The AfPak Reader

September 15, 2009

Mainlining Bill Roggio – Summer 2009 – Week 7 – Volume 10

Filed under: Enemy Profiles,Journalist Chronicles,Predator Strikes,Summer 2009 — huntingnasrallah @ 6:52 am

Mainlining Bill Roggio – Summer 2009 – Week 7 – Volume 10

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/08/the_fog_of_the_preda.php

The fog of the Predator war: Baitullah is alive, say Pakistani Taliban
By Bill Roggio
August 8, 2009 11:34 AM

Two senior Taliban commanders, the group’s spokesman, a senior aide, and an Islamist politician are all claiming that Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud survived last week’s Predator strike in South Waziristan.

Hakeemullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain Mehsud, two powerful military commanders and a front-runners to replace Baitullah, and Maulvi Omar, the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said that Baitullah is alive and would speak in the next several days. Qari Hidayatullah, a close aide to Baitullah, said the Taliban shura, or executive leadership council, will provide proof that Baitullah is alive.

Hakeemullah, who commands Taliban forces in Arakzai, Kurram, Khyber, and in some regions in Peshawar, called reports of Baitullah’s death “ridiculous” and said that the US and Pakistan sought to divide the Taliban.

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” Hakeemullah told BBC.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the ISI [Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency] and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

Hakeemullah refused to answer questions as to why he did not immediately deny reports of Baitullah’s death, and said the Taliban leader decided to emulate al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by remaining silent.

Qari Hussain, a senior commander in South Waziristan who is known for training child suicide bombers, said he met with Baitullah today and would punish the Pakistani government for claiming Baitullah was killed.

“The reports about his death are false,” Hussain told the Associated Press. “I will take revenge against the Pakistan government for celebrating the false news of Baitullah Mehsud’s death.”

Maulvi Omar, the chief spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, said Baitullah is “sound and fit,” and accompanying his fighters. Baitullah would speak to the media shortly to confirm he was alive, Omar said, but he would not be pushed into the open.

Qari Hidayatullah told Pajhwok Afghan News that Baitullah is alive and that evidence would soon be presented to prove it.

“He is very much alive and fit,” Hidayatullah said. “Our shura has decided to provide the media a video of Baitullah Mehsud in two or three days as evidence of his being alive.”
Maulana Merajuddin, a former member of the national assembly for the pro-Taliban Muttahida Majlis-e-Amil political party, told the Pakistani press that Baitullah was alive and safe. He also denied reports that the Taliban shura was meeting to appoint a successor.

First reports of Baitullah’s death and the fog of the Predator war

Baitullah was reported to have been visiting his second wife at a compound run by his father-in-law, Ikramuddin Mehsud, when the US targeted him for death. On Aug. 5, unmanned US strike aircraft, probably the Predators or the more sophisticated Reapers, fired four missiles at the compound. Baitullah, his wife, his brother, and seven bodyguards are thought to have been killed in the strike.

First reports from Pakistan indicated that Baitullah survived the attack. But the Taliban established a wide cordon around the attack site and cut off communications, raising the prospects that a high value target had been killed.

Reports began to filter in from Pakistan that Baitullah had indeed been killed in the strike. Kafayatullah Mehsud, one of Baitullah’s deputies, said that Baitullah had been killed.

“I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan,” Kafayatullah told the Associated Press late on Aug. 6. Other Mehsud tribal members and Pakistani intelligence officials also reported that Baitullah had been killed.
Communications intercepts picked up by US intelligence also seemed to indicate Baitullah had been killed. Baitullah was also said to have been buried in his family’s ancestral burial grounds. Reports from Pakistan said the Taliban shura was meeting to select a new leader.

Faqir Mohammed, one of the senior most commanders in the Pakistani Taliban, said Baitullah had been killed. Faqir, who operates from the Bajaur tribal agency, well north of South Waziristan, later said he could neither confirm or deny Baitullah’s death.

Pakistani government officials have been adamant that Baitullah was killed. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government was nearly certain Baitullah had been killed and that intelligence was seeking 100 percent confirmation. Foreign Minister Mahmood Shar Qureshi was insistent, saying Baitullah was certainly killed.

But US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal on Aug. 6 would not confirm Baitullah’s death, but instead said they were investigating the reports. The officials said there were indications that Baitullah may have survived or possibly was lightly wounded in the attack. The officials still have not confirmed that Baitullah was killed.

