INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR: PAPER NO.504
On February 2, 2009, John Solecki, an American national and head of the office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees(UNHCR) in Balochistan, was kidnapped in Quetta and his driver shot dead.A hitherto unknown organisation calling itself the BalochistanLiberation United Front (BLUF) subsequently claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and demanded the release of 141 Baloch women andseveral thousand Baloch males, alleged to be in the custody of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. Till now, Solecki has not been traced bythe Pakistani security forces, who do not seem to have any idea of the organisation behind the kidnapping.
2.The Pakistani authorities have denied having such a large number of Balochs, including women, in their custody. Baloch nationalistelements, who have been fighting for the independence of their homeland, have also strongly denied any responsibility for the kidnapping.They suspect that the kidnapping had been orchestrated by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) through the Afghan or Pakistani Taliban fordiscrediting their freedom struggle by projecting the Baloch freedom-fighters as terrorists. The leadership of the Afghan Taliban headed byits Amir Mulla Mohammad Omar, operates from sanctuaries in the Pashtun majority areas of Balochistan.
3.The Baloch freedom-fighters totally disapprove of the ideology of the Taliban and Al Qaeda and their anti-US policies. In fact, they feel thatthe US could help them in their freedom struggle and try to maintain good interactions with governmental and non-governmental elements inthe US. It is, therefore, very unlikely that the Baloch freedom-fighters----either in Pakistan or in the Baloch majority areas of Iran--- wouldkidnap or harm an American national. John Solecki was quite popular among the Balochs of Balochistan.
4. In its past messages, Al Qaeda had always projected the Punjabis and the Pashtuns as participants in its global jihad against theCrusaders and the Jewish people. It had never projected the Sindhis, the Mohajirs and the Balochs as forming part of its global jihad. In asignificant departure from this practice, an audio message of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 of Al Qaeda, disseminated on February 22,2009,refers to the Balochs also as participants in the global jihad. It appeals to the Arabs of Saudi Arabia and Yemen to emulate the Pashtuns andthe Balochs of Pakistan in stepping up the jihad against the rulers of these two countries.
5. It says: " I call on the noble and defiant tribes of the Yemen and tell them--- don't be less than your brothers in the defiant Pashtun andBaluch tribes, who aided Allah and His Messenger and made America and the Crusaders dizzy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Your brothers from the defiant Pashtun and Baluch tribes are making the Crusaders taste woe after woe and are sending thousands of their lions to jihadin Afghanistan under the banner of Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid and are disciplining the treasonous Pakistani Army, making it tastedefeat after defeat and forcing it to make pacts with them in order to save itself from their violence and they are severing the supply routeof the Crusaders from Pakistan to Afghanistan."
6. Zawahiri's reference to some members of Baluch tribes fighting in Afghanistan against the Americans under the banner of the AfghanTaliban and the kidnapping of the American UN official indicate the possibility that that BLUF might be an organisation of Afghan, Pakistaniand Iranian Balochs , who are sought to be used by the Taliban and Al Qaeda in their fight against the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan.This needs further enquiry. (15-3-09)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )