Maulvi Omar captured, says Baitullah is dead
ISLAMABAD: Security forces captured Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s top spokesman, and he acknowledged the death of the group’s leader in a recent US missile strike, officials said on Tuesday.
‘Everybody knows that Maulvi Omar has been arrested. He was a spokesman for the Taliban,’ said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for the North West Frontier Province.
‘We will catch them all. All Taliban will have to face the same fate,’ he told AFP, adding that Omar had been moved to the provincial capital Peshawar.
‘Intelligence agencies have given me information that Maulvi Omar has confirmed the death of Baitullah during interrogation,’ he added.
US and Pakistani officials have said they were almost certain that the chief, Baitullah Mehsud, had been killed in the August 5 strike, but at least three Taliban operatives, including the detainee, Maulvi Omar, had called media organisations following the attack to say he was still alive.
Omar’s comments – relayed by an intelligence official who took part in the questioning – would be the first admission by the Taliban that Mehsud was dead.
The spokesman’s capture was the second arrest of a prominent Taliban figure in 24 hours.
As the official spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Omar frequently called journalists to claim responsibility for terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
As well as being the movement’s mouthpiece, Omar was an influential aide to Mehsud and ranking member of the Taliban.
Omar initially operated relatively openly – a reflection of the former government’s reluctance to tackle the group.
Reporters had his home and cell phone numbers. Omar would occasionally summon reporters stationed in Khar, the main city in Bajaur tribal region, for news conferences at his headquarters in nearby Mohmand town.
But after the army began an offensive in April, Omar changed phone numbers frequently. He never appeared in public, but still continued to telephone the media with messages from the Taliban leadership.
He was captured along with two associates in a village in the Mohmand tribal region Monday night while he was travelling in a car to South Waziristan, a Taliban stronghold, said Javed Khan, a local government administrator.
‘Maulvi Omar is in our custody, and he is being questioned,’ Khan told The Associated Press without giving any further details.
Earlier, three intelligence officials said local tribal elders assisted troops in locating Omar in the village of Khawazeo.
Omar’s capture came a day after police arrested militant commander Qair Saifullah, another close Mehsud aide, as he was being treated in a private hospital in Islamabad, the capital.
Saifullah, who is reportedly linked to al-Qaida, told police he had been wounded in an American missile strike in South Waziristan, said two police officials. It was unclear if it was the same strike believed to have killed Mehsud.
Saifullah appeared on Tuesday before a special anti-terrorism court along with Zaid Ikram, an aide arrested along with him. Both were ordered held for four days for investigation, prosecutor Raja Yaseen said, but he would not elaborate on what charges they would face.
The two men were being questioned for possible roles in attacks on US and allied forces in Afghanistan as well as terrorist attacks in Pakistan, said Islamabad police operations chief Tahir Alam Khan.
Saifullah is affiliated to Harkat Jihad-e-Islami, an al-Qaida-linked group that recruits militants to fight foreign forces in Afghanistan, Khan said. Ikram – who is Saifullah’s younger brother – played a major role in a bomb attack on Islamabad’s Marriott hotel in 2004, in which one guard was killed in the parking lot, he said.
Maulvi Fazalullah is alive: Gen Nadeem
Updated at: 1600 PST, Tuesday, August 18, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Chairman Special Support Group Lieutenant General Nadeem said Maulvi Fazalullah is alive but his infrastructure has been destroyed in Swat.
Lft. Gen Nadeem stated this during a briefing to US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke.
He said Muslim Khan made a call to commissioner Malakand yesterday who urged Muslim Khan to lay down arms as ground realities have been changed now.
Chairman special support said artillery and aerial operation is continued in Waziristan, however, ground operation could take several months. Baitullah Mehsud has been dead but his system is still exists, he added.
Source: The International News .