Baitullah Mehsud reportedly killed in drone attack
Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was reportedly killed in a drone attack. Here’s a compilation of different news articles covering his death.
From the NY Times:
The American government made killing or capturing Mr. Mehsud one of its top priorities this year, and his death would boost President Obama’s effort to weaken a resurgent Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.
One immediate effect of Mr. Mehsud’s death, if confirmed, could be a reduction of lingering mistrust between the intelligence services of the United States and Pakistan. The two sides have long harbored suspicions about each other’s motives, and some officials in Islambad once suspected that the C.I.A. might not be seriously trying to kill Mr. Mehsud because he was a C.I.A. asset.
The apparent death also raises questions for the future of ordinary Pashtuns, the ethnic group that predominates in the tribal areas, the overwhelming majority of whom do not support militancy or Mr. Mehsud directly.
A prominent member of the Mehsud tribe in Karachi, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was afraid of trouble from the military and the Taliban alike, said taking a public position on Mr. Mehsud’s death was a delicate balancing act and that Pashtuns were watching nervously to see who will come out on top: Pakistan’s military or a successor of Mr. Mehsud.
From the Dawn (Pakistan newspaper):
In December 2007, Mehsud became the head of a new coalition called the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistan’s Taliban movement. Under his guidance, the group killed hundreds of Pakistanis in suicide and other attacks.
Analysts say the reason for Mehsud’s rise in the militant ranks is his alliances with al-Qaeda and other violent groups. US intelligence has said al-Qaeda has set up its operational headquarters in Mehsud’s South Waziristan stronghold and neighbouring North Waziristan.
From Al Jazeera:
Al Jazeera correspondent Kamal Hyder said:
“There are also reports there is an ashura [meeting] under way to pick a successor to Mehsud.
“There is not doubt there will be a swift succession, but Mehsud was a strong leader, so it will be difficult to fill that particular vacuum.”
From Iranian Press TV:
The reported death of Pakistan’s Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud will not affect the group’s ‘resistance’ in Afghanistan, says an Afghan Taliban spokesman.
From the Christian Science Monitor:
Imtiaz Gul, who heads the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad said Mehsud’s death “could lead to a decline” in terror attacks inside Pakistan, which have spiked in the past two years.
Mr. Abbas agrees: “We may see some immediate retaliation. But over the long term, we may experience a dip in very organized level of violence against the people.” In 2008, there were 62 terror attacks in Pakistan; so far in 2009, there have been 38.
From the Washington Post:
Although Pakistan has other strong Taliban factions, such as those that seized control of the Swat Valley earlier this year, Mehsud was a unifying force and the acknowledged leader among many of them. His exploits had given him a nearly mythical persona.