The US military conducted another airstrike inside Pakistan’s lawless tribal agencies. The target of the strike was an al Qaeda-linked group called Al Badar, which is run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Unmanned Predator aircraft launched several missiles in the early morning at a target in the village of Tol Khel on the outskirts of Miramshah, the administrative seat of North Waziristan. Twelve members of Al Badar (or Al Badr) were reported killed and 14 were reported wounded in the attack, according to AFP.
Al Badar is a Kashmiri terrorist group supported by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The group “is reported to have training camps in the Manshera area of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan, Kotli and Muzaffarabad,” according to the South East Asia Terrorism Portal. Kashmiri terrorist groups have flocked to the Northwest Frontier Province and have actively participated in operations against Coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Hekmatyar runs the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, a radical Taliban-linked faction fighting US forces in Afghanistan. He has close links to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, as well as the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s military intelligence agency.
The US targeted a Hekmatyar compound in South Waziristan on Aug. 13. Taliban commanders Abdul Rehman and Islam Wazir, three Turkmen, and “several Arab fighters” were reported killed in the strike. Reports indicated up to 25 terrorists were killed in the attack.
The US has conducted eight airstrikes and raids in North and neighboring South Waziristan since Aug. 31. Five of the strikes have been aimed at compounds in North Waziristan. Four of them were operated by the Haqqani Network.
The last attack in Pakistan occurred on Sept. 8, when US forces launched several missiles at the notorious Manba Ulom madrassa and an adjacent home in the town of Danda Darpa Khel. Several members of the Haqqani family were reportedly killed in the strike.
The madrassa has both an operational and a symbolic value. The Manba Ulom madrassa was established by Jalaluddin Haqqani, the notorious mujahideen commander who is closely allied to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. The madrassa was used in the 1980s to train mujahideen to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Haqqani family used the Manba Ulom madrassa as a training center and meeting place for senior al Qaeda leaders, and has been described as “a center of jihadi activities.”
The Haqqani Network attacked Pakistan forces based in North Waziristan after the madrassa was hit. More fighting has been reported today between Pakistani and Haqqani forces in North Waziristan.
The Haqqanis are closely allied with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and have close links with the Inter-Services Intelligence. The Haqqanis run a parallel government in North Waziristan and conduct military and suicide operations in eastern Afghanistan. Siraj Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son, has close ties to Osama bin Laden and is one of the most wanted terrorist commanders in Afghanistan.
Pakistan protests attacks
The attack comes as the Pakistani military and government said it would defend its territorial integrity from all attacks. The Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani and Minister of Defense Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar both said the country would do what is needed to defend itself from outside attacks. Pakistan closed the vital Torkham border crossing into Afghanistan to NATO traffic on Sept. 6 to send a message to the US, Mukhtar said. The crossing was reopened the next day.
President George Bush is said to have authorized the increased air and ground strikes inside Pakistan in an effort to root out al Qaeda and Taliban forces. There have been 15 cross-border strikes in Pakistan this year alone, compared to just 10 in 2006 and 2007 combined.
The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.
The Taliban has organized some of its fighters into military formations. Al Qaeda has reformed the notorious 055 Brigade, the Arab legion of al Qaeda fighters that was destroyed during the initial US assault in Afghanistan in late 2001. Additional al Qaeda brigades have been formed, intelligence officials informed The Long War Journal.
Foreign al Qaeda fighters have flocked to the Pakistani border regions. On July 23, Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani and his cabinet were told that more than 8,000 foreign fighters were operating in the tribal areas.
US attacks inside Pakistan in 2008:
• US hits compound in North Waziristan,
Sept. 12, 2008
• US targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan,
Sept. 8, 2008
• US airstrike killed five al Qaeda operatives in North Waziristan,
Sept. 5, 2008
• Report: US airstrike kills four in North Waziristan,
Sept. 4, 2008
• Pakistanis claim US helicopter-borne forces assaulted village in South Waziristan,
Sept. 3, 2008
• US hits al Qaeda safe house in North Waziristan,
Aug. 31, 2008
• Five killed in al Qaeda safe house strike in South Waziristan,
Aug. 31, 2008
• Al Qaeda safe house targeted in South Waziristan strike,
Aug. 20, 2008
• Cross-border strike targets one of the Taliban’s 157 training camps in Pakistan’s northwest,
Aug. 13, 2008
• Six killed in strike in South Waziristan,
July 28, 2008
• Senior Algerian al Qaeda operative killed in May 14 strike inside Pakistan,
May 24, 2008
• Missile strike kills 20 in South Waziristan,
March 16, 2008
• Unprecedented Coalition strike nails the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan,
March 13, 2008
• Missile strike on al Qaeda meeting in South Waziristan kills 13,
Feb. 28, 2008
• Senior al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al Libi killed in North Waziristan,
Jan. 31, 2008
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Bill, are these ‘complaints’ for show or is the Pakistani Government talking out of both sides of their mouths? I can never tell with the Pakistani Government, it’s as if lying is an Olympic Sport to them. Seems like if these were legit complaints we’d be playing a dangerous game with them unless out relationship with Turkmenistan had become all warm and fuzzy and we couldn’t care what they think since we have another resupply route.
