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Baitullah Mehsud’s First Television Interview

Ahmad Zaidan, al-Jazeera’s Islamabad bureau chief, interviewed Baitullah Mehsud in December. The video, provided above, was aired on the station a few days ago. It’s Mehsud’s first television interview.

The leader of Tehreek-e Taliban-e Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan) speaks in Pashto (translated by AJ into Arabic) while Zaidan presents the questions in Arabic.

[Note: I am also an Arabic speaker.]

Some key points are below.

On the Tehreek-e Taliban-e Pakistan

  • The alliance took so long to form because of several challenges, including the assistance needed by the Arabs and Uzbeks and the attempts of the Pakistani government to divide the population. The biggest losers of the Taliban alliance, says Mehsud, will be Washington, Britain, and the other countries of disbelief.

Relations with the original Taliban and al-Qaeda

  • He and his group members have given their bayah, or oath of allegiance, to Mullah Omar, the amir ul mumineen. Omar leads not only Afghanistan, but the entire Muslim world. The Muslims, even in America, are “our” brothers.
  • Skirts issue of relations with AQ, particularly bin Laden and Zawahiri. Simply says a Muslim is a brother of a Muslim. Does mention that Zarqawi was among Mehsud & Co. prior to heading to Iraq.

Goals

  • First priority is the conducting of a defensive jihad. He says the Pakistani army attacks their homes on the orders of George W. Bush. Would like Pakistani forces out b/c of their displayed ‘barbarism’.
  • Secondary goal is the application of Islamic law throughout Pakistan. The movement will not just be in the northwest, but spread throughout Pakistan into Punjab and Sindh.

The Pakistani Army

  • It plays the different tribes and regions off of one another. In area X it is in peace talks or has a truce in place, and then in area Y it is in a state of war. Then the roles change, and it is in combat against area X and talking peace with area Y. He calls this a “policy of deception.”
  • The Pakistani army’s war in the tribal areas is an American war. He quotes the Qur’anic prohibition on taking Jews and Christians (5:51) as one’s protectors several times.
  • Musharraf is a slave of Bush, the West, and the disbelievers. He’s declared a war against them and the Arab and Uzbek migrants, who have come to defend Islam and Pakistan, under American pressure. He submitted them to the Americans, killed women and children.

Nuclear Weapons

  • Islam doesn’t permit the killing of women and children, which nukes would inevitably do. Don’t have thoughts about the use of nuclear weapons. America killed innocents in Japan–Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fear right now is the use of American bombs against the Muslims as they used against the Japanese. Says, we fear the American bombs, not the Pakistani bombs. At least the Pakistani bombs are controlled by Muslims.

Beyond Pakistan

  • “Yes, we send and will send our boys into Afghanistan for jihad.”
  • Denied links to India, Iran, etc. Says his successes are due to the grace of God.  Skirts issue of funding source.  Says their arsenal comes from booty taken from opponents.
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Editor:

Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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