Aug 07 2009

Baitullah Bites The Dust – Or Not?

Published by at 8:43 am under Bin Laden/GWOT

We finally took out a key, top level Taliban/al Qaeda enemy with one of our predator drones:

Pakistan said Friday it believed that wanted Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack, which if confirmed would score a coup in the US-led fight against Islamist militants.

The death of the notorious commander could deal a heavy blow to the sizeable Taliban movement commanded by Mehsud, who has a five-million-dollar US bounty on his head after Washington branded him “a key Al-Qaeda facilitator”.

US and Pakistani officials accused Mehsud of masterminding the 2007 assassination of ex-Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and he has been blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people in bomb attacks over two years.

Senior officials in Pakistan’s powerful security establishment who supervise operations in Mehsud’s Waziristan stronghold said the warlord was dead, but the government said it was seeking verification.

If this holds up, this is a huge event, and could lead to other high value targets. What is important to understand is that these precisions strikes rely HEAVILY on accurate and near real time intelligence. To get an actionable lead on a figure who must be doing all he can to avoid being zeroed in on is a major step forward. There are supposedly two other targets the US desperately wants eliminated in the region: Aymin al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden.

With any luck we are hot on their trail and the same intelligence sources may be in a position to give us the timely information needed to finally bring justice to the top masterminds behind the 9-11 massacres.

Update: The Long War Journal has throws some cold water on the news:

Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud was not killed in yesterday’s airstrike in South Waziristan, US intelligence officials toldThe Long War Journal.

“Baitullah is alive,” one official oldThe Long War Journal. “We’re aware of the reports that he might have been killed and we are looking into it, but we don’t believe he was killed.”

The late night airstrike on a compound operated by Ikramuddin Mehsud, Baitullah’s father-in-law, in the village of Zanghra in the mountains near Baitullah’s home town of Makeen, killed Baitullah’s second wife and two other Taliban fighters. One of Baitullah’s two brothers was also reported to have been killed.

Witnesses on the scene immediately said that Baitullah was not among those killed. He reportedly visited his wife but left an hour prior to the attack.

As I said, the key to these kinds of strikes is timely intelligence. While another miss would be a disappointment, the fact is we are getting much closer to him and others. The only question I have right now is to wonder how long it took to get authorization to strike, and if it was delayed where did the delay come from (did it come from the White House?). If we have returned to the pre 9-11 days of paralysis by analysis (i.e., consultation with lawyers) we will never hit these high value enemies, and they will in turn be alive to plot more carnage.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Baitullah Bites The Dust – Or Not?”

  1. kathie says:

    Bill Roggio usually knows the truth. He might be wrong, but I doubt it.

  2. AJStrata says:

    Kathie – agreed. That is why I posted it because 9 times out 10 he has the best information.

  3. kathie says:

    ………and we know that the Pakistanis publish death that usually prove to not be true. Got it AJ.

  4. MerlinOS2 says:

    With so many false alarms in the past I now invoke the 36 hours rule out of habit on these kinds of reports.

    It isn’t going to change the outcome.

  5. kathie says:

    Fighting erupts between Taliban rivals (Allah running short on virgins)
    08/08/2009 9:22:11 AM PDT · by milwguy · 1 replies · 30+ views
    dawn ^ | 8/7/2009 | dawn
    The Pakistani government has received reports that shooting broke out between two rivals for the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, the interior minister said on Saturday. ‘The infighting was between Wali-ur-Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud,’ Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters. ‘We have information that one of them has been killed. Who was killed we wil be able to say later after confirming.’ Pakistani news channels were carrying unconfirmed reports that Hakimullah Mehsud had been killed at the meeting to decide who would succeed slain leader Baitullah Mehsud in Waziristan, a northwest tribal region bordering Afghanistan.