The man thought to have masterminded the failed Times Square car bombing as well as attacks in Pakistan that slaughtered thousands of people has reportedly been killed in a U.S. drone strike. Then again, that was also the news three years ago.
Hakimullah Mehsud was the leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan, and had a $5 million bounty on his head.
The 34-year-old was rumored to be dead back in 2010, but later reports indicated that he was still alive. The U.S. government seemed more certain of Mehsud’s demise on Friday. His death has been confirmed by two Taliban commanders who say they saw his dead body, as well as by two Pakistani intelligence officials. The Associated Press reports that another source claims that a new leader will be chosen on Saturday to replace him.
According to Taliban leaders, four missiles hit the compound where Mehsud was presumed to be, and he was spotted entering the compound just before they struck.
"If true, the death of Hakimullah Mehsud will be a significant blow to the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), an organization that poses a serious threat to the Pakistani people and to Americans in Pakistan," said former CIA head Michael Morell.
Despite this possible victory, drone strikes remain controversial. The missiles do not always hit their intended targets, and cause fear in Pakistani communities.
One injured Pakistani family testified in Congress this week; the son said, "I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey."
The Pakistani government also denounces the drone program, even though they grant the U.S. authority to carry out strikes on their soil.
"These strikes are a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. There is an across the board consensus in Pakistan that these drone strikes must end," said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.