Pakistani troops advance on Uzbek stronghold in South Waziristan

Pakistani troops are close to surrounding a key town in South Waziristan that is used by members of an Uzbek terror group allied with al Qaeda and the Taliban. Meanwhile, the military found passports linked to senior al Qaeda operatives, one of whom was involved in the 9/11 attack, at a recently seized terror camp.

Eleven Taliban fighters and one soldier were reported killed during the fighting over the past 24 hours. The military claims more than 260 Taliban fighters and 31 soldiers have been killed since the operation was launched against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan on Oct 17.

The military is advancing on the town of Kanigorum from Shakai in the southwest, and said it has surrounded it from three directions. The goal is to seal off the exits before launching the final assault. The battle for Kanigoram is expected to be fierce, as fighters belonging to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are known to use the region as a base.

The US has conducted two covert strikes in Kanigoram this year. An attack on Aug. 27 killed eight Taliban fighters and Uzbek fighters. Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the Taliban commander for South Waziristan, was the target of the attack. An April 29 strike on a safe house and a vehicle killed 10 Taliban fighters.

The Pakistani Army is also reported to be about three miles from the town of Sararogha. The military is advancing on Sararogha from Jandola in the southeast. Troops have advanced toward Sararogha after taking control of Kotkai. Waliur Rehman is thought to be directing Taliban operations from Sararogha.

The Pakistani Army also announced that it had seized control of an al Qaeda training camp when it took control of the village of Sherwangi on Oct. 25. Among the items found at the Sherwangi camp was a passport belonging to Said Bahaji, one of the al Qaeda operatives who participated in the 9/11 attacks on the US.

Bahaji was close to Mohammed Atta, the tactical commander of the 9/11 attacks. He was also an aide to Ramzi Binalshibh, who served as the link between 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Atta. Bahaji is known to have traveled to Karachi from Hamburg on Sept. 3, 2001, just eight days before the attack.

Also recovered at the Sherwangi camp was a passport belonging to Raquel Gacia Burgos, the wife of Amer Azizi, a senior al Qaeda operative who played a role in the train bombings in Madrid, Spain, in March 2004. The deadly attack killed 191 people. Azizi is known to be a senior leader of al Qaeda in Europe and has connections to al Qaeda affiliates in North Africa.

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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20 Comments

  • Alex says:

    Very interesting. Are these PA regulars and not Frontier Corps? The Frontier Corps has been rather…disappointing in the past with their performance.

  • Minnor says:

    Kaniguram has population of 90,000 and 2nd biggest town in whole south waziristan according to dawn, compared to 5000 of Kotkai. Longer the seige will reduce army casualties there. Instead army can advance on Sararogha.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 10/30/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • How Musharaff was fooling the Americans all these years. KLB is forcing the Pakistani Army to move but with reluctance.
    How with total airspace control against them, the Taliban are able to withstand the efficient Pakistani army?

  • Bungo says:

    I agree with Captain Johann. Even as unprofessional as the Pak army is, this should not even be a close fight. The Paks have modern command and control while the TaliQuidas must be communicating using basic, short distance, radios whose transmissions MUST be interceptable by the Paks. The Paks have complete air superiority with fighter jets and attack helicopters while the TaliQuidas have hang-gliders. The Paks have modern heavy artllery and tanks while the TaliQuidas have basic mortars and “rockets”. I don’t see any parity here. Give the Paks one good “General Patton” and this is basically over in a couple of weeks.

  • Rosario says:

    Best news since Basra in 07′, thanks Bill keep it coming.

  • exhelodrvr says:

    I don’t see this as being significant long-term. The Taliban overstepped their bounds, and are being put back in their place. I think that things will wind down, and end up back in an unofficial truce.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    The Paks have their F-16 platform which is a pretty effective little warplane in that mountain terrain. They could kill a lot of Wahabists if their ISR is solid. Lots. What the Pakis have always lacked is attack helicopters and the super skilled crews that man our Army Apaches and USMC Cobras. They’re still using an old, old Cobra platform in my memory. You need to strike these Salafist punks FAST from the air to prevail and the Pakis don’t seem to have the assets or intel or steely will to do so. It’s frustrating.

  • Gerald says:

    Apparently the casualties reported, regardless of accuracy, are on the Pakistani side. Otherwise the troops would not be continuing to advance. This is a good sign.

  • Ahsan says:

    The way some of you are comparing Pakistan army with taliban, the same comparison can be drawn between the ISAF and afgan taliban/. why is US army professionalism and competency working there?

  • Xavier says:

    Ahsan,
    This is the problem with the defenders of Pak Army (be it Pakistanis or otherwise).
    US is in a foreign country whose culture is different, whose population are hostile(definitely not supportive) and US has under 100,000 soldiers on ground.
    Now look at what Pak Army is dealing with: Taking on militants in its own country, with not many cultural differences and has about 500K soldiers strength at disposal if they have the will.
    You do the math about who is efficient/professional. The important thing to remember is that if US army makes mistakes it eventually admits/confesses. It is difficult to hide many detail with media watching.
    Pak Army usually locks journalists out of military zones thus no one ever knowing what’s going on. And for the obvious crimes (like 1971 genocide, or Baloch killings) they won’t even admit them let alone taking corrective measures.

