Drone kills Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud: Ramifications for Pakistan, the Taliban, and the US

Reuters

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud (C) sits with other millitants in South Waziristan October 4, 2009 in this video grab taken from footage released October 5, 2009.

The news that Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), died in a drone strike on November 1 was hard to believe at first, given that previous widespread reporting of his death in such an attack had been embarrassingly falsified on at least two previous occasions. This time, however, the news rings true, and the most dangerous man in Pakistan is no more.

Hakimullah's death will have important impacts on the TTP, Pakistan's deadliest terrorist group, as well as on the Pakistani state's approach to dealing with its militancy problem. The network will undergo inevitable flux as it adjusts to new leadership. But while Hakimullah's death is an important blow to the group, it is essential to understand that the death of a single leader in a drone attack does not constitute a deathblow to the organization. The TTP will almost certainly recover and will remain an existential threat to the Pakistani state and a deadly enemy of the United States at home and abroad; losing focus of the group due to temporary, if important, successes will only increase the TTP's lethality.

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