Khiara was a prominent militant commander and planner of several high-profile attacks in Pakistan who used to work for multiple major jihadist outfits in the region. While he had been eluding security forces for years, he was killed on May 4 during a police raid.
In 2021, the Pakistani government released a Red Book which consisted of names of the country’s most wanted terrorists. Among these, it also mentioned Mohammad Iqbal aka Bali Khiara (S. No. 40) with a head bounty. As per the Red Book, Iqbal hailed from district Dera Ismail Khan, Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and he was a target killer for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and TTP’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction.
“Two militants got killed in a police raid in the jurisdiction of University Police Station, Dera Ismail Khan. Subsequently, one of them turned out to be the most wanted Bali Khiara. Further details will be shared afterwards”, the District Police Chief of Dera Ismail Khan, Abdul Rauf Qaisrani told The Khorasan Diary on the phone. Bali Khiara was declared dead almost 11 times previously by security officials who later turned out to be alive.
However, authorities were able to confirm Iqbal’s identity due to the identification mark on his left hand, as a senior government official told The Khorasan Diary.
Identification mark on Iqbal’s left hand
TTP has confirmed the killing of the dreaded militant commander, Bali Khiara, during an encounter with the police in Dera Ismail Khan this morning. “Yes, he has been martyred. In the picture, the one with the handkerchief is Iqbal aka Shani Bali Khiara, while the other one is Maulvi Javeed”, a high-ranking TTP commander told The Khorasan Diary on the phone.
However, a former TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction member and current TTP so-called Zhob governor, Sarbakaf Mohmand, while speaking to The Khorasan Diary, rejected claims that Bali Khiara had been part of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. “I am not aware of his past affiliation with our group,” Sarbakaf told The Khorasan Diary on the phone from an undisclosed location.
“We have been tracing him for years, but he was a perfect impersonator who kept on changing his whereabouts and appearance. In the past, multiple attempts were made to hunt him down; however, he always added an element of surprise. The nine lives of a cat perfectly fitted on him”, a senior security official from the region told The Khorasan Diary on condition of anonymity.
Iqbal aka Bali Khiara (TKD archive)
He masterminded 7 suicide attacks including a twin suicide bombing in August 2008 which targeted the Shia community in Dera Ismail Khan’s main hospital. He was wanted for 26 accounts of targeted killings, and he was also involved in multiple cases of kidnapping and killing of police officials and their family members.
Bali Khiara was considered a jihadist lynchpin, carrying loose affiliation with several militant outfits in the region, including TTP, and Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), while being a prominent commander of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).