US airstrike kills 10 'rebels' in North Waziristan

The US killed 10 people in an airstrike in a known al Qaeda haven in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan.

Unmanned Predator or the more deadly Reapers fired at least two missiles at a compound in the town of Inzar Kala in the Datta Khel region near the Afghan border. Ten "rebels" were killed in the strike, according to AFP.

"The compound became suspicious as it was being used by foreigners," a Pakistani official said, referring to al Qaeda fighters. "It was, however, not immediately known if any high-value target was present in the area at the time of attack."

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 jihadist groups shelter in Bahadar's tribal areas, and they also run training camps and safe houses in the region.

Datta Khel is a known hub for al Qaeda. The Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army, al Qaeda's military force, is based in the region. The US has struck targets in Datta Khel 13 times since 2004, which makes for nearly 10 percent of the attacks.

The US killed Abdullah Said al Libi, the leader of the Lashkar al Zil, and Zuhaib al Zahibi, a senior commander, in a Dec. 17, 2009, strike in Datta Khel. The target of the attack was Sheikh Saeed al Saudi, Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law and a senior leader on al Qaeda's Shura Majlis, or executive council.

Despite the known presence of al Qaeda and other foreign groups in North Waziristan, 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. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are considered "good Taliban" by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan.

The US is stepping up pressure on Pakistan to take the Taliban and al Qaeda directly in North Waziristan and the port city of Karachi since the recent failed attack in Times Square in New York City has been traced back to Waziristan. Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American behind the plot, admitted to training with the Taliban in North Waziristan.

US strikes in Pakistan, by the numbers

Today's strike is the second reported inside Pakistan this month, and the first in six days. On May 3, US aircraft killed four "militants" in a strike in Marsi Khel in North Waziristan.

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 33 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.]

For the past few months, most US and Pakistani officials believed that Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, had been killed in a Jan. 14 strike in Pasalkot in North Waziristan. But just over a week ago, after four months of silence on the subject, the Taliban released two tapes to prove that Hakeemullah is alive. On the tapes, Hakeemullah said the Taliban will carry out attacks inside the US.

US strikes in Pakistan in 2010:

US airstrike kills 10 'rebels' in North Waziristan
May 9, 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 10 'rebels' in North Waziristan"

Posted by Max at May 9, 2010 8:22 PM ET:

We should be using B1s and B52s in carpet-bombing mode. Not a single terrorist camp should be allowed to operate in peace.

Or, we could send a Spookie plane to riddle the camps with miniguns while they're busy learning how to make car bombs. That actually sounds like more fun. I wish I were young enough to join the Army.

Posted by greg at May 10, 2010 6:29 AM ET:

I agree. Potentially the only good thing to come from a successful attack might be that we learn to act overwhelmingly. However, I don't think we should wait for their success. Their intent and guilt are clear.

It appears that the only thing that these terrorists understand is force. We need to make it unacceptably expensive in terms of their lives and local support to perpetrate these acts. They may not even understand that but if they are dead, that solves the problem as well.

I know that this will come at the cost of public support from Pakistan but it does not appear that they are a real ally nor to be trusted anyway. Losing their support completely could free our hand and save us money.

For now, I would rather be feared than loved.

Posted by Al at May 10, 2010 7:43 AM ET:

When we see terrorist video of active training camps, with literally hundreds of fighters in training, marching, etc., why can't these be picked up by UAV's? Or are these videos all from "protected areas", like West Bank and Gaza. Or even Iran. Or very old.

It seems to me that casualties should be much higher if these were real training camps being hit.

Posted by kp at May 10, 2010 10:50 AM ET:

Al: "Or very old"

Exactly. They're reruns of old video.

They don't have big camps to train in anymore in AfPak. They have single buildings with a handfuls of people distributed through the population especially for training foreigners. This has been described in the open literature.

One shouldn't take propaganda video at face value.

Posted by T Ruth at May 10, 2010 12:01 PM ET:

According to a report in the TOI quoting the Russians, the latter have warned India that there are still some 40 terror trng camps at the AfPak border area

The Indians have coined a new term for the terror factories we often come back to in dialogues here--it is Terror Machine...that fits.

The timing of the emphasis on the Indo-Russian friendship, i'm sure has something to do with similar recent announcements by China about their best-pals status with Paqistan.

Posted by Dan at May 10, 2010 1:11 PM ET:

Hi Bill,
Is it just my weird way of thinking, or have we lost a lot of Intel by using drones to take these thugs out instead of boots on the ground. (Hope I don't upset the SPEC-OPS guys and Infantry by saying this.)
It seems to me that in the "old days," in Iraq, every time we took out one of their upper tier thugs we walked away with his hard-drive and papers that may have prevented things like Ft Hood and Times Square in the past.
Or I could just be way off course.


Posted by Render at May 10, 2010 9:10 PM ET:

We don't carpet bomb anymore, although we do retain the ability to do so. It's wasteful and isn't necessary when we have precision strike munitions of all shapes and sizes that can be packed into a single bomber.

(Example: a Single B-1B can place 144 GBU-39 SDB's on 144 different targets simultaneously, the B-2 can do the same with 80 GBU-39's.)

We don't always have that many confirmed target locations (at least according to most open source reporting) and we still don't have permission from the Commander-in-Chief to use the heavies inside Pakistani airspace (although we clearly must have at least some over-flight permissions). One of those items can be solved by the proper application of small ground teams. The other item requires a poker player willing to call out some long term bluffs and follow through on his campaign promises.

As KP points out all of those training camps (40 or 157 or more) are fairly small and just not worth an entire B-52 load of Mk82 unguided bombs. Additionally many of those camps are located in or near enough to civilians to require the usage of precision guided small warhead weapons.

It should also be noted that the Pakistani air force and air defense establishments do have the ability to shoot down B-1's (difficult but not impossible) and B-52's (far too easy). I don't think they have the ability to detect or shoot down the B-2's, yet, but it is possible. So it should also be noted that we don't have all that many heavy bombers remaining in the inventory and we have a secretary of defense actively looking for ways to cut the remaining.

Dan: You're not far off base at all. There is a decided and very obvious lack of post-strike analysis from the FATA.


Posted by JT at May 11, 2010 2:17 AM ET:

The following is from

The killed included at least five foreign Al Qaida militants but their identities were not immediately known, the official said.

Tribal sources said that most of the killed were foreigners of Arab and Uzbek origin.