Fazlullah (militant leader)

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Maulana Fazlullah
Born Fazal Hayat[1]
1974 (age 39–40)
Other names Mullah Radio
Radio Mullah
Ethnicity Pashtun[2]
Organization Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM)
Known for Pakistani Taliban leader
Ordering the Attack on Malala Yousafzai
Religion Deobandi Sunni Islam

Maulana Fazlullah,[3] (born 1974) nicknamed the "Radio Mullah" or "Mullah Radio", is a militant Islamist who has served as the leader of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, an organisation aiming to enforce Sharia in Pakistan, and was the leader of the Pakistani Taliban in Swat Valley.[4][5] On 7 November 2013 he became the emir of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Maulana Fazlullah was born Fazal Hayat to Biladar Khan, a Pashtun of Babukarkhel clan of the Yusufzai tribe of the Swat District in 1974.[7][8] Fazlullah married the daughter of Sufi Muhammad, the founder of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi. It is rumored that Fazullah kidnapped Sufi Muhammmad's daughter as a student in Sufi Muhammad Madrasa. MSNBC, a news channel in the United States obtained the only known alleged picture[9] of Maulana Fazlullah.

Militant activity[edit]

Operations in Pakistan[edit]

TNSM in Swat[edit]

On 12 January 2002, Fazlullah became the leader of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) due to the enforcement of a ban by Pervez Musharraf, former President of Pakistan. The ban led to the arrest and capture of Sufi Muhammad, which placed Fazlullah into the leadership role.[10][10][11] Although Sufi Muhammed was freed in 2008,[12] he did not seek to usurp Fazlullah's leadership in the TNSM.[13] Fazlullah managed to restore the organization, bootstrapping on the relief efforts by Islamist extremist groups following the 8 October 2005-earthquake.[10] New cadres then began moving into the Swat Valley. Fazlullah was allegedly arrested by Pakistani security forces while coming back from Afghanistan. While in prison, Sufi Muhammad (his father in law) changed his name from Fazal hayat to Fazlullah. While imprisoned, Fazlullah studied from a variety of religious books that were provided by Sufi Muhammmd. These books included the Holy Qur'an translation and "Tafseer." In February 2009, Sufi Muhammad assisted in the negotiation of a cease fire between TNSM forces and the Pakistani army. As part of the cease fire Pakistan agreed to allow Sharia law in Malakand District.[14][15]

Alliance with Tehrik-e-Taliban[edit]

In the aftermath of the 2007 siege of Lal Masjid, Fazlullah's forces and Baitullah Mehsud's Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) formed an alliance. Fazlullah and his army henceforth reportedly received orders from Mehsud.[16] A temporary cease-fire from May to September 2007 allowed Fazlullah to consolidate his political forces in Swat.[8][17]

Parallel government[edit]

With the support of more than 4,500 militants, by late October 2007 Fazlullah had established a "parallel government" in 59 villages in Swat Valley by starting Islamic courts to enforce sharia law.[18][19]

Reports of wounding[edit]

On 10 July 2009, BBC reported that Fazlullah was near death after being critically wounded, corroborating statements made by senior government and security officials in Pakistan.[5] This was a day after the army announced it had wounded the Taliban chief in the Swat valley.[20] The Taliban have denied that Fazlullah was critically injured.[21] The Pakistan army, however, refuted this claim and insisted that a man impersonated Fazlullah when he allegedly denied that he was critically injured.[22]

Madrassa[edit]

Fazlullah's madrasa at Imam Dherai, Swat. Pakistani security forces bombed and destroyed the compound in early June 2009.[23]

Fazlullah developed a $2.5 million Madrassa with assistance from the Taliban which was used as his base of operations.[24] It was funded by the JEI faction led by Maulana Sami-ul-haq.[25]

Operations from Afghanistan[edit]

On 29 November 2007, Pakistani security forces captured Fazlullah's headquarters and arrested his brother. Fazlullah himself had already fled to another village. Security Forces have now retaken most of the Swat region. In 2007, Fazullah was allegedly hiding in the Konar province in Afghanistan.[26] On 26 January 2008, it was reported that Maulvi Abdul Raziq, a close aide of Fazlullah, was arrested in the Kot area of Charbagh.[27] In November 2009, Fazlullah told the BBC's Urdu Service that he had escaped from Pakistan to Afghanistan and warned that he would continue to attack Pakistani forces in Swat.[28]

