The Taliban videotaped the brutal execution of more than a dozen Pakistani policemen who were captured during last month’s raid in a remote area of northwestern Pakistan.
The graphic video, which shows 16 Pakistani policemen who are lined up and then gunned down by Taliban fighters wielding AK-47s, was taken in early June in the Shaltalu area of the district of Dir in northwestern Pakistan, a Pakistani official and US intelligence officials who track the region told The Long War Journal. The executions were filmed after the policemen were captured during several days of heavy fighting.
The policemen were captured after the Taliban crossed the border from Kunar province in Afghanistan and attacked police outposts and villages in the Shaltalu area on June 1. The raid sparked a pitched battle that lasted for several days. Dozens of Pakistani policemen were taken hostage during the ensuing fighting, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. Pakistani officials claimed that 27 policemen and 45 Taliban fighters were killed during the raid, but Pajhwok put the number of policemen killed at more than 40. Raids by the Taliban on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border have increased this year as the terror groups have expanded their footholds in the region [see LWJ report, Taliban step up cross-border attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan].
The graphic video, which was published on the LiveLeak website, begins by showing the policemen, whose hands are bound behind their backs, in a line along a hillside. A Taliban commander tells the policemen they are responsible for the execution of six Pakistani “children” in the neighboring Pakistani district of Swat. Just prior to executing the Pakistani men, the Taliban leader gives a quick speech.
“These are the enemies of Islam who originated from Pakistan,” says the Taliban commander, who is masked and has not been identified, according to a translation of the statement received by The Long War Journal. He describes the men as “murtards,” or those who have abandoned Islam.
“They are the Pakistani police, soldiers, and their supporters who recently lined up six kids in Swat and shot them execution style,” the commander continues. “These Pakistanis are now our captive and we will avenge the death of the children by doing the same to them.”
The Taliban commander orders the policemen to remain still, then he and his fighters immediately open fire on the bound men. Most of the policemen are killed during the initial volley of Taliban fire. Several of the men are heard moaning as the Taliban stop shooting. The Taliban quickly move in to finish off the survivors at close range. The Taliban then travel up and down the line of bodies, pumping rounds into those still alive.
A Taliban fighter with a video camera tapes the entire execution and its aftermath. Later in the video, his shadow is cast over the dead bodies as he films them.
The video has not been attributed to a specific Taliban faction, however two major Taliban groups operate in the region, one commanded by Qari Zai Rahman, and another by Mullah Fazlullah.
Qari Zai Rahman is the dual-hatted Taliban and al Qaeda leader who operates in Pakistan’s tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand, as well as in Afghanistan’s provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. ISAF and Afghan forces have been hunting Rahman for more than a year.
Mullah Fazlullah commands the Taliban forces in the district of Swat, which borders Dir to the east. Fazlullah’s forces openly ruled Swat and neighboring districts from 2007 until April 2009, when the Pakistani military launched an operation to eject the Taliban. Fazlullah and most of his top leaders evaded the operation, however, and have since sheltered along the Afghan-Pakistani border, particularly in Dir.
The Pakistani Taliban routinely videotape executions of their captives. The most recent high-profile execution was carried out by Hakeemullah Mehsud and his followers. Earlier this year, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan released a videotape of the execution of a former Pakistani military intelligence official known as Colonel Imam. Although Imam, a senior officer in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, was a favorite of the Afghan Taliban for his support of Mullah Omar, the Pakistani Taliban accused him spying against the terror group [see LWJ report, Video: Pakistani Taliban execute Colonel Imam].