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Who’s Sufi Muhammad? What’s His History? How He Groomed Children In Swat To Become Terrorists?

Militant cleric Maulana Sufi Muhammad died on Wednesday. It is difficult to say which of these two should be his identity, Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) or his son-in-law, Maullah Fazlullah of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Sufi Muhammad was born in 1933 in Maidan, Lower Dir. He, like many other militant leaders, received religious education at Panj Pir, Swabi.

It is the same madrasa which is stated to be sponsoring smaller seminaries having ties with extremists, especially in Karachi. He was initially actively associated with Jamaat-e-Islami.

In 1989, he formed TSNM which later became the base for TTP. Sufi Muhammad came to prominence in 1994 when the provincial government of the then NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) announced the establishment of Sharia courts in Malakand Division.

It was a result of street protests by TNSM which took advantage of the top judiciary’s decision to revoke the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) Regulations I and II.

However, Sufi Muhammad rejected the courts move, saying it was subservient to procedural law laid down by foreigners. It resulted in an operation and Sufi Muhammad was arrested.

In 1999, he rejected the amended version on same pretext. And then came 9/11 when Sufi Muhammad marched into Afghanistan along with thousands of supporters to wage jihad. He was arrested on his return but later released in 2008 in an attempt to woo militants led by Fazlullah.

The Taliban by then had taken control of Swat and surrounding areas. However, Sufi Muhammad didn’t stop preaching his militant Islam and described government system as an expression of infidels. Despite the government’s attempts to appease extremists, peace accord broke down and military operation was launched.

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Sufi Muhammad went into hiding but was later arrested. In 2018, he was released on medical grounds. History is a proof that it was Sufi Muhammad who groomed the extremist mindset and prepared an army of terrorists who were responsible for the throat slitting and bloodbath in Swat in the name of Shariah.

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