According to AKI, Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American in custody who admitted to carrying out the failed Times Square bomb plot, had met with Qari Hussain Mehsud, the Taliban’s top trainer of suicide bombers:
Officials believe 30-year-old Shahzad, a Karachi-born Pushtun, had no relationship with any militant organisation, until Rehan put him in contact with Qari Hussain Mehsud, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban’s suicide squad and explosives expert.
Hussain is believed to have provided training to Shahzad on improvised explosives on a recent visit to Pakistan.
I have heard a similar report from a US intelligence official but have not been able to confirm this, so the AKI report is very interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a video of Shahzad flanked by Qari Hussain or Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud.
Qari Hussain took credit for the planned Times Square attack in an audiotape that appeared on a YouTube site created by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel on April 30, just one day before the attack. Qari Hussain’s audiotape was uploaded on April 30, the same day the Taliban news channel was created.
The Jaish-e-Mohammed link – Shahzad’s friend Mohammed Rehan was detained at a Jaish-e-Mohammed mosque in Karachi and is said to have brought Shahzad to the Taliban – is interesting as well, but should not be surprising. The al Qaeda-Taliban-jihadist network in Pakistan is well established and the groups often carry out joint training as well as terror operations.
Ilyas Kashmiri, the military commander of al Qaeda’s Shadow Army, is the perfect example of this nexus. Kashmiri’s roots are in the Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, a Kashmiri terror group backed by the Pakistani military, but he has close ties to Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, and a multitude of Pakistani and Afghan Taliban groups. Kashmiri and several Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives recruited, trained and directed David Coleman Headley, who was captured by the US in 2009 after he was found to be plotting attacks in the West. Kashmiri is based in North Waziristan and is under the protection of Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who is considered to be among the “good Taliban” as he does not advocate overthrowing the Pakistani state.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.