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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Profile: Nek Mohammed

By Rahimullah Yusufzai
BBC correspondent in Peshawar

Nek Mohammed
Mohammed's truce with the military quickly failed
Nek Mohammad was an unknown Islamic militant until some months ago.

Just 27 years old, he came to prominence as the commander of a pro-Taleban group of Pakistani tribesmen, who resisted six military operations by Pakistan troops hunting al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects in the South Waziristan region, bordering Afghanistan.

Accused of sheltering foreign militants from Uzbekistan, Chechnya, Afghanistan and some Arab countries, Nek Mohammad and several of his men were punished when the Pakistani government demolished their homes and issued warrants for their arrest.

However, the army was forced to strike a deal with him in April after suffering significant human and material losses in several rounds of fighting.

Amnesty revoked

Mohammad had his moment of glory when Lt Gen Safdar Hussain, commander of the forces battling the militants in South Waziristan, publicly embraced him in the presence of several thousand tribesmen to announce a reconciliation.

Though Mohammad renounced militancy in return for an amnesty from the military, the deal raised his stature in the eyes of tribal people.

The subsequent media limelight made the long-haired, black-bearded militant a familiar face and a household name in Pakistan.

Mohammed's funeral near Wana
The funeral - some saw him a hero, others that he brought suffering

But it was not long before disagreement over the terms of the unwritten agreement once more pitted Mohammad against the armed forces.

He said he was unable to produce fugitive foreign militants before the authorities for registration.

The military retaliated by revoking his amnesty.

Orders to kill or capture him were issued as the military launched its biggest operation against al-Qaeda-linked foreign militants and their Pakistani supporters on 11 June.

A week later, Nek Mohammad was dead.

Maverick

An articulate maverick, Mohammad studied at a madrassa, or seminary, for five years.

After an unsuccessful attempt to become a businessman, he left for Afghanistan to fight for the Taleban.

He fought the Northern Alliance and resisted the US military intervention in Afghanistan in late 2001.

With the fall of the Taleban, he returned to South Waziristan.

He never hesitated to describe Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar as his hero.

Mohammad once expressed his wish to fight anywhere in the world where Muslims were being oppressed.

Mohammed entered a second marriage barely a month ago and was a hero to anti-US Islamic militants.

To many others, including some tribesmen in South Waziristan, he will go unlamented as they felt he had brought suffering to his people.


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