Hakimullah Mehsud: Death by drone, resurrection by video
He’s dead. He’s alive. He’s dead. He’s alive.
It’s hard to keep up with the number of times Tehrik-e-Taliban’s goateed, AK-47-toting, beret-sporting chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, has been definitively killed - only to rise again.
But I’m trying.
Let’s see…he was declared dead last October, I remember.
But then he surfaced and issued a statement that read like a Journalism 101 class. Get your facts right, Mehsud jeered, noting that reports couldn’t seem to decide if he was killed on his way to Multan, Arukzai or Shaktai.
Then he was killed again in Jan this year. This time in Orakzai. No wait, it was South Waziristan. Or was it the North? Unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials swore on this latest drone strike. Successors were named and analyzed.
I remember the succession list included Qari Hussain Mehsud. This pleased me since I’m a creature of continuity.
Hakimullah Mehsud of course became Tehrik-e-Taliban chief after Baitullah Mehsud’s death-by-drone attack.
Baitullah’s death at least seemed certain. A few news organizations still ran the wrong photograph for the right Mehsud. But those were hastily rectified.
In the end, there was a certain cohesion about one Mehsud replacing another – even if they were not related, just tribal brothers-in-arms.
So imagine my disappointment when Pakistani news media reported that Hakimullah was not replaced by Qari Hussain Mehsud (as we imagined), but by a certain Maulvi Noor Jamal.
In any case, my disappointment did not last long.
This week, we’ve had a bonanza of three Hakimullah Mehsud videos duly proclaiming he’s alive and this time, threatening America and other miscellaneous infidels.
At the risk of giving away my age, I have been on alert in different news rooms in different countries for similar stories on Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri as well.
One thing and only one thing’s for sure: These guys have that secret elixir of life formula.