true face of militants who profane Islam, misuse the ideology of "jihad" and use innocent young men as cannon fodder in both countries, they say.

"It is a great victory in the war on terror," Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah of Peshawar, former security secretary for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), told Pakistan Forward.

"The surrender of Ehsanullah Ehsan to the authorities means a lot; he was a key Taliban commander and can give important leads to shatter the militant network in the settled and tribal areas of Pakistan," he said.

Militants have been fleeing for years and have no place to survive in Pakistan or Afghanistan, he said.

"Ehsan, like many others, chose to surrender," he said, adding, "Many more will follow."

"It's a great blow to the entire militant structure," he said of the surrender.

Ehsan's video message appears to back up Shah's assessment.

"As the Pakistani army destroyed several [JA] camps in Parcha and Lalpura and killed many of their fighters, their morale is low," Ehsan said.

"The leadership has been shaken up," he continued. "Many in the camps want to quit. I urge them to give up arms."

Ehsan concluded by advising youth not to fall for militant recruiting on social media.

Ehsan shows true face of militants

Ehsan's surrender and call for others to follow his lead represent a "big success", said Prof. Hassan Askari Rizvi, a security analyst from Lahore and political scientist emeritus at University of Punjab.

"He was a key figure," Rizvi told Pakistan Forward. "He will give more leads. He knew the structure of both TTP and [JA] and even knew the foreign fighters. His co-operation will provide [security forces] more access to the militants' structure."

"Ehsan's accusations against TTP and JA leadership are quite powerful," he said. "They will be a blessing for innocent [...] youth who were deceived in the name of Islam and 'jihad'. Now that they know the true face of the militants ... many will not volunteer for suicide bombings."

Ehsan's surrender and confession are "significant", said University of Peshawar political scientist Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi.

"He knows a lot about these organisations [the TTP, JA, al-Qaeda and Punjabi Taliban]," he said. "He'll be a key in shattering those groups."

Meanwhile, many on social media exhibited hard feelings for a man who publicly supported terrorism for years. Whatever the value of his confession, they say, there is no need to offer him clemency.

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To the honorable editor of Salaam Times, Salaam. I am a fan of your website. I thank you for publishing precise news and detailed reports; however, in your this report there are Urdu and English terms which are difficult to understand, and negatively affect Pashto language's fluency. I am writing down a number of Urdu and English terms used in this report. Hope you will consider it in the future: Ashara (decade) Bani (founder) Kamandaran (commanders) Imaje (image) Gomraaha (misled) Skoloona (schools) University (university) Idealozhy (ideology) Brigadier (Brigadier) Retired (Retired) Fata (FATA) Sekretary (Secretary) Networkoona (Networks) Leadership (Leadership) Soshal Media (Social Media) ...... Wish you success.