'Dead' Taliban leader threatens revenge on internet

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The Independent Online

the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, reported killed in a CIA drone aircraft attack in January, has appeared alive in internet videos, threatening revenge suicide strikes in the United States.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, has focused on fighting the Islamabad government and never yet proved capable of carrying out overseas operations.

Even so, the possibility the TTP may have global aspirations may worry Washington because of the group's ties with al-Qa'ida, which carried out the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States and has bases along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The warnings were posted on the internet on Sunday shortly after the TTP said it was responsible for an attempted car bomb attack in New York's Times Square.

"The time is very near when our fedayeen (fighters prepared to sacrifice themselves) will attack the American states in their major cities," warned Mehsud, who said the video was recorded on 4 April.

"Our fedayeen have penetrated the terrorist America. We will give extremely painful blows to the fanatic America."

New York's Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, said there was "no evidence" to support the Taliban's claim. Police found the car bomb, defused on Saturday in a sport utility vehicle in area was packed with tourists and theatre-goers.

The TTP remains defiant despite a series of Pakistani army offensives in the north west, and has kept up suicide bombings that have raised questions about stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan – an ally which the US needs to help stabilise Afghanistan.

The group surprised observers with its apparent involvement in a suicide bombing near Khost in eastern Afghanistan on 30 December. That strike killed seven US Central Intelligence Agency employees in the second-worst attack in the spy agency's history. Mehsud appeared in a video with the Jordanian double agent who carried out the operation.