Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is a splinter group of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), announced during August 2014. The splinter group was initially led by former commanders of TTP, such as Ihsanullah Ihsan (since surrendered to Pakistani state), the former spokesman of TTP, and Omar Khorasani (allegedly killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan in October 2017), a senior leader in the TTP. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar leaders referred to internal differences with TTP as well as refocusing on the objective of creating an Islamic state as reasons for its formation. The group is comprised of four of the seven tribal districts bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, namely Mohmand, Bajaur, Khyber, and Arakzai. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar pledged allegiance to the Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP) group in 2014 but rejoined the Taliban Movement in 2015.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is based in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province but has been targeted by Pakistani security forces in multiple counter-terrorism operations such as Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Operation Khyber-1, Operation Ghazi.
On 6th July 2017, the UN Security Council’s 1267 Sanctions Committee approved the addition of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar in the list of entities and individuals subject to the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. The listing was proposed by Pakistan.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is responsible for several deadly attacks in Pakistan, such as:
- 2 November 2014, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the Wagah border attack in a telephone call to Dawn from Afghanistan. “Some other groups have claimed responsibility of this attack, but these claims are baseless. We will soon release the video of this attack,” he said. “This attack is revenge for the killing of innocent people in North Waziristan.”
- 7 November 2014, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for twin bombings that killed at least six people in Mohmand Agency. The bombs targeted peace committee volunteers in Chinari village of Safi Tehsil. Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility and vowed to continue attacking tribal peace committees.
- 21 November 2014, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for a grenade attack on the membership camp of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Orangi Town area of Karachi. Three members of the Sindh Assembly and 50 workers were injured.
- 15 March 2015, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for twin bombings at a Roman Catholic church and Christ Church during Sunday service at Youhanabad town of Lahore. At least 15 people were killed and seventy were wounded in the attacks.
- 7 March 2016, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that left 11 dead and 15 wounded after a man blew himself up outside a district court in the town of Shabqadar in the Charsadda District.
- 27 March 2016, a spokesman for Taliban splinter group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar says: ‘We proudly take responsibility for the suicide attack in a park in Lahore. Members of the Christian community who were celebrating Easter today were our prime target’ but that ‘we didn’t want to kill women and children. Our target were male members of the Christian community’. The nail-filled device near a children’s playground killed over 70 people, reportedly mostly Muslim. It was described as an attempt by the group “to establish itself as the most aggressive and violent” Islamist group in Pakistan.
- On 16 September 2016, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed the responsibility of suicide attack in a local mosque of Tehsil Amabar in Mohmand Agency, the attack killed at least 28 people and left 31 injured. In an emailed statement, TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesperson, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said a suicide bomber targeted the peace committee.
- On 13 February 2017, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed their involvement in a suicide attack targeting senior police officials at a protest on Lahore’s Mall Road. The attack left 13 people dead and injured 31 others. The dead include 6 police officials, including DIG City Traffic Police Lahore Ahmad Mobin Zaidi and Acting DIG (Operations) Zahid Gondal. The terrorist outfit sent a text message to claim their responsibility and later released a video message to warn off future attacks.
- On 31 March 2017, Jamaat-ul-Ahraar claimed responsibility of an attack in Parachinar that killed 24 and injured 68 people.