  • Minnor says:

    The pakistan army has reached outskirts of Sararogha, Makeen and Kaniguram! And last day army casualties were 0. Only remaining town will be Ladha, which is not even road intersection.
    You can see pak army latest updates in link: //www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&latest=1 (updated daily). Take it with a pinch of salt, army casualties can be more than stated but never less.

  • shouvik says:

    Where are the 10,000 of the Taliban’s best trained
    militants ? From the reports of the number of the
    Taliban killed, there doesn’t seem to be too many of
    them.

  • FredP says:

    Regardless of past mistakes by the Pakistan Government, Army and Intelligence services( and I suppose despite current actions by the ISI) the Pakistan army is advancing and inflicting casualties on the TAQ. So let’s give some credit where it is due while we keep a critical eye to windward. And let’s hope that the US government and military are working on deepening ties with the Pakistan military and government so we can share and learn from each other’s mistakes and successes.

  • T Ruth says:

    “And let’s hope that the US government and military are working on deepening ties with the Pakistan military and government so we can share and learn from each other’s mistakes and successes.”
    —————-
    How sweet! Are the night-vision goggles rose-tinted, these days?
    FredP, if the US really wanted to learn from its past mistakes, it would dump Pak as an ally.

  • FredP says:

    T Ruth, I do understand your point about rose tinted goggles.
    To your larger point, what do you recommend as an alternative strategy?

  • Mark says:

    @Xavier:
    Same reason can be given for Pakistan army when they miss hit then they are hitting their own citizens that brings a big reaction against army and the operation against terrorists.all polititions start criticising the operation.
    If you are fighting with an enemy then their is nothing important as cultural difference or similarities.we have seen it in WWI &WWII its just bullets and bombs its simply a battle.they are just enemies they kill american and pak army in the same way.
    Second important thing which you left is these terrorist have access to pakistan main cities which is not true for america.
    they hit back in Pakistan cities but americans are safe from their reaction.Pakistani civilians are also targeted.that also gives reason for political forces against this war to use public sentiments against the operation against terrorist.
    Ok compare the causalities faced by pakistan army with those of american army.i dont think they are not serious.how many american civilians have lost their lives in this war against terrorism and how many Pakistani civilians were killed in this war.how many terrorist attacks american civilians faced after starting this war and how many pakistani civilians lost their lives after joining america in this war.
    you are defending americans only, instead of defending the reality,problem is afghanistan is not accessible for media on the other hand side in pakistan there is a strong media setup watching evrything.
    by the way how much army america has at its disposal.
    may be you can do some math there,
    Don’t just blame pakistan for american mistakes.
    the liberation of iraq can be witnessed by everyone americans went in to liberate iraqis nd WMD.Now they are facing suicide attacks and terrorism,iraq as a country is destroyed rather than liberated.Instead of democracy an american puppet government is installed there.Iraq is divied into three regions sunni ,shia and kurd regions,is the liberation for others different from liberation for americans.
    would you like if someone comes in to liberate americans and in search of WMDs and gives you the liberation as you gave to people of iraq.
    so please see equaly there is a difference between a friend and a master thats what people of pakistan have in their minds behave like friends because people of pakistan will not accept you as masters.
    If you kill 700 innocent people just to kill 14 alqaida people by drone attacks what you expect from Pakistanis.they are helping you more than you deserve.
    If americans want to win this war than they ahve to develop trust in their allies criticizing won’t help instead this criticizng would strengthen the anti american forces in pakistan.

  • Zeissa says:

    You’re also forgetting the ban they have on media entering combat zones in Pakistan.
    And of course you didn’t mention how Pakistan is a great supporter of jihadists and STILL is, except now it’s going for some of those which intend to hurt it, other than foreigners and non-muslims.
    Or the many genocides Pakistan has perpetrated in 71 and against Balochistan. Nor the 600 million Hindu casualties in the last 1,000 years ever since the Muslim Invasion of Greater India. That’s what Hindu Kush means… ‘Hindu slaughter’ in Hindi.
    As in the post above your many brainwashed lies of number (700/14 is completely wrong) media, and your complete falsification of how it is to wage war in a foreign land and who’s reponsible… you would probably think that the hijacked tankers in kunduz were being used as a wedding party, and that the entiriety of the crowd around it was not in fact TAQ or their combat support troops.
    Once again, opinions and people like you are the reason Pakistan is a hellhole, unlike Iraq which is shining brighter by the day.
    I look forward to the day China cooperates with India over Pakistan.
    The US is helping Pakistan though it deserves a war.
    You just want the US to be your servant and bleed for you and think not of defending itself, and to completely ignore reality due to your confirmation bias and denial.

  • Zeissa says:

    I only wish my government was as benevolent as America, it is more competent, but not as benevolent and democratic and good to its allies, with an actual spine and good values.
    The west is truly in a sick state when America does not receive support for its actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which I’d say are 40% selfless, unlike Pstans actions with are almost one hundred percent selfish and intended towards destruction of outsiders by leaving their strategic reserve intact.

  • imran says:

    Pakistan Army doesnt require any pat from anyone.Dont compare its performance with any one. It has proved to be far better than ISAF when put to action.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis