Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mahsud, Pakistan’s most wanted terrorist and a staunch Al Qaeda ally, was killed in an American missile strike, a Pakistani government minister confirmed today, dealing a severe blow to militants who have been the architects of some of Pakistan’s worst terrorist attacks in recent years.
Mahsud’s death represents a significant victory in the bid by Pakistan and the U.S. to eliminate the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Mahsud, believed to be 35, is aligned with Al Qaeda and is thought to be responsible for dozens of suicide bombing attacks, beheadings and killings throughout Pakistan. [continued…]
Mr. Mehsud, a diabetic in his late 30s, had been sick for some time and had come to the house of his father-in-law, Mulvi Ikramuddin, in the village of Zanghara. Mr. Ikramuddin’s brother, a medical practitioner, was treating him, the Taliban fighters said.
He had been appointed in 2004 by the Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, as the top commander for his tribe, but had a reputation for fairness and modesty, and had risen through the ranks assuming leadership over other factions of the Taliban in Pakistan, including the Wazir tribe.
The apparent death also raises questions for the future of ordinary Pashtuns, the ethnic group that predominates in the tribal areas, the overwhelming majority of whom do not support militancy or Mr. Mehsud directly.
A prominent member of the Mehsud tribe in Karachi, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was afraid of trouble from the military and the Taliban alike, said taking a public position on Mr. Mehsud’s death was a delicate balancing act and that Pashtuns were watching nervously to see who will come out on top: Pakistan’s military or a successor of Mr. Mehsud. [continued…]
Most Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan, which President Barack Obama has made a priority, dispatching tens of thousands of troops to fight a growing insurgency, a poll has found.
In a new low in public support for the war effort, 54 per cent of respondents said they opposed the US-led fight against the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies, with only 41 per cent in favour in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.
The survey came as violence hit an all-time high in the nearly eight-year-old war, with 76 foreign troops killed in July, including 45 US troops ahead of elections on August 20. [continued…]