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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Pakistani Taliban pick Noor Wali Mahsud as new chief

Iran Press TV

Sat Jun 23, 2018 04:01PM

The Pakistani branch of the Taliban, known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has chosen a new chief to replace its slain leader Mullah Fazlullah.

A TTP spokesman said Saturday that Noor Wali Mahsud had been appointed by the executive council of the group as its new chief.

Mohammad Khurasani said the council also picked Mufti Mazhim, aka Mufti Hafzullah, as Mahsud's deputy.

The appointment of the new leadership comes weeks after former TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah was killed in a US drone attack in Afghanistan's Kunar province. Khurasani conceded the death of Fazlullah, a ruthless leader who was believed to have ordered the brutal attack on the Army Public School in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar in December 2014, in which more than 140 children and their teachers were killed. He was also known for his order to assassinate Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and dozens of other opponents over the past years.

Many in Swat valley, the main bastion of TTP in northwest Pakistan, called Fazlullah "Mullah Radio" due to his famous radio broadcasts in which he called for rebellion against elements in the Pakistani government who had been collaborating with the United States.

Khurasani did not elaborate when and where the TTP executive council met to choose Mahsud as the new leader. The 40-year-old is known for his scholastic and literary background. He has participated in TTP attacks against Pakistani security forces as well as operations targeting the US-backed Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

However, Mahsud is well known for his major contribution to the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, which is believed to have been carried out by notorious TTP commander Baitullah Mahsud. The new TTP leader has described the planning of Bhutto's assassination in a book he authored earlier this year while identifying the militants involved including one who is still at large and believed to be hiding in South Waziristan.

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