Mullah Fazlullah, or Mullah Radio as he is popularly known for his sermons broadcast on the airwaves, was selected as the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban after a drone strike killed his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud last week. Time reports:
Fazlullah, who is about 39, has a fearsome reputation. Between 2007 and 2009, he became the Pakistani Taliban’s most notable militant leader after his radical group, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Movement to Impose the Sharia of Mohammed), took over the Swat Valley, a picturesque corner of northwest Pakistan once famed as a tranquil honeymoon destination. The militants were eventually chased out by a Pakistani army offensive in May 2009.
Fazlullah is most infamous for being the man who ordered the attack on Malala Yousafzai, the young education activist who maintained a blog for the BBC while the Taliban were in control. But while Fazlullah definitely has the mass-murdering credentials, this is something of a new direction for the Taliban, as it marks the first time that the group’s leadership does not come from the country’s Mehsud tribe. He is currently living across the border in Afghanistan, allegedly under Afghan protection, embittering an already fraught relationship between the two countries.As for Pakistani politicians’ attempts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, the Taliban’s new leadership is vehemently opposed to the idea and has simply told the government to brace itself for more attacks.[This video grab taken on November 7, 2013, shows Asmatullah Shaheen (R) caretaker chief Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announcing the new leader of TTP during a press conference in an undisclosed location in northwest Pakistan. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.]