Pakistani Taliban name new emir after Hakeemullah killed in drone strike: report

Sajna-Mehsud.jpg

Sajna Mehsud, the new emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Image from Dawn.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has named a successor to replace Hakeemullah Mehsud, the group’s emir who was killed by the US in a drone strike in North Waziristan yesterday, according to reports from the region.

Khan Said, who is also known as Sajna Mehsud, was appointed to lead the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan after the group’s shura, or executive council, met in a secret location, according to Dawn. “Out of 60 members attending the meeting, 43 members voted in favor of ‘Sajna’ whereas 17 others voted against him,” the report stated.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has not released an official statement announcing Sajna as its new emir. A spokesman for the group said Hakeemullah Mehsud’s replacement would be officially announced in several days.

Pakistani Taliban emirs Omar Khalid al Khorasani, the emir for Mohmand, and Mullah Fazlullah, the commander in Swat and the Malakand Division, are said to have opposed Khan Said’s nomination. Both commanders are candidates to lead the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan traditionally appoint leaders from the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan to lead the group. Both Baitullah, the group’s founder, and Hakeemullah were Mehsud from South Waziristan.

Sajna, who is from South Waziristan, was appointed as the group’s deputy emir in May after his predecessor, Waliur Rahman, was killed by the US in a drone strike in North Waziristan. Previously, Sajna commanded the Movement of the Taliban’s forces in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan.

Sajna has risen in the ranks of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan after engineering two major attacks in Pakistan. He plotted last year’s prison break in Bannu that freed more than 400 inmates, including Adnan Rasheed. He also was involved in the May 2011 assault on Naval Station Mehran in Karachi; in that attack, two Pakistani naval aircraft, both P-3C Orion maritime surveillance planes, were destroyed, and another was damaged.

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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15 Comments

  • Nic says:

    Is there a stats guru out there in LWJ Land that can give odds on how long Said will last?

  • Nimrod Pasha says:

    At this point, the killing of Hakimullah Mahsud is probably just as significant as the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri by US and Iraqi forces in spring 2010. Two years later the US disengaged from Iraq and withdrew its troops, and now AQI, rebranded as ISIS under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is again approach it’s peak strength of 2006-2007 in Iraq and has expanded into the Levant. The same course seems likely to happen in the Af/Pak theatre if the administration follows it’s present course, disengages in 2014-2015, and by 2019 the TTP and al-Qa’ida in the Khorasan comes roaring back. #thetideofwarisreceding

  • EDDIED. says:

    Khan Said is next so, your next guy after him needs to get ready to step right up.

  • gb says:

    And Sajna was heard to say “wait…they named who?” As the next head of the TTP….

  • JT says:

    A new name to get used to. I wonder if Zawahiri and Mullah Omar are still active in the Jihad or have they been significantly marginalized?
    I ask this open ended, somewhat rhetorical, question because I have heard virtually nothing about them in months. As opposed to the Pakistan Taliban, Haqqanis, etc.
    With the world introduced to the new boss (same as the old boss?), which name is the primary one? Mehsud or Said?

  • JRP says:

    Zawahiri and Mullah Omar are waiting us out. The hard-core Al Qaeda and Taliban have infinite patience. We are being lulled to sleep regarding these 2. When they do come roaring back, as they will, probably after Obama leaves office, they will not have Af/Pak in their sights, but the U.S. Homeland, just like 9/11. As for President Obama, I tip my hat to him. Though he hasn’t gone as far as I’d like him to go, he’s been a darned sight better at taking it to the enemy big time than any of his predecessors. Kudos to VP Biden too as he’s also all-in on the drone program.

