'Good' Pakistani Taliban commander killed in US Predator strike
US Predators killed a deputy of Mullah Nazir, who is considered to be a "good Taliban" commander by the Pakistani military, in an airstrike late last week.
The deputy, Haleem Ullah, was among three "militants" killed in the airstrike that targeted a vehicle parked in a compound in the village of Baghar in the Angor Adda area of South Waziristan, according to The Associated Press. The strike, which took place on Sept. 30, was carried out by the unmanned drones that are operated by the CIA.
This year the CIA has begun to target Nazir's tribal areas, after focusing nearly exclusively in North Waziristan in 2010. Sixteen of the 18 strikes that have occurred in South Waziristan this year were conducted in areas under Nazir's control (there have been 53 strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas so far in 2011). Last year, only two of the seven strikes took place in areas under Nazir's influence (there were 117 strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas in 2010).
Pakistan's military and intelligence services consider Nazir and his followers "good Taliban" as they do not openly seek the overthrow of the Pakistani state.
In the summer of 2009, the military signed a peace agreement with Nazir stipulating that he would not shelter al Qaeda or members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which were based in the Mehsud tribal areas of South Waziristan. A few months later, in October 2009, the Pakistani government launched a military operation against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, but left Nazir's areas untouched.
Despite the peace agreement, Nazir and his followers continue to shelter al Qaeda and other Taliban groups that do attack the Pakistani state. He also sends forces into Afghanistan to battle US, NATO, and Afghan forces.
Mullah Nazir has openly supported Taliban emir Mullah Omar and slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and wages jihad in Afghanistan. In an interview with the Asia Times, Nazir rejected claims that he opposed al Qaeda, and affirmed that he considered himself to be a member of the global terror organization.
"Al Qaeda and the Taliban are one and the same," Nazir told The Asia Times earlier this year. "At an operational level we might have different strategies, but at the policy level we are one and the same.... This is wrong that I am anti-al Qaeda. I am part of al Qaeda."
The CIA has killed several top al Qaeda leaders in Nazir's territory, including Midhat Mursi al Sayyid Umar, the former head of al Qaeda's weapons of mass destruction program, and four members of his staff; and Osama al Kini (Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam), al Qaeda's operations chief in Pakistan, along with Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, one of al Kini's senior aides, both of whom were wanted by the US for their involvement in the 1998 suicide attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The US also believes it killed Abu Zaid al Iraqi, al Qaeda's top financier in Pakistan; and Abu Hazwa Jawfi, the former leader of Pakistani Jundallah. In addition, Ilyas Kashmiri, the leader of al Qaeda's Lashkar-al-Zil, or Shadow Army, is reported to have been killed in a June 3 Predator strike in Nazir's tribal areas. Kashmiri's death has not been confirmed, however.