In the past seven days, we’ve seen a major terror attack on Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad Iraq where 500 prisoners, including senior members of al Qaeda were freed by terrorists, and now we’ve got reports of a major attack on a prison complex in Pakistan has meant several hundred more terrorists and Taliban have been freed.
Pakistani Taliban disguised as policemen attacked a prison in the country’s northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, freeing more than 300 prisoners late on Monday.
The jail officials said that several of the prisoners, four security personnel and two assailants were killed in the attack. The prison was housing at least 5000 prisoners, 250 of them hardcore militants.
Malik Qasim Khattak, advisor to the ministry of prisons, said that around 50 to 60 gunmen attacked the jail with bombs and guns before entering into the detention facility. “They detonated about 60 bombs inside the facility which caused the collapse of prison wall. The assailants succeeded in freeing more than 300 prisoners,” Khattak said, adding that the militants blew up two electricity transformers which created complete darkness.
While accepting responsibility for the attack, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed that their attackers had freed around 300 inmates.
Bill Roggio indicates at least 30 of those escapees were hardcore militants. Roggio further indicates those responsible are the Ansar al Aseer, a joint Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan unit that has been designated to free imprisoned jihadists.
At the time of the attack on Abu Ghraib (now called the Baghdad Central Prison), I warned that those freed would not only rejoin the insurgency in Iraq, but could spread across the region causing mayhem in Syria’s civil war, or spark violence in Jordan, Egypt, or Turkey.
Now, we’ve got a second high profile incident involving attacks on detention facilities where high value al Qaeda and/or Taliban prisoners have been held - in a single week.
That doesn’t just happen out of thin air, though this is not the first time that the Taliban have attempted attacks on detention facilities with the goal of freeing Taliban/ and/or al Qaeda leadership. It’s part of a long term trend to bolster their numbers by taking on a major offensive. High profile attacks against detention facilities would do the trick.
The breakout in Pakistan means that terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the frontier provinces that are nominally under Pakistani control are likely to be emboldened to carry on further attacks, including against detention facilities. They may also seek out attacks against the ISAF in Afghanistan, the supply lines, as well as India. This doesn’t bode well for those countries as the terrorist attacks have largely resulted in significant civilian casualties.