Taliban Terrorist Targets Washington
Baitullah Mehsud is confident about the success of his targeted assassinations. Before the 35-year-old Taliban commander in Pakistan sends out a death squad to murder an individual, rumor has it he sends the intended target a needle and thread to sew his own burial shroud. Those targeted under his command allegedly include a former head of state (Benizir Bhutto), pro-government tribal leaders, and Pakistani police, army, air force, and intelligence agency officials.
Cloistered, elusive and, until recently, unknown to most of the world, Mehsud's photograph on the Rewards for Justice website is just a black silhouette. Up until this week, Mehsud didn't give interviews or allow his picture to be taken. But on Monday, Mehsud switched tactics and telephoned the BBC, the Associated Press, and a local radio station called Dewa and vowed to attack Washington D.C. In doing so, the ambitious terror leader went as public as it gets.
"Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," Mehsud told an Associated Press reporter over the telephone. He didn't offer details but later told Dewa that the White House was his target.
Mehsud is angry that the U.S. is having equal if not greater success with its targeted assassinations -- in his own backyard. In the tribal region of northern Pakistan where he lives, Mehsud is the reigning warlord -- or at least he is supposed to be. According to Stratfor, a private intelligence forecasting company, "by some accounts, Mehsud [has] amassed an armed following numbering as high as 20,000 or even 30,000, and has dozens if not hundreds of trained suicide bombers at his disposal."
His deadly power became evident on Monday, when a suicide squad attacked the police academy in Lahore, killing at least 12 people including seven policemen. After an eight hour standoff, Pakistani commandos stormed the compound. Mehsud's terror operatives then blew themselves up. Of the attack, Mehsud told the BBC: "We wholeheartedly take responsibility for this attack and will carry out more such attacks in future." He called it "revenge for the [U.S.] drone attacks in Pakistan."
The Predator drone has taken out dozens of al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives in Pakistan's tribal areas. At least two Predator strikes targeted a safe house in Mehsud's hometown of Makeen, where he was believed to be hiding out in the third week of March (see Bill Roggio's reporting in the Long War Journal).