Taliban commander Hakeemullah Mehsud at a press conference in Peshawar in 2008.
Hakeemullah Mehsud, who is also known as Zulfiqar Mehsud, is the senior deputy of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. He also is a cousin of Baitullah and Qari Hussain Mehsud, the notorious Taliban commander who trains child suicide bombers in South Waziristan.
Hakeemullah is one of the Taliban’s most able commanders and is a rising star in the Pakistani Taliban. He commands the Taliban forces in Arakzai, Khyber, and Kurram tribal agencies, as well as in some regions in Peshawar.
In December 2008, Hakeemullah imposed sharia, or Islamic law, throughout Arakzai.
Hakeemullah has been leading operations against NATO’s supply lines in Khyber and Peshawar. His forces have been behind raids that have led to the destruction of more than 600 NATO vehicles and shipping containers. The raids have also destroyed two vital bridges. Pakistan has closed the Khyber Pass to NATO traffic six times since September 2008 because of the attacks. The raids on the supply columns moving through Khyber have forced NATO to search for alternative supply routes into Pakistan.
He has also taken credit for a series of suicide attacks and complex assaults in Lahore and Peshawar.
Pakistani security forces and the US have tried to kill Hakeemullah. He was the target of a series of Pakistani strikes in the Arakzai tribal agency in mid-April. On April 1, the US targeted a meeting in Arakzai with a Predator attack aircraft after receiving intelligence that Hakeemullah might be in attendance.
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