Baitullah Mehsud: The Making of a Terror State

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 4 months ago

We have already covered the evolution of the Taliban from locally-, or perhaps nationally-oriented fighters, interested only in Afghanistan and the tribal and frontier regions to one of more global focus, a danger to Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond (Nicholas Schmidle calls this new breed of Taliban the Next-Gen Taliban. Schmidle hit his target so hard and directly with his work that the Pakistani government kicked him out of the country after publishing on the Next-Gen Taliban).

Six month ago we were discussing Baitullah Mehsud being the most powerful man in Waziristan, and two months ago we saw Mehsud so bold as to go on screen discussing his plans for jihad not only in Pakistan, but in Afghanistan and beyond.

Also concerning Pakistan’s anemic response to Mehsud, we discussed the plans to turn other Taliban “commanders” against him, and how this plot failed within a week of being hatched (as we predicted). The move to hijack the Taliban vanished into smoke, said one well-connected militant. Moreover, as if Mehsud needed any more endorsement, as a follow up to this pitiful Pakistani effort to undermine Baitullah, Mullah Omar’s delegates, including Ustad Yasir and Qari Ziaur Rahman, issued a strict warning that such intra-Taliban bloodletting was not acceptable and that in the future all fighters would work under one umbrella with no stand-alone activities tolerated. This is a clear message to the rivals of Baitullah.

As an al Qaeda – Taliban franchise, Baitullah Mehsud came out of this exchange clearly more than the most powerful man in Waziristan. He is now unparalleled in his power and authority over the region and its inhabitants. The Asia Times gives us a clearer picture of the dizzying pace of events and Pakistan’s reaction (extensive citation necessary).

He is reclusive like Taliban leader Mullah Omar and popular like al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, and he pledges his allegiance to both.

This is Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, whom the Pakistani security agencies have tried their best to engage, but he remains defiant, so much so that he is even suspected of being an agent for India’s Research and Analysis intelligence agency.

Baitullah, who operates in the South Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, has frequently fallen out with the Afghan Taliban for directing his jihadis against the Pakistani security forces rather than sending them to Afghanistan.

We have already discussed the the notion that Mullah Mohammed Omar disavowed Baitullah because of his fighting within Pakistan against the regime (showing that this view was wrongheaded), with a spokesman of Omar reporting that “We have no concern with anybody joining or leaving the Taliban movement in Pakistan. Ours is an Afghan movement and we as a matter of policy do not support militant activity in Pakistan,” the Taliban spokesman said. “Had he been an Afghan we would have expelled him the same way we expelled Mansoor Dadullah for disobeying the orders of Mullah Omar. But Baitullah is a Pakistani Talib and whatever he does is his decision. We have nothing to do with it,” Mr Mujahid maintained.

Omar doesn’t have the power to “expel” Baitullah Mehsud from the Taliban movement, and the idea that Mehsud works for India is preposterous. Continuing:

Initially, this pleased American and European intelligence agencies as he turned the tide from the Afghan battlefield to Pakistan. But now Baitullah is viewed with extreme suspicion as he has proved to be a man who always achieves what he sets out to do, and jihadis from around the world are flooding into his camps to be trained for global jihad. This in turn has allayed the fears of the Afghan Taliban, who realize they will be ensured a smooth supply of fighters to Afghanistan.

For these reasons, Baitullah is now a marked man.

Over the past few months, Pakistani security agencies and coalition leaders from Afghanistan have shared intelligence in an attempt to track down Baitullah and pinpoint where he gets his resources, but he remains elusive.

All the same, this has not diminished his effectiveness.

Last week, for instance, security forces were sent to the Hangu district of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) after the government announced it was reneging on peace deals and launching an all-out offensive against militants in NWFP.

Mehsud called a meeting in South Waziristan of all powerful commanders from the Pakistani tribal agencies and announced that the minute any attack was mounted anywhere against militants, offensives would be launched against the Pakistani security forces in the tribal areas as well as on the federal capital, Islamabad, and on the leadership and allies of the leading party in the ruling coalition, the Pakistan People’s Party.

Further, President Pervez Musharraf and his associates and anyone connected with the storming in Islamabad last year of the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), which was pro-Taliban, would also be targeted.

