Monday, September 21, 2009

Signs of internal distrust among the Taliban leadership?

The BBC reports that relatives of Baitullah Mehsud have been tortured and even killed by members of the Taliban. The Taliban so far have denied it. But if the report is true it makes us wonder how much distrust pervades relations among the Taliban. Even without the influence of large cash awards for help in the apprehension (or killing) of a Taliban or Al Qaeda leader, there can be lots of intrigues and festering grudges among the Pashtun peoples, so it's difficult to know what's behind this development. But there appears to be evidence that among the Taliban there is an air of distrust. Do they believe that such close relatives would have helped get Baitullah killed? Here is the BBC report. RLC

Taliban 'kill' Mehsud relatives

Thursday, 17 September 2009 BBC News

Militants in Pakistan have been accused of killing two relatives of top Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, who died last month in a US missile strike.

The men were seized by the Taliban on suspicion of spying and providing information about the Taliban commander's whereabouts.

The Taliban deny killing the men and said they are investigating.

Meanwhile, at least 10 corpses have been found in the troubled northern district of Swat, officials say.

About 300 bodies of suspected militants have turned up in the Swat valley over the last two months.

Locals say the army are responsible for the deaths. But the military has consistently denied involvement with any extra-judicial killings.

They say many militants were killed during operations in the valley and also point the finger at local tribal militias taking revenge on Taliban militants in the area.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC that the bodies were found lying by the river. All of them were shot in the head and chest from close range.

'Signs of torture'

Meanwhile there is continuing disquiet in South Waziristan, where the Taliban are reported to have seized six of Baitullah Mehsud's relatives.

The captives included his father-in-law Ikramuddin and his nephew Iqbal Mehsud.

Two of the captives are reported to have died in the militants' custody. They have been identified as Iqbal Mehsud and a cousin of Baitullah Mehsud called Akram Gul.

Iqbal Mehsud was well-known and considered to be very close to his uncle.

He had acted as Baitullah Mehsud's envoy to the government during negotiations with the Taliban on many occasions. Iqbal Mehsud had also been involved in negotiating with the government over the release of certain militants.

The Taliban say he has died in custody due to illness. The body has been handed over to his family.

However, other clansmen and officials have told the BBC's Abdul Hai Kakar in Peshawar that Iqbal Mehsud died after being tortured.

They say cuts made by knives are visible all over his body and his nails have been pulled out.

Baitullah Mehsud's father-in-law is still being held.

The Taliban say they have set up an an investigative team to inquire into the incident.

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