The Red Mosque operation and its impact on the growth of the Pakistani Taliban

FFI-Report 2008

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2008/01915

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978-82-464-1444-7

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Qandeel Siddique
The objectives of the present report are two-fold: firstly, to appraise the alleged militancy associated with the Red Mosque, by examining the history of the mosque and its leading luminaries, and the possible links between the mosque and terrorist organisations. Subsequently, acts of terrorism to have taken place in Pakistan in the latter half of 2007 are delineated and analysed with a view to explain whether they represent direct responses to the military operation against Lal Masjid in July 2007. For this purpose, news items and journal articles were reviewed and pitted against inculpatory information found on the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa websites, as well as relevant jihadi audios and videos released in the tumultuous aftermath of the Lal Masjid incident. A few Pakistani analysts and journals were also interviewed via phone to further illuminate the linkages between the Lal Masjid episode and subsequent acts of terrorism in Pakistan. Finally, in light of all this, an attempt is made to determine where – if at all – Lal Masjid lies on the “militancy scale”, i.e. whether the institution itself can be seen as “militant”. The second part of this report revolves around the phenomenon of Talibanization which is defined here as the spread of Taliban activities – including both acts of terrorism (against Pakistani security personnel and politicians considered to be perfidious puppets of the West), as well as efforts to establish a parallel form for governance based on retrograde Islamic principles. An attempt is made to explain what the Pakistani Taliban is and the spreading and strengthening of its influence across Pakistan in the backdrop of Operation Silence on the Red Mosque in July 2007. It shall be argued that, insofar as the Lal Masjid is concerned, although its clerics and students have openly expressed support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, as well as Pakistani sectarian groups, there seems to be scant evidence of Lal Masjid – its administrators or students – being involved in actual acts of terrorism. However, it is likely that the operation against Lal Masjid figured highly in turning the tide of terrorism in Pakistan as we see an increase in suicide bombings since the military raid against the mosque and its seminaries. In the aftermath of the operation, Pakistan witnessed a rapid surge in violent extremism; the incident was presumably used by various jihadi groups as a rallying point from where to attract more attention and support. Once Operation Silence on the Red Mosque was “broken,” Pak-Taliban appears to have emerged as a ferocious force to be reckoned with in Pakistan. As an appendix to this report is a timeline covering the period July – December 2007 of attacks against Pakistani personnel and politicians after the Lal Masjid operation in July 2007.

About publication

Report number

2008/01915

ISBN

978-82-464-1444-7

Format

PDF-document

Size

694.3 KB

Download publication

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