INFINITE JUSTICE: Leader Of Pakistani Taliban Reportedly Killed By U.S. Hellfire Missile Strike


[Photo by ANDRES]

THE GUARDIAN: For a time, Baitullah Mehsud [picutured, below right] appeared to have cloaked himself in the historical garb of the Faqir of Ipi, a militant cleric whom British colonial troops spent much of the 1930s and ’40s chasing through the mountain passes of Waziristan. “They sought him here, they sought him there, those columns sought him everywhere,” went an old British couplet that equally applied to Mehsud as he shrugged off efforts by Pakistani and, more recently, US forces to kill him. In June a CIA-operated drone fired a barrage of missiles at a funeral for militants killed in an attack that day. Mehsud had slipped away hours earlier. Now, though, the odds seem to have fatally narrowed. If the blizzard of reports out of Washington, Islamabad and the tribal areas are confirmed, the US has decapitated Pakistan‘s most notorious Taliban outfit. Over the two years since he founded the Tehrik-baitullah-mehsud-2-thumb-280x390.jpgi-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mehsud rose from a little-known border warrior to public enemy number one, notorious for mastering the dark art of suicide bombing.Coming on the heels of the army’s success in the Swat valley this summer, his apparent death could signal that Pakistan is finally turning the tide in its struggle against Islamist militancy. MORE

TIME: If confirmed, Mehsud’s death would bring to a dramatic end a short but terrifying career. Over the past two years, Mehsud, who is believed to be about 35, emerged from near-obscurity to claim a place in a hall of infamy along with the Saudi Osama bin Laden, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri of al-Qaeda (who are still at large) and the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed while leading the radical insurgency in Iraq. Cagey, dogged and charismatic, Mehsud had a knack for uniting disparate factions around a common cause; he transformed the badlands of South Waziristan into the most important redoubt for the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. He denied involvement in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but he was not unhappy about it: the Pakistani government produced an alleged message from him congratulating the perpetrators: “Fantastic job. Very brave boys, the ones who killed her.” MORE

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