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Video: Taliban execute Swat tribal leader


A video of the aftermath of the brutal murder and public display of tribal leaders who dared to stand up to the Taliban in Swat last year has emerged.

The video, which was recently obtained by The Long War Journal, shows Swat tribal leader Pir Samiullah and two of his senior lieutenants after they were slaughtered by the Taliban in December 2008. The video was taken with a cell phone by a witness to the bloody event.

Samiullah is seen with a green headband; his body is leaned up against a wall. The bodies of his two senior most lieutenants were beheaded and hanged upside down from a pole.

pir-samiullah.JPG

Pir Samiullah after he was murdered in December 2008.

Pir Samiullah was a rival tribal and religious leader in the Matta region who rose up against Swat Taliban leaders Mullah Fazlullah and Ibn Amim, the military commander of al Qaeda's Shadow Army in the Swat region.

According to sources in Pakistan, Samiullah incurred the wrath of Fazlullah not only for opposing Taliban rule, but Samiullah also challenged Fazlullah to a test of religious faith. Fazlullah declined the challenge and Samiullah taunted him.

Samiullah, his two senior lieutenants, and eight of his followers were killed during a Taliban assault on Dec. 16.

But displaying Samiullah and his aides' mutilated bodies was not enough. The Taliban returned to Samiullah's village, dug up his body, and hanged it in public.

According to sources in Matta, Pakistani troops were nearby during the assault, the displaying of the murdered bodies, and when Samiullah's body was dug up, but refused to intervene.

Samiullah was the first tribal leader in Swat to raise a lashkar, or tribal army, to oppose the Taliban. Samiullah claimed to have organized more than 10,000 tribesmen to oppose the Taliban and protect 20 villages.

He did so when Swat was at its darkest and the Taliban seemed unstoppable. The military offensive was stalled and the government and military had lost the will to fight. Just three months after Samiullah was killed, the government ceded Swat and much of the northwest to the Taliban in the infamous Malakand Accord.

The Pakistani government touted Samiullah's resistance to the Taliban, but refused to provide meaningful support to keep the tribal leader and his followers alive.

Pakistan declares Swat cleared, Fazlullah gravely wounded

In early May of this year, the Pakistani Army launched an operation in Swat and neighboring Buner and Dir after the Taliban sought to build on the gains in Swat and encroach on the districts right outside of Islamabad.

Nine weeks after the operation began, the Army has declared victory and claimed the district has been cleared of the Taliban. The military claimed more than 1,500 Taliban fighters out of the estimated 5,000 to 7,000 thought to be in the area were killed.

Yesterday the government claimed that Fazlullah was seriously wounded during a recent clash. The government has reported Fazlullah killed or wounded several times since the operation began in early May.

Fazlullah and his 20 most senior lieutenants have bounties on their heads for information leading to their capture, but none of those on the list have been confirmed killed or captured.

While efforts to kill or capture the Taliban's senior leaders falter, the government recently released Sufi Mohammed, the pro-Taliban cleric behind the Malakand Accord, who is also Fazlullah's father-in-law. A senior minister in the Northwest Frontier Province said Sufi should be ignored.

"Let Sufi Mohammad be history," said the provincial Minister for Information, Mian Iftikhar Hussain. "His popularity graph has declined and people of Malakand will not trust him anymore."



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READER COMMENTS: "Video: Taliban execute Swat tribal leader "

Posted by MZBH at July 9, 2009 8:06 AM ET:

"According to sources in Matta, Pakistani troops were nearby during the assault, the displaying of the murdered bodies, and when Samiullah's body was dug up, but refused to act."

The DG ISPR and other military officials (both on and off record) have clarified that the Army was under categorical orders to not initiate any action unless attacked.

This was still the phase when the elected GoNWFP and GoP were intent on pursuing 'dialog' to resolve the insurgency, as they had promised the electorate during the elections.


Posted by C. Jordan at July 9, 2009 10:33 AM ET:

Savage animals.

Clearly pure evil.

Posted by Bill Roggio at July 9, 2009 11:10 AM ET:

My apologies, the video was accidentally left marked as 'private' on YouTube after this was published. I corrected this.

MZBH, it would have been wise not to have pumped up Samiullah unless they planned on actually backing him. One wonders how badly this event poisoned the well for other tribal leaders who thought of opposing the Taliban, even to this day.

Posted by ramsis at July 9, 2009 2:21 PM ET:

" One wonders how badly this event poisoned the well for other tribal leaders who thought of opposing the Taliban, even to this day."
Well said bill, unfortunately in afghanistan this also seems to be the case. I would've thought that these were lessons we learned in Iraq. force protection should apply to local leaders and allies as well as our own soldiers. This video shows the brutal nature of the enemy we face I only hope their deaths inspire at least some tribal leaders to work against the taliban, if not publicly then at least secretly.

Posted by MZBH at July 10, 2009 12:12 PM ET:

"MZBH, it would have been wise not to have pumped up Samiullah unless they planned on actually backing him. One wonders how badly this event poisoned the well for other tribal leaders who thought of opposing the Taliban, even to this day."

No question about that Bill. I remember being extremely frustrated and angry when I read about the events around that time. Many of us who had supported the operation in Swat (canceled when the new GoP was elected) had warned of exactly such reversals. The media, Pakistanis and therefore the politicians were too anti-Military (thanks to Musharraf) to give a hoot about any of those concerns.

As far as they were concerned, the entire problem arose because the military was deployed.

That said, all of those terrible and tragic events have contributed to the 'awakening' of sorts of Pakistanis - over 90% in the World Opinion Poll consider the taliban a threat, and over 80% a critical threat - I never thought I would see numbers that strong while Musharraf was alive.

It is sad that it took the death of patriotic and courageous Pakistanis to accomplish that.