US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 6


Unmanned US strike aircraft killed six Islamist extremists in an attack on a compound in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

The strike took place in the Datta Khel region in North Waziristan, a region that hosts a headquarters for al Qaeda's Shadow Army.

"Two missiles fired by a US drone hit a compound which was being used by militants," a senior Pakistani security official told Dawn. "One missile hit a compound and the other hit a vehicle outside it. Six militants were killed."

At this time, no senior al Qaeda or Taliban commanders have been reported killed.

The US has ramped up the attacks in Pakistan since the beginning of December, after a lull in strikes in October and November of 2009, when only four airstrikes were launched. Today's strike is the 10th this year and the 11th in 20 days. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see: Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010.]

The pace of the strikes is unprecedented. The US carried out the most strikes in Pakistan in Oct. 2008; 10 attacks were carried out that month. Already this month, the US has matched that record, with 11 days left in the month.

Datta Khel is a hub of al Qaeda activity

The Datta Khel region in North Waziristan is a known haven for al Qaeda and allied Central Asian jihadi groups. The US has conducted multiple strikes in the Datta Khel region since January 2008, which is administered by Hafiz Gul Bahadar and the Haqqani Network. The latest strike in Datta Khel, on Jan. 6, killed 17 terrorists, including two "foreigners," a term used for Arab al Qaeda members.

A strike on Dec. 17, 2009 targeted Sheikh Saeed al Saudi, Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law and a member of al Qaeda's Shura Majlis, or executive council. Al Saudi is thought to have survived the strike, but Abdullah Said al Libi, the commander of the Shadow Army or Lashkar al Zil, and Zuhaib al Zahibi, a general in the Shadow Army, were both killed in the attack.

Datta Khel borders the Jani Khel region in the settled district of Bannu. The Jani Khel region has long been a strategic meeting place and safe haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Jani Khel was identified as the headquarters for al Qaeda's Shura Majlis back in 2007. Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, has operated in the Jani Khel region. The US has struck al Qaeda safe houses in Jani Khel twice since last year. These strikes are the only two Predator attacks that have occurred outside of Pakistan's tribal areas.

The town of Jani Khel is a known haven for al Qaeda leaders and fighters. Senior al Qaeda operative Abdullah Azzam al Saudi was killed in a Predator strike in Jani Khel on Nov. 19, 2008. Azzam served as a liaison between al Qaeda and the Taliban operating in Pakistan's northwest.

Al Qaeda is known to have deposited its donations received from Europe into the Bayt al Mal, or Bank of Money, in Jani Khel, according to a report at the NEFA Foundation. The Bayt al Mal served as al Qaeda's treasury.

Background on the recent strikes in Pakistan

The US air campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas has been stepped up since Hakeemullah aided the Dec. 30, 2009, suicide attack by a Jordanian al Qaeda operative at Combat Outpost Chapman in Afghanistan's Khost province. The bomber killed seven CIA officials, including the station chief, and a Jordanian intelligence officer. Hakeemullah appeared on a martyrdom tape with the suicide bomber that was released shortly after the attack.

The US is actively hunting Hakeemullah, intelligence officials told The Long War Journal.

The air campaign has had success over the past two months. Since Dec. 8, 2009, the air campaign in Pakistan has killed two senior al Qaeda leaders, a senior Taliban commander, two senior al Qaeda operatives, and a wanted Palestinian terrorist who was allied with al Qaeda.

Already this year, the US has killed Mansur al Shami, an al Qaeda ideologue and aide to al Qaeda's leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu Yazid; and Haji Omar Khan, a senior Taliban leader in North Waziristan. Also, Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim, the Abu Nidal Organization operative who participated in killing 22 hostages during the 1986 hijacking of Pan Am flight 73, is thought to have been killed in the Jan. 9 airstrike.

In December 2009, the US killed Abdullah Said al Libi, the top commander of the Lashkar al Zil, al Qaeda's Shadow Army; Zuhaib al Zahib, a senior commander in the Lashkar al Zil; and Saleh al Somali, the leader of al Qaeda's external network [see LWJ report, "Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010" for the full list].


US strikes in Pakistan in 2010:

US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 6
Jan. 19, 2010
Latest US airstrike in Pakistan kills 20
Jan. 17, 2010
US strikes kill 11 in North Waziristan
Jan. 15, 2010
US airstrike hits Taliban camp in North Waziristan
Jan. 14, 2010
US airstrike kills 4 Taliban fighters in North Waziristan
Jan. 9, 2010
US airstrike kills 5 in North Waziristan
Jan. 8, 2010
US kills 17 in latest North Waziristan strike
Jan. 6, 2010
US airstrike kills 2 Taliban fighters in Mir Ali in Pakistan
Jan. 3, 2010
US kills 3 Taliban in second strike in North Waziristan
Jan. 1, 2010



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READER COMMENTS: "US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 6"

Posted by David at January 19, 2010 11:45 AM ET:

That is great to hear that we are going after the heart of the beast....
Al-Qaeda is on the run..We also need to hit them in their homeland Saudi Arabia. There is a shadow government that needs to be reveled to the world...Iran also needs to see that we will hit terrorism where ever it sits...

Posted by Zeissa at January 19, 2010 12:35 PM ET:

For my birthday on 9'th of February from America I want 20 more airstrikes! But 10 will do.

Posted by don juice at January 19, 2010 5:13 PM ET:

bill press TV said according to yo site the drone strikes have killed mostly civillans http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116576§ionid=351020401

Posted by Bill Roggio at January 19, 2010 5:15 PM ET:

I addressed that here:

http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2010/01/irans_presstv_distorts_lwj_rep.php

I also tried to email them via the email address on their website but the address is of course invalid.

Posted by Setrak at January 19, 2010 11:56 PM ET:

The UnIslamic NonRepublic of Iran used a state-controlled media outlet to propagate propaganda? Who woulda thunk it.

The increased pace of drone strikes is remarkable. We're just about at a third of all the strikes that took place in 2008 in a mere twenty days of 2010. If one for every two days were to hold for the year it'd be over a 3-fold increase from 2009. We're escalating attacks on their rear-base while preparing to surge right in front of them.

Posted by T Ruth at January 20, 2010 12:12 AM ET:

Zeissa,

If the Chinese can gift the Gwadar port to the Americans, why 20, you can have one hundred strikes!

Actually, i fail to see why in this still new millenium we can't have a New World Order, beginning with an alliance for Afpak that includes America/nato, China, India, Russia and maybe even Iran--who all have common interests in regional peace and ending aspirations of a global Islamic State.

Obama's promised power-diplomacy hasn't delivered much yet and Ms Clinton too, yet to impress!

All this talk about negotiating with the Taliban gives me the shivers and its nothing to do with the weather.

Posted by Scott at January 20, 2010 9:08 AM ET:

T Ruth.....in my opinion putting warheads on foreheads from drones are mighty powerful "negotiating" tools. I say negotiate on!

Posted by Stu at January 21, 2010 11:54 AM ET:

A couple of days ago Military.com printed a DoD press release covering Afghanistan that detailed field reports of a variety of actions: militants killed, captured, weapons caches discovered, bomb-making factories destroyed. Yes, there were incidents of U.S., Afghan, and NATO casualties, but the data regarding the many points of progress in Afghanistan far outweighed any other incidents. These detailed accomplishments went on for pages. But is any of the media except for those like LWJ and Military.com reporting it? Answer: no. It is time for our media, Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS, and print media to report these significant stories of progress in the war. They don't mind picking out gems from Bill Roggio's work to save the time and expense of doing their own research. The boot licking mainstream media should be praising LWJ and following its lead in full reporting of a war that we must win.