Yesterday’s missile strike in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal agency targeted a training facility and logistical hub for the Shadow Army, the joint al Qaeda and Taliban paramilitary force operating on the lawless Afghan-Pakistan boarder.
“The Kurram compound served as a training camp and logistical facility for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters assigned to fight in Afghanistan,” a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject. “The camp was a big, well guarded facility, one that needed taken out.”
The camp was run by a local Taliban commander known as Fazal Saeed, who is thought to have been at the compound during the strike. It is not known if he was killed in the strike.
More than 24 Pakistani and Afghan Taliban fighters and Arab al Qaeda fighters were killed in the strike, a Pakistani official told Geo News. A Taliban spokesman also said 24 fighters were killed and more than 50 were wounded.
There are several large joint Taliban and al Qaeda camps in the Kurram tribal agency, the intelligence official said. The Feb. 16 strike on a Taliban training camp in Kurram killed more than 30 al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. The camp was run by Bahram Khan Kochi, an Afghan Taliban commander.
The Taliban and al Qaeda last year was running 157 known training camps throughout Pakistani’s tribal agencies and the greater Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal in the summer of 2008. Officials have not disclosed the number of camps currently thought to be in operation.
The US has struck inside Pakistan six times this year. There were 36 recorded cross-border US attacks and attempts in Pakistan during 2008, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-nine of these 2008 attacks took place after Aug. 31. There were only 10 recorded strikes in 2006 and 2007 combined.