Taliban name Mullah Nazir’s replacement

The Mullah Nazir Group, a Taliban faction in South Waziristan, has named a successor after its leader was killed in a US drone strike yesterday. The new emir of the group maintains close ties to al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, and a host of terrorist groups operating in the Afghan-Pakistan region, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal. Additionally, US intelligence officials denied that the Pakistani government or military aided in the killing of Nazir.

The Taliban in South Waziristan have named Bahwal Khan, who is also known as Salahuddin Ayubi, to lead the Mullah Nazir Group after its emir, Mullah Nazir, was killed in a US drone strike. Nazir was killed along with two deputies, a military commander, and two associates in one of three drone strikes that took place in North and South Waziristan on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3.

Taliban commanders from the Mullah Nazir Group as well as Pakistani intelligence officials have confirmed that Khan has replaced Nazir, according to The Express Tribune and AFP.

“The Shura of Mullah Nazir Taliban Group has agreed to, and appointed Bahwal Khan – known in the area as Ayubi – as the successor of Mullah Nazir,” a Taliban commander known as Eynollah Khan told The Express Tribune.

“Bahwal Khan will be the commander of the Mujahideen of Wana,” he continued, adding that Khan’s appointment to lead the Taliban in the Wazir areas of South Waziristan was supported by both tribal and religious leaders.

Another Taliban commander known as Ain Ullah told AFP that Khan was appointed to succeed Nazir, and that Taj Wazir was also named as Khan’s deputy. Wazir replaces Nazir’s deputy, Rafey Khan, who was also killed in the drone strike.

Khan allied with al Qaeda

Khan, who has served under Nazir for 16 years and who has waged jihad in Afghanistan, is closely allied with al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, and a plethora of terrorist groups in the area, US intelligence officials who track groups in the region told The Long War Journal.

“Little will change with Khan’s appointment to lead Nazir’s faction of the Taliban,” one official said. “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.

Of the 328 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004 that have been recorded by the Long War Journal, 52 have taken place in areas under Nazir’s control. Several top al Qaeda leaders have been killed in those areas.

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.

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.

No cooperation from the Pakistanis

US intelligence officials also denied reports that the Pakistani military and government aided in the assassination of Nazir, and said the Pakistanis are upset over the killing.

“These reports [that Pakistan aided in Nazir’s death] are preposterous,” one US intelligence official involved in the targeting of al Qaeda and other terrorist leaders in Pakistan told The Long War Journal.

“Nazir was an asset to and a tool of the Pakistani state,” the official continued, noting that Nazir did not countenance attacks in Pakistan but advocated that the Taliban fight the US in Afghanistan.

“If the Pakistanis wanted to remove Nazir from the playing field, they could have easily done so,” another intelligence official observed. “There is a garrison in Wana, where Nazir operates. He conducts business in the open and often meets with tribal leaders.”

Nazir has long been described by Pakistani officials as a “good Taliban leader” for just those reasons. The government and military signed several peace agreements with Nazir that allowed him to rule over the Wazir areas of South Waziristan.

“The Pakistanis are piqued that we’ve killed Nazir,” another official stated. “We just knocked off a good Taliban, or to them, perhaps the best Taliban.”

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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  • KaneKaizer says:

    I’ve noticed recently that when the Pakistanis are angry, I’m usually happy. What an odd and unexpected pattern.

  • mike merlo says:

    due to the rapidity of this replacement/promotion(?) & the byzantine nature of Pakistan the truth or facts of who or what was behind the killing of Nazir will probably never be known. Except by a select few.
    The fact that both the US & the Pakistani Military Political ‘combine’ within hours of Nazir’s killing came out with stories supportive of each other’s ‘position’s’ should give one pause. It should also be noted that the Mujahideen were the byproduct of ISI machinations whereas the Taliban were the byproduct of Pakistan’s Minister of Interior, who was appointed by Benazir Bhutto, and an eclectic amalgamation of the Government, Private Business Interests, the Military & its Intelligence Combine with the ISI initially working on the peripheries of this arrangement.
    This geneses of ‘both’ groups is rarely ‘publicly’ commented upon, if at all, with the necessary specificity or the degree of accuracy that would help those following ‘this’ a more comprehensive understanding of what is actually taking place. This would also greatly assist outside parties in the answers they seek. Particularly when trying to decipher the Machiavellian environment that dominates actions, behaviors, personalities, etc.,.
    Much of the aforementioned has to do with the fact that Pakistan itself has created an internal Labyrinth that prevents any comprehensive understanding of whats taking within its own ranks. So its is nigh impossible for an ‘outsider'(US) to know ‘whats’ taking place when the Pakistani’s themselves are with holding information or keeping secrets from each other.

  • Gerald says:

    Good Luck Mr. Khan. You`re gonna need it!

  • Ali says:

    Taliban are killer and there is no good in killing…dont call them good talib..

