Exclusive: Tapes show Hakeemullah Mehsud is alive and threatens attacks in the US
Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, in a videotape dated April 4, 2010.
Two tapes were sent today to The Long War Journal by a group identifying itself as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The same group sent a link earlier today to The Long War Journal to a YouTube video of Qari Hussain Mehsud claiming that the Taliban carried out the failed May 1 car bomb attack in New York City's Times Square.
The two Hakeemullah tapes consist of a videotape of Hakeemullah flanked by two masked fighters, and an audiotape with images of Hakeemullah superimposed over a map of the US with explosions in the background. In both tapes, Hakeemullah claimed that the Taliban have infiltrated the US and that their operatives would launch attacks in American cities.
The videotape was produced on April 4, while the audiotape was produced on April 19, according to Hakeemullah [watch the tapes here]. The tapes provide the first definitive dates to prove he is alive since he issued an audiotape on Jan. 16, just two days after he was thought killed in a US strike in the Pasalkot region in North Waziristan. Hakeemullah was also reported dead on two subsequent occasions. On the videotape, Hakeemullah specifically mentioned the report of his death on Feb. 9, when a Pakistani TV channel claimed he died near Multan. "Sometimes they say [I was killed] in a Drone attack, mostly giving references of Shaktai or Arukzai and sometimes they say we martyred him on his way to Multan," Hakeemullah said.
Hakeemullah used much of the audio and video tapes to warn the US that his followers have been dispatched to the US to carry out strikes in the major cites and "states."
"The time is very near when our fedayeen will attack the American states in their major cities," Hakeemullah said. "And Inshallah (god willing) we will give extremely painful blows to the fanatic America."
"Inshallah very soon in some days or a month's time, the Muslim ummah will see the fruits of most successful attacks of our fedayeen in USA."
He also urged the Muslim masses to "wake up from the slumber of ignorance and cowardness" as "America and its allies are facing the worst defeat ever in the history." Hakeemullah says the US seeks to "run away from Afghanistan from under the camouflage of peace deals."
Hakeemullah's reemergence on the scene takes place after more than three months of guessing by officials and the media about his status. Pakistani and US officials have insisted that he died in the Jan. 14 airstrike, and major news outlets have also claimed he was no longer in charge.
US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal have been skeptical of the reports of Hakeemullah's death since the rumors first began on Jan. 15, 2010.
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency said late last week that Hakeemullah was likely alive, while the Pentagon said that although Hakeemullah is likely alive, he is no longer in command of the Taliban. Hakeemullah's latest two tapes put the Pentagon's assessment in doubt. US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal had disagreed with the Pentagon's original assessment last week that Hakeemullah was no longer in command.
For the complete timeline on reports of Hakeemullah Mehsud's death and the Taliban's refutation of the reports, see LWJ report, "Hakeemullah Mehsud -- not dead yet."
Bill Ardolino contributed to this report.