Via the Jawas, CNN spreads the good word. Mastermind of Bhutto’s assassination and commander of some 20,000 Taliban fighters in Waziristan, making him the biggest power player in the world’s filthiest jihadi hive, he’s probably the biggest score since Mullah Dadullah, the “Taliban Zarqawi,” went the way of the original Zarqawi. Although, given how things have deterioriated since then in Afghanistan and Pakistan — and not just in the tribal areas, either — I wonder how much opportunity this will really give us. To see how bad it’s gotten, swallow hard and click here. “My brother, my dear”?

Incidentally, doesn’t Osama have renal problems, too? What is it with these turds and their kidneys?

An unnamed Islamabad-based source with connections within the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan said Mehsud died about 1 a.m. Wednesday. Military officials in the field confirmed to CNN that Mehsud had died.

Earlier reports said the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan was ill and was expected to die within a day. Mehsud is said to have succumbed to kidney failure and was believed to be about 34 years old.

Mehsud’s death leaves a power vacuum within the Mehsud tribe and the Pakistani Taliban, analysts say. Since there was no second in command of the Mehsud tribe, tribal splits are expected.

Here’s a quick and dirty profile from CBS in March dubbing him the next Bin Laden because of his designs on the west. He already had the infrastructure in place to churn out suicide bombers; the next step was to teach infiltration and expand his reach. Whether his successors share that ambition or whether they want to concentrate on NATO for now, I guess we’ll see.

Update: Roggio delivers some industrial-strength heart-ache.

A Pakistani source contacted an official at Geo TV, who said there is “no substantiation” to the claim. The reporter who provided the information to Geo TV “had nothing to back this claim up,” the source told The Long War Journal.

US intelligence believes the rumors are part of a “denial and deception tactic,” which is designed to throw off the military and intelligence off of Baitullah’s trail. With operations underway in Bajaur, Swat and other regions, Baitullah can stay under the radar of intelligence agencies if they believe he is dead.

“It is his best interest for everyone to think he is dying,” a senior US military intelligence source familiar with the fight against the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan told The Long War Journal…

If Baituallah had indeed died, the preparations for his funeral and the change in command for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan would have been detected, sources state. “Baitullah’s stature would ensure his funeral would be massive,” a source stated, while the Pakistani Taliban would quickly move to replace him, particularly with operations ongoing throughout Northwestern Pakistan.