In testimony Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said new terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe could be launched from al-Qaida sanctuaries in the mountainous region of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border.
One of the key figures in that area is tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud, who recently emerged from obscurity to become a major Taliban commander and an al-Qaida ally.
Until recently, Mehsud was a little-known tribal leader in the rugged Waziristan region. Now he's the prime suspect in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. His rise to power and influence coincides with the strengthening of al-Qaida in Pakistan, and U.S. intelligence officials now say he must be targeted as part of the broader al-Qaida fight.