Mon, 06 Jul 2020

Sufi Muhammad, a radical Pakistani cleric who waged war against foreign forces in neighboring Afghanistan, has died.

Family members said the pro-Taliban cleric died on the morning of July 11 in a hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

He is due to be buried in his home village in the Lower Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, in northwest Pakistan, later in the day.

Believed to be in his 90s, Muhammad was the head of the banned group Tehreek Nifaz-e Shariat Muhammadi and the father-in-law of Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistani authorities arrested him in 2009 after he returned from Afghanistan, where he commanded a group of fighters battling foreign and Afghan forces.

Muhammad was held in a maximum-security prison and was on trial on charges of murder, treason, terrorism, and rebellion.

He was released in January 2018 on health grounds.

Muhammad had long suffered from kidney issues and was diabetic.

In the 1980s, Muhammad fought alongside the mujahedin, the Islamist rebels fighting against occupying Soviet forces and the Moscow-backed Kabul government.

In the 1990s, he launched an armed rebellion against the government in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan.

Muhammad returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban's overthrow in 2001.

The United States and Afghanistan have long accused Pakistan of harboring militants.

Pakistan denies the allegations.

With reporting by AP and Express News

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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