The new leader of the Paistani Taliban threatened to strike back at the US for killing Baitullah Mehsud in a Predator attack earlier last month.
“We will take revenge and soon,” Hakeemullah Mehsud, who was chosen to lead the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan last weekend, told AFP. “We will give our reply to this drone attack to America.”
The Taliban claimed Baitullah died on Aug. 23 of wounds suffered during the Aug. 5 airstrike that also killed his second wife and seven of his bodyguards. Hakeemullah and Baitullah were cousins; Baitullah helped Hakeemullah quickly rise through the ranks of the Taliban.
Any attack would likely take place inside Pakistan. A successful attack would help cement Hakeemullah’s position as the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban.
Hakeemullah is one of the Taliban’s most able military commanders who also has the ability to conduct large-scale terror attacks. His forces were behind the capture of an entire company of Pakistani Army soldiers as well as the campaign against NATO supplies moving through Khyber and Peshawar.
Hakeemullah is also closely linked to Punjabi terror groups and al Qaeda. Members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Mohammed, al Qaeda, and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas banded together and formed a group called the Fedayeen-e-Islam.
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is an anti-Shia terror group with an extensive network in Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi serves as the muscle for al Qaeda and Taliban terror attacks.
Jaish-e-Mohammed is a Punjab-based terror group that was formed to wage jihad against the Indians in Kashmir.
The Fedayeen-e-Islam took credit for the deadly September 2008 suicide attack on the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, the March 2009 storming of a police station in Lahore, and the June 2009 complex suicide attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel.
Senior leaders of the Fedayeen-e-Islam include Qari Hussain Mehsud, a former senior deputy to Baitullah who trains child suicide bombers; Qari Mohammed Zafar, the operational commander of the September 2008 attack on the Islamabad Marriott; Asmatullah Moaviya, another former senior aide to Baitullah who was reportedly arrested in Mianwali in Punjab province; and Rana Afzal.