US files criminal charges against Pakistan Taliban leader

The US Department of Justice announced Sept. 1 that it has charged Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimulla Mehsud in connection with the Dec. 30 attack on CIA Afghan outpost Camp Chapman that left nine people dead. Mehsud identifies himself as the head of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The filing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia charges Mehsud with conspiracy to murder US citizens abroad and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against US citizens abroad. According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, Mehsud met with Jordanian physician Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi in Afghanistan shortly before al-Balawi entered Camp Chapman with explosives hidden in his clothing and detonated them, killing nine people, including seven CIA agents. Following the attack, TTP released a video of Mehsud and al-Balawi claiming responsibility for the attack and explaining their motives: “We arranged this attack to let the Americans understand that belief of Allah, the iman [faith] that we hold, the taqwa [piety] that we strive for cannot be exchanged for all the wealth in the world.” The men also said that the attack was executed as revenge for the death of former TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed by a CIA air strike last August.

Also Sept. 1, the US State Department announced that it has declared the TTP a Foreign Terrorist Organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. “Today’s actions put the TTP and its sympathizers on notice that the United States will not tolerate support of this organization,” said State Department coordinator for counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin. “TTP’s destabilizing effect in Pakistan‘s tribal areas has resulted in innumerable civilian deaths and considerable property losses.” The DOS also announced a $5 million bounty for information leading to the capture of Mehsud.

The DoJ says Hakimullah Mehsud is currently “a fugitive believed to be residing in the FATA,” Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area. However, reports earlier this year suggested that he had died from wounds sustained during a Jan. 14 drone attack in the tribal region.

From Jurist, Aug. 30. Used with permission.

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