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 Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-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?

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Reggie says:

    Rashid Rauf, Haqqanis, Osama Bin Laden and Zawahiri arent Pakistani nationals. Thats probably why they arent listed.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    But Rauf was listed (but my understanding is he is a Pakistani). The Haqqanis are based in North Waziristan; they run the show with the Taliban behind the scenes. Nazir and Bahadar are Pakistanis, as are Qari Saifullah Akhtar, Hafiz Saeed, and Masood Azhar. I didn’t mention bin Laden or Zawahiri because I wouldn’t expect them to be there.

  • Charles says:

    You would expect the ISI to play favorites.
    The more interesting question is the response (from good & bad guys alike) to that list of 200 or so taliban & AQ that the US put on a kill on site list.

  • ratee says:

    Americans brought the 200 Al-Qaida members for fighting Russians and then went away from 1989 to 2001 fast asleep.
    While Pakistan was being destroyed by the 3.5 million Afghan refugees.
    Now Nato is not doing anything in Afghanistan for last 8 years and now you expect Pakistan to fall in the couldron the tribal belt where every conqueror from the Britsih to Russians have been defated. Do you know the history of this area British were defeated 3 times in this area when they were the greatest power on earth.
    Pakistan army has lost 2000 troops in this area alone since 2004. USA has lost 750 troops in whole of Afghanstan since 2001. Are Pakistani lives less important then lives of NATO troops?
    Why is not USA fighting its own war and why blame Pakistan what USA has brought up on the whole world by leaving animals in this area and forgetting for 12 years? Should Pakistan do all the fighting for USA now?

  • Bangash says:

    Haqqani, Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul are not committing violence in Pakistan, so it is logical that the focus be on who ARE committing violence in Pakistan.
    Why are Americans complaining ? They shoot drone missiles whenever they wish at whatever anyway.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    “Haqqani, Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul are not committing violence in Pakistan…”
    Really? Who do you think conducted suicide attacks and ambushes against the Pakistani military in North Waziristan as recently as a few weeks ago? Who murdered the tribal leaders and supplanted them with a parallel government? Who hosts the al Qaeda and LeJ and Let and HuM and Taliban camps that are used to conduct attacks in both countries?
    Or is that all pro-state activities?

  • dabba says:

    How about the ones responsible for the mumbai attacks and for operating terrorist camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir

  • Mr T says:

    How about all of those that carry guns and kill Muslims and Non Muslims alike?

  • T Ruth says:

    As i read in a Times article on the (lack of a) justice system in Pakistan:
    “In pakistan, the weakness of the state is matched only by the strength of its criminals.”
    Sadly the ones not on the most-wanted list are the ones that are actually most-wanted by the state of Pakistan to carry out their terror activities across their borders with Afghanistan and India.
    These rotten beings need to be pulled out from their roots. With Pakistan not cooperating, thats right actually, truly CO-OPERATING with the US/ISAF, its hard to conceive a relevant AFPAK military strategy, without making the border irrelevant. Pakistan’s veil needs to be removed; the faster, the more effective in the long war.


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