How an iftar party led to the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief

In this file photo, a Pakistani journalist watches a video of radical Pakistani cleric Maulana Fazlullah in Peshawar on July 23, 2010. (A. Majeed/AFP)
Updated 15 June 2018
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How an iftar party led to the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief

  • Mullah Fazlullah was killed on June 13 by an American drone strike
  • As soon as he entered his vehicle, a rocket fired from a US drone struck the car

DUBAI: Fazal Hayat, more commonly known as Mullah Fazlullah, the fugitive leader of the outlawed militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed on June 13 by an American drone strike. Arab News can reveal he was returning from an iftar party in the Marawara district of Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province.
According to an intelligence report seen by Arab News, Fazlullah was leaving the former militant center of the TTP at Bachai Markaz, in district Marwara, Kunar Province. He had Iftar and offered “Tiraveh” at the same center on June 13, 2018.
Fazlullah reportedly left the center around 10:45 p.m., but as soon as he entered his vehicle, a rocket fired from a US drone struck the car, killing Fazlullah and his guards.
Another TTP commander, Qari Yasir, was also among the dead, according to the report. The five men who died in the drone attack were buried in Bachai Graveyard early in the morning of June 14.
Fazlullah was reportedly a key topic of conversation during the official visit of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Naveed Mukhtar, director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, to Afghanistan on June 12, when he discussed the political and military situation in the region with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission.
“This news today of a US drone targeting the TTP chief is an indication of some kind of ‘thaw’ between Pakistan and the USA,” an official who was part of the Pakistani delegation told Arab News, on condition of anonymity.
Bajwa’s visit came days after the Afghan Taliban announcement on June 9 of a three-day cease-fire over Eid Al-Fitr, the first truce of its kind offered by the Taliban since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Fazlullah, who escaped a major counter-terror operation carried out by the Pakistani military in the northwestern Swat Valley in 2009, had since regrouped his fighters in the border region of Afghanistan, according to security officials.
He is believed to have been responsible for a number of atrocities, including the 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that resulted in the deaths of almost 150 students and teachers, and ordering an assassination attempt on Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai in Swat in 2012.
Fazlullah was appointed TTP chief after a US drone strike killed his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud in the North Waziristan region in November 2013.
Fazlullah’s 17-year-old son Abdullah and 20 other militants were reportedly killed in another US drone strike in Kunar in March this year.
Fazlullah’s deputy, Noor Wali Mehsud, will most likely be his successor, according to a TTP source.
Mehsud, 40, was the TTP’s Karachi chief from June 2013 until May 2015 and is the author of the book “Inqilab-e-Mehsud,” in which he claimed to have assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
— Naimat Khan in Karachi and Tahir Khan in Islamabad contributed to this story.


Philippines’ Duterte in war of words over Canada garbage row

Updated 2 min 25 sec ago
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Philippines’ Duterte in war of words over Canada garbage row

PORAC, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday demanded Canada take back tons of trash it had illegally shipped to Manila or risk “war,” in the latest incident to strain bilateral ties.
The Philippines has urged Canada to take back scores of garbage containers shipped to the country in 2013 and 2014, alleging they contain toxic waste.
But Ottawa has said it had no authority to compel a private shipper to return the shipment to Canada.
Speaking to officials during a visit north of Manila, an area ravaged by an earthquake on Monday, Duterte said he did not care if his stance on the issue turned the two countries into enemies.
“I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out, or I will set sail for Canada and dump their garbage back there,” he said.
“Let’s fight Canada. I will declare war against them,” added the president, who frequently uses coarse language and hyperbole in public speeches about opponents.
The garbage is among several festering issues that have soured ties between the two governments.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been among the most vocal critics of the domestic drug war waged by Duterte, who was elected in 2016.
Philippine police say they have killed nearly 5,000 alleged drug users and pushers who fought against arrest in the crackdown, while rights groups say the true toll is at least triple that and may amount to crimes against humanity.
Last year Duterte angrily canceled the Philippine military’s $235 million contract to buy 16 military helicopters from a Canada-based manufacturer after the Trudeau government put the deal under review because of the president’s human rights record.