Perhaps the Pakistanis don’t fancy the idea of a couple of angry US Marine divisions rampaging through southeastern Baluchistan on a reverse Sherman’s March (from the sea) while the Pakistani military remains fixated on the Indian traditional enemy.
I suspect the idea of the International Commando Olympics teams moving across the border in force to meet those angry US Marines somewhere in the middle, while living off the land on the way, can’t all that comfortable to the Pakistani leadership either.
Deal with the pinpricks, or get the sledgehammer.
The border closing was a symbolic gesture meant to appease any number of potential watchers.
Any bets on the Pakistani nukes being fizzlesticks?
ST333: Good points and to address similar inquiries in previous posts this week. I’m no expert like you guys, but here is my take:
1. Pakistan complaints for show? Yes, to a large extent. Kayani was trained at the CGSC in Leavanworth, KS, and to a large degree, is one of the few top military officials with a fairly balanced view towards the U.S. with many long term relationships – if anyone can balance internal politics and external realties, it is Kayani. I believe he was also on CVN-72 just prior to this latest round of attacks – and they weren’t playing backgammon. IMO, he will eventually be running the whole show in Pakistan. He’s a tough SOB and is doing his level best, but keep in mind he is walking a tightrope right now and is probably the best we have to work with.
2. Great Awakening: things happen in decades in the tribal lands, not years, but over the past few weeks, there has been a noticeable number of maliks rising up against the black hats/AQ, small, but, hey, it’s a start. Mostly in the Dir/Swat areas…and they have managed to take back some small villages. Some of it has been rather brutal and not fit for this blog. I know Bill disagrees with me on this, but the only way to thwart the bad guys in the tribal areas is to actively support the local maliks. Long term is through a well thought out infrastructure development program combined with a military presence across the border, but short term is to get the maliks on the payroll – they want to roll with us…we don’t burn down ski resorts and elementary schools (they know this). And the locals could care less about the local mullahs/madras, etc – as a matter of fact, the mullahs are routinely run out of these villages when they don’t toe the malik line. Much different than Iraq where you are dealing with a indigenous Arab population – these are Pathans/Pakhtuns, not Arabs…much different.
3. So how could we outright lose this? This is a fight that we simply can NOT afford to lose, but putting uniforms in the tribal areas would without question unite the local tribesman against us – which is, of course, precisely what the bad guys want.
Again, I realize I am in the minority on this, but at least you have some different perspective.
Follow up to above comment: Don’t intepret previous post as anti-military in any way – you are feared, respected by locals and remain, man for man, the “best of the best”. Tribal duty the toughest in the world – keep up the faith. And don’t let your guard down, these Pakhtun guys are very clever.
It seems the White House is finally getting serious about going after the sanctuary areas. These areas have been allowed to build-up far too long. The drones seem to be a good solution for the time. It would not be the best idea to put our troops in a position where they might be captured.
Man, I was hoping that it was ol’ Hekmatyar G got whacked… I hate that SOB.
Looks Like Iraq was a bust, so time for the bad guys to head North…
Let’s keep the airstrikes going, they must have nowhere to lay their heads to rest without the possibilty of a pred ex delivery. Nothing I like better than hearing about hirabi’s being killed by remote control. GOOD WORK TROOPS KEEP KILLING HIRABI’S!!!
It is good that the U.S. Forces are not allowing the enemy a safe haven in Pakistan.
There have been reports of tribes forming “lashkars” and running t-ban/AQ leaders out of thier villages, burning down thier houses in the process. This should be capitalized on. Yes, pay them, send in some SF advisors and you have ur own guerilla army. Iam still in favor of using heavy airpower to bomb militant camps and compounds.