WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Thursday it is offering a $5 million reward for information on Mullah Fazlullah, the Afghanistan-based chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The announcement came a day after Fazlullah’s son was reportedly killed along with around two dozen others in a US drone strike in Afghanistan.
It said in a statement that it also is offering rewards of $3 million each for information on Abdul Wali, the head of a TTP affiliate, and Mangal Bagh, the leader of a terrorist group accused of attacking NATO convoys.
The State Department announcement came as Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tamina Janjua visited Washington for talks with US officials that were expected to focus on improving counter-terrorism cooperation and on US President Donald Trump’s strategy for ending the war in Afghanistan.
Washington and Kabul accuse Pakistan of harbouring Afghan Taliban and fighters of the allied Haqqani network, a charge that Islamabad denies. Islamabad charges that the TTP maintains sanctuaries in Afghanistan.
US President Donald Trump in January suspended around $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan, charging that it failed to crackdown on the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network.
In its statement, the State Department said it is offering the rewards for information on the three militant leaders because they pose threats to Pakistan, as well as US-led coalition troops in Afghanistan.
The TTP has also threatened attacks against the US homeland, it said. The group claimed responsibility for a failed May 2010 bomb attack in New York City’s Times Square.
The numerous strikes claimed by the group in Pakistan include the October 2012 attempted murder of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, then an 11-year-old who advocated education for girls. She received the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.
Fazlullah was appointed as the TTP chief after the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud in a US drone strike in Nov 2013.
He was the leader of the TTP chapter in Swat, from where he fled to Afghanistan after a military operation in 2009 that cleared the valley.
In 2015, the US State Department designated Fazlullah as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, freezing all of his assets in the United States or in possession or control of US persons.
Wali is the leader of a TTP affiliate called Jamaat ul-Ahrar, or JUA, which has struck civilians, religious minorities, military personnel and law enforcement officials and killed two local employees of the US Consulate in Peshawar in March 2016, the State Department said.
Wali alias Khalid Khorasani has been reported killed several times in the past.
Mangal Bagh, the department said, leads Lashkar-e-Islam, a TTP ally involved in drug trafficking, smuggling and extorting “taxes” on trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The group also has attacked NATO supply convoys plying between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s port of Karachi, it said.
In September 2007, the Government of Pakistan announced a reward offer of about $60,000 for the capture of, or information leading to the arrest of, Mangal Bagh
“Each of these individuals is believed to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of the United States and its nationals,” the department said.