In October 2011 Maj Gen Athar Abbas complained to Reuters that Pakistan had urged Afghanistan and the US to take action against Fazlullah in response to cross-border raids in Dir, Bajaur and Mohmand from April 2011 to August 2011 but that no efforts had been made. Abbas elaborated, "Fazlullah and his group are trying to re-enter Swat through Dir."[4]

In June 2012 a TTP spokesman claimed that Fazlullah was leading attacks on Pakistan from Afghanistan's border provinces.[29] Reuters indicated that he controlled a 20-km stretch of area in Nuristan province along the Pakistani border.[30]

On 3 December 2013, it was revealed to the media by TTP spokesperson that Fazullah has crossed the Pak-Afghan border into Pakistan's tribal areas, he was expected to end the squabbling among the Taliban leadership relating to his appointment as new TTP Chief.[31][32]

Tehrik-e-Taliban Leadership[edit]

After the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack, Fazlullah was appointed as the new "Amir" (Chief) of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan on 7 November 2013.[6]

Strict interpretation of Sharia[edit]

Radio broadcasts[edit]

Maulana Fazlullah started an illegal local FM channel in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's Swat Valley in 2006.[33] He preaches forcing vice and virtue and has an anti-Western Jihadi stance. He is considered pro-Taliban and a very powerful figure in the area. Though he considers most communication based electronics as "major sources of sin" he transmits broadcasts of his sermons on an illegal local FM radio channel, hence the nickname "Radio Mullah" or "Maulana Radio".

FM signals are relayed from mobile transmitters mounted on motorcycles and trucks. During nightly broadcasts, prohibited activities are routinely declared and violators' names announced for assassination, which often includes beheading.[34]

Introduction of Sharia courts[edit]

With Swat under Fazlullah's control he and his followers quickly moved to set up the Sharia Courts as primary judicial courts instead of when he was running them parallel to the Pakistani National Judicial Courts.[35]

Eradication of sins and the attacks on music shops[edit]

He leads a drive of eradicating vices such as music, dancing, of what he calls "major sources of sin" such as TVs, CDs, computers and other video equipment by burning the electronics or the shops in which they are housed.[36] Fazlullah has threatened barbers who shaved their customers' beards and warned against girls attending schools.[9]

Anti-polio vaccination stance[edit]

He opposed a polio vaccination drive in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa claiming that aid workers were seeking to proselytise in the region, as well as spy for foreign forces, a claim which had later been vindicated. In some sermons he had also considered it against Islamic norms. He considered Hepatitis C as a more important health issue than Polio and questioned the West's intentions. The propaganda had hindered the drive immensely as the local people saw volunteers and workers for the World Health Organization vaccination program as a threat and in some cases the immunization teams were physically beaten.[37]

Opposition to women voting[edit]

In 2001 many seats reserved for women in northern Pakistan went unfilled due in large part to the actions of the TNSM.[38] In 2005, Fazlullah was quoted as saying: We have our tradition that bars women from taking part in the elections and violators will be punished.[38]

Opposition to female education[edit]

