Pakistan Terror Leader Linked to Times Square Plot Charged In U.S.

By Jonathan Dienst
|  Wednesday, Sep 1, 2010  |  Updated 2:45 PM EDT
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Pakistan Terror Leader Linked to Times Square Plot Charged In U.S.

Hakimullah Mehsud, left, is the leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a terrorist organization based in the tribal areas of western Pakistan, along the border with Afghanistan.

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The leader of the Pakistan Taliban was charged Wednesday by U.S. Justice officials for his role in helping to plot the murder of seven CIA workers in Afghanistan last year. 

Hakimullah Mehsud's group, which has claimed responsibility for the Times Square bomb plot in May, is charged with several counts of conspiracy to commit terror.  Investigators point out the charges unveiled in Washington Wednesday do not directly link Mehsud to Faisal Shahzad and the failed car bombing attempt in New York.
 
For months, Mehsud has claimed in videos posted on the Internet that his group is plotting to strike inside the U.S. But it was the attack on the U.S. base that killed the seven CIA operatives that led to the charges Wednesday. A Jordanian physician posing as an informant for the U.S. carried out a suicide attack on December 30, 2009 near Khost, Afghanistan. Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al Balawi was wearing the bomb underneath his clothes which went undetected.
 
A video later posted by the Pakistan Taliban showed al Bawali meeting with Mehsud where the men claim the U.S. is their enemy.  Mehsud said the attack was revenge for the killing of his cousin Baitullah Mehsud who had been the head of the terror group before he was killed in a drone strike.

The Pakistan Taliban, also known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, was added to the State Department's official list of terrorist organizations.  This designation will help the U.S. to freeze assets and disrupt other types of support to members of the group.
 
The criminal complaint, filed in Washington, states Mehsud's group "continues to plan and carry out attacks against the interests of the United States."  It adds that Mehsud's group claimed responsibility for the "failed bombing of Times Square in New York City on May 1, 2010."
 
The U.S. has tried to kill Mehsud numerous times but has failed as he continues to hide out in the tribal areas along the Pakistan and Afghanistan border. 

The State Department has offered a $5 million dollar reward for information leading to the location of Mehsud.  They also put a $5 million dollar reward out for Wali Ur Rehman who is the Pakistan Taliban second in command.
 
"Today's charges underscore our continuing commitment to seek justice for Americans who are murdered overseas or victimized by overseas terrorist attacks," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris.
 
The specific charges include conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals outside the United States and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
 
In the Times Square case, Faisal Shahzad has pleaded guilty to conspiring to set off his car bomb. The FBI said the Bridgeport, Connecticut man had traveled to Pakistan for bomb training.  But when he attempted to set off the Times Square bomb by lighting the fuse, the device failed.

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