New Taliban leader in South Waziristan vows to continue mission of emir killed in drone strike
A Taliban faction in the western half of South Waziristan vowed to avenge the death of its emir, Mullah Nazir, and continue his mission, which includes supporting al Qaeda and conducting attacks in Afghanistan, according to a pamphlet released by the group. Also, the group named its new leaders.
The Mullah Nazir Group distributed the pamphlet in the bazaar in Wana, the main town in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency, according to The Express Tribune, which obtained and translated the Urdu-language document. Nazir, who has professed his allegiance to al Qaeda and sheltered some of the group's top leaders, was killed along with several of his top commanders in a US drone strike on Jan. 3.
"We will avenge the blood of our great emir. The joy of our enemies will not last long. Every drop of his blood will create another Mullah Nazir," the pamphlet stated.
"We inform the tribesmen of South Waziristan generally and Wana sub division particularly that our morale is high on the martyrdom of Emir Sahib (Mullah Nazir), his slaying didn't weaken but made us more strong," the pamphlet noted, while denying reports of splits within the group.
"There is no disunity among our ranks and we are more united than ever by proving helpful to each other."
The Taliban identified their new leader as Salahuddin Ayubi, and also named other top leaders as Commander Malang, Haji Tehsil Khan, Haji Ainullah, Taj Muhammad, and Muhammad Shoaib. Ayubi, who is also known as Bahwal Khan, was named as Nazir's replacement on Jan. 4, just one day after the drone strike that killed Nazir.
According to The Express Tribune, the Taliban "expressed the determination to continue the mission of their former leader Mullah Nazir."
Before he was killed, Nazir openly supported Taliban emir Mullah Omar and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and waged jihad in Afghanistan. In an interview with the Asia Times in 2011, Nazir rejected claims that he opposed al Qaeda, and affirmed that he considered himself to be a member of the global terror organization [see LWJ report, 'Good' Pakistani Taliban leader Nazir affirms membership in al Qaeda].
Additionally, Nazir's Taliban faction is one of four major Taliban groups that joined the Shura-e-Murakeba, an alliance brokered by al Qaeda in late 2011. The Shura-e-Murakeba also includes Hafiz Gul Bahadar's group; the Haqqani Network, a close al Qaeda ally; and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, another al Qaeda ally, which is led by Hakeemullah Mehsud and his deputy, Waliur Rehman Mehsud. The members of the Shura-e-Murakeba agreed to cease attacks against Pakistani security forces, refocus efforts against the US in Afghanistan, and end kidnappings and other criminal activities in the tribal areas.
The Taliban's pamphlet confirms a report by The Long War Journal just one day after Nazir was killed that Ayubi would continue to support al Qaeda and conduct attacks in Afghanistan. Ayubi has served under Nazir for 16 years and fought Coalition forces in Afghanistan.
"Little will change with Khan's appointment to lead Nazir's faction of the Taliban," one US intelligence official who tracks the Taliban in Pakistan told The Long War Journal on Jan. 4 [see LWJ report, Taliban name Mullah Nazir's replacement].
"It will be business as usual, and we'll continue to have to take shots at al Qaeda leaders and others in the Wazir areas" of South Waziristan, the official continued, referring to the drone strikes.