Earlier this week (on February 6), an audio clip purportedly released by former Pakistan Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan surfaced on social media, in which he said he had escaped from confinement by Pakistani security agencies on January 11.
In the clip, Ehsan said he had escaped since Pakistani forces had “failed to keep promises made to him” during his surrender in 2017. Pakistani dailies, including Dawn and The Express Tribune, reported that Ehsan fled during an operation to capture and target terrorists, PTI reported.
A former spokesperson of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), Ehsan was involved in the firing on Malala Yousafzai in 2012 and the Peshawar Army school terror attack of 2014.
Who is Ehsanullah Ehsan?
Ehsan, whose real name according to Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn is Liaqat Ali, was the spokesperson for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) until 2014, after which he shifted to the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of the TTP.
As spokesperson of the groups, Ehsan would use media campaigns, social media networks, and call up local journalists to claim responsibility for terrorist attacks.
The TTP and JuA have been responsible for major terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including the 2016 Easter Sunday attack in Lahore in which over 75 people were killed.
In April 2017, Ehsan surrendered to Pakistani security agencies, who hailed his arrest as a significant victory. In December of that year, a two-member bench of the Peshawar High Court barred the Pakistani government from releasing Ehsan.
According to the Dawn report, Ehsan had been sharing sensitive and accurate information with Pakistani security agencies, which led to the busting of key terror networks both in and outside Pakistan. It was during one such operation that Ehsan was able to flee, the report said.
In the audio clip, Ehsan has said his arrest was part of an “arrangement” with Pakistani authorities, and has promised to reveal more information about the deal. According to a report in The New York Times, Ehsan had agreed to the 2017 surrender in exchange for a large payment by Pakistan’s security forces.
The report also said that Ehsan was not sent to an ordinary prison, but was placed under house arrest in the upscale Hayatabad suburb of Peshawar. Here, he lived in relative comfort, and even fathered a child.
Ehsan and his family escaped in January after waiting for three years to be paid, the NYT report says. Pakistani agencies subsequently offered Ehsan more money to turn himself in, which he refused.
Ehsan is now believed to be hiding on the mountainous Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
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