Captured Taliban commander killed in combat in Swat
Dawn reports on the death of a dangerous Taliban commander who was captured in Swat on Sept. 22 after being "seriously wounded." According to the military, Abu Faraj, a deputy to Mullah Fazlullah and a commander notorious for training and plotting suicide attacks, was killed during a clash in Swat while accompanying troops:
In Swat, 13 insurgents were killed in clashes with security forces on Thursday.
According to Swat media centre, security personnel came under fire when they raided a Taliban hideout in Sigram area of Koza Bandai. During an exchange of fire, 10 militants and one soldier were killed.
Detained militant commander Mohammad Naseem alias Abu Faraj was with the troops and he was also killed in the clash. Abu Faraj, a close aide of Maulana Fazlullah, was captured by security forces in September.
Here is how the military described Abu Faraj on the day he was captured, again via Dawn:
Abu Faraj is said to have trained bombers for suicide missions and was close to Taliban Swat cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who led thousands of followers in a two-year uprising to enforce Islamic law in the former tourist district.
The military announced the arrest of the commander as an 'Eid gift from the army for the people of Swat'. Colonel Akhtar Abbas said Abu Faraj was an expert in making suicide jackets and training people to carry out attacks. He was trained in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are fighting against Western troops, Abbas added.
Officials said he prepared improvised-explosive device attacks and was also wanted in connection with two bank robberies.
This is all strange, to say the least. Abu Faraj isn't the kind of Taliban commander you'd want to give even the hint of daylight. While it is possible that Abu Faraj was accompanying troops to exploit real time intelligence, there are other ways of making this happen rather than dragging him into the field and along with a combat operation. Another possibility is that Abu Faraj was quietly released, exchanged for captive security personnel, or escaped custody, and then he was subsequently killed during the clash in Swat.
This will very likely be one of those mysteries in Pakistan that will never be solved, but serves to raise more questions about exactly what is going on with the thousands of Taliban leaders and fighters in Pakistani custody.