Biiiiig fish, if true. Word of the drone strike broke yesterday with reports that a missile had hit his father-in-law’s house, killing one of Mehsud’s wives and an unidentified second person. A family member swore that Mehsud himself wasn’t there, but ABC’s got a hot lead:
“There is strong indication” that Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone strike Wednesday, a senior administration official told ABC News…
A Pakistani official confirmed the report but said they are awaiting 100 percent confirmation and DNA tests.
U.S. officials say they do not have physical evidence yet but there are “indicators” and they are hopeful about obtaining DNA tests. A CIA drone targeted the house of Mehsud’s second father-in-law, Akramud Din, Wednesday.
I e-mailed Bill Roggio, who says he hasn’t heard anything from his sources and that the Taliban would likely have announced this already if it were true. This wouldn’t be the first false alarm about this turd either; read my post on the last one, from last September, to see just how big a fish he is/was. Pakistan’s made killing him a top priority since mid-June, after the Taliban started to encroach on Islamabad. The drone strike that killed 60 jihadis at a Taliban funeral eight days later was likely aimed at him, as of course was the strike on his father-in-law’s home.
While we wait for more news, here’s Obama counterterror czar John Brennan declaring the global war on terror over and the “war on Al Qaeda” officially begun. Where Iran or Hezbollah or Hamas fits into the new matrix, I don’t know yet. My guess is that Brennan doesn’t either. Click the image to watch.
Update: Whether Mehsud is dead or not, the fact that he’s under such intense fire these days shows how much power Pakistani intelligence has over jihadist kingpins. This filthbag ran around unmolested for years; then, suddenly, after threatening Islamabad this year, his whereabouts became sufficiently well known that he ended up dodging missiles every other week and might finally be dead less than two months after Pakistan went after him in earnest. I wonder how long it would take to dismantle Al Qaeda if ISI jumped into the effort with both feet. A year? Six months?
Update: Roggio is forever breaking my heart.
“Baitullah is alive,” one official old The 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.”…
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…
The Taliban have not issued a statement to confirm or deny Baitullah’s death. In the past, the Taliban and al Qaeda have released martyrdom statements upon the death of their senior leaders.
Reports of senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in Pakistan have been highly unreliable. In the past, Al Qaeda leaders Ayman al Zawahiri, Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, Abu Obaidullah Al Masri, Adam Gadahn, Ibn Amin, and Rashid Rauf have been reported killed in strikes, but these men have later resurfaced. Sa’ad bin Laden was reported killed is now thought to be alive. And Abu Khabab al Masri was reported killed several times before he finally was killed during a July 2008 strike.