Taliban tribesmen pledge to wipe out al-Qaeda ally in Pakistan
The leader of Taliban tribesmen who has turned on al-Qaeda's most ruthless ally in Pakistan has vowed to help rescue his country from a reign of terror that has pushed it close to collapse
By Saeed Shah in Dera Ismail Khan
Telegraphy, June 14, 2009
In his first interview with a western newspaper, Qari Zainuddin said he had mobilised 3,000 armed followers to attempt to wipe out the feared warlord, Baitullah Mehsud, and drive his al-Qaeda supporters from Pakistan.
Baitallah, who has defeated the Pakistan army three times in the lawless South Waziristan tribal area, is considered a global terror threat by Western intelligence agencies. The US has placed a $5m bounty on his head, describing him as a “key al-Qaeda facilitator”.
His grip over the Mehsud tribe’s area of South Waziristan, which lies on the border with Afghanistan and where key al-Qaeda commanders have been given sanctuary and support, has been almost absolute for the last three years.
But the challenge from Mr Zainuddin - spurred by widespread revulsion at the death and violence wrought by al-Qaeda in Pakistan - threatens to undermine him for the first time.
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph at a hideout just outside the dangerous tribal area, Mr Zainuddin declared that Baitullah had betrayed both his religion and his tribe.
“To fight our own country is wrong,” said Mr Zainuddin, guarded by Kalashnikov-carrying followers. “Islam doesn’t give permission to fight against a Muslim country. This is where we differ (with Baitullah). What we’re seeing these days, these bombings in mosques, in markets, in hospitals; these are not allowed in Islam. We don’t agree with them.”
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Pakistan declares war on Taliban leader Mehsud - McClatchy Newspapers