US strike kills 9 al Qaeda and Taliban in North Waziristan
The US continues to target al Qaeda and Taliban safe houses and training camps in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal areas. The latest attack killed nine, including six "foreign militants" - a reference to al Qaeda operatives.
At least two missiles were reported to have been fired at two known Taliban safe houses in the village of Tati near the city of Miramshah. A Reuters reporter saw an unmanned US Predator aircraft flying in the area and conducting the attack.
"The attack targeted the house of a local Taliban commander named Hafiz Sahar Gul," The News reported. Three member of Gul's family and six al Qaeda operatives were killed in the strike, according to Pakistani sources. No senior Taliban or al Qaeda leaders have been identified as killed.
The US has been heavily targeting the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan since attacks were stepped up at the end of August. Nine of the 14 strikes conducted in Pakistan's tribal areas since Aug. 31 have hit Haqqani assets in North Waziristan. A US strike hit the Haqqani's main mosque in Miramshah on Sept. 9, sparking a series of attacks against Pakistani forces in North Waziristan.
The powerful Haqqani family controls the Miramshah region in North Waziristan. The Haqqanis run a parallel government in North Waziristan and conduct military and suicide operations in eastern Afghanistan. Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani have close ties to Osama bin Laden. Siraj is one of the most wanted terrorist commanders in Afghanistan for his involvement in a string of deadly attacks and for recruiting and training foreign terrorists for suicide attacks.
The Pakistani military has shied away from confronting the Haqqanis and Hafiz Gul Bahadar, another senior Taliban commander in North Waziristan. The military commander assured the Waziri tribes that an operation would not be launched against "militant tribes" in North Waziristan. Instead the military sought to honor the February 2008 peace agreement.
The US has stepped up attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas this year after the Taliban and al Qaeda consolidated control in the tribal regions and settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. There have been 23 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan in 2008, compared to 10 strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined.
These attacks are designed to interdict al Qaeda's ability to conduct attacks against the West as well as degrade the Taliban's support network being used against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Three senior al Qaeda leaders have been killed in the attacks.
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.
The Pakistani military said it had direct orders to "open fire" on any US forces attempting to violate Pakistan's borders. The military has fired on US helicopters along the border at least three times in September. But in a briefing today in parliament, the military said it does not have the capacity to shoot down US Predators and other advanced aircraft.
US attacks inside Pakistan and incidents along the border in 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