US airstrike kills 2 in North Waziristan


Unmanned US strike aircraft killed two "militants" in an attack earlier today on a compound in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan in Pakistan. A Predator or the more deadly Reaper fired a missile at a Taliban safe house in the Mir Ali area, killing 2 terrorists and wounding three more.

"It was a US drone strike," a local intelligence official in nearby Miramshah told Geo News. "The drone fired one missile on a house and the house was completely destroyed."

The town of Mir Ali is a known stronghold of al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi, an Iraqi national who is also known as Abu Akash. He has close links to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadar also have influence in the Mir Ali region.

Abu Kasha serves as the key link between al Qaeda's Shura Majlis, or executive council, and the Taliban. His responsibilities have expanded to assisting in facilitating al Qaeda's external operations against the West.

Background on US strikes in Pakistan

Today's strike is the fifth reported inside Pakistan this month. Three of the four prior strikes took place over the course of 24 hours on June 10-11. The first strike, on June 10, killed two low-level Arab al Qaeda military commanders and a Turkish foreign fighter.

A US attack on June 19 in Mir Ali killed an al Qaeda commander named Abu Ahmed, 11 members of the Islamic Jihad Group, and four Taliban fighters.

So far this year, the US has carried out 43 strikes in Pakistan; all but two of them have taken place in North Waziristan. The US is well on its way to exceeding last year's strike total in Pakistan. 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 LWJ Special Report, "Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010."]

Over the past several months, unmanned US Predator and Reaper strike aircraft have been pounding Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts in North Waziristan, and have also struck at targets in South Waziristan and Khyber, 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."]

In early April, a top terrorist leader claimed that the US program had been crippled. 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 had "decreased 90 percent" since the Dec. 30, 2009, suicide attack on Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, that killed seven CIA employees and a Jordanian intelligence officer. While other factors may be involved in the decreased effectiveness in killing the top-tier leaders, an analysis of the data shows that only three 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.]

But the US scored its biggest success in the air campaign in Pakistan last month. On May 21, a US strike in North Waziristan killed Mustafa Abu Yazid, one of al Qaeda's top leaders, and the most senior al Qaeda leader to have been killed in the US air campaign in Pakistan to date.

Yazid served as the leader of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the wider Khorasan, and more importantly, as al Qaeda's top financier, which put him in charge of the terror group's purse strings. He served on al Qaeda's Shura Majlis, or top decision-making council. Yazid also was closely allied with the Taliban and advocated the program of embedding small al Qaeda teams with Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistani and US officials believed that one of the top Taliban leaders in Pakistan was killed in a strike this year. Up until May 2, 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. The CIA had been furiously hunting Hakeemullah after he appeared on a videotape with the suicide bomber who carried out the attack on Combat Outpost Chapman.

But after four months of silence on the subject, the Taliban released two tapes to prove that Hakeemullah is alive. On both of the tapes, Hakeemullah said the Taliban will carry out attacks inside the US. The tapes were released within 24 hours of an attempted car bombing in New York City by Faisal Shahzad, who was trained by the Taliban in North Waziristan. Hakeemullah's tapes were released along with another by his deputy, Qari Hussain Mehsud, who claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing in New York City.

US strikes in Pakistan in 2010:

US airstrike kills 2 in North Waziristan
June 26, 2010
US strike kills 16 in North Waziristan
June 19, 2010
US kills 14 in 2 strikes in North Waziristan
June 11, 2010
US Predator strike kills 3 in North Waziristan
June 10, 2010
US kills 11 in Predator strike in South Waziristan
May 28, 2010
US airstrike kills 6 in North Waziristan
May 21, 2010
US Predators carry out first strike in Khyber
May 15, 2010
US pounds Taliban in pair of strikes in North Waziristan
May 11, 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



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READER COMMENTS: "US airstrike kills 2 in North Waziristan"

Posted by crusader at June 26, 2010 12:11 PM ET:

bill: why are there hardly any reports about drone air strikes in afghanistan? is it simply because there are none or that they are so common that they are not worth mentioning?

what would be the difference of the us stepping out of afghanistan and doing air strikes there like in pakistan?

Posted by T Ruth at June 26, 2010 12:48 PM ET:

I get the feeling i've read this before...

And every time i read of another strike, i ask myself the question, is this it? Is this the US strategy for Pak-Paq, AQ's landlord?

At any rate, i just read this article by Dr Farhat Taj a Pak-Pashtun researcher insupport of the drones. She makes ref to the Pak lady pol who had spoken in favour of drones in Punjab (Bill had blogged that one). What was surprising is the comments attached to her article, likely other Pakistanis, almost all reflect support for the campaign.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/20278/reasons-for-an-operation-in-south-punjab/

Somehow this seems like the right time to escalate and get them whereever they are, while Pak is busy courting HAQ.

Posted by HLP at June 27, 2010 8:57 AM ET:

Taliban Commander Hamza Meshud among 5 Killed in Suspected U.S. Drone Strike in NW Pakistan

http://english.cri.cn/6966/2010/06/27/45s579562.htm

Posted by kp at June 27, 2010 11:28 PM ET:

@Crusader: Drones are used for observation and providing CAS in Afghanistan but they're not run in a covert program by the CIA. They're flown by either USAF pilots (commissioned officers) or the Army (by NCOs!). They follow the Afghan ROE. So you hear about them as much as you hear about other CAS in Afghanistan i.e. not that much unless something goes wrong with the targeting. They rarely call out the platform used for a notable strike i.e. some recent strikes taking out high level Taliban could have come from manned fixed-wing aircraft, manned rotorcraft or unmanned drones but they choose not to release that info.

Of course in Afghanistan there are plenty more options for hitting AQ and Taliban including a capture (or close in kill) by ground forces to recover other people, equipment or other intel.