Major Terrorist Leader Targeted in Drone Strike

Mehsud thought to be behind Benazir Bhutto's assassination

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Associated Press
    In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009, Pakistani villagers look at a house belonging to supporters of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud which was destroyed by authorities in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan.

    Taliban leader Beitullah Mehsud was targeted in an overseas predator drone strike and officials are waiting to see if he was hit.

    Mehsud is believed to be behind the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, among other terrifying acts of violence.

    There is no official confirmation Mehsud is dead yet, but there are early indications that the drone missile strike may have hit its target, sources told NBCNewYork.

    Pakistani officials reported intercepted communications that noted his death, The Associated Press reported. Three intel officials also told the AP the Taliban chief had been killed and buried, though they had not seen his remains. 

    The U.S. and Pakistan will conduct DNA testing on the body believed to be Mehsud's with results available within days or week, according to the Wall Street Journal,

    A few months ago, U.S. authorities put a $5 million bounty on the shadowy Taliban leader's head. Mehsud's name may not be well known in the states, but he's infamous in Pakistan.

    He's the man  behind attacks like the assault on a Pakistan police headquarters. He's accused of ordering the assassination of Bhutto. And there's American blood on his hands from attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

    But this regional player and dedicated extremist says he wants to hit in the U.S.

    "I will prove to Americans that we can operate anywhere, in Washington, or even in the White House," Mehsud said a few months ago.

    As a precaution, FBI and NYPD officials in New York and across the U.S. are hard at work to see if the terrorist leader has any contacts within the country. Homeland Security officials stress there is nothing to indicate he has the ability at this time to strike within the confines of the United States.

    Mehsud and his followers have made past threats to attacks inside the United States with little result, but officials are worried these kinds of threats could inspire a lone actor to try to carry out an attack.