Baitullah Mehsud at a news conference, 2009.
Courtesy Reuters

For good reason, U.S. and Pakistani officials are eager to declare Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), dead. A TTP-sponsored attack in 2009 on U.S. Forward Operating Base Chapman killed seven CIA employees. And the TTP has repeatedly hit Pakistani government targets with impressive brutality. Most recently, it released a video of its execution of 15 captured Pakistani soldiers, which declared, "This will be the fate of you all." 

Thus, when, on January 15, news outlets across the world reported Mehsud dead, killed by a U.S. drone attack, many must have breathed a sigh of

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