The Taliban still have not issued an official statement to confirm or deny Baitullah’s death. In the past, the Taliban and al Qaeda have released martyrdom statements upon the death of their senior leaders.

In the past, reports of the deaths of senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Pakistan have been highly unreliable, particularly when they have originated from Pakistani government and intelligence officials. Previously, al Qaeda leaders Ayman al Zawahiri, Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, Abu Obaidullah Al Masri, Adam Gadahn, Ibn Amin, and Rashid Rauf have all been reported killed in various strikes, but these men later resurfaced. Similarly, Sa’ad bin Laden was recently reported killed, but he is now thought to be alive. And Abu Khabab al Masri was reported dead several times before he actually was killed in a July 2008 strike.

Pakistani Taliban leaders Mullah Nazir, Mullah Fazlullah, Faqir Mohammed, Omar Khalid, Hakeemullah Mehsud, and Qari Hussain, as well as Baitullah, have in the past all been reported killed, only to resurface later.
________________________________
Extended Notes (Roggio’s Links)
1) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8191105.stm

Pakistan Taliban chief ‘not dead’
Published: 2009/08/08 09:47:33 GMT

A close associate of Pakistan’s most wanted man, Baitullah Mehsud, who was reportedly killed in a US drone attack, has told the BBC he is alive.

Commander Hakimullah Mehsud said reports of the Taliban leader’s death three days ago in an attack on a house in South Waziristan were “ridiculous”.

The US said on Friday it was increasingly confident its forces had managed to kill Mr Mehsud.

Neither side has provided evidence to back up their claims so far.

Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Friday he was “pretty certain” Baitullah Mehsud had been killed.

But Commander Hakimullah Mehsud – who some analysts suggest may be positioning himself to succeed Baitullah Mehsud – told the BBC the reports of his death were the work of US and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

He said the Pakistani leader had decided to adopt the tactics of Osama bin Laden and stay silent. He said he would issue a message in the next few days.

‘Safer’

The missile fired by the US drone hit the home of the Taliban chief’s father-in-law, Malik Ikramuddin, in the Zangarha area, 15km (9 miles) north-east of Ladha, at around 0100 on Wednesday (1900 GMT Tuesday).

On Friday, another of Baitullah Mehsud’s aides told the Associated Press by telephone that his leader had been killed along with his second wife in the attack.

The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, described Baitullah Mehsud as “a murderous thug”, saying the Pakistani people would be safer if he was dead.

“There seems to be a growing consensus among credible observers that he is indeed dead,” he told reporters.

South Waziristan is a stronghold of the Taliban chief, who declared himself leader in late 2007, grouping together some 13 factions in the northwest of the country.

Believed to command as many as 20,000 pro-Taliban militants, he came to worldwide attention in the aftermath of the 2007 Red Mosque siege in Islamabad – in which the security forces confronted and forcibly ejected militant students who were mostly loyal to him.

He has been blamed by both Pakistan and the US for a series of suicide bomb attacks in the country, as well as suicide attacks on Western forces across the border in Afghanistan.

 

2) http://www.pajhwok.com/viewstory.asp?lng=eng&id=79266

Mehsud alive, insists aide
Syed Shah Saqim – Aug 8, 2009 – 12:24

QUETTA (PAN): Qari Hidayatullah, a close aide to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud, has rejected claims the militant leader was killed in a recent US missile strike.

A number of media outlets reported on Friday the al-Qaeda commander was killed along with his wife in Wednesday’s drone attack on the house of his father-in-law in South Waziristan Agency.

Hidayatullah, who introduced himself a close ally of Mehsud, told Pajhwok Afghan News over the telephone on Saturday from an undisclosed location reports about Mehsud’s death were baseless.

“He is very much alive and fit,” insisted Hidayatullah, who accused the media of carrying the report without confirmation from the Taliban. He said a spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) head, Hakimullah Mehsud, would soon speak to the media.

“Our shura has decided to provide the media a video of Baitullah Mehsud in two or three days as evidence of his being alive,” said Hidayatullah.

Later in the day, Hakimullah told journalists the dreaded warlord was alive, contradicting another aide Maulvi Abdul Wadood, who confirmed to Pajhwok Mehsud with killed along with his spouse.

According to Wadood, the Taliban shura was currently holding a meeting to choose a successor to Mehsud, who had deep links to Afghan militants.

