Meet the New Head of the Pakistani Taliban
Follow @smoughtsNovember 7, 2013, 3:36 pm ET
Maulana Fazlullah, the hardline Pakistani Taliban cleric who masterminded the plot to shoot education activist Malala Yousafzai, was chosen today to lead the Pakistani Taliban. The move comes in the wake of last week’s drone strike that killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the group’s former leader.
The selection of Fazlullah, nicknamed the “Radio Mullah” for sermons and tirades broadcast by his pirate radio station, was “a surprise choice that bodes poorly for proposed peace talks” with the Pakistani government, wrote Declan Walsh in The New York Times.
In 2007, FRONTLINE/World correspondent David Montero traveled to Pakistan’s Swat valley, becoming the first Western correspondent to interview the publicity-shy cleric. At the time, Fazlullah had not yet begun his violent uprising, but he told Montero he hoped to wipe out the darkness of Western ideas and influence.
Fazlullah refused to allow Montero or anyone else to photograph him, but Montero managed to obtain a brief video of Fazlullah shot secretly inside a madrassa, a religious school that he was using as a base at the time. (Warning: This video contains graphic footage.)
Montero later recalled his meeting with Fazlullah:
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