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:
Sept. 12, 2008
Sept. 8, 2008
Sept. 5, 2008
Sept. 4, 2008
Sept. 3, 2008
Aug. 31, 2008
Aug. 31, 2008
Aug. 20, 2008
Aug. 13, 2008
July 28, 2008
May 24, 2008
March 16, 2008
March 13, 2008
Feb. 28, 2008
Jan. 31, 2008