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MUSLIM KHAN, TALIBAN’S SPOKESMAN, ARRESTED

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Five Pakistani Taleban leaders, including the group’s spokesman Muslim  Khan (pic), have been arrested in the country’s NWFP region, in Swat District, by Pakistani security forces, officials have said, on Friday 09/11/2009.

Army officials said their forces had detained Muslim  Khan, the Tehrik-e-Taleban – TTP spokesman in Swat, and Mahmood Khan, probably a relative, a senior TTP commander, in a “successful operation” in the valley.

“Muslim  Khan and Mahmood Khan with head money of 10 million rupees ($120,500) have been arrested by security forces,” Athar Abbas, the chief military spokesman, said in a statement. “Along with them, three other terrorist leaders – Fazle Ghaffar, Abdul Rehman and Sartaj – have been also been apprehended,” he said.

Muslim  Khan was born in Kabal Tehsil of Swat in 1948. For many years he was the Regional President of the largest political party of PPP.

In an interview with NEFA Foundation, when asked about his usage of American-styled English and pronunciation, he revealed that he had lived for some time in Boston, US. Actually Muslim  Khan spent 7 years in the USA. He worked as a painter for 4 years in Boston.

In 04/2009 he denounced any Pakistanis who disagreed with his interpretation of Islam calling them non-Muslims. It was also revealed due to a telephone intercept that Muslim  Khan had urged attacks on the families of soldiers. “Strikes should be carried out on their homes so their kids get killed and then they’ll realise”. Before the start of the Army offensive against the TTP, Muslim  Khan claimed that his fighters controlled “more than 90 per cent” of Swat (see – Swat-Crisis).

TTP, through another spokesman known as Salman, claimed some of the arrested men had been negotiating with the military. “He said this was a breach of trust and that there was a message from Maulana Fazlullah, who is the commander of the Swat Taleban, saying that these five members had been apprehended.”

Pakistan is under intense USA pressure to crack down on fighters in its Northwest along the Afghan border, especially the lawless FATA tribal belt where Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, is believed to be hiding.

The USA has said the fighters use Pakistan’s tribal areas and other troubled parts of the northwest as safe havens from which to plan attacks on Western troops across the frontier.
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