Subsequently, the Pakistani security agencies advised the government to immediately withdraw the forces. The reasoning was that Pakistan could withstand pressure from the United States to act against militants, but it could not win a showdown with Baitullah. A high-level meeting presided over by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani agreed.

The problem now is to hunt down Baitullah, who is also wanted in connection with the assassination last year of former premier Benazir Bhutto and other attacks.

Using Baitullah’s differences with some regional commanders – Baitullah comes from the Mehsud, one of the four sub-tribes of the Waziri – Pakistan tried to erect a web of opposition around him, but none survived. The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also tried to sow seeds of enmity against Baitullah, without success.

Haji Omar, once a powerful chief of the Taliban in South Waziristan and also a Wazir, tried to challenge Baitullah’s command, but he now lives in exile in North Waziristan, without forces or resources.

Haji Nazeer, another Wazir, who runs the biggest Pakistani Taliban fighting network in Afghanistan, also tried to confront Baitullah, at the behest of the security forces, but he failed. Last month, Baitullah drove out all tribes related to Haji Nazeer from South Waziristan.

Now that Baitullah is unchallenged in South Waziristan, he aims to broaden his network. He has raised his presence in neighboring North Waziristan and the biggest network of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Haqqani faction, has no choice but to side with Baitullah.

The Swat Valley’s Mullah Fazlullah has also announced Baitullah as his chief mentor, and after wiping out the ISI-backed Shah group from Mohmand Agency, Baitullah’s men are calling the shots in Orakzai Agency, Mohamand Agency and Darra Adam Khail in NWFP.

With each consolidation of Baitullah’s power, Islamabad, along with its Western allies, becomes all the more convinced that he has to be eliminated, otherwise there can never be any sustained military operations against militants in the tribal areas. His demise would also lead to the disintegration of the Taliban’s and al-Qaeda’s networks in the tribal areas, leaving only weakened stand-alone outfits.

Baitullah is well aware that he is now public enemy number one. A senior Pakistani affiliate of al-Qaeda, now close to Baitullah, told Asia Times Online, “It is not Baitullah Mehsud’s style to hide when people sniff around him. He will open the floodgates of offensives and if there is a conspiracy between Islamabad and the political and military leadership, they will taste Baitullah’s response.”

In February of 2008 the Jamestown Foundation was reporting on the Taliban being a factious organization. This is no longer the case. The consolidation of Taliban power is essentially complete, and Baitullah Mehsud is at the head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, friend of Mullah Omar, franchise of al-Qaeda, and protecting both while he is also their protectorate.

Baitullah is much smarter than his rivals (and also much more brutal), as well as being smarter than his colleague Mullah Omar. He has cleverly crafted a situation in which his power is now unchallenged, fighters are flooding in from all over the world to join his movement, and he is so powerful that he can strike fear directly into the Pakistani government with his hit list. The frontier region is now a breakaway state, with Baitullah Mehsud at the helm.

  • Warbucks

    This analysis is light years ahead of the US voter who still associates OBL as the offensive evil head of the snake. Capture the snake, put it in a glass box in the International Court of the Hague, end of problem.

    Not really the end of the problem, but for US politics it’ll do for now.


You are currently reading "Baitullah Mehsud: The Making of a Terror State", entry #1215 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Baitullah Mehsud,Featured,Taliban,Tehrik-i-Taliban and was published July 27th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (677)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (31)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (7)
Ammunition (23)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (77)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (44)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (26)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (51)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (17)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (7)
Body Armor (17)
Books (2)
Border War (7)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (27)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (2)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (8)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (215)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (126)
Department of Homeland Security (13)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (6)
Donald Trump (1)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (3)
Featured (176)
Federal Firearms Laws (17)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (509)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (40)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (430)
Guns (1,008)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (47)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (378)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (40)
Islamists (65)
Israel (18)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (80)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (3)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (49)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (241)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (27)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (23)
Mexico (30)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (3)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (15)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (17)
NATO (15)
Navy (21)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (217)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (31)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Pizzagate (10)
Police (226)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (261)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (108)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (74)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (28)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (162)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (24)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (2)
Survival (12)
SWAT Raids (53)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (92)
Thanksgiving (6)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (13)
TSA Ineptitude (11)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (13)
U.S. Sovereignty (15)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (3)
Uncategorized (42)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (211)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (3)
War Reporting (18)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (18)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2016 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.