US airstrike kills 3 in North Waziristan


The US has killed three Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in its first strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas in two weeks.

Unmanned US strike aircraft targeted and hit a vehicle in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Two Hellfire missiles launched from unmanned Predator or Reaper attack aircraft hit the vehicle as it moved in the village of Aspalga, about seven miles southeast of the main town of Miramshah.

“A car was hit by two missiles, killing three people and injuring three others,” a Pakistani security official told AFP.

“The missiles were fired from a US drone,” another official told the news service.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not disclose the target of the strike nor would they confirm if any senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders were killed.

The region is a stronghold of the Haqqani Network. The Haqqani family is led by Jalaluddin and his son Siraj, who serves as the military commander. The network is based in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and has the backing of the Pakistani military and its intelligence service, as well as strong ties to al Qaeda. Siraj Haqqani is believed to be a member of al Qaeda military shura, or council, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal.

US airstrikes inside Pakistan have tapered off since September, which saw six attacks. There were only two airstrikes in October and two in November. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban commanders were reported killed in those attacks.

US intelligence officials said a big reason for the scaleback in attacks is that al Qaeda and the Taliban have adapted to the US’ tactics, improved their operational security, and have ruthlessly killed anyone suspected of providing intelligence to the US.

Today’s strike is only the fourth since the Pakistani military launched the offensive against Hakeemullah Mehsud’s faction of the Taliban in South Waziristan on Oct. 17. Just prior to the offensive, the Pakistani Army cut a deal with Taliban leaders Hafiz Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan and Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan. The military agreed to halt attacks against those Taliban factions and allow them to use the roads, in exchange for a Taliban promise to maintain neutrality while the fighting is ongoing and to permit the passage of military convoys.

So far this year, the US has carried out 47 airstrikes inside Pakistan. In all of 2008, 36 strikes were carried out. Since the US ramped up cross-border attacks in 2008, 14 al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed [see LWJ report, “US airstrikes alone cannot defeat al Qaeda“].

Background on US strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban networks in northwestern Pakistan

US intelligence believes that al Qaeda has reconstituted its external operations network in Pakistan’s lawless, Taliban-controlled tribal areas. This network is tasked with hitting targets in the West, India, and elsewhere. The US has struck at these external cells using unmanned Predator aircraft and other means in an effort to disrupt al Qaeda’s external network and decapitate the leadership. The US also has targeted al Qaeda-linked Taliban fighters operating in Afghanistan, particularly the notorious Haqqani Network.

As of the summer of 2008, al Qaeda and the Taliban operated 157 known training camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. Al Qaeda has been training terrorists holding Western passports to conduct attacks, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal. Some of the camps are devoted to training the Taliban’s military arm; some train suicide bombers for attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan; some focus on training the various Kashmiri terror groups; some train al Qaeda operatives for attacks in the West; some train the Lashkar al Zil, al Qaeda’s Shadow Army; and one serves as a training ground for the Black Guard, the elite bodyguard unit for Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and other senior al Qaeda leaders.

There were 36 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan during 2008, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-nine of those attacks took place after Aug. 31. From 2004 through 2007, there were only 10 recorded strikes.

US attacks inside Pakistan during 2009:

US airstrike kills 3 in North Waziristan

Dec. 8, 2009

US airstrike kills 4 Taliban in North Waziristan

Nov. 18, 2009

US kills 4 in North Waziristan airstrike

Nov. 4, 2009

US airstrike targets al Qaeda in North Waziristan

Oct. 21, 2009

US kills 4 in strike on Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

Oct. 14, 2009

US strike kills Haqqani Network and foreign fighters in North Waziristan

Sept. 30, 2009

US aircraft strike in North and South Waziristan

Sept. 29, 2009

US airstrike targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

Sept. 24, 2009

Two al Qaeda leaders reported killed in North Waziristan strike

Sept. 14, 2009

12 killed in second US strike in North Waziristan

Sept. 8, 2009

Senior al Qaeda leaders reported killed in North Waziristan strike

Sept. 7, 2009

US strikes Taliban compound in South Waziristan, 8 killed

Aug. 27, 2009

US Predators target the Haqqanis in North Waziristan

Aug. 20, 2009

US kills 14 in strike on Taliban training camp in South Waziristan

Aug. 11, 2009

Baitullah Mehsud’s wife killed in Predator attack

Aug. 5, 2009

US Predator strikes in North Waziristan, kills 5

July 17, 2009

US strikes Taliban communications center in South Waziristan

July 10, 2009

US kills 25 Taliban in second Predator strike in South Waziristan

July 8, 2009

US Predator strike on Taliban camp kills 8 in South Waziristan

July 8, 2009

US Predator strike kills 14 Taliban in South Waziristan

July 7, 2009

13 Taliban fighters killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan

July 3, 2009

Scores of Taliban killed in second US strike in South Waziristan

June 23, 2009

Six killed in US Predator attack in South Waziristan

June 23, 2009

US strikes target Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan

June 18, 2009

US kills 5 in South Waziristan strike

June 14, 2009

US strikes Taliban, al Qaeda in North Waziristan

May 16, 2009

US strikes again in South Waziristan

May 12, 2009

US strike targets Baitullah Mehsud territory in South Waziristan

May 9, 2009

US strike kills 10 Taliban in South Waziristan

April 29, 2009

US airstrike targets Taliban training camp in South Waziristan

April 19, 2009

US Predator kills four in South Waziristan strike

April 8, 2009

US strikes Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

April 4, 2009

US launches first strike in Arakzai tribal agency

April 1, 2009

Latest US strike targets al Qaeda safe house in North Waziristan

March 26, 2009

US airstrike kills 8 in Baitullah Mehsud’s hometown

March 25, 2009

US launches second strike outside of Pakistan’s tribal areas

March 15, 2009

US missile strike in Kurram agency kills 14

March 12, 2009

US airstrike kills 8 in South Waziristan

March 1, 2009

US airstrike in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal agency kills 30

Feb. 16, 2009

US Predator strike in South Waziristan kills 25

Feb. 14, 2009

US strikes al Qaeda in North and South Waziristan

Jan. 23, 2009

US hits South Waziristan in second strike

Jan. 2, 2009

US kills 4 al Qaeda operatives in South Waziristan strike

Jan. 1, 2009

For a summary of US strikes inside Pakistan in 2008, see “US strikes in 2 villages in South Waziristan”.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • AAndrew says:

    Fingers crossed that there was at least one HVT targeted.
    Also, the drone strikes have been happening at a slower pace of late. Hopefully the pace picks up again as that would be a sign that we’re getting good intel on the location of the HVTs.

  • don juice says:

    i think we got somebody..lets keep our fingers crossed….

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/08/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • Mr T says:

    How many people in that area have cars? How many people have nice SUVs? I am thinking that if the Haqqanis and the Taliban are in control, they are also the ones with all the money and therefore the ones with the nicer cars. They have more need to move about than a local villager or farmer. What is the traffic pattern n these remote areas?

  • don juice says:

    check this this out bill……..two arabs from saudi arabia died in the attack…im thinking about osama BUT that would over-optimisticism


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