“Mehsud had built a vast financial empire on drug and weapon smuggling, donations from al-Qaeda and wealthy Arabs.”
More on this story. Again, opportunity knocks for Pakistan to press the advantage against the Taliban while they are surprised and disoriented. It is also a tremendous chance to disrupt the Mehsud syndicate and gather evidence about its sources of funding. Otherwise, the Pakistani Taliban will return to business as usual before long. “Pakistan Taliban fight for control of dead leader’s millions,” by Dean Nelson and Emal Khan for the Telegraph, August 10:
Mehsud, who took the Taliban’s jihad into the heart of Pakistan’s major cities with suicide bomb attacks, is believed to have been killed last week in a US drone attack on his father-in-law’s home in south Waziristan.
Pakistani government officials and some Taliban sources said Mehsud, his father-in-law, wife, brother and seven of his fighters had been killed in the attack in the remote village of Zagara. Tribal rivals said 40 of Mehsud’s fighters had also died in the attack.
Reports of a violent struggle to seize control of his empire emerged over the weekend after a pro-government Taliban leader claimed two rival commanders had been killed in a shootout at a meeting of senior figures to choose his successor.
According to Haji Turkistan Betani, Wali Rahman and Hakimullah Mehsud, were killed at the meeting in the Sra Rogha district of South Waziristan, while the group’s notorious head of its school of suicide bombers, Qari Hussein, was seriously injured.
Betani’s account was challenged yesterday by a respected local journalist who told The Daily Telegraph that Wali Rahman had called him on Sunday evening to deny there had been a clash in the meeting. Alamgir, a Pushto-language journalist for a Peshawar-based radio station, said Rahman had denied Hakimullah Mehsud had been killed, but declined to comment on the fate of Baitullah Mehsud.
Hakimullah’s failure to issue his own statement has fuelled a widespread belief that, despite Rahman’s denial, he is dead, while Taliban sources say the two men had been bitter rivals before Baitullah Mehsud’s death. […]
Sources close to the local Taliban leadership said Wali Rahman will now be the favourite to take control of Baitullah Mehsud’s vast fortune.
They said Mehsud had built a vast financial empire on drug and weapon smuggling, donations from al-Qaeda and wealthy Arabs. Haulage and transport bosses paid substantial “tolls” while wealthy businessmen from Waziristan living in other Pakistani cities were warned their relatives would be beheaded if they did not pay up.