US Predators kill 6 'militants' in North and South Waziristan


US Predators struck today in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan, killing six "militants" in the first recorded strikes in nearly two weeks.

In the first strike, the unmanned, CIA-operated Predators, or the more deadly Reapers, fired a pair of missiles in the village of Danda Darpa Khel just outside Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan, according to AFP. Pakistani officials said that three "militants" were killed in the attack.

A Haqqani Network "coordinator" named Jalil and two fighters were killed in the airstrike, according to The Associated Press. Jamil is said to be related to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network. AFP reported, however, that Jamil was not related to Siraj but was "very close" to the commander. Jamil was later identified as Jan Baz Zadran, who US intelligence officials described as the Haqqani Network's third in command [see LWJ report, US kills Haqqani Network's 3rd in command in North Waziristan strike].

The village of Danda Darpa Khel is in the sphere of influence of the Haqqani Network. In the past, the US has carried out several attacks against the Haqqani Network in the village. On Feb. 18, 2010, the US killed Mohammed Haqqani, one of the 12 sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, in an airstrike in Danda Darpa Khel. Mohammed served as a military commander for the Haqqani Network.

In the second strike today, Predators fired missiles at a Taliban team in South Waziristan that was launching missiles and rockets at a US base across the border in Afghanistan, killing three, Dawn reported. The exact location of the strike was not given, but the area along the border is controlled by Mullah Nazir, the Taliban commander who also identifies himself as an al Qaeda commander [see LWJ report, 'Good' Pakistani Taliban leader Nazir affirms membership in al Qaeda].

The airstrikes took place as the US and Pakistan are waging a war of words over the latter's support of the Haqqani Network. Several US officials, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, have accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, of directly supporting Haqqani Network attacks inside Afghanistan. Most recently, the US said that the ISI aided the Haqqani Network in attacking the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters in Kabul. Mullen described the Haqqani Network as a "veritable arm" of the ISI.

The Predator strikes, by the numbers

Today's strikes are the first in Pakistan's tribal areas this month. The last strike took place 14 days ago, on Sept. 30, in South Waziristan. Haleem Ullah, a deputy to South Waziristan Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, was killed in the attack.

The pace of the US strikes has been uneven over the past year, and the monthly strike totals have generally decreased. From January through September 2011, the strikes in Pakistan were as follows: nine strikes in January, three in February, seven in March, two in April, seven in May, 12 in June, three in July, six in August, and four in September. In the last four months of 2010, the US averaged almost 16 strikes per month (21 in September, 16 in October, 14 in November, and 12 in December).

So far this year, the US has carried out 55 strikes in Pakistan. In 2010, the US carried out 117 strikes, which more than doubled the number of strikes that had occurred in 2009; by late August 2010, the US had exceeded 2009's strike total of 53 with a strike in Kurram. In 2008, the US carried out a total of 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 - 2011.]

In 2010 the strikes were concentrated almost exclusively in North Waziristan, where the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and a host of Pakistani and Central and South Asian terror groups are based. All but 13 of the 117 strikes took place North Waziristan. Of the 13 strikes occurring outside of North Waziristan in 2010, seven were executed in South Waziristan, five were in Khyber, and one was in Kurram.

This year, that pattern has changed, as an increasing number of strikes are taking place in South Waziristan. So far in 2011, 33 of the 55 strikes have taken place in North Waziristan, 20 strikes have occurred in South Waziristan, 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. The campaign has been largely successful in focusing on terrorist targets and avoiding civilian casualties, as recently affirmed by the Pakistani military.

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 - 2011.



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READER COMMENTS: "US Predators kill 6 'militants' in North and South Waziristan"

Posted by Marlin at October 13, 2011 7:58 AM ET:

It would appear there were two separate strikes in North Waziristan in the past 24 hours. One of which took out a relatively high ranking Haqqani network leader.

An American missile strike killed a ranking member of the militant Haqqani network on Thursday in northwestern Pakistan, striking a group that Washington claims is the No. 1 threat in Afghanistan and is supported by Pakistani security forces, local intelligence officials said.

[...]

Two other militants were killed in the attack close in the Haqqani stronghold of North Waziristan, the group's main sanctuary along the Afghan border, said the Pakistani officials in the region. [...]

They identified the Haqqani member as Jalil and said he was a "coordinator" for the group. The men were walking down a street when the drone-fired missile hit, the officials said. One said Jalil was related to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the network.

The missiles hit close to Dande Darpa Khel village, which is home to a large seminary with links to the Haqqanis.

Later Thursday, a second volley of drone-fired missiles hit a militant position on the hills close to the frontier in South Waziristan, killing three people, intelligence officials said.

The officials said the militants were firing rockets and mortars across the border at an American base in Machadad Kot in Afghanistan.

Stuff: US strike kills top Afghan threat - officials

Posted by Scott at October 13, 2011 8:13 AM ET:

AP is reporting this:

"American drone-fired missiles killed a ranking member of the militant Haqqani network on Thursday in northwestern Pakistan, striking a group that Washington claims is the No. 1 threat in Afghanistan and is supported by Pakistani security forces, local intelligence officials said."

"They identified the Haqqani member as Jalil and said he was a "coordinator" for the group. The men were walking down a street when the two missiles hit, the officials said. One said Jalil was related to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the network."

Of course we all know how these types of reports can turn out.

Posted by SkyKingSkyKing at October 13, 2011 4:40 PM ET:


Janbaz Zadran
Haqqani leader confirmed killed in Pakistan
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44894301

Posted by Michel Kleistra at October 13, 2011 5:12 PM ET:

Anyone read this in the Financial Times?
Its is quite explosive and I never read it anywhere, here is a small synopsis:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5ea9b804-f351-11e0-b11b-00144feab49a.html#axzz1ahb0VbRb

The diplomat made clear that the civilian government’s preferred channel to receive Mr Zardari’s message was Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff. He was a time-tested friend of Pakistan and could convey the necessary message with force not only to President Barack Obama, but also to Gen Kayani.

In a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days a memorandum was crafted that included a critical offer from the Pakistani president to the Obama administration: “The new national security team will eliminate Section S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan.”

The memo was delivered to Admiral Mullen at 14.00 hours on May 10. A meeting between him and Pakistani national security officials took place the next day at the White House. Pakistan’s military and intelligence chiefs, it seems, neither heeded the warning, nor acted on the admiral’s advice.

On September 22, in his farewell testimony to the Senate armed services committee, Admiral Mullen said he had “credible intelligence” that a bombing on September 11 that wounded 77 US and Nato troops and an attack on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13 were done “with ISI support.

Posted by Neo at October 13, 2011 6:05 PM ET:

My question is, are the Pakistani intelligence people supporting the Haqqani’s different people than are giving us targeting intelligence, or are many of them the same. I assume the US has developed its own local sources and also has sources within Pakistani intelligence who are fairly close to the Haqqani’s. I seriously doubt US intelligence services have cultivated enough information among the locals without significant aid from insiders. The sort of sort of real time information necessary to take these guy’s out isn't just done remotely. If they are actually taking out half these guys, it is still a frenetic pace over the last year.

Posted by CC at October 13, 2011 7:24 PM ET:

NYTimes is reporting that he was the third most senior in the current organization

Posted by Michel Kleistra at October 15, 2011 1:37 PM ET:

Bill, do you know who heads the S-Wing of the ISI?

"Section S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc."