ISLAMABAD: The chief of banned outfit, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, has reportedly been killed in a drone attack in Afghanistan. However, a formal confirmation of the strike is awaited.
Sources told Pakistan Today that Noor Wali Mehsud, along with his bodyguard, Inqulabi Mehsud, were killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan. Noor Wali Mehsud was among key commanders of the banned outfit.
Noor Wali Mehsud was reportedly hiding somewhere in Afghanistan after the commencement of an operation in the tribal areas. Reliable Afghan sources have confirmed the killing of Mufti Mehsud.
Noor Wali Mehsud had been designated as a global terrorist by the United Nations (UN) on July 16, 2020. He had been appointed as the new leader of outlawed TTP after the killing of former chief Mullah Fazlullah in a US drone strike in June 2018.
Under Noor Wali Mehsud’s leadership, TTP had claimed responsibility for numerous deadly terrorist attacks across Pakistan, including an attack targeting Pakistani security forces in North Waziristan in July 2019 and a bomb attack against Pakistani soldiers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in August 2019.
US forces had targeted Fazlullah in a counterterrorism strike on June 14 in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunnar province, close to the border with Pakistan.
WHO WAS NOOR WALI MEHSUD?
In contrast to Fazlullah’s infamous brutality, Noor Wali had a scholastic and literary background.
Mehsud, 43, studied at a number of religious seminaries in Pakistan to specialise in different fields of religious teaching. He served as a deputy to Baitullah Mehsud, who has been blamed for the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
The new leader Mehsud earlier this year authored a book in which he described the planning of Bhutto’s assassination, identifying the militants involved, including one who is still at large and believed to be hiding in South Waziristan.
Mehsud also fought against the US-backed Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and took part in TTP attacks against Pakistani security forces.
According to a media reports, Mehsud hailed from Gorgoray area of Sararogha tehsil of South Waziristan and belonged to Mechikhel, a sub-clan of the Mehsud tribe. He also remained a Qazi (judge) of Sharia court established by Baitullah Mehsud.
“With the appointment of Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud the leadership of TTP has returned to Mehsud tribe in its home base South Waziristan as Fazlullah was from Swat,” Rahimullah Yusufzai, an acclaimed journalist and expert on the Taliban, had commented on his appointment as new TTP chief.
Mehsud’s leadership could see the breakaway factions which emerged in the TTP after Fazlullah fled to Afghanistan in 2009 reunite, Yusufzai said.