The attack on Chinese Consulate in Karachi on 23rd November 2018 was claimed by a militant group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Spokesman of BLA Jeehand Baloch said that the attack was carried out by Fidayeen Majeed Brigade. After his claim, a lot of queries have been received at PICSS and people have been searching the internet to know more about the Majeed Brigade. Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) tasked its field correspondents in different parts of Balochistan to collect information available on the ground and send a detailed report. PICSS also gathered information from social media accounts of Baloch militants. A brief summary of what we found about Majeed Brigade is given below;
Majeed Baloch was a Baloch militant in 1970s who was involved in an attempt on the life of the then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He was killed by the security forces. Another Majeed Baloch emerged as a key BLA commander in recent rebellion. Majeed Baloch Junior was killed in 2010 by the security forces. The BLA raised a special unit after his name. The exact date of formation of the unit is not known but at least it was formed before 2011 when the group claimed a suicide bombing. The first use of suicide bombing in the on-going insurgency was done on 30th December 2011 when a car bomb attack exploded near the house of former state minister Mir Naseer Mengal in Quetta. In this attack, 13 people were killed and 30 others were injured. Baloch Liberation Army (then under Hyrbyair Marri) claimed the responsibility for the attack. The suicide attack was carried out by Darwaish Baloch, who was also associated with the Majeed Brigade. The suicide bombing in 2011 shows that Majeed Brigade was formed right after the death of Majeed Baloch in 2010.
The group had posted a training video of the elite unit on different social media platforms in 2013 which shows some glimpses of the level of guerilla fighting training BLA fighters get in training camps. Some sources in the Pakistani security forces claimed that the training camp for Majeed Brigade is in Afghanistan and the area in the video is also its training camp in Afghanistan. However, it cannot be independently verified where exactly the video was shot.
Currently, Majeed Brigade is headed by a notorious BLA commander Aslam Baloch also known as Aslam Achu who is reportedly hiding in Afghanistan under the protection of Afghan Intelligence NDS. Aslam Achu was severely injured in an encounter with Pakistani security forces back in 2016 in Sibbi district however, he managed to flee and later went to Afghanistan through Iran. Reportedly, he has obtained a fake Afghan passport to travel abroad especially India. According to PICSS sources, Aslam Baloch had fled to Iran and went to Afghanistan through Afghanistan from where he went to New Delhi for treatment of his injuries in a private hospital Max Health Care.
After his treatment, Aslam Baloch came back to Afghanistan and now managing the suicide bombings and special attacks by BLA under the banner of ‘Fidayeen Majeed Brigade’. He is reportedly operating from Qandahar, Afghanistan. Complete name of Achu is Takari Muhammad Aslam and he is the son of Rahim Dad.
Targeting Chinese interests is the prime task given to Majeed Brigade by BLA leadership. The focus of Aslam Baloch against Chinese interests can be gauged from the fact that he sent his elder son Rehan Baloch as a suicide bomber against Chinse Engineers in Dalbandin area in August 2018. Sending son of a major commander for suicide bombing has given a boost to the dying morale of the group, which has been dented heavily by recent surrenders by its fighters and commanders. It is worth noting that around 3000 Baloch militants from different groups have surrendered in recent years and they are being rehabilitated in the society.
Baloch Liberation Army is headed Harybiyar Murri, who is 5th son of late Khair Bakhsh Murri an anti-Pakistan tribal leader. Harbiyar lives in Europe and enjoys the patronage of anti-Pakistani forces. He had been living in London until 2017. He may still be living in London however, PICSS cannot verify that.
Armed militants of BLA are present in remote mountains of Zhob, Sibbi, Musa Khel, Nokundi, Dalbandin and Panjgoor areas of Balochistan. The group is also very much active in Makran division. Its sleeper cells are active in almost all major cities of Pakistan however; its clout in Karachi is much more than any other part of the country. The group enjoys sympathies and support of a segment of Baloch society, which helps the group to keep itself alive. Apart from obtaining funds from India and Afghanistan, the group is also funded by a segment of Baloch businessmen.
Apart from Aslam Achu or Aslam other major commanders of Majdeed Brigade include Bashir Zaib, Noor Buksh Mengal, Karim Marri, Captain Rehman Gul, Commander Nisar, Commander Gaindi, commander Shaikhu, commander Sharif, commander Hamal, commander Munshi, Agha Sher Dil and others.
In a video message posted on YouTube, Aslam Baloch alleges that the Chinese government is helping Pakistan fighting against Baloch militants. He also alleged that the Chinese government provided spying equipment to Pakistani security forces to track down Baloch militants. He accuses that Chinese are building their military basis on the entire coastal line of Balochistan
During collecting information about Majeed Brigade and BLA activities, it was revealed that BLA has safe havens in Iran too. Most of the injured fighters of BLA and other anti-Pakistan groups are treated in Iran while they also use Iranian territory to plan and execute attacks inside Pakistani territory and the flee back.