US strike kills 16 in North Waziristan

The US struck again today at the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

Unmanned Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired missiles at a Taliban safe house in the Mir Ali area, killing 16 terrorists. News outlets gave differing accounts of the name of the village where the attack took place; Geo News said it was Inzarabad , while Associated Press and other agencies said it was Haider Khel.

Several “foreigners,” a term used by Pakistani officials to describe Arab or Central Asian al Qaeda fighters, were killed in the strike, the Associated Press reported. An al Qaeda commander named Abu Ahmed and 12 fighters from the Islamic Jihad Union are said to be among those killed.

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 fourth reported inside Pakistan this month. The three 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.

So far this year, the US has carried out 41 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.]

Since the beginning of this year, 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 recently, 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 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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