Islamabad Pakistan and U.S. intelligence wrongly reported the death of the head of the Pakistani Taliban in a CIA drone strike and the brash, ruthless commander is now believed to be alive, Pakistani spies said Thursday in an apparent propaganda coup for the insurgents.
The reports that Hakimullah Mehsud survived the January missile attack in an area close to the Afghan border will raise questions about the quality of the intelligence being gathered in the region.
In Washington, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said he had seen “no evidence” that Mehsud “is operational today or is executing or exerting authority over the Pakistan Taliban as he once did.”
“So I don’t know if that reflects him being alive or dead, but he clearly is not running the Pakistani Taliban anymore,” Morrell told reporters.
The Taliban had always claimed Mehsud was alive and dismissed the earlier reports of his death as lies.
The militant network said it was not going to offer any evidence such as a video recording because doing so could help security forces hunt Mehsud down.