Hakeemullah Mehsud rumored killed in recent drone strike


Hakeemullah-Mehsud-3.jpg

Hakeemullah Mehsud, left. AFP photo.

Pakistani intelligence officials believe that Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and a close ally of al Qaeda, has been killed in the latest drone strike in North Waziristan. The report has not been confirmed by US officials.

Radio intercepts of discussions between Taliban fighters indicate that Hakeemullah was killed in the Jan. 12 airstrike that took place in the village of Dogga on the outskirts of Miramsham, the main town in North Waziristan. Six "militants," including several "foreigners," a term used to describe members of al Qaeda and allied terror groups, were reported killed in the strike.

"Some militants confirmed Mehsud was dead, and one criticized others for talking about the issue over the radio," according to The Associated Press.

Two US intelligence officials involved in the program that targets al Qaeda and allied terror groups in Pakistan's tribal areas said they were aware of the reports and are investigating.

Asimullah Mehsud, a spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, has denied the reports of Hakeemullah's death, The Associated Press reported.

Pakistani officials have claimed that Hakeemullah has been killed numerous times in the past several years. The most embarrassing claim took place in early 2010, when Pakistani officials, including the Interior Minister, claimed he was killed in a drone strike [for a timeline on the reporting of his 'death,' see LWJ report, Hakeemullah Mehsud -- not dead yet]. A US military spokesman even said they believed Hakeemullah was either dead or incapacitated. Many Taliban leaders denied he was killed. Hakeemullah granted several phone interviews to deny the reports of his death, but the Pakistani government and the media ignored the information. The Long War Journal reported several times during the winter and spring of 2010 that the evidence of his death was inconsistent and he was very likely alive.

Hakeemullah resurfaced on May 2, 2010 in a video that was sent by a Taliban spokesman to The Long War Journal just hours after the failed Times Square bombing. In the video, Hakeemullah claimed credit for the attempted attack in the heart of New York City, and promised further attacks. His deputy, Qari Hussain Mehsud, who was also reported killed, also released an audiotape that confirmed he was alive.

Pakistani officials also claimed Hakeemullah was killed while clashing with Waliur Rahman Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in South Waziristan, in August 2009. The two were said to have killed each other in a gunfight while arguing over who should take control of the Taliban after Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a Predator strike on Aug. 5, 2009. The reports of the "battle at the shura" were proven to be false when the two leaders later appeared in the media.



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READER COMMENTS: "Hakeemullah Mehsud rumored killed in recent drone strike"

Posted by jayc at January 15, 2012 2:24 PM ET:

Bill, Bill, Bill, it's a sad day when a good reporter has to quote the Associated Press as a source. The
AP might actually start believing they are a news organization, haha.
Anyway, this one might have legs. Gonna stick my pencil neck out on this one. Reasoning? The CIA made a point of stating that they wouldn't fire unless they had a high value target, and the Pakistanis haven't squawked about the resumption of drone strikes. Let's hope that for once the Pak intel officials have something right. Just sayin'

Posted by Infidel4LIFE at January 15, 2012 2:42 PM ET:

Ho hum. I would like to think its true, but I think I will wait. Disinformation? Maybe. True? I hope.

Posted by Devin Leonard at January 15, 2012 3:16 PM ET:

Well lets hope the Pakis actually have their intelligence correct for once (laughing) and that this dirt bag is indeed a crispy critter. I trust our drones but untill I get US confirmation I won't believe our buddy whose name is unpronounceable here is dead.

Posted by Eddie D. at January 15, 2012 3:32 PM ET:

We need this murderer gone.

Posted by Riz khan at January 15, 2012 5:37 PM ET:

I belong to the same place Hakeemullah Mehsud belongs to. I know the psychology of the dissidents of South Waziristan, killing the leader and a few of his guys won't help much in fighting the terrorism.

One drone attack and if its based on the correct coordinates does help in achieving the required results but it does kill innocents too. Killing innocent means you are asking for more insurgency and terrorism, in other words the numbers are increasing. The dissidents believe in the custom of revenge as religion. They would strike back regardless of their strength against their enemies.

At the time of British rule, South Waziristan was handled not by force but through the local dignitaries and local customs.


Why war and drones if the solution to the issues could be reached with talks and dialogues.

Posted by Salotti at January 15, 2012 5:44 PM ET:

It seems strange that the Pak press is relatively quiet about this strike. Suppose that means the strike had the blessings of the Pak military.

Posted by Gabriel at January 15, 2012 5:56 PM ET:

Holding my breath on this one. But remember the U.S would only strike of the had a top guy in the drones crosshairs. I hope this is true.

Posted by JT at January 15, 2012 6:27 PM ET:

Ding Dong . . . .

Let's hope so. This guy has been around for too long.

For all of those who work behind the scenes without public honors (football equivalent of offensive linemen), keep up the good work.

Posted by JM at January 15, 2012 6:43 PM ET:

I've seen this headline before... I hope so.

If true, will be interesting to see how Wali ur Rehman gains from this.

Posted by noa at January 15, 2012 7:24 PM ET:

taking the long pause into account, you gotta assume this was a high value opportunity. my gut tells me this one isn't a rumor..

