From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Baitullah Mehsud (Pashto: بیت اللہ محسود; Urdu: بیت اللہ
محسود; c. 1974 – August 23, 2009) was a
leading militant in Waziristan, Pakistan, and the leader of the Taliban umbrella group, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan,
which he formed from an alliance of about five pro-Taliban
in December 2007.
He is thought by U.S. military analysts to have commanded up to
and to have been behind numerous attacks in Pakistan including the
assassination of Benazir
Disagreement exists over the exact date of the militant's death.
Pakistani security officials initially announced that Baitullah
Mehsud, his wife and bodyguards were killed on 5 August 2009 in a
CIA drone attack in the Zangar
area of South Waziristan. Interior Minister Rehman Malik delayed giving official
confirmation and asked for patience and an announcement by ISPR or other
Ullah, a Taliban source, also announced the death of the militant
in the strike,
as did his deputy Faqir Mohammed. Later
Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud denied previous TTP
announcements and said Mehsud was in good health.
Major General Athar
Abbas, ISPR spokesman, and Robert Gibbs of the White House said his death could not be
confirmed, U.S. National
Security Adviser James L. Jones also claimed that there
was "pretty conclusive" evidence that proved Baitullah Mehsud had
been killed and that he was 90% sure of it.
On August 25, 2009, Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman telephoned the BBC to say
that the militant had died on August 23, 2009, due to injuries
sustained during the August 5 attack.
The BBC received a video that shows the body of Mehsud on September
Saleem Shahzad, writing in the Asia Times, described Baitullah Mehsud
as a physically small man, with diabetes.
Baitullah Mehsud was born in the early 1970s in Landi Dhok
village in the Bannu District of the NWFP, which lies some distance
from the Mehsud tribe's base in the South
Waziristan Agency. He hailed from the Broomi Khel side of the
Shabi Khel sub-tribe of the Mehsud and was one of five
He avoided media attention and refused to be photographed in
adherence with his religious beliefs. He never finished formal
schooling although he has received some instruction in a madrassa.
As a young madrassa student, Baitullah would often travel into
Afghanistan to assist the Taliban in its implementation of Sharia.
He emerged as a major tribal leader soon after the 2004 death of
In a ceremony attended by five leading Taliban commanders,
including Mullah Dadullah, Baitullah was appointed Mullah Omar's
governor of the Mehsud area.
After Nek Muhammad's death, Abdullah Mehsud and Baitullah Mehsud
both vied for dominance of the Pakistani Taliban. When Abdullah
died in a raid by Pakistani security forces and later his successor
perished in a bomb explosion, Qari Zain and other members of Abdullah's
faction suspected that Baitullah played a role in the attacks. The
rivalry continued after Zainuddin obtained leadership of Abdullah's
Relationship with Abdullah
Mehsud, a Taliban leader who was among the first captives set
free from Guantanamo, has been
described as Baitullah's brother.
Other sources have asserted that they were clansmen or merely
Islam Online reports that Baitullah
suspected that Abdullah was a double agent.
Mehsud entered into a ceasefire with Pakistani authorities on 8
During the meeting at Sara rogha, the Pakistani military agreed to
withdraw its troops from areas under Baitullah's control. The
removal did not include the paramilitary Frontier Corps, consisting mostly of
fellow Pashtuns. In exchange, Baitullah's followers would not
attack government officials, impede development projects or allow
foreign militants to operate within their territory.
Mehsud was offered US$20 million for his cooperation in the
ceasefire. He declined the money and told Pakistani authorities
that they should use the pay-out to "compensate families who had
suffered during the military operation".
The ceasefire agreement ended in July 2005 when after accusing the
government of reneging on the deal, Baitullah resumed attacks on
By 2006, Baitullah Mehsud's growing influence in South
Waziristan led terrorism analysts to label him as "South
Waziristan's Unofficial Amir".
An official in the Northwest Frontier Constabulary described his
Baitullah's lashkar (army) is very organised. He has divided
it into various units and assigned particular tasks to each unit.
