A Pakistani Taliban leader, suspected of plotting the assassination of seven American intelligence operatives, was killed in a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) strike on Friday in the latest counterterrorist attack against the Islamist group that's affiliated with al-Qaeda, according to a Middle East terrorism analyst and former police anti-terrorism task force member.
The Taliban confirmed the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, a top leader of the group, said Thomas Milhousen, a 30-year police veteran.
Reuters quotes a senior Taliban commander as saying, “We confirm with great sorrow that our esteemed leader was martyred in a drone attack."
"Mehsud, who was on U.S. most-wanted terrorist lists with a $5 million bounty, is believed to have been behind a deadly suicide attack at a CIA base in Afghanistan, a failed car bombing in New York’s Times Square and other brazen assaults in Pakistan that killed thousands of civilians and security forces," the Associated Press reported on Friday.
He is believed responsible for plotting the December 2009 suicide bombing that killed seven Americans -- CIA officers and their security detail -- at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. It was his trusted lieutenant, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, who was the suicide bomber who killed the CIA agents in Afghanistan, according to Milhousen.
This latest CIA operation is the second drone strike to have occurred after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the White House in early October. He reportedly demanded that the U.S. stop the drone strike operations and that such actions by the CIA are a clear violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.
Friday's U.S. drone strike is being condemned by many Pakistanis since their government started peace negotiations with the Taliban members who live in Pakistan. There are even threats of disallowing NATO supplies to be transferred through Pakistan into war-torn Afghanistan if the United States continues its drone strikes.