ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has appeared in a new video issued months after his reported death, vowing revenge attacks on the United States, US monitoring groups said on Monday.
Mehsud threatened to retaliate against the United States within a month for the killing of Al-Qaeda militant leaders, in the nine-minute video allegedly made on April 4, after his supposed death in January.
"The time is very near when our fedayeen will attack the American states in the major cities," said Mehsud, who was seen flanked by two armed and masked men in the video released by the SITE and Intelcenter monitoring groups.
Mehsud was reported to have been killed in a US drone strike in northwestern Pakistan on January 14, but his militant group denied his death and Pakistani intelligence officials were quoted as saying last week that he had survived.
Mehsud, who took over leadership of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group last August, poured scorn on reports of his death, describing them as an "open lie and propaganda by the kuffar (non-believers)".
"Inshaallah (God willing) very soon in some days or a month's time, the Muslim ummah (world) will see the fruits of most successful attacks of our fedayeen in USA," Mehsud said.
Intelcenter, a US-based group that monitors militant websites, said its analysis indicated that the video was "credible" and that it had been issued by the TTP's media arm Umar Studio. Another video allegedly issued by the TTP on Sunday claimed it was behind an attempted car bombing in New York's Times Square at the weekend, but US officials have dismissed the claims.
"There is no evidence that this is tied in with Al-Qaeda or any other big terrorist organisation," New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said. If the TTP claim were authenticated, it would be the first attack by the militant group against a target in the United States, but Intelcenter cast doubt on its credibility as it was not issued on usual Islamist websites.
Mehsud assumed leadership of the TTP, which is blamed for the deaths of thousands of people in attacks across Pakistan, after his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in August last year. The January US missile attack was launched after Mehsud claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing by a Jordanian double agent on a US base in eastern Afghanistan in December that killed seven CIA agents. Islamabad has offered a reward of 50 million rupees (about 590,000 dollars) for information leading to the militant's capture, dead or alive.
Mehsud, believed to be aged about 30, said the TTP would attack the United States "for having martyred many of our great Muslim leaders including Baitullah Mehsud and many respected brothers from Al-Qaeda", SITE reported. "Our fedayeen have penetrated the terrorist America, we will give extremely painful blows to the fanatic America."
Mehsud also warned members of NATO and other allies to abandon the United States, telling them: "You will face even worse humiliation, destruction and defeat than America itself."
SITE also reported that an audio message from Mehsud allegedly recorded on April 19 and making similar threats against the United States was released on the Internet.
A Pentagon spokesman had said last week that it was unclear if Mehsud was dead or alive, but that he was no longer running the TTP. "I certainly have seen no evidence that the person you speak of is operational today, or is executing or exerting authority over the Pakistan Taliban as he once did," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. "I don't know if that reflects him being alive or dead but he clearly is not running the Pakistani Taliban anymore."
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