Eight South Waziristan Taliban commanders, pictured in a wanted poster: 1. Hakeemullah Mehsud, 2. Waliur Rehman Mehsud, 3. Qari Hussain Mehsud, 4. Azam Tariq, 5. Maulvi Azmatullah, 6. Mufti Noor Wali, 7. Asmatullah Bhittani, 8. Mohammad Anwar Gandapur.
Pakistani security forces recently detained a mid-level Taliban commander who was wanted by the government.
Abdullah Shah Mehsud, who was number 17 on the list of 20 most-wanted Taliban commanders from South Waziristan, was captured by Pakistani forces in the district of Tank. He is an “active member of Hakeemullah Mehsud Group from Shaktoi village near Razmak” in North Waziristan, the Pakistani military said in a press release. The military paid “head money,” a sum of about $120,000, to the informer who turned Abdullah Shah in.
Abdullah Shah Mehsud after his capture. Photo from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations website.
Abdullah Shah is the first senior Taliban leader in South Waziristan to be captured since the operation began on Oct. 17. Much of the Taliban leadership is believed to have slipped the military operation in South Waziristan and to be sheltering in North Waziristan, Arakzai, Kurram, Khyber, and in regions in South Waziristan not affected by the operation.
On Nov. 2, the military released a list of 20 most-wanted Taliban leaders. The bounties are to be paid for information leading to the death or capture of the senior leaders of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
“Anyone who captures these people dead or alive or provides concrete information, the government will award them a cash reward,” says the statement accompanying the wanted posters. “The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban [Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] terrorists are daily involved in deadly activities and because of their activities innocent Muslims are going to the valley of death.”
The Pakistani government offered $600,000 rewards for Hakeemullah, South Waziristan overall commander Waliur Rehman Mehsud, and master suicide bomber trainer Qari Hussain Mehsud.
Rewards of $300,000 were issued for 11 mid-level leaders, including spokesman Azam Tariq, military commander Maulvi Azmatullah Mehsud, and camp commander Mufti Noor Wali.
Six other commanders, including Abdullah Shah Mehsud, Asmatullah Bhittani, and Mohammad Anwer Gandapur, each have $120,000 bounties on their heads.
The military has dropped flyers with the wanted posters in Mir Ali in North Waziristan, according to a report in Dawn. Mir Ali is a stronghold of al Qaeda commander Abu Kasha al Iraqi as well as Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who is reportedly sheltering the families of Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman Mehsud.
The most wanted Taliban commanders in South Waziristan
Rewards of $600,000:
1. Hakeemullah Mehsud: The overall leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Considered a dangerous and effective leader, he led Taliban forces in Arakzai, Kurram, and in regions in Khyber and Peshawar before assuming the top job after Baitullah Mehsud, his cousin, was killed in a US Predator strike on Aug. 5.
2. Waliur Rehman Mehsud: The overall commander of the Taliban in South Waziristan. Waliur was competing with Hakeemullah for the top spot in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. He is considered an able commander with strong ties to outside Taliban groups.
3. Qari Hussain Mehsud: The notorious trainer of child suicide bombers and an effective military commander. He is credited with masterminding some of the most deadly suicide strikes in Pakistan.
Rewards of $300,000:
4. Azam Tariq: The chief spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. His real name is Mohammad Raees Khan Mehsud.
5. Maulvi Azmatullah Mehsud: The military commander of Taliban forces in the Barvand region. Formerly a close aide to Baitullah.
6. Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud: Commander of a Taliban training camp in the Gargaray region.
7. Mufti Noor Saeed: Military commander in South Waziristan.
8. Maulvi Shameem Mehsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
9. Ameerullah Mehsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
10. Naseeruddin Mehsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
11. Shah Faisal Mehsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
12. Sher Azeem Mehsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
13. Jaleel Mehsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
14. Mohammad Ismael Mehsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
Rewards of $120,000:
15. Asmatullah Bhittani: Military commander in the towns of Jandola and Tank in the district of Tank. He is also known as Shaheen.
16. Arfeshaheen: Military commander in South Waziristan.
17. Abdullah Shah Mehsud: Military commander in the Shaktoi region in South Waziristan.
18. Mohammad Anwar Kandapur: Military commander in the district of Dera Ismail Khan.
19. Maulvi Abdul Wali: Military commander in South Waziristan.
20: Khan Saeed Mehsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.