PESHAWAR: While confirming death of its chief Mullah Fazlullah in a US drone strike on June 13, the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has named Mufti Noor Wali, the head of the Mehsud Taliban, as Fazlullah’s successor.
“Like his predecessors Baitullah Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud, Mullah Fazlullah was killed in a US drone strike at 11pm on the 27th of Ramazan,” the TTP’s central spokesperson Umar Khurasani said in a statement emailed to the media on Saturday.
Khurasani also confirmed that Mufti Noor Wali has been appointed as the new TTP chief and Mufti Mazahim, popularly known as Mufti Hazrat, has been named as the deputy amir of the banned outfit.
It took the TTP ten days to publicly acknowledge the killing of Fazlullah, who was the mastermind behind dozens of brutal terror attacks in Pakistan including the December 16, 2014 carnage at the Army Public School of Peshawar.
The statement by the TTP spokesperson, however, neither specifies the location where Fazlullah was killed nor gives details of the people who were killed along with him.
Earlier, The Express Tribune had reported that the TTP chief was killed in a US drone strike along with four top commanders – two of whom hailed from Fazlullah’s hometown of Swat and the other two from Dera Ismail Khan.
After Wali’s ascension, the Mehsud Taliban have once again taken the reins of the TTP. Earlier there were reports that commander Umer Fateh from Swat was to be announced as chief of the banned organisation. Fateh was the alleged mastermind of the Dec 2017 Agriculture Training Institute attack.
Pakistan during the seven meetings of the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS) had asked Afghanistan to hand over 43 terrorists, including Mullah Fazlullah.
The drone strike that killed Fazlullah had taken place hours after army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa left Kabul after holding one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani followed by delegation-level talks.
The army chief also had meetings with Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Commander of the Resolute Support Mission General John Nicholson. Later, President Ghani had called Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk and the army chief to confirm news of Fazlullah’s death.
Who is Noor Wali?
Born on June 26, 1978 at Gurguray, Mufti Noor Wali alias Abu Mansoor Asim is the son of Haji Gul Shah Khan and belongs to the Machi Khel sub tribe of Meshud.
After completion of his early education, he reportedly studied at seminaries in Gujranwala and Faisalabad. In 1999, he completed his religious education from Jamia Ahsan-ul-Uloom in Karachi.
During Benazir Bhutto’s second term as prime minister, he went to Afghanistan to join Afghan Taliban in their fight against the Northern Alliance but returned to Pakistan after two months when Benazir government was overthrown.
Later, on the advice of his father, he completed his remaining education but after the 9/11 he went back to Kabul. When the US invasion of Iraq began in 2003, he attended a meeting of the Mehsud Taliban and met Baitullah Meshud for the first time.
He was then appointed as the Naib Ameer of Baitullah Mehsud by the Markazi Shoora. After the killing of Azam Tariq, who was spokesperson for the banned outfit, he took over the charge.
Wali is said to be the author of two books on the British Rule over India and American war in Afghanistan. He is also author of a 700-page book ‘Inquilab-e-Mehsud’ that profiles the Meshud Taliban. Pakistan has set Rs20 million bounty on Noor Wali Mehsud’s head.