A U.S. drone strike eliminated Hakimullah Masud, the head of Pakistan’s Taliban, who was linked to the 2009 murders of seven CIA employees in Afghanistan. The notorious radical Islamist was believed to have played a role in the failed Times Square bomb plot in 2010. The U.S. had put a $5 million price tag on his head.
He frequently communicated with BBC, telling a correspondent in October, “Don’t be afraid, we all have to die one day,” apparently referring to the danger of drone strikes.
He probably engineered the suicide bombing at the CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, a grievous blow against the agency that the film Zero Dark 30 featured.
The targeted killing of Masud is, without question, a powerful setback for the Taliban’s loose terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan. While there has been an enormous amount of justifiable attention devoted to the Islamic heartlands of the Middle East — Syria, Iran, Egypt, and Lebanon — the counterterrorism war against U.S. enemies continues across the greater region.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.