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November 28, 2016

Fazlullah announces new TTP Karachi chief

Karachi

November 28, 2016

Haji Daud Mehsud was a policeman in Karachi and lived in Quaidabad

Amid the law-enforcement agencies’ crackdown on terrorists in Karachi, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s central leadership has chosen a former policeman to lead the banned outfit in the city, The News has learnt.

Haji Daud Mehsud, a TTP Mehsud chapter militant and a former cop, was seen with the terrorist outfit’s central chief Mullah Fazlullah in a two-minute video message in Pashto.

Fazlullah, in the message, announced Daud as new TTP Karachi chief and instructed all factions of the organisation to follow his directives. However, the location and date of recording of the video message could not be ascertained.

The TTP Mehsud chapter is organisationally divided into two factions – one loyal to Hakimullah Mehsud and the other to Waliur Rehman Mehsud – and both have their own leaders in Karachi.

A resident of Quaidabad and a former Karachi policeman, Daud was associated with Hakeemullah Mehsud and served his faction’s Karachi chief.

Daud was also seen in a video interview of Hakeemullah with the BBC in October 2013 – a few weeks before he was killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan.

Sources familiar with the Taliban networks in Karachi confirmed that Daud had been appointed the TTP Karachi head after the killing of the outfit’s important commanders, including consecutive chiefs of its various factions, in shootouts with the law-enforcement agencies in Karachi. The outfit was without a leader in the city causing disarray among its ranks.

The News has also learnt that the law-enforcement agencies were searching Daud for the past several months and interrogated many people of the Mehsud clan to track him down.

Daud, in an email sent to various media outlets, has also claimed the responsibility of an attack on the police training centre in Quetta.

 “He [Daud] left Karachi after the killing of outfit’s important commanders in encounters with the law-enforcement agencies, and now he is somewhere in the bordering areas of Afghanistan,” one of his distant relatives told The News requesting anonymity.

Before the Rangers-led operation in Karachi started in September 2013, two factions of the TTP Mehsud chapter clashed with each other over turf and collection of extortion money from Pashtun transporters and businessmen.

Hakeemullah’s faction was forced to leave the city after militants of its rival faction headed by Mufti Noor Wali killed the group’s important commanders including Sher Khan Mehsud.

After Khan’s death, Daud has been appointed the group’s new Karachi chief.

Mehsud clan elders in Karachi who are familiar with the network believe that militants of the rival faction in the city will not accept Daud as their chief.

“The leaders of both factions are no longer in Karachi and it is very difficult for them to effectively operate the outfit from Afghanistan,” said a Mehsud community elder.

He added that the law-enforcement agencies had killed key leaders of the Mehsud chapter in the past few months including Abid Mucharr, Abid Chota, Zikria Mehsud, Mufti Javed, Khazan Gul, Zahidullah, Ubaidullah, Amir Zada, and Khwajlak. The law-enforcement agencies are still searching for Khan Zaman alias Goonga, an important commander.

Raja Umer Khattab, a senior official of the police’s counter terrorism department, corroborated that Daud was a policeman in Karachi and later went on to become TTP commander.

“His faction has weakened in the city’s Pashtun areas,” he told The News. He added that the announcement of Daud taking over as the TTP Karachi chief would not help the outfit in reorganising its network in the city.