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New Pakistani Taleban chief to lead insurgency ‘Radio Mullah’, known for hardline Islamist beliefs

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan, Dec 3, (RTRS): The elusive new chief of the Pakistani Taleban, Mullah Fazlullah, has returned to his homeland from a secret mountain hideout in neighbouring Afghanistan to lead the insurgency, militant and intelligence sources said on Tuesday. Fazlullah, known for his hardline Islamist beliefs and rejection of peace talks with the Pakistani government, was named the leader after Hakimullah Mehsud, his predecessor, was killed in a US drone strike on Nov 1. Hakimullah’s death set off a power struggle within the already deeply fractured insurgency, with Fazlullah’s extended absence fuelling infighting among the Taleban.

On Monday, two Pakistani intelligence sources said Fazlullah had crossed the mountains into Pakistan a day earlier. “We have information that ... Fazlullah has entered the Pakistani tribal area along with 15 or 20 guards,” said one source. Taleban sources confirmed he had reached tribal areas. Fazlullah would be keen to end squabbling among the Taleban leadership and streamline what is essentially a chaotic organisation with weak central command. Nicknamed “Radio Mullah” for his fiery broadcasts in Pakistan’s Swat valley, Fazlullah is best known for ordering the assassination of teenage female education activist Malala Yousafzai.

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