Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi


Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi

Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM, English: Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law) is a Pakistani militant group whose objective is to enforce Sharia law in the country. The rebel group took over much of Swat in 2007.

The organization is active in the areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,cite news|url=http://jamestown.org/news_details.php?news_id=209|title=The Black-Turbaned Brigade: The Rise of TNSM in Pakistan|author=Hassan Abbas|publisher=Jamestown Foundation|date=12 April 2006|accessdate=2007-04-19] especially Swat and Malakand [http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-10-27-1647230362_x.htm] Khan, Riaz, "Inside rebel Pakistan cleric's domain", Associated Press report, as it appeared at "USA Today" Web site, October 27, 2007, accessed November 7, 2007] but including Dargai and Chenagai. It supports the Taliban forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.cite web|url=http://www.saag.org/%5Cpapers21%5Cpaper2022.html|title=DARGAI & CHENAGAI: WAITING TO HEAR ZAWAHIRI'S VERSION - INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR: PAPER NO. 152|publisher=South Asia Analysis Group|accessdate=2007-04-20] It has been described as "one of the most dangerous religious militant groups in Pakistan", even though its founder has been languishing in prison since January 15 2002.

TNSM militia members are "identified by their shoulder-length hair and camouflage vests over traditional shalwar kameez clothing", according to a 2007 Associated Press report. The group has bombed girls schools and blown up video and CD shops. [http://www.usatoday.com/news/topstories/2007-11-01-3588894876_x.htm] Gannon, Kathy, "Militants gaining ground in Pakistan", Associated Press report at "USA Today" Web site, November 1, 2007, accessed November 7, 2007]

Numerous non-native militants have been recruited to work with the group from elsewhere in North Waziristan, many of them originally from outside Pakistan, including Afghans and Arabs.

It was founded by Sufi Muhammad in 1992, and was banned by President Pervez Musharraf on January 12, 2002.cite web|url=http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/terroristoutfits/TNSM.htm|title=Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, Extremist Group of Pakistan|publisher=SATP|accessdate=2007-04-19]

Sufi Muhammad was jailed for sending thousands of volunteers to Afghanistan to fight the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Since his imprisonment, Muhammad's son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, known as "Mullah Radio" for his pirate FM station broadcasts, leads TNSM.

Along with enforcing Islamic law and marshalling armed militants, Fazlullah has used his FM broadcasts to urge schoolgirls to wear all-covering burqas and has forced the closure of some development organizations, accusing them of spreading immorality by employing female staff.

History of TNSM

After the Soviet War in the 1980s, western parts of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) gradually came under the grip of religious radicalism. People in Malakand and Swat districts, populated mainly by the Yousafzai Pashtun tribes started gathering in public places to burn personal electronics equipment such as television sets, tape recorders, VCRs, computers, CD players and other musical equipment because they are, again, The significance of this development is that it has been motivated by the religious sect "Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi".

Arrest and setbacks

Sufi Mohammad encouraged and organized thousands of people to fight against the western powers invading Afghanistan at the time of the downfall of the Taliban in 2001. Most of his "mujahideen" were killed or arrested by the Northern Alliance, and only a few were able to return to Pakistan, including Sufi Mohammad. The Pakistani government immediately arrested him and for the past five years he has been in jail. Locals argue that thousands of "mujahideen" were killed as a result of Sufi Mohammad's incompetence and lack of combat skills. As a result, Sufi Mohammad lost much of his support. Additionally, TNSM members have been killed and regularly arrested by Pakistani authorities, reducing the organization's effectiveness. TNSM has been almost completely dormant in its stronghold of Swat and the adjoining areas. Recently, however, this situation has changed.

Revival

After the devastating earthquake that hit the region on October 8, 2005, Sufi Mohammad's followers capitalized on the incident and are using it to revive TNSM. There is a strong and growing belief among the people of Swat and Malakand districts that the earthquake was punishment for their misdeeds. Remnants of the TNSM have been encouraging them to burn their valuable electronic equipment in order to avoid the sinful life and prevent further retribution.

The magnitude of this movement can be gauged from a news item reported by the newspaper Mashraq on April 15. According to the report, on April 14 hundreds of people gathered after Friday prayers at two different villages. Maulana Abdullah was leading the procession at the Bilogram village in Malakand, when he and his followers gathered in a nearby area and set fire to thousands of audio and videocassettes, televisions, computers, and CDs. The same episode took place simultaneously at Brikot village in Malakand. Furthermore, the aftershocks from the October 8 earthquake are still occurring and continue to frighten the region's inhabitants. On April 11, for instance, another powerful aftershock jolted the whole area. These aftershocks result in more determination by the local populations in these districts to set their music-related appliances on fire (Mashraq, April 19).

