The Army on Wednesday released the confessional statement of Liaquat Ali, infamously known as Ehsanullah Ehsan, a former spokesperson of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“My name is Liaquat Ali, aka Ehsanullah Ehsan and I belong to the Mohmand Agency,” he is heard as saying in the video. “I joined the TTP in 2008, when I was a college student,” Ali, alias Ehsan, is heard saying in the video.
“I have been a spokesperson for TTP Mohmand, TTP’s central division, and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar,” he says.
“I have seen a lot in my nine years with TTP. These people misled people in the name of Islam, especially the youth, for their own ends,” Ehsan can be heard saying in the video.
“They themselves could not come up to the standards they championed for others,” Ehsan said.
“A particular group is responsible for misleading people, kidnapping them and extorting them for money, and murdering innocents,” he says.
“These people are behind the bombing attacks in different places; attacking schools, colleges and universities. This is not what Islam teaches us,” he says.
“When the operation in Waziristan kicked off, these people started fighting within themselves for more power and leadership,” Ehsan reveals.
“After Hakimullah was killed, a new succession struggle kicked off,” Ehsan says. “A campaign was kicked off in support of Omar Khalid Khorasani, Sajna and Mullah Fazlullah. Everyone wanted power, so a shura decided that there would be a draw of names for who would be leader. This is how Mullah Fazlullah was elected leader of the TTP.”
“What can you expect from a leader who was nominated through a lucky draw? And what can you expect from Fazlullah, who married his mentor’s daughter by force and took her away,” Ehsan said.
“People like him are not fit to serve Islam,” he said.
“After the operation in North Waziristan, we fled to Afghanistan. Over there, we established and developed contacts with India and RAW [India’s spy agency],” Ehsan claimed.
“They [the TTP leadership] got their [Indian] support, their funding and took money for every activity they did. They pushed the TTP soldiers on the frontlines to fight against the Pakistan Army and went into hiding themselves,” he added.
“When they started taking help from India and RAW, I told Khorasani that we’re supporting the kuffar [non-believers] and helping them kill our own people in our own country.”
“He [Khorasani] said: ‘Even if Israel wants to fund me to destabilise Pakistan, I will not hesitate to take their help’.”
“At that point, I had figured out that the TTP was functioning according to some sort of agenda that served the self-interest of its leaders.”
“These [terrorist] organizations have established committees in Afghanistan through which they communicate and coordinate with RAW. The Indians had given them special visas to help them move around Afghanistan with ease. In Afghanistan, these visas function like Pakistani ID cards.”
“Without these documents, it is very difficult for terrorists to move around Afghanistan considering the security situation in that country,” Ehsan revealed.
“These [terrorists] used to keep in contact with Afghan and Indian security forces before they moved anywhere in the country. They used to grant them passage and guide their infiltration attempts into Pakistan.”
“Pakistan Army has destroyed several Jamaat-ul-Ahrar camps in Afghan territory and killed many of their commandoes in its ongoing operation. Due to this, they’ve had to flee the area and abandon their headquarters. Due to this, the morale of their fighters and their senior leadership has been shaken.”
“There are people in those camps who have had enough; who want to quit. I want to send out a message to them.”
“Adopt the path of peace, and come back to a life of tranquility.”
“When these people stopped getting airtime and coverage in media to the ongoing operations, they turned to social media to rope in young, people who do not know better,” he said.
“They started misleading them and provoking them using wrong interpretations of Islam. They spread propaganda and statements that could turn young people onto their side. I have a message for these young people too: these people are fighting only for their selfish designs and are being used by external forces.”
“The reasons I have discussed here turned me away from these organisations and motivated me to turn myself over voluntarily to Pakistan Army,” concludes his statement.
The director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, had announced on April 17 that Ehsan had turned himself in to Pakistan’s security agencies.
Right before announcing Ehsan’s surrender, the ISPR chief said that one of the objectives of the counterterrorism operations was to restore the writ of the state and that should be considered a major achievement if those previously indulging in wrongdoing realised that they were on the wrong side.
It is generally believed that Ehsan has been in the military’s custody since the Army responded to a string of terrorist attacks in February, which had been claimed by JuA, by shelling terrorist hideouts along the Pak-Afghan border.
Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa had, while talking to troops during one of his recent visits to military formations, hinted that a high-value target was being held.
Ehsan was believed to have been in hiding in Afghanistan. He was one of the founding figures of JuA, which was formed in August 2014 after splitting from the TTP. JuA is one of the most lethal of TTP’s splinter groups and has been involved in some of the most brutal attacks.
The group carried out about 120 attacks since it was formed nearly three years ago. At one stage JuA had aligned itself with Daesh, the Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group. JuA subsequently returned to the TTP fold, but continued to maintain an independent identity. The group launched the so-called operation Ghazi in February that led to spike in terrorist attacks.
Having Ehsan in custody could be invaluable for security agencies given the wealth of information he could have about JuA networks and operations.