Near Miss: CIA Drone Almost Hits Taliban Chief in Pakistan

Strike's target was Baitullah Mehsud, implicated in murder of Benazir Bhutto.

ByABC News
May 26, 2009, 11:24 AM

June 26, 2009— -- ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A CIA drone strike earlier this week just missed the head of the Taliban in Pakistan, killing at least 65 people at a funeral he attended and damaging his personal car, according to a resident and a Pakistani intelligent agent in the area.

The strike's target was Baitullah Mehsud, who Pakistan has blamed for the death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and dozens of other attacks across the country. Pakistan is currently preparing for a war against Mehsud in the rugged South Waziristan tribal district, and the CIA has increased its attempts to kill him in the past 6 months.

U.S. intelligence officials say they believe Mehsud is "still among the living." But this appears to be the closest that a drone strike has come to killing Mehsud. He was attended the Tuesday funeral prayer, which lasts no more than a minute and a half, the resident of the area said. 2 missiles struck right after the prayer was finished as most of the mourners were leaving the open-air funeral.

Mehsud was in that group of mourners, but the missile appears to have hit a relatively small area where Mehsud was not standing.

"Only if it had landed 15-20 seconds before, it would have hit a lot more people and maybe" Mehsud himself, the resident said.

Mehsud had not left the village, Zangara, and his car was close enough to the explosion site that it was damaged, the resident said.

A Taliban commander named Sangin, who was close to Mehsud, was killed in the strike, the intelligence agent and the resident said.

A Taliban commander named Sangin, who was close to Mehsud, was killed in the strike, the intelligence agent and the resident said.

