Missile strike on al Qaeda meeting in South Waziristan kills 13

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the tribal areas. Map from PBS’ Frontline. Click to view.

US or Pakistani intelligence has conducted yet another covert airstrike in Pakistan’s tribal areas, according to reports coming out of the region. Missiles struck a house in the village of Azam Warsak in the tribal agency of South Waziristan. Thirteen were reported killed in the attack. Most were said to be Arabs, yet three Punjabis were identified.

Al Qaeda operatives were thought to be meeting in the home, Pakistani security officials told AFP. Four “guests” were reported to have arrived at the home for meetings. “A house used as a den by Al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban militants was hit by a missile,” a senior Pakistani security official said. “Thirteen people were killed and around 10 were wounded.” It is not known if any high value targets were killed in the attack.

The US military in Afghanistan neither confirmed nor denied conducting the strike. But the attack, which occurred at 2:00 AM local time, matches the profile of past US airstrikes against al Qaeda and Taliban high-value targets in the region. This was a precision strike carried out at night, using specific intelligence.

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Multimedia presentation of the senior Taliban commanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Click to view.

The village of Azam Warsak has served as an al Qaeda haven in the past. The Pakistani military launched its first military operation against al Qaeda in the village in June 2002. Mullah Nazir, a South Waziristan Taliban commander who is touted as being pro-government, claimed his tribal fighters cleared the village of “Uzbek fighters” in April 2007.

The last major strike against an al Qaeda safe house or training camp occurred at the end of January. A missile strike killed Abu Laith al Libi, a senior al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan. Al Libi was killed in town of Khushali Tari Khel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan, right on the Pakistan-Afghan frontier. Adam Gadahn, the American al Qaeda leader wanted for treason, was rumored to have been killed in the same attack, but this was never confirmed. Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, and Mustafa Abu Yazid, al Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan, vowed to avenge the death of al Libi.

Prior to the January strike that killed al Libi, the last attack occurred in August 2007, when Pakistani forces hit two Taliban and al Qaeda bases in the village of Daygan, North Waziristan. Camps and bases in Damadola, Danda Saidgai, Chingai, Zamazola, again in Danda Saidgai, and Mami Rogha were hit over the course of 2006 and 2007.

These strikes have done little to disrupt the growth of al Qaeda and the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda maintain 29 terror camps in North and South Waziristan alone.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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15 Comments

  • seruriermarshal says:

    That’s good news

  • mjr007 says:

    How on earth could the U.S. be responsible for this bombing? I mean, we’re off-limits in Paki, right? And it’s not like we have an humint on the ground there and we certainly don’t have the GPS-lazer guided technologies to strike from Afghanistan.
    So what gives????

  • Marlin says:

    The News (Pakistan) had an interesting article a couple of days ago about the spread of American spy agencies in Pakistan. If true, it would seem the establishment of those networks is now paying dividends.

    Top authorities in Pakistan are said to be in knowledge of this phenomenal spread in the American spy agencies’ network as the country’s intelligence agencies have already reported this matter and even identified a number of those on the payroll of the US agencies.
    Besides others, a large number of retired Army officers, including ex-brigadiers, are presently working here as American spies. An official of an intelligence agency, however, explained that spy agencies of different countries had their worldwide networks and they handled spy matters according to their resources and needs because importance of spying had increased tremendously after 9/11.

    The News: Is cooperation with CIA-FBI posing a threat to Pak strategic interests?

  • Marlin says:

    Sorry for the bad link in the comment above. The corrected link is given below.
    The Times: Is cooperation with CIA-FBI posing a threat to Pak strategic interests?

  • Thanos says:

    From The Nation:
    Immediately after the attack, the militants encircled the area and local people were barred from entering the site.
    However, the locals informed that three missiles fired from an unknown direction hit the house of Malik Khel Wazir at Shero Village, Kaloshah Azam Warsak area at midnight, killing at least 12 people, mostly foreigners, and injuring 11 others critically.
    Several rooms of the house were completely destroyed in the attacks.
    Exact identity and strength of the foreigners killed in the incident has not yet been determined, but the locals informed that they were either from Arab countries or Central Asia. An Al-Qaeda fugitive from Egypt is also reported to be among them.
    However, the officials claimed that there was a seminary near the house, which was used by the militants as a shelter.
    The killed persons were buried in the area, while the injured were admitted to local and Wana hospitals.
    It is highly believed that the US forces, either from Afghanistan side or from Arabian Sea, fired the missiles.

  • Tommy says:

    An EGYPTIAN Al Qaeda fugitive?? Hmmm….VERY INTERESTING. I wonder………….
    I’m sure we’ll know sometime tomorrow or over the weekend who the target was.

  • Michael says:

    Well… this is a good sign so far, but is the PPP responsible or Musharaf? I’d assume Musharaf until election turnovers happen in their parliament.
    Also, is there any attempt at COIN awakenings in Pakistan and these territories?

  • Thanos says:

    I personally think that Musharraf will survive longer than people are speculating now. The new Govt is forming, but PML-N is the minority, and PPP has the whip hand. Their talks today with JUI-F indicate that they are trying to work with the conservatives who split from MMA & the other branch of JUI that boycotted the elections.
    While PML-N is calling for resignation through Nawaz, Zardari’s gone low key on the idea. Nawaz is going to end up just a member of parliament in the minority section of the coalition.

  • I like the sound of drones…in their backyard.

  • Michael says:

    I never understood why Nawaz Sharif was allowed back in country. I remember seeing Musharaf visiting Saudi Arabia and then Nawaz getting allowed back in country.
    So, who is influencing Pakistan more today? Saudi Arabia or America? I’m very curious how power plays out at the top. Why was it in Musharaf’s interest to bring Nawaz back? Was he countering DC’s moves?
    This is a complex mess and will be for sometime since it appears corruption runs rampant in all parties.

  • Hellfire says:

    //www.globalsecurity.org/mi…ns/agm- 114n.htm
    AGM-114N Metal Augmented Charge (MAC) Thermobaric Hellfire
    The effects of the Hellfire MAC warhead are formidable. Unlike conventional warheads, which have a sharp pressure spike that decays rapidly, the MAC has a sustained pressure wave. That pressure propagates throughout a structure to extend the lethal effects of the warhead detonation.
    The new warhead contains a fluorinated aluminum powder layered between the warhead casing and the PBXN-112 explosive fill. When the PBXN-112 detonates, the aluminum mixture is dispersed and rapidly burns. The resultant sustained high pressure is extremely effective against enemy personnel and structures.
    The missile provides increased effectiveness against targets typically encountered in Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) by creating increased blast over-pressure and impulse to defeat multi-room structures. The missile is also effective against caves, light armor, trucks, radar vans, buildings, light bunkers, command and control sites, patrol boats, light ships, the superstructure of heavy ships, deck mounted weapons systems and troop concentrations.

  • Gandalftb says:

    Update at Free Republic

  • Tommy says:

    Oh man…the suspense is killin me! Its times like this I wish I knew people in the government.

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    Until the 30 or so camps are smashed, hopefully along with thier occupants, there will be no peace in a-stan. I don’t understand why the p-stani’s don’t bomb them, but i wish we could. I guess its a matter of p-stani terratorial rights, which is a joke, since the t-ban and AQ govern these areas. Until we close them, the US should cross the border whenever actionable intel presents itself.

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