Missile strike against Taliban safe house in Bajaur, Pakistan

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

The US military appears to have conducted yet another strike against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions. Reports from Pakistan indicate a missile strike targeted a terrorist safe house near the town of Damadola, killing between seven and 14 Taliban.

Maulvi Omar, the spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, said four Taliban and three children were killed in the strike, and six were wounded. An unidentified Pakistani security official said 14 were killed in the strike, including “foreigners.”

The home of Taliban commander Maulvi Obaidullah was targeted, according to PTI. It is unclear if this Taliban commander is actually Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, the Afghan Taliban leader who served as Defense Minister and currently sits on the Taliban’s Shura Majlis, or senior executive council. Mullah Obaidullah was reported to have been detained in Quetta while he was fundraising for operations in Afghanistan.


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

The mode of the attack is not yet known. An unnamed Pakistani security official told Reuters that “One or two missiles were fired from a drone,” but “we don’t have any details.” The US military used precision-guided, ground-launched rockets in an attack on a Taliban compound in North Waziristan earlier this year.

Bajaur agency is a hotbed for the Taliban and al Qaeda. The area is al Qaeda’s command and control hub for operations in northeastern Afghanistan. The US struck in Damadola in the past. In January 2006, a strike targeted but missed a meeting that was thought to have been attended by Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command. The Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi (TNSM, or the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law) controls Bajaur. The Pakistani government recently signed a peace accord with the TNSM and freed Sufi Mohammed, its ideological leader.

Today’s strike in Damadola is the fourth such attack inside Pakistani territory this year, and the first such attack since the new Pakistani government was elected.

On March 16, US forces struck at the fortified compound owned by Noorullah Wazir, a Pakistani tribal elder who lived in the village of Dhook Pir Bagh some five kilometers from Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan. Another nearby house, where Uzbek and Arab fighters recently stayed, was also destroyed in a separate round of missile fire.

On March 12, the US military fired guided missiles from Afghanistan into a compound run by Siraj Haqqani, the wanted Taliban leader behind numerous attacks in Afghanistan. The attack is believed to have killed three senior Haqqani network commanders and “many” Chechen fighters.

The most successful strike occurred in the end of January, when US forces targeted an al Qaeda safe house and training camp in town of Khushali Tari Khel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan, right on the Pakistan-Afghan frontier. A missile strike killed Abu Laith al Libi, a senior al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan. 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. An Egyptian al Qaeda leader was also thought to have been killed in the attack which sparked rumor that Zawahiri was killed, but no Egyptian commander was identified. Zawahiri and Mustafa Abu Yazid, al Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan, later vowed to avenge the death of al Libi.

Prior to the January strike that killed al Libi, the last attack occurred in Mir Ali in North Waziristan on December 28, the day after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. The US military targeted the home of Sheikh Essa, an Egyptian cleric responsible for pushing the Taliban to overthrow the Pakistani government. Essa was said to have been wounded in the attack.

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.



  • Dan R. says:

    I am VERY happy to read that we are now routinely conducting strikes across the border in Western Pakistan and apparently aren’t really bothering to try and hide it any more. Hey, if the Pakistanis can’t control the area, if they can’t exercise governmental authority there, why should we feel restricted from going after terrorists there? The concept of “national soverignty” implies that a nation has the capacity to control lawless elements within its own borders, most especially if those elements are using that nation’s territory for attacks on neighboring countries.
    This is why I have absoluetely no problem with the Turkish air force attacking Kurdish separatist bases in northern Iraq. If Pakistan doesn’t like us killing Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives on their turf, then let them move their army in and clean up the area themselves so we won’t have to. After all, how long would we wait to act if terrorists were firing rockets into U.S. neighborhoods and staging attacks on U.S. territory from bases in Maxico or Canada?

  • mjr007 says:

    How long before we eliminate Zawahiri and bin Laden?

  • Tommy says:

    The odds of getting Zawahiri is definitely better. He is known to be in that are and he frequently moves. He is still in charge of day to day operations.
    I have a feeling Bin Laden is far away from spy planes and US special forces. Most likely on the outskirts of a Pakistani city.

