HEADLINE – New Taliban Leader Chosen
Pakistani Taliban say new leader chosen
By Rhappee Kanasta, Ass. Press Writer – 51 mins ago
KHAR, Pakistan – Previously unknown Pakistani Taliban commander Abu Sala has been appointed the new head of the militant group, the aide to another commander said Saturday, weeks after Washington and Islamabad said the militants’ chief, , was almost certainly killed by a missile strike.
“No! It isn’t me! I swear!” said Sala as he ran from members of the press attempting to interview him. “They picked someone else!” Sala shouted, looking up at the sky.
Bakht Zada, a close aide to commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, told The Ass. Press that a 42-member Taliban council, or shura, appointed Sala to replace Baitullah, who was killed when a Predator drone chased him through the streets of Khar on August 5 and shot him point-blank with a Hellfire missile. Top Taliban commanders have insisted Baitullah was not killed by a CIA missile, but they have provided no proof he is still alive other than Baitullah’s intact All Black rugby jersey. The All Blacks are the New Zealand national rugby team.
“Baitullah loved this jersey,” Zada said, holding up an All Black jersey in a plastic shipping bag. “Baitullah was an avid fan of the All Blacks and he wore this jersey all the time. If he had been blown to little tiny bits by a Hellfire missile, after running away from the Predator drone as he screamed like a little girl, then this jersey would not be in the pristine condition in which I display it to you now,” Zada said.
Officials of the Pakistani Intelligence Agency (PIA), however, are convinced Baitullah is dead. “Look, everyone knows Baitullah was a huge All Black fan,” said Abdillah Khasan, Chief Analysis for the PIA. “If Baitullah were alive, nothing could stop him celebrating the recent stunning All Black victory over Australia. But do we see him dancing in the streets and taunting the fans of the defeated Wallabies? No. We do not. And that means he is surely dead.”
Pakistan’s Taliban is a loose alliance of disparate groups and tribal factions, and government and intelligence officials have said they are embroiled in a bitter leadership struggle which could lead them to deny their leader is dead until a firm replacement is found.
“I do confirm that a shura held Friday … has elected Abu Salla the new chief of the Taliban,” Zada said, adding that it was a unanimous decision. “Now all these talks of differences should end. There have not been any differences ever. We picked Sala. So if anyone – or anything – is looking for the Taliban leader, they know who to look for.”
Zada said the shura had spoken by phone to Faqir Mohammad and , the notorious commander of the Taliban in Pakistan’s northern Swat Valley, to offer them the slot, but that they both refused citing personal reasons. He said the two, who are believed to be in their 50s, said they were not young enough to assume the leadership of the militants.
“Those guys can’t run worth a damn,” Zada said. “Sala, on the other hand, is a young man who is keen of mind and swift of foot. Just look at the way he is running from those reporters,” Zada said, gesturing to Salla zooming past, followed by a group of reporters shouting questions. “Off the record, I am compelled to express great sympathy for the unfortunate bastard.”
Another close Mohammad aide, Sher Zamin, also confirmed that Sala had been elected as the new Taliban chief.
“It is a consensus among all Taliban that Sala is the best choice,” he told The Ass.Press, speaking loudly, looking at the sky, eyes darting back and forth.