Islamic State Sahel Province Claims It Killed Over 100 Al-Qaeda Fighters in Mali; Pakistani Taliban Promotes Prominent Commander to Central Shura
Pakistani Taliban Publishes Biography of Regional Commander
The Ghazi Media Network released a brief biography of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Umar Khorasani on December 10. Khorasani was reportedly nominated as a member of the TTP Central Shura, or council, and the biography covers his career as a jihadist as well as aspects of his private life.
He was reportedly born on March 15, 1985, in Tahsil Safi, a village in the Mohmand district of what is now Pakistan’s Afghan border province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The biography states that he now lives in the nearby village of Sorang and belongs to the Dawezee tribe. He was educated in his home region, taking his secondary school studies from the Government High Secondary School Lakaray in Tahsil Safi before taking his religious studies from Jamia Islamia, in Charsada.
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Omar Khorasani’s career as a jihadist is said to have begun in 2007 when he joined the Pakistani Taliban under Khalid Khorasani, the TTP leader in Mohmand district. There he joined the Cheena Special Guard, a special unit within the organization, where he trained as a sniper as well as in explosives, intelligence, and urban warfare. In 2008, he was promoted to security chief of Khalid Khorasani, and later his personal secretary.
The current leader briefly led the TTP’s south zone of the Mohmand agency where he was in charge of intelligence. He was in charge of organizing the internal and external operations of the Mohmand wing of the organization during this time. Other media sources also indicate that he currently heads the administrative commission of the Mohmand chapter, which he created in November 2017 along with Hizb-ul-Ahrar, an organization that has since merged with the TTP.
In June 2021, Khorasani was appointed as the Pakistani Taliban’s governor for the Peshawar Division where he remained until March 2022 when he was appointed governor of the Kohat division, a position he maintains to this day. Omar Khorasani succeeded his predecessor Khalid Khorasani upon his death and was later appointed to the TTP central Shura (Council).
According to the biography, Omar Khorasani has commanded multiple operations in Pakistan, as well as in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nangarhar provinces. He was reportedly married on February 22, 2012, and has two sons named Umar Farooq and Muhammad Ahrar, as well as one daughter.
Islamic State in the Sahel Claims More Than 100 Al-Qaeda Fighters Killed in Clash
On December 14, the Sahel province of the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for killing more than 100 of its al-Qaeda rivals in northern Mali through its Amaq News Agency. This reportedly comes after an assault by al-Qaeda fighters near the village of Tagalt in Mali’s eastern Menaka region. The report also added that the Malian government conducted airstrikes and also killed some of the al-Qaeda fighters.
Various types of weapons were used to repel the al-Qaeda attack in clashes that lasted for several hours. Six al-Qaeda fighters were reportedly captured, and others were injured in the process.
These two groups have been clashing in the region for quite some time. A few weeks ago, for instance, the Islamic State said it killed 40 al-Qaeda members in northeastern Mali.
IS “Sahel Province” emerged in late March 2023 and was previously under the Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS) umbrella, which was part of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).