8 Germans said killed in Predator strike in North Waziristan


US Predators struck a mosque today in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, killing eight Germans, according to reports from the region.

Unmanned US Predator strike aircraft, or the more deadly Reapers, fired two missiles at a mosque in Mir Ali, the second largest town in North Waziristan. Pakistani intelligence officials said that eight German nationals were killed in the airstrike, Reuters reported.

No senior Taliban or al Qaeda leaders were reported killed in the strike.

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, the Haqqani Network, the Islamic Jihad Group, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Islamic Jihad Group is based out of 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.

The Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadar also have influence in the Mir Ali region, and host camps and safe houses for al Qaeda and other terror groups.

Today's strike is the latest that has targeted Westerners who are training in al Qaeda camps in North Waziristan. The US is seeking to disrupt an al Qaeda plot modeled after the Mumbai terror assault and said to be targeting several major European cities. The plot is said to have been ordered by Osama bin Laden. The US has issued a travel warning to its citizens in Europe, while Britain and Norway have raised their terror alerts.

Eight Germans and two Britons were reported killed in the Sept. 8 Predator strike in Datta Khel. An Islamic Jihad Group commander known as Qureshi was also reported killed in the attack. Qureshi specialized in training Germans to conduct attacks in their home country.

German and Turkish Muslims make up a significant portion of the Islamic Jihad Group. Its fighters are often referred to as German Taliban, and they carry out attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last year, the Islamic Jihad Group released video of 'German Taliban villages' in Waziristan. Its fighters were seen training at camps and conducting military operations.

The Predator strikes, by the numbers

The pace of the strikes since the beginning of September is unprecedented since the US began the air campaign in Pakistan in 2004. The 21 strikes in September is a record number, and with three strikes already this month, the US appears to be prepared to match last month's pace. The previous high was 11 strikes in January 2010, after the Taliban and al Qaeda executed a successful suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman that targeted CIA personnel who were active in gathering intelligence for the Predator campaign in Pakistan. In the bombing at COP Chapman, seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer were killed.

The US has carried out 78 attacks inside Pakistan this year, which is more than double the number of strikes in Pakistan just two years ago. The US exceeded last year's strike total of 53 with a strike in Kurram in late August. In 2008, the US carried out 36 strikes inside Pakistan. [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.]

All but nine of this year's 78 strikes have taken place in North Waziristan. Of the nine strikes that have occurred outside of North Waziristan, seven took place in South Waziristan, one occurred in Khyber, and one took place in Kurram.

The US campaign in northwestern Pakistan has targeted top al Qaeda leaders, al Qaeda's external operations network, and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states as well as support al Qaeda's external operations. [For a list of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010.]



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READER COMMENTS: "8 Germans said killed in Predator strike in North Waziristan"

Posted by TMP at October 4, 2010 3:07 PM ET:

Odd to the point of silly how ISI can put us on these targets (and other "bad-Taliban HVTs", such as Mesud) in short notice......But can't in over 9 years find actionable HUMINT on AQ HVT #1 or #2...let alone "good Taliabn" HVts...

Posted by Eric at October 4, 2010 3:11 PM ET:

First time I've heard of drone attacks hitting a mosque. I wonder what the masses will think...

Posted by Raven at October 4, 2010 3:15 PM ET:

With their "irregulars" getting beaten this way, I wonder how long this protege will come back and ask the Pakistan Army: You are with us or against?

Anyways, glad that this is coming to a head slowly but surely. We had heard from many that Mumbai was a test case for larger operations. Sorry that India and Indians had to face the brunt of these mad people.

Posted by ArneFufkin at October 4, 2010 3:56 PM ET:

I would imagine all the European anti-terror crews are on red alert right now. The threat is imminent it seems.

Posted by wallbangr at October 4, 2010 4:22 PM ET:

Per the Washington Times, it was a house near a mosque:


They said the house, located near a mosque and a hospital, was owned by a local resident, Sher Mullah.

Not that it matters. In that part of the world, every safehouse for these guys could technically qualify as a "mosque" depending on one's definition. And the fact that one may have been nearby would likely be used for propaghanda purposes the same either way...

Posted by TLA at October 4, 2010 5:20 PM ET:

German were they?

I'm probably more German than they are: I lived there during part of my time in the Army, and speak the language okay. I bet they were in someone's army too (not the Bundeswehr), and probably speak worse German than me.

Nice hit. And keep on at any dodgy Europeans that have decided to go on holiday to the sunny Pakistan border.

Posted by Marlin at October 4, 2010 9:15 PM ET:

The U.S. Armed Forces' intelligence seems to be quite accurate. They continue to hit their targets of choice.

Sa'ad Mohammad Al Shahri, a suspected terrorist and associate of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was killed in a US air strike a few days ago in Afghanistan, security sources have said.

Gulf News has learnt that Al Shahri was an active Al Qaida militant who featured on a list of wanted terrorists that was issued by the Saudi Interior Ministry on June 28, 2006.

Al Shahri, of the Bani Jubairi clan in the Namas governorate, south of Saudi Arabia, was 31 years old.

He is widely believed to have trained young militants in Afghanistan and was an associate of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar of the Hizb e Islami party.

Gulf News: Wanted Saudi killed in Afghan air strike

Posted by Tekno at October 4, 2010 9:54 PM ET:

Bill,
I just read a story on Al Jazeera that the Afghani, Pak and Taliban held secret meeting in Kabul. What do you make of this?

Posted by kp at October 5, 2010 11:56 AM ET:

A good follow up report in Der Spiegel

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,721262,00.html

The number of Germans killed is unclear (from 4 to 8). And the Turkmen comment might mean Agghani Turkmen or a mangled version of Germans of Turkish origin.

The most interesting info is this:

QUOTE:DPA quoted a source in Pakistani intelligence who identified the home owner as Sher Maula Khan; the similar-sounding name suggests that it is the same man. Khan was reportedly arrested in June, together with a German Islamist identified as Rami M., who has since been deported to Germany. Khan was a member of the Taliban who had rented his farm out to the Germans, the Pakistani intelligence agent told DPA. One of the dead Germans had called himself Fayyaz and had apparently been planning attacks in Europe.

A Pakistani source of intel for the attack: IB? ISI? I wonder who is doing the interrogations.

Posted by kp at October 6, 2010 2:42 AM ET:

More details: "There's reason to believe a mix of Germans and Arab terrorists were killed," a Western official said.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703843804575534251164992186.html