Paul McGeough; 13/2/10
The kohl-eyed Hakimullah Mehsud probably is dead. He was the target for a missile fired last month from an unmanned aircraft hovering over the Afghan-Pakistani border – but launched by an operator in the US. Mehsud was the ruthless mastermind of multiple suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan. He was part of a suicide mission on December 30 at Khost, just across the border in Afghanistan, which killed seven CIA agents who were working on the covert operation that now appears to have ended Mehsud’s brief and brutal leadership of the Taliban in Pakistan. In the artistry of war, the insertion of a Jordanian double-agent who detonated his explosive vest inside this super-sensitive CIA bunker was flawless. But, in their payback, the enraged Americans confirmed the breadth of a new horizon in modern warfare – launching 15 clinical drone attacks in which more than 100 people died along the border, as Washington’s electronic eyes and guns sought out Mehsud and his Taliban and al-Qaeda allies. War does not get more radical than this – technically, politically and, perhaps, ethically.