Hakeemullah Mehsud: The TTP commander who dodged drones

Mehsud had taken over the TTP in 2010.

Web Desk November 01, 2013
Hakeemullah Mehsud is believed to have been killed in a drone strike on Friday. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Hakeemullah Mehsud took over the Pakistani Taliban in August 2009 after a drone strike killed the previous leader, his mentor, Baitullah Mehsud.

Hailing from Dehra village of Kotkai South Waziristan, he belonged to the Ishangi, a sub-tribe of Mehsuds. His reign over the TTP not only saw the group transform into an umbrella group with a number of militant outfits working in tandem with the TTP. He also oversaw of immense bloodshed inside Pakistan by the TTP and groups associated with the TTP.

The TTP commander and his group is responsible for the death of innumerable civilians across Pakistan as well as many soldiers, and the TTP chief carries a $5 million United States government bounty on his head.

Back from the dead

The TTP chief has had a knack of surviving the strikes with at least two previous assassination attempts being claimed as successful, only for the long haired militant to defy the odds and make appearances, seemingly back from the dead.

The first of the drone strikes in which it was claimed the militant commander had been killed too place on January 14, 2010, when a drone fired two missiles at a compound in the Shaktoi area, where it was believed that Hakeemullah slept. But days later he issued an audio tape where he claimed that was not even in the area that was targeted.

Then again on January 15, 2012 reports surfaced that Mehsud had been killed in a strike three days before. However, this was again denied by the TTP and the militant commander made appearances in videos in subsequent months, dispelling notions surrounding him and his influence in the group.

While security sources claimed that he had been killed in a drone strike on Friday evening, a TTP spokesperson denied the report.

Media appearance

Media appearances for Mehsud were rare and far in between. He only seldom appeared in videos of militants and gave even fewer media interviews, especially on camera. His most recent on camera interview was in September by BBC after the Pakistan government had in an All Parties Conference agreed to hold talks with the militant group.

In that interview, Mehsud had listed a stop to drone strikes as one of the preconditions for talks. This point is believed to have been raised by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his meeting with US President Barack Obama in their Oval Office meeting in late October.


Arslan | 10 years ago | Reply

he never dodged the drones. drones always knew where he is, it was just now the americans decided to kill him. i have been to north waziristan for a year, drones cover the area 24/7 day and night. and TTP keep on doing their routine attacks while drones fly, why the drones donot kill them???? because they fund TTP. its all game. Drones can kill all of them in 1 day, only if they want them to be killed.... which they ll never want

The Failed Rebel | 10 years ago | Reply

@Asif: Seems like only few of us know the real deal. It's very amazing for people to not consider how Taliban keep getting wages, armor, weapons etc. The violent elements of Taliban are nothing but foreign funded elements by US, India etc. only to create and maintain instability in Baluchistan and KP. After all, if we start to develop the 2 provinces and start to exploit the resources there, we will be far ahead of most of the nations, we will pay off our loans and will be politically and economically independent. A nuclear Muslim state is a big threat ideologically to the other nations. If only we understand...

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