The US state department has confirmed the capture of Latif Mehsud, a senior commander in the TTP – the Pakistani branch of the Taliban.
State department spokeswoman Marie Harf confirmed that Mehsud’s capture took place a week ago, during a military operation in Afghanistan. He was apparently returning from negotiations to discuss swapping prisoners.
However, a Washington Post report said that he was forcibly snatched from the Logar province, where he was allegedly traveling with an Afghan government convoy. Afghan officials were said to be trying to recruit Mehsud to launch peace talks.
Harf did not comment on the Post’s allegations during Friday’s press conference, choosing to concentrate on Mehsud’s high-ranking position in the TTP, and further anticipated attacks on America, instead:
“Mehsud is a senior commander in TTP and served as a trusted confidante of the group’s leader Hakimullah Mehsud,” she said, adding:
“TTP claimed responsibility, as folks probably know, for the attempted bombing of Times Square in 2010 and has vowed to attack the US homeland again.”
Despite being unsuccessful in 2010, TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud has pledged to continue to target “America and its friends.”
Latif and Hakimullah are not believed to be related. However, they are said to have worked closely together in the TTP, which could mean Latif’s arrest will cause a blow to the group.
The TTP group has been accused of seeking to take down Pakistan’s US-backed government. They have been involved in several attacks within Pakistan, including assaults on US diplomats and Pakistani citizens.
However, in a recent rare interview, Hakimullah Mehsud said he would be open to “serious talks” with the Pakistani government, if they were to approach him.
He also denied carrying out recent deadly attacks in public places.