Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 29, 2009

Baitullah Mehsud: another local thug with global ambitions

Filed under: Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on June 29, 2009


This week Pakistan’s military will intensify military operations in South Waziristan. There are plenty of targets.  But on Sunday the Islamabad government made clear that at the top of the list is Baitullah Mehsud (seen above).

Baitullah is accused of assasinating Benazir Bhutto and has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks across Pakistan.  In April he threatened “the heart of American  power… Not in Afghanistan, but in Washington, which will amaze the entire world.”  The United States has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture or killing.

In early 2008 a terrorist cell in Spain — operating under the direction of Baitullah Mehsud — was captured by Spanish police before they could complete an attack on the Barcelona subway system.  Scotland Yard has reported Baitullah is behind plans to attack targets in Britain.

A Pashtun tribal leader and veteran of the successful Afghan insurgency against the Soviets, Baitullah is thought to command a force of roughly 20,000 fighters concentrated in his tribe’s South Waziristan heartland.  He assumed particular prominence in the Mehsud tribe following the July  2007 death of Abdullah Mehsud.  In late 2007 Baitullah was a co-founder of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)  or Taliban Movement in Pakistan.

Claiming close relations with Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, Baitullah — still under age 40 — is considered one of the most important rising figures in terrorist networks.  He does face inter-tribal and factional competition, but Baitullah has demonstrated a ready ability to take on (and out) any rivals.  Some also suspect the tribal warlord of being well-connected with senior leadership in the Pakistani intelligence services.

More information:

Baitullah Mehsud: Who is He? (DAWN, Pakistan)

Pakistan’s Most Wanted: Baitullah Mehsud (Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency)

Profile: Baitullah Mehsud (BBC News)

Waziristan operation to focus on Baitullah Mehsud (LongWarJournal)

Taliban Commander Baitullah Mehsud (TIME)

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Comment by William R. Cumming

June 30, 2009 @ 8:26 am


Comment by Philip J. Palin

June 30, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

I think this is likely to be accurate, but am interested in the evidence you find most troublesome.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 30, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

Relative decline in ability of AF-PAK to develop the ral sinews of a nation state while under Taliban assault. What are FDI figures for AF-PAK? Demographic changes? Economic changes? Housing? Health? Education? Food sufficiency? Who are their trading partners and what do last 5 years statistics reveal?

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 30, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

Tpo–should have been “real” not “ral” in first sentence! Is the point of our US involvement helping the AF-PAK people help themselves or is it solely because US INTEL analysis shows that the threat/risk of attacks against US launched from AF-PAK are not just crebible but high on the scale of probable and only are intervention prevents this from happening?

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