- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials on Wednesday charged the leader of Pakistan’s Taliban with planning violent attacks against American forces in Afghanistan, including last year’s suicide bombing that killed seven CIA employees.

The Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against Hakimullah Mehsud, the self-proclaimed emir of the Pakistani Taliban, in federal court in Washington. Mehsud in charged with conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens abroad and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction — or explosives — against U.S. citizens abroad.

The charges stem from a December 2009 bombing in which seven CIA employees and a Jordanian intelligence officer were killed. A suicide bomber detonated explosives at a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan.

The charges were part of a broader U.S. move Wednesday to punish the Pakistani Taliban. The State Department added Mehsud’s group, known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban or TTP, to the government’s international terrorism blacklist. In addition to the CIA bombing, Pakistan’s Taliban has been blamed for the failed May 1 car bombing in New York’s Times Square.

The State Department has put a $5 million bounty on Mehsud and another top Taliban leader, Wali ur-Rehman, and the Treasury Department has placed financial and travel sanctions on Mehsud and others identified with the group.

Mehsud was thought to have been killed in a U.S. drone missile strike in January, but he has since turned up in Taliban videos. He is believed to be hiding along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

“Today’s charges underscore our continuing commitment to seek justice for Americans who are murdered or victimized by overseas terrorist attacks,” said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.

Mehsud faces life in prison if convicted on all charges.

“We support any lawful means to hold this terrorist accountable for what he’s done,” CIA spokesman George Little said. “The announcement today is part of that.”

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

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