US airstrike kills 4 'militants' in North Waziristan

The US killed four 'militants' in the first airstrike in a week in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan.

A flight of Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired three missiles at a moving vehicle in the town of Marsi Khel near Miramshah in North Waziristan, Dawn reported. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban fighters have been reported killed at this time.

The strike in Marsi Khel is the second in the town in 10 days. On April 24, US Predators hit a compound in Marsi Khel, killing seven Taliban fighters.

Today's airstrike took place in a region administered by North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar. Al Qaeda and allied Pakistani and Central Asian jihadi groups shelter in Bahadar's tribal areas, and they also run training camps and safe houses in the region.

The Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on Bahadar or the Haqqani Network, a deadly Taliban group that is closely allied with al Qaeda and is also based in North Waziristan. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are considered "good Taliban" by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry attacks inside Pakistan.

US strikes in Pakistan, by the numbers

Today's strike is the first reported inside Pakistan this month, and the first in seven days. On April 26, US aircraft killed eight Taliban fighters in a strike in Khushali Toorkhel .

The US is well on its way to exceeding last year's strike total in Pakistan. So far this year, the US has carried out 32 strikes in Pakistan; all of the strikes this year have taken place in North Waziristan. In 2009, the US carried out 53 strikes in Pakistan; and in 2008, the US carried out 36 strikes in the country. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see: "Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010."]

Unmanned US Predator and Reaper strike aircraft have been pounding Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts in North Waziristan over the past several months in an effort to kill senior terror leaders and disrupt the networks that threaten Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the West. [For more information, see LWJ report, "Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010."]

Most recently, on March 8, a US strike in a bazaar in Miramshah killed a top al Qaeda operative known as Sadam Hussein Al Hussami. Hussami was a protégé of Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda's top bomb maker and WMD chief, who was killed in a US airstrike in July 2008. Hussami was a senior member of al Qaeda's external operations network, and was on a council that advised the suicide bomber who carried out the attack at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. That attack killed seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer. The slain intelligence operatives had been involved in gathering intelligence for the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

In early April, Siraj Haqqani, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, said that the effectiveness of US airstrikes in killing senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders has "decreased 90 percent" since the suicide attack on Combat Outpost Chapman. While other factors may be involved in the decreased effectiveness in killing the top-tier leaders, an analysis of the data shows that only two top-tier commanders have been killed since Jan 1, 2010, but seven top-tier leaders were killed between Aug.1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009. [See LWJ report, "Effectiveness of US strikes in Pakistan 'decreased 90 percent' since suicide strike on CIA - Siraj Haqqani," for more information.]

US and Pakistani officials thought Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was killed in a Jan. 14 strike in Pasalkot in North Waziristan. After four months of silence, the Taliban released two tapes proving Hakeemullah is alive. On the tapes, Hakeemullah said the group will carry out attacks inside the US.

US strikes in Pakistan in 2010:

US airstrike kills 4 'militants' in North Waziristan
May 3, 2010
US strike kills 8 Taliban in North Waziristan
April 26, 2010
US airstrike kills 7 Taliban in North Waziristan
April 24, 2010
US strikes kill 6 in North Waziristan
April 16, 2010
US strike kills 4 in Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan
April 14, 2010
US strike kills 5 Taliban in North Waziristan
April 12, 2010
US strikes kill 6 in North Waziristan
March 30, 2010
US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan
March 27, 2010
US kills 6 in strike against Haqqani Network
March 23, 2010
US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan
March 21, 2010
US kills 8 terrorists in 2 new airstrikes in North Waziristan
March 17, 2010
US Predator strike in North Waziristan kills 11 Taliban, al Qaeda
March 16, 2010
US airstrike kills 12 in North Waziristan
March 10, 2010
US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 5 Taliban fighters
March 8, 2010
US hits Haqqani Network in North Waziristan, kills 8
Feb. 24, 2010
US airstrikes target Haqqani Network in North Waziristan
Feb. 18, 2010
Latest US airstrike kills 3 in North Waziristan
Feb. 17, 2010
US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan
Feb. 15, 2010
US strikes training camp in North Waziristan
Feb. 14, 2010
Predators pound terrorist camp in North Waziristan
Feb. 2, 2010
US airstrike targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan
Jan. 29, 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


READER COMMENTS: "US airstrike kills 4 'militants' in North Waziristan"

Posted by HN at May 3, 2010 9:21 AM ET:

I'm sure this is a response to Hakeemullah's videos. I expect an increased tempo of strikes in North Waziristan now to remind them it is not smart to attack us.

Posted by kp at May 3, 2010 10:58 AM ET:

@HN: I rather doubt it. I suspect the CIA doesn't respond to external events like that except at a higher level e.g. the high tempo that followed the Chapman attack when they seemed to be burning intelligence leads before they went stale.

The CIA is on the lookout for potential targets using available intelligence to start a chain of attacks and then engages them to kill the militants and to develop more technical intelligence post-strike for other attacks. As we've seen before expect the usual pattern of a sequence of follow on attacks from this first one as they watch funerals, listen to comms, follow vehicles, moving parties on foot and get feed back from any HUMINT they have in the region.

Posted by HN at May 3, 2010 11:46 AM ET:

kp, thank you

Posted by kent gatewoo at May 3, 2010 1:00 PM ET:

Since it isn't in Pakistan yet, can one bomb NYC and retain official "Good Taliban" standing?

Posted by T Ruth at May 3, 2010 1:56 PM ET:

The larger concern is that the direction of this War carries on as if its business as usual.

The question is, is this a strategic inflection point, especially coming 6 months after the CIC's prolonged strategic review, or not?

A strategy that is limited to the Afghan side of the border, apart from the drones into highly restricted areas across the border, is fatally flawed. With no agreement with Pakistan as the sub-contractor, yet the full money in advance on the table. Garbage in, garbage out--thats how strategies work.

The timetable through 2011 is another one. Obama must be the only one who believes he can finish this job by 2011. Still, i believe in miracles...

Posted by KaneKaizer at May 3, 2010 7:17 PM ET:


It's the TTP threatening to attack the US, and they're the "Bad Taliban" even by the Pakistanis.

Posted by Jimmy at May 3, 2010 11:42 PM ET:

These silly militants killed by the drone strike are simply cannon fodder. Pakistan has millions and millions of poor uneducated religious radical fools to be made into cannon fodder and will not mind if a handful are killed by drone strikes. Bombs will get over but the queue of Islamists will not get any shorter. Instead of going after this monster from the tail (a lizards tail always grows back) why don't we take it by the head. It is the Pakistan Army ISI we need to target - Diplomatically, economically, covertly and if need be overtly. Isolate them and make them bend! Only then will this cannon fodder end. Communism and Islamic terrorism cannot be defeated by killing its foot soldiers...because the bosses don't care about human lives (unlike in a democracy) and can push more and more into the firing line without any qualms. Its the head we need to go for.

Posted by Fred at May 4, 2010 2:16 PM ET:

Jimmy at May,

What head? How? What's to prevent a new head from taking over trained by the same Koran?

BTW how do you know they were foot soldiers?