WASHINGTON -- The United States says it is offering multimillion-dollar rewards for information leading to the location of Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah and two other militant leaders believed to be in Pakistan.
The State Department said in a statement on March 8 that it is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information on Fazlullah, leader of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistani Taliban.
It said rewards of up to $3 million each are also being offered for information on TTP-linked militants Abdul Wali of Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA) and Mangal Bagh of the Lashkar-e-Islam group.
“Each of these individuals is believed to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of the United States and its nationals,” the statement said.
“In addition to opposing the Pakistani military, one of TTP’s stated goals is the expulsion of [U.S.-led] coalition troops from Afghanistan. The group has demonstrated a close alliance with Al-Qaeda and, since 2008, has also repeatedly publicly threatened to attack the U.S. homeland.”
According to U.S. officials, TTP gave explosives training to Faisal Shahzad, who they say failed in his attempt to set off a car bomb in Times Square in New York City in May 2010.
The group was also behind the massacre of more than 150 people, mostly children, at a Peshawar school in December 2014, an incident that rocked Pakistan and sparked a major antiterror campaign there.
TTP militants were also blamed for a shooting attack in 2012 on Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who has since championed the rights of Pakistani girls to receive schooling.
Malala was disfigured by the attack but survived and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her girls' education campaign.
The new U.S. push against the Pakistani Taliban came as Pakistan's foreign secretary, Tamina Janjua, visited Washington for talks with U.S. officials on improving counterterrorism cooperation.
The United States last year withheld $2 billion in military aid from Islamabad, charging that Pakistan tolerates militants operating within its borders and saying that it must act more aggressively against them to receive aid in the future.
Pakistan denies the U.S. charges.
Earlier on March 8, Pakistani intelligence officials said a son of Mullah Fazlullah and 19 other people were killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike this week in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar near the Pakistani border.
Fazlullah's son Abdullah is the fourth high-profile Taliban figure to be killed by drones within a month. Last month, Pakistani Taliban deputy chief Khan Said Mehsud, also known as Sajna, was killed in a drone strike.
Abdullah was killed in the Chawgam area in the eastern province of Kunar on March 6 when a training camp for suicide bombers near the Afghan border was hit by two missiles, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
Two other regional commanders of the Pakistani Taliban -- Gul Mohammad and Ustad Yaseen, who trained suicide bombers -- were also among the dead, Pakistani media reported.