Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud

Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud is the U.S.- and U.N.-designated emir of the Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).“Designation of Noor Wali as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” Federal Register, September 19, 2019, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/09/19/2019-20276/designation-of-noor-wali-as-a-specially-designated-global-terrorist; “Noor Wali Mehsud,” United Nations Security Council, July 16, 2020, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/noor-wali-mehsud. Mehsud was named the leader of TTP in June 2018 following the death of former TTP leader Maulana Fazlullah.Ayaz Gul, “US Declares Pakistani Taliban Chief as Global Terrorist,” Voice of America, September 10, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/us-declares-pakistani-taliban-chief-global-terrorist. Under Mehsud’s leadership, TTP has claimed multiple deadly attacks across Pakistan, often targeting wealthy citizens and politicians.“Noor Wali Mehsud,” United Nations Security Council, July 16, 2020, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/noor-wali-mehsud.

Originally hailing from South Waziristan, Mehsud originally joined the Mehsud Taliban in 2003. The Mehsud Taliban is a jihadi group that emerged in Pakistan’s tribal region during the rule of the Taliban regime, which was eventually absorbed into the TTP in 2007 under the leadership of Baitallah Mehsud.Daud Khattak, “Whither the Pakistani Taliban: An Assessment of Recent Trends,” New America, August 31, 2020, https://www.newamerica.org/international-security/blog/whither-pakistani-taliban-assessment-recent-trends/. Mehsud started to gain notoriety when TTP branched out into Karachi from its original base in the isolated border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. By 2013, Mehsud had risen up in the ranks to oversee TTP operations in Karachi. While based in Miram Shah, North Waziristan, Mehsud commanded a series of extortion and kidnapping operations against wealthy citizens in which the ransom received would help fund TTP activities across Pakistan. Additionally, Mehsud ordered Pashtuns in Karachi to settle their business disputes through Taliban courts in Miram Shah, and those who refused to oblige would be violently targeted by the TTP.Zia ur-Rehman and Maria Abi-Habib, “Pakistan’s Taliban Names New Leader After U.S. Drone Strike,” New York Times, June 24, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/24/world/asia/pakistan-taliban-leader.html.

According to researchers at the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, Mehsud originally hails from South Waziristan and is a religious scholar who has significant experience in training for and carrying out jihad. Before being named TTP’s leader, Mehsud reportedly headed TTP’s publication department.Amira Jadoon and Sara Mahmood, “Fixing the Cracks in the Pakistani Taliban’s Foundation: TTP’s Leadership Returns to the Mehsud Tribe,” Combating Terrorism Center, December 2018, https://ctc.usma.edu/fixing-cracks-pakistani-talibans-foundation-ttps-leadership-returns-mehsud-tribe/. Furthermore, he is known for opposing polio vaccination campaigns and for endorsing violence against healthcare workers in Pakistan as the Taliban claims vaccination campaigns are used by the C.I.A. to spy on them.Amira Jadoon and Sara Mahmood, “Fixing the Cracks in the Pakistani Taliban’s Foundation: TTP’s Leadership Returns to the Mehsud Tribe,” Combating Terrorism Center, December 2018, https://ctc.usma.edu/fixing-cracks-pakistani-talibans-foundation-ttps-leadership-returns-mehsud-tribe/; Zia ur-Rehman and Maria Abi-Habib, “Pakistan’s Taliban Names New Leader After U.S. Drone Strike,” New York Times, June 24, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/24/world/asia/pakistan-taliban-leader.html. Additionally, TTP propaganda as well as a book called, The Mehsud Revolution in South Waziristan: From British Raj to Oppressive America, released by Mehsud in November 2017, stated that vaccines were a Western conspiracy to make Muslim’s impotent as well as inhibit their children’s growth.Zia ur-Rehman and Maria Abi-Habib, “Pakistan’s Taliban Names New Leader After U.S. Drone Strike,” New York Times, June 24, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/24/world/asia/pakistan-taliban-leader.html.

In June 2018, Mehsud was named the leader of TTP following the death of former leader Maulana Fazlullah in an American drone strike on Fazlullah’s hideout in the eastern Afghan province bordering Pakistan.Ayaz Gul, “US Declares Pakistani Taliban Chief as Global Terrorist,” Voice of America, September 10, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/us-declares-pakistani-taliban-chief-global-terrorist. Under Mehsud’s leadership, the TTP escalated their attacks against Pakistan politicians. On July 10, 2018, TTP detonated a bomb that targeted Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroom Bilour in Peshawar. The attack killed Bilour and 12 others.Amira Jadoon and Sara Mahmood, “Fixing the Cracks in the Pakistani Taliban’s Foundation: TTP’s Leadership Returns to the Mehsud Tribe,” Combating Terrorism Center, December 2018, https://ctc.usma.edu/fixing-cracks-pakistani-talibans-foundation-ttps-leadership-returns-mehsud-tribe/. Additionally, on July 22, 2018, the group targeted and killed Ikrah ullah Gandapur, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate, in a suicide attack in Dera Ismail Khan. Along with Gandapur, his driver was killed, and four others were injured.Ramzan Seemab, “PTI's Ikramullah Khan Gandapur martyred in DI Khan suicide blast,” Tribune, July 22, 2018, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1763994/1-ptis-ikramullah-khan-gandapur-injured-di-khan-blast.

Under Mehsud’s leadership, in September 2018, the TTP released a new guidebook called, “The Code of Conduct: For the Mujahideen of Tehrik-i-Taliban.” The guidebook provided fighters with instructions on when to use suicide bombings, how to resolve internal quarrels, and how to handle spies as a way to prevent the group’s collapse.Ben Farmer, “US designates head of Pakistan's Taliban a global terrorist,” National, September 11, 2019, https://www.thenational.ae/world/asia/us-designates-head-of-pakistan-s-taliban-a-global-terrorist-1.909222; Amira Jadoon and Sara Mahmood, “Fixing the Cracks in the Pakistani Taliban’s Foundation: TTP’s Leadership Returns to the Mehsud Tribe,” Combating Terrorism Center, December 2018, https://ctc.usma.edu/fixing-cracks-pakistani-talibans-foundation-ttps-leadership-returns-mehsud-tribe/.

On September 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of State designated Mehsud as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for his role in directing deadly attacks across Pakistan.“Designation of Noor Wali as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” Federal Register, September 19, 2019, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/09/19/2019-20276/designation-of-noor-wali-as-a-specially-designated-global-terrorist.

On July 16, 2020, the U.N. Security Council’s Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee listed Mehsud as a global terrorist for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of” entities associated with Al-Qaeda.“Noor Wali Mehsud,” United Nations Security Council, July 16, 2020, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/noor-wali-mehsud.

United States

The U.S. Department of State designated Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on September 10, 2019.“Terrorist Designations under Amended Executive Order to Modernize Sanctions to Combat Terrorism,” U.S. Department of State, September 10, 2019, https://www.state.gov/terrorist-designations-under-amended-executive-order-to-modernize-sanctions-to-combat-terrorism/.

United Nations

The U.N. Security Council’s Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee listed Noor Wali Mehsud as a global terrorist on July 16, 2020.“Noor Wali Mehsud,” United Nations Security Council, July 16, 2020, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/noor-wali-mehsud.

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