The Afghan Taliban denounced yesterday’s drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan that killed Hakeemullah Mehsud, the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The Afghan group said the US would be “greatly mistaken” to believe that Hakeemullah’s death would “create a void” in the jihadist movement.
“With great sadness we have learned that yesterday the leader of Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Hakimullah Mehsud, was martyred as a result of a cowardly US drone attack, surely to Allah we belong and to Him is the return,” the Afghan Taliban said in a statement that was released on its official website, Voice of Jihad.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [Afghan Taliban] condemns this barbaric and unlawful attack by America,” the statement continued. “We consider the martyrdom of Mullah Hakimullah to be a great loss and offer our heartfelt condolences to his family, relatives and friends.”
The Afghan Taliban then said that being killed while waging jihad is “a lofty objective,” and that Hakeemullah would be replaced.
“Muslims consider martyrdom a lofty objective and we all strive to achieve this status. If America believes that by martyring Mujahideen they will somehow create a void and reach their selfish aims then they are greatly mistaken,” the Afghan Taliban concluded.
The leadership of the Pakistani Taliban are reported to have held a meeting to name Khan Said, who is also known as Sajna Mehsud, as the group’s emir. Khan Said replaced Waliur Rahman as deputy emir in May after the latter Taliban leader was killed in a US drone strike.
Although the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has sworn allegiance to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the emir of the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban maintain their own command structure. Mullah Omar is considered to be the Amir al Mumineen, or “Commander of the Faithful,” by many jihadist groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Taliban often fight in Afghanistan alongside their Afghan counterparts against Coalition and Afghan forces. In early October, a senior Pakistani Taliban commander known as Latif Mehsud was captured by US forces in Logar province, Afghanistan.
Also in early October, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban admitted that the Afghan Taliban “are now supporting us financially.” [See LWJ report, Afghan Taliban support Pakistani branch, spokesman claims.]