A top Afghan Taliban planner and organizer tells NEWSWEEK he wasn’t surprised by the attempted car bombing in Times Square. “We were expecting this,” says the source, who operates on both sides of the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. He says the Pakistani Taliban—formally known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban—was hellbent on revenge after the Predator drone attack that killed its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, last August and the more recent strikes that nearly killed Baitullah’s successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, this January. “They were desperately looking for revenge against America inside America,” says the source, who declined to be identified by name for security reasons.
Hakimullah went deep underground immediately after the Hellfire missile attack in January, disappearing so completely that even his fellow militants thought he was dead. According to the senior Afghan source, he vanished not only for his own safety but also because he wanted to come back with a bang: “Hakimullah wanted to announce his return with a successful bombing in America.”