One of the units been tasked to kill people who are pro-government
and pro-US or who support the US occupation of Afghanistan. The
last person to be killed was Malik Arsallah Khan, chief of the
Khuniakhel Wazir tribe, who was killed on 22 February in Wana (in
In June 2006 Taliban-aligned Waziri tribes began negotiating
another ceasefire with Pakistani forces.
In a January 2007 interview with the BBC Urdu Service, Baitullah
extolled the virtues of jihad against foreigners and advocated
taking the fight to the U.S. and to Britain.
After the siege of Lal Masjid in July
Baitullah turned his forces against the Pakistani state.
In December 2007, Mehsud was declared the first leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban
In February 2008, Mehsud announced that he had agreed to another
ceasefire with the government of Pakistan although the Pakistani
military claimed that operations against Mehsud's forces continued.
New York Times, however, reported that anonymous
high-level officials in the Pakistani government confirmed the
In April Baitullah circulated a pamphlet that ordered his followers
not to undertake any attacks inside Pakistan due to ongoing peace
In July 2008, Baitullah issued a statement that threatened to
take action against the government if NWFP leaders did not step down within five
NWFP parliamentary leaders promptly refused.
Rumors of death in September
Various news media sources reported the death of Baitullah
Mehsud on 30 September 2008 at the age of 34 due to kidney
Many of his close associates, including his aide, his doctor and a
Taliban spokesman, vehemently denied the rumors. According to the
spokesman, Mehsud was "fit and well." Mehsud's doctor also said he
had spoken with him after the rumors of his death.
The rumors proved to be false.
Mehsud entered a second marriage in November 2008.
Mehsud's first wife bore his four daughters and he may have hoped
his second wife, "the daughter of an influential cleric,"
Ikramuddin Mehsud, would bear him a son.
In February 2009, senior Taliban leaders Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul
Bahadur and Maulvi
Nazir put aside their differences in an effort to refocus
against a common enemy. Nazir had previously feuded with Baitullah
for his sheltering of Uzbek militants whom
Nazir had fought to evict from South Waziristan.
As a result of the February agreement, Maulvi Nazir ended support
for Qari Zainuddin Mehsud, who the Daily
Times described as the "self-appointed successor of ...
Abdullah Mehsud." Zainuddin's group then allied with a group led by
another militant, Turkestan Bhittani.
On 27 March 2009, Pakistan's Daily Times reported that
Baitullah Mehsud's group was engaged in a dispute with Qari
Zainuddin's group for control of South Waziristan.
Both groups had distributed pamphlets leveling accusations against
the other groups' leader. Qari Zainuddin stated that Baitullah's
group was not practicing jihad because Islam forbids suicide
attacks. Baitullah's pamphlet claimed that the slain Abdullah had
been a government puppet and Qari Zainuddin was a traitor to Islam
and to the Mehsud tribe.
The rivalry culminated on 23 June 2009, when a gunman shot and
killed Zainuddin in Dera Ismail Khan. The gunman had served as one
of his bodyguards and after the incident was suspected to be
On 28 June 2009 the Pakistani government announced a reward of
Rs.50,000,000 for information that
leads to the capture, dead or alive, of Baitullah. The bounty
coincided with a previous offer from the United States, which
On the night of August 5, 2009, while he was staying with his
second wife at his father-in-law's house, a U.S. drone attacked the
premises. According to The
Times, it may have been his desire to father a son that
ultimately led to his demise.
His death was announced on August 6, 2009 by Pakistani media
based on an unofficial interview with Shah
Mehmood Qureshi. Two of his followers, Maulana Meraj and Hakimullah
Mehsud, denied the report the following day, dismissing it as
"rumors" intended to negatively impact the Taliban's speed of
jihad. They suggested that Baitullah had gone into hiding and
isolation as a part of a strategy. Hakimullah added that meetings
of Taliban officials in Dir and surroundings are proceeding as
usual "to make worth of their abilities and to discuss other plans
which he called 'war game plans'." These reports have been followed
by several telephone conversations between AP reporters
with Qari Hussain,
Maulvi Umar and Hakimullah Mehsud to deny
and to claim he had been ill, perhaps gravely, for several months
or had been "busy on the battlefield."
Hakimullah indicated that soon a videotape would be released as a
proof of his statements.
