Saturday, August 22, 2009

Relative May Have Helped the CIA Find Baitullah Mehsud

Via (Pakistan) -

A “paid agent”, possibly a relative, helped signal the whereabouts of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s former chief Baitullah Mehsud to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), helping it take out the Taliban leader in a drone strike on August 5.

Officials and tribal sources told Daily Times on Saturday that the Taliban were holding Baitullah’s in-laws “hostage”.

The Taliban still deny Baitullah’s death but TTP deputy chief Faqeer Muhammad has named Hakeemullah Mehsud the new Taliban chief. “No new strategy was undertaken while hunting Baitullah. Agents pin-pointed the TTP chief’s position and the CIA took him out through a drone attack,” officials familiar with training agents for tracking down targets told Daily Times. “He (TTP chief) was simply not spotted through the powerful lens fixed on the drone, rather the complete set of procedures laid down for such missions was followed,” the officials said.

A belt wrapped above an agent’s waist carries two electronic chips, the officials said. “The agent pushes the first chip when he finds himself close to the target to intimate the satellite, which transfers the information to the control-room. The second chip is pushed only when the target is present and the agent has moved to a safer place. That is what when the drone is positioned and Hellfire missiles are fired,” officials explained. The Taliban confirmed they had executed a resident of Mardan on charges of spying for the CIA, one week after the August 5 drone attack. The killed man’s family said he had served Baitullah as his driver. The possible involvement of the killed TTP leader’s in-laws in giving away his position was highlighted in a report published by the BBC on Saturday, which said Baitullah’s father-in-law Maulana Ikramuddin, his son Ziauddin, brother Saeedullah and a nephew were in Taliban custody for the last few days.

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