Magazine article Newsweek

Mehsud's Pals in High Places

Magazine article Newsweek

Mehsud's Pals in High Places

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Hosenball

Baitullah Mehsud, the brazen jihadist operating along the violent, lawless border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has a curious gift for escape. On several occasions over the past couple of years, security forces in Pakistan have launched operations to kill or capture him, and each time he has vanished without incident. Based in South Waziristan, where he heads a group known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban, Mehsud has made a name for himself since late 2007 as one of the militants' most ambitious leaders. Increasingly emboldened, Mehsud claimed creditalast week for a deadlyaparamilitary assault on a policeaacademy near Lahore and threatened the White House, telling the Associated Press: "Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world." U.S. officials generally dismiss the threat--Mehsud is not believed to possess either the resources or the global reach to pull off such an attack--but his elusiveness suggests that he has friends in high places.

Two counterterrorism experts familiar with official U.S. government reporting, who each requested anonymity when discussing sensitive matters, said that officials in both Washington and Islamabad suspect Mehsud has contacts inside the ISI, Pakistan's inscrutable and sprawling intelligence agency. Mehsud's contacts, the theory goes, are tipping him off before Pakistani troops can pounce. According to a Pakistani source who follows the issue, high-level American officials have shared with their counterparts in Islamabad some intelligence indicating that renegade ISI elements helped Mehsud's group train for the December 2007 assassination of Pakistan's former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, whose widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is now the country's president. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.