US targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan


Click to view slide show of the Haqqani network. Pictured is a composite image of Siraj Haqqani.

The US has conducted another attack inside Pakistan’s tribal areas. More than 20 people, including nine Arab al Qaeda fighters, have been reported killed after the US fired multiple missiles at a home and madrassa, or religious school, owned by the Haqqani family in a village in North Waziristan. Today’s attack inside Pakistan is the seventh reported strike in nine days, and the fourteenth such attack this year.

Pakistani sources said a swarm of Predator unmanned aircraft fired 10 missiles at a Haqqani compound in the village of Danday Darpakhel near Miranshah. Siraj Haqqani, the son of the notorious Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, is said to have run the madrassa.

Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters, along with some women and children, were reported killed in the strike, Pakistani sources told Reuters. Nine “foreigners” described as Arab al Qaeda members and six Taliban fighters were among those killed, AFP reported. An Arab by the name of Hamza was reportedly among those killed.

But Siraj and Jalaluddin were not present at the time of the attack, according to Badruddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son. “[Jalaluddin] Haqqani and Sirajuddin were in Afghanistan at the time of the attack,” Badruddin told Reuters. “They are alive.”

The Haqqanis are closely allied with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and have close links with the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s military intelligence agency. The Haqqanis run a parallel government in North Waziristan and conduct military and suicide operations in eastern Afghanistan. Siraj has close ties to Osama bin Laden and is one of the most wanted terrorists in Afghanistan.

The Haqqani family runs several mosques and madrassas inside of North Waziristan. The Pakistani government closed down the Haqqani-run Manba Ulom madrassa in Miramshah after the US commenced Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, but it was reopened in 2004. Syed Saleem Shahzad, who interviewed Siraj in 2004, described the Manba Ulom madrassa as “a center of jihadi activities, and where top Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders meet.”

The US has targeted Haqqani compounds multiple times this year, including an announced strike on March 12. The US military fired long-range rockets from a base in Afghanistan at a compound run by Siraj. Three high-level Haqqani network commanders and several Chechens were reported killed.

US aircraft activity has increased in the skies of North Waziristan. Taliban fighters fired on Predators circling in North Waziristan on Sept. 7. No aircraft were reported hit.

Cross-border strikes increase during 2008 and have skyrocketed the past two weeks

The US has stepped up its attacks against al Qaeda and the Taliban’s networks inside Pakistan over the past year. There have been 14 confirmed cross-border attacks by the US in Pakistan this year [see list below]. Six safe houses have been hit in North Waziristan, six have been hit in South Waziristan, and two have been targeted in Bajaur this year. Only 10 such cross-border strikes were recorded in 2006 and 2007 combined.

The attack tempo has intensified over the past week. The US has conducted five cross-border attacks inside Pakistan since Aug. 31. Three of the strikes occurred in North Waziristan and two in South Waziristan.

On Aug. 31, US forces conducted two attacks. Five al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, including two Canadians of Arab origin, were killed in an airstrike near Miramshah in South Waziristan. That same day, a strike on a Taliban safe house in North Waziristan killed six. Another attack on a home known to shelter al Qaeda operatives in North Waziristan on Sept. 4 killed four.

The most controversial strike involved special operation teams inserted by helicopters in a village in South Waziristan just one mile from the Afghan border on Sept. 3. This is the second recorded incident of the direct involvement of US ground troops in a raid inside Pakistan since 2006.

Pakistan retaliated for the increased attacks by closing the vital Torkham border crossing point in the Khyber tribal agency on Sept. 6. An estimated 70 percent of NATO’s supplies move through the Torkham crossing point. Pakistan reopened the crossing on Sept. 7.

Background on this year’s attacks

Three senior al Qaeda operatives have been confirmed killed during this year’s cross-border strikes in Pakistan.

Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s bomb expert and weapons of mass destruction chief, was killed South Waziristan on July 28. Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al Qaeda’s external operations chief, was killed in Bajaur on May 14. Abu Laith al Libi, a senior commander in Afghanistan and the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, was killed in North Waziristan on Jan. 28.

While the strikes have disrupted al Qaeda’s senior leadership, they have done little to disrupt the growth of al Qaeda and the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan.

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 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

For more information on the Haqqani family, see:

The Haqqani Network: Reign of terror, Aug. 2, 2008

Targeting Taliban commander Siraj Haqqani, Oct. 20, 2007

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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  • Brian says:

    I’m glad to see that this strike took place after the temporary border shut down. It shows that we have not conceded to what seemed to be a Pakistani demand that we reduce or limit our strikes in Pakistan. I will be even more heartened if we do another raid with troops on the ground in the near future.

  • Marlin says:

    It is useful to keep in mind that the reason this is all necessary is because Pakistan doesn’t really want to fight the Taliban/al-Qaeda themselves.

    So here was Namdar – Taliban chieftain, enforcer of Islamic law, usurper of the Pakistani government and trainer and facilitator of suicide bombers in Afghanistan – sitting at home, not three miles from Peshawar, untouched by the Pakistani military operation that was supposedly unfolding around us.
    What’s going on? I asked the warlord. Why aren’t they coming for you?
    “I cannot lie to you,”

  • Tommy says:

    The AP is reporting that a HVT by the name of Hamza was killed in the attack.

  • Alex says:

    This should ramp up the fear level among AQ.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/09/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • C. Jordan says:

    PR AQ Style.
    Can’t get good video of their attacks,
    why not bring out the dead children tactic.
    Videos show dead Afghan children after US raid:

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    The US should target EVERY camp, compound, madrossa, thats connected to Haqqani. Sometimes you need to be more brutal and ruthless than ur enemy, this is 1 case of that for sure.


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