US Predators strike again in Waziristan
US unmanned Predator aircraft struck inside Pakistan's tribal areas for the second time today. After targeting a mid-level al Qaeda operative in North Waziristan, US Predators attacked a compound in Wana, South Waziristan.
Six "foreigners" -- a term used to describe Arabs or other non-Pakistani al Qaeda members -- and a "tribesman" are reported to have been killed in the strike. The compound is said to be owned by Faz-e-Haq.
Tahir Yuldalshev, the commander of a Uzbek terror group, and Mullah Nazir were the target of the attack. A US intelligence source said that Nazir was wounded in the strike, "possibly seriously."
Nazir is a rival to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. He ejected Uzbeks from the al Qaeda-allied Islamic Jihad Union from the Wana region in 2007. This action caused the media to describe Nazir as "pro-government Taliban." But Nazir is allied with the Uzbeks of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
But Nazir openly supports al Qaeda and its leadership. He admitted he would provide shelter to senior al Qaeda leaders. "How can I say no to any request from Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar under tribal traditions, if they approach me to get shelter?" Nazir asked the Pakistani press in the spring of 2007.
Al Qaeda runs terror camps inside Nazir's tribal areas and helps to finance his operations. Nazir's forces fight against Afghan and Coalition forces inside Afghanistan.
Yuldashev is the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al Qaeda-linked group that operates out of Pakistan's tribal areas. Yuldashev enjoys a close relationship with Osama bin Laden. He is a member of al Qaeda's global shura council. Some of Yuldashev's fighters are believed to serve in the Black Guard, Osama bin Laden's personal corps of bodyguards.
Yuldashev maintains tactical control of about 1,000 to 2,000 fighters inside Pakistan and Afghanistan, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal in the past. His fighters are active in eastern Afghanistan, where they attack Coalition and Afghan forces.
Today's first attack
Earlier today US Predators hit a Taliban safe house in Mir Ali, North Waziristan. Twenty-one people, including a mid-level al Qaeda commander, are said to have been killed in the attack.
The target of the Mir Ali strike is said to have been Abu Kasha, an al Qaeda operative who facilitates the group's external operations against the West. Kasha is an Iraqi national and has long been established in Mir Ali.
The US campaign in Pakistan is aimed at disrupting al Qaeda's ability to attack the West, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on Sept. 19. US intelligence believes the next attack launched against the West will originate from Pakistan's tribal areas, where al Qaeda operates 157 known training camps.
There have been 27 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan in 2008, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty of these attacks have occurred since Aug. 31. There were only 10 strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined.
Four senior al Qaeda leaders -- Abu Laith al Libi, Abu Sulayman Jazairi, Abu Khabab al Masri, and Khalid Habib -- have been killed during the strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas in 2008.
US attacks inside Pakistan and incidents along the border in 2008:
• US Predators strike again in Waziristan,
Oct. 31, 2008
• US strikes kill al Qaeda operatives in North & South Waziristan,
Oct. 31, 2008
• US targets Taliban "facility" in South Waziristan,
Oct. 26, 2008
• US hits Haqqani Network in North Waziristan,
Oct. 22, 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