  • Sir,
    The commentators have not understood the haves and havenots of pakistani Army. The english knwoing officerclass and the Other ranks who know only the local language. It is the OR who have links with local jehadies while the officer class drink their rum. The recent accord with Mehsud by Kiyani and his action in the border with India is closely related to the inner struggle within pakistani army. Shift the cross border terrorism to India and leave the afghanistan border for the TIME BEING so that the jehadies can regroup for final push. already JEM

  • Marlin says:

    Syed Saleem Shahzad weighs in again.

    Sitting in Kabul, the international coalition believes that without the backup of the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s tribal areas, the Taliban insurgency would be nothing more than a tribal rebellion which could easily be quelled through “give-and-take” deals.
    It is crucial therefore that the Taliban’s and al-Qaeda’s grip in the Pakistani tribal areas is broken. All efforts to date have failed. The US and its allies might now have to expand the war to make this happen.

    Asia Times: Another D-Day for Pakistan over militants

  • Sarib.J says:

    Hello hope all of you are quite fine, i would like to post some comments on this topic as well especially because i am from Pakistan, one should realize US/NATO soldiers arent the only one’s who have died fighting these terrorists and militants, Pakistani Army its self has lost around 1500 or so men fighting this War lets not insult the scarifice of Pakistani men and woman who have lost their lives on this War on terror.
    I would like to bring to your attention the fact that so many Pakistani men,women and children have died in these tragic and horriable sucide attacks carried out by these crazy terrorists around 3000 or so civilions have died in sucide attacks havoced accross the country.
    I for one hve no issues with USAF or ISAF that is NATO led airforce bombing terrist hide outs but you may realize even we have an airforce we hve bombs from dumb to PGM and GPS guided ammunation but the loss of civilion lives people who are not terrorists at all is so great that it starts to create panic and coas in that area and thus the dynamics of the entire war change i.e the collatrial damage is so great and loss of civilion lives is so great that people instead of supporting the americans or in our case our army even turn against them this is the biggest problem which many dont understand since these people(Taliban, Al-Quida) hide under and inside civilion area’s i would like to ask all of my friends here a Question have our American friends distroyed each and every resistance or insurgence group in Iraq?, has US army/ along with the entire NATO distroyed and killed each and every Taliban and Al-Quida element inside Afganistan the answer is No.
    The point is its not that easy and this requires time if a World Super power has issues with handling these type of situations then compared to American Military in physical and litral terms ours is nothing when it comes to equiptment and the standard of gear we are oprating.
    We can do the job but we need the proper tools which arent even being provided to us by the Americas due to the geographical and startigic politics of the area and due to transfer of technology issues, this isnt the only issue there are many.
    Another Sad truth is that western media quotes the figure of 10 billion aid being given to pakistan to fight war on terror but unfortunately only few of our friends realize the reality that out of that entire money 6 billion was paid for the services being provided to our American friends in form of logistics and fuel and many other services which no country offers for free even if its a great ally of US such as UK!
    Finally if things were so easy and this War wasnt so complex America and NATO could have tactically nuked the entire area in afganistan where they thought majority of Taliban and Al-Quida were hiding and we all could have gotten over this story and moved on with our lives but the fact is they cant neither can we since these Animcals(Taliban/Al Qaeda) hide among civilions and those who dont help them are either killed or their entire families are wiped out so what i am trying to say is things arent that easy and bombing a place with JDAM may it be GBU-8,12 or 10 or using hellfire wont solve the problem and is definately not part of the solution either both the US army along with NATO and Pakistani army have to fight this war in a very sofisticated and complex manner.
    My regards and best wishes to all i hope the world becomes a peaceful place and all humanity can exist to gather regardless of the fact from which country,race and religion we are from at the end of the day we all are humanbeings.

  • Marlin says:

    MSNBC is now reporting that a high value ‘Arab’ target was in the madrassa guesthouse.

    Senior U.S. and Pakistani officials tell NBC News that Wednesday’s Predator attack on a village in northwest Pakistan was not insignificant, that a “high-value target   an Arab”

  • Mike says:

    If we kill our enemy, how could the strike be deemed counterproductive? Collateral damage? Islamic Fascist suicide bombers are not very concerened with collateral damage, so neither should we be.
    The message people should be receiving is if you hide the people who are trying to kill American’s, Amercia will be coming for them, and you may suffer.
    On 9/11, many innocents died because Bin Laden wanted to hurt the American government. Secretaries, janitors, cops, stock brokers, children, pregnant women, elderly. All dead. Collateral damage I guess.


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