Taliban official Hakeemullah Mehsud has been selected the new head of the Pakistani Taliban, a local Taliban commander in Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas told CNN Saturday. Mehsud was selected Friday by a 42-member Taliban council, or shura, according to Taliban commander Qari Haris. Another Taliban official — Maulvi Faqir Mohammad — had been tapped as Mehsud’s deputy, Haris said.
Already blamed by Pakistan and the CIA for killing Benazir Bhutto, Baitullah Mehsud is just getting started. The articulate, baby-faced commander of the Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal wilds along the Afghan border is waging an increasingly coordinated insurgency threatening further destabilization on the eve of parliamentary elections. His forces have embarrassed the Pakistani military in recent weeks by attacking its forts, inflicting heavy losses and seizing weapons before retreating into the mountains of South Waziristan, Mehsud’s home turf
Terrorist groups often boast about their unity of purpose, the single-minded pursuit of their apocalyptic goals.
Baitullah Mehsud is a natural leader: cagey, dogged and charismatic, with an apparent knack for uniting disparate factions around a common cause. But instead of channeling those talents toward building an empire, Mehsud is trying to bring one to its knees. The shadowy Pakistani Taliban commander, whose vertiginous rise to infamy landed him on 2008’s TIME 100 List, has transformed the badlands of South Waziristan into al-Qaeda’s most important redoubt.
A close aide to Pakistan’s Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud said he is breaking ties with him and confirmed reports that Mehsud was behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Qari Turkestan Bhitaini, a self-proclaimed right-hand man of Mehsud, said Mehsud was behind the December 27, 2007, assassination of Bhutto, Pakistan’s Express TV reported. Bhitaini said he is breaking ties with Mehsud because he blames the Taliban chief for killing scores of innocent Muslims in recent attacks in Lahore
No one has contributed to Pakistan’s slide into chaos over recent years more than Baitullah Mehsud From his base in the wilds of South Waziristan, the leader of the Pakistan Taliban has overseen the killing of over 1,200 civilians and several hundred soldiers through brutal means including suicide bombings, kidnappings and beheadings. He has been accused of masterminding the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in late December 2007. In late March, Washington announced a $5m reward for information leading to his capture, describing Mehsud as a “key al-Qaeda facilitator.” And over the past week alone, he claimed responsibility for five separate terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a luxury hotel in Peshawar and the killing of a vocal anti-Taliban cleric in Lahore
Back-to-back explosions shook two markets in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Thursday evening, killing two civilians and wounding 70 others, an official from the deputy police superintendent’s office said. Another official, Sahib Zada Muhammad Anis Khan, the district coordination officer for Peshawar District, told CNN the blasts took place in the center of the city at adjacent markets: Qissa Khawani Bazaar and Kabari Bazaar.