New Leader Has Pakistan's Taliban on Rise

Baitullah Mehsud, blamed for Bhutto killing, a unifying force
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2008 6:40 PM CST
Pakistan's Army troops arrive to take positions in the area of Matta near Mangora, the main town of Pakistani district Swat along Afghan border, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2008. Pakistan reiterated that it will...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Pakistan’s increasingly organized Islamist insurgency has a powerful new leader in Baitullah Mehsud, the man accused of masterminding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. A Time profile reveals Mehsud to be formidably charismatic individual possessing a “laser-like focus” to rival even that of mentor Mullah Omar, the leader of Afghanistan's Taliban movement.

"Baitullah is much stronger, much better," says an al-Jazeera reporter in comparing the 30-something Pakistani to Mullah Omar. "His way of talking, how he acts—he is a much more powerful leader. … These militant leaders now, they are living in the eye of the storm. They learn more in one minute than the Taliban did in a year."