Mullah Fazlullah: Pakistani Taliban's ruthless new commander

Published: November 7, 2013
"Our goal is very clear -- we want the law of Allah in Allah's land," says Mullah Fazlullah. PHOTO: FILE

"Our goal is very clear -- we want the law of Allah in Allah's land," says Mullah Fazlullah. PHOTO: FILE

MIRANSHAH: Maulana Fazlullah, the new leader of the Pakistan Taliban, has a reputation as a ruthless commander prepared to do anything to enforce his uncompromising interpretation of Islamic law.

He led the Taliban’s brutal two-year rule in Pakistan’s northwest valley of Swat, which saw supposed wrongdoers flogged and beheaded in public and hundreds of schools burned down.

Under Fazlullah’s rule, Green Square in Mingora, the main town of Swat, became known as “Bloody Square” for the slaughtered, bullet-ridden bodies that were hung in it almost every day.

Fazlullah, believed to be aged 39, was born Fazal Hayat in Swat. He studied at an Islamic religious school and worked as a chairlift operator and sold firewood, before joining his father-in-law’s Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), or Movement for the Enforcement of the Sharia of Mohammad (pbuh).

After US-led forces entered Afghanistan to oust the Afghan Taliban from power in 2001, Fazlullah joined thousands of Pakistanis who crossed the border to fight what they saw as a “holy war” against the invaders.

He was arrested on his way back to Pakistan but was later released on bail and became the head of the sharia movement in Swat after his father-in-law was jailed.

In 2006 he began delivering fiery sermons on his own FM station, earning the nickname “Mullah Radio”, railing against polio vaccination programmes and girls’ education.

After a deadly army operation to clear the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad, Fazlullah merged his TNSM with the newly formed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

As his control of Swat, once a popular tourist destination known as the “Switzerland of Pakistan”, grew from 2007 onwards, Fazlullah set up sharia courts that handed out savage punishments.

In 2009 Malala Yousafzai, aged just 11, began a blog on the BBC Urdu website chronicling the horrors of life under the Taliban. The TTP made an unsuccessful attempt to kill her in Swat in October last year, saying she had campaigned against them.

She survived being shot in the head and has gone on to become a global icon of the struggle against extremism.

An army offensive ended Fazlullah’s rule in Swat in 2009 and he escaped with a band of loyalists into the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, from where they have continued to orchestrate attacks in Pakistan.

Fazlullah, who has a $500,000 government bounty on his head, has mounted some brutal and humiliating attacks on Pakistan’s military, including the beheading of 17 soldiers after an attack in June 2012.

In September, soon after Pakistan’s political parties had backed a government plan for peace talks with the Taliban, Fazlullah’s men responded with violence.

A bomb attack killed two senior army officers, including a major general, in the country’s northwest, a galling blow for the military.
Fazlullah claimed the attack in a video message in which he spelled out his hardline position.

“We will remove any hurdle to enforcing Sharia. Our goal is very clear — we want the law of Allah in Allah’s land,” he said.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • philipine234
    Nov 8, 2013 - 1:08AM

    Well the job will certainly not be easy for Shariff Saab. In fact it will complicate the entire peace process in the subcontinent in the least but at global level…


  • Nov 8, 2013 - 2:20AM

    Mullah Radio will remain safe( from drone attack) so long he does not strike NATO forces in Afghanistan.


  • Zee Pakistani Soldier
    Nov 8, 2013 - 2:21AM

    So when the Army moved into Swat, Mullah ran away like a coward to hide in the Afghanistan mountains. It figures. It is in Afghanistan that these terrorists are getting their funding from the Indian agents. He was a chairlift operator, means he has no money, so where else could he be getting his funding for perpetrating the heinous crimes? These men have nothing to do with Islam – they are paid gangsters at best and have chosen this life of crime as they have nothing better to do. IK and NS are living in a dream world if they think they can negotiate with these criminals. There’s only two answers for them – Army action like in Swat, or a drone. Take your pick Mullah.


  • The Great Game;
    Nov 8, 2013 - 1:50PM

    The great game…… From the situation if the Pakistan army consider Mullah Fazlullah is the reason or base for the military action in the North Waziristan then it means, its a really great game the security establishment has been playing with multidimensional agendas. It seems every thing is going on preplanned. Let wait and see.


  • MM Alam
    Nov 8, 2013 - 3:28PM

    Where are the Drones when you need one .This guy needs to be taken out ASAP.


  • jamshed kharian-pak
    Nov 8, 2013 - 3:51PM

    Beautiful Powerful Son Of Islamic Republic Of PakistanRecommend

  • jamshed kharian-pak
    Nov 8, 2013 - 5:19PM

    Comming battles Will decide the political future Of Ir Pakistan Either English Or IslamicRecommend

  • Nov 9, 2013 - 1:55AM

    Fazl Ullah is more dangerous choice for Pakistan as compared to previous two TTP leaders, he came into power with full power from US and with set mandate.


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