Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts (the military said Shangla was under Taliban control in October); purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.
US special operations forces have struck yet again in Pakistan’s lawless, Taliban-controlled tribal areas.
An unmanned US Predator aircraft fired several Hellfire missiles at a Taliban and al Qaeda safe house in North Waziristan, according to reports from the region. The strike took place in the Ali Khel region just outside of Miramshah, the main town in the tribal agency.
Five people have been reported killed and six more were wounded in the attack on the “militant hideout,” Geo TV reported. Al Qaeda operatives Rashid Rauf and Abu Zubair al Masri are reported to have been killed, but US intelligence has not confirmed this. Rauf was behind the foiled 2006 London airline plot to destroy a dozen planes over the Atlantic Ocean.
The al Qaeda-linked Haqqani family and Taliban warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadar operate in North Waziristan.
Today’s strike followed an attack on a Taliban compound in the settled district of Bannu on Nov. 19. The Bannu strike was the first recorded US foray outside of Pakistan’s seven tribal agencies, and the deepest strike inside Pakistani territory to date. Unconfirmed reports indicate Abdullah Azzam al Saudi, a senior al Qaeda leader, was killed in the attack.
The Bannu strike sparked protests both from the Pakistani government and the Taliban. The Pakistani military claimed it was conducting exercises to practice shooting down the unmanned aircraft. In an apparent retaliatory strike, Taliban fighters killed three policemen in an outpost in Bannu.
Bahadar threatened to call off a truce and attack Pakistani security forces if the US attacks did not end by Nov. 20. On Nov. 21, Taliban forces wounded two Pakistani troops in an IED attack outside of Miramshah.
The Taliban also murdered two tribesmen accused of being “US spies” in North Waziristan. “A note in the native Pashto language was found near the bodies of the slain men, said that they were spying for the United States and Afghanistan on local Taliban,” the Frontier Post reported. The note warned that anyone spying for the US or Afghanistan would face the same situation.
Background on the recent strikes inside Pakistan
Today’s attack is the fourth this month and the second in three days. The attacks have tapered off this month after a high operational tempo in September and October, when strikes into Pakistan averaged between two to three a week. The majority of these attacks have been inside North and South Waziristan.
There have been 31 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan this year, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-four of these attacks took place since Aug. 31. There were only 10 strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined.
The strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas have disrupted al Qaeda and the Taliban’s operations, but will not dislodge the groups from power in the region, a senior intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
The US campaign in Pakistan is aimed at disrupting al Qaeda’s ability to attack the West, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on Sept. 19.
US intelligence believes the next attack launched against the West will originate from Pakistan’s tribal areas, where al Qaeda operates 157 known training camps, intelligence officials told The Long War Journal in August.
The US strikes inside Pakistan’s tribal areas have killed five senior al Qaeda leaders this year. All of the leaders were involved in supporting al Qaeda’s external operations directed at the West.
Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander in Afghanistan, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan in January. Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al Qaeda’s external operations chief, was killed in a strike in Bajaur in March. Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s WMD chief, and several senior members of his staff were killed in a strike in South Waziristan in July. Khalid Habib, the leader of al Qaeda’s paramilitary forces in the tribal areas, was killed in North Waziristan in October. Abu Jihad al Masri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group and member of al Qaeda’s top council, was also killed in North Waziristan this October.
US attacks inside Pakistan and incidents along the border in 2008:
Nov. 21, 2008
Nov. 19, 2008
Nov. 14, 2008
Nov. 7, 2008
Oct. 31, 2008
Oct. 31, 2008
Oct. 26, 2008
Oct. 22, 2008
Oct. 16, 2008
Oct. 11, 2008
Oct. 9, 2008
Oct. 3, 2008
Oct. 1, 2008
Sept. 25, 2008
Sept. 22, 2008
Sept. 17, 2008
Sept. 15, 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
June 14, 2008
May 24, 2008
March 16, 2008
March 13, 2008
Feb. 28, 2008
Jan. 31, 2008
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