August 9, 2009

COIN 101

Freshly baked propaganda lasagna. Eat up.

Pakistani officials and FBI agents actively whispered Baitullah Mehsud's death. Eager to display their biggest prize yet, intelligence of the video leaked before his body could be found. US newspapers got word and went front page. They wanted everyone to think, no matter what, that Mehsud was dead. A day passed and Pakistani officials confirmed his death by describing video footage of the explosion and his body ripping in half.

A short while later, government-operated Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) reported that Hakimullah and Mufti Waliur Rahman killed each other at the shura while debating leadership. A little while after, one of them was dead. Then both were dead again. Qari Hussain, Mehud's lieutenant and bombmaker, was added to the injured list of the Mehsud strike, "grievous" at that. It was late Friday night.

This morning Hakimullah reportedly called an AP reporter and the BBC to explain neither he nor Baitullah was killed, and that Baitullah has gone into hiding. Mullah Maulvi Nazir made the same claim to another reporter and said he'd spoken to Rahman. Hussain reportedly phoned in, as he has before after a missile strike, to threaten retaliation for "evil propaganda." It's difficult enough to discern the authenticity of these men, let alone their statements. Claiming that Mehsud is alive seems cheap unless they've faked the whole thing. Hakimullah seems to be alive, for the moment.

Later tonight the Pakistani press started to reveal its sources. Haji Turkestan Bhittani and Baz Mohammad, commanders in the rival Abdullah Mehsud Group, told Geo News TV the same story that Pakistani officials and Obama advisers like National Security Adviser James Jones, not to mention US newspapers, were churning out.

What a delicious coincidence.

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