Reports that the South Waziristan Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone attack yesterday was met with derision by Hakimullah Mehsud. “Ridiculous lies” he said. But reports are mixed and it seems the truth may favor that Baitullah met his end. The news is that Hakimullah (Hakeemullah) Mehsud is also dead today in a quest to take the position of power once held by Baitullah Mehsud. See update 8-25-09 below.
Hakimullah Mehsud was not yet 30 years old but as deputy to Baitullah Mehsud (Mehsud is a tribal name) and the leader of the Fidayeenal Islam, he planned to take Baitullah’s place. Powerful and influential though the young man was, perhaps it was not to be. During a meeting (Shura or council meeting) to choose the new leader, unconfirmed but numerous reports say that Hakimullah and another leader, Wali–ur–Rehman, broke into a gunfight. Some reports say that both men are dead and others that only Hakimullah is dead.
South Asian News Agency (SANA) is reporting both men are dead. Saying the men exchanged “hot words:”
As a result Commander Wali Ur Rehman opened fire on Hakeemullah Mehsud leaving him dead on the spot. In the clash Wali Ur Rehman was also killed by his rivals.
GEO Television reports that Hakimullah was “appointed” as Baitullah Mehsud’s replacement but an “armed clash” ensued and both men died.
From the TimesOnlineUK, no confirmation yet of the deaths of the two successors:
Last night a gun battle erupted between Mufti Wali Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud, two of the rivals to succeed Mehsud. The Pakistan government reported that one of them was killed in the shootout.
Two men identifying themselves as Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali Rehman called media yesterday and said something like, hey guys we’re still alive. Neither of us killed the other, and our brother Baitullah Mehsud didn’t die when you said he did. He died just a couple of days ago.
Hakimullah seems to have the tribal leadership with Baitullah’s demise. There’s nothing like choosing a hero to lead the followers, and Hakimullah became an icon when the planned the deaths of the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore and the bombing of the Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar. What a guy – “Chief of the Terrorists.”