Peshawar, Oct 15: In a major setback to Taliban, missiles fired from US drones have killed its top commander and group's deputy chief Qari Hussain Mehsud, mastermind of many suicide attacks across Pakistan, sources claimed today.
The drones hit a militant compound in Jungle Khel area near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency, killing four militants including Qari Hussain on October 7.
There was no word from the Taliban on whether the dreaded commander, best known as a trainer of suicide bombers, had died in the attack.
Qari Hussain is the deputy chief of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and a first cousin of the group's chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
He is regarded as being highly skilled in training militants for suicide attacks. Qari Hussain trains such bombers in schools in South Waziristan.
He built his ruthless image around one activity - the training and indoctrination of suicide bombers.
As a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban, Qari Hussain takes pride in recruiting individuals to carry out attacks on Pakistani and Western targets.
Until recently, Qari Hussain's operations were primarily confined to Pakistan but a video released on May 1 claimed he and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan were behind the foiled car bombing in New York's Times Square by Pakistani-American national Faisal Shahzad.
Shahzad was trained at a Hussain-run camp in South Waziristan, where he was brought by a Jaish-e-Muhammad intermediary named Mohammed Rehan.
Qari Hussain is a member of the Mehsud tribe which has produced Pakistani Taliban commanders like Hakimullah and Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a drone strike last year.
Qari Hussain was linked with terror groups from an early age. He completed his early religious education at a seminary near Kotkai and underwent formal religious training at Jamia Farooqia madrassa in Karachi.
As a member of the sectarian Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Qari Hussain was actively involved in that group's activities targeting the minority Shia sect.
Following his stint with LeJ, Qari Hussain operated for a short period with Ilyas Kashmiri, a notorious militant commander and leader of the Harkat-ul-Jihad Al-Islam who focussed on attacking Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir before relocating to Waziristan in 2005. PTI