Eight South Waziristan Taliban commanders, pictured in a wanted poster: 1. Hakeemullah Mehsud, 2. Waliur Rehman Mehsud, 3. Qari Hussain Mehsud, 4. Azam Tariq, 5. Maulvi Azmatullah, 6. Mufti Noor Wali, 7. Asmatullah Bhittani, 8. Mohammad Anwar Gandapur.
Qari Hussain Mehsud, a senior deputy to Hakeemullah Mehsud (pictured above), has taken credit for the Dec. 30, 2009 suicide attack that killed seven CIA operatives and a US civilian on Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province. From The Associated Press:
Hussain said a “CIA agent” contacted Pakistani Taliban commanders and said he’d been trained by the agency to take on militants but that he was willing to attack the U.S. intelligence operation on the militants’ behalf. He did not specify the nationality of the “agent.”
“Thank God that we then trained him and sent him to the Khost air base. The one who was their own man, he succeeded in getting his target,” Hussain told an AP reporter who travelled to see him in South Waziristan on Friday. The region is where Pakistan’s army is waging a military offensive aimed at dismantling the Pakistani Taliban.
Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid had earlier said the attack was carried out by an Afghan Army officer.
Given that the attack took place in Khost, the Haqqani Network is sure to be behind the attack. But this doesn’t mean that Qari Hussain isn’t wrong in claiming credit. Qari Hussain is the mastermind behind the suicide terror campaign in Pakistan. He is considered the top trainer of suicide bombers.
While the Haqqanis and the Mehsud branch of the Pakistani Taliban are often considered to operate independently, that isn’t quite true. The Haqqanis are actually the patriarchs of the Pakistani Taliban; Hakemullah Mehsud, Mullah Nazir, and Hafiz Gul Bahadar ultimately take direction from the Haqqanis. It is possible the Haqqanis farmed out Qari Hussain’s expertise to help carry out the attack.