FM Radio Station

As a result of Sufi Mohammad's imprisonment, his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah is now leading the TNSM. Although it is not operating at a high level and does not enjoy the influence of the past, the earthquake has revived the organization to the extent that thousands of people tune into its FM radio transmission. This radio station was recently banned by the government and, as a result, thousands of people staged demonstrations against this decision. Fazlullah established this FM radio station at Imamdairi, a small town in Swat district. The station is used to deliver teachings of the Quran and persuade people to destroy their musical appliances by arguing that listening to music and performing other sinful acts caused the recent earthquake. According to the broadcast, if believers do not give up their musical and electronics equipment, it may invite the anger of God. As a result of these teachings, thousands of inhabitants voluntarily destroyed their electronic goods in just a few days and this chain of events has continued with short intervals. Additionally, as a result of TNSM's religious urgings, 50 families announced the end of their years-old rivalries, hundreds gave up the use of drugs and unaccountable numbers disconnected their cable television connections.

Religious parties termed the government's decision to ban the radio station as a conspiracy to prevent religious teachings, and accuse the Musharraf government of acting on the orders of the United States (Mashraq, April 13). On April 20, the English-language daily "The Post" reported that so far 10,000 people have set their electronic goods on fire as a result of motivation given by the FM radio station of Fazalullah, who declared that watching television is un-Islamic.

Most of the people from Dherai, Damghar, Kanju, Kabal, Matta, Kuza badi, Bara bandi, Mingora, Saidu Sharif and from all over Swat valley have set the electronics goods on fire.

The October 8 earthquake hit a vast area of northern NWFP and Azad Kashmir (the part of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan). Devastation in the rest of the areas, which were just as damaged as Malakand and Swat, did not lead to the same developments. The reason is that outside of Malakand and Swat, no leader is persuading people to destroy their electronic appliances on a powerful tool of communication like FM radio run by a cleric pushing extreme religious views.

The provincial government which banned this FM radio station must be concerned about the increasing influence of TNSM, an organization that once caused a major threat to the writ of the government in these areas during the mid-1990s, when the government had to use force to control the volunteers of this movement who were demanding the enforcement of Sharia. The provincial government, due to political reasons, cannot afford the revival of TNSM. The ruling religious alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, and particularly Jamaat-e-Islami consider Malakand and Swat their strongholds and will not allow TNSM to damage their positions in the region. It is worth mentioning that Sufi Muhammad is a JI dissident.

Increasing Activity

TNSM is now increasing its activities. "Nawa-i-Waqt" reported on May 1 that TNSM has decided to launch a movement consisting of protests after Friday prayers and additional rallies against the government. Five leaders of TNSM held a press conference on April 30 at Chakdara in Dir district and alleged that their workers are being harassed. They said that the government has failed to enforce Sharia in Malakand district against which TNSM will launch a movement; however, they did not specify when the movement would begin. While the leaders attempted to make clear that they are against terrorism and do not have any link with al-Qaeda terrorists, the revitalization of the NAMBLa movement could create further instability in Pakistan's NWFP, adding to Islamabad's existing difficulties of maintaining stability over the entire country.

Rebellion in 2007

In July 2007, the group took over much of the Swat District and held on to it as late as November, when Pakistani forces rousted Maulana Fazlullah and his followers from a large base in the village of Imam Dheri. [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jZ4MUOze82QJmr6Lv7C3sbmc-K1w] "Pakistan troops seize radical cleric's base: officials", Agence France Presse article, November 28, 2007, accessed same day]

The stronghold, eight kilometres from the valley's main town of Mingora in Kabal Union Council of northwestern Swat, was guarded by about 200 rebel fighters.

An Associated Press reporter who visited the base in October 2007 described it as a concrete complex near the village. "Inside is a mosque and a maze of dozens of rooms, many still under construction. A shop sells audio cassettes of speeches by Fazlullah." Although the seminary hadn't opened for students, it was drawing thousands of worshippers for Friday prayers, residents told the Associated Press. Fazlullah's spokesman, Sirajuddin, then based at the seminary, is a gray-bearded militant who goes by only one name.

About 250 militants died in two weeks of fighting in late November, during which the two-square-kilometer base was bombarded by artillery, according to Pakistani authorities. People in a number of towns destroyed the fortified bunkers the rebels, including Fazlullah and Sirajuddin, had left behind as the militants retreated into the mountains.

Attacks on Buddhist sculptures

On October 8, 2007 members of the TNSM group used dynamite to obliterate the face of the 23 foot high colossal image of a seated Buddha carved in c. 7th century CE into a reddish rock face on a hillside to the southwest of the village of Jehanabad (Shakhorai) near Manglawar in Swat district. According to Aqleem Khan, an archaeology department official of North Western Frontier Province who spoke to Reuters, the members of this group drilled holes into the rock, filled them with dynamite, then set off the explosion on October 9, 2007 morningcite web|url=http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/pakistan/|title=Pakistan's Heritage at Risk|author=Mark Rose|date=November 6, 2007|publisher=in "Archaeology"|accessdate=2007-11-12] .

References

[http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/terroristoutfits/TNSM.htm Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, Extremist Group of Pakistan] [ [Extreme Solutions,The role of TNSM in Talibanising the Malakand ] ] [http://jang.com.pk/thenews/jul2007-weekly/nos-01-07-2007/pol1.htm#7] ,Zia Ur Rehman, Daily The News, Pakistan , accessed on 2008-09-28


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