Baitullah Mehsud, the neo-Taliban leader in Pakistan, has replaced Osama bin Laden as the West's deadliest Islamist threat and public enemy number one and the most deadly threat to the West. The neo-Taleban groups in the tribal areas of Pakistan could become a global menace, said Nigel Inkster, former deputy chief of the British Intelligence Service, MI6.
Mahsud who is suspected of masterminding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, was the most significant non-state threat to global security to have emerged in the past year, said Inkster, speaking at the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
He said international terrorism remained a growth industry and the new generation of the Taliban had earned the dubious honour of enabling it to rise even faster than the earlier one. He revealed that neo-Taliban under the leadership of Mehsud were also suspected of being involved in the terrorist plots in Britain and Spain.
A diplomat on assurnace of anonymity told Hindustan Times that India, in particular, should " keep an eye out and monitor Mehsud's moves. He could send squads to Kashmir or any other part as India is friendly with the Karzai regime."
Inkster's view that Mehsud was a greater threat than Bin Laden was endorsed by Peter Neuman, Director of Centre of Defence Studies. " Going by the scale of his operations against the West and his reach and capability, Mehsud is really a greater threat," he said. But Osama with his high-profile, 'spiritual' image was a greater force in mobilising Islamic hardliners.
Lawrence Saez, member of the International Politics Faculty of Law at the School for Oriental and African Studies, felt that with the de-centralisation of Al-Qaeda, Mahsud was indeed a bigger threat. His proximity to Pakistan gave him the chance to send squads anywhere in the world.
Britain's security and intelligence agencies admitted they were deeply concerned about potential links between individuals in Britain attracted to violence and extreme Islamism and groups based in the tribal areas of South Waziristan.