Another rumor of Qari Hussain’s death in October Predator strike

Rumors of the death of Qari Hussain Mehsud, the Taliban’s “Ustad-e-Fedayeen” or teacher of suicide bombers, have surfaced again, after a Pakistani provincial minister claimed he was killed in a US Predator airstrike in October. From The Times of India:

“Qari Hussain was killed in a drone strike,” Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said.

The Taliban commander died in North Waziristan tribal region in the first week of October. There was no word from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan on the development.

This is an old report, however, see Threat Matrix report, Qari Hussain Mehsud killed in Predator strike?, and LWJ report, Conflicting reports mean the death of senior Pakistani Taliban leader unlikely.

Azam Tariq, the top spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, denied that Qari Hussain and his boss Hakeemullah Mehsud were killed in early October strikes. Although neither Qari Hussain nor Hakeemullah have been seen or heard from on Taliban propaganda tapes since the summer, that does not mean they are dead.

Keep in mind that when Qari Hussain was reported killed by the Pakistani military in a January 2008 operation in South Waziristan, he waited until May 2008 to confirm he was alive, and then he mocked the Pakistani government when he held a press conference in Peshawar. The same holds true for Hakeemullah. Remember when everyone (except for LWJ) reported that Hakeemullah was killed in a Predator strike in January 2010? He waited until May 2010 before he appeared in the media, and that was to announce that the Taliban had tried to carry out a car bombing in Times Square.

I’ve said this time & time again; if you want confirmation that a Taliban or al Qaeda leader is dead, the worst place to look for it is from Pakistani officials. Their track record of accuracy on this subject is atrocious. Wait for the Taliban/al Qaeda to release a martyrdom notice, or wait for them to appear in the media, either via interview (see Fahd al Quso for the latest example of a media interview in which he denied his death) or propaganda tape.

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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