WASHINGTON: The United States slapped Hakimullah Mehsud, the chief of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with terrorism charges on Wednesday for his alleged role in the murder of seven Americans at a CIA base in Afghanistan.
The Justice Department move came as the State Department added the TTP to a blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations, which means members face asset freezes and travel bans.
The State Department also offered rewards of up to $5million each for information leading to Mehsud’s location and the location of Waliur Rehman, who is reportedly Mehsud’s current second-in-command.
“Hakimullah Mehsud, the self-proclaimed emir of the Pakistani Taliban, has been charged by criminal complaint for his alleged involvement in the murder of seven American citizens on December 30, 2009 at a US military base in Afghanistan,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
In a two-count complaint filed in US District Court in Washington, Mehsud was charged with conspiracy to murder Americans abroad and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against US citizens abroad. Daniel Benjamin, the ambassador at large for counter-terrorism, said Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), often made up of fertilizer and diesel fuel, fall into the category of weapons of mass destruction.
Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin who is said to have been a triple agent, blew himself up at the base in Khost, near the Pakistani border in the deadliest attack against the CIA since 1983.
In addition to the agents, Balawi also killed his Jordanian handler -- a top intelligence officer and member of the royal family. In addition to the Khost bombing, the United States has linked the TTP to a botched car bomb plot in New York’s Times Square in May and a deadly attack at the US consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan in April.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton designated the TTP as a foreign terrorist organisation on August 12, and it was formally added to the list when it was published on Wednesday in the Federal Register.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2010.
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