No tape from Hakeemullah needed: Taliban spokesman


Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, before the Pakistani Army launched the South Waziristan offensive in October 2009.

Tariq Azam, the top spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, backtracked on statements made by other Taliban commanders who said Hakeemullah Mehsud would release a tape to prove he was alive. From The Associated Press:

We don’t feel any need presently to release a video, but whenever we feel a need, we will do so,” Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The spokesman’s comments came a day after a close aide to Mehsud told the AP that the militant group would try to provide proof in a day or two that its leader was alive. The senior Taliban commander spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government retribution.

Tariq called Sunday’s Pakistani television report that first announced Mehsud’s death propaganda and said the leader “is perfectly well, alive and staying at a safe location.”

The state TV report was apparently based on witnesses who said they attended Mehsud’s funeral last week in the Orakzai tribal area.

Tariq said Mehsud would not appear before the media to prove he is alive because it could endanger him.

“We are not going to fall prey to this trap and make our leader vulnerable to the spy network, and secondly, the leadership council has restricted the leader from speaking to the media for certain reasons,” said Tariq.

As noted yesterday, the Taliban will ultimately let us know if Hakeemullah is indeed dead. Azam’s statement certainly lends weight to the idea that Hakeemullah has departed this planet. But his other statement, that the intelligence services want Hakeemullah to quickly release a tape in hopes of catching the Taliban in a mistake, which could lead to targeting information, is also true (a point that was also made in yesterday’s post).

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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  • KaneKaizer says:

    Well, if Qari Hussain was killed in the same strike that killed Hakeemullah it would not only be a complete failure on the part of the Taliban to protect their leaders, but it would also further explain why it could be taking so long to choose a new leader so they can announce Hakeemullah’s death.

  • Render says:

    If every tape is met by a swarm of Predators and Reapers flinging bolts of Hellfire from the skies by the dozens it can be understandable why the need to release another tape might not be quite as pressing at the moment. Fear is a powerful motivator.
    Bonus points and kudos to the White House if this is the official response from the Commander-in-Chief.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Qari Hussain spoke to the media on Sunday, so it isn’t possible he was killed on Jan. 14.
    Or perhaps it was his body double?

  • Paul says:

    OMG! That is so high school……nah nah……
    The guy is dead. Yeh they won’t provide proof because they have none or if they do we will zero in on the next in line….keep promotin’ them and we’ll keep killing them! Who’s next????

  • T Ruth says:

    Why is it that the same rigour and burden of proof is not placed upon OBL?
    According to wiki, the authenticity of the last 2 audio tapes of January has still not been verified
    Yet they have had wide publicity behind the fig-leaf of purport.


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