Washington, Oct 12 (): Second in command of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Latif Mehsud, was captured by U.S. forces in a military operation, Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said in Washington. But, the officials did not confirm the place and date where the top TTP leader was captured.
Marie Harf said, “I can confirm that US forces did capture TTP terrorist leader Latif Mehsud in a military operation. I do not have more details to share about the operation for you at this time”.
A U.S. defence official said Mehsud was being held lawfully by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. A senior U.S. official said the arrest did not make Afghan President Hamid Karzai happy, who seemingly saw it as a violation of Afghan sovereignty. Both officials spoke on condition of secrecy because they were not authorized to speak about the issue with the media.
Arsallah Jamal, governor of Logar province in eastern Afghanistan, said Mehsud was captured a week ago when he was driving along a main highway in Mohammad Agha district. The road connects the province with the Afghan capital, Kabul. Jamal said Mehsud was in a car with two or three other men when the U.S. military arrested him.
Mehsud is a senior commander in TTP and served as a trusted confidant of the group’s leader Hakimullah Mehsud. Mehsud, supposed to be around 30 years-old, once worked as the driver of Hakimullah Mehsud but finally worked his way up the ranks to become a trusted deputy. The two are not related and Mehsud is a common name in the region.
Holding the senior Pakistani Taliban commander is a blow to the Pakistani Taliban who have paid a decade long uprising against Islamabad and were responsible for the failed 2010 attempt to detonate a bomb in New York’s Times Square.
TTP is also responsible for attacking the US diplomats in Pakistan and attacks that have killed countless Pakistani civilians.