He said there was an 85 percent chance of Mufti Wali-ur-Rehman succeeding Mehsud as TTP head. Most of Taliban leaders supported him for the position and a decision in this regard would be taken soon.
ma/mud
 
3) http://www.geo.tv/8-8-2009/47297.htm

GEO Pakistan
Baitullah Mehsud is alive, claims Maulana Meraj
Updated at: 1903 PST, Saturday, August 08, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Former MNA from FATA Maulana Merajuddin has claimed that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud is alive and safe.

At a press conference along with members of a tribal jirga here on Saturday, he said according to his sources in Waziristan Baitullah Mehsud is alive.

He said he had no knowledge about the Tehreek’s Shura meeting to appoint Mehsud’s successor.

 

***Compiler’s Link***

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2007/06/pakistani_political.php

Pakistani political party sponsors ‘Martyred Mullah Dadullah Conference’
By Bill Roggio
June 2, 2007 9:28 PM

Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam (Fazl), the lead party in the MMA, sponsors gathering of 10,000 supporters of slain Taliban commander in Baluchistan; Tank, NWFP contested

As the situation in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province spins out of control and the Taliban’s sphere of influence grows, the lead political party in the province’s coalition government has organized a gathering to eulogize Mullah Dadullah, the military commander of the Taliban. Dadullah, who was killed by NATO and Afghan forces in Helmand province last month, has been succeeded by his brother, Dadullah Mansoor [also known as Mullah Bakr], who addressed the crowd of over 10,000 Taliban supporters at a border town in Baluchistan.

The Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam (Fazl), the principal party in the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (or MMA), organized the ‘Martyred Mullah Dadullah Conference’ “in the premises of Madrassa ‘Shamsul Uloom’ at Killi Nalai, some 35km [21 miles] north of Quetta on Friday,” reported The Nation. “The party’s main leaders like former [National Assembly] member Maulana Abdul Ghani, sitting MNA [Member of National Assembly] Maulana Noor Muhammad and former Senator Hafiz Fazal Muhammad Bareech participated. Banners were also displayed on the venue inscribed with slogans eulogizing Mullah Dadullah’s services and Taliban movement and against the Americans. The charged audience kept raising slogans of ‘Long live Mullah Omar, Long Live Osama bin Laden and Taliban movement.’”

“The blood of my brother will never go waste. We will never forget his sacrifices, and the role of other martyrs,” Dadullah Mansoor addressed the crowd via a tape recording. “We will complete Dadullah’s mission by expelling Americans and liberating Afghanistan.”

An active Taliban commander from Afghanistan, named Mullah Abdur Rahman, addressed the crowd in person. “I have been fighting against the infidels in Afghanistan and going to tell you that these people are devoid of faith power and are fighting just on the basis of equipment and despite that are unable to defeat Taliban,” said Rahman.

Just this week, Interior Minister Sherpao said the MMA led government of the Northwest Frontier Province has failed to oppose the rise of the Taliban, and is responsible for the deteriorating security situation in the province. With the MMA’s past and current open support of the Taliban, it is safe to say they are complicit in the rise of Islamist extremism in the NWFP.

Since the last report on the situation in Pakistan, the violence in the district of Tank has increased dramatically while Dera Ishmal Khan, Bannu and Lakki Marwat are experiencing an uptick in violence. These districts border North and South Waziristan, where the Taliban openly rule. The Interior Ministry said 3 ministers are on South Waziristan Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud’s hit list, yet the government has made no effort to arrest Baitullah. The Taliban also struck in Peshawar, Landi Kotal and Darra Adam Khel.

In Tank, the Taliban killed 13 civilians, including 2 women, in an attack on the home of Amiruddin Khan, the political agent for the Khyber tribal agency. The home was attacked with “rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and assault rifles.” Two children survived.
The Taliban also killed 13, including 6 family members of Pir Attique Gilani, “an influential tribal elder known for being anti-Taliban,” after launching an attack on his home in Tank.

The Taliban conducted two conventional attacks on the Pakistani military operating in Tank. A senior paramilitary commander in a sophisticated ambush just hours after 4 Taliban were killed in a firefight. The Taliban also killed 3 soldiers and wounded 7 in an IED attack in Tank.

In Peshawar, the provincial capital, a car bomb outside the Peshawar High Court killed 1 and wounded 9. The Taliban also attacked a military checkpoint in Bannu, bombed a hospital in Landi Kotal, kidnapped two doctors in Lakki Marwat, ordered music shops closed in Dara Adam Khel and lost a “militant” when his hand grenade exploded prematurely in Dera Ishmal Khan.

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