August 10th, 2009
08:22 PM ET

US official: Taliban chief is dead

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/09/us.pakistan.taliban/art.pakistan.rubble.gi.jpg" caption="Villagers gather at the rubble of houses belonging to supporters of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.."]

Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

After several days of uncertainty, the Obama administration now believes that a CIA missile strike did kill Pakistan's Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, according to a senior U.S. official.

"He's dead," the senior U.S. official said flatly, adding that intelligence officials have told President Obama they are convinced Mehsud perished in last Wednesday night's attack.

The death comes after a dramatic escalation of the number of unmanned drones the CIA is using for missile strikes in the rugged South Waziristan tribal region where Mehsud was killed. The CIA recently requested an increase in drones from five to nine that were tracking Mehsud and it was approved by the White House shortly before his death, according to the senior U.S. official.

The senior U.S. official said the government is convinced they got Mehsud based on various indicators on the scene of last week's strike. It was an extremely warm night and a short, stocky man meeting Mehsud's physical description sought refuge from the heat on the roof of the home of Mehsud's father-in-law, according to the official.

Then the man in question began having his legs massaged on the roof of the home, which was an indicator to intelligence officials that it was Mehsud because his legs ached from diabetes and he frequently sought relief. At that point, according to the senior U.S. official, the CIA moved forward on the strike acting on a pre-approved order from the President to strike when U.S. intelligence officials believed they had Mehsud in their sights.

Filed under: Ed Henry • Pakistan • Taliban
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    So is this like Dorothy kiilling the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz? Will someone need to get possesion of the proverbial broom stick and bring it back to Emerald City to prove this bad guy's really dead? The creep took a lot of people with him anyway though didn't he?

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    August 10, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Glad to hear we got one of the "big" baddies. Hope we can make it unattractive to be one of the top leaders so no one will want the job – a job that comes complete with a drone with one's name on it. Hopefully, that would be something of a deterrent.

    August 10, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  3. John

    Couldn't agree more than the statement below me.

    Religious fanaticism is a cancer in the Middle East. The only way to defeat it is to keep fighting the war of words. We need more stories like this. I'm sick of hearing about US troops getting hurt over there.

    August 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  4. Sandy Hughes

    That is great news but this war is not a winable war. They are looking for his replacement as we type. Even if we killed Bin Laden he will be replaced. Its sort of a never ending war. In the mean time we are losing our forces. The enemy is trained from life to hate the West and anyone who is not for Islamic. They hide behind the Koran as I have freinds who are of that religion and they are not affiliated with these terrorists. Please do not confuse them with true muslims.


    August 10, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  5. juli

    please send just one drone to Venezuela and rid us of our tropical Taliban: Hugo Chavez

    August 10, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  6. Enye A. Willingham

    That's what I call a massage with a "Happy Ending." LOL

    August 10, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  7. Carol B. in MD

    Not to be cynical, but there's hundreds of fanatics-in -training waiting to take his place. Madrassas – religious teachings or terrorists-in-training? Young men need to have employment, education & pay that don't make it tempting that if they become terrorists or suicide bombers, they will be more financially valuable to their families & community via recruitment & death payouts.

    August 10, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  8. BrendaBrenda king

    How many others were killed in the strike and who were they? We need to get the h- out of there. We r asking for more trouble. Tks

    August 10, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  9. Jason

    That's a massage with an unhappy ending.


    August 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  10. Michael C. McHugh

    That was good shooting. No big loss to the world there. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are Nazis who want to set up totalitarian, Islamic states everywhere then use then as bases to attack us. They should just be gunned down on sight since that's the only language they will ever understand.

    August 10, 2009 at 4:35 pm |