After his capture on August 18, Maulvi Omar retracted his previous
statements and confirmed that Baitullah had indeed perished in the
missile strike. On
August 20, U.S. President Barack Obama stated "We took out
[Baitullah] Mehsud" in a radio address. On
August 25, both Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman confirmed to
BBC and AP correspondents that Baitullah had indeed perished on 23
August from injuries sustained in the missile strike.
The attack is part of the CIA's campaign using unmanned aerial
vehicles in the region by the agency's Special Activities
missile strikes targeting Mehsud territory in South Waziristan
became more common after June 2009 when Pakistan, while having been
publicly critical of the missile strikes, declared a military
offensive against Mehsud.
incidents attributed to Baitullah Mehsud
A September 2007 report from the United Nations attributed almost 80% of
suicide bombings in Pakistan to Baitullah.
Pakistani officials traced an estimated 90% of suicide and militant
attacks within Pakistan throughout the 2007–2009 period to his
South Waziristan stronghold.
September 2007 Rawalpindi
Preliminary investigations concerning the September 2007
bombings in Rawalpindi note that Mehsud is the primary suspect
behind the attacks.
A 18 December 2005 report stated that Baitullah Mehsud, Abdullah Mehsud
and Yaldeshev were the subject of a
Authorities said they believed that the militants were short of
ammunition and would be captured soon.
On 28 December 2007 the Pakistan government claimed that it had
strong evidence regarding Baitullah Mehsud as the man behind the assassination of former
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007. The
Pakistani government released a transcript it asserted was from a
conversation between Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Sahib (literally
] According to the transcript Maulvi Sahib claimed
credit for the attack, Baitullah Mehsud asked who carried it out,
and was told, "There were Saeed, the second was Badarwala Bilal and
Ikramullah was also there."
The translation released from Agence France
Presse differed slightly from the translation from the Associated
] According to the transcripts Baitullah Mehsud
says he is at, "Anwar Shah's house", in Makeen or Makin. The Agence
France Presse transcript identifies Makeen as a town in South
Waziristan. Subsequently, both Agence France Presse and NDTV released an official denial by
Mehsud's spokesman in which he said that Mehsud had no involvement
in the attack, that the transcript was "a drama", that it would
have been "impossible" for militants to penetrate the security
cordon around Bhutto, and that her death was a "tragedy" which had
left Mehsud "shocked".
Mehsud's spokesman was quoted as saying: "I strongly deny it.
Tribal people have their own customs. We don't strike women."
In an address to the nation on 2 January 2008, Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf said that he believed
Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud were prime suspects in the
assassination of Bhutto.
On 18 January 2008, The Washington Post reported
that the CIA has
concluded that Mehsud was behind the Bhutto assassination.
"Offering the most definitive public assessment by a U.S.
intelligence official, Michael V. Hayden
said Bhutto was killed by fighters allied with Mehsud, a tribal
leader in northwestern Pakistan, with support from al-Qaeda's
U.S. President George W. Bush then placed Mr. Mehsud on
"a classified list of militant leaders whom the C.I.A. and American
commandos were authorized to capture or kill."
March 2009 Lahore
police academy attack
In telephone interviews with news media Mehsud claimed
responsibility for the 30 March 2009 attack on the police
training academy in Lahore. He
told the BBC that the attack was in
retaliation for continued missile strikes from American drones for which the Pakistani
government shared responsibility. In the same interview Mehsud
claimed two other attacks: a March 25 attack on an Islamabad police station
and a 30 March suicide attack on a military convoy near Bannu.
April 2009 Binghamton
Although the FBI later completely refuted that he had any
involvement in the incident, Mehsud claimed responsibility for the
shootings in Binghamton, New York,
on Friday 13 April. 13 people were killed in the shooting, after
which the attacker committed suicide. In a telephone interview,
Mehsud reportedly said: "I accept responsibility. They were my men.
I gave them orders in reaction to US drone attacks." Mehsud made
this claim despite the fact that the gunman in the shootings was
alone and of Vietnamese
nationality and had stated other motives in his last
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|The Taliban movement branch in Waziristan, approximately