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Profile: Abdullah Mehsud
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16/10/2004



By Rahimullah Yusufzai
BBC correspondent in Peshawar


Abdullah Mehsud, the commander of the Islamic militants who kidnapped two Chinese engineers in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, spent 25 months in custody at the US base in Guantanamo Bay before his release in March.
As a young man, Mehsud, now 29, fought for the Taleban against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

He lost a leg in a landmine explosion a few days before the Taleban took Kabul in September 1996.

He surrendered along with several thousand fighters to the forces of Uzbek warlord, Abdul Rashid Dostum, in December 2001 in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, and was later turned over to the US military authorities.

Mehsud studied at a government college in Peshawar before attending a seminary where he befriended Afghan Taleban members and joined their movement.


Daredevil

Mehsud, whose real name is Noor Alam, is a Pashtun, the same ethnic group as the Taleban and belongs to the Mehsud tribe that inhabits South Waziristan on the Afghanistan border.

Mehsud has declared holy war on President Musharraf

His long hair and daredevil nature has made him a colourful character.

Since his return from Guantanamo Bay, Mehsud has become a hero to anti-US fighters active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He was a comrade of another tribal militant commander, Nek Mohammad, who was killed by a Pakistani army missile in June.

Mehsud sometimes rides a camel or horse while visiting his fighters in his mountainous abode.

On other occasions, his men drive him in a vehicle and protect him round-the-clock.

In a recent telephone interview with the BBC, Mehsud said he led his fighters by example by taking risks and surviving in tough conditions.

Criticising US policies toward Muslims, he said the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan was a provocation for the followers of Islam and must be avenged.

He said he did not want to fight the Pakistan army but had declared jihad, or holy war, against the government of President Pervez Musharraf, who he accused of carrying out US policies in the region.


SOURCE: BBC News