US kills 6 in strike in Baitullah Mehsud’s territory

After a relative lull in targeted airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the US has launched an attack in South Waziristan.

Reports from Pakistan indicate at least six were killed and five were wounded after an unmanned Predator strike aircraft launched two missiles in the tribal region run by Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. It is unclear if any senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders were killed in the attack.

The strike targeted a safe house in the village of Sam in the Ladha region. The Pakistani Frontier Corps abandoned a fort in Ladha after the Taliban made three attempts to overrun the fort this year. Pakistani officials said the military was unable to hold and resupply the outposts due to Taliban activity.

The US has upped its attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas in an attempt to disrupt al Qaeda and the Taliban’s network of training camps and safe houses that are being used to plot attacks against the West and in Afghanistan.

Today’s strike was the first since Oct. 11, when US Predators hit a safe house run by the Haqqani family in North Waziristan. Two days prior, the US hit another safe house in North Waziristan, where more than 30 senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders are said to have been meeting.

US officials familiar with the Oct. 9 strike The Long War Journal they believe the operation was compromised by Pakistani intelligence, as the meeting was abruptly broken up just 10 minutes prior to the strike. Six low-level al Qaeda operatives and three others were killed in airstrike. No senior leaders were killed in the attack.

There have been 24 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan in 2008, compared to 10 strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined. Sixteen of these attacks have occurred since Aug. 31. Three senior al Qaeda leaders have been killed in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2008.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

US attacks inside Pakistan and incidents along the border in 2008:

US strike in Baitullah Mehsud’s territory kills 6

Oct. 16, 2008

US targets safe house in North Waziristan

Oct. 11, 2008

US strike kills 9 al Qaeda and Taliban in North Waziristan

Oct. 9, 2008

US conducts two strikes in North Waziristan

Oct. 3, 2008

Taliban: Baitullah Mehsud alive; US strike in North Waziristan

Oct. 1, 2008

Pakistan military fires on ISAF forces

Sept. 25, 2008

Pakistani military fires on US helicopters at border

Sept. 22, 2008

US strikes Taliban camp in South Waziristan

Sept. 17, 2008

Report: US helicopters fired on while crossing Pakistani border

Sept. 15, 2008

US hits compound in North Waziristan,

Sept. 12, 2008

US targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan,

Sept. 8, 2008

US airstrike killed five al Qaeda operatives in North Waziristan,

Sept. 5, 2008

Report: US airstrike kills four in North Waziristan,

Sept. 4, 2008

Pakistanis claim US helicopter-borne forces assaulted village in South Waziristan,

Sept. 3, 2008

US hits al Qaeda safe house in North Waziristan,

Aug. 31, 2008

Five killed in al Qaeda safe house strike in South Waziristan,

Aug. 31, 2008

Al Qaeda safe house targeted in South Waziristan strike,

Aug. 20, 2008

Cross-border strike targets one of the Taliban’s 157 training camps in Pakistan’s northwest,

Aug. 13, 2008

Six killed in strike in South Waziristan,

July 28, 2008

Report: Strike targets Baitullah Mehsud’s hideout in Pakistan,

June 14, 2008

Senior Algerian al Qaeda operative killed in May 14 strike inside Pakistan,

May 24, 2008

Missile strike kills 20 in South Waziristan,

March 16, 2008

Unprecedented Coalition strike nails the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan,

March 13, 2008

Missile strike on al Qaeda meeting in South Waziristan kills 13,

Feb. 28, 2008

Senior al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al Libi killed in North Waziristan,

Jan. 31, 2008

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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5 Comments

  • Private Finch says:

    It seems the ISI intelligence agency is so full of leaks that there are few chances to take-out the top leaders of alQ and Taliban. At least the past few weeks have shown more ISI cooperation. The Marriott hotel bombing should have given the P- gov a wake-up call.

  • RW says:

    The ISI has a strong history of being sympathetic to the Taliban. They have on a periodic basis given up Al Qaeda figures.
    They do not take so well to taking down Taliban, especially senior Taliban. This concern is reflected in this story.
    There are elements of the ISI outright openly supporting the Taliban. We need to bypass them whenever possible.

  • remoteman says:

    RW, with all due respect, we don’t need to just bypass those elements of the ISI who are supporting the Taliban, we need to kill them. They are equally our enemy and the enemy of sanity in Pakistan. In fact, I would much rather have the Pak Army identify these individuals and have them swinging from a gallows.

  • GME says:

    Does this story make you think that field commanders who KNOW enemy HVTs are gathering somewhere must go through a chain of command that is compromised? It’s starting to sound like these strikes are intelligence-driven, then intelligence-boggled.
    If we are fighting an enemy who is creative and cunning, why are we not creative and cunning? Just some ideas: If an HVT is targeted by one of OUR people (not some untrustworthy local who will take money from everyone), then do things like use objects on the ground to signal when and where to hit the target. No electronic communications, just good old rock signals. We’ve got huge imaging technology. Why not use THAT to communicate? AQ and Taliban are fond of Land Cruisers, video cameras, and video editing software. Those products have to be purchased and serviced. What are villagers in these backwaters doing with Land Cruisers anyway? Why not track these obvious clues and trace them to their customers?
    And what about the fear of the dreaded “collateral damage?” Can’t we assume that every attack will be reported as having killed women and children by the enemy? Indeed, it seems that every attack is used as propaganda by the enemy, so why sweat “collateral damage?”
    What about the phenomenon we read about were “militants” rush to an attack scene to rescue comrades and cover up information? Why not attack every follow-up gathering at the attack location. AQ certainly does that, don’t they? Perhaps the militants won’t be so inclined to rush to the site lest they become targets. That way, our own agents could study the attack site. There are probably computers, paperwork, etc. that we need. It is so frustrating to keep hearing these reports. Perhaps the bureaucracy and rules of engagement are making these strikes pointless.

  • JusCruzn says:

    I just love those predators! Nothing like killing hirabi’s by remote control. GOOD WORK TROOPS KEEP KILLING HIRABI”S!!!

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