  • LWJ leaves no stone unturned to malign Pakistan and its security agencies…It is true that Mullah Nazir was only against US and not against Pakistan. he was a threat for US and not for Pakistan.
    Fact also remains that “US drones” turn a blind eye from those who harm Pakistani State. I believe that no drone will ever hit “Hakimullah Mehsud, Wali ur Rehman, Ehsanullah Ahsan and other killing machines…reason??????
    I wonder how suddenly definition of cross border terrorism changes when an offense is launched from Afghanistan on Pakistan….

  • Bill Roggio says:

    News Pakistan,
    The US killed Baitullah Mehsud in a drone strike. TTP leader for Bajaur, Mullah Dadullah, was recently killed in a strike in Kunar. I could go on, but won’t.
    The next time, your homework before you expose your ignorance for all to see. Thanks for dropping by!

  • @Bill Roggio
    Thanks for calling me “Ignorant”. Yes, I accept my ignorance and expect more to come while daring differ…No Problem
    I referred to Drine Strikes only inside Pakistan. I really dont care “who” kills “Whome” in Afghanistan….
    You are right, Baitullah Mehsud is only one of few name where a did not faulter (Or it actually faultered). I once again say that drones are only killing those who are anti-US and are turning a blind eye to those who are “anti-Pakistan”.
    I am really eager to hear that “International forces” which includes Afghan Army as well has tightly secured the Afghan side of border and has ensured that no cross-border (From Afghanistan to Pakistan) are not taking place.
    I am really eager to hear that “International forces” has made sure that run away terrorists are not allowed to use Afghan soil for terrorist activities (Mullah Fazalullah???)

  • Hibeam says:

    And so the sacred Burqa of Jihad is passed to the next target.

  • mike merlo says:

    @News Pakistan
    “Fact also remains that “US drones” turn a blind eye from those who harm Pakistani State,” not to mention the ‘Pakistani State’ itself turning a blind to Pakistani’s who target Pakistani’s & the Pakistani State.

  • gb says:

    Yeah Bill, gittin all medevil on the Paki News….well done sir!

  • Bill Roggio says:

    News Pakistan,
    Wasn’t Mullah Dadullah a TTP commander? Anyhow, I could name more TTP leaders killed; Baitullah is merely the most prominent. So again, you are wrong, just accept it and move on.
    Oh, and to add more insult to injury, the US IS killing anti-Pakistan jihadists on a regular basis.. If you studied Nazir, Bahadar, and the Haqqanis, you’d know that they shelter and support the TTP and al Qaeda and the IMU, the very same people who attack oyur country.
    As far and your statement on Afghanistan, you won’t see me or any of the authors here at LWJ touting success in Afghanistan. Far from it. We’ve said the US strategy in Afghanistan has been a mess since the surge, the Taliban still control significant areas in Afghanistan, and will control more as US/NATO forces withdrawal. Don’t believe me? Peruse the archives yourself.
    Again, you highlight your own ignorance by making such ridiculous statements and attributing comments to me that I haven’t made. We have a saying here in the US: quit while you’re ahead. In your case, you should quit while you’re behind, since you are now 0 for 3…

  • @News Pakistan Why do you require american drones to kill Terrorists inside Pakistan who are against your state. Your airforce can do the job.

  • shah says:

    Wali ur Rehman deputy of Hakeemullah Mehsud…killed by US Drone strike today… while I agree with Pak News stance there are some instances when they take out some of bad talibans from a Pakistani perspective. May be the aim is to appease Pakistan or probably Hakemullah group is now involved in US targets e.g. The Jrdanian who bombed the CIA base in Afghanistan, later his video was released together with Hakeemullah Mehsud…I would say Americans are re drawing the lines who to target with their drones.

  • mike merlo says:

    @News Pakistan
    Barring the ‘dividing’ of Kashmir in the near immediate aftermath of Pakistan’s & India’s independence in the Partition of 1947 every armed ‘adventure’ on the part of Pakistan has resulted in failure.
    The incompetence of the Mujahideen & their Pakistani handlers following the vacating of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union is a trend that even today continues unabated.
    The Mujahideen phase in the attempted governance of Afghanistan resulting in a stalemate defined by violence, “fiefdoms,” & intransigence by all parties with a say in governance. Pakistan soon shifted the majority of their support in favor of the Taliban. Thus ending the Mujahideen phase. It should be noted during this transition that Pakistan still maintained operational support of Hekmatyar, The Haqqani Network, & a host ‘lesser’s.’
    The short lived Taliban phase differed little from their predecessor’s the Mujahideen. Following 9 11 the Taliban soon found themselves ‘room mates’ with the left over flotsam of the Mujahideen in Pakistan.
    The constant theme as with the caterwauling on the part of “News Pakistan” that tincture’s all of the above & Pakistan’s prior military failures has been Pakistani’s propensity to blame others for their own failures. This is also reflected in their inability to honestly confront the murder & mayhem raging with their own borders brought upon them by fellow Pakistani’s.
    “News Pakistan” rather than single out deficiencies & shortcomings on the part of Afghanistan in monitoring the Durand Line should focus on Pakistan’s dysfunctional governance & their incompetence(reluctance?) in securing their side of the Durand Line.


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