According to Pakistani officials, on Wednesday an American drone killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, as well as four other senior commanders. Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, confirmed the hit, but would only identify the target as “a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization.”
Mullah Fazlullah was reportedly killed in Afghanistan, in the province of Kunar, near the Pakistani border. As The New York Times reports, “Mr. Fazlullah has been the most-wanted militant in Pakistan for years. His organization has carried out hundreds of attacks against both Pakistani security forces and civilians, including an assault on a school in Peshawar in 2014 that killed 145 people or more, including at least 132 children.”
In January 2015, the U.S. State Department designated Fazlullah as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” stating:
Maulana Fazlullah was elected commander of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in November 2013, following the death of former TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud. The Department of State designated TTP as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on September 1, 2010. TTP was also listed at the United Nations 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee on July 29, 2011.
Under the leadership of Fazlullah, TTP claimed responsibility for the December 16, 2014 attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan that resulted in the deaths of at least 148 individuals, mostly students. Prior to becoming the leader of TTP, Fazlullah claimed he was behind the killing of Pakistani Army Major General Sanaullah Niazi in September 2013, as well as ordering the shooting of schoolgirl and activist Malala Yousafzai in 2012. Fazullah was responsible for the beheading of 17 Pakistani soldiers after an attack in June 2012 and also ordered the targeted killings of elders who led peace committees against the Taliban.
On March 8, 2018, the State Department announced, “The Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information on TTP leader Maulana Fazlullah…”
The Times notes that Fazlullah’s death has been incorrectly reported before.