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Pakistani Taliban leader's former bodyguard nabbed, sources say

From Reza Sayah, CNN
  • Rehmatullah served as a special bodyguard in 2009
  • He says it's an "honor" to work for Hakimullah Mehsud
  • Mehsud is a key leader of the Pakistani Taliban

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani security forces have captured one of the former bodyguards of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, intelligence officials told CNN Saturday.

Two intelligence officials said security forces arrested the man, identified as "Rehmatullah" during a raid of a militant hideout in a village in Orakzai, one of seven district's in Pakistan's often ungoverned tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Rehmatullah served as Mehsud's special bodyguard for several months in 2009, according to the officials, who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to media.

"It's an honor for any Taliban to work for Mehsud," Rehmatullah said after his capture, according to the officials.

The officials said Rehmatullah refused to reveal the whereabouts of Mehsud, who told them, "I would rather die than share any information about the whereabouts of Mehsud."

Mehsud has been charged for his alleged involvement in the killings of seven U.S. citizens at an American military base in Afghanistan in 2009, the U.S. Justice Department announced last month.

He is believed to be the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which a U.S. official described as a "Taliban-inspired alliance of Pakistan-based Sunni tribal militants."

A $5 million reward is being offered for information leading to the capture of Mehsud and another top Pakistani Taliban leader, Wali Ur Rehman, U.S. officials announced.

The Pakistani Taliban -- which was declared a terrorist organization by the United States -- claimed responsibility for the December 30, 2009, suicide attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan and the attempted Times Square bombing earlier this year.

All the victims of the base attack were killed by a suicide bomber, a Jordanian national named Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, at a U.S. base near Khost, Afghanistan. The attack killed five CIA officers, two private military contractors working for the CIA, and a member of Jordanian intelligence.

U.S. officials believe Mehsud was working with al-Balawi in planning the attack as well as planning the failed bombing attack in Times Square in May.

Journalist Nasir Habib contributed to this report.