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Baitullah Mehsud

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Baitullah Mehsud (1970-2009?) was the leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban. movement. He is seen as a new generation of militant in Pakistan; while he is believed to be in South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Area, his motivations are more jihadist than tribal. In August 2009, a U.S. missile strike on one of his bases killed one of his wives, and there is increasing evidence he may be dead — but the area is so remote that there may never be confirmation. [1]

Tehrik-e-Taliban is focused on creating a Salafist state in Pakistan, as distinct from both the Afghan Taliban under Mullah Omar. Under orders from Omar the three factions formed the United Mujahideen Council:

  • Mehsud's TTP
  • Maulvi Nazir, in the plains and lower hills of South Waziristan
  • Hafiz Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan

The other two focus more on sending fighters into Afghanistan.[2]

He fought in the Afghanistan War (1978-1992), and was with the Taliban when they entered Kabul.

After Nek Muhammad was killed by a U.S. missile attack, he rose to prominence in 2004, attacking the Pakistani army and making a peace agreement for $500,000. He used the truce and money to organize a militia of at least 2,000 in South Waziristan alone.[2]

Operations

His group's signature includes suicide bombing, which had not been a Taliban or Pakistani militant tradition. In 2007, his fighters killed an estimated 2,000 people, some by beheading but most by suicide attack. They are trained by his deputy, Qari Hussain, formerly part of Sipa Sahaba, a group that concentrated on killing Shias. [2]

He has been accused of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Mehsud has stated his intention to attack the United States, and has attacked U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The U.S. offers up to a USD $5 million for him. [3]

References

  1. Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt (7 August 2009), "C.I.A. Missile Strike May Have Killed Pakistan’s Taliban Leader, Officials Say", New York Times
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Declan Walsh (April 5, 2009), "Is Baitullah Mehsud now public enemy No 1 for the US?", Guardian (U.K.)
  3. Rewards for Justice: Baitullah Mehsud, U.S. Department of State, March 25, 2009