Top Taliban, al Qaeda leaders reported killed in Mohmand airstrikes


Faqir-Mohammed.JPG

Faqir Mohammed, the leader of the Taliban in Bajaur and the deputy leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

Unconfirmed reports from Pakistan indicate that a senior al Qaeda military commander and a top Taliban leader have been killed during airstrikes earlier today in the Mohmand tribal agency.

Pakistani military officials claimed that Qari Zia Rahman and Faqir Mohammed were among 30 Taliban and foreign fighters killed during helicopter and airstrikes in the Pindyali region in Mohmand, The Nation reported. A commander named Fateh was also killed, according to Geo News.

Faqir Mohammed is the leader of the Taliban in the Bajaur tribal agency; he is also the second in command of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the group founded by South Waziristan leader Baitullah Mehsud and thought to be led by Hakeemullah Mehsud. Faqir is a close ally of al Qaeda and of its second in command, Ayman al Zawahiri, who is known to have sheltered in Bajaur in the past.

Qari Zia Rahman is an al Qaeda leader who operates in Pakistan's Bajaur tribal agency as well as in Afghanistan's Nuristan and Kunar provinces, where the Taliban control most of districts. He is allied with Faqir Mohammed, the leader of the Taliban in Bajaur, as well as with Osama bin Laden. Rahman's fighters are from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and various Arab nations. He commands a brigade in al Qaeda's paramilitary Shadow Army, or the Lashkar al Zil, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

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Qari Zia Rahman and a map of northeastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. Map from the Asia Times; click to view.

Today's strikes took place just one day after Pakistani fighter-bombers and helicopters attacked Taliban forces in the Safi region in Mohmand in retaliation for an attack on a military checkpoint. More than 200 Taliban fighters overran a military checkpoint and killed a Frontier Corps soldier. The military also claimed 30 Taliban fighters were killed in the attacks. The casualties in both strikes cannot be independently confirmed as the military bars reporters from the tribal areas.

Faqir and the Bajaur Taliban are thought to have entered Mohmand after the Pakistani military took over the stronghold of Damadola. The military said it seized more than 150 cave and bunker complexes, and killed 75 Taliban fighters during the assault. Major General Tariq Khan, the leader of the Frontier Corps, claimed the Taliban leadership has been decimated and the movement has been defeated. Khan made an identical claim of Taliban defeat in March 2009, however.

In the past, the Pakistani military has claimed that Faqir and Rahman have been killed in other strikes. In June 2009, Rahman was reported killed during a battle with Pakistani forces in the Charmang region of Bajaur. In August 2008, the military claimed Faqir was killed while transporting weapons near Khar, the main town in Bajaur.

The current reports of Faqir and Rahman's deaths come as six top leaders of the Afghan Taliban's Quetta Shura, or executive leadership council, have been detained in Pakistan. The Pakistani military and government have previously denied that the Quetta Shura existed and said no senior Afghan Taliban leaders were present in Pakistan.



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READER COMMENTS: "Top Taliban, al Qaeda leaders reported killed in Mohmand airstrikes"

Posted by ArneFufkin at March 5, 2010 11:09 AM ET:

The hits just keep on keepin' on!

Posted by John E. at March 5, 2010 12:20 PM ET:


In the past, the Pakistani military has claimed that Faqir and Rahman have been killed in other strikes. In June 2009, Rahman was reported killed during a battle with Pakistani forces in the Charmang region of Bajaur. In August 2008, the military claimed Faqir was killed while transporting weapons near Khar, the main town in Bajaur.

Sweet ! Kill them more than once. (sarcasm). Hopefully this is for real.

Posted by Bill Roggio at March 5, 2010 12:27 PM ET:

Perhaps we'd be wise to lace the bullets, bombs, and missiles with wood and silver. Or wooden and silver flachettes. Or maybe some of those cool UV munitions like on Blade. Most days it feels like we're hunting vampires and werewolves....

Posted by HLP at March 5, 2010 12:40 PM ET:

Commander Fatih was also supposedly killed in that strike.

http://www.samaa.tv/News17687-30_terrorists_killed_in_Mohmand_Agency.aspx

Posted by Rookie at March 5, 2010 12:55 PM ET:

"The Pakistani military and government have previously denied that the Quetta Shura existed and said no senior Afghan Taliban leaders were present in Pakistan"

Bunch of liars... I did not believe them then and definitely not now.

