Pakistani Taliban militants have named a hard-liner opposed to peace talks and linked to the shooting of a Pakistani schoolgirl as successor to their leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week.
Mullah Fazlullah, a militant leader in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, fills the leadership vacuum created by Hakimullah Mehsud’s death on Nov. 1, a Taliban spokesman said Thursday.
Mehsud was killed when missiles struck his vehicle in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region.
Pakistan’s government criticized the drone strike that killed Mehsud, saying the U.S. had jeopardized peace talks with the Taliban.
The elevation of Mullah Fazlullah, who opposes talks with Pakistan’s government, could effectively kill hope for any peace negotiations with the Taliban.
Mullah Fazlullah, widely known as “Radio Mullah” for his fiery FM radio broadcasts, is the face of the Taliban’s campaign to spread terror and intimidation using the airwaves.
He reportedly ordered the October 2012 shooting of teenager Malala Yousafzai, a girls’ rights activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.
Between 2007 and 2009, Mullah Fazlullah led a brutal campaign to impose Islamic law in Swat Valley. The Taliban burned girls’ schools, beheaded policemen and publicly flogged those accused of violating Shariah law.
The Pakistani military was forced to step in to end the Taliban’s reign of terror in Swat Valley in 2009.