According to reports from Pakistan, the two drone strikes that took place near Miramshah in North Waziristan over the past 24 hours killed a Haqqani Network commander, and two “prominent” Afghan Taliban military commanders. From Dawn:
A key Haqqani Network commander Haji Gul was killed in the early morning US drone strike in Dand-i Darpakhel area of North Waziristan Agency, Dawn News quotes sources as saying on Thursday.
The drone strike also killed other prominent Afghan Taliban commanders identified as Mufti Sofian and Commander Abu Bakar.
Intelligence and local Taliban sources also confirmed that the drone strikes in Dand-i-Darpakhel targeted some explosive laden vehicles which were meant for some mission across the border.
The sources also believe that the militant group was preparing a squad and about to leave when it was attacked.
Some other commanders killed in the strike have been identified as Commander Yasin Gardezi, Abdullah Khan, Commander Jamil, Commander Asadullah. Their driver Noor Khan was also killed.
The local Taliban and tribesmen have also confirmed that the compound targeted belonged to members of the Afghan Taliban network.
The interesting thing about this report is that no top al Qaeda leaders or operatives are said to have been killed in the strike. As US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal yesterday after the drone strikes, there is no shortage of dangerous jihadists in Pakistan.
So why did the US break a nearly six-month-long pause in strikes in Pakistan to target what appears to be mid-level Haqqani Network and Taliban leaders who were plotting to launch attacks in Afghanistan? Did they “present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States,” as a US Department of Justice white paper stated was required for targeting with drones?