December 7, 2007

Fazlullah The Boozer

Pakistani army troops overran regional Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah 's command headquarters yesterday in Swat as part of its offensive. Fazlullah had fled before the army captured Imam Dheri, but he left behind his stash of liquor:

Security forces captured Imam Dheri, headquarters of pro-Taliban militant leader Maulana Fazlullah, and the Khwazkhela area in Swat, officials said on Thursday.

The army also blew up the houses of Fazlullah and his spokesman Maulana Sirajuddin, besides seizing several weapons, computers and some bottles of liquor from the site, army officials said. The liquor was believed to be seized at militants’ checkposts from people.

Earlier, troops backed by tanks and gunship helicopters advanced towards Imam Dheri and seized control of a madrassa run by Fazlullah, and an adjacent mosque without any resistance. De-mining experts have started combing the area for landmines and booby traps. In Khwazkhela, the troops have taken control of a police station from the militants and handed it over to the local police.

It appears that Pervez Musharraf has taken the Swat offensive more seriously than first thought. Either that, or Fazlullah doesn't represent the difficulties that some estimated. In any case, it appears that the Pakistani military has rather easily rolled back the Taliban power creep in Swat, without even much resistance. Fazlullah and his terrorists don't appear to have the stomach to face off against the military, although that cannot be said with other Taliban forces elsewhere.

Fazlullah may have fled without fighting, but not without losses. His deputy, Maulana Shah Dauran, reportedly died in a gun battle yesterday, but apparently not at Imam Dheri. The loss of a senior commander while Fazlullah ran away won't help build a reputation for either courage or loyalty, something anyone needs when asking people to die for him.

And the booze? The Taliban has a reputation for imposing laws on others while excepting themselves from enforcement. The Daily Times says that it likely came from travelers, who had it confiscated by Taliban guards at checkpoints -- but they didn't destroy it afterwards. Instead, they made sure the booze made it back to Fazlullah. Hopefully, he took some with him when he ran away from the fight at Imam Dheri. He could use a drink after getting his rear end kicked out of Swat. (via Bill Roggio at The Weekly Standard)

UPDATE: I wrote "militants" where I meant "military". Thanks to Burt in the comments for the correction.


TrackBack URL for this entry: