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November 3, 2013

Hakimullah buried secretly

November 3, 2013


PESHAWAR: After an unceremonious funeral, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud and his five colleagues, were secretly laid to rest in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on Saturday in the presence of a limited number of people due to the fear of further US drone strikes.
Ansarul Mujahideen, a shadowy militant group operating in Fata and in the settled parts of the country, condemned his killing and threatened to seek revenge from the Pakistan government. It urged the people to stay away from the government and military installations.
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Shura in its meeting decided not to hold peace talks with the government. It felt the government played a game with them in the name of peace talks.
Senior Taliban leaders and Maulana Azam Tariq, the TTP spokesman for the South Waziristan chapter, publicly confirmed that Hakimullah Mehsud was killed along with five other men in the US drone attack. Taliban sources said Hakimullah Mehsud’s uncle was also killed in the drone strike.
“It is very painful to announce that Ameer Mohtaram (Hakimullah Mehsud) died in the drone attack. It’s a huge loss for us but we will recover from it soon,” said Maulana Azam Tariq.
Another senior militant commander and a TTP Shura member said that Hakimullah Mehsud, after chairing the group’s Shura meeting on Friday, had left for one of his secret locations when the drone fired four missiles and hit his car and an adjacent house.
“He had been using six different vehicles and before leaving the venue of our meeting he asked his driver to take his family members to another house. We thought the drone hit his family members,” the Taliban commander said.
Pleading anonymity, he said bodies of all the slain militants were damaged and mutilated. But, he added, that Hakimullah Mehsud could be recognised from his face.
“Before members of the TTP could reach from other parts of the tribal areas and settled districts of the