A January 21, 2009 issue of the Pakistan daily newspaper The News, reports Taliban enforcement of a complete ban on female education in the Swat District. Some 400 private schools enrolling 40,000 girls have been shut down. At least 10 girls' schools that tried to open after the January 15, 2009 deadline by the Fazlullah-led Taliban were blown up by the militants in the town of Mingora, the headquarters of the Swat District.[39][not in citation given] "More than 170 schools have been bombed or torched, along with other government-owned buildings."[40][not in citation given] On 9 October 2012, an assassin instructed by Fazlullah shot Malala Yousafzai.[41]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ahmed, Farzand (20 August 2009). "Window on Pak Press: Jaswant created a royal mess- Dawn". India Today. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Khan, Khurshid (21 April 2007). "Exclusive: An interview with Maulana Fazalullah". Valley Swat. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  3. ^ King, Laura (24 February 2009). "Confusion hangs over Pakistan's pact with Taliban". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Mullah Radio: Pakistan urges Afghan action against Maulvi Fazlullah". The Express Tribune News. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Hasan, Syed Shoaib (10 July 2009). "Swat Taliban chief 'near death'". BBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Mujtaba, Haji (7 November 2013). "No more peace talks, 'Mullah Radio' tells Pakistan". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  7. ^ Khan, Khurshid (21 April 2007). "Exclusive: An interview with Maulana Fazalullah". Valley Swat. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Roggio, Bill (7 July 2007) "Swat joins Talibanistan" The Long War Journal Public Multimedia Inc.
  9. ^ a b Grisanti, Carol (2008-01-09). "Pakistani terrorist revealed in new photo". NBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  10. ^ a b c "Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, Extremist Group of Pakistan". SATP. Retrieved 19 April 2007. 
  11. ^ Hassan Abbas (12 April 2006). "The Black-Turbaned Brigade: The Rise of TNSM in Pakistan". Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2007. 
  12. ^ "Top Pakistani militant released". BBC News. 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. 
  13. ^ Toosi, Nahal (2 May 2009). "Taliban to cease fire in Pakistan's Swat Valley". Yahoo News. Retrieved 15 February 2009. [dead link]
  14. ^ Ali, Zulfiqar; Laura King (17 February 2009). "Pakistan officials allow Sharia in volatile region". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 February 2009. 
  15. ^ "Pakistan agrees Sharia law deal". BBC News. 16 February 2009. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009. 
  16. ^ Rehmat, Kamran (27 January 2009). "Swat: Pakistan's lost paradise". Al Jazeera (Islamabad). Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  17. ^ Hameedullah Khan (22 September 2007). "Swat cleric ‘ends’ peace deal". Dawn (newspaper). Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. 
  18. ^ Qayum, Khalid; Khaleeq Ahmed (25 October 2007). "Pakistan Deploys Troops in Swat to Curb Militants (Update 1)". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 25 February 2009. 
  19. ^ Salman Masood (25 February 2009). "Maulana Fazlullah". New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  20. ^ "Swat valley refugees allowed home". Al Jazeera. 10 July 2009. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ [2][dead link]
  23. ^ Security forces blow up Fazlullah’s HQ: officials[dead link]
  24. ^ "Pakistan: State of Emergency Synopsis and Video". FRONTLINE/PBS. 27 December 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  25. ^ "Executive Summary: Jihadi Anarchy in Swat". Indian Defence Review 22 (4): 111. October–December 2007. 
  26. ^ Dana Priest (29 October 2013). "‘Mullah Radio’ believed to be behind attack on Pakistani schoolgirl". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  27. ^ April 2009 "Fazlullah’s aide, other militants held in Swat". Dawn. 26 January 2008. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  28. ^ Kakar, Hai (17 November 2009). "Taliban leader 'flees Pakistan'". BBC News. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  29. ^ Khan, Tahir (2012-06-26). "TTP admits to having safe haven in Afghanistan". The Express Tribune. Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  30. ^ Georgy, Michael; Jibran Ahmad (2012-06-28). "Pakistan's Fazlullah re-emerges as a security threat". Reuters. Thompson Reuters. Retrieved June 28, 2012. 
  31. ^ AFP (2013-12-03). "Mullah Fazlullah in Pakistan's tribal areas: spokesman". Dawn.Com. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  32. ^ Saud Mehsud (2013-12-03). "New Pakistani Taliban chief comes home to lead insurgency". swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  33. ^ Buneri, Shaheen (26 January 2009). "Pakistan Falters Against Taliban in Swat Valley". World Politics Review. Retrieved 2 February 2009. 
  34. ^ Richard A. Oppel Jr. Pir Zubair Shah, Ismail Khan (25 January 2009). "Radio spreads Taliban's terror in Pakistani region". International Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 26 January 2009. 
  35. ^ Athar, Saleem (2007-10-13). "Mohmand Taliban behead 6 ‘criminals’". Daily Times. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  36. ^ Khan, Marvaiz (2007-03-10). "Music centres threatened by religious extremists". Freemuse. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  37. ^ Yusufzai, Ashfaq (2007-01-25). "Impotence fears hit polio drive". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  38. ^ a b Hussain, Zahid (29 July 2005) "Frontier women to defy Islamists' men-only ballot" The Times
  39. ^ The News, Pakistan, January 21, 2009.
  40. ^ Saeed Shah (2009-01-20). "Five more schools destroyed in Taliban campaign". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2009-04-17. 
  41. ^ "Pakistan Taliban name Mullah Fazlullah new leader". BBC News. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Hakimullah Mehsud
Leader of Pakistani Taliban
2013–
Succeeded by
incumbent