Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is one of the factions that split from the Pakistani Taliban movement. It is active on the border with Afghanistan and is considered more violent than the movement, as it launched hundreds of operations inside Pakistan. It considers itself to be the real Taliban movement, and it was classified by the United States as a terrorist organization.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) was founded in August 2014 by Qasim Omar Khorasani (aka Abdul Maula), who was killed by a roadside bomb in Paktika province, eastern Afghanistan, in August 2022. The split happened when prominent terrorist leaders, led by Khorasani, announced their defection from the Pakistani Taliban and the formation of an armed faction with more rigid ideological goals and premises. The group promised at that time to give a strong impetus to jihad.
The group formed a Shura Council comprising leaders who were prominent in the Pakistani Taliban, including Khalid Khorasani, Ehsanullah Ehsan, Mufti Misbah, Qari Shakil and Maulana Yasin.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar now considers itself the real Taliban, affirming its rejection of the strategy of negotiations with the government that the Pakistani Taliban has pursued since 2014.
Along with the Pakistani Taliban and the mother Taliban movement in Afghanistan, JuA adopts what is called the Salafist-jihadist ideology, rejecting governance by other than God and disbelieving in democracy. The group is considered more intransigent than the Taliban of Pakistan and the Taliban of Afghanistan, and it has declared war on non-Muslim countries, while its statements confirmed that there is no alternative to the application of Islamic law from their perspective.
The group aims to implement Islamic law in Pakistan and the world, and from time to time it adopts bloody attacks against religious minorities, officials and government institutions.
According to the US Rewards for Justice program, the group has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.
In August 2016, the US State Department specifically designated Jamaat-ul-Ahrar as a global terrorist entity pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended. As a result of this designation, all property and interests of the terrorist group that are under US jurisdiction are blocked, and Americans are generally prohibited from conducting any transactions with JuA.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is active on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it has claimed many bloody attacks.
JuA launched a series of attacks in Pakistan, targeting civilians, religious minorities, military personnel, and law enforcement forces in its operations.
In November 2014, a person blew himself up at the most prominent border crossing between Pakistan and India, leaving 55 dead. JuA claimed responsibility for the operation.
In August 2015, JuA claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in Punjab, Pakistan, that killed Punjabi Home Minister Shuja Khanzada and 18 of his support personnel.
In September 2015, JuA attacked the offices of the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) in the northwestern town of Mardan, killing 21 people and wounding 63.
JuA was also responsible for the killing of two Pakistani employees working for the US consulate in Peshawar in early March 2016. At the end of the same month, the group carried out a suicide attack in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal amusement park in Lahore, Pakistan, killing more than 70 people (almost half of them women and children) and injuring hundreds of others.
Before the group’s leader, Omar Khaled Khorasani, was killed, the Rewards for Justice Program offered a reward of up to $3 million for a tip on him.
Hudhayfa Farid, a strategic analyst and researcher on Pakistani affairs, confirmed that JuA is more violent and terrorist than the Pakistani Taliban movement it had splintered from, as most of the operations carried out inside Pakistani territory are attributed to JuA.
Farid explained in exclusive statements to the Reference that immediately after carrying out and adopting terrorist operations inside Pakistan in the past, JuA was classified by the United States as a terrorist organization and placed on the blacklist of the US Rewards for Justice program.
The group recently issued a statement attacking the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, accusing it of causing the killing of its leaders, and vowing revenge, Farid pointed out, adding that the terrorist group’s demand for Afghanistan to protect it or not stand in its way if it begins its operations will not happen in light of the restoration of relations between the two countries.