US strikes kill 11 in North Waziristan


The US has carried out two more airstrikes in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Eleven terrorists were reported killed in the strikes, which were carried out by unmanned US Predators or Reapers. The first strike hit a known Taliban compound in the village of Zanini near Mir Ali. Twp Taliban fighters and three "foreigners" were killed in the attack.

"US drones fired four missiles at a militant compound and according to initial information at least five militants have been killed," a Pakistani security official told Dawn.

The second strike took place in the Mirkhwanai region, an area that borders South Waziristan. Six Taliban were reported killed.

The US has carried out three airstrikes inside Pakistan over the past two days. Yesterday's strike along the border of North and South Waziristan targeted Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. US officials believe Hakeemullah survived the attack. Twelve terrorists, including two Arabs and several Uzbek fighters, were killed.

The Taliban denied reports from Pakistani intelligence officials who claimed Hakeemullah was killed. Taliban spokesman Tariq Azam claimed to have met Hakeemullah after the attack. A Taliban leader played a recording to a reporter that purportedly was made by Hakeemullah after the attack. The date of the tape could not be determined, however.

"Sometimes they (the government) launch a propaganda about my martyrdom through the media and sometimes they say that the operation has been completed in South Waziristan. This can never happen," Hakeemullah said. "I am telling the nation that drone strikes are against Pakistan's sovereignty and the rulers will be responsible for any drastic step taken by the Taliban in retaliation."

The US has escalated the covert air campaign in Pakistan since Dec. 30, 2009, when a Jordanian al Qaeda operative killed seven CIA officials, including the station chief, and a Jordanian intelligence officer, in a suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province. The outpost was used to gather intelligence for strikes against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

After the suicide attack in Khost, Hakeemullah was seen on a propaganda tape with the suicide bomber. Qari Hussain Mehsud, the master suicide bomb plotter and Hakeemullah's deputy, said he was behind the attack at Combat Outpost Chapman.

The current pace of the strikes is unprecedented. Since the program began in 2004, the US has conducted 107 strikes in total. Last year, the US carried out 53 strikes. Since Dec. 31, 2009, the US has already carried out 9 strikes.

Since Dec. 8, 2009, the air campaign in Pakistan has killed two senior al Qaeda leaders, a senior Taliban commander, and two senior al Qaeda operatives.

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. 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].

The US air campaign in Pakistan has stirred controversy in both the US and in Pakistan. On Jan. 13, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking "the government to disclose the legal basis for its use of predator drones to conduct 'targeted killings' overseas." The Pakistani government has denounced the US air campaign in public while secretly providing support for the program.

US strikes in Pakistan in 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 11 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 strikes kill 11 in North Waziristan"

Posted by IK at January 15, 2010 11:12 PM ET:

Leave it to the AQ's pro-bono legal team, the ACLU, to try to stop us killing terrorists leaders.

Posted by Mike at January 16, 2010 7:18 AM ET:

One must wonder why the quality of the targeting has improved so dramatically in the wake of that attack against the CIA. Is it unreasonable to surmise that the ISI was somehow involved in staging that attack, and in order to avoid becoming a target itself, and to avoid potential US ground operations inside Pakistan, has decided to throw us a bone? Interestingly they haven't given us anything in Quetta or Baluchistan...

As for the ACLU, thank God they do what they do. It may not always be easy to see it that way (and the FOIA request will be denied on national security grounds), but they do yeoman's work.

Posted by Neo at January 16, 2010 12:08 PM ET:

Mirkhwanai is probably the Mir Khoni area. 32.681 N, 70.037 E.

It is on the border between N and S Waziristan. It is also on the north side of the Shaktoi river. Pakistani Troops are on the south side of the Shaktoi river.

There are also Pakistani troops at Ghariam Post (32.716 N, 70.003 E) about 5 km northwest of Mir Khoni. The village of Pasilkot is about 3 km northeast of Mir Khoni. From looking at the ethnographic maps of the area, it appears that a small area of Mashud tribal area extends along the northern side of the Shaktoi river into northern Waziristan.

(This is a corrected location for Ghariam Post, my initial location posted two months ago was wrong.)

Posted by ArneFufkin at January 16, 2010 2:34 PM ET:

I could not possibly disagree with you more re: ACLU than I do Mike. There is no issue - NONE - concerning our American constitutional civil rights involved with the highly sensitive drone program/ops conducted in our ongoing war on Salafist operatives. The ACLU is comprised of anti-American quislings. Period.

Posted by Civy at January 16, 2010 3:39 PM ET:

I agree on the ACLU Mike. Every group wants to operate unfettered by laws - it would make their lives easier - but we would live in a world run by thugs and criminals if not for organizations like the ACLU.

Almost by definition they operate beyond the law in an extra-legal realm, and it is striking how successful they have been given that they often do not enjoy a clear legal mandate, but instead, work their magic in the gray areas that are the canary in the coal mine for more serious intrusions into the quality of life the west enjoys.

Posted by Rhyno327 at January 16, 2010 9:24 PM ET:

These guys are enemy combatants, they have NO rights to a fair and impartial jury..wat a joke. Is the ACLU an anti-American group? Why don't they send a team of lawyers to the tribal areas, ya know to "defend" thier clients..LOL!!! I bet my life thier heads will be rolling around some dirt street in Quetta..they will be using them for soccer balls...