US Predator hits Taliban safe house in North Waziristan, kills 4

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.

The US has struck in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal areas for the first time in a week, according to reports from the region.

The Predator fired two Hellfire missiles at a Taliban safe house in North Waziristan. The strike took place in a town outside of Mir Ali, Reuters reported.

At least four people have been reported killed, and “many” more were wounded, Geo News reported. “Taliban militants immediately surrounded the house and did not allow locals to come near the site,” witnesses said. No senior Taliban or al Qaeda leaders have been reported killed in the attack at this time.

Mir Ali is a known stronghold of al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraq. He has close links to both al Qaeda and the Taliban, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in January 2007. Kasha was the target of a US strike in Mir Ali on Oct. 31. He survived the attack, according to Taliban fighters in the region, who said he “is healthy and very much in his routine.”

The majority of US strikes inside of Pakistan’s northwest have taken place inside North Waziristan. The powerful, al Qaeda-linked Haqqani family and Taliban warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadar operate in North Waziristan.

Background on the recent strikes inside Pakistan

The US attacks inside Pakistan have tapered off the past five weeks after a high operational tempo in September and October, when strikes into Pakistan averaged between two to three a week. Only six attacks have been recorded in November and the first week of December. The majority of these attacks have been inside North and South Waziristan.

There have been 33 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan this year, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-six 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 weapons of mass destruction 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.

Two other senior al Qaeda leaders are rumored to have been killed, but their deaths have not been confirmed.

Tahir Yuldashev, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, was targeted in a Nov. 7 strike in South Waziristan that wounded Taliban leader Mullah Nazir. Abdullah Azzam al Saudi, an al Qaeda leader involved with external strikes and the recruitment and training of operatives, is thought to have been killed in the Nov. 19 strike in Bannu, the first recorded US attack outside of Pakistan’s tribal areas.

US attacks inside Pakistan and incidents along the border in 2008:

US Predator hits al Qaeda target in North Waziristan kills 3

Dec. 5, 2008

US strike in North Waziristan kills 3

Nov. 29, 2008

US hits Taliban safe house in North Waziristan

Nov. 21, 2008

US Predator strikes al Qaeda & Taliban outside of Pakistan’s tribal areas

Nov. 19, 2008

US targets compound in North Waziristan

Nov. 14, 2008

US Predators strike al Qaeda camp in North Waziristan

Nov. 7, 2008

US Predators strike again in Waziristan

Oct. 31, 2008

US strikes kill al Qaeda operatives in North & South Waziristan

Oct. 31, 2008

US targets Taliban “facility” in South Waziristan

Oct. 26, 2008

US hits Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

Oct. 22, 2008

US strike in Baitullah Mehsud’s territory kills 6

Oct. 16, 2008

US targets safe house in North Waziristan

Oct. 11, 2008

US strike kills 9 al Qaeda and Taliban in North Waziristan

Oct. 9, 2008

US conducts two strikes in North Waziristan

Oct. 3, 2008

Taliban: Baitullah Mehsud alive; US strike in North Waziristan

Oct. 1, 2008

Pakistan military fires on ISAF forces

Sept. 25, 2008

Pakistani military fires on US helicopters at border

Sept. 22, 2008

US strikes Taliban camp in South Waziristan

Sept. 17, 2008

Report: US helicopters fired on while crossing Pakistani border

Sept. 15, 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

Report: Strike targets Baitullah Mehsud’s hideout in Pakistan

June 14, 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

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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4 Comments

  • JusCruzn says:

    I just love those predators. Nothing like killing hirabi’s by remote control. GOOD WORK TROOPS KEEP KILLING HIRABI”S!!!

  • JR says:

    Great work! Keep hammering them. Kill every AQ/TB leader you identify, as fast as you can.

  • KnightHawk says:

    Safe houses becoming less safe is always good news.

  • BobK says:

    cant help but wonder about the connection between these predator attacks against Pak “safe” houses the last few months and Novembers low casualty rate in Afgan. Seems something is working.

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