Pakistani military kills local Taliban leader, captures al Qaeda bomb expert
The Pakistani military said it killed the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's commander for the town of Miramshah in North Waziristan and captured an al Qaeda explosives expert during its ongoing offensive in the tribal agency.
The Inter-Services Public Relations, the Pakistani military's public affairs branch, claimed that the "TTP [Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] commander of Miramshah, Commander Umer has been killed by security forces last night on the outskirts of Miranshah."
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has not announced the death of its commander in Miramshah. An email sent to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's media department has not been answered at this time.
Additionally, security forces claimed to have captured "one prominent al Qaeda commander" who was "trying to flee from surrounded area in NWA [North Waziristan Agency]." The Pakistani military identified him as "an explosive, IED, [and] suicide belt expert," but did not name him.
Al Qaeda is known to operate an "electronics and explosives workshop in Pakistan, which is responsible for producing IED components for AQ [al Qaeda] senior leadership," the US State Department noted in a terrorist designation in June 2013. In that designation, the US identified 'Abd al Hamid al Masli as running a workshop in "Waziristan" that provided "paramilitary brigades," or the Lashkar al Zil (Shadow Army), "in Afghanistan with timers, circuits, mines, and remote control devices for use in IEDs." Al Masli, a Libyan, also served on al Qaeda's military committee. [See LWJ report, US adds al Qaeda explosives expert to list of global terrorists.]
Pakistan continues to boast of high "terrorist" and zero civilian casualties
The Pakistani military has claimed that 334 "terrorists," "foreign and local terrorists," "Uzbek foreigners," "foreigners," and "ETIM [Turkistan Islamic Party] terrorists," and zero civilians have been killed since it launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan on June 15.
The last two press releases by the ISPR claimed that an additional 32 "terrorists" were killed during operations. On June 25, the military claimed it killed 13 "terrorists" in airstrikes in Mir Ali. And on June 28, the military claimed it killed 11 terrorists in Mir Ali and eight more, including Commander Umer, in Miramshah. The military has relied almost exclusively on airstrikes from fighter planes and attack helicopters, as well as "Artillery, Tanks and Heavy weapons."
The Pakistani military has said its plan in North Waziristan is to cordon off population centers and allow civilians to flee while launching airstrikes against "terrorists" before moving in with ground forces to occupy the region. The military has used this strategy in the past, only to see top leaders slip the cordon while a rearguard Taliban force engages Pakistani forces in guerrilla warfare.
Pakistani officials have quietly promised US officials that the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup supported by the military and intelligence services that attacks US forces in Afghanistan, would be targeted during the operation. The Haqqanis are headquartered in Miramshah. So far, however, not a single Haqqani Network leader, military commander, or member has been identified as killed or captured during the operation. The Haqqanis' madrassa, the Manba Ulom, has been untouched in the operation.
There is also no indication that Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar is a target of the operation. Bahadar also wages jihad in Afghanistan against US forces. Both the Haqqani Network and Bahadar's forces, two Taliban groups that shelter and support al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Turkistan Islamic Party, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and other terrorist groups, are considered "good Taliban" by political and military officials as they do not advocate attacking the Pakistani state.
For more information on Pakistan's recent military operation in North Waziristan and "good Taliban" vs. "bad Taliban", see LWJ and Threat Matrix reports:
Pakistan launches 'comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists' in North Waziristan
Pakistani forces focus on 'foreigners' in North Waziristan operation
Pakistani military claims 257 'terrorists,' no civilians killed in North Waziristan offensive
Pakistani Army continues to boast of zero civilian casualties in North Waziristan operation