As an inhabitant of Dracula's land (in fact Vlad Tepes was one of the most efficient jihadi slayer ever) I can certify that big wooden stakes are the ticket to keep this cancer away. Ask Hamza-Pasha (to save you a Google search, when the said ambassador of religion of pieces came to ask for 500 kids to be enslaved according to jizya, Tepes put him and his comrades on wooden stakes)... ACLU was not around to comment.

Posted by Dean at March 5, 2010 2:45 PM ET:

Rookie: But in the end the Turks won. They had the numbers, they had the ambition (ideology?) and the Christians were not united

Posted by HLP at March 5, 2010 2:49 PM ET:

Speaking of vampires, I'm not sure if Commander Fatih is the same guy who was supposedly killed in a drone strike last year. LOL

http://www.uznews.net/news_single.php?lng=en&cid=1&sub=&nid=11394

Posted by Bill Roggio at March 5, 2010 3:04 PM ET:

Fateh is a common nom de guerre. Mullah Sangeen Zadra of he Haqqani Network is also known as Commander Fateh.

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/06/senior_taliban_leade.php

Oh and we thought we killed him in 2007....

Holy water napalm? Wait, too crusaderesque....

Posted by HLP at March 5, 2010 3:33 PM ET:

Bill, more info on THIS "Fateh."

Another Taliban commander Fateh who belongs to Matta area of Swat is also killed in the attack. His real name is said to be Omar Rehman and he was head of the military wing of TTP and member of its shura (council)

http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/03/06/key-taliban-commanders-killed-northwest-pakistan

Posted by HLP at March 5, 2010 3:47 PM ET:

Wanted Swat Taliban list reissued with corrections

Head money enhanced to minimum Rs10m

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The government also added a few names to the wanted list.

..the third is Omar Rahman alias Fateh.

Their names were missing in the earlier list. There were no photos of Khalil and Fateh in the advertisement.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=182517&cid=1258959260&ei=kU09SsfTCKX28QTZ4MS1Cg

Posted by Tyler at March 5, 2010 5:30 PM ET:

Just to echo what pretty much everyone has said. Faqir and Rahman are each high in the running for being the most slippery terrorists on the planet. So I'm not yet holding my breath.

Chainsaw and a boomstick would be just groovy against these primitive screwheads as Ash would say.

Posted by Civy at March 6, 2010 12:38 AM ET:

Bill,
Assuming we would like to deny those caves to the bad guys permanently, how about bobby trapping them, and then filling them up with structural foam?

Concrete would be better of course, but far too heavy. Polystyrene laced with something like zink oxide should work quite well. Throw in some nylon fibers and it would make them pretty uninviting, triggering explosives, and/or silent alarms if they started digging at them. Also easy to find back as the IR signature of foam is much different than rock.

Posted by Rookie at March 6, 2010 3:44 AM ET:

@Dean

In the end, the Turks lost. I mean yes, they defeated Vlad and many other rulers, but Romanian states - even if money, people and stuff were paid - were never under Otoman direct rule. 99.99% of population remained Christian. And we defeated Turks in 1877 for good, together with the Russians. UK and France were supporting Turkey (nothing new here).

The West was irresponsible in those times, and if I'm looking at immigration and demographics numbers now, they did not changed a lot.

Posted by Bungo at March 6, 2010 11:47 AM ET:

The report says helicopters and aircrft were used in the attack yet, apparrently, no helicopters (and troops) landed to identify the dead? Were these boys meeting on some sort of mountain top or ravine that choppers could not land in/on? Oh well. I'll take what I can get.

I have a new theory that the ISI is unofficially protecting the Afghan Taliban because of the opium business. Such a deal could put millions of dollars in the pockets of ISI leaders. Always follow the money.

Posted by ArneFufkin at March 6, 2010 1:14 PM ET:

From the "If Rehman Malik Says it's True it likely Isn't" file: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/03-malik-confirms-death-of-top-commanders-ss-04

Posted by Marlin at March 6, 2010 4:34 PM ET:

Heh! I couldn't agree with ArneFufkin more!