Taliban Commander Baitullah Mehsud

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.