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U.S. targets Pakistani Taliban leader

Jan. 21, 2011 at 12:56 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Qari Hussain, a leader of the Pakistani Taliban, is considered the deadliest commander of the militant group, Washington said after sanctioning him.

The U.S. State Department announced it designated Hussain as a terrorist, which gives Washington the authority to target his finances by blocking his assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

The State Department said Hussain was one of the top commanders of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, which claimed responsibility for orchestrating a series of suicide bombings across Pakistan.

The State Department said the Taliban leader is "notorious" for recruiting suicide bombers and has gained "particular notoriety" for recruiting children.

"Hussain's sponsored operations have had a destabilizing effect on the region and his use of children to carry out suicide bombings is abhorrent," said Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the State Department's coordinator for counter-terrorism, in a statement.

Washington believes Hussain was tied to a September bombing in the Pakistani city of Quetta that killed at least 54 people.

There were various reports that Hussain was killed by a missile fired from a U.S. drone over North Waziristan. Jason Blazakis, a top counter-terrorism official at the State Department, told the online Long War Journal that reports like these aren't new.

"We are aware of disparate press reports in Pakistan noting Qari Hussain's demise, but rumors of his demise are not new and have proven inaccurate before," he said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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