Faqir Mohammed. Image courtesy of AfPax Insider.
Faqir Mohammed, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s former deputy emir and a previous leader in Bajaur, is reported to have been captured by Afghan intelligence officials along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The report is unconfirmed.
Faqir is said to have entered Nangarhar province from the Pakistani tribal agency of Khyber, an Afghan intelligence official told Dawn.
“Maulvi Faqir and his four accomplices who had entered Nangarhar from Bajaur Agency were apprehended near Basawal on Torkham Road near the border of Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley,” the Afghan intelligence official told the Pakistani news agency yesterday. “Yes I can confirm their names as they had told us. Maulvi Faqir, Shahid Umar, Maulana Hakeemullah Bajauri, Mualana Turabi and Fateh are the people who have been arrested.”
Pakistani intelligence officials also told The Associated Press that Faqir is in custody. Afghanistan and Pakistan have not officially announced the capture of Faqir, however.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is known to operate in Nangarhar province. ISAF aircraft targeted the group in Nangarhar’s Deh Bala district in August 2010.
The Tirah Valley is a known haven for the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other Pakistani terror groups. Safe havens in the valley enable these terror groups to launch attacks inside Pakistan as well as across the border in Nangarhar province. The US launched four drone strikes against terror groups in the Tirah Valley in Pakistan; all four strikes took place in 2010. The US killed Ibn Amin, a dual-hatted Taliban and al Qaeda military commander who operated in the Swat Valley, in a December 2010 drone strike in the Tirah Valley,
Before being sidelined by the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in early 2012 over leadership issues, Faqir led the Taliban in Bajaur for years. He is also tied to some of al Qaeda’s top leaders, including the group’s emir, Ayman al Zawahiri. In the past, Faqir sheltered Ayman al Zawahiri and other senior al Qaeda leaders; one of the first US drone strikes in Pakistan targeted Zawahiri and other top commanders in an area controlled by Faqir.
Faqir recently appeared on a videotape with Maulvi Abu Bakr, the new emir for the Taliban in Bajaur [see LWJ report, Sidelined Pakistani Taliban commander back in good graces]. In the video, which was produced sometime in December 2012, Faqir confirmed that differences between himself and other leaders in Bajaur had been resolved after Hakeemullah Mehsud and his deputy, Mullah Fazlullah, who is also the emir of the Taliban in the Swat Valley, mediated the dispute.