US drone strike kills 5 'militants' in South Waziristan

The US conducted its first strike in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal areas this year, killing five "militants," according to reports.

The remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers, which are operated by the CIA, attacked "a house suspected of being a militant hideout," in the Angoor Agga area of South Waziristan, according to Xinhua. Four of the unmanned strike aircraft are thought to have been circling the compound before firing four missiles just after midnight.

Five "militants" are thought to have been killed, but their identities have not been disclosed. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders are known to have been killed.

Today's strike is the first in Pakistan this year. Last year, the US launched 46 strikes in Pakistan, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. In 2011, the US launched 64 strikes; in 2010, when the program was at its peak, there were 117 strikes.

The program was ramped up by President George W. Bush in the summer of 2008 (35 strikes were launched that year) and continued under President Barack Obama after he took office in 2009 (53 strikes that year). From 2004-2007, only 10 strikes were recorded. Although some of al Qaeda's top leaders have been killed in drone strikes since the program began in 2004, al Qaeda has been able to replace those lost in the attacks. [For data on the strikes, see LWJ reports, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2013; and Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2013.]

Strike takes place in territory controlled by "good Taliban" leader

Today's strike took place in an area under the control of Mullah Nazir, the leader of the Taliban in the Wazir areas of South Waziristan. Nazir has openly supported Taliban emir Mullah Omar and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and wages jihad in Afghanistan. In an interview with the Asia Times, Nazir rejected claims that he opposed al Qaeda, and affirmed that he considered himself to be a member of the global terror organization. Pakistan's military and intelligence services consider Nazir and his followers "good Taliban" as they do not openly seek the overthrow of the Pakistani state.

Several top al Qaeda leaders, including Ilyas Kashmiri, Abu Khabab al Masri, Osama al Kini, Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, and Abu Zaid al Iraqi, have been killed while being sheltered by Nazir. [For more information on Nazir and al Qaeda leaders killed while under his protection, see LWJ reports, 'Good' Pakistani Taliban leader Nazir affirms membership in al Qaeda, and US drones kill 'good Taliban' commander in South Wazirstan.]

Mullah Nazir's Taliban faction is one of four major Taliban groups that joined the Shura-e-Murakeba, an alliance brokered by al Qaeda in late 2011. The Shura-e-Murakeba also includes Hafiz Gul Bahadar's group; the Haqqani Network; and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which is led by Hakeemullah Mehsud and his deputy, Waliur Rehman Mehsud. The members of the Shura-e-Murakeba agreed to cease attacks against Pakistani security forces, refocus efforts against the US in Afghanistan, and end kidnappings and other criminal activities in the tribal areas.

In June 2012, Nazir banned polio vaccinations in his areas, and claimed that the program is being used by the US to gather intelligence and conduct drone strikes in the tribal areas. His action followed that of Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who shut down the program in North Waziristan earlier that month.


READER COMMENTS: "US drone strike kills 5 'militants' in South Waziristan"

Posted by Early the squid at January 2, 2013 6:38 PM ET:

Several top al Qaeda leaders, including Ilyas Kashmiri, Abu Khabab al Masri, Osama al Kini, Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, and Abu Zaid al Iraqi, "have been killed while being sheltered by Nazir."

Nazir seems/(Appears) to have "a sheltering" problem.
(I) wonder "how thats viewed/thought about" by the others in the Shura-e-Murakeba.

Yup, Intra-sting.?

Posted by gb at January 2, 2013 9:00 PM ET:

Does anyone believe that the air war tempo will continue to increase during the draw down, in an attempt to do as much damage to the TTL, and al Qaeda as possible? If so, will it be a tactical weapons approach ie drones, or a more strategic effort with the use of larger capacity bombers or seaborne assets?

Posted by Hibeam at January 2, 2013 10:27 PM ET:

And so ends the story of bearded lunatic team 5.

Posted by ARod at January 3, 2013 12:39 AM ET:

Could the stories be right about Mullah Nazir's death? Let's hope so.

Posted by Mr. Nobody at January 3, 2013 1:38 AM ET:

Happy New Years!

Posted by Eric at January 3, 2013 2:06 AM ET:

Word on the street says it was Mullah Nazir and a cortege of 8 that got killed in this strike. If so, that''s a big deal.

Posted by ayamo at January 3, 2013 2:07 AM ET:

It appears that Mullah Nazir is among the killed.

Posted by Barry Larking at January 3, 2013 2:45 AM ET:

The B.B.C. is reporting (updated 6.46 GMT) sources in Pakistan as saying a senior figure and his deputy have been killed in this strike.

The strikes are receiving much publicity in the U.K. particularly among ex-pat Pakistanis. I assume this is because of unintended casulties rather than for their effectiveness, but I could be wrong.

Posted by Dave at January 3, 2013 2:48 AM ET:

Bill !!!

NBC/Reuters says this was Nazir, his deputy, and eight of their pals. Since when does NBC get the scoop on Long War Journal ?


Posted by Andrew at January 3, 2013 3:12 AM ET:

Is this same strike this article is referring to?

In that case a few big fish were fried. That's some New Year's hangover!

Posted by Tunde at January 3, 2013 4:48 AM ET:

Seems like they got the big Naz.

Posted by Vyom at January 3, 2013 7:53 AM ET:

BBC says Mullah Nazir died in the drone strike......

Posted by David at January 3, 2013 8:10 AM ET:

NYT and WaPo are saying that we got Maulvi Nazir. NYT says
It is confirmed by Pakistani officials.
Bill, what are you hearing?

Posted by thisnthat at January 3, 2013 8:59 AM ET:

Maulvi Nazir Wazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, was killed on Wednesday night when missiles struck a mud house in South Waziristan

Posted by Deere at January 3, 2013 9:20 AM ET:

BBC News/Asia now reports Mullah Nazir killed in a drone strike.

Posted by chris at January 3, 2013 9:25 AM ET:

supposedly they got Nazir himself yesterday. Of course thats been said before

Posted by Curioso at January 3, 2013 9:41 AM ET:

@ Early the squid

Interesting ideas you mention.

Seems Nazir had a tendency to invite some of the finest to his place.

Perhaps TTP (Hakeemullah et al) knew this too and decided to let a new foe take a couple of Hellfires for old times sake.

Posted by Bill Roggio at January 3, 2013 9:59 AM ET:

OK, just an FYI, this strike reported is separate from the one that killed Nazir; so there have been three in the past 24 hours (one in N. Wazoo as well) - see here:

I am hearing he is dead as well.

Dave, sometimes I have to sleep. ;-) I've been under the weather, and this was one of those times.

Posted by David at January 3, 2013 11:12 AM ET:


Sorry for the pressure, Bill, it must be tough being so popular.

Whenever you feel tired, just remember what a friend told me in school. "Sleep is for weaklings". I could never keep up with that guy...

Posted by Bill Roggio at January 3, 2013 4:53 PM ET:

David, LOL, no pressure here. I usually operate on little sleep and am up late, but there are times where I just have to give in. Last night was one of those times...