Mehsud was wanted for the kidnapping of Chinese engineers in 2004 and was a Taliban leader with large following in the Balochistan province, and SWFP.
Mehsud was released from prison in Guantanamo, and went almost immediately back to Jihad. [editor: Mehsud is the Poster-boy for why we should not close Guantanamo.] He is likely involved in the recent Lal Masjid incident (one of his commanders was inside from the start) and is suspected of involvement in some of the recent assassination attempts on government figures and officials in the tribal regions.
From Malaysia Sun:
Militant leader Abdullah Mehsud who has blown himself in order to avoid arrest, was wanted for kidnapping two Chinese engineers in Pakistan in 2004.
Mehsud was the mastermind behind the kidnapping of Chinese engineers in Pakistan in 2004.
He blew himself in south-western Balochistan province when army surrounded him, a police spokesman said.
Javed Cheema, Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesman told a news agency that Mehsud blew himself up with a hand grenade after soldiers raided a hideout in Zhob district of south-western Balochistan. The explosion wounded no military personnel. Analysts say the kidnapping was an attempt to secure the release of the al-Qaeda militants held during army operations in South Waziristan.
Mehsud, whose real name was Noor Alam belonged to Pashtun tribe and fought for the Taliban against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. He also spent 25 months in custody at the US base in Guantanamo Bay.
He also led forces in one of the schism battles in which Uzbek fighters were pushed from South Waziristan to North Waziristan. This was more likely over who would lead the gangs of terrorist thugs in the frontiers than anything else. Correction: Mehsud mix-up — it was Baitullah Mehsud, not Abdullah who led the putsch against the Uzbeks. Baitullah is Abdullah’s brother, and still rules the Taliban in South Waziristan.
The following paragraph is pure speculation on my part: I’ve always thought that this schism, or multiple fractures of AQAM groups started back in August / September, when UBL was rumored to have died and Zawahiri established a new shura council. That council was originally supposed to have been led by four, but in reality I believe this to have been a Zawahiri coup. I think Bin Laden’s dead, and that Ayman Al Zawahiri’s poor leadership is the reason for all these fractures between Jihadi groups in Pakistan.
Lal Masjid was set up specifically as the incident to re-unite the factions, but in truth it did not.
Detailed update at The Fourth Rail
more on Mehsud aka Noor Alaam at BBC.
In other news regarding the aftermath of Lal Masjid, President Pervez Musharraf has appointed Chaudry Shujaat Hussein to head a committee to reform madrassas. This is long overdue.