Sat Jan 2nd, 2010 at 11:47:15 AM EST
Pakistan Taliban say they carried out CIA attack
(MSNBC/AP) - Qari Hussain, a top militant commander with the Pakistani Taliban who is believed to be a suicide bombing mastermind, said militants had been searching for a way to damage the CIA's ability to launch missile strikes on the Pakistani side of the border.
The U.S. has launched scores of such missile attacks in the tribal regions over the past year and a half, aiming for high-value al-Qaida and other militant targets; one strike killed former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in August.
Hussain said a "CIA agent" contacted Pakistani Taliban commanders and said he'd been trained by the agency to take on militants but that he was willing to attack the U.S. intelligence operation on the militants' behalf. He did not specify the nationality of the "agent."
"Thank God that we then trained him and sent him to the Khost air base. The one who was their own man, he succeeded in getting his target," Hussain told an AP reporter who traveled to see him in South Waziristan on Friday. The region is where Pakistan's army is waging a military offensive aimed at dismantling the Pakistani Taliban.
Pakistan's new Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud (c.) stands with deputy Waliur Rehman (l.) and spokesman Azam Tariq in Sararogha, South Waziristan, along the Afghan border. (Ishtiaq Mahsud/AP)
PBS In Depth Interview - Pakistan blast sharpens concerns on Taliban
Pakistan army captures Kotkai, hometown of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud
(AP) Oct. 24, 2009 - Kotkai is symbolically important because it is the hometown of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and one of his top deputies, Qari Hussain. It also lies along the way to the major militant base of Sararogha, making it a strategically helpful catch.
South Waziristan is part of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, a rugged stretch of land along the Afghan frontier where al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden is rumored to be hiding. Pakistan is under intense international pressure to clear its tribal areas of insurgents, many of whom are blamed for attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The U.S. has launched scores of missile strikes in the region over the past year, killing several top militants including former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
The latest strike hit Chuhatra village in the tribal region of Bajur, local government official Mohammad Jamil said.
The missile hit a hide-out of the militants that included a tunnel. The target appeared to be Faqir Mohammad, a prominent Taliban leader, but he is believed to have escaped, Jamil said. Most of the 22 killed were Afghan nationals, he said
South Waziristan battle fails to win hearts and minds of tribesmen
Enemy No. 1: Barack Obama
(CS Monitor) Aug. 26, 2009 - "Obama is our foremost enemy and our workers are raring to face him," Rehman said. "Our workers cherish death more than the life and London, Paris, and New York are not far away from them."
The Pakistani Taliban has no known capacity to mount attacks in the West.
Speaking before the announcement on the Taliban leadership, Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, was confident that the extremist movement was sinking.
"They cannot hide," Malik said. "We are close to their jugular vein. Now the people have turned against them."
Keeping ties with Al Qaeda
According to a tribesman in South Waziristan, who could not be named for his own safety, Hakimullah, thought to be just 28, had threatened to form a breakaway group if he wasn't given the title of leader.
"In order to avoid bloodshed, Waliur Rehman has been forced by the Afghan side to agree. He's a decent, respected guy," said the tribesman.
He added that the dispute was mediated by a representative of Mullah Omar, founder of the Afghan Taliban, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of veteran Afghan jihadist Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Pakistani Taliban regards its older Afghan counterpart as its mentor, and the Haqqani network in particular wields considerable influence over the Afghan branch.
VIDEO: Interview with Sirajuddin Haqqani
Hakimullah could be the choice of Al Qaeda, analysts say, as he is linked closely to two terrorist groups banned in Pakistan - Sepah-e-Sahaba and its even more extreme offshoot, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi - that now take their lead from Mr. bin Laden.
Hakimullah formerly belonged to Sepah-e-Sahaba. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is regarded as a key Al Qaeda facilitator in Pakistan and played a role in many of the bombings and other attacks that have rocked the country more than two years, including the assault on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team earlier this year.
● Killings Rock Afghan Strategy
● The New Taliban
Read my previous diaries:
● FOB Chapman Hit by Suicide Bomber - 8 CIA Killed
● Base Leader, Mother of Three, Killed in Suicide Attack [Update]
● Obama Policy and Af-Pak Border Fallacy
"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."