Sufi Muhammad bin Alhazrat Hassan, born in Maidan, Lower Dir District, is the founder of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), a Pakistani militant organisation (declared a terrorist outfit and banned in 2002) vying for implementation of Sharia in Pakistan. It operates mainly in the Dir region, Swat, and Malakand districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Sufi Muhammad was jailed for sending thousands of volunteers to Afghanistan to fight the U.S. intervention in 2001. However, he was freed in 2008 after he renounced violence. He is the father-in-law of Maulana Fazlullah, who assumed the leadership of TNSM during Sufi's imprisonment. He is described by BBC as a "follower" of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Islamic school of thought, and by the Jamestown Foundation as one of the "active leaders" of Jamaat-e-Islami in the 1980s.
Sufi Muhammad, born in Maidan, Lower Dir District, received religious education at Panj Pir, Swabi.
During the 1980s Sufi Muhammad actively participated in Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political party of Pakistan. In 1992 he split from the group to form TNSM. From its "stronghold" of Malakand Division Districts in northwestern Pakistan, Sufi Muhammad and his group engaged in violent agitation for the enforcement of Sharia law.
In October 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, Sufi Mohammad crossed into Afghanistan with thousands of his followers to help the Taliban fight the US-led forces. After the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001, he returned to Pakistan, he was arrested.
February 2009 ceasefire
Maulana Sufi Muhammad took part in negotiations with the government that led to the announcement of a temporary ceasefire in the Malakand region on 16 February 2009. The Pakistani government agreed to allow the implementation of Sharia in the region once violence had stopped. Muhammad agreed to travel to Swat to discuss peace with Fazlullah and his followers. He told reporters, "We will soon open dialogue with the Taliban. We will ask them to lay down their weapons. We are hopeful that they will not let us down. We will stay here in the [Swat] valley until peace is restored."
In early April 2009 Sufi Muhammad ended support for peace negotiations stating that the government was stalling the implementation of sharia courts in the Swat valley. President Asif Ali Zardari refused to sign any agreement until peace had been restored in the valley but failed to elaborate on how those conditions would be achieved.
On 19 April 2009 Sufi Muhammad declared that "democracy was un-Islamic" and that decisions made in the qazi courts could not be appealed in Pakistan's central judicial system. According to the cleric Western-style democracy had led to divides among Pakistanis and the judicial system had contributed to the factionalism. He ordered the central government to withdraw all judges from Malakand within four days and to set up a Darul Qaza, an Islamic supreme court, to hear appeals from local Sharia courts.
On 3 June 2009, while engaging in Operation Black Thunderstorm against the Taliban, the Pakistani Army arrested senior aides to Sufi Muhammad in the Amandara region in Lower Dir. Among those aides arrested were Muhammad's deputy, Mohammad Alam, and his spokesperson, Ameer Izzat Khan. Initial reports indicated that Sufi Muhammad himself and possibly two of his sons had also been detained although government sources would not confirm and would only say they knew of his "whereabouts." TNSM sources confirmed that Sufi Muhammad and his sons were missing but suggested that he had gone into hiding.
On 26 July 2009, the government announced the arrest of the cleric for encouraging violence and terrorism. On 2 August 2009, police announced that he had been charged with sedition, aiding terrorism and conspiracy.
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