Siraj Haqqani, the military commander of the Haqqani Network and a close ally of al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, was the target of the Thursday night Predator strike outside of Miramshah in North Waziristan. On Thursday night I heard that a senior Haqqani Network commander and an al Qaeda operative were the main targets, but no names were disclosed. With all of the controversy over the strike that may or may not have killed Baitullah Mehsud, I’m surprised Siraj’s name was even thrown out there….
As an aside, the Associated Press article cited above claims that the US only began targeting Baitullah Mehsud and the Pakistani Taliban after being pressured this spring. This is not true. Alexander Mayer and I broke down the numbers on the Predator (or Reaper or whatever else may be used to conduct the attacks) strikes. Targets in territories run by Baitullah Mehsud, Mullah Nazir, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, Hakeemullah Mehsud, and Faqir Mohammed have been hit, and not all of these strikes were headhunting expeditions for senior al Qaeda leaders. Unfortunately this is a media myth that doesn’t seem to want to die.
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