5 key players in Pakistan's tribal belt
Pakistan’s security forces have conducted military operations in many of the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, except North Waziristan, causing the area to become something of a haven for militants.
Tribal and local intelligence sources say some 15,000 militants take shelter in this semiautonomous tribal belt.
“It’s a cobweb,” says former Pakistani diplomat Ayaz Wazir.
Based on interviews with local tribesmen and intelligence sources, here’s a list of the five biggest players in the region:
5. Ilyas Kashmiri
The notorious Kashmiri leads a militia of around 3,000 men. He is operations chief of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, a group the US government classifies as a terror organization with ties to Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Punjabi Taliban. He is accused of being behind the 2009 suicide attack on Pakistan’s spy agency in Peshawar. He's also accused of carrying out attacks against senior military officials and cross-border attacks against US forces.