Wali ur-Rehman: Senior Taliban commander

 

For much of his life, Wali ur-Rehman, the senior Taliban commander killed this week in a US drone strike, either studied or taught a conservative interpretation of Islam. Later he picked up the gun, persuaded that he needed to join an actual jihad.

The decision to take up arms apparently came in 2004, when he became associated with Taliban fighters in the South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan. Five years later, following the death in August 2009 of the group’s leader, Baitullah Mehsud, also killed by a US drone attack, Rehman was among those competing to take over.

Reports in the Pakistani media at the time said such was the level of hostility between the various lieutenants, that Rehman shot a rival, Hakimullah Mehsud, who had been the spokesman of the slain leader. The reports were so widespread that Rehman and Mehsud felt the need to release video images of themselves sitting together talking.

As it transpired, Hakimullah Mehsud was appointed overall Taliban commander, while Rehman was made chief in South Waziristan and deputy leader.

Analysts say that Rehman’s handling of the fall-out of the leadership succession was typical of a man who looked to resolve problems and seek accord among the Taliban’s various factions and groups.

“He was bold, intelligent and had a cool manner,” said Mansur Khan Mahsud of the FATA Research Centre, an Islamabad-based think tank, whose staff interviewed Rehman. “He preferred to resolve differences through talks.”

He added: “He was also in favour of peace talks with the government. That is what he fell out about with Hakimullah Mehsud, who did not want to have talks.”

The killing of Rehman has added further complexity to the already deeply controversial issue of drone strikes in Pakistan. Given Rehman’s role in attacks not just on Western troops in Afghanistan but on Pakistani targets, many will be disinclined to publicly condemn the strike.

Yet there is widespread agreement that his killing will make negotiating with the Taliban considerably more difficult. In the aftermath of the attack, the Taliban said that it was withdrawing an offer of talks. Indeed, there are already many voices in Pakistan suggesting that the US targeted Rehman to intentionally scupper talks.

“In Pashtun society, if someone is killed as you are about to start negotiations, it means those negotiations are not going to happen for some time,” said the Peshawar bureau chief of a leading Pakistani newspaper.

The son of a man called Asmatullah, Rehman was born into a relatively middle-class family from the Mal Khel branch of the Mehsud tribe. He was the eldest of six children, including one brother who was killed by the Pakistani military in 2010 and another who was injured in this week’s drone attack.

Reports suggest that he attended the Jamia Islamia Imdadia seminary in the city of Faisalabad, west of Lahore, and graduated in Islamic studies in 1996. He then returned to the north-west and taught in a madrassa, or Islamic school, in the town of Kani Guram. He is said to have been a member of a faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam political group, headed by the religious scholar Fazal-ur-Rehman.

After joining the Taliban, Rehman – who is said to have had three wives and a number of children – reportedly took part in attacks on both Western forces in Afghanistan and Pakistani targets.

The Obama administration said that Rehman was involved in the killing of seven employees of the CIA and a Jordanian intelligence official in 2009. The intelligence officers were killed in a suicide bombing by an Al-Qaeda triple agent at Forward Operating Base Chapman in south-eastern Afghanistan. The attack was featured in the film Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Rehman had “participated in cross-border attacks in Afghanistan against US and NATO personnel and horrific attacks against Pakistani civilians and soldiers.” In 2010, Washington named Rehman as a “specially designated global terrorist” and placed a $5m bounty on his head. The Pakistanis also offered a reward for information that would lead them to him.

Although Rehman was made the head of Mehsud Taliban in South Waziristan, where he commanded some 7,000 to 10,000 men, he had shifted his base of operations to  North Waziristan.

Rehman was killed in a strike involving two missiles fired from a drone that targeted a mud-built house in the village of Chashma, two miles east of Miranshah, the region’s  administrative town.

It was the first such strike since Pakistan’s general election, which was won by a candidate who supported talks with the Taliban, and the  first since President Obama announced new regulations about the use of drones.

Wali ur-Rehman, Taliban commander: born Pakistan 1970; died Chashma, North Waziristan 29 May 2013.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn