01:54 - Source: CNN
New Taliban leader tried to kill Malala

Story highlights

NEW: The Pakistan Taliban says they will focus attacks in Punjab province

The Pakistan Taliban choose Maulana Fazlullah as their new leader

He might be linked to the assassination attempt against Malala Yousafzai

He is believed to be ordering attacks from Afghanistan

CNN  — 

A Pakistan Taliban commander possibly linked to the assassination attempt on teenage activist Malala Yousafzai has been elevated to leader of the terrorist group.

The Pakistan Taliban elected Maulana Fazlullah, one of its longtime militia commanders, as their new leader, spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said Thursday.

The previous leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northwestern Pakistan last week.

Afghan President criticizes U.S. drone strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader

Fazlullah once led a Pakistan Taliban militia in the country’s Swat region. The Pakistani military ran Fazlullah’s group out of Pakistan in 2009, forcing it to operate from Afghanistan.

Pakistani military sources said Fazlullah is believed to be in Afghanistan and is believed to have been ordering attacks in Pakistan from there.

Swat, in northwestern Pakistan, was where militants shot and wounded teen activist Malala in October 2012 as she was riding home from school in a van; the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility.

Fazlullah is known as a hard-liner who broadcast fiery sermons and hard-line ideology via an extremist radio station. The station was shut down when he was pushed out of Pakistan.

The group’s Central Shura Council picked Fazlullah, along with a new deputy leader, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani.

Pakistani Prime Minister: Drone strike won’t derail Taliban peace talks

The outgoing interim leader of the Pakistan Taliban, Asmatullah Shaheen, said Thursday that any discussions of talks with the Pakistani government are off the table.

There were never truly talks between the two sides, Shaheen said, and there never will be.

The Pakistan Taliban will focus their attacks on Punjab province, a stronghold of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Shaheen said.

He blamed the Prime Minister for turning Pakistan into a “colony” of the United States and for the death of their former leader, Mehsud.

During a trip to Washington, the Prime Minister sold Pakistan out, Shaheen said.

“Instead of stopping the drone strikes, he struck a deal with the United States for our leader’s head,” he said.