Posted by Cordell at January 15, 2012 8:24 PM ET:

I suspect this cat has finally used up his nine lives. The long suspension of US drone strikes until recently may have lulled Mehsud and other Taliban leaders into abandoning their former cautiousness with regard to movements and meetings. Apparently, the drones were still flying and performing reconnaissance even if they weren't launching attacks. Let's hope this time that the reports of Mehsud's death are not "greatly exaggerated" as Mark Twain might say.

Posted by ConLima at January 15, 2012 8:39 PM ET:

Release the balloons! Again. Hakee has been on the radar forever. I'll wait a year to see if it is true. All of his brothers will be together soon any way. Let's just hope this is not a flush out. We want him out of the theator for good and damn it, I want that hmmwv back.

Posted by Jay at January 15, 2012 10:00 PM ET:

I really hope we got this guy this time. But even if it's true, there is still a long list of sickos behind him that we need to make disappear as well.

Posted by doug at January 16, 2012 12:13 AM ET:

Bill

this would be very good news if true... He has been a pretty vicious guy for a long time. Certainly the Taliban know by now - wouldn't you expect a denial within a day or two if he's still around?

Posted by mike merlo at January 16, 2012 1:44 PM ET:

I guess right now he is just wounded.

Posted by Bengal Voice at January 16, 2012 3:29 PM ET:

Its a win-win situation for the Free World.

Its good news if Mehsud got his 72 huris and 28 gilmans yesterday.

But, if Mehsud survives, he is bound to take his anger out on the Pakistani army and slaughter their troops - which works just as well.

Posted by Gerald at January 16, 2012 4:39 PM ET:

Mehsud is the Talibans equivalent to one of the best and brightest. With the low standards of education in AfPak these guys are getting harder to replace. Thugs without subtlety cannot launch extra naional attacks. This is why we degrade.

Posted by Glenmore at January 16, 2012 7:26 PM ET:

When a drone zaps a couple of 'innocents' (usually the targets' family or friends) along with some legitimate targetted bad guys, it's a terrible thing and creates lots of new enemies.
But when the bad guys blow up a market because they can't make it to the police station, and they kill a bunch of random women and children, those victims become honored martyrs of the cause, and the bad guys make no enemies.
Strange.

Posted by Maximus at January 16, 2012 10:35 PM ET:

Third one and counting.....Next Waliur

Posted by Witch Doctor at January 16, 2012 10:44 PM ET:

Want to stop the innocents from being killed? Kick the bad guys out. A few bad guys at a time at a time will be long and costly. Do not allow the Taliban to live amongst you. Help us help you.

Posted by BraddS at January 17, 2012 10:09 AM ET:

So is Hakee still dead, or has he popped back to life again?

Posted by NUS at January 17, 2012 4:43 PM ET:

@ Riz Khan,
I wish British had handled South Waziristan with force, too, as they did in Bombai (Mumbai), Delhi, Lahore, and Peshawar. The result of using the force by British in those cities was establishment of railroads, factories, and universities. If they had done the same in South Waziristan, South Waziristan would not have Hakimullah Mehsud, heir of “local dignitaries and local customs,” there today to burn down schools or kill tribal elders.

@ Glenmore,
Thank you for helping me to make my second point!

Posted by Charu at January 17, 2012 4:46 PM ET:

Too early to tell. The Pakistanis lie repeatedly about the deaths of HVTs, as Bill recounts in detail. Mehsud was the "bad" Taliban, who didn't follow Pakistan's directions. Thus he was more a problem for them than for us. I will cheer when the Haqqani's and Mullah Omar and the "good" Taliban leadership get their 72 hurs apiece.

Posted by Dave at January 17, 2012 8:49 PM ET:

Riz Khan: Let's be clear about this. The only innocents in the "place you belong to," if it's Miramsham, are the Taliban's tea boys. Miramsham is a nest of Taliban pigs, their foreign killer friends, and the people who allow them into their homes. It's the Sodom and Gomorra of Pakistan.

Do you know why the drones have visited Miramsham so many times? Maybe it's the wrath of your God. Or perhaps there are a courageous few from the "place you belong to" who realize that the Taliban trash are the real killers of innocents and want them gone.

Posted by kit at January 18, 2012 9:50 PM ET:

Riz khan I would have to agree with Glenmore in regards to your comment. Most of those guys speak out both sides of their mouth. I recall a time when they agreed to a truce with the Pak Army but broke that agreement. Sorry even if we did talk I could never trust these guys after all I am an infidel.

Posted by Bengal Voice at January 19, 2012 5:42 PM ET:

Bill,

I've always thought of Miranshah (but not Miramsham) as the main town in Shamali (North) Waziristan.

Is that slight difference in pronunciation due to the local Pashto dialect ?

Posted by SgtJim at January 21, 2012 8:29 PM ET:

from Paki DAWN news agency:

"He is still alive and safe in some unknown location of North Waziristan, independent sources told DawnNews on Friday.

“Hakimullah is well and safe in North Waziristan… the news related to his killing in the drone attack carried out by the US military is incorrect,” an official source told this reporter.

The claim was also verified from at least two other independent sources."