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Monday, August 10, 2009

Taliban Feud Over Treasury

After Baitullah, battle on for Taliban treasure
A bloody feud that followed Baitullah Mehsud’s death involving about three-dozen best-trained Taliban fighters early on Wednesday morning was actually a battle among various Taliban warlords to control Rs 2 billion Taliban funds and ownership of arms and ammunition worth about Rs 1 billion by grabbing the ‘Emarat’ (the leadership) of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to senior security officials and knowledgeable Taliban sources.

Such was the charisma and awe of 35-year-old, five feet two inches tall Baitullah Mehsud that none of his associates ever dared to challenge his leadership till an American missile strike blew his body apart on the first floor of the house of his second wife in South Waziristan last week.

An intelligence official said: “For about four years, some 3,500 trained fighters and dozens of suicide bombers blindly followed Baitullah as he was the centre of gravity of terrorism in Pakistan.” The battle for the control of the Rs 3 billion Taliban treasure erupted within two days of Baitullah’s death, when two of his most trusted lieutenants, Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman, claimed succession in an emergency meeting in Sararogha, where an armed clash left Hakimullah Mehsud dead, along with 40 Taliban fighters, on Saturday evening, a security official said.

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