Since claiming last month’s Lahore terror attack was retaliation for the ongoing US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas and threatening future attacks on US soil, top Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud’s infamy has shot up dramatically. But could that really be the plan?
According to one former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, it likely is. The anonymous official reports that as the TTP expands its influence beyond the tribal areas and into the rest of the nation, particularly the Punjab province, it is seeing an internal power struggle with local leaders in those areas. Though he conceded that Mehsud may have been behind the planning of the Lahore attack, he said it was unlikely he could’ve done so without the help of Punjabi groups.
Mehsud has been the target of repeated assassination attempts by the US, reportedly at the behest of the Pakistani civilian government. Those attacks have failed, reportedly in part because of Mehsud’s connections to the ISI. Mehsud’s recent claims have gone beyond Lahore, and he attempted (unsuccessfully) this weekend to take responsibility for the shooting at a Binghamton immigration center. The outlandish claim was likely counterproductive, and will add to scrutiny over his claims to be responsible for future attacks.