If Pakistani intelligence knows so much, how did it miss the Taliban shura meeting?

Pakistani intelligence is claiming that Hakeemullah Mehsud, Baitullah Mehsud’s successor to lead the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, is dead and that his appointment to lead the Taliban is a ruse to hide infighting:

Pakistani intelligence officials have said Hakeemullah Mehsud is also dead, killed in a shootout with rivals days after Baitullah Mehsud was apparently killed on 5 August. Pakistani officials told news agencies that Maulvi Faqir Mohammed’s announcement was a trick to cover up an ongoing power struggle among the movement. “The announcement is real, but the man isn’t,” Reuters quoted one senior intelligence officer in north-west Pakistan. “The real Hakeemullah is dead.”

As we know, Hakeemullah Mehsud has spoken to the media since he was proclaimed dead at the so-called battle-at-the-shura meeting in early August. Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the other Taliban leader that Pakistani intelligence said was killed, also talked to the media. Pakistani intel then countered by saying someone pretended to be Hakeemullah; but the journalist insists he knows he spoke to Hakeemullah.

Putting all of this aside, one question begs an answer: if Pakistani intel knows so much about the inner workings and machinations of the Taliban, how did it miss the shura meeting in Arakzai? Forty-two Taliban commanders or their representatives attended the meeting. The leaders would be traveling with their security details. Shouldn’t Pakistani intel have picked up on this, and then targeted the meeting accordingly?

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Reggie says:

    I reckon they have far more knowledge than most when it comes to the Islamic militants and the region itself.
    Do you still believe Baitullah is alive?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Perhaps they do, but it still doesn’t explain why they claim Hakeemullah is dead or how they missed the shura of all shuras, particularly when their ears should be perked up.
    I believe Baitullah is either seriously ill or wounded, or dead. The appointment of Hakeemullah is a strong indicator.

  • Tom Egatherion says:

    I feel confident that the ISI did not “miss” the Taliban shura meeting at all.

  • bth says:

    Given that Baitullah was sitting on his roof with an IV in his arm in a chair and his wife was at his side rubbing his feet in an isolated area of his father-in-laws compound after the Americans were tipped off and he had just told his followers that they would not be together much longer … Doesn’t that suggest to you that he wanted to die a martyr instead of disease? … Now there is rumor that his father-in-law has been killed by the Taliban as a spy for the Americans. One wonders if he just decided to collect the reward money for dropping a dime on his now martyred son-in-law and daughter, probably with their permission.

  • T Ruth says:

    Bill, i agree with you. But could it be that Pak knew of the mtg but decided not to act or share the intel with their US allies? Hellfires here could’ve been the death-knell of their longer term strategic depth ambitions. And may also have seriously shortened the long war…and reduced the booty for Pak’s decision makers. I sense that the Pak govt and Army seem to have closed ranks in recent weeks, since Congress approved its last multi-billion package. Much of that cash still has to flow/materialise….
    Is their a nation on earth that can truly trust Pakistan today? We can speculate about the Chinese, but the Chinese are way too wily for them.
    The real question is how long can the US tolerate this state of affairs?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    “Given that Baitullah was sitting on his roof with an IV in his arm in a chair and his wife was at his side rubbing his feet in an isolated area of his father-in-laws compound…”
    I will believe that when I see it. Given the Taliban’s very real concerns about the Predators, I have a hard time believing this story.
    Tom & T Ruth,
    Yes that is possible, and if that is the case then why should we trust anything that emanates from Pakistani intel, including the info about who’s been killed.

  • ratee says:

    You won the war against Russians with the help of Pakistan and with the help of their intelligence system lest we forget. Now Americans have little choice that is to depend up on Pakistan’s ISI and the internal spy system in Pakistan with whatever the shortcomings.
    Baitullah’s death shows that this intelligence system worked again, didn’t it?
    So why so many questions when the greatest success has been achieved as the top leader is gone and the enemy is in disarray.
    The Pakistani Government was swayed with trying to over project the propaganda that the next two top leaders have been also killed. It was a propaganda stunt. It did not mean that they had actual intelligence.
    Hey but they are not totally wrong today’s news comes that Taliban leadership is in disarray as Hakimullah and Waliur Rahman both saying that they have been selected as leaders and this is leading to division in their ranks already. So what’s so much fuss about the success and failure of poor intelligence or lack of commitment by Pakistani intelligence.
    Everything is going perfectly right now in Pakistani territory, but people are never satisfied by even best results.

  • Neo says:

    How cohesive is the Pakistani ISI? I see signs that it is increasingly at crossed purposes. Some sections are close to Islamist organizations, some are close to the US, most have no contacts with either the Islamists and Americans. Many maintain long associations with Pakistani Islamist groups. While few of these associations are officially sanctioned, many are semi-official, and unofficial.
    I expect moles abound, for both sides. Good information from such sources is sporadic, especially if we a talking “real time information”

  • Render says:

    I’m gonna put my money on BM is dead, or so far gone that he’s not camera friendly.
    He’s obviously not commanding anybody at the moment.
    As expected I’ll be going with Tom and T Ruth on the “already knew – did nothing” theory as well.
    I don’t think there has been any confirmation that ISI had anything to do with targeting BM, has there?


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