Baitullah Mehsud, commander of the Pakistani Taliban until he was killed in a U.S. missile strike in August 2009, said in March last year his group was planning an attack on the White House that would “amaze” the world.
“Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world,” Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone after identifying the White House as one of the targets in an interview with local Dewa Radio.
Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, shown in a 2008 photo, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in August 2009. (Photo credit: The Washington Post / Associated Press)
Although Mehsud has never been directly linked to any terrorist mission outside Pakistan, attacks launched by his terror network in recent years have widened in scope and ambition.
The Pakistani Taliban has links with al-Qaida and Afghan Taliban militants who have launched attacks against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
According to a recent report in the Washington Post,
Mehsud’s death served as the apparent source of inspiration for the Jordanian suicide bomber and al-Qaeda double agent whose Dec. 30 attack at an American base in eastern Afghanistan killed seven CIA officers and contractors.
In a chilling videotape released posthumously … by the Pakistani Taliban and broadcast on regional TV channels, bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi [link added], 32, called on Muslim holy warriors worldwide to avenge Mehsud’s death by attacking U.S. targets.
“We will never forget the blood of our emir Baitullah Mehsud,” Balawi said on the tape, using the title that means leader of the Muslim faithful. “We will always demand revenge for him inside America and outside.”
The videotape confirmed the Pakistani Taliban’s central role in the bombing and exposed its close links with al-Qaeda and with the Afghan Taliban. It suggested an unexpected degree of coordination, capability and shared ambition among the three movements that some experts here said may force the United States to reassess its regional and even global counterterrorism strategy.
We learned on 9/11 that al-Qaida has the motive and the means to strike targets inside the United States. Moreover, al-Qaida has a pattern of repeating attacks deemed failures on the first attempt.
For example, after the first World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993 failed to bring down the north tower, al-Qaida launched the vastly more sophisticated attack of September 11, 2001 — eight years later — which brought down both the north and the south tower.
Similarly, shoe bomber Richard Reid’s unsuccessful attempt three days before Christmas in 2001 to blow up a trans-Atlantic airliner was replicated — eight years later — by the 2009 Christmas Day attack by underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Against that background, it’s important to remember that the intended target of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Penn., on 9/11 — though never unequivocally confirmed — was either the White House or the United States Capitol.
According to the 9/11 Commission Report (2004), Osama bin Laden’s favored targets were the White House, the Pentagon, and the Capitol. Furthermore, the 9/11 Report notes that Bin Laden told 9/11 planner Ramzi Binalshibh to advise hijack ringleader Mohamed Atta that he preferred the White House over the Capitol as a target.
Ultimately, neither the White House nor the Capitol was hit on 9/11. Now, more than eight years later, it must be assumed both locations are urgent priorities on al-Qaida’s high-value target list.
Pakistani Taliban vows White House assault
(AP, March 31, 2009)
Possible new al-Qaida threat?
(MSNBC, Jan. 14, 2010)
U.S. intelligence points to a new possible threat from Yemen-based al-Qaida against the United States. NBC’s Pete Williams reports. (01:36)
1/31/10 Breaking News Update
Head of Pakistani Taliban reportedly killed (AP, Jan. 31, 2010) — The Pakistani army said it was investigating reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries sustained in a U.S. drone missile strike in mid-January. The army’s announcement came shortly after Pakistani state television reported that Mehsud died in Orakzai, an area in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region where he was reportedly being treated for his injuries. … More (scroll down)
Related reports on this site
Yemeni Clerics Threaten Jihad (Jan. 14, 2010)
New Details in CIA Bombing (Jan. 10, 2010)
Balawi Fit Suicide Bomber Profile (Jan. 5, 2010)
CIA Zawahiri Team Decimated (Jan. 4, 2010)
Afghan War Expands to Region (Oct. 8, 2009)
Taliban Leader Vows Revenge (Oct. 5, 2009)
White House Attack Will “Amaze” (March 31, 2009)
Taliban, al-Qaida Up the Ante (Sept. 21, 2008)
Al-Qaida Threatens New Attacks (Sept. 20, 2008)
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — January 18, 2009
The Best and Worst of Bush
Photo gallery of memorable moments from a controversial presidency
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I considered how George W. Bush might restore his legacy upon leaving office in a climate where 98 percent of historians view his tenure as a failure and only 13 percent of Americans believe he helped solve the country’s problems.
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