  • blert says:

    JT…
    They’re in the thick of it… working from ISI safe houses — just like OBL had been.
    Omar is still the top dog of the Taliban… and much else.
    Dr. Z is still the ultimate voice of AQ. He generates agitprop all of the time. It just does not get a lot of Western press.
    Most strangely, his missives look and read like they were published in Berkeley, California. They are loaded with Leftist agitprop, stuff like he’s on jihad because of Global Warming.
    (!)
    While presented as being 100% Islamic… AQ is utterly infused with Marxist-Leftist ideology. This reality is edited out by the West’s MSM — because for them such an ideology is without controversy. It’s their own ideology.
    Without the economic nostrums of the Left, the Islamists would have no working theory as to how to organize a modern state.
    Mo’s scheme is entirely built around brigandage. There’s not a wisp of ‘social justice’ built into it, far from it. It’s oriented towards slavery, piracy and oppression… warfare all of the time.
    Which gets us back to the perpetual state of war that Dr Z and mullah Omar are engaged in. They love it. Dr Z thinks the Muslim Brotherhood is too pacifist! That’s why he split all those years ago.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    JT,
    They are mostly symbolic leaders these days, although fighters still do, on occasion, swear oaths of loyalty to them. What is remarkable is that back in the old days everyone did that, now many groups are opting out of the mandatory oath swearing and are choosing to operate more independently under their own banners.
    Now, I have a question about this:
    Out of 60 members attending the meeting, 43 members voted in favor of ‘Sajna’ whereas 17 others voted against him,”
    The more extreme Islamist groups have always been consistent that democracy is against their ideals and aspirations. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t what I quoted above a form of democracy? Sure, it may not be western style democracy, but they did *vote* and there are different opinions between the Islamists as to if they are even allowed to vote for anything, period.

  • sanjith menon says:

    The new commanders name is “sajna”, it means lover boy.

  • Viv says:

    Ever after second in command Latif Mehsud was captured, I knew this was imminent. However I have Strong reasons to believe that Haqqanis did Hakeemullah in. Recently Latif Mehsud was snatched by the Americans while he was trying to strike a deal with the Afghan Government. Naturally livid, Siraj Haqqani would have taken the decision to get rid of Hakemullah Mehsud who was believed to be sheltered by Haqqanis. Instead of directly attacking him, his whereabouts would have been supplied to the ISI. With little or no capabilities in the Tribal belts, the ISI would have felt it easier to finish him by passing the information to the CIA. Anway, Sajana Mehsud seems to be ready to take the mantle since Hakemullah’s was purely symbolic while Sajana has been pulling off spectacular attacks.

  • BobbyD says:

    Nimrod,
    I disagree with this statement:
    Two years later the US disengaged from Iraq and withdrew its troops, and now AQI, rebranded as ISIS under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is again approach it’s peak strength of 2006-2007 in Iraq and has expanded into the Levant
    While the Levant is strong at this time, it is nowhere close to its strongest point in 06-07. During that time frame, 2000-3000 people were being killed a month and the Iraqi government was very much in danger of collapsing.
    Today, at the most, 800-900 people are being killed and I do not believe the government of Iraq is in any danger of collapsing. While the picture isn’t rosey, its hardly as dire as you paint it.

  • donowen says:

    60 of these characters met after the funeral to vote for Khan. Why were there no drone strikes or special forces operation? Do we not target funerals or meetings afterwards- does Obama give them a free pass? We need to go after these people as if if were WWIII. We only get the option to take out a large number of these guys after a leader is taken out. There should be no mercy- they give none nor should receive any.

  • As per some papers Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani head of Shura is appointed as head of TTP temporarily. Why this confusion?

  • Arjuna says:

    Agree 110% any funeral for TTP members should be targets. Likewise ALL Lashkar e Taiba rallies. Zawahiri is active. He was in the know on the jailbreaks and many things n Europe and N Africa. Not so visible vis-vis the US these days bc he is in strategic weapons acquisition mode (SAMs, sarin, bio,nuke). Expect all these to be used against US interests in the medium to long-term future. This OPFOR is a fifty year planner. Expect the Stage of Weapons of Mass Destruction will commence c. 2016. Zawahiri is active on it behind the scenes in PK. So is Al Adel. European trains, Mumbai style attacks, and of course WMD eventually. It’s their holy grail.
    Mullah Omar is good at propaganda and is working w ISI elements (S Wing?) on the Green-on-Blue attacks which are having a major negative effect on ANA readiness and ISAF effectiveness. Not bad for a guy w one eye.

  • Arjuna says:

    Blert, that’s because he hangs out and communicates with Adam Gadahn. Gadahn’s lefty perspective is also visible in Inspire. As much as we like to dismiss him, he’s plugged in and influential in messaging and IT. A sort of director of communications, if you will.

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