After Half a Year of War, Swat Valley Taliban Chief Slips Away

Militant Leader Threatens Retaliatory Strikes Against Swat

Two months ago the Pakistani Interior Ministry announced that, following the summer-long military offensive against the Swat Valley faction of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the group’s leader Maulana Fazlullah was “surrounded” and would be in custody soon.

Maulana Fazlullah

Today, Fazlullah contacted the international media via cell phone. Not only is he not in Pakistani military custody, he isn’t even in Pakistan, having safely moved into Afghanistan.

Not content to remain in exile, however, Fazlullah says that he is reorganizing his forces and intends to “launch fully fledged punitive raids against the army in Swat” very soon.

Though the TTP was never very large in the Swat Valley, with most religiously conservative tribesmen choosing the less violent Tehreek-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Muhammadi (TNSM), but even with what amounted to no more than a few hundred dedicated members, Fazlullah was seen as such a threat that the Pakistani military invaded, chasing millions of civilians into refugee camps. Now it seems, that fighting still isn’t over, just on hiatus.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.