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Profile: Baitullah Mehsud

world Updated: Aug 07, 2009 12:29 IST

Baitullah Mehsud (b. 1974-Aug 2009) was a leading Taliban militant in Waziristan, Pakistan. He was the leader of the Taliban umbrella group, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, formed in 2007.

Born in the early 1970s in Landi Dhok village in the Bannu District of the NWFP, Baitullah Mehsud hailed from the Broomikhel side of the Shabikhel sub-tribe. Mehsud briefly attended a madrassa and never finished formal schooling.

In 2005, Mehsud became exceptionlly powerful. He made the Pakistan goverment enter into a ceasefire with him in 2005, which paid him $20 million. As a result, the Pakistani military withdrew its troops from regions under Baitullah's control and in turn Baitalluh's followers stopped attacking government officials and impede development projects or bring in foreign militants to work within their territory.

In early 2008, Mehsud agreed to another ceasefire with the Pakistan authorities, though the Pakistani military claimed that operations against Mehsud's forces continued.

In August 2009, a US drone attack in South Waziristan killed Baitullah Mehsud, along with his second wife and security guards. This is supposed to be a prized kill as a reward of $ 5 million was announced on his head.

Violence incidents imputed to Mehsud

September 2007 Rawalpindi bombings: Preliminary investigations in the September 2007 bombings in Rawalpindi report that Mehsud is the primary suspect behind the attacks.

Benazir Bhutto assassination: The Pakistan government claimed on December 28, 2007 (exactly an year after former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007) to have strong evidence regarding Baitullah Mehsud as the main accused behind the assassination.

March 2009 Lahore police academy attack: Mehsud claimed responsibility for the March 30, 2009 attack on the police training academy in Lahore, in a few telephone interviews. He told the BBC that the attack was a retaliation for American drone attacks for which the Pakistani government also shared responsibility.

April 2009 Binghamton shootings: Mehsud claimed responsibility for the shootings in Binghamton, New York on April 3, though the FBI denied his claim.