Interesting to note that the drone missile attack today aimed at Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leader Hakimullah Mahsud took place in a village in Shaktoi, close to the border between North and South Waziristan. This is exactly the spot where, on 21 December (as reported on this blog a couple of days later) Hakimullah's deputy, Waliur Rahman, gave an interview to AP in which he bragged about the group's success in evading the Pakistan Army's offensive in South Waziristan.
Although the AP reporter did not reveal the exact location of the interview, he said it was in a "large, mudbrick compound". Sounds very much like the former seminary targeted in today's drone strike in which at least a dozen militants were killed, including several foreigners. Both the TTP and local ISI officials admitted that Hakimullah had been in the compound before it was almost completely destroyed by two missiles. They say he escaped, but that has yet to be confirmed. If he continues to be so careless in his movements it won't be long before he goes the way of his predecessor (and cousin) Baitullah Mahsud, killed in a drone missile attack last August.
Here's Pakistan's Top Twenty list of TTP leaders, for whom they have offered substantial rewards. One at least, no17, Abdullah Shah Mahsud, has already been captured. The rest remain at large, despite the Pakistan Army's recent offensive into South Waziristan.
Rewards of $600,000:
Hakimullah Mahsud: Overall leader of TTP. Formerly he led TTP forces in Arakzai, Kurram, and in Khyber and Peshawar before assuming the top job after his cousin Baitullah Mahsud was killed in a US Predator strike on 5 August.
2. Waliur Rahman Mahsud: Overall commander of the TTP in South Waziristan. Waliur was competing with Hakimullah for the leadership of the TTP following Baitullah's death.
3. Qari Hussain Mahsud: The notorious trainer of child suicide bombers and an effective military commander. Credited with masterminding some of the most deadly suicide strikes in Pakistan as well as the attack on the CIA at FOB Chapman.
Rewards of $300,000:
4. Azam Tariq: Official TTP spokesman. His real name is Mohammad Raees Khan Mahsud.
5. Maulvi Azmatullah Mahsud: Military commander of TTP forces in the Barvand region. Formerly a close aide to Baitullah.
6. Mufti Noor Wali Mahsud: Commander of a TTP training camp in the Gargaray region.
7. Mufti Noor Saeed: Military commander in South Waziristan.
8. Maulvi Shameem Mahsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
9. Amirullah Mahsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
10. Nasiruddin Mahsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
11. Shah Faisal Mahsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
12. Sher Azeem Mahsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
13. Jaleel Mahsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
14. Mohammad Ismael Mahsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.
Rewards of $120,000:
15. Asmatullah Bhittani: Military commander in the towns of Jandola and Tank. Also known as Shaheen.
16. Arfeshaheen: Military commander in South Waziristan.
17. Abdullah Shah Mahsud: Military commander in Shaktoi region in South Waziristan. Captured.
18. Mohammad Anwar Kandapur: Military commander in the district of Dera Ismail Khan.
19. Maulvi Abdul Wali: Military commander in South Waziristan.
20: Khan Saeed Mahsud: Military commander in South Waziristan.