","publishedDate":"2009-05-26T15:24:03Z","contributors":[{"name":"ABC News","url":"","role":"","logo":"","logoAlt":""}],"authorsStr":"ABC News","modifiedDate":"2009-06-26T17:39:02Z","section":"Blotter","wordCount":277,"relatedTags":{"heading":"Related Topics","tags":[]},"lead":{"ratio":"16x9","disableForMobile":false,"type":"xl","mediaType":"image","alignCaptionToBody":true},"ads":{"Sticky":{"kvps":{"test":true}},"RightRail":{"kvps":{"test":true}},"InlineBox":{},"InlineOutstream":{"disabled":false},"Taboola":{"position":"bottom","pageType":"article","config":{"network":"abcnews-abcnews","mode":"thumbnails-a","container":"taboola-below-article-thumbnails","type":"article","targetType":"mix","placement":"Below Article Thumbnails"}}},"featuredVideo":null,"featuredImage":{},"dateline":"June 26, 2009—","seo":{},"LivePromotion":{},"isShared":false},"autoUpdate":{"enabled":false,"topics":["general-elections-2020-balance-of-power"]}},"upw":{"balanceOfPower":{"electoral":{"header":"Biden Projected to be President-Elect","winningParty":"democrats","candidates":{"democrats":{"id":1036,"displayName":"Joe Biden","shortDisplayName":"J. Biden","firstName":"Joe","lastName":"Biden","party":"democrats","major":true,"incumbent":false,"winner":true,"votes":306},"republicans":{"id":8639,"displayName":"Donald Trump","shortDisplayName":"D. Trump","firstName":"Donald","lastName":"Trump","party":"republicans","major":true,"incumbent":true,"winner":false,"votes":232},"other":{"displayName":"Other","lastName":"Independent","votes":0}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans","other":"other"},"type":"electoral","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{},"total":306,"difference":{},"popular":{"displayValue":"81,283,098","value":81283098}},"republicans":{"available":{},"total":232,"difference":{},"popular":{"displayValue":"74,222,958","value":74222958}},"other":{"available":{},"total":0,"popular":{}},"total":538},"needed":{"displayText":"270 to win","displayValue":"270","value":270},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-18T21:15:13.850Z","displayValue":"December 18, 4:15:13PM ET"},"reporting":"99% of Expected Vote Reporting","rawReporting":"99%","typeDisplay":"President"},"senate":{"header":"Senate Seat Results","winningParty":null,"candidates":{"democrats":{"displayName":"Democrat","icon":"party-democrats","votes":46,"winner":false},"republicans":{"displayName":"Republican","icon":"party-republicans","votes":50,"winner":false},"other":{"displayName":"Other","lastName":"Independent","votes":2}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans","other":"other"},"type":"senate","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{"displayText":"12 Democrats up for election","shortDisplayText":"12 Dems. up for election","displayValue":"12","value":12},"total":46,"difference":{"displayText":"Gained 1 seat","displayValue":"1","value":1},"popular":{}},"republicans":{"available":{"displayText":"23 Republicans up for election","shortDisplayText":"23 Reps. up for election","displayValue":"23","value":23},"total":50,"difference":{"displayText":"Lost 1 seat","displayValue":"-1","value":-1},"popular":{}},"other":{"available":{"displayText":"0 Others up for election","shortDisplayText":"0 Others up for election","displayValue":"0","value":0},"total":2,"popular":{}},"total":100},"needed":{"displayText":"51 for control","displayValue":"51","value":51},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-17T18:22:05.390Z","displayValue":"December 17, 1:22:05PM ET"},"typeDisplay":"Senate"},"house":{"header":"House Results: Dems Retain Control","winningParty":"democrats","candidates":{"democrats":{"displayName":"Democrat","icon":"party-democrats","votes":222,"winner":true},"republicans":{"displayName":"Republican","icon":"party-republicans","votes":210,"winner":false},"other":{"displayName":"Other","lastName":"Independent","votes":0}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans","other":"other"},"type":"house","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{"displayText":"233 Democrats up for election","shortDisplayText":"233 Dems. up for election","displayValue":"233","value":233},"total":222,"difference":{"displayText":"Lost 10 seats","displayValue":"-10","value":-10},"popular":{}},"republicans":{"available":{"displayText":"201 Republicans up for election","shortDisplayText":"201 Reps. up for election","displayValue":"201","value":201},"total":210,"difference":{"displayText":"Gained 10 seats","displayValue":"10","value":10},"popular":{}},"other":{"available":{"displayText":"1 Others up for election","shortDisplayText":"1 Others up for election","displayValue":"1","value":1},"total":0,"popular":{}},"total":435},"needed":{"displayText":"218 for control","displayValue":"218","value":218},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-17T18:22:02.900Z","displayValue":"December 17, 1:22:02PM ET"},"typeDisplay":"House"},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-18T21:15:13.850Z","displayValue":"December 18, 4:15:13PM ET"},"autoUpdate":{"enabled":false,"topics":["general-elections-2020-balance-of-power"]},"electionsConfig":{}},"types":["electoral","senate","house"]}},"analytics":{"accountID":"wdgnewabcnews,wdgasec,wdgnewabcnweb,wdgnewabcnewsrollup","ns":"abcnews","pageName":"abcn:blotter:story","pageType":"story","pageUrl":"abcnews.go.com/Blotter/International/story?id=7939317&page=1&userab=shop_ui_series-247*variant_a_cta_original-939","globalSpecVersion":"v1.08","siteDifferentiator":"abcn:site","tagID":"apage_news01","userABCookie":"shop_ui_series-247*variant_a_cta_original-939","alertTag":"none","authors":"ABC News","authorsBureau":"none","authorsUnit":"none","dateline":"June 26, 2009—","id":"7939317","modDate":"2009-06-26","mediaOnPage":"image","modTime":"13:39","provider":"ABC News","pubDate":"2009-05-26","pubTime":"11:24","section":"Blotter","subBrand":"none","title":"Near Miss: CIA Drone Almost Hits Taliban Chief in Pakistan","videoId":"none","videoName":"none","wordCount":277},"taboola":{"config":{"network":"abcnews-abcnews","mode":"thumbnails-a","type":"other","targetType":"mix","placement":null,"pageTypeOverrides":{"story":{"mode":"thumbnails-a","type":"article","targetType":"mix","placement":"Below Article Thumbnails"},"home":{"mode":"thumbnails-b","container":"taboola-homepage-thumbnails","type":"home","targetType":"mix","placement":"Homepage Thumbnails"},"section":{"mode":"thumbnails-b","type":"category","targetType":"mix","placement":"Section Front Thumbnails"},"liveBlog":{"mode":"thumbnails-d","type":"other","targetType":"mix","placement":"Blog"}}}}},"request":{"headers":{},"httpVersion":"1.1","method":"GET","url":"/Blotter/International/story?id=7939317&page=1&userab=shop_ui_series-247*variant_a_cta_original-939","vary":{"host":"abcnews.go.com","cached":true,"path":"/Blotter/International/story","forwarded-proto":"https","device":"desktop","country":"us","userab":"shop_ui_series-247*variant_a_cta_original-939","region":"gdpr"}},"viewport":{"width":1260,"height":0},"user":{}};