ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani officials fear that a video that appears to link the suicide bomber who struck a CIA base in Afghanistan just over a week ago to the Pakistani Taliban will prompt the Obama administration to step up pressure on them to take more aggressive action against extremists and further intensify U.S. drone attacks on targets in Pakistan.
In the video, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, is sitting alongside the attacker, Jordanian Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, with automatic weapons on their laps. The video appears to indicate that the Pakistani Taliban played a significant role in the attack on the U.S. base and to provide new evidence of the Pakistani group's ties to al-Qaida.
In a fiery posthumous message, al-Balawi said he was acting against Jordanian intelligence and the CIA, and to avenge the death of the previous Pakistani Taliban chief, Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed by a U.S. missile strike in his native South Waziristan last August.
Al-Balawi was a double agent, a jihadist who had been recruited by Jordanian intelligence to assist the CIA in its hunt for al-Qaida leaders who are thought to be based in Pakistan's tribal areas near the Afghan border.
U.S. and Jordanian intelligence officers thought he had turned against the militants, but he blew himself up Dec. 30 inside a U.S. base in Khost, Afghanistan, just across the border from Pakistan, where intelligence officers were collecting intelligence on Afghan and Pakistani militants and on al-Qaida, and using some of it to target missile strikes by pilotless drone aircraft. The blast killed seven CIA officers, including the base chief, and a Jordanian intelligence officer.
The drone attacks have intensified since the bombing in Khost, with the seventh missile strike since the suicide bombing coming Saturday in North Waziristan, part of the tribal area and a region where Washington is pressing Pakistan to launch an offensive.