Coincidence? April spy meeting, Taliban leader (probably) killed
A top level U.S.-Pakistani spy meeting in April.
A top Taliban official killed (90 percent certain) in August.
The New York Times said the accuracy of American drone strikes against the network of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud improved soon afterward.
Pakistani and U.S. officials believe Mehsud was killed last week, with White House national security adviser Jim Jones putting the likelihood at 90 percent, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
A U.S. counterterrorism official told Reuters on Monday: “There are strong indications he’s dead. No one is expecting him home for dinner tonight.”
But back to where the latest assault on militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas may have been hatched, the April meeting.
“Panetta and Pasha were in strong agreement on the threats posed by Baitullah Mehsud, someone with American and Pakistani blood on his hands,” a U.S. counterterrorism official said.
“It made sense to everyone that both sides should work even more closely on ways to take him off the battlefield, and to disrupt the terrorist network he led,” the official said.
“Taking this guy out of the equation would deal a serious blow to the Pakistani Taliban and would likely cause the underlying tensions within the group—a collection of extremist factions whose leaders have had some serious disagreements in the past—to rise to the surface,” he said.
Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (CIA Director Panetta at a luncheon in June)