A picture of Hakeemullah Mehsud just before his burial. Courtesy of the SITE Intelligence Group.
A picture purporting to show the face of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the emir of the al Qaeda-linked Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was published by the group’s official media arm. Hakeemullah was killed by the US in a drone strike in North Waziristan on Nov. 1.
The image of Hakeemullah was published on the Facebook page of Umar Media, the official propaganda outlet of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained the photograph. The picture shows Hakeemullah “before his burial,” SITE stated.
“Umar Media posted on its Facebook page a version of the picture showing Hakeemullah alive and dead,” SITE noted. The picture was subsequently published by other jihadists.
The photograph of Hakeemullah is final confirmation that Hakeemullah was indeed killed in the Nov. 1 drone strike in the village of Danday Darpa Khel in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan. The area is administered by the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that operates in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is closely tied to al Qaeda.
Hakeemullah has been reported killed in drone strikes, and even in a feud with a Taliban leader who later became his deputy, multiple times in the past. Hakeemullah eventually surfaced to dispel the rumors.
Since Hakeemulah’s death, the Taliban has appointed Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, a longtime military commander and the head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s executive council, to serve as the temporary emir, a top spokesman said yesterday.
Khan Said, who is also known as Sajna Mehsud, is thought to be the frontrunner to replace Hakeemullah as the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Other Taliban leaders thought to be in the running are Omar Khalid al Khorasani, the leader of the Mohmand branch who is closely tied to al Qaeda; Mullah Fazlullah, the radical cleric in charge of forces in Swat and the Malakand Division; and a commander known as Ghalib Mehsud.