The Taliban tortured and executed a tribal leader who raised forces to battle the Islamic extremists in Pakistan’s contested tribal agency of Bajaur.
The body of tribal leader Gul Mohammad was found in the Salarzai region in Bajaur. Mohammed was reportedly tortured and then strangled to death.
The Taliban pinned a note to Mohammed’s body that said “the man was spying for security forces and anybody found involved in anti-Taliban activities will meet the same fate,” Dawn News reported.
Mohammed raised a tribal lashkar, or militia, and aligned with the government to fight the Taliban. The Taliban have actively targeted tribal leaders as they attempt to organize lashkars to eject the extremists from their towns. Mohammed is the sixth senior tribal leader killed in Bajaur since Oct. 3. Five of the tribal leaders were killed in the Mamond region in Bajaur.
The Salarzai tribe, which lives in a region adjoining the Mamond tribal areas, has clashed with the Mamond Taliban. Salarzai leaders have accused Pakistan’s military and intelligence service of aiding the Taliban against tribes that dare to raise lashkars, or militias, against them, and of even shelling Salarzai tribal areas. A senior Salarzai tribal leader later denied such reports, however, and said the tribe was working hand in hand with the government.
The Mamond region in Bajaur is a notorious stronghold for the Taliban and Faqir Mohammed, the chief of the Bajaur Taliban. Although the military has conducted several operations there, it has failed to eject the Taliban. Earlier this year, the military claimed the Taliban had “lost” in Bajaur and the neighboring tribal agency of Mohmand after a six-month-long operation that ended at the beginning of March.
Al Qaeda is also known to shelter in Mamond. In January 2006, the US targeted a meeting of senior al Qaeda leaders in the town of Damadola in Mamond. Ayman al Zawahiri, Abu Khabab al Masri, and several other senior al Qaeda leaders were thought to be meeting there.
The Mamond region in Bajaur has also served as a safe haven for the Swat chapter of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Shah Doran, the deputy to notorious Swat Taliban commander Mullah Fazlullah, recently died of died of complications from cancer in the Mamond region. The Pakistani military had previously claimed Doran was killed in June during the military operation in Swat.