Pakistan's most-wanted: look at who isn't listed
Pakistan's interior ministry has a top ten most-wanted list, according to Amir Mir, the journalist for The News. According to Mir, the top ten list is as follows:
1. Mullah Fazlullah - the chief of the Taliban in Swat.
2. Hakeemullah Mehsud - the new leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the successor to Baitullah Mehsud.
3. Qari Hussain Mehsud - the Taliban's suicide bombing mastermind who runs camps in South Waziristan.
4. Ilyas Kashmiri - the operational commander of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HuJI), an al Qaeda-linked terror group.
5. Rashid Rauf - A senior al Qaeda operative and a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed; he was behind the planning to conduct attacks in London.
6. Mangal Bagh Afridi - the leader of the Lashkar-e-Islam in the Khyber tribal agency.
7. Matiur Rehman - the chief operational commander of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who also manages al Qaeda's "rolodex" of jihadis who have passed through terror training camps.
8. Mullah Faqir Mohammed - the deputy leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the commander of the Taliban forces in Bajaur.
9. Waliur Rehman Mehsud - the new leader of the Taliban in South Waziristan.
10. Qari Mohammad Zafar - the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who operates from South Waziristan.
There are four things interesting about this list:
Who is absent
Note that Taliban leaders Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, and Mullah Nazir, are all absent, as well as HuJI chief Qari Saifullah Akhtar. All four of the Taliban leaders are considered "good" and "pro-government" Taliban despite having close links to al Qaeda and hosting training camps and safe houses, allying with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and supporting terror attacks in Afghanistan. The four Taliban leaders and Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who is arguably far more dangerous than Ilyas Kashmiri as the commander of the 313 Brigade, are known to have very close ties to Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency.
Also note that Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Maulana Masood Azhar are absent. Both leaders are also close to Pakistan's ISI.
Rashid Rauf is alive
While both the CIA and Pakistani intelligence officials have long maintained that Rashid Rauf was killed last year in a Predator attack in South Waziristan, we here at The Long War Journal have maintained that he is alive [see here for latest update on Rauf].
Hakeemullah, Qari Hussain, and Waliur alive?
The addition of Hakeemullah Mehsud, Qari Hussain Mehsud, and Waliur Rehman Mehsud to the list is odd given that Interior Minister Rehman Malik has repeatedly claimed Hakeemullah and Waliur are dead, most recently on Aug. 25. Pakistani intel officials are still saying Hakeemullah's twin brother is impersonating him.
Why no South Waziristan operation?
Six of the top ten most-wanted (Hakeemullah, Qari Hussain, Waliur, Matiur, Zafar, and Ilyas Kashmiri) are known to operate in South Waziristan. Yet the Pakistani military will not go into South Waziristan even though they claim the Taliban is in disarray due to infighting. In fact, just yesterday, Rehman Malik said the Taliban leadership is on the run:
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Sunday that top Taliban leadership had been eliminated and all parameters had been placed to check regrouping of terrorists.
Talking to PTV, he said ,”main leadership of Taliban was almost finished, mid level is eliminated and under training terrorists are on the run, we destroy their ammunition and training camps in mountains”.
Two days ago he said al Qaeda was fleeing Pakistan in droves for greener pastures in Yemen and Somalia.
If the Taliban are in such dire straits, leaderless and rudderless, and al Qaeda is abandoning the tribal areas, what is the holdup in sending the military in to finish them off?