Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pakistan Taliban Appoints New Chief - Hakimullah Mehsud

Via BBC -

Pakistan's Taliban movement has named a new leader, its deputy head Maulvi Faqir Mohammed has told the BBC.

He said Hakimullah Mehsud, a close associate of ex-leader Baitullah Mehsud, had been unanimously appointed at a meeting in northern Pakistan.

Pakistani and US officials believe Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in early August.

However the Taliban continue to insist that he is still alive, despite their decision to appoint a new leader.

Hakimullah Mehsud, who is in his late 20s, is a military chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) organisation formed by Beitullah Mehsud in an effort to unite the various factions under one umbrella.

He controls an estimated 2,000 fighters in the Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber regions.

The announcement by Maulvi Faqir Mohammed follows weeks of speculation, and rumours of shootouts and disarray in Taliban ranks.

Mr Mohammed says Baitullah Mehsud has been seriously ill and wanted to see his successor appointed in his lifetime.

But the BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad says many will see the naming of a new leader as confirmation that Baitullah Mehsud is dead.

Our correspondent says Hakimullah Mehsud is a young commander in Baitullah's own image, and is reported to be equally ruthless.

Some believe he could be an even bigger threat to Pakistan, and to foreign troops across the border in Afghanistan, she adds.

No comments:

Post a Comment