country, we had offered his funeral and secretly laid all the slain people to rest. Like Baitullah Mehsud, no one will be able to find the grave of Hakimullah Mehsud,” he added.
He felt that holding a huge funeral was risky and they did not want to put the lives of others at risk.
He said eight US spy planes were seen flying over Miranshah and its adjoining villages after Friday’s drone strike.
According to Taliban sources, Hakimullah Mehsud left behind two widows and three sons. He was the eldest among his three brothers. One of his younger brothers, Kaleemullah Mehsud, had died in a firefight with the security forces in the Makeen area of South Waziristan in 2009.
The Taliban said Hakimullah Mehsud had never been able to get a proper education in a madrassa or school.
In his early days, the Taliban said, he spent some time in a madrassa in Hangu along with Baitullah Mehsud but both later quit religious studies and left the madrassa due to unknown reasons.
“Later, when Baitullah Mehsud became a militant commander, he made Hakimullah his driver. Afterwards, Hakimullah became his spokesman using the name of Zulfiqar Mehsud,” an old friend of Hakimullah Mehsud said.
He insisted that it was wrong to say that Hakimullah Mehsud’s real name was Jamshed or Zulfiqar. “Hakimullah was his real name but in the early days of the militant movement he wished to be called Zulfiqar Mehsud,” he recalled.
Meanwhile, Abu Baseer, the spokesman for the mysterious militant group Ansarul Mujahideen, threatened to avenge Hakimullah Mehsud’s death from the Pakistan government.
“The prime job of our organisation is to seek revenge for the victims of drone strikes. The drone killed our senior leader and taking his revenge would be our top priority,” Abu Baseer told this correspondent in a phone call from somewhere in the tribal areas.
Tribal sources said a tense calm prevailed in Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, after Hakimullah Mehsud’s assassination. They said a huge plane, which had never been seen before, was seen flying over Miranshah.
Residents initially thought it was a Pakistani C-130 aircraft. “It was bigger in size than the drone. Later when it continued flying over Miranshah and Danday Darpakhel, the militants started firing at it from their anti-aircraft guns but could not hit it,” stated a local tribesman, Abdur Rasheed.
Taliban sources said a large number of people of various militant groups were reaching North Waziristan to offer condolences to the TTP leadership over Hakimullah Mehsud’s death. They said most of the people had been advised to avoid visiting North Waziristan due to the frequent drone strikes.
Senior members of the Pakistani Taliban said Abdullah Bahar Mehsud, deputy to the slain Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, was not killed in Friday’s drone attack in North Waziristan.
“Abdullah Bahar Mehsud was present with Hakimullah Mehsud when other members of the Shura left the meeting place and we thought he had died along with him in the drone strikes,” a Taliban commander said.
He said Hakimullah Mehsud had sent Abdullah Mehsud somewhere with an important message and thus the latter remained safe.
The sources said Abdullah Bahar Mehsud was recently appointed as deputy and adviser to the TTP chief. He had replaced Latif Mehsud.
Latif Mehsud was deputy leader to Hakimullah and considered the operational chief of the TTP. He was arrested by US forces in Afghanistan and reportedly held in a detention centre in the Bagram airbase.
After the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in the US drone attack, the central Shura of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) shortlisted two most dangerous militant commanders, Maulana Fazlullah and Hafiz Said Khan, to replace the slain leader.
There were conflicting reports in the media on Saturday that Khan Said alias Sajna, who is presently the TTP commander for South Waziristan, had been nominated as the successor to Hakimullah Mehsud.
The Taliban had to issue a denial and TTP spokesman for South Waziristan Maulana Azam Tariq and other senior members of the militant organisation said reports about Commander Khan Said’s nomination weren’t true.
Taliban sources said Khan Said was deputy to Maulana Waliur Rahman, the deputy leader of the TTP killed in a US drone attack on May 28, 2013 in Miranshah.
According to sources, Khan Said had never been close to Hakimullah Mehsud. “There were minor differences between Waliur Rahman and Hakimullah Mehsud when they were alive and everybody in our network understood who was supporting whom,” a Taliban leader said.
Taliban sources said that despite passing through the most difficult phase of their life, the TTP leaders decided to hold an emergency meeting and pick Hakimullah Mehsud’s successor.
“The central Shura held its meeting in North Waziristan and asked other fellow organisations to convene similar sessions in their respective areas and give their advice regarding nomination of the new TTP leader,” the senior TTP commander said.
In the meeting, the TTP Shura members from South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Kurram, Orakzai and Bajaur tribal regions as well as representatives of settled areas took part.
According to Taliban sources, another meeting took place somewhere in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, where militant leaders of the Malakand, Bajaur and Mohmand tribal regions were present.
“In both the meetings, Maulana Fazlullah and Hafiz Said Khan were shortlisted and it was decided that a final meeting of the Shura would nominate one of them as the next head of the Pakistani Taliban,” one of the Shura members said.
He said the meeting was scheduled to take place on Sunday morning and later Hakimullah Mehsud’s successor would be announced.
The name of Maulvi Omar Khalid Khurasani, the TTP commander for Mohmand Agency, was also mentioned among the contenders, but Taliban sources said Maulana Fazlullah and Hafiz Saeed remained the top candidates for the job.
Maulana Fazlullah is the leader of the Swat Taliban. He had launched the FM radio in Swat for the propagation of his views and was thus called ‘Mulla Radio’. His group was involved in the firing on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in Swat.
In 2009, Pakistani security forces launched a massive military operation and expelled Maulana Fazlullah and his men from Swat. They crossed the Pak-Afghan border and set up bases in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces.
Taliban sources said that Hafiz Said was a cleric and the TTP chief in the Orakzai tribal region. “Hafiz Said is presently the favourite to become the TTP head,” a senior Taliban commander said on the phone.
He said that 35-year-old Hafiz Saeed is resident of Orakzai Agency and had studied in a madrassa in Karachi.
“He is well regarded in the eyes of the TTP leadership and common fighters. He is an experienced fighter known for making better war plans. He led over 1,000 armed fighters in the fight against rival commander Ustad Mehboob in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency and captured the valley,” the senior Taliban commander said.
He said Hafiz Said had close ties with Hakimullah Mehsud. “If he refused to accept the position, Maulana Fazlullah would be nominated as the next TTP chief,” he added.




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