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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taliban Leader Vows Attack on DC!

From WSJ:
"The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, a man with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, threatened Tuesday to carry out a terror attack on the U.S. capital, and said his forces were behind the assault on a police academy in eastern Pakistan.

Baitullah Mehsud said fighters loyal to him raided the police academy on the outskirts of Lahore on Monday to avenge U.S. missile strikes against Islamic militants based along the border with Afghanistan, a region largely controlled by the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Monday's attack on the police academy, which left 12 people dead, "was in retaliation for the ongoing drone attacks in the tribal areas. There will be more such attacks," he said by telephone from an undisclosed location presumably in the South Waziristan tribal region, his base.

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Mr. Mehsud's claim of credit added to the fears that militant violence which has engulfed much of northwestern Pakistan is now spreading to the nuclear-armed country's eastern heartland, Punjab. The province had until recently been spared much of the violence, although some of Pakistan's most potent Islamic militant groups originated in the region and still draw recruits from its poor, rural villages.

Mr. Mehsud, the 35-year-old supreme commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, known as the Pakistan Taliban, also signaled that he may be seeking to widen the scope of his fight beyond Pakistan.

"Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," he said in separate remarks to the Associated Press.

Experts say it's unlikely that Mr. Mehsud has the reach to attack the U.S. His forces are mostly concentrated on fighting Pakistan's government. But Pakistani and Western intelligence officials believe Mr. Mehsud has close ties to al Qaeda, which U.S. officials have repeatedly said could be planning its next major terror strike from bases in same tribal areas where Mr. Mehsud is based.

To counter that threat, the U.S. has since August launched dozens of missiles strikes from unmanned Predator drone aircraft. Mr. Mehsud is believed to have been the target of some recent strikes. Pakistani officials have said they are pressing the U.S. to make him one of the main targets of the campaign, which has killed at least nine top al Qaeda militants..."

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