At about 9:45 pm on Thursday June 17, 2004, a guided missile killed tribal militant and Al-Qaeda supporter Nek Mohammad in his hideout in village Dhok only 4 kms from Wana, a long way away from Shakai and Baghar, the two places where major military operation had been launched by the Armed Forces a few days earlier to flush out foreign militants. Virtually unknown till a few months ago, Islamic militant Nek Mohammad gained notoriety (or fame, depending on your point of view) by resisting troops engaged in hunting Al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects in South Waziristan adjacent to the borders with Afghanistan.
Articulate and brash, the angry young tribal was accused of sheltering foreign militants from Uzbekistan, Chechnya, China, Afghanistan and some Arab countries, he was not only their main “facilitator” in the area, Nek Mohammad gave them protection, and at a price. Despite his very humble origin, to maintain his wealthy lifestyle meant he must have had sources of funds whose origin are not hard to guess. One does not doubt he may have been a great believer in the concept of “Jihad” but Nek Mohammad was a also gun for hire, this was business and he was well paid for his beliefs. Though he achieved cult status in the minds of many because of his anti-US stance, this “fame” was apparent more outside South Waziristan rather than within the Agency, his actions caused a lot of hardship for the local population. Recently discovering the power of media (and revelling in the excitement thereof), he very intelligently exploited interviews to build up his stature among his fellow tribesman sadly this became his undoing. The “unguided missile” had not catered for technology, a guided missile tracked the frequency down to where he was giving a live interview on his satellite phone. It may be remembered that Chechnya President Col Dudayev was killed by a Russian missile in Grozny in the same manner. Whether the missile came from the East or the West is a matter of conjecture, the fact that it was a precision hit causes doubt about its origin.
From time to time figures like Nek Mohammad emerge larger than life but in the words of Marc Antony at Caesar’s funeral, “the good is oft buried with the bones, the evil lives after them”. One must not forget that he was a cold blooded killer who not only tortured and murdered the prisoners he captured but also mutilated the bodies of those he killed. The brave are usually honourable people who respect and protect their captives, muslims do not desecrate the bodies of the dead. Nek Mohammad was an aberration who rose to fame on the circumstances of the times after 9/11 and the mistakes committed in dealing with the Afghanistan situation. He was an unguided missile who chose to live by the sword, and thus died by it.