By Kamran Khan (Peshawar)
Militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has now officially confirmed, though after a long time, the death of its Khyber Agency commander Tariq Afridi. The Conflict Monitoring Center had disclosed his death news in its September 2012 monthly security report. TTP Darra Adam Khel area’s spokesperson confirmed that Tariq Afridi, had died of wounds suffered a few months back in Tirah area of Orakzai Agency. The Conflict Monitoring Center in its monthly security report had said that in mid of August Tariq Afridi was reportedly killed by his own brother in law Commander Nazir. According to CMC sources, Hakeemullah Mehsud himself hatched the plan to kill Tariq Afridi because Afridi was becoming more influential in TTP ranks and had started to act upon his own without taking into account the instructions of the Amir (Hakeemullah Mesud). Hakeemullah Mehsud first tried to clip the wings of Tariq Afridi by sending Abdul Wali -one of the most powerful TTP commanders in FATA– as head of the TTP Khyber Agency but Tariq Afridi rej
ected the orders to give the command to Abdul Wali. Mehsud used Afridi’s brother-in-law Nazir who is himself a militant commander, to eliminate him. Commander Nazir was promised to be appointed Naib Ameer (Deputy Commander) of TTP Khyber Agency. After his death Tariq Afridi group faced stern internal rifts. Three influential commanders, Mufti Ilyas, Commander Arif and Commander Omer Amin had locked horns with each other to control the group. Commander Abdu Wali was not welcomed by Tariq Afridi group. Commander Mufti Ilyas worked as interim Amir of the Tariq Afridi group. But his own loyalty to the group was doubtful as there were reports that he may join Commander Fazal Saeed who had left the TTP last year and formed his own faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Islami (TTI). Another contender of the post was Commander Omer Amin who has more influence in Darra Adam Khel area. He wanted his own control on the group instead of accepting Abdul Wali as Amir. Nevertheless, eventually it was Commander Arif who is now appointed as successor of Tariq Afridi by Hakeemullah Mehsud. He is loyal to Mehsud’s man in the area Abdul Wali. Conflict Monitoring Center’s sources revealed that until leadership crisis were not resolved the group declined to confirm death of Tariq Afridi to keep the group’s fighters intact.
It is worth mentioning that Tariq Arfidi was believed to behind kidnapping and killing of two pro Taliban ex military men Col. Imam and Khalid Khwaja.