The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has confirmed the death of Mullah Dadullah, the group’s chief for Bajaur Agency, in Friday night’s US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan.
TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan confirmed on Saturday that Mullah Dadullah had been killed along with 12 comrades in an “air strike by US-led coalition forces” in the Kunar province.
“Mullah Dadullah’s death will not dampen our morale and we will avenge his killing,” Ehsan told the media in a phone call from an undisclosed location. “Maulvi Abu Bakar has been appointed acting chief of the Bajaur chapter of TTP,” he added.
According to local sources, Mullah Dadullah and his 12 comrades, including his deputy Mullah Abdul Rehman Ghalib, were killed when three missiles slammed into a compound in the Sultan Marra Warra area of Kunar.
Maulvi Jamal Syed, who took the nom de guerre of Mullah Dadullah, was a resident of Damadola village of Bajaur Agency. It is the same village where a US drone strike on a religious seminary had killed dozens of pupils in 2006.
The 47-year-old was a shopkeeper in Inayat Kallay bazaar before joining the TTP.
Although he had no formal religious education, Jamal Syed assumed the prefix of Mullah – a title used by religious scholars – before his name.
Mullah Dadullah and his entire family joined the Taliban who began to organise themselves following the Damadola drone attack, at least a year before the TTP was formed by Baitullah Mehsud and Hafiz Gul Bahadur in December 2007.
The TTP named Maulvi Faqir as its chief in Bajaur Agency. Mullah Dadullah became his spokesperson. He was also the chief of the TTP’s ‘moral police’ in which capacity he outlawed shaving of beards, usury, music and other “un-Islamic” practices in the region. He was also in charge of the Taliban treasury which spread its largesse among the families of militants who died in battles.
Mullah Dadullah had also led TTP fighters in the Loisam battle during the 2008 military operations in Bajaur Agency.
Earlier this year, the TTP sacked Maulvi Faqir as deputy of Hakimullah Mehsud and as the group’s chief for Bajaur Agency after he favoured peace talks with the government. Mullah Dadullah then stepped into Maulvi Faqir’s shoes.
Mullah Dadullah, a hard-liner, was considered a trusted lieutenant of the TTP head honcho. He had fled the 2008 military operation in Bajaur and had been living in Kunar province of Afghanistan since. He is said to have planned and personally led several cross-border attacks on check posts of Pakistani security forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2012.