TTP chief named in FIR: Baitullah rival shot dead
By M. Irfan Mughul
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Qari Zainuddin Mehsud, a militant ‘commander’ who had parted ways with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards here on Tuesday.
His faction immediately accused the TTP chief of masterminding the killing and named a brother of the slain militant as its new head.
Zainuddin’s bodyguard Baz Mohammad, who was injured in the attack, told Dawn that Baitullah had sent Gulbadin Mehsud to infiltrate the group and kill their leader.
“Gulbadin took advantage of the general clemency offered by Zainuddin to join the group and killed him,” he said.
He said Gulbadin entered the cell where they were asleep after Fajr prayers and started firing point-blank at Zainuddin.
A doctor at the District Headquarters Hospital pronounced the militant dead soon after arrival at the health facility. His body was taken to Abbottabad and handed over to his brother.
The Zainuddin group lodged a report with the Dera Ismail Khan cantonment police station, accusing Gulbadin of killing Zainuddin at the behest of Baitullah. Police, acting on a petition by Baz Mohammad, registered an FIR against Gulbadin, Baitullah and his associates.
The assailant, who belonged to Makeen area of South Waziristan, escaped in a car that was waiting for him outside the compound, witnesses said.
Police cordoned off the area around his home in Madina Colony and launched a search operation.
The shura of Zainuddin’s Abdullah group named Misbahuddin Mehsud, his brother, as his successor.
According to sources, Qari Zain had been living in Dera Ismail Khan for six months and was considered a fierce opponent of Baitullah Mehsud.
He had recently spoken out against Baitullah’s actions in Pakistan and said that thousands of his armed supporters would remain neutral during any army offensive against the TTP chief’s network.
Baitullah had termed the anti-TTP tirade a deviation from Abdullah Mehsud’s mission.
Abdullah Mehsud, a former QARI Zainuddin Mehsud.–AP
Guantanamo prisoner who had formed his own group after falling out with Baitullah, was killed in an encounter with security forces in Zhob in July 2006. His group had blamed the TTP chief for orchestrating the murder.
Qari Saifullah, Abdullah’s successor, was also killed later and the leadership passed on to the young Zainuddin, who was hounded by Baitullah and had to eventually take shelter with an anti-TTP group in Shakai, South Waziristan.
From there he moved to Dera Ismail Khan. According to insiders, he did so after being given protection by the government.
Another anti-TTP militant, Haji Namdar, was shot dead in a similar fashion by one of his own bodyguards in Khyber Agency in August last year. The assassin admitted to having been trained and sent by the TTP chief to kill Namdar.
Zainuddin hailed from Barund area of South Waziristan’s Sarokai tehsil.
Baz Mohammad said the killing would strengthen his group’s resolve to wage a war against Baitullah. He once claimed that over 7,000 fighters of his group and tribesmen would one day rise against Baitullah and his associates to “rid the region of their atrocities”.