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Radical Pakistani Cleric Who Fought U.S. Forces In Afghanistan Dies

11 Jul 2019 Gandhara - RFE/RL

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 in the morning of July 11 in the Lower Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, in northwest Pakistan.

Muhammad, due to be buried later in the day, had long suffered from kidney issues and was diabetic.

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.

Pakistan 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.

In the 1980s, Muhammad fought alongside the mujahideen, 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

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